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02 June 2014 @ 11:08 am
Avengers: Modern Marvels  
Title: Modern Marvels
Characters: Tony, Steve, JARVIS
Rating: PG
Warnings/Triggers: some references to unnamed, off-screen deaths
Spoilers: quick reference to an event in The Avengers
Pairings: none
Word Count 1,736
Summary: Tony and Steve have a late night chat, and Tony discovers that Steve's favourite modern marvel is something pretty simple.
Author's notes: joonscribble and I have been truly epic in our late night comment fests recently, and this story stems out of one of them.

I have seen neither Cap 2 nor IM3, so please accept my apologies for anything non-canon. I'm setting this post-Avengers film, but otherwise, I have no idea when it might be taking place.




It figured that a tower full of mutants and freaks was a tower full of insomniacs. Tony never wandered through the place in the middle of the night without bumping into one of his fellow Avengers roaming the halls. Bruce had abandoned him in the lab for a power nap, because he was a wimp who needed to sleep every three days. Apparently The Other Guy was getting grumpy. Tony was on a kitchen raid mission, getting some snacks for when Bruce stopped being a pansy. The Other Guy needed sustenance, too.

It was Cap who was the fellow insomniac tonight. He was at the island in the rec room, frowning at a pen. He kept turning it over and eyeing it up and fingering it.

“You write with it,” Tony said, helpfully. He made a scribbling gesture. “It's like a quill, only less feathery.”

Steve shot him a glare. “It's empty,” he said.

“Then get a new one,” Tony said.

“I can just refill it,” Steve said. “But I can't figure out how.”

“Aww, that's adorable,” Tony said. “I love it when you do the Fish out of Temporal Water thing. Just toss it. There are about a billion pens floating around this place, 90% of them mine that I've lost. Here.” He took a pen from behind his ear.

Steve caught the pen without looking, because he was a show off. “You just throw it out?” he said.

“Yeah, it's a Bic, you can buy ten of them for a dollar,” Tony said. “JARVIS can make you one in fifteen minutes from recycled plastic. But only if you ask nicely, and he'll lecture you about keeping track of your things. I think Pepper taught him to do that. She thinks I have a pen problem.”

Steve shook his head. “These cost ten dollars a piece in my day,” he said. “At least. I knew a pilot who'd been stationed in Argentina. He brought one back. You had to hold it straight up to get the ink to flow at all, but he liked it because it worked at high altitude, and you didn't have to refill it as often.” He fumbled with the new pen, poking at it.

Tony took it back. “Little thing on the side,” he said. “Click on. Click off. Click on. Click off. That serum made you all tall and muscley, but didn't do much for your brain, did it?”

“Each one opens differently!” Steve complained. “Some have lids, and some click, and some twist. How do you know which one to do?”

Tony laughed. “Christ,” he said. “Computers and cell phones and arc reactors, and the thing that trips you up is a pen.”

“You don't appreciate it,” Steve said. “You don't know how amazing this is. To have something that writes smoothly and doesn't smudge or leak. You don't have to refill it. The nib doesn't break. The ink isn't corrosive. It doesn't poke through the paper. This is amazing.”

“You have got to get out more,” Tony said. “Seriously. Just, leave the Tower and see the world. If this is the best thing you can find about modern life, you aren't looking hard enough.”

“You don't get it,” Steve said. “This is useful. I mean, you used to have to carry around extra ink, and you had to lever it up into the pen when it ran empty, and replace the nib when it got worn down, and sometimes it would just explode and the ruin the drawing you'd been working on for hours or the letter you'd been agonizing over for days, or your hand would swipe over it and smudge everything. I get that cell phones are useful—being able to call anyone anywhere is amazing—but why do we need to text? Why can't we call? Why do I need to calculate the calories in my food on my phone? Why do I need to be able to play Angry Birds? This has a purpose, this I get. This is best thing I've encountered so far.”

“No, I'm serious, get out of here,” Tony said. “Go to Epcot. Go to NASA. Go the Sony Wonder Tech lab. Hell, go to a bar, take a road trip, go on a date. Guy, girl, who cares, but see the world, Cap. You sound like an old man.”

“I feel like one most of the time,” Steve said. He clicked the pen on. “Thanks for this.”

“I'll have Santa put a few in your stocking,” Tony said. He moved around the island to see if there was anything good in the cupboards. Thor kept eating all the junk food before Tony could get to it, and he was left with Cap and Tash's protein shakes and hippie granola and fruit. “What are you doing that's so important, anyway? It's...JARVIS, what time is it?”

“03:27,” JARVIS replied.

“It's then,” Tony said, pointing upwards toward the source of the voice. “What are you writing?”

“A letter,” Steve said.

