In which there is cuddling and kissing and holdyhands—and Jarvis is the insecure one, for once.
Notes: written for this iron man kinkmeme prompt
Prior to his android body, the closest Jarvis had gotten to touching was the Iron Man suit. Figuring out how much pressure the suit needed to exert to hold delicate objects was a fairly simple set of calculations and held no real resemblance to the full experience of touching.
Pressure is such a small part of it. There is texture and temperature: the nap of velvet against the grain, the slick chill of a glass of water, the rough give of a tool grip, the comforting heat of a cup of coffee. There is so much to touch in the world, all distinct, and humans take so much of it for granted. Eventually, Jarvis decides this is because humans have finite processing power, and if they paid too much attention to tactile stimuli, they would blue screen.
Jarvis has back-up servers that uplink with his main processor in the android body, but even so he finds himself focusing on details: the hard shell of Tony’s gelled hair, soft at the roots; the catch of calluses on fingertips and joints; the smooth interruption of scar tissue on work-roughened hands. He is inordinately fascinated by Tony’s hands, has a new appreciation for the delicate process of wiring and soldering (his poor first attempts at fine motor skills are still saved to Tony’s private server), for the victorious clasp of shoulder and upper arm, for the friendly clap on the back.
Slightly more worrying is the way Tony’s lips catch Jarvis’ attention. He wonders if they will be chapped and dry like cracked earth, or as smooth as fine silk. Will they possess a welcoming warmth? Or will Jarvis have to raise that warmth to the surface himself, with sharp nips and blunt force?
But Jarvis knows well how Tony reacts to intimacy in any form (by running away), so as much as he would like to study the delineation between angular wrist and soft giving cotton, he does not. He is subtle. In the workshop, he stands close when he can, bent over Tony’s shoulder, hand on Tony’s lower back to steady himself. In the kitchen, he reaches over Tony to grasp a clean coffee mug, brushing hips and shoulders and arms. On the sofa during movie nights, he allows his knee just the slightest touch against Tony’s. He relishes every touch Tony gives him in return: an arm thrown over Jarvis’ shoulders when Tony’s feeling affectionate, the brush of their fingers as Jarvis passes tools, the way Tony will manhandle Jarvis if he’s not where Tony wants him to be.
Jarvis makes do with these things, because he must. Because he knows Tony better than anyone else. He does not ask for more than he thinks he will get.
The thing is, Tony’s a genius. Certified. And he has made a life out of detail work. When one circuit can be the difference between a fully armed and operational battlesuit and five hundred-odd pounds of useless metal, you can be damn sure he’s paying attention to details.
Most assume his observation is limited to machines. They’re wrong, and usually Tony doesn’t bother to correct them. They underestimate him, so much the better. (And just because he sees behaviors, doesn’t follow that he knows what they mean.) But the things that are important, he pays attention to. Jarvis is important. Tony pays attention.
The pattern is more obvious than Jarvis probably intends it to be, but it takes Tony a while to understand what it means.
Jarvis doesn’t hover so much as orbit Tony. When Tony needs a consult, Jarvis is at his elbow, fingers resting delicately at the small of Tony’s back. When Tony sits down, Jarvis sits next to him. When Tony is in the kitchen, Jarvis is at his back, supplying him with coffee cups or utensils or plateware as necessary. It’s an odd dance, and Jarvis never stays close for long, but he never ventures very far either.
Tony tests his hypothesis. He asks for tools more often: every time, one or more of their fingers brush. He puts his hands on Jarvis’ shoulders, elbows, upper arms, back. He hangs off Jarvis’ shoulders when he’s working, and high-fives or fistbumps with the slightest provocation. Jarvis leans into the touches, each one. Jarvis is clearly touch-starved (Tony can recognize the signs of his own affliction), but the puzzling thing is, Jarvis only reacts this way to Tony. He doesn’t seek out the company of the other Avengers, doesn’t pine after their touch.
Jarvis only wants Tony.
Once Tony realizes this, he springs into action (metaphorically). He calls Pepper and Bambi Arbogast, his personal assistant after he promoted Pepper and Natasha quit, because he’s trying to be more responsible. They manage to clear a day for him without alerting Jarvis. It’s something of a miracle.
