America walks into the house, taking off her thick coat and hanging it on the pegs by the door with the others.
"You're back early?" Kate looks up from her book. "Or did the clock stop?"
"No, some blithering idiot was making problems at the school. How. . .how. . .*how* can adult students be allowed in class if his *darling* Geoffrey isn't? Well *moron*, your darling Geoffrey isn't in class because he is *working*. He is *working* because you *stole* his education fund *before* the damn sickness and spent it all trying to bribe your way into getting a bunch of big orders, figuring you could return it as soon as possible and nobody would know what happened. But somebody found out what you'd done and you've been in federal prison for the last seven years. Meanwhile your son got his education interrupted by the damn disease and now he's working and taking one or two classes a semester for his job. And you don't *wike* that, he should be attending school full-time and joining a sorority. Because working for a living *disgusts* you. Asshat." America drawls. "Christ, this is one reason I'm glad I never knew my father."
Kate shakes her head. "For everything my father did, the one thing he didn't was mess with my education fund. Mom would have gutted him with a nail file."
Darcy walks into her building, petting cats and dogs who wander up to her. She checks bowls of food and water before grabbing leashes and taking the dogs out for a walk, petting the pit bull mix she'd found with a kitten. The kitten is curled up on a cushion and after the dogs have been walked he curls up around the kitten.
"Miss Darcy, Sir has been trying to contact you." FRIDAY says when she goes upstairs to her apartment.
"Connect me FRIDAY."
"Yeah?" Darcy asks, head stuck in the refrigerator where she's making herself a salad.
"I'm coming over this weekend to start adding floors to your building, even more than I had planned. Fill water containers in case I have to shut off the power."
"Yeah, I can do that." Darcy sighs. "I'd wondered why all those water containers had suddenly appeared in a room downstairs." After dinner she starts bringing them up, filling them with the hose she uses for the large humidifiers and fills four before going to bed, at four a night she'll have a good stock before Stark starts work this weekend.
Stark looks at the number of containers and frowns.
"I got seven filled downstairs for the pets. I got three more pallets."
"Start filling them all until I turn off the water. I don't know how long this will take and better safe than sorry. And I want to put up a wellhouse in the backyard with a handpump next spring."
"That I could use. For the garden if nothing else."
"I see you got a copy of Becka's plant watering system."
"Yes, once the other building are. . .empty, I'll bring it out and use it on the garden. I know damn good and well some damn fool would complain otherwise." Tony nods. Two hours later Darcy gets the call.
"Gimme five minutes, I've got one more container to fill to empty this pallet."
"Let me know."
"Okay, it's full." Tony turns off the water, draining the pipes by filling tubs. The water soon stops and he settles into work.
Pepper comes into the bathroom when she hears water running, finding a Stark in the shower. . .but not the one she'd been expecting. "Darcy?"
"Dad's working on my building, starting to add floors up and down." She says, turning off the water and sticking her head around the door.
"You missed a spot of shampoo." she says automatically. Darcy pats her hair and sighs when she feels the stickiness.
"Thanks. I was rinsing when you came in. Anyway, I have plenty of water for the animals and to drink since Dad brought out *pallets* of water containers. But he won't be able to turn the water back on permanently for a . . .week? JARVIS, ask FRIDAY when Dad said he'd be able to turn the water on? Or ask Dad if he's not too deep in his work a fire engine could go by and he wouldn't hear it."
Pepper sighs but nod, knowing that mindset Stark gets into. She has had to override JARVIS, come into his lab, look at what he was working on, and physically drag him away unless it was something that would kill all of them if he was interrupted.
"Sir says three more days, by then he'll have a bypass in so he can work on the areas and not disturb your water." JARVIS reports. Darcy ducks back into the shower. "Oh JARVIS, ask Stark if there's any way we can bring out sonic showers. Pepper could shove him into one when he's grungy from working and get the worst of it off him and his clothes before making him shower." Pepper blinks and slowly nods. "That *would* help with the dry cleaner bills."
Darcy blinks and shakes her head as she sees the new staircase going down when she comes back from work a couple days later. She'll deal with it later.
