Characters: Steve, Tony, JARVIS, dæmons
Warnings/Triggers: swearing, vague angst here and there
Spoilers: generalized for The Avengers, a few references to both Captain America movies
Pairings: very light reference to Tony/Pepper, implications of past Steve/Peggy
Word Count 5,609
Summary: Issie ensures Steve lightens up a little during a visit to Stark tower, and Steve gets some new things added to his To-Do List, and experiences some things that weren't even on it to start with.
Author's notes: Just some Steve and Tony hanging out fic, not a lot going on. I'm just working on my dynamics. Companion to and follows Baby Steps.
Set Pre-Cap 2, and probably post IM3 (it's next on my Things to Watch Now That Your Brain Isn't Sore).
For reference: Demira (A common tailorbird) and Issie (a Teddy Roosevelt terrier).
There are a few references to Howard Stark and Peggy Carter's dæmons, both of which were created by joonscribble. We sort of share joint custody of all the MCU dæmons, and she's graciously letting me borrow them. For reference: Takeo (a spotted hyena) and Dejeni (a raccoon).
Knowledge of His Dark Materials is not required. All that's necessary to know is that, in this world, humans' souls live outside of their bodies in the form of animals. There's an excellent primer here.
“Do I have to do this?” Steve asked. He was standing outside Stark Tower but hadn't gone in yet.
Issie looked up at him, patiently. “No, you don't have to,” she said. “But you should. It'll be fun! You need to do more fun things. All you do is train and go on missions. You never do anything social.”
“All I've been doing this week is being social,” Steve said.
“No, you've been doing duties,” Issie said. “You've been doing publicity and PR. That's not the same. You're basically punching Hitler in the face again. Don't you think spending time with a friend would be nice?”
“You call Stark a friend?” Steve asked.
Issie nudged his leg, trying to get him to open the door. She wasn't big enough to make the computer doorman part of it open for her automatically. “Ally,” she said. “A person who knows you and invites you to come and visit.”
“I don't think 'hey, Capster, you should drop by while you're in town' as he breezed past me at that charity thing really counts as an invitation,” Steve said.
“Demira invited me,” Issie said. “She said 'yeah, totally come, it'll be cool, I'll show you things'. That counts. You don't have to stay for long. It's good to keep in touch with people.”
“That's why they invented the Internet, so they don't have to do that in person,” Steve said. “They don't want to meet in person.”
Issie frowned at him and nudged his leg impatiently. He didn't move. She took a few paces back, ran and leaped so that the computer doorman saw her and opened the door. She looked at Steve expectantly, and he laughed.
“Fine,” he said. “Fine. But if it's weird, I'm leaving.”
“It won't be weird,” Issie said. She wasn't very confident about that. “It'll be fun.”
There wasn't a desk or secretary or concierge in the main lobby at Stark Tower. Just a sort of standing pillar with a screen on it, displaying a Stark Industries logo and a muted video of various operations and branches that they owned. Steve watched it for a few moments. Lots of images of happy workers, and Tony looking very much like Howard poring over a project, and then some images of African children in front of a school and some patients in a hospital to show the charity work.
“Welcome, Captain Rogers,” JARVIS' voice said, through a speaker on the pillar.
Issie jumped back a little and sniffed suspiciously.
“Um, thanks,” Steve said. He'd originally mistaken JARVIS for a real person, maybe one who watched through cameras and spoke into a microphone, but Tony had explained it was a sort of computer program that acted like a real person. So much so that Steve still pictured a very polite British man when he heard the voice. Someone like Falsworth, proper and aristocratic. “How did you know it was me?”
“I'm programmed with facial recognition software which allowed me to identify your face and greet you personally,” JARVIS said. “Would you prefer a different form of address?”
“No, that's fine,” Steve said. “Uh, you can call me Steve, I guess. If you...want?”
“My job is to do whatever you feel most comfortable with,” JARVIS said. “I will make a note that first names are acceptable.”
Issie and Steve exchanged looks of amusement at the oddity of being on a first-name basis with a computer.
“How might I direct you today, Steve?” JARVIS went on.
Issie giggled, making Steve smile.
