Title: Robots have feelings, too
Characters: Bruce Banner, Tony Stark, Dummy the robot
Disclaimer: Charactes belong to Marvel, not me.
Summary: Bruce befriends Dummy
Author's note: Originally written for the Avengers kinkmeme
“No, no, not that one. The small one, over there.”
The robot freezes in mid-turn, and the three metal fingers twitch to the side a bit, opening and closing. As if it were confused. You're projecting things, Banner. It's just a robot. Then again, it's Tony's robot, and Tony loves putting AI in things. Even tough he's been a bit stingy with the “I” part in this one. Which is not the robot's fault. So Bruce reaches over, tapping the instrument with his finger.
“See? This one.”
The robot gives a happy little whir, and reaches down to gently pick it up and hand it to Bruce.
“So, how do you like Dummy?” Tony is displaying that shit-eating grin he always gets when he's out to rile people up. Too bad it never works on Bruce.
“Oh, he is quite helpful, thank you,” Bruce says, his voice smooth, a pleasant smile on his face. He's always been good at poker, but ever since he's had to live with the other guy, he's become even better at not letting anything show. It discourages most people.
And in this, Tony is most people. His face falls, just a little, dark brows knitting, his lips pursing into something almost like a pout. Then, he puts on a smile: “Glad I could be of help. If you need anything else, just holler.”
Bruce is a very patient man. He has to be.
“See the tube over there, third one from the right? Would you please take it and slowly – slowly! - empty it into the beaker?”
Dummy tilts his head (or is it his hand? Bruce is confused as to what to call it in his mind), fingers twitching, the tiny motors whirring away. It's like watching a small child trying to figure out multiplication for the first time. It's kind of endearing, actually.
The robot reaches over, fingers opening, and then he stops, hovering over the tube. Bruce gives it a small grin: “Yes, that one. Good boy.”
Dummy picks up the tube, and Bruce heaves an inaudible sigh when it doesn't break under the robot's sometimes still clumsy grasp. The arm swings around in a smooth arc, and Dummy empties the content slowly into the beaker.
“Thank you very much, Dummy.”
Bruce's mother had always told him that you get a lot further with people if you're polite to them, and it seems that this one goes for robots, too.
Tony is almost glaring at him from his workbench over at the other side of the lab, and yes, the silent glee goes down like warm honey, Bruce's lips twitching into a smirk. Dummy and him are a team now, functioning like a well-oiled machine, with Bruce only having to vaguely point and name a tool, and Dummy picking it up and handing it to him in seconds. And it's always the right one, too. Bruce makes sure to always thank the robot, which is swaying slightly in time to Tony's blaring metal.
“Oooh, this is brilliant. Now that's what I call perfect figures, wouldn't you?” Bruce can see Tony open his mouth to say something, but nope, he's not talking to Tony right now. “High five, buddy.”
He holds up his hand, palm out, and Dummy spreads his metal claws and gently bumps them against Bruce's hand.
Bruce can almost hear Tony's teeth grinding from across the lab.
“Okay, Banner. How'd you do it? I mean, you having control over the Hulk is impressive, but that? That's a damn miracle right there.”
“Oh, you mean Dummy?” Bruce raises his eyebrows, feigning surprise and innocence. “It wasn't all that hard, actually. Patience and positive reinforcement, mostly.” His lips quirk into a grin: “I figure you never had a dog when you were young.”
“No. Just a cat. Which was actually my mom's cat, and it was always jumping up on my desk, messing up all of my stuff.”
Bruce chuckles: “Figures.”
Tony scowls, then shakes his head, heaving a sigh as he turns his attention back to the Iron Man helmet. There are a few minutes of silence, then Tony's voice cuts through the music once again: “I've got to hand it to you, Banner. Sometimes, you really are the bigger genius of us both.”
Bruce looks up, and sees Tony smiling at him, that gently, shy smile he reserves for the times he's actually being sincere. Got to hand it to Tony, he's not a sore loser.