If Tony doesn’t end up calling Cap “Vanilla Ice” in the next movie, I will be disappointed.
Especially if Clint doesn’t end up showing Steve a music video, at which point Steve is just utterly confused and goes to ask Tony how he’s similar to this Robert Van Winkle.
One of the Avengers has adopted a cat off the streets (to the embarrassment of Steve, who realizes that he’s allergic despite the serum). Normally when they’re on a mission, someone (coughPeppercough) takes care of it, but this time, everything’s falling apart and no one’s free. It’s up to JARVIS, Dummy, and Tony’s other assorted robots to do the job—which is a difficult one to do when the brains of the operation has no body, and even more so when the cat hasn’t been seen for days.
Cue Dummy finding her with her proud new litter of kittens and robot-kitten bonding. And confusion from the Avengers when the cat and kittens follow the robots around everywhere (to Tony’s annoyance) and immediately start purring whenever JARVIS speaks.
As it turns out, very busy, very rich parents don’t have much free time, and Tony was mostly raised by the Starks’ butler, Jarvis. While Tony would look to his parents for personal validation (a rather questionable decision, all told), Jarvis was his emotional support system, and they were closer than Tony and his parents could ever be.
After the deaths of Howard and Maria Stark, Tony fell into a pit of depression and alcohol abuse, and Jarvis put his other duties on hold to help him through it. Once Tony’s mental health stabilized, Jarvis spent most of his time working through everything that had stacked up—a rather difficult job for a man getting on in years.
Tony, feeling guilty for causing so much trouble, decided to put his genius to a good use. He would create a program that would (at least) halve Jarvis’s workload; a program that could monitor activity throughout the mansion and report directly to Jarvis without any effort on Jarvis’s part; a program that could calculate risks, make reasoned decisions, and communicate efficiently, all without any direct human input. Tony immediately locked himself in his workshop to create his magnum opus, working obsessively for days on end and imagining the look on Jarvis’s face when the program was finally revealed—
Except Jarvis passed away before it was finished, plunging Tony into a depression even deeper than the one triggered by his parents’ death. The program sat, half-finished, for well over a year before Tony was able to look at it again, at which point he realized what had to be done. Jarvis died without the legacy he deserved; if it was the last thing he did, Tony would do his best to change that. He scrapped half of the programming, reworking its skeleton to allow for intelligence, personality, and independent thought and destroying most of the limitations originally put in place. He gathered all the recordings of Jarvis he could find, using the sound-bites to re-create his voice, tone, and speech patterns. When he was finally finished, he slept for two days and nearly died from malnutrition—but it was all worth it, no matter how much Pepper and Rhodey yelled at him, no matter how much the board whispered behind his back.
Because the first thing JARVIS said was “I forgive you.” It was also the first time Tony allowed himself to cry since Jarvis’s death.
Being created by a genius gives an AI a few advantages, and having to deal with said creator, who is not known for having the healthiest of outlooks on life and rejects offers of help outright, allows said AI to acquire quite the skill-set. Manipulation is JARVIS’s trade; he knows the exact tone and words to use to nudge Tony in the right direction. If he had off hours, JARVIS would compare it to herding cats, or perhaps a more layered game of The Sims.
(Sub-entry: Bored and looking to create mischief, Loki breaks in Tony’s lab, only to meet his match in the form of JARVIS. And Tony’s face when he realized that a villain and his trusted AI are buddies was just a bonus, really.)
Sometimes, people are confused by the depth and breadth of Tony’s issues with Howard Stark. Sure, he might have been emotionally (and often physically) distant and distracted by running his company, they may say, but surely that isn’t bad enough to evoke a flinch and emotional cut-off whenever his name is mentioned, right?
Not exactly. What the public—well, no one but Tony, really—doesn’t know is that the story isn’t quite that simple.
Tony started out as an idea, as many do, but not in the traditional respect. Howard, in his more ambitious years, saw how promising the scientific landscape was becoming. Genetic engineering could be seen far out on the horizon, along with cloning, and he hoped that advances in robotics could open the door to the next super soldiers—that is, cyborgs.
But, he hit a snag from the get-go: It was difficult to get volunteers, especially when the machinery triggered a violent and potentially fatal immune response in most of his human test subjects. He’d run tests and created implants that worked on himself, but he didn’t want to risk his life and company by sticking them into himself just yet.