“Um, Mr. Stark invited me to visit, I guess,” Steve said. “So maybe you could tell him I'm here and see if it's okay? I don't want to bother him if he's busy. I didn't call ahead.” He didn't know if people did that anymore. They probably just posted on Facebook that they were headed over there.
“Mr. Stark is on the 24th floor, in the common area,” JARVIS said. “You are on the list of people with free access to the building. Please feel free to go directly there. I have already informed him of your arrival.”
The elevator doors opened with a ping.
“Thanks,” Steve said.
“You are quite welcome, please enjoy your stay, Steve,” JARVIS said.
“I think 'Captain Rogers' was a little less weird,” Issie said, as they went to the elevator.
“You know, I don't really think it makes that much of a difference,” Steve said.
“24th Floor, Common and Living Quarters,” Elevator JARVIS said, when the doors opened.
Issie trotted out at Steve's side. Most of the repairs were done after the Battle of New York, but there were still a few signs of ongoing work—ladders and boxes and some panels missing on the ceiling.
“Directly ahead, on the left,” Hallway JARVIS said, to guide them.
“Thanks,” Steve said.
There was a big sort of living room area, with a kitchen attached on one side of it and couches and a huge television screen on the other. A pool table was in the corner, along with something Issie thought was called Foosball, and some sort of video gaming machines. Very loud, screamy music was blaring from speakers in the ceiling. Tony was in the kitchen, and Demira was on the island, dancing to the music by nodding her head up and down violently and stomping her feet.
“Oh, hey, you made it,” Tony yelled over the music. “Come in. Do you want a mug cake?”
“What's a mug cake?” Steve called back.
Tony held up a mug. “It's a cake,” he said. “In a mug. You make in the microwave. Pepper says I'm not allowed to use the oven anymore. Want one?”
“I don't know,” Steve said. “What does it taste like?”
“A cake,” Tony said. “In a mug. It takes two seconds. It's a modern marvel. Instant dessert.”
“Like Jell-O pudding?” Steve said.
“Even instanter,” Tony said. “Here, I'll just make you one.”
“Steve,” Issie said, sternly. “Live a little. Eat the cake in the mug.”
Steve shrugged. “Okay,” he said. He moved over to the island while Tony started throwing ingredients into a mug.
Issie wondered if it was a sort of dessert you didn't have to measure or if Tony just didn't measure it. Demira stopped nodding her head and flew down to the ground to meet her.
“Hey,” she said. “Welcome to the party.”
“Thanks,” Issie said. “What music is this?”
“Acey-Deecy,” Demira said. “AKA awesome music.” She nodded her head again.
“Is that a genre or a musical group?” Issie asked.
“Acey-Deecy is the band,” Demira explained. “The genre is heavy metal.”
“It's very loud,” Issie said.
“Yeah, I know!” Demira said, happily. “That's the best part.”
“Is it like disco?” Issie said. “Steve has that on his list. It's a kind of music, too.”
“No, whoa, no,” Demira said, holding up her wings as though Issie were threatening her. “Dude, it is nothing like disco. Don't even go there. Here, here...whoa. Okay. No. I'm gonna give you a list and you put it on his list. Heavy metal is way more important than disco.” She paced back and forth, listing off names—Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Metallica—her wings flapping passionately. “Listen to all of those before you even go near freakin' Donna Summers, okay?”
Issie nodded, a little taken aback. “Okay,” she said. “I'll...let him know.”
Demira pointed a stern wing. “Good.” She relaxed and smiled again. “What music did you jam to back in the dark ages?”
“Uh...just music,” Issie said. “Whatever was on the wireless. Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. Benny Goodman. Louis Armstrong. The Andrews Sisters. We didn't really jam. We just danced.”
“Oh yeah, old people music, that makes sense,” Demira said, with a nod. “You could do worse. I'd hate to think that, like, polka was the pinnacle of your experiences or something. You have so much cool stuff to discover! Oh my God, do you even know about Bohemian Rhapsody?”
“No?” Issie said, cautiously.
Demira's eyes widened. “Come on, we are totally doing this.”