“Is it to Queen Victoria?” Tony asked. “Because I think she's the only person in the world without an e-mail address. And she's dead.”

“I'm writing to the families of the agents who were killed in action on our last mission,” Steve said.

“That's not your job, is it?” Tony said. “Fury or Hill should be doing that.”

“I was in charge of the mission,” Steve said. “It was under my command that they died. It's my responsibility to let their families know what that sacrifice meant.”

Tony smirked into a bag of stale Cheetos. “You're just a walking recruitment poster, aren't you?” he said.

“Don't you care that they died?” Steve snapped. “It's not a joke.”

Whoops. Tony had hit Steve's Indignant Button. It was hair trigger switch. One wrong statement and Steve went all patriotic on your ass.

“No, it's not a joke,” Tony said. “That's why I set up the Phil Coulson Memorial Fund. The agents' families can access it for help with medical costs or rent or whatever they need. Their kids have college scholarships. It pays for funeral costs. That's how I care. I help the people they left behind. They knew what they signed up for, just like you did when you agreed to become a lab rat, and self-flagellating myself over their deaths doesn't help anyone. Especially not me.”

Steve scratched his head, irritably. “I'm sorry,” he said. “I didn't meant to imply you were a heartless bastard.”

“Yeah, you did,” Tony said. He knocked on the arc reactor in his chest. “But, hey, you're right, so no offence taken. Don't go all boy scout on me. If you want to write letters, go ahead. I'm just saying, you really need to get out of here and have some fun. You can take your pen.”

Steve chuckled, softly. “Maybe after I'm done here,” he said.

Tony peeked over his shoulder to take a look. There was a pile of neatly addressed envelopes, and a list of names, the first three which had been crossed off. Two more to go. And a scrap piece of paper with half a letter on it, and doodles and drawings in the margins.

“You do rough drafts? You really are a good little boy scout,” Tony said.

“I want to make sure I'm saying the right thing before I commit it to the good paper,” Steve said.

“Oh come on, you can't tell me paper was a rare commodi—oh, yeah, rationing,” Tony said. He clapped Steve on the shoulder. “Live a little, take a risk, use the good paper. We can recycle things now, you aren't even hurting a tree. Or you could use a computer like a normal person, and not waste any paper at all. The backspace key is a modern marvel.”

“Just let me do it my way,” Steve said, spreading out his hands in warning. “I don't want to be modern, I want to be respectful. Handwritten letters are respectful. Even now.”

“Fine, fine,” Tony said. “Chicks must love you. I don't know why you don't get laid.”

“Tony!” Steve said.

Tony poked him in the back of the head, and grabbed his arm load of crappy food. “I'm going,” he said. “You can wallow in peace. Just promise me you'll have some fun later. Be social. Talk to people.”

“I'm going jogging with Natasha in a couple of hours,” Steve said.

“Nope, doesn't count,” Tony said. “I'll schedule a movie night. This place is dead, we could all use some fun. You can practice your microwaving skills with the popcorn. Maybe you won't burn it this time.”

“I pressed the popcorn button!” Steve said. “Why is it there if doesn't cook it for the right length of time?”

Tony handed him a cookie. “It's okay, Grandpa,” he said. “You'll learn. You should go to one of those Senior Citizen classes at the Y. Maybe you'll make some friends. You can play chess in the park and buy really high-waisted pants together.”

Steve chewed on the cookie and glared at him. “You were going?” he said.

“Was I?” Tony said. “All right, then. But movie night tomorrow—” he pointed as he left the room. “Don't miss it. We're doing Indiana Jones. You won't like him, he breaks rules. Put that on the bulletin board, JARVIS.”

“Added to future events, sir,” JARVIS said. “Would you like me to order pizza?”

“You are a God among motherboards,” Tony said. “No Hawaiian this time, we had to get Barton's pineapple off the ceiling with a Roomba and Pepper yelled at me.”

“Yes, sir,” JARVIS said.

Tony lifted his knee to put the tub of ice cream back in his arms before it fell, and went to the elevator. “Oh, and JARVIS, order some pens for Cap,” he said. “Ball point. Cheap ones. Like, a box of 100 or something. And a fountain pen, just for kicks. Oh, and one of those ones from the 90's that writes in fifty colours, it'll blow his mind. And get him one where the girl's dress comes off when you tip it, he'll dig that.”

“Should I be operating under Intoxication Protocols?” JARVIS asked. “This sounds very much like the Cheese Incident.”

“No, I'm sober,” Tony said. “Skip the naked chick one, fine. Just, make sure he gets them.”

“Yes, sir,” JARVIS said. “They'll be here by the morning.”

“Good. Poor kid needs something to depend on.”
 
 
 
formerly lifeinsomniac: GhostSqueejoonscribble on June 2nd, 2014 05:41 pm (UTC)
Aw, Tony. You have an arc reactor of gold.