"Your water is back on." Tony says as he comes up the circular staircase.
"Oh thank god, I want to *soak*. Today has been *hell* at the growing building. Some old fool strolled in and demanded everything be shut down because growing *food* is an affront to him. Needless to say I took great pleasure in tossing his ass out the door. Some damn fool came in trying to talk us into hiring him to advertise the business, we can't possibly. . .damn fool was stunned when he saw all the people coming in and buying food without any more advertising than word of mouth. We had a damn catfight over food, both of them wanted *that* exact basket of cherry tomatoes. Needless to say they both took other baskets and *liked* it. Some miserable old fool *lowered* herself to come to the growing building, she didn't want to because we didn't have a Michelin star and *howled* when she found out we just *sell* the food, we don't cook it. Fell to the floor screaming until she was removed. She tried running back in because we *have* to be doing something illegal just growing and selling the food until I had the damn fool arrested. *Everybody* could hear her screaming in the back of the police car, I gotta feel sorry for them. They were taking her directly to the hospital for a 72 hour mental health hold. Personally I think she's just a miserable old bitch trying to make herself *ssssssooooo* much better than she really is."
"Sounds like it."
"Did you get an earful from some damn *efficiency* expert that we need to build another tower for businesses. He was *horrified* that our entire building is just for growing *food*. I tossed his useless ass out and told him to get the fuck over himself before somebody takes exception to his stupidity and puts his ass on the ground. . .*hard*. He came back with the police demanding we be removed and I cussed his fool ass out before they took him off. He tried coming back and I punched the little bastard telling him that people *need* food, they don't need fifteen businesses in the building instead of the vats and growing area. He was gonna *sue*. I told the fucking fool to go right ahead, the judges can use a good laugh at his expense."
"Yes, Pepper called him a fool and so did his boss when he couldn't explain *why* we had to build another tower when there were plenty of empty buildings all over Manhattan and the other boroughs. Besides him wanting a monument to his massive ego and fantasy dick size. He spluttered when I said that, Pepper just sighed, and his boss cackled. . .then telling him to get his ass back to the office and to stop bothering people. They don't *need* tons of new buildings built to just sit there empty, they already *have* buildings just sitting empty. I swear he pouted. Fools like that always go into government service to lord it over everybody else. Dogs are being walked, everybody has food. Your mail is upstairs in your apartment and there's food in the oven." The door opens and Kate and America follow the dogs inside.
"Did that fool try to come back to the school?"
"Yes, he *still* hasn't figured it out that despite how often he sobs it's not *fair* his darling Geoffrey isn't in school, it's not the school's fault. He's the damn fool who stole his son's education fund to bribe people into bigger and better contracts. *he's* the one who thought he could return it and nobody would know the difference. *He's* the one who went to prison for seven years. His son is the one who had to take care of the family and had his education disrupted by Trask. Now his son has graduated and is working a full-time job to keep a roof of his, his mother, and his younger sister's head. His mother gets SSI but it's not enough to pay all the bills and his sister is graduating next year. *She's* got a full scholarship thanks to the boxes."
"He's got a good job and is taking classes for it at a different school. Which is *embarrassing*. He shouldn't *have* to work and take only one or two classes a semester, he should be sitting in a sorority getting drunk and stupid. . .like he did."
"Instead the boy's a damn grownup instead of a stupid whiny fool?"
The whining fool sobs on the floor of the courtroom. "Leave me the *FUCK* alone you goddamn fool. Me sitting on my ass getting drunk and stupider like those kids you used to hear about on tv is not *embarrassing* you. I am working a full-time job to keep a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, and to pay the bills. I don't see *you* doing any of that. Hell, you haven't even talked to any of us since you got out of prison." He looks at the other table in disgust. "I lost a day's pay for *this*?"
"Indeed." the judge purrs after the son walks off in disgust.
"But can't my wife pay the bills?"
"Your wife is on SSI thanks to her health, her check *cannot* pay all the bills, including food and clothing."
"But he should be in class instead of working. I. . .I. . .how am I supposed to hold my head up. . ."
