“Thank you Captain” the Ancient One replied, using her powers to float the Time Stone from the soldier’s hand and back into the Eye of Agamotto.
Steve nodded stiffly, his body tense and reluctant to leave just yet, but he turned away none-the-less.
“You're not going to ask me what it is that you want to ask?” the Ancient One inquired, causing Steve to pause abruptly in his stride.
“If you already know what I want to ask then why aren't you stopping me?” Steve curiously retorted in kind, his muscles tight in case the wizard did decide to strike out at him.
“You already know why I cannot” she stated knowingly, eyeing the cases in his hand.
His grip on the remaining Stones tightened.
He had intentionally planned it that way so that she couldn't stop him.
“Dr. Banner assured me that each of the Stones would be returned to the exact moment in time to when they were taken...But you're not Dr. Banner” the Ancient One pointedly declared, just on the edge of accusing.
Steve said nothing.
“Are you prepared to face the consequences of your choice?” she asked him gravely, knowing there was nothing she could do to stop him.
“Will it work?” Steve asked instead, pointedly ignoring her question.
“...At a great cost” the Ancient One replied disappointedly.
That's all he needed to know.
“And it's one that I'm prepared to pay” Steve exclaimed resolutely.
“And yet it is never you that does” the Ancient One pointed out, her tone soft yet sharp.
“So was I”
Steve shook himself out of his memories...And the guilt-laden grief that came with them.
“We're done here. Thank you for your help” Steve clipped, walking off of the rooftop once more. No need to spend any more time here than he already had.
Despite the Ancient One's warnings his mind was already made up.
He was going to do this.
And it was going to work.
Tony had called him The Man with the Plan.
And he was going to fix this.
He was going to fix everything.
He never let the fear of consequences stop him from doing what it was that he wanted before.
And he wasn't about to let them stop him now.
“Whatever it takes” he thought, the resolution in his eyes ready to burn anything in their path in order to do so.
Oh Steve. He just never learns does he?
“What do you mean you don’t know?! Bring him back!” Sam demanded at Bruce in terror.
They couldn’t lose Steve.
Not like this.
Not after they’d all lost so much, even with their victory.
“I’m trying! I don’t know what happened!” Bruce exclaimed in panic as he went over the calculations again to see where things had gone so wrong.
Oh God what had he done?!
He should have known better than to send Steve back in time without Hank, Janet, or Hope to assist him now that Tony was…
“Did something happen to the Watch? You said he could take as long as he needed...Could he have turned it off? Stayed in another timeline?” Bucky asked calmly, curls of worry knotted in his chest...But also resignation.
He had seen the look in Steve’s eyes before he left.
It was the same determined resolution in his eyes he saw the day he left for the army.
And when Steve Rogers gets his mind set on something there was no changing it.
The question was, what had Steve done?
“You think he stayed in the past?” Sam asked carefully, giving Bucky his full attention.
It was...possible...More than possible really.
Steve was never able to just let go of the past in any fashion.
Sure he was able to adapt and learn...But he was never able to let go of the life he had, or could have had before he went into the ice.
And the same went for other aspects too. He hadn’t been able to accept their loss against Thanos (A fact which he was grateful for, but still). In the five years after the Snap Steve lived, but he never truly moved on.
“If he did then we’ve got a major problem on our hands” Bruce declared almost frantically as he checked the monitors, desperately hoping that Sam and Bucky were wrong.
“What kind of problem?” Bucky asked tensely, anxiety building.
“The destabilizing our universe kind” Bruce replied, hitting a few buttons and turn-dials, hoping, praying that he could reconnect with Steve’s Watch.
“Then bring his ass back!” Sam frantically shouted.
“I’m trying!” Bruce shouted back in frustration, a bit of Hulk’s growl coming through.
Suddenly a ripple of energy tore the air, a bright white flash illuminating the woods, forcing Bruce, Sam, and Bucky to shield their eyes from the blinding light.
When the light began to fade the trio saw the silhouettes of two shadows forming within the center of the flash.
Bucky and Sam immediately pulled out their guns, readying themselves to defend against the latest threat.
As the light died away Sam couldn’t help the way his grip on his guns momentarily faltered in shock as he gazed upon eerily similar faces.
“What the hell?” Bucky muttered, his grip on his guns tightening in contrast to Sam’s.
“Oh shit” Bruce exhaled, beyond the point of disbelieving.
While their features (and age) may have been slightly different, there was no mistaking whose doubles were standing before them.
“When I said bring Steve back I meant our Steve. Who the fuck are they?” Sam demanded at Bruce, though he kept his eyes firmly on the intruders.
“...Uh I didn’t actually do anything yet...But if I had to guess, alternate versions from frayed timelines” Bruce replied, just short of choking up at the sight of the double of his deceased closest friend.
“Alternate dimensions actually. Not timelines” the younger Tony corrected, sounding unphased, removing the goggles on his eyes to reveal a shocking blue rather than the brown Bruce had expected.
“Dimensions” Sam deadpanned, keeping his guns trained on the two unknowns.
Alternate timelines he could (sort of) understand.
This shit was above his pay-grade.
Not that he was getting paid for this shit, but still.
“...I can’t fix that” Bruce stated stunned, sounding absolutely helpless.
“What’d you mean you can’t fix this?! We have a Stark, and Steve, neither of which are ours, and our Steve is still MIA!” Sam demanded, turning to Bruce in frustrated misdirected anger.
“What’d you want me to do? I couldn’t even figure out time travel. Tony did” Bruce desperately retorted, his face contorting in a barely held together grief.
Sam’s anger died to a solemn regret at the mention of the deceased genius, the heat in his eyes dulling to an apologetic glance as his glare dissipated, guilt forming in his gut at how he had unjustly taken his anger at the situation out on Bruce.
Bucky’s face remained impassive as he kept his eyes trained on the two intruders in case they decided to take advantage of Bruce and Sam’s distraction, though the deep regret in his eyes was near palpable.
“Then it’s a good thing you have double the amount Tony Starks to fix all your problems” Other Tony exclaimed, slightly confused by the trio’s expressions.
“And you think that we’ll just trust you?” Bucky inquired skeptically, guns still poised and ready.
“I’d be skeptical if you did” Other Tony retorted raising an eyebrow at Bucky, the unease in his blue eyes betraying his falsely relaxed presence.
“Debating this isn’t going to get us anywhere. Is there a telepath you can contact to verify that we aren’t a threat to you?” Other Steve questioned, crossing his arms across his chest, speaking for the first time since his abrupt arrival.
The double’s commanding no-nonsense tone was so eerily similar to their Steve’s it sent chills up Bucky and Sam’s spines.
Sam glanced out of the corner of his eye at Bucky who did them same, both of them thinking the same thing.
“Look. It’s obvious that the three of you recognize us well enough, which means we have counterparts here. Sure we can’t give you any concrete assurances that we won’t just stab you when your backs are turned, but from your expressions you do know a telepath, and contacting them would be the quickest surefire way to begin resolving this” Other Tony logically reasoned.
“Don’t really have much of a choice” Sam muttered, pressing the switch for one of his guns to fold up so that he could reach for his phone in his back pocket.
But before he could a whirring sound echoed through the air, this time a much quicker, duller flash emanated from the platform, revealing none other than Steve Rogers in his red and white quantum realm suit, no Stones in sight.
“Oh thank God” Bruce exhaled, semi-relieved now that one of their problems has been rectified.
Steve quickly took in his surroundings, his gaze immediately falling on the two (familiar) unknowns.
Muscles tense, Steve slowly stepped down from the platform, staring impassively at his double, his gaze only fracturing with a barely held together grief when his eyes fell upon the alternate version of the man he had just watched die.
Any hope that Steve had that his plan had worked died when he saw the bright curious blue of the younger Tony’s eyes.
Eyes that should have been brown.
“So did something go horribly wrong or were you just taking the scenic route back?” Sam questioned with a sharp snark as he gave Steve an uncertain glance.
“Who are you?” Steve demanded, ignoring Sam’s question as his hard gaze rest on his double before flickering back to Ton- the other Tony.
Steve couldn’t help but drink in every detail of the alternate of the deceased genius. The smooth lines of his face, and chiseled jaw. The distinct lack of salt and pepper in his dark hair. God he looked so young.
That wasn’t to say that his Tony hadn’t been handsome. Even at fifty-two Tony had aged well, his hair lightening, and the flecks of white in his beard giving him an attractive matureness that seemed to soften his face. And no matter the age there was always a spark, a fire and life about Tony that filled every room and made Steve feel like together they could achieve anything.
