“The thing I want you all to remember, when this is over,” Tony said to Steve Rogers, Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanov, Natasha Romanov, Clint Barton, Clint Barton, Bruce Banner, and Bruce Banner, and fuck, they really needed to find Thor, or possibly Thors, “is that I was planning to use this for good, not evil. Also, really, none of you are even a little turned on right now by having a duplicate of yourself standing in the room?”
The first Steve looked horrified; the other Steve covered his face with his hands.
“I mean, I’m a little turned on by it, more than a little actua– ” Tony began, but the words died in his throat as two Natashas narrowed their eyes at him. He wondered if two Natashas would kill him faster or slower than one Natasha.
“I’m saving myself,” Clint said, and the second Clint chimed in, “For Coulson.”
“Duh,” the first Clint finished, and then they high fived.
“Jesus Christ,” Tony said, and then two Thors smashed through the window, tangled together in what would surely go down as one of the most legendary battles in Midgardian history, and that’s when things got really weird.
It started with an accidental flash of light in the lab. Accidental flashes of light were really never a good thing, because they meant that something had shorted out, or sparked, or, one memorable time, caused a small but insistent localized thunderstorm in the kitchen.
“JARVIS – ”
“Running diagnostics, sir,” JARVIS said. “Nothing appears damaged, but the light did strike Project M.”
“Great,” Tony said, pushing his goggles onto his head and pulling up a holo-screen. “Nothing like a little lightning strike on the one project that is certainly illegal instead of just probably illegal. Any damage?”
“None that my scans are showing so far, I’m running further checks on the rest of the tower,” JARVIS replied.
There was a tap on the glass window that separated the workshop from the hallway that led to the elevator, and Steve was standing there, waving awkwardly. “Come in,” Tony said, looking back down at his table, where the schematics for Project M were projected.
“Hey, sorry, are you busy?” Steve said. “I think I left my sketchbook down here yesterday. You know, from when I was showing you my ideas for the new suit?”
“Yeah, I remember,” Tony said absently. “More give in the lower legs and less skintight, because for some reason you’re desperate to conceal that ass from the world, god only knows why.” Steve blushed, and Tony looked back down quickly, which was a shame. Tony hated to miss a single moment of that, but one of the reactors in Project M was flashing mysteriously and it was getting just oh-so-slightly worrying and he did not need to be distracted by his bizarre desire to watch Captain America blush. “I think you left it on the couch.”
“Oh, yeah, here it is,” Steve said. “Hey, do you want to, um – do you want to grab some dinner? I was thinking about Thai food.”
“I’m actually pretty slammed, can I get a rain check?” Tony said, flipping through the schematics of the components of Project M until he got to the one that was sending out some strange readings, and yup, that was bad, that was very bad.
“Oh, sure,” Steve said, sounding disappointed, and Tony hated disappointing Steve but he was only 94% sure that the lab was not about to catch on fire, and that was three percent worse than usual, so Steve would just have to get over it. “Hey, is everything okay? You look sort of – weird.”
“Weird? I fought a giant caterpillar last Thursday, Cap, weird is relative. You're gonna have to narrow that down,” Tony said, frowning down at the schematic of section 412B, which appeared to be – shit, it appeared to be functional? It definitely had not been functional yesterday, it had been very far from functional, it had not even been on the same planet as functional. “Just a little busy. You know, sciencing.”
“If you say so,” Steve said. Tony could hear him moving back to the door, and resisted the urge to look up and ogle the aforementioned ass. Colleagues, shmoleagues. “I’ll see you later, then.”
“You got it, Cap,” Tony said, and the door swung shut. “JARVIS, are you seeing – “
“I am, sir,” JARVIS said, and he sounded a little worried, which was really not a good sign, because JARVIS regularly maintained a calm, droll attitude when Tony was plummeting toward the ground at the speed of sound. “But I’m also – well, there are readings I’m not fully understanding here, I think you should – ”
There was a tap on the glass, and Tony looked up, and it was Steve, waving again, and Tony was busy, damn it, hadn’t he made that clear, but it was Steve, and Tony had somehow completely lost the ability to deny Steve anything, when the hell had that happened, so he waved him in as several pages of data flooded his screen.