The judge tears strips off him, calling him a damn fool and saying he'd *never* be able to hold his head up. . .not with *stealing* his son's education fund.
"But I thought I'd have it back before it was missed. Are you sure. . ."
"Yes, I'm sure that he can't just drop everything and go to school full-time like *you* want. Many young people are working and taking classes for their jobs now."
Dumbass runs off wailing, sobbing that he can't *live* with his son working.
"Than do the damn world a favor and die already you goddamn fool." a court officer snorts in disgust. Dumbass gives him a bretrayed look but he gives him a look of pure hatred and he runs off sobbing again. How can everybody take his son's side. . .don't they know working and taking classes is. . .is *unnatural*.
"Fucking fool, reminds me too much of the idiots trying to stop colleges and universities from taking in adult classes." Pepper says in disgust as she reads the news.
"Yep. Because oh my god, you should only attend university eighteen to twenty-two, not when you actually graduate now or need a degree." Tony drawls. "Old fool will *never* be able to hold his head up around town, people got a long memory of a parent stealing from a child and that same child having to take over as the adult in the household."
"Good riddance to bad rubbish." Darcy snorts in mid-October. "JARVIS, tell the boss that that fool wailing about his son not being in class was found dead. From the empty bottles in his cheap room he likely drunk himself to death. Because oh my god, his son actually having to *work* and take classes embarrassed him. Fucker never stopped to think how *stealing his damn education fund* and going to prison might have embarrassed *them*."
"Buh. . .buh. . .but thinking of others and not myself would make me a damn grown up." Tony drawls a few seconds later. "And fools like that can't have *that*. And now the poor kid has to come up with money to bury the miserable old bastard because I doubt he set money aside for *that*."
"Who does he work for?"
"One of our affiliates. Yes, I'll cut a check for him." Pepper's voice says. She delivers it to the house, the boy's mother sobbing as she realizes they don't have to worry about another bill her son will have to pay thanks to his worthless father. She pats the young man on the shoulder. "You are worth a thousand of that fool, his damn whining about how you working *and* attending classes because you had to take care of your family proves it. Moron doesn't want to be reminded *he* stole your education fund. He wouldn't be the victim then."
His mother nods firmly.
"Your father always was trying to get all the attention on himself. That's why he stole your education fund, to try to make himself rich and successful. He was *stunned* that we actually had him arrested for it." she says snidely. "And the *howls* when he was actually convicted and I slapped him with divorce papers. Oh dear god, how. . .how. . .how could I *do* that to him?"
"Don't look at me, I was *happy* when Mom divorced the fool. I can't say he was ever my father. . .he hated the idea that he had a *girl*." His sister says sourly. "You notice I never *had* an education fund? He never *planned* on me going to school."
"No, no he would have married you off to some old fool to further his rise in business." her mother sighs.
He's sure his father is wailing in hell when there's no lavish funeral or people sobbing because he's gone. He goes back to his classes at ESU, his father might have been horrified at him not attending classes at a *good* school but thanks to his father's abject *stupidity* he can't afford Columbia.
Tony walks off the elevator a few days later, finding America holding down the front desk. "Ms. Potts has a headache, I told her to relax for a few hours. Darcy is in the soapmaking area, she'll be done in an hour. The babies are with the nannies."
"Please tell me the idiots aren't rioting?"
"No, just one thing after another after. . .well, you get the idea. Inventory needs to be done before the end of the year, end of the year reports need to be done. Mr. Brandon is about ready to start shooting some of the damn fools in Congress. He's. . ." The phone ringing interrupts her. "Tony Stark's. . .yes, he just walked in Mr. President. Line two, Mr. Stark."
Tony walks into his office and picks up the phone. "How is everything?"
"Congress is full of whiny two year olds who want everything the way *they* want it." He snorts in the White House. "When I saw how it was on Haven when people actually worked together. . ." Tony nods in his office. "Now, when are you going out again to do a count of the world population?"
"After the first of the year. Richards and I will be looking in on the crops we've planted in the other dimensions and plan on creating chicken farms run by robots in some of the lost countries. Both fresh eggs and dried if possible."