The cake in the mug was really tasty, Steve had to admit. A bit salty, but good. Everything seemed a little bit salty these days because everything was so not salty back in his day. The ice cream was even better than the cake. One of the most amazing things about modern life was the variety and easy access to food. No more rationing, so many more types of cuisine. You could just walk into a supermarket and buy anything you wanted, no ration books, no saving up sugar rations for weeks to make something special, like Mrs. Barnes used to do to make birthday cakes. He knew that hunger was a big problem and he couldn't figure out why people didn't donate more to the hungry when there was so much food out there and it was so easy to make.
“So, did you survive your night amongst the rich and annoying?” Tony asked. The music volume lowered so they didn't have to yell anymore.
“Barely,” Steve said. “It's all so...”
“Fucking pointless?” Tony suggested.
“I was going to say insipid,” Steve said. He looked over to Issie, who was being bombarded by Demira. She reminded him of Dejeni, Howard Stark's dæmon, in a lot of ways. She had that same disregard for what was happening when she had something more important to talk about. Issie shot him a little smile and he smiled back. “But it was for a good cause, I guess.”
“Yeah, it's all for a good cause, which is making the people who attend it feel good about themselves and able to show what nice people they are,” Tony said. “Half of the people there don't give a fuck about the cause. They want the nice dinner and the nice dresses and the rubbing of elbows with celebrities.”
“Why do you go, then?” Steve asked.
“Because I like that, too. And because some of the money ends up where it's supposed to go, and it's good for networking, and there's an open bar,” Tony said. “I don't know, it's what I've always done. I was in a tuxedo at five, playing happy families for politicians. I'm doing other stuff now, stuff that's important. I can do a little ass-kissing on the side.”
“I guess it hasn't changed a lot since the War,” Steve said. “There was a lot of ass-kissing then, too.”
“Lot of ass-kicking, though,” Tony said, with a grin. “Sometimes you have to do one to do the other.”
“I guess so,” Steve admitted. “I'm just better at one than the other.”
“True, you suck at people,” Tony said. “You should work on that.”
Steve laughed. “I'll put it on my list.”
Demira flew up to the island, moving over to an MP3 player docked there. Issie judged the height of the stool and managed to leap up on it, her back legs scrabbling a little, then climbed up onto the counter to go to the music Pod, where Demira pecked at the screen. Different songs sped by until one started up. Tony reached to crank the volume and sang along to the song, which was a mish-mash of different rhythms and tempos and every time Issie thought it came to the end, it changed into something else. Demira danced and swayed and Tony played an invisible guitar and invisible drums.
“What's going on?” Steve asked Issie.
“I don't know,” Issie said. “But it's epic. I think.”
It was pretty epic, Issie admitted. Not quite what she would have considered to be 'good' music, but not as ear grating as some of the music she'd heard. The tune—tunes—were catchy.
“Nothing really matters...to me...” Tony finished off, as the song finally came to a close. Demira threw her arms over her head like she was celebrating and Tony held out his fist for her to bump with her head. “Was that your first time hearing that?”
“Yes,” Steve said.
“And isn't your life a million times better now?” Tony said.
“Sure,” Steve said, politely.
“No, come on, that is the best song ever written,” Tony said. Demira held out her wings in a disbelieving gesture. “It's universal. There is no one you will meet who grew up in a First World country that will disagree with me. You can go anywhere in the world and start singing that and everyone will join in. It's instant friendship in a song.”
“It's a bit depressing,” Steve said. “It's about killing someone and wondering what the point of life is.”
Tony's mouth opened, and he looked at Demira, who shrugged. “Okay, fair point,” he said. “But no one really cares about the lyrics; it's about the experience. It's an experience, Grandpa. Just experience it.”
“I did,” Steve said. “It was good. It's a good song. I liked it.”
“Are you lying?” Tony said. “Did Captain America just lie? Are you allowed to do that? Won't you be struck by lightning or something?”
“I wasn't lying,” Steve said. “It's a good song.” He looked over to read the information on the iPod. “Is Queen a person or a band?”
Demira shook her head, sadly. “He has so much work to do.”