“You need something?” Tony asked.
“Oh, um,” Steve said awkwardly, and Tony would normally feel a little bit guilty for making Steve feel awkward, but at the moment he was looking at a schematic of a project that was not just functional but had functioned, and that was bad, that was very bad, that was somewhere between aliens-invading-again bad and shrapnel-in-the-chest bad. “Just – did I leave my sketchbook down here?”
“Sir,” JARVIS said, urgently. “I think you need to see – ”
“What?” Tony said.
“My sketchbook,” Steve said, frowning a little bit. “I think I left it down here yesterday, when I was – ”
“Showing me your ideas for the new suit,” Tony interrupted numbly, and there was something niggling at the back of his brain, something that sounded like it worked and impossible and fuck all smashed together.
“Sir,” JARVIS said, even more urgently. “Sir, I am concerned that – ”
“I gave you your sketchbook,” Tony said, because if there was one thing Tony was very good at, one thing Pepper had always assured him he was good at, it was ignoring reality. “I literally just gave it to you.”
Steve looked totally baffled. “No you didn’t,” he said, slowly, as if he was trying to figure out if Tony was pulling some kind of joke on him, which, you know, fair. “You feeling okay, Tony?”
The door to the workshop swung open again, and Tony looked over Steve’s shoulder, and felt the bottom drop out of his stomach.
“Hey, sorry, Tony, do you – what,” Steve said, because in the doorway was another Steve.
The Steve in the workshop spun around. Tony watched, mesmerized, horrified, as they met each other’s eyes.
“Who are you?” they said, at the same time.
“What’s going on?” they said, at the same time.
“Stop that!” they said, at the same time.
If Tony survived this, he was going to have a fucking field day.
“Sir, I believe Project M created an exact duplicate of Captain Rogers,” JARVIS said, weakly.
“Yeah, thanks, I got that,” Tony said, and that was all he had time for before the Steve in the doorway launched himself at the Steve in the workshop.
There was the sound of something shattering as a model of the Quinjet crashed to the ground and both Steves – both Steves – crashed to the ground on top of it, and they were wrestling, they were really going at it, and there was no way Tony could stop them, he couldn’t stop one supersoldier, much less two, he wasn’t sure that anything could stop the two Steve Rogerses (Rogi?) currently battling for dominance on the floor of his workshop, but then again, maybe he should sit back and sell tickets for this, because wow. There were muscles rippling everywhere.
“Tony, he’s an imposter!” one of the Steves yelled as he executed an impressive roll out from under the other Steve’s body.
“Oh, nice try,” the other Steve snarled, wrenching around to pin the first Steve’s arm. “Tony, ask me something only I would know, something about, I don’t know, my mom, or that thing last week with Clint and the marshmallows – ”
“How do you even know about the thing with the marshmallows?” the first Steve said, wriggling out of the headlock and grasping the other Steve around the waist. “Have you been spying on us?”
“Tony, call Thor, he’s almost as strong as I am,” the second Steve said. “I’m gonna need some help – ”
“Almost?” the first Steve said. “Almost as strong? I’m the real Steve, you – you – ”
“Okay, the thing about this,” Tony said, “is that you’re both the real Steve.”
“Tony, get some help!” the first Steve gasped, and ugh, Tony was really going to need to think of names for each of them, this was not going to work long term. “What’s going on, why have they – why have they cloned me, who’s behind this – ”
“Tony, let me prove I’m the real me,” the other Steve said, wrapping his arms around his doppelgänger’s knees and dragging him back to the floor. “And get Thor so we can pin this guy down and – ”
“Look, you’re both going to have to be quiet for a second while I think of some way to explain this that doesn’t get me hauled in front of Congress,” Tony said, pinching the bridge of his nose.