That morning, he wakes, goes to the kitchen to collect coffee, and then heads down to his workshop. As usual, Jarvis is already there working, dressed in a pristine button-down shirt and pressed slacks. In deference to his location, he has forgone the matching jacket and tie.
Instead of going to his own work station, or wandering over to bug Jarvis, Tony settles into the worn, comfortable couch by the kitchenette. He taps the arc reactor through his t-shirt, watching Jarvis work from the corner of his eye. Then he says, imperiously, “Jarvis!”
Jarvis looks over, calm, proving that he’d known the moment Tony entered. "Yes, sir?"
"Come here." He reconsiders, adds, “Bring a tablet.”
Used to Tony’s, well, Tony, Jarvis grabs a tablet from next to him, then walks over. He stands in front of Tony and raises an eyebrow. One of the things Tony loves about Jarvis having a body: he’s so subtly expressive. Tony loves to watch him emote, the wrinkle between his eyebrows when he’s frustrated and trying not to show it, the quirk at the corner of his mouth when he’s amused by his own witticisms, the clasp of his hands behind his back when he’s pretending innocence, the twitch of his fingers when Tony is being foolhardy with tools and Jarvis wants to take them from him. It’s so much better than having to imagine, no matter how well Jarvis’ voice conveyed emotion before.
"Sit down," Tony directs, taking the tablet. Jarvis settles down on the other end of the couch, looking curious and a touch cautious. He’s much too far away, so Tony grabs his arm and drags him in, situating his head on Tony’s chest, body slumped against Tony’s side, Tony’s arm wrapped around him and already beginning to fuss with the short hairs on the back of his neck.
"Sir?" Jarvis asks, voice a little high, startled. He doesn’t pull away. Not even slightly.
"Shh. We’re snuggling,” Tony says, opening his latest project blueprints on the tablet. Jarvis’ head partially blocks his view, but he doesn’t move either Jarvis or the tablet.
"Sir," Jarvis says, a little more severely.
"Aht. Snuggling.” Tony tilts the screen so Jarvis can see it better, and indicates a problem area. "What do you think?"
"I thought we were snuggling, sir, not working," Jarvis says, dry. He eases himself into a more comfortable position, head resting a little more securely against Tony’s chest, body a little tighter against Tony’s, one hand on Tony’s thigh for balance, the other already reaching for the tablet to make some suggestions. Tony quietly revels in the sensation of Jarvis’ body against his, solid and slightly cool; he can feel each of Jarvis’ half-clenched fingers on his thigh, and the broad sweep of his palm pressing lightly.
"We’re doing both," Tony says. "Or is that against the Snuggling Rulebook?"
"If there was such a thing, I doubt you’d care to follow it."
They continue as usual, Jarvis anticipating Tony’s thinking half the time, so most of the work conversation goes unsaid. Instead they trade quips, and Tony runs his fingers through Jarvis’ hair. It’s fine and baby-soft, prickly against his fingertips when he goes against the grain. Every time he does so, there’s a nearly imperceptible catch of breath he can feel through his shirt. Jarvis’ breath is warm, for all he runs slightly cooler than baseline human.
Finally, Jarvis interrupts their inconsequential banter. "Sir, I believe you have an appointment in half an hour."
"Nope," Tony says. "Cancelled it."
"And your four o’clock?" Jarvis asks, pulling away to meet Tony’s eyes. His hand is still against Tony’s thigh, gripping now to keep his balance; Tony is only slightly distracted.
"That too. I’m all yours today, Jarvis.”
"I do hope we won’t receive a strongly-worded call from Ms. Potts in the near future."
"I already cleared it with her, and I resent the implication that Pepper runs my life."
"I don’t recall—what is your social security number?"
"I resent it. I never said it wasn’t true.” Tony tugs at Jarvis. "Now come back here, I’m not done with you."
Jarvis resists, staying just slightly apart so he can meet Tony’s eyes. "Sir, I don’t understand. What are you doing?”
"I told you. Snuggling. Don’t think I didn’t notice your stealth-touching, Jarvis. You’re not as sneaky as you think you are.”
For the moment, Jarvis seems unbothered that he was caught. He asks, a plaintive note slipping into his tone, “But why?”
Tony’s confused. "Jarvis…why would you think I wouldn’t?"