Steve managed to conjure up enough enthusiasm for the lesson on Queen (which was a band) for Tony and Demira to drop the subject. And to be fair, he did enjoy the other songs he was played. Issie did, too; her tail wagged along to the beat and matched the tap of Steve's foot. Sometimes, back before the serum, she used to try to get him to dance when they were alone, but neither of them was very coordinated. Then they got coordinated but didn't have much of a reason to dance.
“I'll send you a Best Of,” Tony said, after a few songs had played. “Do you have an MP3 player?”
“I can play music on my phone,” Steve said. He could do pretty much anything on his phone; it was the very definition of the future Howard Stark had liked to wax on about. “Is that okay?”
“That'll work,” Tony said. “I'll send you some files. What else do you need? Have you done The Beatles?”
“Yep,” Steve said. “Sgt. Pepper, right? I've heard that—they're great. I liked them. I did Elvis, too. And The Rolling Stones.”
“Okay, so you've got your 50's, 60's and 70's there. Queen is 80's enough. 90's...” Tony looked around for inspiration. Demira flew over to his shoulder. “Oh, Nirvana. Have you heard Nirvana?”
“No,” Steve said. He pulled out his notebook. Issie came to look over the list with a discouraged little sigh. Every time he crossed something off, three more things popped up. Everyone had an opinion on what the most important thing that occurred in the last 70 years was. “Is that a band or a person?”
“Band,” Tony said. “Sort of a grunge alt-rock group.”
Steve wrote it down.
Tony leaned over to take a look at the list, Demira flying down to stick her beak between the pages. “That's good,” he said. “Put Rocky on there. It's a movie. There's a sequel, too. You saw Star Wars?”
“Uh, I think so,” Steve said. “I keep getting it confused with Star Trek. I saw the movies.”
“Wars,” Tony said. “The movies are Star Wars. What did you think?”
“I liked the later ones more than the first ones,” Steve said.
This was apparently the wrong thing to say, as both Demira and Tony looked at them as though he'd just committed sacrilege.
“They were all good,” Steve backtracked. “I liked them all. I just liked the later ones more.”
Tony held up a hand. “Wait. What order did you watch them in?” he said.
“The order they go in?” Steve said. “I started with the first one.”
“Yeah, but the first one or the one that goes first?” Tony said.
Issie and Steve exchanged helpless looks. “The first one,” Steve said. “There were six of them, I watched them all, in the order they go in.”
“Did you start off with Anakin Skywalker or Luke Skywalker,” Tony demanded, as Demira flapped her wings in frustration.
“I feel like if you say the wrong one, you're going to be kicked out,” Issie muttered.
“Anakin,” Steve said. “He's a boy and he grows up and becomes the bad guy in the later ones. Luke is his son.”
Demira drooped in relief.
“Oh good, for a moment there I thought you were weird,” Tony said. “Well, weirder.”
“Yeah,” Issie said to Steve. “You're definitely the weird one.”
“So, I hear you're getting a shrine built to you,” Tony said. “At the Smithsonian. Whole big Captain America amusement park.”
Steve dropped his head a little, and Issie felt the familiar feeling of embarrassment wash over her. It was just like punching Hitler in the face again. For all that they were in the future, it was very similar to being in the past—although at least they were accomplishing something sometimes, instead of just being performing monkeys for show.
“It's not a shrine, and it's not just about me,” Steve said. “It's about all of us. All of the unit.”
“Uh-huh,” Tony said.
“And Peggy, too,” Steve went on. “I was hoping she might be able to see...but I don't think she's well enough. I said I'd come and tell her about it, though.”
“You hang out with her?” Tony asked. “Huh. Isn't that weird? Wasn't she your...what did they call it back then? Your 'doll'?”
Issie snorted a laugh at the idea of Steve ever calling Peggy his 'doll'. Peggy would not have enjoyed being called a 'doll' by anyone, period. It would be a good way to have her accidentally-on-purpose shoot someone. Even now.
“We weren't in the mafia,” Steve said, with a smirk. “I don't know, it's maybe a little weird, but it's not any weirder than anything else I've dealt with. Talking to Peggy is normal. It's good. I mean, she's older now, and she sometimes gets confused, but I'm glad to see her again. I didn't think I was going to. It doesn't really matter that she doesn't look the same.”
