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The Best Playlist

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The shower had done a lot to relieve the tension in his shoulders, but Steve was still restless from the 'training exercise.' That was what Fury had called it anyway, but Steve had his doubts. It had been a mess. Even Natasha hadn't come out of it unscathed.

The men on his squad didn't know how to react to him. He held their respect but not their confidence. He was Captain America, and the uniform was a symbol. Before the exercise, one of the men had come up to shake his hand, and thank him for his service. But Steve Rogers was from another time, a 'less enlightened' time.

He didn't know what these men thought, but survival out in the wilderness hadn't changed much. He was probably better equipped, seeing as he wasn't used to the creature comforts expected in modern life.

He was reminded of his first, and last, USO show overseas. The soldiers had seen him as a clown in red, white and blue. He could acknowledge he hadn't proven himself at that point, but once he had, he'd never had to do it again with the men on the ground.

That was over seventy years ago, but for him it was only a few. Finding himself surrounded by men who didn't trust him to know which end the bullet came out of a rifle was infuriating.

It only became worse when after ten days in the middle of a forest, in the rain and mud, they'd stumbled onto a hidden Hydra base. They had been as surprised as the Hydra goons. When Steve took charge, the others didn't want to follow. It was only when Natasha had snapped at them that they fell into line.

Peggy would be proud to see a female agent who could command obedience like her, but it was bittersweet for Steve.

When they'd returned to base and had their five-hour long debriefing, Steve was ready to climb in bed for the next 48 hours.

But he couldn't sleep.

Perhaps he was so used to working with the Commandos. There was never an evac for them. They would raid a Hydra base and then have to trudge back to camp. Steve had always taken the first watch. Sometimes he wouldn't sleep at all, not until they were back at base, where he would be out like a light.

Now he was just here, alone in his rooms.

Right when Steve resolved to go down to the gym to release some frustration on a punching bag, his eyes landed on the clean silver and black box on his desk. It had arrived the morning they'd set out, so he hadn't more than glanced at it, much less opened it.

Steve moved over to the desk chair to get a better look. It was a very plain box with a simple Stark Industries logo etched over a precise sketch of the tablet. Steve used his fingernail to cut open the thin plastic wrapping, and carefully lifted the lid.

The tablet was black, nestled in foam. He picked it up, and was surprised at how light it was compared to the weight of the box. He placed it gently on the table. He wasn't sure if this was a good idea. His computer was bigger, but seemed more durable with its plastic case. Steve felt like he would crack the tablet's glass screen by just looking at it.

Underneath where the tablet had been was a collection of pamphlets and cords in perfect slots. He flipped through the safety booklet and the manual before settling on the "Quick Start" guide.

It had lot of pictures and few words, but it all seemed to swim in his vision. He tossed the guide down, not having the patience to figure this out right now. He felt dumb and useless and lonely.

He suddenly desperately wanted someone to talk to.

-------

Tony was in his workshop when JARVIS lowered his music. "A call from Mr. Raber, sir."

He looked away from the holograms of the new smart watch the board was pushing him to make. "Who?"

"Mr. Steve Raber. He is the young man from SHIELD whom you helped reach 'The Google' two weeks ago, sir."

Tony blinked. "Steve. Right." Truthfully, he hadn't thought about that conversation since it happened.

"Shall I redirect his call to SHIELD's actual technical support?" JARVIS asked.

"No!" Tony said far too quickly. "I mean..." He really should...

"Putting him through," JARVIS said, apparently deciding it was rude to leave him waiting any longer.

Tony sighed. "Tony St— stellar tech support speaking."

"Hey, Tony," Steve's voice came through. His voice held a smile, though he sounded tired.

"Steve." The grin growing on Tony's face was purely fake, and in no way a response to how warm Steve's voice was. He closed the smart watch blueprints and went back into SHIELD's tech support to bring up his fabricated profile. The only activity was the ticket he submitted for Steve the last time they spoke. "How's that tablet treating you?"