Brandon nods in satisfaction on the other end of the line. "I would *like* to bring out some of the factories from Haven."
"Yes, we've been talking about it in the future. We'll *need* them."
Tony looks at the large building that just went up, the covered runs will let the chickens out to get some exercise and peck at the ground for insects or whatever chickens do without animals attacking them. A duck farm and a turkey farm are nearby.
Darcy blinks as she looks at the 2 1/2 dozen flats of eggs in the stasis room. "Are the chickens producing already FRIDAY?"
"Not in the new farms Miss Darcy, these are from the chicken farms we purchased or brought into. Sir is in the process of looking at facilities to dry eggs to have on hand in case of emergency."
"FRIDAY, tell Pepper and Dad we need to keep an eye on use by dates. With stasis we can keep it much longer than normal but. . . Most emergency supplies are turned over every six months or so."
In the office Tony sighs but nods.
Darcy leans in the doorway. "Flooding, have a home that has shields that come up to protect people. Keep the water out and keep them safe inside." A dam in the state had failed and a community had been flooded.
"Hmmm. Hurricanes and tornadoes. Maybe a signal that goes out during alerts." Tony taps his upper lip with a pen.
"Too bad the houses aren't self-contained, in cases of flooding the houses could float." Weasel says.
"Too big a chance of the houses floating away. They'd need a way to be anchored in place." Coulson says quietly.
"In a flood, the anchors would most likely snap anyway. . .maybe make them like the houses we saw on tv, where the house is on poles and the bottom floor is only storage and *meant* to break away?" Darcy says. The others look at each other and nod. "Something to think about. Brandon's demanding all dams be inspected and if they're as bad as that one was, they be shut down immediately."
"Problem is they knew the damn dam was bad for years but nothing was ever done until it collapsed." Darcy snorts.
"Yeah, but that's government for you. For somebody like Stark who is making plans in case the worse happens they let it be somebody else's problem."
Darcy snaps her fingers. "Oh, water tanks. Am I going to need one for the house since we added so many floors?"
Tony moans and Coulson and Richards sigh. "The small things escape you."
"Dad, a fund from the power boxes. . .well, two actually. One to help pay for plumbers, I saw on a show once the damn prices are outrageous to come in and clean out the gunk in the filters when the tanks are emptied yearly." Tony sighs but nods. "Second one?"
"A fund to help pay or defray medical costs. Human and animal."
"Yes, medical costs are outrageous." Weasel shudders. "The biggest reason people declared bankruptcy before the epidemic was medical costs."
"Yep." Darcy sighs. "There's a lot of jobs they can do to help pay back the money from the fund if they don't want it to feel like charity."
"Just like people pay back the money to clean homes, apartments, or buildings where there was a smoker." Matt says. The others nod or agree with him. "Oh Matt, talk to me after the meeting." Darcy says as she turns around to leave.
"The names of printers who can translate books into braille. I know before the epidemic there was volunteer groups that would type out braille words to translate picture books for kids. Pepper wants to make sure we have the option of being able to print braille and large print books. Oh, is that audio books for the blind group still around or do we have to talk to somebody about that too?"
"I. . .don't believe so." Matt says slowly.
"I'll have to find out one way or the other." Darcy says, shutting the door behind her.
"Audio books. Uncut." Coulson says.
"Gods yes, the damn abridged ones always cut out the best parts. Yes, they cut down on the number of cassette tapes but most books are on CD now." Weasel moans. "Let alone downloads or streaming audio."
Tony makes a note to look into it.
"Next year will be the last of the two school sessions in New York. I have a list of extra classes I'd like to offer in the future in a type of boys club setting." Tony puts the list on the screen.
"Are these going to be free or low cost?"
"No, but there will be scholarships if kids *really* want to to take the classes and make an effort to prove they want it." Tony says. The others nod. "And I'd like to get lists from teachers of students they'd like to see go on." Nods again.
Darcy walks into her home, dropping the leashes. The dogs all sit to allow her to remove their harnesses and head up to the second floor. Darcy checks on the food and water, adding a few things to the list of what she needs to stock up on before heading up to her apartment on the top floor. Kate looks over from checking the casserole in the oven.