Takeo was mostly the same, Issie found. He was how she remembered him. Sharp and funny and fierce. He'd jumped all over her the first time she'd come into the hospital room. She'd never seen him that animated about anything. He'd licked her face and nearly knocked her over, while Peggy and Steve laughed and cried.
Tony's lips quirked up at the corner, a little. “I suppose it must be nice to talk to someone from the old gang,” he said. “She was always a cool old lady.”
“You know her?” Steve said.
“She and my dad were friends,” Tony said.
“Right, of course,” Steve said, with a shake of his head. “I keep forgetting—I know you're Howard's son, but you're older than he was the last time I saw him, so it's hard to put the two ideas together sometimes.”
“Yeah, well, I grew up with him and I find it hard to believe sometimes, too,” Tony said, bitterness in his tone. “Peggy used to come and have tea with Jarvis. She let me show off to her, so I always thought she was pretty awesome.”
“She had tea with a computer program?” Steve asked.
“No. No, we're not that advanced yet,” Tony said. “Jarvis was my dad's butler. He basically raised me. Well, he tried, I was never really very good at being raised.”
Issie hoped Steve would realize he was on dangerous ground and retreat soon. Howard Stark was a sore subject between them. It was hard to believe he became like Peggy and Tony described him. Issie sometimes wondered if it was partly Steve's fault for crashing into the ice, but there wasn't a lot he could have done differently. Steve said it might have all turned out the same, anyway.
“Oh, that's right, Peggy mentioned him,” Steve said. “I remember her saying she was 'quite remarkable', I think is how she put it.” Tony's lips quirked up again, and Demira gave an unguarded smile. “Is that why you named the computer program 'JARVIS'? After him?”
“Mim thought I needed someone to kick my ass and insult me,” Tony said. “Right, JARVIS?”
“It's my honor to serve, sir,” Living Room JARVIS said.
Demira hopped back over to Issie. “Hey, do you know about Tetris?” she asked.
Issie once again felt like answering both 'yes' or 'no' would result in equally bad outcomes. “No,” she decided on.
Demira did an excited little dance. “Oh man. You're just like an empty vault waiting to be filled with awesome.”
Issie wondered if it was worth trying to explain she thought she'd already put quite enough 'awesome' in her vault so far that day.
“Turn that one on its side, Steve, and put it over in the corner,” Issie directed, hopping in place at his feet.
Steve moved the block into place and felt oddly triumphant when a bunch of rows proceeded to explode and disappear. Issie lowered her front legs and wiggled her butt, pleased with his gameplay.
“You don't have to move the controller,” Tony said, from beside him. Demira sat on his head, watching Issie and Steve more than the screen. “It's not a Wii. It doesn't sense where you are in space. Just keep the controller still and use the arrow buttons on it.”
Steve frowned as a bunch of blocks appeared in lines underneath his, bumping his up the screen. “Did you do that?” he asked. Issie rose indignantly. “That's not fair.”
“Listen, I'm literally playing one-handed without using hard or soft drops or the ghost block. I can't help it if you suck,” Tony said, without apology. He put down his controller and took a sip of beer. “I could play with my feet, that's the only conceivable way of me being less good. This is my childhood, Ice Cube. I bet you could beat my ass at jacks, but I own Tetris. Literally. I own the rights to it.”
“I didn't ask you to play,” Steve reminded him. “You told me to learn, and then you joined in.”
“Right, well impulse control has never been my strong suit,” Tony said. Demira nodded, very solemnly, making Issie giggle. “And watching other people have fun without me is like my kryptonite. Kryptonite is—”
“Superman,” Steve said. “I read the comics when I was a teenager. I gotcha.” Issie sat down in disappointment as the blocks reached the top of the screen and the game ended. Steve took one last swig of the beer Issie had insisted he accept. “I think I've had enough fun for today. I should probably go before I overstay my welcome.”
“If I didn't want you here, believe me, you'd know it,” Tony said. “You and Bruce treat fun like you're on an all-boredom diet and can only cheat on Sundays or something. You're allowed to have a bunch of it in one go, you don't have to ration it out.” He drained his beer and told JARVIS to turn off the game. “Before you go, I should show you your digs.”
