My dad passed on Wednesday, January 5th, 2017at 17:05 CST from Stage IV lung cancer (which metastasized to the brain and L5 vertebrae) that caused pneumonia, and a perforated bowl that lead to free air being in the abdominal cavity causing sepsis. He fought as hard as he could even after hospice came in to help him pass peacefully. He was very active up until the day after Christmas. We took him into the ER for pneumonia on the 28th. He was in pain for around four days, a week at the max. He went out the way he would have wanted; fast, painless, with dignity, all while leaving us with good memories. At first, I didn’t want Sara to go up to the ER because we all thought that he was going to be able to recover and I didn’t want her seeing him like that. When we did find out that he wasn’t going to make it until the end of the week I had her come up a couple times (once earlier in the week, and once Wednesday). She has been the biggest help for me these past couple months and especially in the past few days. I’ve had to stay strong for my mom because I wanted her to know that she had an outlet and have her not feel as if it were bringing me down as much as it was. Sara has held me and let me cry on my shoulder anytime I needed it. She was with me when I was telling Dad some of my final words and even added some very touching, heartfelt words. Even though she only knew him for a short time and had but a few interactions with him, she knew that he liked her and he knew the same. He wasn’t able to show us that he heard anything, but knowing my dad I’m sure her message got across. I have never been with someone so sincere and caring before. I absolutely love this girl. I’ve brought up the idea about marrying her to Dad and he agreed that she was a great fit. So I guess in short what I mean to say is, thank you Sara. Thank you for being here, letting me talk to you, cry with you, and for being such a big help. You have honestly been a godsend. I adore you and your amazing ability to warm not just my heart, but my whole body. You and your family have welcomed me into their lives and have given me tons of support and have shown an immense amount of trust. I couldn’t imagine any other father allowing their daughter’s 18 year-old boyfriend taking his truck to the airport and back. Your family has been an awesome addition to mine. Thank you for being the biggest help in the world and for knowing me so well in order to give me exactly what I need to feel better. I love you more than anything, Sara.
In which there is a trebuchet to be built, but never enough time.
………. “This was my idea, and I want a wooden trebuchet.” Kneeling on the workbench next to Tony is a girl in shiny, red shoes, who punctuates her statement by slamming her hand down onto the table, the plastic band around her wrist clacking against the steel.
“You didn’t even know that word until I said it.” There’s a rustle of paper, then Tony leans down to skritch at it with his pencil. “Okay, pop quiz. It’s 827 AD and we’re all eating turkey legs and dying of paper cuts when, suddenly, we’re being invaded by big guys in metal skirts. We’ve got a trebuchet, which is made of wood, because we don’t know any better and you can’t swing a plague-ridden cat without hitting a damn tree. We’ve got our payload in the sling. Then what?”
The girl’s feet rock like metronomes for a few beats before she answers, “The weight box falls.”
“… Uses gravity to make rotational acceleration,” she begins slowly, her voice picking up speed, building on her excitement, until the last few words tumble over themselves to get out, “And all the energy building in the throwing arm goes into the sling, and the payload flies!”
Tony bangs his fist down onto the table twice, like a gavel, and sits back with a proud grin. “Close enough! What are we gonna use for a counterweight?”
She shrugs. “Oh, right. Uh…. I dunno. A big rock. Or we could tie a bunch of dead people together.”
Whatever Tony had been expecting, that wasn’t it, and Tony shows it by throwing his head back and cackling. His mirth rides a line down his throat, a strong swipe of charcoal on a crisp, new canvas. “I appreciate that cutthroat attitude, pangolin. Ten points to Slytherin.”
The girl smiles brightly and lifts her chin, a little cocky under the praise, preening, but her victory visibly falters when she catches sight of Steve standing there, staring like an idiot. Tony follows her gaze; the open, genuine smile on his face couldn’t have hardened into plastic faster than if Steve had been holding a camera and shouting that he was from The Daily Bugle.
For lack of anything better to do with his hands, Steve lifts one in an awkward greeting. “Uh, sorry to interrupt.”
“Cheese it,” Tony whispers to the girl. “It’s the fuzz.”
“Is that Captain America?” The girl whispers back, eyes wide and tracking over Steve’s shoulders, narrowing critically. “He looks so tiny out of his costume.”
Tony clutches at his heart, grinning, and falls back dramatically against the worktable. “You have to stop being so perfectly brutal, gumdrop. My heart already belongs to another.” To Steve, he says, “Hey there, Cap. What brings you down to my level?”
Well, that’s bait dangling on the end of a hook if he’s ever heard it, and he can see the glint of anticipation in Tony’s eyes, but Steve doesn’t rise to it. He’s getting better at this whole ‘restraint’ thing. Buck would’ve been proud. “You invited me, remember? You sent me a message to come here whenever I had a free second.”
It actually said Oh captain, my captain! Our fearful fight is done! The quinjet has weather’d every rack, the assholes we fought are dead. I forget the rest of the poem. Get your stars and stripes to the lab, ASAP. STAT. PRONTO. OTHER TERM FOR RIGHT THE HELL NOW.
At the reminder, Tony perks up and snaps his fingers. “That’s right. I’ve got an upgrade to your uniform that I’ll need you to test, but I got a bit sidetracked. Made a new client.”
The new client can’t be more than three and a half feet tall, with large eyes made slightly dim by exhaustion and her dark hair twisted into neat plaits. He glances down at the plastic band around her thin wrist and spies the her date of birth—11/6/2004—and her first name.
“Nice to meet you, Eleanor.”
“Ellie,” she stresses, sitting back with a defiant twist to her lips. “Only my Aunt Maite calls me Eleanor.”
There’s one in every family. Aunt Megan refused to call him anything except Steven Grant, and then would usually tack on a reminder that he was going to Hell for some reason or another. “Ellie, then.”
She gives him a serious nod, then abandons him altogether in favor of the workbench. He steps closer for a better look. The drafting papers scattered on top have surprisingly detailed diagrams of axles and constructions that look like catapults, all drawn with a steady, expert hand. There are even hair-thin lines made to look like wood grain. Hovering over every edge are brackets and numbers, inches and centimeters, calculations for volume and wind resistance. There are also doodles of robot arms playing catch with catapults; tiny Iron Men flying with little girls on their backs.
Steve looks up and locks gazes with Tony, who raises his eyebrows as if to say I dare you to open your star-spangled cakehole.
Having restraint is a work in progress, apparently, because Steve inhales to rise to the bait, then pauses. “Wait, are you Eleanor Gutiérrez from—”
She doesn’t even bother to lift her head. “From Make-A-Wish? Yup.”
“I thought you were here to see Hawkeye.” A fact that Clint’s been wearing like a badge on his sleeve for the last two weeks, crowing to anyone who will listen (or at least stand still long enough) that, out of everyone she could have picked, she chose him. Steve’s pretty sure he saw Clint wandering around the lobby just now in a nice shirt without any Cheetos dust on it.
“I had to tell them something to get me here,” Ellie says with exaggerated patience, like she can’t believe Steve’s so slow. “They said that Mr. Stark was too busy to meet me, but it needed to be Mr. Stark.”
“So you lied?” There are a lot of things about this century that he can abide—like Wacom tablets and Hot Pockets—but lying to achieve one’s goal is not one of them, especially when it’s also a huge security risk.
Ellie gives him a flat stare. “Yep. What’re you going to do? Call the Avengers?”
“I hope your mom isn’t too attached,” Tony barely manages through his laughter, starry-eyed. “Because I’m adopting you.”