“Sir,” JARVIS said, and he was calm again, he was exuding calm vibes, but it was somehow not calming at all. “Sir, I feel that I should inform you that the effects of Project M have not been limited to Captain Rogers.”
“Fuck,” Tony said. “Another me?”
“Actually, no,” JARVIS said, and wasn’t that just perfect, Tony thought, the goddamn thing would decide to actually work but not do the one thing it was designed to do. “Another – well, another Ms. Romanov, Mr. Barton, and Mr. Banner.”
Tony felt his eyes widen comically. The two Steves continued to wrestle, and their hair was starting to get messed up, which meant this was a pretty serious battle by Steve standards.
“Additionally, I cannot currently locate Mr. Odinson inside the tower, however he was present when the situation – began – so it is possible that there is another of him as well, and they have both left the premises.” JARVIS sounded apologetic.
“Okay,” Tony said. “So. All of them.” He took a deep breath and watched as one of the Steves got the other one in a painful-looking headlock. “Is Bruce - ?”
“He appears to be calm, sir,” JARVIS said, and finally, one goddamn thing had gone right today, at least there were not two Hulks in the building, that would have been the absolute last fucking straw.
“Steve!” Tony barked, coming to a decision, and both of the Steves looked up at him from the floor. “Oh, so cute. Look. Steve. You’re both you. I swear you’re both you.”
Both Steves looked suspicious, but apparently they were tired, because they stopped slapping at each other.
“What do you mean, we’re both – that is, I’m both – what do you mean?” one of the Steves said.
“I – I was designing something,” Tony said, and both of the Steves groaned. “Yeah, yeah, okay. Look, it was experimental, I wasn’t actually sure it would ever work, but then something happened in the lab, and la-dee-fuckin-dah, now we have two of you. Actually, we have two of every person that was within – oh, so, 250 meters of the lab about five minutes ago. Except for me.”
Both of the Steves were raising their eyebrows disbelievingly.
“I don’t know why you think I’m lying,” Tony said, exasperated. “Weirder stuff happens here, like, every other day. Thor’s existence is weirder than this, so don’t even give me that look, both of you. I can only take disappointment from one Captain America at a time, two is overload.”
The Steves continued to look skeptical.
“Okay, ask each other something nobody else knows, I’ll plug my ears,” Tony said, and definitely did not plug his ears.
One of the Steves turned to the other. “Favorite food?” he said.
“Pizza, but only as long as it doesn’t have mushrooms,” the other Steve said. “On Saturday mornings, mom used to - ?”
“Wake me up with the radio and dance while we cleaned the house,” the first Steve said a little shakily. “First woman you ever saw naked?”
“Aunt Laurel, but I never told anyone,” the other Steve said slowly, and they were both looking a little horrified and a little relieved. “Who do you worry about most?”
The first Steve turned and looked at Tony, frowning, and Tony held up his hands. “Don’t mind me, boys, this little secret sharing session is adorable. Who do you worry about the most, Cap?” Tony said.
The second Steve stood up, pulling down on the hem of his shirt, and held out his hand to the other. “Sorry about that,” he said brusquely, pulling himself to his feet.
“Don’t worry about it,” the first one said, running his hands through his hair. “Had to be done.”
“Of course,” the second one said, and crossed his arms. “You would have done the same.” Tony wanted so badly to comment on that, because hello, but he had a feeling it wouldn’t be his last opportunity to do so. “Okay, Tony, you want to explain what’s going on here?”
“Sir, Mr. Barton is attempting to contact you,” JARVIS said, saving Tony from what was almost certainly going to be a frustrating conversation. “Shall I patch him through?”
“Please do,” Tony said. “Clint, hey, there’s more than one of you, right?”
“Yup,” two Clints said in unison, and they sounded more amused than anything. “You too?”