“My digs?” Steve echoed.
“Yeah, it's modern for 'place where one lives',” Tony said.
“It's not that modern, we used it, too,” Steve said. “I just don't know what you mean. What digs?”
“Your apartment,” Tony said. “In the tower.”
“I have an apartment?” Steve said. He looked to Issie to see if he'd missed something she'd picked up on, but she looked as confused as him.
“Did I not mention that?” Tony said. He looked up to Demira, who shrugged. “We finished it last week, that's why I asked you to drop by.”
“You didn't mention that at all,” Steve said. “I wouldn't have taken up your time if I'd known.”
Tony rolled his eyes. “Get over yourself, Cap, I seriously have no hospitality. I would kick you out in a heartbeat,” he said. “Come on, you can come check it out and get the codes in case you need to crash here at some point.”
“You didn't have to go to all that trouble for me,” Steve said. “I have an apartment already.”
“I have, like, twelve,” Tony said. “You can have more than one. There's no law against it. This is going to be our headquarters. You should have a place of your own. Everyone's got a floor. Bruce is semi-moved in, but he's playing hard to get. He's worse than you at having fun.” He rose, and Demira flew in an excited circle around him to land on the coffee table in front of Issie. “Come on, stop being a boy scout.”
“I don't really—” Steve began.
“Steve,” Issie said, sternly. “Go and look at your apartment.”
Demira was very excited about the apartment, she flew ahead of Tony when the elevator stopped and did a few loop-de-loops in the air, before circling back to them again. Issie looked around at the big lobby area, which had geometric flooring and screen in the wall like a bulletin board.
“So, Pepper and I weren't sure if we should go retro or not,” Tony said, as he strode over to a set of double doors and punched in a code. “We kind went of art deco on the bedroom, but everything else is more modern. You can switch it up how you like.”
“I'm sure it will be fine,” Steve said, giving Issie a wide-eyed look as they followed him in.
“Whoa!” Issie said.
Demira landed on the floor in front of her. “Do you like it?” she asked. “It's pretty groovy, huh?”
“If groovy is a good thing, then yes,” Issie said. “It is.”
The living room alone was bigger than the apartment Steve had grown-up in. If you added in the dining room and kitchen, it might even be bigger than the one the Barnes had lived in, and there were six of them in the family, not just two. All this space was just for Steve. It was in muted reds and blues and had lots of chrome and silver finishes. There were screens all over the place, even in the door of the fridge.
“Welcome home, Steve,” Apartment JARVIS said. “I have no messages for you at present. I will require access to your e-mail account to synch.”
“We'll worry about that later,” Tony said. “Let him take a look around first.”
Demira did a little tour of her own. “Barton's above you,” she said, pointing upwards with her beak. “And Thor is above him, because, you know, thunder god probably needs a launch pad. Then Tony is below you, and then Natasha, and Bruce is below her. You're sort of at skyline level here, see?” She flew up to land on one of the dining room chairs. “Pepper thought Steve could use it for art.. and stuff. Because the view is nice. He likes to art, right?”
Issie nodded, going over to the window with Steve to take a look. The view was amazing. New York looked incredible from up high. “He was going to go to art school, but then he went to the Stark Expo and...”
“Got all muscly and stuff, yeah,” Demira said. She cocked her head to one side. “How come you didn't get muscly? I mean, did you change at all?”
“I don't know,” Issie said, with a frown. That was something she'd always found a bit annoying. Steve got bigger and faster and stronger and she was exactly the same. “I got a bit bigger. I think. Steve thinks I didn't, but I think I did. I think he just got bigger too, so it didn't seem like I did, in comparison.”
“Huh,” Demira said. “Well, I guess you get by all right.”
Issie nodded. “I can run a lot faster,” she said, wagging her tail. “I like that. Steve used to get really out of breath. It's nice to run.”
Demira turned and pointed with her wing to another room. “Gym,” she said. “Lots of running to be done there.”
“Groovy,” Issie said.