Though the double’s eye color was wrong, Steve couldn’t help but wonder if this was how Tony had looked in his younger years, before all the of stress, trauma, betrayals, and hardship from his time as Iron Man had caught up to him, had worn him down, aged him.
The other Tony couldn’t help but shift uncomfortably on his feet, looking like he was resisting the urge to squirm under Steve’s weighted gaze.
“Steve Rogers and Tony Stark. Dimension 616” Other Steve declared in a surly tone, narrowing his eyes as he met Steve’s gaze head on as he purposefully stepped in front of his universe’s Tony Stark, cutting him away from Steve’s incessant gaze.
Steve’s eyes narrowed dangerously at the wordless warning, returning his double’s aggravated gaze right back, neither of them backing down, both of them perceiving each other’s glare as a slight and challenge.
Sam could swear he could almost feel the damn electricity sparking between the two of them as they silently stared each other down.
“Figures. You put two Steve Rogers in the same area and they automatically hate each other” Bucky thought semi-amused.
Though he guessed it made sense. Steve was stubborn to a fault and was equally as self-righteous, confident and judgemental. Figures that when faced with someone with the same traits as him it would rub Steve the wrong way. Like two posturing alpha males.
Frankly Bucky found it amusing more than anything that Steve couldn't stand himself.
“Uh. So about that telepath?” Other Tony cut in uncertainly, looking back and forth between both Steves, though the confused undertone in his voice was offset by the small glint of amusement sparkling in his eyes.
Sam could tell that the other Tony had a quip on the tip of his tongue that he was somehow managing to withhold (Lord knows their Tony wouldn’t have). Hell he was resisting a few alpha wolf jokes of his own.
“I already sent a message to one of ours when the two walking flags first started their pissing contest” Sam replied, trying and failing to sound unamused by the whole thing.
Okay. So he couldn’t resist the opportunity to teasingly admonish two Steve Rogers. But in his defense they both made it so easy.
Bucky snorted in amusement at Sam’s comment. At least it saved him the time of using up his own breath to have to knock some sense into both punks.
Sam watched as both Steves clenched their jaws in an attempt to control their sheepishness at being called out for their behavior. Though they still kept their eyes trained on each other, neither Steve backing down just yet.
“Tell her to meet us at the Tower” Steve commanded, knowing exactly who Sam was talking about.
“You sure about that?” Bucky asked, giving Steve a skeptical look.
The Tower hasn’t been a base of operations for the Avengers in years. And who knew if they would even be welcome there anymore.
“The Compound’s destroyed. Unless you want to muscle them onto the Raft and have the honor of explaining to Ross who they are, the Tower’s our safest option” Steve reasoned, his voice assured in his decision.
“Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place” Sam thought, forcing himself not to grimace at the thought of having to bother Ms. Pot-Mrs. Stark with their problems so soon after her husband’s death.
“I’ll give Pepper a heads up” Bruce stated contritely, pulling out the custom phone Tony had made for him years back to accommodate for his larger fingers.
Other Tony raised a curious eyebrow at Bruce’s words, but otherwise said nothing.
“Sam. You, me, and Bucky will escort them to the quinjet. Bruce, you stay behind and power down the machine” Steve ordered.
While he would’ve preferred Bruce to come with them as an added assurance should the doubles try anything, he needed to know that the time machine was secured first.
“Let’s go” Steve commanded, his manner coming off as standoffish as he directed his gaze back at his double.
Bucky couldn’t help but roll his eyes at the way the alternate Steve scowled at the command. Bucky could practically see his hackles rising.
“How much you wanna bet one of’m is eventually gonna take a swing at the other?” Sam commented next to him.
Bucky scoffed, turning to give Sam a knowing smirk.
More on 616 Tony and Steve's POV will come up in the next chapter.
Chapter 3: Chapter 2
In order to differentiate between the Steves and Tonys of the different universe's better I'm going to alter their fonts:
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Steve wasn't sure what to make of this universe so far.
It was clear that they'd just gone through a global catastrophic event and were only just starting to pick up the pieces of the aftermath.
What catastrophe he couldn't pinpoint exactly at the moment, but from what he's deduced it involved the Avengers of this universe having to resort to time travel.
"Kang?" Steve wondered grimly.
He really hoped that wasn't the case.
But the Avengers of this universe were being pretty tight lipped about everything, and he couldn't really blame them.
They'd only just experienced time travel.
To be faced with alternate dimensions so soon after their last catastrophe he could understand why they would be so wound up and mistrustful.
But dammit did he have so many questions and he knew Tony did too.
Starting with the fact that the Tower wasn't Avengers Tower.
It was Stark Tower.
Not only that, the Avengers here had to ask Pepper's permission to land.
If this universe's Hulk and Falcon hadn't already mentioned having a Tony Stark of their own he'd be more concerned than he was.
But even so…
Something didn't feel right.
And the fact that this universe's Steve Rogers kept staring at his- at Tony was grating on his last nerves.
"Cap" Sam called out, taking his cellphone away from his ear and snapping it shut.
Both Steves immediately turned their attention to the man, expecting a report of the situation.
"Uh. I meant my Cap" Sam corrected awkwardly.
"What's wrong?" Steve asked (demanded), "Is she not coming?"
Steve really wanted to know just who the hell they were talking about. But like with everything else they took to being cryptic like they were playing an odd version of the Silent game. Who would say what they weren't supposed to first?
"She is. Clint's with her...And some extras" Sam stated, looking very uneasy.
"Extras?" Steve demanded, not liking the way Sam had phrased things.
Steve and Tony immediately tensed, not liking the potential implications of what Sam had revealed.
"Apparently they weren't our only inter-dimensional guests" Sam explained, nodding his head over in the direction of the counterparts from Earth-616, confirming their counterparts' hypothesis.
"How many are we talking?" Steve demanded in disbelief.
"Just the two they came across. Vision sensed a disturbance in the Force elsewhere too, so it's possible there are others out there we don't know about" Sam reported grimly.
Steve closed his eyes and resisted the urge to let out a long huff of air.
This. This was getting out hand.
The Ancient One had warned him of the potential consequences of his actions...But she also said that his plan would work.
And so far he's only seeing the consequences.
"Well that's definitely not good" Tony stated, bringing a hand up to thoughtfully rub at his goatee, "Sounds like your universe is destabilizing, and in trying to right itself it's taking alternates from other universes"
"Sounds like Bruce was right then" Bucky stated, not liking that his theory on Steve's delay was likely partially correct, "Dare I even ask who they got coming with them?"
"I'll give you three guesses" Sam damn near grumbled as he sent a glare towards the dimension travelers.
"I'm starting to think I miss cryo. Less complicated at least" Bucky semi-joked, his dark humor coming through.
Steve stiffened a bit at the Other Bucky's words.
Did that mean he'd been taken by Hydra too?
"So your solution is to Sleeping Beauty your way out of all your troubles?" Tony sarcastically teased, giving Bucky a raised eyebrow.
"Does that mean a get prince to kiss me awake?" Bucky snarked right back, almost on reflex.
"Are you asking me?" Tony inquired teasingly (and curiously), both his eyebrows hitting his hairline as he gestured to himself in surprised.
"Are you offering?" Bucky retorted back before he could really control himself. Though immediately afterwards he did want to sock himself in the jaw for basically flirting with a Tony Stark.
Even if he wasn’t from their universe it felt wrong to be basically flirting with the guy whose parents he murdered…
Steve scowled at the interaction between the pair, significantly more disgruntled than he was a minute ago.
"Hold on! Are you and Barnes dating in your universe or something?!" Sam demanded (Seeing that Steve was too busy blue-screening to even comment), gesturing back and forth between the two of them in complete disbelief.
Maybe he never came back from the Soul Stone after all.
Or maybe this really was the Twilight Zone.
"Well he did ask me to stick around and see fireworks" Tony commented casually, making Steve tense at his side.
"But no" Tony corrected, seeing how taut Steve was, "Just friends"
Last thing he needed was for Steve to think that he was dating the guy he thought of as his younger brother. Their...sort of rekindling friendship was already on thin ice as it was.
"Just friends?" Sam inquired, raising an eyebrow at Tony.
"I'm sensing a lot of skepticism in that statement" Tony retorted back.
"We're...friends in your universe?" Bucky inquired slowly.
