Unlikely Singularities – Chapter 46


All I Want for Christmas: Wicked Ones

December 22, 2016

Tony carefully, carefully set the new prototype ocular contact into the wand insertion tool and watched Darcy out of the corner of his eye. He had called her up to his workshop on the premise that he needed to review the temporary housing situation for the team – whom were scheduled to arrive from Canada that afternoon, but then he had studiously ignored her after she opened the door. Right on target, first time for everything, DUM-E had knocked over a container of hydraulic lubricant between Darcy and the door. She was trapped inside until the robot cleaned it up. And Tony had assigned Butterfingers to the task, knowing it would take three times as long as necessary.

A small part of his brain did wonder if trapping a beautiful young woman in his lab so he could perform experiments on her made him an evil villain. He promptly scoffed at the idea. Villains, mad scientists in particular, never achieved their ultimate goals. Or even small milestones. Tony’s rate of success instantly precluded him from being labeled a bad guy.

Tony,” Darcy whined, “Can you please do something about this. I have actual work to do, you know? And a plane to catch?”

We all have planes to catch, Lewis,” he responded, keeping his back to her so she wouldn’t see him adding the artificial tear solution. Slightly higher salinity on the surface of the eye would help with transmission. And the resulting irritation was unlikely to do more than make her eye pink. Maybe a little bloodshot. And a thirty-two percent chance of temporary blindness. But it would definitely be only temporary. Eight, twelve hours, max.

Yes, but not everyone has the luxury of having the plane wait for them, Tony.” She pushed herself up onto a table, irreverently scooting aside equipment

They should. I can’t even imagine – commercial air travel? I don’t know how you survive, Lewis. Have you seen the statistics for the germs on those seats? And the food-”

They don’t serve food anymore. Just pretzels. When was the last time you were on a commercial plane?”

Eh, I’ve seen them in movies. Peanuts?”

Nah, too much risk for allergies. Only in movies? That’s sad. Or awesome? I’m not sure.” She pulled out her phone and started checking messages. Excellent, distracted.

Awesome. At least you can drink.”

You have to pay for alcohol now. Even in first class only the first drink is complimentary. Air travel pretty much blows. Like, blows big, hairy, wrinkled moose balls. Super bad.”

Tony had to blink away that image. Lewis was nothing if not descriptive.

She continued, “And my Dad invited Mom and Sheryl too, like always, but Sheryl’s schedule is actually free, so they’re coming. I think Sheryl wants to do a like, late Hanukkah thing. It is so weird that she can reconcile paying thousands of dollars to have their house decorated with Christmas lights, but still insist on keeping a kosher diet. So we can still have prime rib for Christmas dinner, but Dad would never serve bacon at breakfast while Sheryl is there. He thinks it’s rude. Hello? It’s not like she isn’t aware of the concept of bacon. Nobody is going to make her eat it. And if I want to invoke the shame of my ancestors and break with the teachings of-”

But you’ll see us at New Year’s, right?” Tony backpedaled hard when he heard the anxiety in his own voice. Fucking absurd. He carefully recapped the fake tears and forced himself to sound nonchalant. “I mean, it’s just the world’s coolest sub-mature human being that you would be disappointing. No big deal, Lewis. I understand if you have better things to do, but the kid-”

Oh, don’t try to play me, Tony.” She laughed. “You know I wouldn’t miss the big day for anything. Maria’s adoption will be the highlight of my year – which is a pretty big deal, all things considered. And I was told there would be cake, so, there’s that. I have to run back up to the facility to check on Jane and say bye to Thor, and maybe stop by the Tower just to make sure all my little ducklings are following orders, and then I’ll head out to Malibu. You’ll have me for three whole days, Tony. Imagine what Pepper and I could- What is that?”

This?” He gestured with the tablet in his left hand, keeping his right low and inconspicuous. “You’ve seen a StarkPad before, Lewis. You have one. Although, you’ll be interested to know, I’ve been tweaking the design and playing with some new palladium filaments in the-”

The other thing, wise ass.” Her eyes were narrow behind her black-framed glasses. Not ideal, but that was why Tony had thought to also order a wire speculum. He whistled, and U whirred over, helping to box Darcy in and carrying the ophthalmology kit Tony had put together.

What? Oh…Oh this!” He held up his hand as if he was seeing it for the first time. “Well, you know how you are always saying that StarkGlass would be great if only you didn’t have to wear glasses and-”

I’ve never said that.” She looked ready to push off the table, so Tony took two big steps until her knees were pressed between his hip and U’s chassis.

Oh, what? No, I’m sure that was you. Yes, now I remember. It was when we were talking about you having a more hands on role in Team activities and organization. You wanted to try out some of the sweet accessories. Yes, I was saying how it was a shame that you were always so busy, and then you said-”

I said I wanted in on the next design of the uniforms, so I could ogle the supers. Tony. What the hell are you doing?” Darcy’s face twisted with irritation, disgust, and a twinge of concern.

Tony had dropped his tablet and clasped his left hand over hers. She glanced down, “Are you touching me, Tony? Are you okay?”

I just. I feel this is a moment, Lewis. We should share this moment. All of the things we have accomplished together. Look into my eyes, Lewis. Contemplate the deep, er, connection that we share through this vast working of, of, justice. Yes, justice!”

Are you fucking drunk?”

U! Now!”