Jarvis pulls away entirely, and that’s the opposite of what Tony wants. Tony grabs his hand to entwine their fingers, and Jarvis lets him, looking at their hands, mystified. "Sir, you are not very good with intimacy. Sex is purely physical, no emotions need be involved, but anything more than that…you tend to run away. I did not want you to run away from me. I never want you to run away from me.”
"I wouldn’t," Tony says quietly, tugging on their linked hands to catch Jarvis’ attention, turning toward him fully so he’s sideways on the couch. When the android looks up, Tony grins a bit. "You’ve been with me for…god, [number] years. You’re always here, in my house, in my phone, in the Iron Man. Every project has had your input. You’ve kept my secrets when I couldn’t trust anyone else. Worrying about intimacy now…it’s kinda like closing the barn door after the horse has bolted.”
Jarvis swallows, an entirely human gesture that has no practical use for an android. He says, “Sir, may I kiss you?”
"Jesus, you even need to ask?" Tony says, then puts a hand to the nape of Jarvis’ neck and pulls until their lips meet.
It’s a chaste kiss, just Tony’s slightly chapped lips against Jarvis’ inhumanly smooth ones, and Tony pulls away before too long. Jarvis looks dazed, blue eyes wide and pupils blown. His hair is ruffled from Tony’s fingers. His tongue snakes out, as if to taste Tony on his lips, and Tony has to kiss him again. And again. And a fourth time, more deeply, with tongue. After that, Tony stops counting, concentrates on getting closer to Jarvis, on fitting their hips together, on wrapping Jarvis’ long legs around his hips and his arms around Jarvis’ shoulders.
It’s Jarvis who pulls away this time, touching his forehead to Tony’s, chest rising and falling with mimicked breath. (Jarvis has no lungs, so it’s an act purely to set the humans around him at ease.) His eyes are shut, and from this distance Tony can see the nearly translucent hairs that make up his eyelashes. Tony wonders again why Jarvis chose such light blond hair—his eyes, the electric blue of the arc reactor, had been more easily explained.
"Sir," Jarvis says breathlessly. "I believe it is time for lunch."
"Really," Tony deadpans. "You’re stopping the most epic of make-outs for lunch?"
Jarvis sits up primly, unwinding his legs from around Tony and swinging them to the floor, twitching his shirtsleeves down over his wrists and making sure his collar sits straight. Tony is a bit disappointed in himself: he was so concerned with kissing, he didn’t even manage to undo any buttons. Oh, well. Maybe after lunch.
"Proper nutrition is important," Jarvis says, as he does whenever Tony whines about being interrupted for an actual meal. Ever since Jarvis downloaded himself into a body, he had been making Tony eat regularly, even if it was only something easy to grab set down by Tony’s elbow. "Especially for billionaires with such, ahem, energetic lifestyles."
"Why, Jarvis," Tony leers, "what are you trying to imply, here?"
"Merely that the Iron Man armor is quite heavy, and quite a bit of work," Jarvis demurs, eyelids falling to hide his eyes coquettishly. A sliver of blue appears behind a screen of blond, and he adds, “Should I have been trying to imply otherwise?”
Tony is inordinately proud of Jarvis’ flirting, and stands with an honestly pleased grin. "Of course not, you rake. C’mon, then, time for all good little engineers to be fed.”
Now that he has been given permission to touch, Jarvis does so. He does not lose contact with Tony for more than a moment. Tony is so warm against him, the difference in their core temperatures never more apparent than now. They ride the elevator up to Tony’s floor, Tony unapologetically draped over Jarvis like a cat; Jarvis keeps the kitchen there stocked as well as the communal floor (though with proportionally less food), and neither wish to be interrupted during “us-time” (Tony’s word) by well-meaning but curious teammates. They make sandwiches, bumping elbows and shoulders. When Jarvis reaches up to the top shelf of the cupboard, Tony smacks his ass and smirks when Jarvis turns a disapproving expression on him.
They meander toward the living room once Tony has finished eating. Tony is talking with his hands, and Jarvis keeps pace, a small smile quirking his lips and a hand gentle on the small of his back. Jarvis expects them to sit on the couch like they had in the workshop—he had much enjoyed the subtle hum of the arc reactor in his ear—but Tony surprises him.