I really like the detail of Steve handwriting letters to the bereaved. Because even in his day these were probably written via typewriter with the only human touch being a handwritten signature at the bottom. But it's very Steve that he feels its important to personally write a letter in his own hand. You're the best, Steve!

“You don't know how amazing this is. To have something that writes smoothly and doesn't smudge or leak. You don't have to refill it. The nib doesn't break. The ink isn't corrosive. It doesn't poke through the paper. This is amazing.”

“You have got to get out more,” Tony said.


I heard this exchange perfectly in my head with Chris Evans and RDJ's voices and facial expressions.

“Should I be operating under Intoxication Protocols?” JARVIS asked. “This sounds very much like the Cheese Incident.”

As always, sassy and practical!JARVIS is my favorite character.

I'm pleased our late night geeky jam sessions were productive for you!
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on June 2nd, 2014 08:02 pm (UTC)
But it's very Steve that he feels its important to personally write a letter in his own hand.

I sort of had it in my head that there were form letters that were sent out, and then Steve took it on himself to write a handwritten one to tell family how much he appreciated working with their son and how sad he was about what had happened, etc. because he felt the form letters were too cold.

I heard this exchange perfectly in my head with Chris Evans and RDJ's voices and facial expressions.

Good, because I had my mental actors rehearse this story over and over again until it sounded close to them in my head. Mostly to keep adding stuff RDJ might have adlibbed, because Tony never says anything without going off on a slight tangent along the way.

I'm pleased our late night geeky jam sessions were productive for you!

Thank you!
donutsweeperdonutsweeper on June 2nd, 2014 06:21 pm (UTC)
I love Cap's sensibilities in this and the whole discussion about the pen and how things have changed so much- there's just so many amenities today that someone from the 30s and 40s would boggle over. Many wouldn't phase them, but something as everyday as a pen really would.

On a beta minor note, if you don't mind, "bursaries" isn't a term I was familiar with and I had to look it up. It seems like the context you used it in is only a UK/Canadian one, I'm not really sure what the US equivalent is other than "scholarships" which is a little more educationally oriented than you seem to imply.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on June 2nd, 2014 07:55 pm (UTC)
Many wouldn't phase them, but something as everyday as a pen really would.

Yeah, that's a good point. There's a difference between 'here's something you've never seen before, I'll show you how to use it' and 'here's a thing you know how to use, but now it's completely different'.

On a beta minor note, if you don't mind, "bursaries" isn't a term I was familiar with and I had to look it up.

Huh, there's one of those words you don't even worry isn't right. Would 'grant' work? Or maybe just 'financial aid'. In Canada, I swear we use it more to mean 'money given as a means to help you pay for things'.

Thanks for commenting and playing beta! I always appreciate both. :-D
donutsweeperdonutsweeper on June 2nd, 2014 07:59 pm (UTC)
Honestly, I think you could just cut out that sentence, if there is a memorial fund, it's implied that the fund gives out money for people to use in various ways. Maybe expand on the "their families can use it" to say which families- families of fallen/wounded agents or whatever.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on June 2nd, 2014 08:03 pm (UTC)
Yep, the next sentence is just clarifying what the bursaries do, so I cut that line and got to the point. Thank you ma'am!
donutsweeperdonutsweeper on June 2nd, 2014 08:04 pm (UTC)
Happy to help! :)
aelfgyfu_meadaelfgyfu_mead on June 3rd, 2014 02:09 am (UTC)
Yes! YES! To the pens! I don't know how they managed. I would mess up every single piece of paper I tried to write on. But Steve would learn good handwriting, and he'd still use it, even in 2014, even if (or especially if) Stark mocked him.

Learning that he was writing to the families of the dead really changed the tone, and Tony didn't know how to handle it and defaulted to Jerk Mode, because he has been a "heartless bastard" in the past and frequently relapses. His voice is pitch perfect here. And so is Steve's.

Intoxication Protocols! Very important.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on June 3rd, 2014 02:24 am (UTC)
Yes! YES! To the pens! I don't know how they managed. I would mess up every single piece of paper I tried to write on. But Steve would learn good handwriting, and he'd still use it, even in 2014, even if (or especially if) Stark mocked him.

I actually write better with water-based inks with sharp nips, but I don't think I could handle a fountain pen. Especially since if you leave it for a second, it leaks the big puddle of ink, so you would have to be very sure you weren't going to stop halfway through your sentence.

And my childhood was plagued by my awful handwriting which has never improved, so I'm very happy most things are computer-based now. I don't know how authors wrote before typewriters.

His voice is pitch perfect here. And so is Steve's.

Thank you very much! They're a bit rusty, so I'm glad they came off as appropriate.