"How are your classes?"
"Good, I don't know what's different this semester but we're not having a bit of trouble with them."
"Maybe the fool who was blubbering about his precious son *working* was it for the semester and we can concentrate on our classes?" America asks, coming out of the growing area with stuff for a salad. "How do you make croutons?"
"Cut bread up and put it in the oven to dry out, with whatever topping you want. With the stasis chambers you can make as much as you want. I like the stasis chamber rather than the refrigerator for a lot of stuff, even in the refrigerator it gets moldy during a heat wave." America and Kate nod.
Darcy shakes her head as she looks at shoe prices online. Pepper looks over her shoulder and moans. "What the hell?"
"Yeah, for that price I can get two or three cheaper ones. . .even if they are wide width." Darcy snorts.
"Are the damn things made of gold? Hell, it's not because factories are short-staffed. Not anymore."
"Yep. They're just looking at making money." Darcy checks other sites and puts in an order. "There, three pair of shoes for what they wanted for one."
"You're paying for the damn name."
"Pepper, meetings?" Tony asks as he comes into the office.
"Eleven with Mr. Stamper, from computer services who's the archivist you want to start putting together a crew to go over everything that will be going on the servers for the Manhattan clean building." Darcy says absently. "Pepper, you gotta head to your appointment now."
Pepper looks at the clock, curses softly, grabs her purse and car keys, and heads for the elevator. "Some damn fool with a wild hair up his ass is calling for an audit. Of *all* Stark's holdings. She's meeting a Ms. . ." Darcy looks at the notes. "Lise-Ann Medici, she's a controller brought in by the state to kick his ass up around his ears before, during, and after the audit. He's blubbering that 'can't they be hiding *something*. . . What they're doing is a *hell* of a lot of work, they're going back *years*. . .even beyond a regular audit. I'm pretty sure it's some asshat who was looking for you to give him money to go away."
"Probably." Tony snorts. "I hope the fool ends up having to pay for wasting everybody's time and money."
"Yep, the government is getting sick and tired of people using them to get something *they* want legally. I think he'll see at least six months in a jail cell. Maybe more if he's done this before."
"Yeah, you don't start out big. Not even the fools who got America fired. . .they had a history of frivolous lawsuits."
"Mr. Stamper to see you Mr. Stark." Darcy says formally.
"Don't pull that shit Darcy, you being formal makes me look for a bunker because the world is ending." Tony snorts. "And I didn't even do it." Cliff snickers despite himself.
"Have a seat." Tony waves a hand. "Okay, I'm sure you got better things to do than listen to boring shit. We are putting up at least one clean building in Manhattan for servers. I want you to be the head of the crew sorting through all the *shit* on various servers to see what needs to be saved and what can be tossed. At a whiny fool's head if they keep blubbering it should be saved." Cliff nods. "Libraries? Beyond what is on microfilm or microfiche already."
"Yes, Museums if possible. Universities. . .we're already copying lectures and textbooks to servers because we lost teachers and scientists."
Cliff nods. "Primary schools?"
"Yes, in case somebody tries shutting them down again. I plan on offering classes in areas that the schools don't offer in a boys and girls club type situation."
"We have the permission of both the governor and the president. We will have a panel to go over stuff that *you* don't consider essential and *has* to be saved. But the agency does. *They* will have the ultimate authority, no matter how much the idiots in whatever agency *whine* they need copies of memos telling their peons to shut off the lights when they're not in a room or regulating how many pieces of toilet paper they should use at one time."
"Should use the damn memo, wiping your ass is the only thing it's fit for." He rumbles.
"Sir, I've studied AIs. Would it be possible to create a limited one to run the clean building?"
Tony looks at him, blinking. "I hadn't thought of that but it would be perfect. Right now just plan on them being in the buildings in our area, I'll talk to the governor and Brandon about them have access to other buildings."
"Sir, are we going to be including fiction, tv shows, and movies?"
"Definitely, we have to have leisure activities, people are not robots. They cannot just eat, sleep, and work."