“No, I’m looking at two Caps, though.”
“Awesome, did they fight?”
“Wha – what made you think we fought?” one of the Steves said.
“I mean, I fought mine,” Clint said. “For like a second. I figured it out pretty quick, though. I live with Tony fucking Stark, weirder shit happens every day.”
“See?” Tony hissed at the Steves, who both rolled their eyes.
“Little bit of an issue up here in the living room, though,” Clint said. “I’ve got two Natashas and I think they’re both planning to kill each other.”
“That is a problem,” Tony said unnecessarily. “You heard from Bruce? Plural?”
“He’s sitting in the kitchen having a staring contest with himself,” Clint said. “There’s a lot of deep breathing going on, I didn’t want to get involved.”
“Probably for the best,” Tony said. “Look, stay where you are, the Caps and I will be up in a minute.”
“Better hurry, I think one of the Natashas just got her hands on a butter knife,” Clint said.
Tony turned to the two Steves, who were standing stiffly, their arms crossed, pointedly not looking at each other. “God, could you two look any more uncomfortable?”
“You know, I don’t think you’re really in a place to judge how I’m handling this,” the first Steve said.
“Considering it’s your fault,” the other Steve said, and they glared at him with hilariously identical expressions of irritation.
“Must everyone here be so quick to point fingers? Look, let’s just meet up with the rest of the team, I don’t want to have to explain this to each of you twice,” Tony said, waving his arms toward the elevator.
The two Steves looked at each other, seemed to have a furious silent conversation using only their eyebrows, and then turned as one to follow Tony out of the workshop.
“Thank God,” Tony said. “Two of you is at least five times more difficult to deal with than one of you, the math doesn’t work out but there you have it.”
“There is evil magic among us!” one of the Thors roared five minutes later, slamming his fist into the other’s face. Tony was glad, looking at his freshly-shattered window, that he owned several construction companies. “Some kind of trickster who has disguised his countenance to appear as Thor son of Odin! But surely you know that I am the real Thor!”
“Nay,” the other Thor said, grabbing his doppelganger’s hair and pulling, hard. “I am the real Thor!”
“Nay!” the other Thor shouted. “I am the real Thor!”
“Oh my god, this is going to go on all day,” Tony said.
The Steves burst into action, moving as one toward the flailing pile of Nordic God that was Thor vs. Thor, and simultaneously launched into a valiant attempt to be both polite and aggressive as they figured out which of them was in charge. One of the Natashas was picking glass out of the other’s hair; apparently their desire to kill each other had been overstated. One of the Clints was laughing, and the other was filming the Thors with his phone. The two Bruces both seemed to be meditating.
“Thor, look,” one of the Steves said placatingly. “Thor, there’s two of all of us. Look!”
“There is a demon afoot,” one of the Thors said, punching the other in the stomach.
“No, just Tony,” Clint said.
“Tony invented some kind of cloning machine – ”
“It’s not cloning, let’s not throw the word cloning around, that word has a lot of baggage,” Tony interrupted.
“ – and somehow he made copies of all of us,” Steve continued. “It’s just you, it’s another you, Thor. See? Look at us. It happened to all of us.”
One of the Thors turned to look at the two Steves, and the other one took the opportunity to box his ear.
The two Clints waved cheerfully at the Thors.
The Thors frowned. “This seems to be some kind of magic,” one of them said, but loosened his grip on his copy’s throat.
“It’s not,” Tony said. “It’s – well, there are issues with conservation of energy that I hadn’t really figured out, so that part is maybe a little magical, but it’s definitely science. It’s almost definitely science.”
“Almost definitely science,” Bruce murmured calmly from the kitchen table.
“Very reassuring,” the other Bruce agreed with a small sigh. “Care to get a little more specific, Tony?”
“Yeah, question, is this permanent?” one of the Clints said. “Because if it’s not, I want to call up Coulson, like, now.”
