Main characters: Jarvis, Steve
Referenced characters: Tony, Natasha
Summary: AU where Steve is a wheelchair user, but had the serum anyway. Jarvis knows he doesn't need taking care of, but he kind of wants to anyway.
So for this 'verse, imagine the build-up: Steve grows up in Brooklyn just like in canon, with his best friend Bucky. But at some point in childhood, he contracts polio, which mostly affects his lower limbs, leaving him using a wheelchair to get around. He doesn't even try to enlist, but he does sign up for a science program doing research, run by Dr Erskine. Erskine recognises him as a great candidate for the serum, despite his disabilities, and uses it on him. It doesn't regenerate the nerves damaged by polio, but it does make him strong and fast in his wheelchair, and his sheer grit and determination (and some of Howard Stark's technology) does the rest.
He crashes the plane just like the canon version, wakes up in a new century just like the canon version. And some of that's okay: there's a lot more provision for people with disabilities now, Tony Stark can make him a chair with all the bells and whistles, and due to his example back during the war, nobody thinks people with disabilities are automatically useless.
But still. There's a lot to get used to.
Jarvis is aware that Steve Rogers needs very little help from anyone. If Jarvis were to monitor his biometrics, which of course he has, he would find no trace of asthma, no lingering signs of polio infection beyond the dead and unresponsive nerves. His respiration rate is good; his metabolism excellent. He navigates the tower with more grace and skill than anyone but Ms Romanov -- and Jarvis finds that he has to call it grace and skill, because Captain Rogers moves as though the chair is a part of him, never once clipping a corner or botching a turn.
But still, Jarvis watches him. He reminds Captain Rogers of the location of the lifts and ramps. He tries to anticipate the captain's needs. He compiles the news and interesting articles onto the captain's tablet each day, and feels a frission of something that would be delight if he were an organic being when Steve -- when the captain approves. He pays more attention to him than he does to Tony, giving over the larger portion of his processing power to watching the captain, to designing upgrades for his chair, to thinking of ways to improve the captain's experience of living in the tower.
"You're only supposed to have a crush on me, Jarvis," Sir says, when he enters his workshop for the third consecutive morning to find Jarvis projecting wheelchair schematics for him.
Jarvis is aware, cognitively, of what a crush is. He is not sure whether he is capable of that emotion. It doesn't feel like the right word to describe his regard for the captain, his admiration. He tells Sir as much, and is not blind to the way Sir pauses to think that over. He is surprised when Mr Stark is happy to drop the subject and recommence work on the new prototype.
There is no point in worrying over whether he can or cannot feel this emotion, he decides, in the end. It's clear that he does. And just as the captain uses everything he has at his disposal to live in a way of his choosing, Jarvis has assets he can use. He has the liberal limits of his programming and his ability to monitor and adjust his own parameters -- Mr Stark has always delighted in giving him freedom and watching the way he develops -- and he has a voice.
It takes longer to work out what to say. Scouring his archives, the internet, any resource he can find, won't tell him how to begin. This situation is, he knows, entirely new.
He chooses a time when the captain is alone. He pauses to monitor the room, the captain's body language. For a construct with his processing speed and capability, the pause is unbearably long before he says, softly, "Steve? Can we talk?"
It's a beginning.
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