"Uh," Steve hesitated. "I haven't actually used it yet."

"What, really?" The second Tony got anything new, he couldn't resist tearing right into it. He always hopped into the newest Iron Man suit as soon as it was fabricated. How could Steve leave a shiny new toy just sitting there for weeks? "Did you at least open the box?"

"Yes. Just now," Steve admitted apologetically.

"I'm wounded," Tony said with an exaggerated groan. "I send you a brand-spanking-new tablet, and you let it collect dust? I bet you haven't even checked your email, have you."

"No." Steve sounded like he was wincing. "I'm sorry."

Tony sighed. Okay, he figured he tortured the guy for long enough. "I probably haven't checked mine either," he confessed. Pepper and R&D knew not to email him if it was actually important. "So I assume you want to set this baby up, right?"

"If it's not too much trouble," Steve said, like Tony was about to beg off it at any moment. Which he really should. Deadlines, paperwork, a teleconference soon...

But Tony wasn't about to let some bored real tech guy pop Steve's tablet cherry. "So you opened the box right? You've got your tablet?"

"Yes."

"First thing's first. Smell it."

"Huh?"

"Smell it. You need to fully appreciate it. What does it smell like?" Tony asked.

"Metal?"

"No, that's the smell of innovation."

Steve was silent for a long moment. "People don't normally do this, do they?"

"No," Tony admitted. "But they should."

Steve huffed a laugh.

"Trust me, Steve, normal is the most boring thing you could ever be."

He heard a hum down the line. He couldn't tell if Steve was agreeing with him or humoring him. He'd take it either way.

Tony grinned. "So, getting back on track..."

"Please."

"I want you to lick the screen—"

"Tony," Steve laughed.

"Alright, alright. You're gonna want to plug it in. Grab the cable from the box."

"Which one?" Steve asked.

"Uh." Was there more than one? Tony designed the tablet but he didn't actually make any decisions on the packaging. It was quick work to bring up the specs. "The thicker one. The real thin one is a set of headphones." Amazing high-quality headphones. Tony didn't do things by halves.

Steve made a sound of surprised recognition. There was the faint sound of fumbling to get the headphones out. "They're missing the part to connect to the tablet."

"The plug. It doesn't have one. They're bluetooth. Wireless."

"Really?" Steve sounded amazed, and Tony lamented the fact there were people in the world who didn't know about bluetooth. "I've been trying to listen to more music, but there's so much of it."

"If you need any suggestions, I'm full of them." Too many of them, if Pepper and Rhodey were anything to go by.

Steve huffed a laugh. "Everyone is, and they all suggest different things."

"All you need to know is that I'm right, and everyone else is wrong." Tony was going to ignore the laugh that came through the phone. "Tell you what. We'll start up your tablet, it'll take a while to set itself up anyway, and I'll help you connect those to your phone." Tony paused. "Please tell me you aren't using a flip phone. I can't knowingly talk to someone through a flip phone."

"I don't think it flips," Steve offered.

"Does it fold in half?"

"It's not supposed to."

Tony took a moment to imagine someone forcibly bending a smartphone in half to put in their pocket. Terrifying. "Then it should have bluetooth."

It was easy to help Steve start to set up the tablet. Luckily they'd already set Steve up with a Stark email so there was no new account to create.

"Okay, what kind of phone do you have?" Tony asked, wondering if he should just help Steve through the settings from the get go.

There was noise like the phone was being removed from his ear. "The Stark Industries logo is on the back, so I guess a StarkPhone."

Tony grinned, delighted that Steve seemed to remember to look at the back. The fact it was a StarkPhone was gonna make all of this easier too. "Great. So you'll want to pull down the top menu by dragging your finger down from the top."

There was a long pause. "Okay."

"Do you see that little gear?"

There was another pause. "I, uh, right now?"

"Of course. When else?" Tony asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Do I just call back when I'm done?"