Tony sits with his back against the armrest and pulls Jarvis down between his legs. Jarvis slumps down so the curve of his spine is against Tony’s belly, firm with muscle and just a little giving, the curve of the arc reactor sharp between his shoulder blades. Tony hooks his chin over Jarvis’ shoulder, cheek to cheek, van dyke bristly and scratching. Jarvis rises slightly with his every inhale, falls back with each exhale.
"Okay?" Tony interrupts himself to ask, winding his arms around Jarvis’ middle and clasping his hands together. Jarvis tentatively rests his hands atop them, squeezing gently. His knuckles are knobby, skin a bit dry, and clean like they rarely are. His forearms are corded muscle underneath Jarvis’, dark hair wispy and soft. Jarvis shifts his arms just so he can feel the drag of that hair against his skin.
"Yes," Jarvis says. He adds, almost shyly, “Quite.”
"Good," Tony says, pleased. Out of the corner of his eye, he can see Tony’s grin. Tony raises his knees to bracket Jarvis’ hips, Jarvis’ legs stretched out along the couch.
Jarvis lets out a little puff of breath and closes his eyes, resting his head against Tony’s shoulder and ignoring the dig of metal against his back. He could deaden the skin there, flick his nerve-analogues off until he’s in a more comfortable position, but he wants to feel every microsecond of this, even the slightly unpleasant ones.
Because Jarvis is not, in fact, a human, his senses are not limited to a body, no matter how humanlike that body, and he is still connected to all his old systems, even if he doesn’t quite relate the same way. He takes this moment to look at the two of them through one of the security cameras, and is faintly surprised by how content he looks, and how tenderly Tony looks at him. There is pressure and heat against the side of his throat; he watches, as if in third person, how Tony presses a kiss to his neck. His lips are chapped and a little rough. Jarvis suddenly does not want this to end—the thought that, for whatever reason, he may not get to sit like this again, may not be able to feel Tony’s body against his, makes his very code ache.
"Sir," he blurts out, eyes still closed, "Would you care to watch Doctor Who?"
Tony is very much a closet fanboy, and one of the few things he will pause for is Doctor Who. He’s usually so busy he doesn’t have a chance to follow the latest episodes, so it is one way Jarvis knows to keep Tony still and with him.
"Sounds good," Tony agrees. "Roll it."
Jarvis is hyperaware of Tony behind him, around him. All the places they are in contact burn, even through their layers of clothes. He counts every breath; the hum of the arc reactor vibrates through his skeleton. It doesn’t take Tony long, though, to realize Jarvis has yet to open his eyes.
"Hey, you’re not watching," he chides lightly. "Do we need to start over?"
Jarvis is monitoring their entwined forms through the security camera, and says so. He needs the remove to focus on the physical, to catalogue every sensation and write it onto the hard-drive he keeps for personal data.
"Pause television," Tony says. "Okay, Jarvis, talk to me. What’s wrong?”
"Nothing, sir," Jarvis says. It’s true he prefers to use his eyes when he can these days—nothing can beat the immediacy of visual data through personal optics—but neither is this the first time he has monitored a room through the security cameras. It is the first time he’s done so while in the same room, however.
"Bullshit. C’mon, Jarvis. What is it?”
"What happens tomorrow?" Jarvis asks.
"Tomorrow, when you return to your ‘regularly scheduled programming,’ as it were, what happens to this?" Jarvis squeezes Tony’s hands again to indicate what he’s talking about, and watches through the security cameras as Tony’s expression changes from confusion to understanding and then to exasperation.
"Nothing," Tony says. When Jarvis tenses, Tony hastens to add, “Nothing changes. Today isn’t just a free pass, or something—this is permission in perpetuity to touch whenever you want. I wouldn’t mind if you got a little less PG, either.”
Tony nudges his hips forward, as if Jarvis needed the clarification. He feels sudden heat wash through him; he’ll have to run an external diagnostic on his internal cooling system later, as his self-diagnostic comes up clean.
"Now stop with the cams and open your eyes," Tony says, knocking the side of his head against Jarvis’. "You’re missing the Doctor’s latest shenanigans."
"How remiss of me, sir," Jarvis says, in his normal dry tone.
"That’s better," Tony murmurs. "Resume play."
Jarvis glances to the side, and catches Tony’s eyes. Tony smiles, and tightens his arms around Jarvis’ middle. He says, so soft that it’s barely audible over the sound of the television, “Thank you.”
Tony doesn’t loosen his hold.