“I don’t fly my ass out twice to the middle of bum-fuck nowhere, and make a back-up arm for your-his reckless ass as a favor for just anybody” Tony commented.
Bucky unconsciously flexed his robotic fingers.
"You made Bucky-your Bucky an arm?" Steve asked disbelievingly, finally coming out of his daze.
"You have visitors popping in from different universes and yet the most incredible thing is that I made my universe' Bucky an arm?" Tony stated sarcastically, raising an inquisitive eyebrow.
Sure Bucky had tried to kill him when they first met, but he could (fairly) confidently say that they had each other's back now. Maybe in this universe they were still at the ‘I-want-to-kill-you-but-I’ll-tolerate-you-for now’ phase? At least that's what it sounded like.
"I'm guessing we aren't friends here then?" Tony inquired curiously.
Steve didn't wince, but it was a damn near thing.
".......No" Bucky stated slowly, the grief and regret in his eyes making Tony tense with unease.
Something obviously happened between the two of them here...Bucky had never looked at him so...remorseful before. And that in itself was...interesting. If he were to place bets on who would be the one to fuck up in a friendship he would’ve put money down on himself...But from the look on Bucky, and even Steve’s face, somehow he got the feeling things were more different here than they initially seemed...And he wasn’t just talking about the Tower or Professor Hulk.
“Captain” Friday spoke out suddenly, breaking the silence, “Vision is requesting back-up at the Staten Island Ferry”
Tony and Steve near jolted in surprise at the sudden familiar voice.
“Situation?” Steve commanded, not taking his eyes off of the Alternates.
“He has located another version of yourself and Boss from a different alternate universe and requests an additional hand in bringing them in” Friday relayed curtly.
“I’ll go” Bucky volunteered, perhaps a little too quickly.
Though if anyone noticed no one said anything, though Tony’s lips did press into a hard line.
Steve nodded, giving Bucky the confirmation he needed to leave, trying not to look so relieved as he jogged his way out the sliding doors of the former Avengers lounge.
“Friday?” Tony inquired, trying (and failing) not to take Bucky’s eagerness to leave personally.
“That is my designation. Would I be correct in assuming there is a version of me in your universe as well Mr. Stark?” Friday inquired curiously, her tone noticeably less sharp than it had been when she’d been addressing Steve.
“There is” Tony confirmed fondly, his voice going soft for a moment as a small smile adorned his face, “And Tony’s fine Fri...Or uh. I guess not with the me here…”
Steve tightened his arms across his chest, the near palpable regret in his eyes as he stared at Tony causing a tic to form in Steve's jaw, while Tony himself remained oblivious to the change in the room's atmosphere.
“Well we’re gonna have to call you both somethin. We can’t be calling all of you Steve and Tony. The 'Who me?' joke’s gonna get old real quick” Sam stated, resisting the urge to rub his temples. He could already feel a headache looming on the horizon.
Tony chewed at his bottom lip.
“A nickname huh?” he muttered, almost to himself.
There was no way in hell he was gonna let himself be called Anthony. Or Mr. Stark.
“Tones” he decided, “You can call me Tones”
“Very well then” Friday accepted.
“And you?” Steve inquired blandly, turning his attention to his double.
His alternate self just gave him a hard appraising glare, his stance still as closed off and defensive as when they had arrived at the Tower.
Then Steve watched as his alternate self’s gaze shifted, his expression remaining stern and unimpressed, but his eyes glinted with a smug mischievousness that Steve knew all too well.
“Commander” Steve declared firmly, his tone coldly professional and relaying none of the smug superiority in his eyes as he stared Steve down.
Steve clenched his jaw, tensing in barely contained indignation.
Tony and Sam watched as the two Steves silently stared each other down, looking just short of turning the lounge into a fighting ring.
“So what’s an interdimensional traveler got to do to get some pizza around here?” Tony asked, hoping to break up some of the tension.
Steve’s gaze flickered to Tony’s face, softening slightly, “When everyone gets back we can see about ordering in”
Tony’s heart gave an extra beat as Steve stepped in front of him once again, his face twisting into a scowl Tony had only ever seen him direct at the Red Skull.
“Come on Cap easy. S’not like they’re gonna put poisonous mushrooms on our food...Probably” Tony said softly, resisting the urge to place a gentle hand between Steve’s shoulder-blades, his joke falling flat even to his ears.
“Just let them posture old boy. The alpha males need to beat their chests and assert their dominance” a familiar voice proclaimed in a calm laid-back drawl.
The room’s occupants immediately swiveled to the four new additions in the room.
Just as they had been warned, flanked between Wanda and Clint were another Steve Rogers and Tony Stark.
“I on the other hand could definitely use a drink” the newest Tony casually declared.
Things are going to really start getting interesting between the alternates as the differences between them start to appear!
Let me know what you think about the different fonts. Should I do the different fonts and the nicknames, or just use the nicknames?
Chapter 4: Chapter 3
Sorry, I meant to update yesterday but I didn't have the chance.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“I on the other hand could definitely use a drink” the newest Tony casually declared.
All the color drained from Tony's face at his other self's declaration.
Steve grit his teeth in frustration. The last thing Tony needed was a version of himself trying to get him to drink again.
"One for you as well I presume?" the newest Tony casually assumed, though his eyes held a pique of curiosity in them as he gazed at Tony.
"I...don't drink" Tony stuttered out uncomfortably, swallowing a knot in his throat.
The other Tony just gave him a sad knowing glance.
What made him turn away in mortification though was the fact that Steve's eyebrows looked like they had shot off to orbit.
"There isn't any alcohol in the building anyway. Our Tony's been sober for ten years" Steve exclaimed, feeling defensive on behalf of Tones.
Clint and Sam narrowed their eyes a bit at Steve's choice of tense, but otherwise didn't say anything.
“Ah the strength to fight the worst demons” the newest Tony stated wistfully, an almost sad longing in his eyes.
“You could try it for yourself” Steve said dryly.
Tony watched as Steve narrowed his eyes at his-at Steve, his face twisting into an impressive (albeit angrier) version of the ‘Captain-America-is-disappointed-in you’ scowl.
“I’d be best if you just kept your mouth shut about things you know nothing about” Steve pointedly declared, crossing his arms over his chest.
Tony couldn’t help but blanch at the other Steve’s statement, his stomach churning with an emotion he didn't want to identify.
Steve narrowed his eyes furiously at the other Steve.
How dare he?! His Tony literally just expressed a desire to try to get away from alcohol, and the other him was just going to stand there and justify his drinking?!
“Oh for the love of God just read their minds so that we can separate their asses into different rooms. If I have to deal with a three, potentially four-way pissing contest any longer I’m gonna jump off this damn Tower” Sam deadpanned.
“You’ve got wings” Clint jested.
Ignoring the twists in his stomach Tony looked to the woman to the right of Steve.
"So I'm guessing you'll be looking at our innermost thoughts and secrets? Can’t say I’m jealous of that job" Tony jested to Wanda, an awkward solemness to his tone, unsure of the relationship the him of this universe had with the sorceress (Was she even a sorceress here?).
Wanda shifted uncomfortably on her feet.
"You don't have to worry about me planting anything in your minds...I stopped using the mental facet my powers years ago" Wanda stated in what was probably supposed to be a reassuring tone.
“I didn’t say it was a concern” Tony exclaimed, raising a curious eyebrow.
Though really with his and Wanda’s past history in his universe it really should be, and judging from how tense Steve now was he thought so too.
What interested him more was the fact that before anything else she made a point of saying that first...And he really hoped that didn’t imply what he thought it did.
“You’re going to have an untrained telepath routing around in our heads?” Steve demanded furiously.
“Wanda’s not untrained-” Steve tried to explain.
“She just admitted to not having used her telepathy in years. I don’t want an untrained telepath digging through my mind and I doubt they do either” Steve firmly declared, gesturing to the other two dimension travelers.
“I’m not untrained” Wanda said, speaking out, “The last time I used my mental manipulation I caused the creation of a humanicidal murder-bot, set the Hulk on a city of innocent people, and felt my brother die”
A tremble of fear tingled up Tony’s spine at her admittance, unwitting flashes of disjointed drunken confusion and a war he’d almost caused between the US and Latveria.
Suddenly firm reassuring hand gripped at Tony’s tricep.
Tony didn’t didn’t need to see to know just whose hand it was.
Tony took in a steadying breath.
Logically he knew that if Wanda wanted to fuck with his head there would be little Steve could do to stop her.