Tony blinked, then put his head in his hands. He guessed he couldn't fault Steve for not knowing this stuff, but it was driving him a little crazy that he needed to explain everything. He reined his annoyance in. "No, Steve. You can put the call on speaker. Take the phone away and push an icon that looks like a speaker." He waited for the ambient noise to change. "You there?"

"Yeah. Sorry," Steve said, his voice sounded further away, but the embarrassment in his voice was pretty clear.

Tony winced. So maybe he wasn't that successful at hiding his annoyance. "My fault," he admitted. And now he was owning up to his mistakes. Who the hell was this guy. "So!" he started, forcing the cheer a little but he was gonna push forward. "Swipe down from the top. You should see a little gear at the top right," he repeated.

"Oh." He must not have known about the drop-down menu. "Oh! The settings." He sounded delighted. "I thought you had to find the icon with the other icons." Did he mean the apps menu?

"You can, but this is quicker."

"Yes," Steve agreed.

"Find Connections..." Of course once his headphones were slowly blinking blue and his phone was showing an established connection, there wasn't anything to test them on.

"Go back to the home screen. There's probably an icon with a music note on it at the bottom. It's just called Music."

Steve hummed. "It's asking for my Stark log in. That's my email right?"

"Yep," Tony confirmed. Steve wasn't a dummy. He was quick to follow Tony's instructions, and they seemed to stick in one form or another.

"It says I'm not signed up for a 'subscription' but I can get a free trial?" Steve said slowly.

Tony stopped. He could set up Steve with the free trial, but that only lasted a month. Tony didn't know exactly what Steve's finances were. Did SHIELD pay him? Did he have a credit card? Did he even have a bank account? For all Tony knew he stuffed his money under the mattress. Just the idea of having to go through all that was giving him a headache.

It was an easy decision to just give Steve's account a lifetime membership. There. Done.

"Go to the app tray, and close the app. Then reopen it. It might work then."

"I don't remember subscribing to anything," Steve said. He was probably frowning. "You told me not to read the Terms and Policies things. Was that— Oh, it let me in."

"Computers are finicky, Steve. When in doubt, turn it off and on again. It's like the tech support mantra." Which was all perfectly true. It just didn't actually pertain to this instance. But Tony had learned a while ago, some people tended to object to him buying them things. Steve seemed like that kind of guy.

"So, you are going to hit the menu button at the top, three lines, and go to the Playlist tab. You'll hit the options button at the top right, three dots, and select New Playlist." Tony instructed, following the instructions on his own phone.

"Okay," Steve said slowly. "It's asking me to name it. Do I just call it New Playlist?"

"Oh no. You're going to name it 'The Best Playlist.' Because that's exactly what I'm going to give you."

"Music taste is subjective, Tony," Steve said, but he was clearly amused.

"Only people with bad taste say that," Tony dismissed, getting the laugh he was hoping for. "I'm going to email you a list of songs, and you're going to add them to this list," Tony explained, making himself a SHIELD tech support email. He started listing out all the hits, ACDC, Black Sabbath, Queen, Guns N Roses, and hell, some Beatles and Rolling Stones. You had to start the guy right. "When you—"

Tony stopped when he saw the flashing notification from JARVIS alerting him that his teleconference with the board was beginning in 5 minutes. He'd normally let them wait, but the meeting was to discuss the new clean energy plan, and he actually cared about this.

"I've got to cut this short, Steve. I'm sorry," Tony apologized, and really meant it. "I'm going to include some instructions on how to add the songs to the playlist, and then how to play them."

"You've been a big help. Thank you." Steve still sounded tired, but maybe not as tense. "I'm sorry for taking up so much time."

Tony waved a hand dismissively. "It's not you. I just have to get to my other job."

"Oh." Steve sounded a little surprised. "Right. Okay."

"I'll talk to you later," Tony said, surprised that he hoped he would.

"Yes. Yes. Thank you, Tony," Steve said, sounding like he is was smiling before ending the call.

Tony quickly finished his instructions and sent the email. He sighed and leaned back. When the meeting started, his mind was only half on the topic, wondering if Steve was listening to music yet.