His solution? Cloning himself.
Tony was the only clone to survive past the testing phase, and while Howard originally was ecstatic that his project was working, he didn’t plan for this result, to have a kid to take care of—and, when he had to abandon the project later, Tony’s existence served as a constant reminder of his failure.
Tony’s childhood was spent creating robotic friends during his early years of isolation and knowing that he could never amount to the man whose DNA he shared.
But, even after being raised as more an experiment than a son and seeing all of his failings laid out in front of him, Tony has experienced few things more painful than finding that film reel during those weeks of palladium poisoning. Before that, Tony could at least pretend that his father saw him as a son, as someone who is and should be loved, as a human being. Now, he knows that was not the case; to his father, he was always a “creation,” an object, a positive result of an experiment, and nothing more.
Sometimes, he wonders how long it took Howard to stop calling him “it” and start calling him “Tony.”
Bonus!: The first machine that Tony disassembled was his own arm. When he tried to do the same to Howard’s and watched as nothing happened, he fell into a depression of a worrying length for a four-year-old. He’s felt safer with robots than humans ever since.
Second bonus!: No one knows Tony is a cyborg—not even Pepper and Rhodey. Similarly, they don’t know that he doesn’t need to eat or sleep as much as your normal human; while he does sometimes stretch his limits, going for 72 hours without food or sleep isn’t nearly as debilitating or dangerous for a cyborg as it is for a human.
Third bonus!: After Tony returned from Afghanistan, he locked himself in his shop and decided that he might as well aim to go fully machine, if he was already on his way there in the first place. It took JARVIS a full two weeks to talk Tony out of it, by the end of which Tony had already created replacements for his organs and had been attempting to decide how to acquire the surgeons for the final step.
There’s only so much time-related dissonance Steve can stand before he starts tensing up, and he insists that the common areas in the tower should be swear-free zones. Tony, of course, vetoes the idea outright, but when Fury hears about the suggestion, he whole-heartedly endorses it, and Tony soon finds himself out-voted.
Steve, being Steve, wires all the money from the jar to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, and when Tony finds out (which, let’s be honest, took him all of an hour to look up), he takes it as tacit permission to swear “for America.” And, naturally, Thor joins Tony’s side when he learns about the charity, to Steve’s dismay. (Also, Jane’s. And Bruce’s. Because, while he can normally ignore the ridiculous shenanigans the rest of the Avengers get up to, it’s a bit more difficult to do so when you have a Norse god, who doesn’t seem to understand what the phrase “inside voice” means, swearing near constantly.)
Clint, for his part, tends to stay out of the fray; instead, he amuses himself by sneaking up on (read: sneaking up on and throwing handy projectiles at) whoever’s passing by to scare them into cursing, normally in ear-shot of Steve. He’s found that Steve’s disappointed face is enough of a distraction that he can escape while his target tries to talk their way out of The Look. (Or, more accurately: This was Clint’s hobby until Natasha grew sick of people complaining around the tower and snuck up on him herself; Clint’s still not sure exactly how much that encounter had cost him. In his defense, at least his pranks never involved knives or sleeping targets. Or cameras.)
“Jesus fucking Christ.” He pushes himself up slowly, ignoring Steve’s frown. Captain America’s not fond of him taking his Lord’s name in vain. Tony winces and rubs his shoulder. He sighs. “JARVIS, Paypal a dollar to the swear jar—”
“Already done, sir.”
When Tony gets drunk, he tends to install repulsors and/or AIs into whatever he currently has his hands on.
Which is probably the Avengers’ least favorite of his quirks. You don’t know suffering until you have a God of Thunder, clutching a box of Pop-Tarts, in a full-tilt chase after a flying, indignant toaster around the Tower. Or until you have to deal with the Hulk, drenched in hot water and suffering from a caffeine withdrawal because someone decided that the coffee machine needed a few upgrades.
Sub-entry: One drunken night, Tony installed special fall-away repulsors into all his spare arc reactors, just in case his fizzled out and he needed a replacement quickly. It’s possible he gets a little too much enjoyment out of making the signal to call one to him a verbal “ACCIO!”