But Steve’s confidence and unwavering faith in himself gave him an aura of power, assuredness, and strength that just pulled others into his orbit and made them feel safe under his natural command. And he was no different. Where he was all doubt, Steve was all conviction.
Tony took in another deep breath through his nose, the minor trembling subsiding. He would be fine.
“That’s not inspiring confidence Sweetheart” Tony casually pointed out, not surprised in the least when his Steve had stepped between himself and this universe’s version of the Scarlet Witch.
“I stopped using that facet of my powers as a way to atone when I became an Avenger” Wanda continued, “Not because I’m untrained”
"And yet we still have just as much a reason to be wary of you as you are of us" Steve exclaimed, scowling at her.
"Look. The Wanda in our universe has done plenty of things that she regrets" Steve's voice was firm and placating, "So I'm not going to hold your past actions against you. But it's not like any of you have been very forthcoming about information either. For all we know the Avengers here are criminals"
And at that Steve was unsure how to proceed.
He could understand the Alternates wanting to know more about them before just allowing someone they didn't know to pick through their brains.
But at the same time they couldn't trust them either without knowing from Wanda what their doubles' intentions were.
It was a vicious loop that wasn't going to end unless one side gave in.
And if the Commander and the other Rogers were anything like him, than he highly doubted this stalemate was going to be coming to an end any time soon.
Realizing this herself Wanda spoke out, "From what I can sense none of the Alternates have any ill intentions. They could be good at covering their emotions, but I don't sense any malicious intent".
Steve nodded, slightly more reassured.
"No offense Wanda, I trust you, you know I do. But I'm not trusting them on a maybe" Clint declared, his tone unmoving.
"Clint" Steve chastised lightly, a light note of inquiry in his tone.
"Not here. Not today" Clint emphasized pointedly, his secrecy causing the Alternates to narrow their eyes suspiciously at him.
Steve eyebrows scrunched in confusion. Obviously there was something he was missing.
"Shit" Sam muttered, rubbing his hand along his beard.
Steve's eye bounced back and forth between Clint's ire, Sam's concern, and Wanda's expectant gaze.
"There are important guests here today for a get together. Hence why I'm here and not back home" Clint explained cryptically, praying Steve understood.
The realization hit Steve like one of Thanos' punches.
The kids were in the Tower.
"Fuck" Steve muttered lowly, pinching the bridge of his nose, furious at himself for forgetting something so important.
"Language" Sam teased, unable to resist.
Steve just gave him an unimpressed look, raised eyebrow and all.
"I'm surprised Pepper let us land with them here" Sam stated, gleefully ignoring Steve (he needed some levity in this situation).
"You guys were already on your way. Besides, Thor's downstairs with them along with Carol, Rhodes, and Happy" Clint stated, not missing the way Tones flinched slightly at the last name.
Even if the Alternates somehow made it through 2 specially trained humans, 2 super soldiers, 1 badass enhanced, and an overpowered Android he'd pay good money to see them even try to get through Thor, Carol, and Rhodes to get to the kids.
Hell he was pretty sure Happy'd find a way to kill the bastards. He was underestimated that way.
"Diplomats?" Tony inquired curiously, trying not to delve too deeply into the fact that Happy was apparently still alive in this universe.
"Not exactly" Clint muttered.
"I think we've all gotten just a tad bit off topic here" Tony cut in, "From Barton and Ms. Maximoff's initial surprise at our appearance I think it's safe to say we're your first extra-dimensional guests, and that you don't have a working dimensional gateway already on hand? Correct?"
"Yes" Steve confirmed, curious where this was going.
"Then you should probably call up Reed and tell him to get his bendy ass over here and fast" Tony exclaimed, curiously noting a rather violent flinch by his counterpart.
Just as Steve was about to furiously demanded why he would even suggest such a thing, Steve spoke out first.
"Who?" Steve asked, sounding extremely confused.
Tony blinked owlishly at him.
"Reed. Reed Richards" Tony stated.
Steve just blinked at him.
"Mister Fantastic? Leader of the Fantastic Four?"
"Never heard of'm" Clint exclaimed.
Tony's anxiety began to skyrocket.
"The expert in extra and intra-dimensional travel?"
"Do we look like scientists to you?" Sam asked, raising an eyebrow at Tones.
"Fuck" Tony muttered, "Okay...This just got a slight bit harder...But that's okay. Between four Tony Stark's I'm sure we have more than enough brain power to figure this out".
"Four?" Wanda muttered in confusion, her voice barely audible, but Steve caught it nonetheless.
"You know what dimension you're from?" Tony inquired, trying not to let his relief at this universe's lack of a Reed Richards show.
"616. You?" Tony inquired.
"Earth-1610" Tony revealed.
"That's something right? You both know what dimensions you need to find" Sam stated hopefully.
Tony nodded, "It definitely helps. We can only hope that the final pair coming in know what universe they're from too".
"And since we've already got nicknames for the 616 duo, what about you two?" Sam asked, looking at the pair from dimension-1610.
"Nicknames?" Steve scowled, as if the mere idea was blasphemous.
"We can't all go by Steve" Steve replied dryly.
"They chose to be addressed as Tones and Commander" Sam added, gesturing to the 616 duo.
Tony gave a consideratory hum.
"You could always just go by Anthony" Clint jested.
The little color on Tony's face drained away, making his skin an even more sickly pale, "Anthony?…".
Tony scoffed, "I don't think there's a Tony Stark in any universe that willingly goes by our first name".
“...Your name is Anthony?” Tony asked, his voice almost a whisper.
Tony was surprised to see the fractured grief in the other Tony’s eyes...And the surprisingly intense concern on Steve-1610’s face.
“Yours isn’t?” Tony inquired curiously.
“...Antonio Edoardo Stark” Tony slowly replied.
Tony blinked in surprise, his mouth falling slightly open.
“Now that name has Mom written all over it” a new, yet familiar voice echoed throughout the room.
The final duo has arrived!
The kids are all in the Tower...Hmmmmm
Chapter 5: Chapter 4
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Now that name has Mom written all over it” a new, yet familiar voice echoed throughout the room.
The group turned to see that the final dimension hopping duo had arrived, Vision floating off to their left.
"Although color me curious on how Mom managed to wrangle naming rights out of dear old Dad?" the latest Tony inquired, raising a curious eyebrow.
Like Tones he was on the younger side, but he possessed brown eyes like Antonio and was noticeably more muscular than the other two Tonys.
Shaking himself out of his stupor Antonio replied, "Father didn't care so much what his second heir would be called...I suppose that means the both of you were born first then. How is our dear brother Greg in your universe's?"
"Who?" the other two Tonys mimed together.
"Ah" Antonio stated with a forced nonchalance, his eyes a mix of understanding and a pained grief, "That explains that I suppose"
"I'm an only child" the latest Tony stated, curious about the other Tony's claim of having a sibling.
"I...I was adopted by the Starks" Tones slowly admitted, not sure if he should reveal such fact.
"...I'm not their biological son. They adopted me after their son was born too sickly and his life endangered by an alien they had made a deal with. They adopted me and presented me to the world as if I was the child they birthed..." Tones explained awkwardly.
"...That's messed up" Sam muttered, breaking the silence.
"Agreed" all the Steves relayed in unison, causing Steve, the Commander, and Steve-1610 to glare at each other while the newest Steve looked at the three of them in confusion.
"That explains the eyes then" Antonio observed, noting the stark differences in color.
Tones nodded in agreement, having already come to much of the same conclusions.
"And your Tony?..." Tones inquired, gazing at Steve, trying (and failing) to keep the hopefulness out of his inflection.
"Brown eyes" Steve replied, forcing himself not to wince at the immediacy of his answer.
Tones subconsciously tightened his arms around himself.
So here he was in a universe with three other versions of himself...and yet he was the only one here who wasn't actually a Stark.
"Being adopted doesn't make you any less you" Steve exclaimed softly, though the resolution in his tone was firm.
Tones nodded agreeably out of habit...But he still couldn't help but feel a tad bit inferior next to his other selves.
“The level of self-loathing in the room is starting to become stifling. What you say we do what we do best? Compartmentalize and solve the matter at hand?” Antonio suggested with a hint of wry humor.
“Now you’re talking my language. Is there a lab we can hole up in or-” the newest Tony began before he was unceremoniously cut off.
“Wait! Vision where’s Bucky?” Steve demanded, realizing for the first time that his brother-in-all-but-blood hadn’t returned with him.