“'Kay, so bedroom is over there,” Tony said, pointing. “En suite—the shower heads are all fancy, so have JARVIS teach you before you use it or you'll drown yourself. King bed, in case you decide to bring a lady friend younger than ninety home with you. Or, you know, older than ninety—I'll judge, but quietly.”
Steve huffed a laugh. “Thanks."
“And there's an extra bedroom over there,” Tony went on. “If you want to bring regular guests over. Gym, kitchen, living, dining room. Lots of bookshelves for getting your read on old school-style. We left some space for you to add your own stuff. And we gave you a drafting table, in case you wanted to draw or, I don't know, write letters of admiration to your lady friends. Or guy friends, whatever floats your boat. You can rearrange stuff, we won't be offended.”
Steve was overwhelmed—not just at the size of the place, but the thought that had gone into it. He didn't think anyone knew him well-enough to build him an apartment that was this much to his tastes. Nothing was too fancy, nothing was over-the-top. Surprising, since Tony seemed never to be under-the-top. Everything was just simple and cozy. It was nice.
“This is nice,” Issie said, coming up to his feet and looking up with a smile.
“It is,” Steve said. “I don't know if I'll use it, though. I feel a little bad that he went to this trouble for me.”
“Not just you,” Issie said. “Demira says everyone has a floor. You're right in the middle. So you can be 'captainy'.”
Steve smiled. “Good, I know how to do that,” he said. He crouched to rub her head for a moment. “I suppose it will be better than staying at hotels when I come to New York.”
“I hope we don't have to come back too soon,” Issie said. “I don't want to go to any more charity things.”
“I think we're done for a while,” Steve said. He straightened up. “This is really great, Tony, thank you. I appreciate it.”
Tony shrugged. “I have a lot of money and an unnecessarily big building,” he said. “Might as well do something with it. If the world starts to end again and we all need to join forces, we might as well have a nice bed to sleep in.”
“I suppose so,” Steve said. He pointed to the television in the living room. “Does Tetris work on there?”
Tony grinned widely. “I'll make sure you have a system."
Tony and Demira left very suddenly with a look that Issie remembered from working with Howard. The 'I have an idea look' that meant he would leave without even finishing his sentence, let alone the conversation, and usually Dejeni was already on her way, anxious for him to get a move on.
“You know your way out, right?” Tony said. “If not, JARVIS'll help you. Good to see you! Stay for however long you want. Good luck with the bastards in Washington. Don't let them turn you into a freak show, that's what they want.”
“Black Sabbath,” Demira called back to Issie.
“Black Sabbath,” Issie promised. She looked up to Steve. “Do you want to take a closer look?”
“Might as well,” Steve said, with a shrug.
They headed into the bedroom. Issie jumped up on the bed to investigate.
“It's like a rock,” she said, bouncing a few times. “You'll like it.”
Steve sat down on it and barely made a dent. “Yeah, it's good,” he said. “Really uncomfortable.”
Issie grinned. She jumped down to look in the bathroom next. The tub and shower were separate, and the tub had jets in it. The tile was very geometric and looked like the patterns rich people had in the pictures in Steve's day. Issie supposed Tony, who had grown-up rich, might not have known that Steve and his mother didn't have this sort of decoration in their apartment. They took whatever they could get, including the awful couch that was the worst sort of Victorian chintz but Issie really missed sometimes.
“I really don't know when I'm going to use this,” Steve said.
“When you need to pee,” Issie said.
He put his foot out to kick at her, playfully. “I mean the whole thing,” he said. “When am I going to need to live in this place? What would I even do here? It's huge.”
“Maybe you could come and visit more often,” Issie said. “When you have time off.”
“I don't think Tony wants me kicking around,” Steve said.
“Steve, he built you an apartment,” Issie said. “I think that's a good sign he doesn't mind you being here. Besides, it was sort of nice, wasn't it? To visit? You don't visit anyone.”
“Who would I visit?” Steve said. “Pretty much everyone I know is dead.”
“Then...you should meet alive people and visit them,” Issie said.
Steve gave a laugh. “I'll put it on the list,” he said. He sat down on the edge of the bath. “It is nice. I had a good time.”
Issie came up and nudged his knee. “See? I told you it would be fun.”