“Bucky?” Steve-1610 exclaimed, his eyebrows hitting his hairline in confusion and disbelief.
“There was a situation in Queens that required assistance. Colonel Rhodes requested backup from us as we were the closest to the site. Given the current situation it was agreed that Sergeant Barnes would go while I escorted our...guests to the Tower” Vision systemically relayed.
“Situation?” Steve stated, his eyebrows scrunching together, “Friday?”
“Indeed there is a situation in downtown Queens. Kingpin is attempting to take back his territories by force and hired Kraven the Hunter to assist him in killing Spiderman. Iron Man was quickly on the scene to assist, with War Machine following soon after. Sergeant Barnes arrived on scene not too long ago” Friday dutily reported.
“Iron Man?” Sam muttered, completely and utterly confused by how that was even remotely possible.
“Well that explains where the Us of this Universe is” Tones stated.
“You’ve got to be kidding me” Steve damn near growled in frustration, stalking his way towards the door.
Each of the Alternates just looked over at Steve in complete disbelief, baffled by what could have possibly roused his anger.
“Where are you going?” Sam demanded, having a sinking feeling he knew already.
“Queens” Steve responded shortly, not pausing his stride in the slightest.
“And you’re just gonna leave with six unknowns from other dimensions in the Tower?” Sam questioned skeptically, seeing that Steve was running into something bull-headed again.
“Actually, additional assistance may be necessary. It would appear Fisk also hired other assassins such as Taskmaster and Bullseye” Friday reluctantly relayed.
“That’s convenient” Clint muttered sarcastically.
“Wanda and Vision will be here with Thor and Carol. You, me, and Clint will head to Queens” Steve ordered.
“And us?” Steve demanded, crossing his arms over his chest.
Steve halted at the door, turning his head to narrow his eyes sharply at his double, “You can move about this floor and the one above us. Everywhere else is off limits till we get back. You do anything deemed potentially threatening and you will be subdued”.
“Roger that mon Capitan” Tony mock saluted, as his Steve merely rolled his eyes at his antics.
Steve-1610 actually scowled at his words, muttering something that vaguely sounded like “Vile language”.
“If you're sure” Sam muttered, sounding unconvinced, but followed Steve out the door none-the-less.
Gritting his teeth, Clint gave each of the Alternates a particularly vicious glare that promised no less than the most agonizing of deaths should they even think of trying anything, and quickly jogged after Steve and Sam.
“Well that was anticlimactic” Tony stated, still very confused, “I don’t suppose you’ll allow us to tinker in the meantime?”
“I would suggest against such activities for now” Vision replied blandly, though his tone seemed to indicate a hint of wistful amusement.
“I’m starting to question just how well you know the me of this universe, because anyone who’s anyone knows a bored Tony Stark is a dangerous Tony Stark” Tony casually noted, a teasing grin on his face.
The remaining Steves couldn’t help but notice the slight twitch in Wanda’s hands at Tony’s words, each of them narrowing their eyes suspiciously at her.
It didn’t escape any of their notice that ever since she’d walked into the room she’d been tense and uncomfortable. Ten times moreso the moment Steve left with Sam and Clint.
“Truer words have never been spoken” Tones exclaimed almost comically.
“The former Avengers Lounge is upstairs if you wish to partake in watching television or play a few rounds of pool” Vision suggested.
“Beats standing around here like a bunch of weeble-wobbles” Tony agreed.
After a quick glance at a digital clock Steve-1610 nodded in agreement of his own, “I wouldn’t mind some television right now”.
“A change of scenery it is then” Antonio decided, “Shall we go, Commander, Tones?”
“We shall…?” Tones agreed, pausing at the end, unsure of what to call Antonio.
“Tonio” Antonio finished for him.
With a nod Tones looked expectantly at Steve-1610.
Steve-1610 scowled, replying with a gruff, “Rogers”.
“Oh! Are we doing nicknames now?” Tony exclaimed, a mischievous gleam in his eyes.
“Stark and Steven” Steve cut off knowingly.
“Such a kill-joy Steven” Stark teased, giving Steven a mock disappointed grin.
“If everything’s been decided Thor and Captain Danvers have inquired if Vision and Ms. Maximoff would be open to making lunch for the...guests they are...watching downstairs?” Friday relayed, not sounding like she was completely on board with the idea.
“We’d be happy too” Wanda exclaimed just a tad too eagerly, relieved to have a legitimate reason to leave the vicinity of the Alternates, particularly the alternate Starks.
“You’re just going to leave us unguarded?” Rogers inquired disapprovingly.
“Are you planning on escaping and committing mass murder?” Wanda retorted sharply, her eyes glowing a threatening blood red.
“Relax Sweetheart. He’s just offended by the sudden lax security. Not a move he would make” Tonio nonchalantly explained, hoping to avoid Maximoff sending his Steve through a wall for one of his less than savory commentaries.
After a tense moment Wanda’s eyes faded back to brown, her gaze no less untrusting and cold.
“The kitchen is on the upper floor as well” Vision corrected, gesturing the group into the elevator.
Fortunately the elevator ride only lasted fifteen seconds (though it felt like an eternity).
As soon as the elevator doors opened Rogers made a beeline for the TV, with Tonio far more casually making his way over to the bar.
Seeing that Tony was staring blankly at Tonio, Steve grabbed onto his arm, breaking Tony out of his thoughts and pulling him around to face Stark and Steven, “Two-on-Two pool?”
“You’re on” Stark grinned, grateful for the distraction away from Tonio’s vices.
“Due remember that while we may not be in your direct line of sight, Friday will be monitoring your every move. Should you attempt anything remember I can fly and phase through walls” Vision pointedly reminded them, his voice calm, but the threat clear none-the-less.
The group nodded in understanding as the couple made their way out of the room.
“Ms. Friday?” Tonio inquired, making his way over to the sofa where his Steve had already tuned into the Soaps, drink firmly in hand, “Any chance you could have pizza brought to the Tower for us?”
“Seven cheese pies acceptable?” Friday inquired, unsure of their preferences.
“Much appreciated” Tonio replied gratefully, he was getting quite peckish with all the recent excitement.
“Is Rogers watching soap operas?” Tonio heard Stark mutter, sounding completely dumbfounded.
“Talk to the hand” Rogers backsassed, bringing his hand up in Starks’ direction with a dismissive wave.
Tonio couldn’t help but grin when he saw Stark biting his lip harshly to tamper down his snickers, barely holding back what likely would have been a fit of hysterics.
“Is there something you'd like to tell me?” Tones inquired to the Commander curiously, a familiar mischievous gleam in his eyes.
Tonio sat himself down on the sofa with a plop, the drink in his hand steady with practiced ease.
But as his feet settled against the bottom of the sofa he felt his heels knock against something beneath him.
Rogers immediately tensed up at the small gasp that echoed underneath him and Tony, looking back and forth between the floor and Tony’s confused expression.
With a frown Tonio placed his glass on the side-table, bending down to the floor as Steve stood up from his seat, readying himself in case of an attack.
“What’s wrong?” Tones asked, tightening his grip on the cue-stick when he saw how taunt Rogers was.
Tonio ignored him in favor of leaning his head further down, lifting the lip of the sofa up to get a better look at their unknown guest.
Tonio found himself staring into a set of brown eyes not unlike his own.
Le gasp!! :0
Can you all guess who's now Iron Man?
Chapter 6: Chapter 5
Sorry for the delay!
Enjoy the chapter *sly smile*
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Much to Tonio’s astonishment, the small figure launched itself at him.
Before he could do anything he found himself tackled by a small girl whose arms wrapped around his neck and clung to him like an octopus.
Startled, Tonio fell back on his behind, curling one arm around the girl to keep her steady as his other arm was braced against the floor and him from falling back.
When the little girl lifted her head from his neck, Tonio watched as the absolute radiant joy on her face slowly dimmed to that of sad confusion as her eyes methodically scanned his features.
A phantom pain stabbed at Tonio’s heart at the girl’s disappointment. One that he pointedly ignored.
“You’re not my Dad” the girl accused, her eyebrows scrunching in confusion.
But before Tonio could explain himself a Nerf bullet struck him in the center of his forehead, making him yelp from the unexpected attack.
“Let her go!” a young boy demanded, poking himself out from under the couch and holding a Nerf gun in front of him and aiming it at Tonio in what was probably supposed to be a threatening manner.
“Friday code: Stranger Danger!” the girl shouted out bringing up her hand and pointed in Tonio’s face a fingerless glove with what looked like a plastic toy Iron Man repulsor on it.
It wasn’t a toy.
Tonio found that out the hard way when a blinding flash burned his retinas, causing him to cry out, letting go of the girl to shield his eyes.
The girl tumbled away and the young boy, who couldn’t have been more than a toddler army crawled out from under the couch, the two of them quickly getting out of the way.
Suddenly the sound of lightning crackled through the air.
Rogers looked up from where he had knelt down to support Tonio’s back as his eyes readjusted to see a stream of electricity headed straight toward them.
Wrapping the arm supporting Tonio to around the other man’s waste, Rogers vaulted them to safety near their other dimensional counterparts.
As he turned back around to face their latest assaulter, Rogers was stunned again to see yet another child, this one a few years older than the other girl, land gracefully on her feet, electricity still sparking across her body as she glared threatening at them, keeping herself between them and the other two kids behind her.
“Who are you?” the blonde girl demanded, something about her appearance and powers feeling very familiar to the counterparts.
The boy behind her held up his Nerf gun, his eyes narrowing in distrust, while the girl, who was very likely toddler aged herself, held up her fake-Iron Man toy with a challenging glare.
Rogers was at a loss. Kids was not something he knew how to deal with.
“...That’s adorable” Stark declared quietly, earning him a ‘Seriously?’ glare from Steven.
“Don’t even try to tell me you weren’t just thinking the same thing” Stark challengingly teased.
“You really need to read the atmosphere” Steven replied instead, a note of amused exasperation in his voice, though he didn't deny Stark's claim.
“We’re under attack by the Mini-Vengers. Did you really expect me to take things seriously?” Stark inquired, raising a questioning eyebrow alongside an unrepentant grin.
“Touche” Steven agreed with an amused scoff.
“I think we just found out the reason Barton didn’t want us here” Steve muttered.
“We’re not going to hurt you” Tones began, holding his hands out in a placating gesture, “You just surprised us is-”
Tones words choked off as he felt an overwhelming pressure gripping him like a vice, blood red surrounding him. The others quickly finding themselves in a similar painful imprisonment.
“What did you do?” Wanda demanded viciously, her eyes glowing a furious red as she barely restrained herself from crushing the life out of her six captives.
“Shit” Tones thought, grunting against the near-suffocation, “Whelp we’re screwed”
“Nothing” Rogers exclaimed, through grit teeth, “They were hiding. Attacked us. When they didn’t. Recognize us”
Wanda narrowed her eyes at them mistrustfully.
“And just what were the three of you doing?” Vision inquired sternly at the children.
“Playing hide and seek” the boy answered matter-of-factly.
“You should not have been allowed access to this floor. Friday?” Vision questioned, digging for answers, before he gave Wanda the okay to either release or knock out their ‘guests’.
“They went in through the vents prior to Captain Rogers giving the ‘guests’ permission to access the floor” Fridays hesitantly relayed.
“And why were we not informed of their presence?” Vision demanded.
“Because I did the No Cheating Protocol so Uncle Thor and Aunt Carol couldn’t ask her where we were” the brown haired girl replied.
“The Protocol becomes null and void when your lives are potentially in danger” Vision refuted gently.
“The moment you heard our dimensional guests would be setting foot on this floor Wanda and I should have been notified of the children’s presence” Vision chastised.
“I ran the calculations. They weren’t in any danger. And if they were our ‘guests’ would have been dead before they had the chance to do anything” Friday replied confidently, dropping down machine guns from the ceiling and tasers up from the floor.
“Percentages mean nothing. Any risk is too great. We will discuss this later” Vision firmly rebuked.
“Not. To. Cut. In. But. Getting. Harder. To. Breathe. Here” Stark gasped out.
Vision eyed them carefully before turning his attention back to the children.
“Did they attack you at all? Or did you startle them? And be honest” Vision asked, his tone now more gentle, but firm.
The two toddlers looked sheepishly down at the ground.
"I thought he was Daddy...Daddy always comes to find me" the girl stated, the disappointed grief in her voice near palpable.
Tonio couldn't help but feel bad for unintentionally crushing the little girl's hopes (Despite the fact he was the one being crushed now, she still looked more crushed then he was feeling).
Hopefully her father would be returning soon.
Vision's expression changed to one of sadness, while the dimensional doubles felt Wanda's relentless grip falter slightly at the child's words, her own expression twisting into one of regret.
"Release them" Vision told Wanda, his tone soft but sure.
Wanda clenched her teeth, reluctant to just let them go, but complied none-the-less.
The group gasped as Wanda's powers dispersed, each of them sucking in greedy breathes, though the Steves composed themselves quickly, positioning themselves in front of their Tony in case Wanda decided to attack them again regardless of Vision's order.
Suddenly a loud clang echoed throughout the room as the ceiling vent clattered to the floor.
Everyone watched as three teens made their way out of the vent.
"Who are they?" the preteen brown haired girl demanded, drawing an arrow and aiming it threateningly at the Dimensional Doubles.
Similarly the boy, who looked to be about fifteen, pulled out a gun, his sharp eyes threatening to use it as he gazed between the Doubles and the younger kids.
While the oldest brown haired girl didn't have guns or arrows, she did pull out three strange red and blue colored discs out of her pocket. Discs that if Tones was correct, looked very similar to some of Pym's own old-time shrinking tech.
"At ease" Vision declared, floating between the teens and the dimensional counterparts.
"Nate, Morgan, Torunn. Over here now" the oldest boy commanded. The three youngest kids immediately scuttled over to them at his command.
"Well at least we got names. Though that still doesn't tell us who the heck they are" Stark mulled over, standing up off the floor, the rest of them following his example.
"Who are they? And why do they look like Uncle Steve and Uncle Tony?" the twelve year old demanded, refusing to lower her bow.
"Uncle huh?" Tones muttered.
Could the girl be this universe's version of Kate Bishop? He wasn't entirely sure about the rest of the kids, though he had his hunches about the oldest girl and the blonde haired spark plug.
"Each of them are in fact Steve Rogers and Tony Stark. Just from different universes than our own" Vision explained.
"Different universes?" Possibly-Kate echoed, the sheer disbelief and skepticism in her tone making her voice sound like the vocal equivalent of rolling her eyes.
"Was there a tear in the space-time continuum that opened up an Einstein-Rosen Bridge and transported them here?" Morgan inquired, looking at Vision expectantly.
All six of the Dimensional Doubles stared at the little girl as if she had grown three heads, their mouths dropping open slightly in their shock.
"Yes indeed there was. We are still determining the proper course of action in order to send them home" Vision casually replied, as if there was nothing abnormal about the fact a toddler correctly guessed the anomaly that occurred.
"Smart girl...I wonder just who her parents are?" Tonio wondered thoughtfully, both Tones and Stark's thoughts echoing his own.
Unbeknownst to them, Steve, Rogers, and Steven were giving them a critical once over, their eyes shifting back and forth between them and little Morgan as they silently began to hypothesize their own theories based on the interactions they've seen so far.
"I'm sure Dr. Foster could help" the oldest brown haired girl commented.
"Bill?" Tones inquired, shaking himself out of his shock.
"No. Jane" the girl corrected, her voice giving that matter-of-fact, 'Why-Would-You-Say-That?' attitude.
"Jane Foster?" Steve inquired, his eyebrow raising in interest, wanting clarification.
"I'm guessing the Jane Foster you know isn't an astrophysicist" Stark commented curiously.
"No. She-She's a nurse" Tones stated, his eyebrows hitting his hairline, Tonio's doing much of the same.
"Here Dr. Foster is one of the foremost experts on wormholes and Einstein-Rosen Bridges alongside Dr. Erik Selvig" Vision relayed.
"Well she's not a Reed Richards, but at the very least she sounds like she'd definitely be helpful in returning us to our dimensions" Tones exclaimed, now increasingly more curious about what other kinds of differences there were in this universe compared to his own.
"You hurt my Mom and I'll french fry you" Torunn firmly declared, sending a wave of electric sparks dancing across her body to make her threat more apparent.
"Mom huh?...Your father wouldn't happen to be an Asgardian God named Thor would he?" Tones inquired, testing out his theory.
"Yes he would" a deceptively calm authoritative voice declared.
The group turned to see that the God of Thunder himself had entered the room.
And judging by his white-blue glowing eyes, Tonio doubted he was in a hand-shaking mood.
Uh Oh. Papa Thor in the house!
Hope you liked all the kids' entrances! (So far)
Chapter 7: Chapter 6
Sorry I've been MIA! Unfortunately I have a lot of stuff going on so I promise to post when I can! Right now I'm playing catch-up.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
'Annndd back to fearing for our lives' Tones thought, his hand hands out in front of him in what he hoped was a placating gesture, his body tense and ready in case he needed to dodge a few lighting strikes.
"And today's forecast is sunny with a 70% chance of indoor thunderstorms. Umbrellas not advised" Stark muttered, just as taught and uneasy.
"Now's really not the time Tony" Steven chastised, hating the fact he didn't have his shield should something happen.
"You dare threaten the children and my wife in my presence?" Thor threatened, his voice icy sharp as electricity danced around him, his hand stretched out behind him.
Not three seconds later Stormbreaker wheeled through the doorway and into his hand, a clap of thunder echoing throughout the room.
"Nobody's threatening anyone" Steve proclaimed, trying to defuse the precarious situation.
Thor narrowed his still glowing eyes at the Doubles, "Than perhaps one of you may explain why it is my daughter warned you away from harming my wife?"
Tonio resisted the urge to facepalm, 'Of course he had to walk in at one of the worst possible moments to overhear'.
"Nothing more than a misunderstanding, we can promise you that" Steve assured, "We had merely suggested that I'd be a good idea for Dr. Foster to assist in sending us back to our dimensions"
When Thor continued to glare at them mistrustfully, a fist shot out punching him in his upper arm to get his attention.
"You've made your point Sparky" Carol scoffed, "Besides, you really think Vision and Maximoff would've left any remains if they had hurt the kids?"
Thor's eyes ceased their glow as he scowled grumpily at Carol.
"Very well" Thor reluctantly bit out, turning his attention back to the Doubles.
"But do well to remember. If any harm befalls anyone within this Tower by your hands mercy will be but a forsaken dream. You will not be warned twice" Thor declared, his hardened eyes meeting each of the Doubles' as he scanned over each of them.
After everything he's lost...His Mother. His Father. His brother. His Home. His dear friends...He refused to lose anything, to lose anyone else.
"Captain Danvers is correct. The children were not harmed, just surprised by their presence" Vision confirmed, ignoring the sky-high eyebrows of Tonio and Rogers directed at Carol.
"A little late on the explanation there Vision" Tones noted, his voice noticeably calmer than his still racing heart.
"That would've been more helpful say two minutes ago" Stark deadpanned.
"My apologies. Your arrival was poorly timed. We are still...recovering as it were and tensions are still high" Vision cryptically explained.
Rogers switched his curious gaze from Carol to narrowing his eyes at the Android.
"Recovering from what exactly?" Rogers near demanded, his patience nearing its end in regards to their secret keeping.
“And with that I think it's time the six of you head out and let the adults hash out a few misunderstandings” Carol cut in, wanting to get the kids out of the room as soon as possible.
“Morgan!” a panicked voice exclaimed.
Each of the occupants’ eyes zeroed in on the new addition as he raced over to Morgan and lifted the little girl up into his arms with nothing short of immense relief in his expression.
“You worry too much Uncle Happy” Morgan teasingly admonished, giggling a bit.
“With your Father’s propensity for getting into trouble I’m allowed to worry. You were supposed to take after your Mother young lady” Happy (half) jokingly teased right back.
Tones choked on his tongue at the sight of his former friend alive and well, willing his misty eyes to lay off the waterworks.
“About time. What took you so long Hogan?” Carol teased.
“Not all of us can fly and glow and shoot beams out of our hands. Some of us actually have to use the elevator” Happy grumbled.
“You can run people over” Morgan innocently suggested.
“That young lady was just supposed to be a story of my awesomeness that was supposed to stay between the two of us” Happy gwaffed.
Morgan just gave him a deviously cute smile that Happy immediately recognized as Tony’s ‘I’m-amused-because-I’m-messing-with-you’ smile.
‘She really is her Father’s daughter’ Happy thought sadly.
“Alright you mini-minions, march, mush, onwards, move-it. Take your pick and let’s go” Happy declared, glaring at the three older Mini-Vengers and daring them to disobey him.
He didn’t like that all the kids were around dangerous unknowns...Or the fact that there were three younger versions of Tony staring at him with varying degrees of sadness, regret, and curious interest.
Or that the three other versions of Steve were staring...oddly...almost knowingly at Morgan. As if his presence just confirmed something for them.
None of the teens moved until Cooper elbow jabbed his sister in the ribs, giving her an exasperated eyeroll.
“Fine fine” Lila grumbled, reluctantly putting her bow down and following Happy's example and lifting Nate up into her arms as she and the others followed him out of the room.
Torunn gave her Father a quick peck on the cheek before giving the Doubles a final (adorable) menacing glare as she exited the room and into the elevator.
The moment the elevator doors shut Steve turned his attention from Morgan to back to Thor, eager to finally start getting some answers.
“What happened here?” he demanded, crossing his arms over his chest.
"Thanos" Thor exclaimed without compunction, the bitter loathing blatantly evident in his tone, quickly replacing the gentle joy that had been on his face when his daughter had said her good-byes.
While Steve, Tones, Steven, and Stark's eyebrows shot off into orbit, Rogers and Tonio's just scrunched in confusion.
"Thanos?" Tones reiterated in disbelief, "You haven't fought him before this?"
Suddenly the devastation and uneasy grief made sense.
But it also opened up a whole other can of worms.
Like exactly how young was this universe?...
It sure as hell didn't seem that young with how old some of the Avengers here looked.
Not to mention many of them seemed to have kids and families of their own.
"Second actually" Thor corrected bitterly, his grip tightening on his axe.
"Second?!" Stark exclaimed, the sheer surprise in his tone echoing most of the Doubles' own shock.
"For some" Carol commented, her tone controlled but there was a solemness to her voice that made the Doubles' uneasy, "Regrettably I wasn't here the first time he showed up"
"He attacked Earth twice?" Steven questioned, shocked.
After the Avengers had defeated Thanos together they hadn't had to deal with him again.
…….But they had won the first time.
A shiver crawled its way up Steven’s spine at the possible implications of Thor and Carol’s words.
“You lost” Tones exclaimed, his expression neutrally grim.
It wasn’t a question.
The silence was deafening.
The atmosphere of the room tilted on is axis, the fury and mistrust shifting to a heavy grief and self-loathing that held its inhabitants by a choke hold.
For the first time since their arrival the Doubles finally understood the mistrust. The secrecy. The pain.
The Avengers here had lost.
Had failed to protect the world...no...the universe.
And they couldn’t risk that happening again.
“What happened…?” Tonio reluctantly asked, he and Rogers still very much in the dark with just who this Thanos was.
Was he like Galactus?
“He did exactly as he said...He combined the might of all the Infinity Stones to wipe out half of all living creatures in the universe” Vision explained, his tone soft and regretful, eyeing Wanda sadly, reaching his hand out to hers as he saw her wrapping her arms tightly around herself.
With a grateful smile, Wanda reached out and gave Vision’s hand a small squeeze.
Tonio tensed at the mention of the Infinity Stones, the loss of Anthony still fresh in his memory.
“Clearly you were able to reverse it” Rogers pushed on, eyeing Wanda and Vision’s interaction, not missing the way Tonio’s skin had lost the little color it still held, both fishing for more information and hoping to move the conversation away from the Infinity Stones.
“Ay...Though at a great cost” Thor cryptically revealed, his speech fractured with grief.
Stark was afraid to ask who they had lost.
Because it was clear that not everybody had made it out of that second fight with Thanos alive.
But before Stark could even work up the courage to ask who the Avengers here had lost a mechanical whir echoed throughout the room, a section of the Towers windows lowering and opening the building up to the outside.
The unmistakable sound of repulsor engines caught everyone's ears.
The Doubles waited with bated breath for the ever elusive genius inventor of this universe to finally make his appearance in grand Tony Stark fashion.
Not five seconds later, red and silver plated armor rocketed almost shakily into the room, jolting to an unsteady stop and hovering for a brief moment as its owner assessed those in the room before lowering himself onto the tiles.
The Doubles watched in fascination as the armor broke down into nanobots and slowly slid away from the armor’s pilot and into two sets of bracelets on the young man’s wrists.
The extra-dimensional group stood in stunned silence as they looked upon the unfamiliar face of this universe’s Iron Man, confusion and concern rolling off them in waves.
“Who are you?” Tones muttered, his tone soft in his disbelief as he tried to work out just who exactly this kid was and how the hell he was apparently Iron Man.
“I’m pretty sure that’s my line” Harley retorted, his gaze sharp and unfriendly as he glared down his Father’s imposters.
Oh snap! Shit is about to go down!
Chapter 8: Chapter 7
Sorry it's been so long! This chapter is pretty intense as it deals a lot with Harley.
And as an extra hint as to where the plot is going, I edited the work summary and tags ;)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It didn't make any sense.
'Did I never become Iron Man here? Did someone else take up the suit instead?' Tones wondered, trying to rationalize just how this kid was Iron Man and not him when he clearly existed in this world.
"Well this is a twist I didn't see coming" Stark muttered, eyeing the kid in front of them curiously.
"What?" Harley demanded, a clear intolerant edge to his voice as he narrowed his eyes at Stark.
"No offense kid, it just wasn't you we expected to be exiting the armor...What is your name anyway?" Tones inquired.
He couldn't think of anyone he knew that this kid could be, not even de-aged.
'Maybe he's an alternate version of someone? Or someone who doesn't exist in our universe? Or maybe he just took a different path in life in our universe and just never pinged our radars?' Tones considered, his mind quickly blowing through all possible explanations.
"Harley" the kid replied shortly, his expression growing even more sour at having to actually introduce himself.
"Never heard of ya" Stark exclaimed.
"Neither have I" Tonio agreed, eyeing Harley curiously.
"So you're Iron Man here? How'd that happen?" Tones not so subtly inquired, though considering the kid's increasingly angry expression as they spoke he wasn't sure that was the smartest question to ask right now.
"Because I'm a special cookie" Harley clipped, "And it's Iron Lad"
Clearly Harley had something against Tony Stark, which wasn't all too surprising in an of itself, but the fact that he had his own armor meant there was a whole lot more to the story...
"Son you need mind your respect" Rogers chastised, irked by the boy's attitude.
"Respect is earned" Harley snapped back, his tone like icy barbs, "And last I checked you're the ones trespassing, not me"
The Doubles blinked in surprise.
"Trespassing?" Tones began to question, however the sound of jets cut him off.
Suddenly a familiar red and blue clad spider slung his way through the same window Harley had entered, Falcon and Captain America following close behind him with Falcon setting Steve down onto the tiles, snapping his wings back to a folded position.
It didn't escape the Doubles' notice that Spiderman's suit looked more metal than spandex.
"Great it's the OG asshole" Harley grumbled, glaring at Steve with such loathing it was a wonder Steve didn't spontaneously combust.
At this point the Doubles' were completely baffled.
Did the kid hate all the Avengers or something?
"Harley you were completely out of line joining in that fight. You have no experience whatsoever out in the field and you could have put innocent people at risk, including yourself" Steve lectured sternly.
"Steve" Sam warned, placing a hand on his friend's shoulder.
Harley immediately wheeled on Steve.
"That's real rich coming from you" Harley sneered, causing all the Doubles to tense at the implications, "What's your body count again?"
'There's no way…' Tones thought horrified, 'Steve wouldn't…'
But this wasn't his Steve. And they'd learned the hard way with the Hydra Supreme that not all Steves held the same moral up and ups.
Rogers and Steve immediately braced themselves, more than ready to strike out at their alternate self if it turned out that the Avengers here weren't actually the heroes they claimed to be.
Steven and Stark just blue-screened at the implications that there was a version of Steve Rogers that was apparently a murderer.
Tonio on the other hand was carefully taking note of everyone's reactions, though he admittedly was mildly curious himself. His Steve didn't mind resorting to killing if need be, however...
"Oh I'm sorry, I mean unfortunate collateral right? That's what you called it?" Harley mockingly sneered, this time shifting his glare between Steve and Wanda, who shifted uncomfortably under his glare, an action that was not lost on the Doubles.
'Maybe the standards and morals of hero work are different here?' Tonio considered warily, 'If heroes here are mostly morally gray than it would make sense why he seems to be against them'
Thor and Carol both decidedly remained quiet. Though for different reasons.
Thor knew grief and sorrows well. He also understood that people grieved in different ways. And Harley was owed the decency to be allowed to express that grief.
Carol on the other hand had flashbacked to when Tony had laid into Steve the day she returned him to the Compound.
'Like Father like son' she thought, mildly impressed at the kids' guts and equally impressive tongue-lashing.
"Harley maybe this isn't the best time?" Peter suggested, feeling lost as to what he could do to placate the situation without it looking like he was taking sides.
He knew that Harley was taking Tony's death exceptionally hard. He was too. But unlike him Harley was lashing out at everyone and everything (minus Morgan).
And the fact that the alternate versions of their fath-of Tony Stark didn't seem to recognize him only served as fuel to the fire.
Harley just ignored him.
He'd been waiting all week to finally lay into Captain Asshole.
"You can take your hypocrisies and shove it Rogers! You're not my Dad or my CO! You have no right to lecture me!" Harley shouted back furiously.
"Your Dad wouldn't want you to-" Steve began, ignoring Sam's increasingly firm grip on his shoulder, fruitlessly trying to settle Harley back down.
"You don't get to say what my Dad would've wanted!" Harley lashed out in indignant fury, "My Dad's dead and you don't have the right to speak on his behalf!"
And suddenly things became a lot clearer.
Tones had seen this anger and pain many times before. Especially preceding SHRA. Miriam Sharpe in particular moving to the forefront of his memory.
Something happened, probably a fight with some villain, and Harley's father ended up getting killed in the cross-fire. Causing the kid to hate heroes and very likely inspired him to be a 'better' one.
Rogers and Steve loosened their tense stances, realizing that the kid was likely just lashing out and spouting a biased standpoint stemming from his pain rather than factual truth (hopefully). Though they remained on guard just in case.
Stark and Steven couldn't help but feel bad for the kid. It was clear he was hurting and needed help dealing with his grief. And even though it wasn't him that Harley was pointing fingers at, Steven still felt responsible for the kid's pain and wanted to comfort him (though he doubted it'd be welcome).
Tonio however was considering a very different scenario than his counterparts based on all of what they did know so far from those of this world.
Casually swirling the liquid in his glass he glanced out of the corner of his eye briefly at this world's Scarlet Witch.
“The last time I used my mental manipulation I caused the creation of a humanicidal murder-bot, set the Hulk on a city of innocent people, and felt my brother die”
If he had to guess, having a fair amount of destruction left in the Avengers' wake may very well be the norm here.
Meaning it was very likely that Harley's vicious barbs actually held some merit.
And that was a terrifying thought.
Suddenly, firework like crackles echoed, a circle of red and orange sparks forming in the center of the room.
The group watched as Dr. Strange made his way through the portal, his expression anything but happy as he scowled at Steve.
But before he could even get a word out Harley cut him off.
"Great. Now both my Dad's murderers and the Bitch who fucked with his head are all together. Just add the Mandarin and revive Stane and Thanos and we've got a real party" Harley viciously mocked, his words causing an uneasy chill tingling up the Doubles' spines at the implication.
"Harley!" Peter exclaimed.
He was pissed off at Strange and Captain America too, but that was crossing a line. Enough was enough.
He immediately made his way over to his surrogate brother and placed a firm hand on his arm to both ground and stop him, though Harley just yanked away from him.
'His Dad wasn't a civilian' Tones belatedly realized, 'He was a hero'
Mandarin. Stane. Steve stiffened, his eyes widening in horror.
'No. No I'm wrong. It has to be a coincidence. It has to be' Steve thought desperately, his own grip on his arms now borderlining painful.
"Perhaps it would be wise to extricate yourself from the situation, seeing as the current environment only appears to trigger more hostility" Vision calmly suggested to his 'Uncle'.
"Why the hell should I be the one to leave?! I own the fucking building!" Harley demanded, feeling betrayed.
"You?" Stark dubiously exclaimed, having gotten tired of how the entire conversation up til now had danced around the real question they all wanted to know.
"Just who are you?" Rogers demanded, just as frustrated as Stark.
He didn't appreciate being left out of the loop.
Harley just leveled the Doubles with an unimpressed look, eyes defiant and sharp with the ever present rage still burning brightly.
"Harley. Harley Keener-Stark"
Harley is a vengeful little minion! More on his mindset will be explored next chapter as well as other very important things *spoilers wink wink*
How will the Alternates react to his "heritage"?