“It’s not permanent,” Tony said, and the two Steves slumped, looking relieved. “At least, it isn’t supposed to be permanent.”
“What is it supposed to be?” Natasha said archly.
“It’s supposed to increase the number of hours I have in the day,” Tony said, because there were twice the usual number of Avengers in the room and they were all in varying states of pissed off, and it seemed like the truth was probably the way to go. “Not that I don’t like having a bunch of superhero roommates, total depletion of my snack drawer aside, but between this whole Avengers thing and my work and, you know, actually trying to hang out with you guys once in a while when we’re not giving the smackdown to a bunch bad guys, there just isn’t enough time. So – ”
“So you built a cloning machine so there could be two of you?” the Steves interrupted at the same time, and boy, that was cute, Tony did not see that cuteness coming.
“Again, can we not use the word ‘clone’?” Tony said. “You’re not clones. Let me make that very clear. None of you are clones. You’re all you, you just – how can I put this – you know Shrödinger’s cat? The general interpretation is that until you open the box, the cat is both alive and dead. But there’s another interpretation called the multiverse theory, which postulates that in one universe the cat is dead and in another, new universe, it’s alive. The duplication machine – it kind of creates that second universe within the first universe, a pocket universe that split off from the main one.”
“So are you saying that right now, we’re all both the alive cat and the dead cat?” one of the Bruces said, a little faintly.
“Bingo,” Tony said. “You have the same memories, the same experiences, you are the same person, but one of you exists in a pocket universe.”
“So how do we know which is which?” Natasha asked.
“It doesn’t really matter,” Tony said, waving his hands. “You’re both equally likely to exist, it’s just that one of you turned left and one turned right. Or something.”
“Oh, well, now that you put it that way, it makes perfect sense,” Clint said, and the other rolled his eyes.
“I didn’t say it was simple, I just said it wasn’t cloning,” Tony snapped.
“You said it wasn’t permanent,” Bruce said. “How long is it supposed to last?”
“That’s an interesting question,” Tony said, and from the way the Natashas raised their eyebrows murderously, it seemed that perhaps ‘interesting’ had not been the right word. “Now don’t freak out, nobody freak out, but I didn’t exactly get to the testing phase.”
“So what’s this?” Natasha said. “Seems like the testing phase to me.”
“This was an accident,” Tony said. “I was working on the machine, and there was some kind of spark, lightning, I don’t know what the hell it was – “
“Ah,” one of the Thors said, and the other shifted uncomfortably.
“That was, mayhaps, my fault,” he said.
“I knew there had to be magic somewhere here,” Clint said. “People do not sprout twins out of thin air without some kind of magic.”
“I was experimenting with varying the colors of my electrical strikes,” Thor said, and both of the Clints groaned.
“Jane has been telling me about the grand celebration of the Fourth of July,” the other Thor said. “It sounds most patriotic.”
“A few of the colors may have gotten away from me,” the first Thor said, and they both managed to look a little sheepish.
“The green is most mischievous,” the second Thor said.
“Are you telling me we’re all like this because you were trying to make fireworks?” one of the Clints said, clearly trying not to laugh.
“That does seem like a possible explanation, sir,” JARVIS weighed in. “Mr. Odinson’s electrical signature matches the energy that struck Project M.”
“Okay, after this is all over, buddy, we’re sitting down and figuring out how the hell your lightning works, because you cannot just be smiting my workshop on a regular basis,” Tony said.
“I will acquiesce to any request, friend Tony,” Thor said, and they both inclined their heads slightly.
The elevator dinged very softly behind them, and they all whirled toward it at once.
“Please, god, not Pepper,” Tony muttered, because that would not go well, Pepper had gone a little easier on him about stuff like “responsibility” and “ethics” and “the Geneva convention” since they broke up but he had a feeling that luck would run out the moment she saw five very impossible people standing in the living room.
“All right, Barton, show me what’s going to quote-unquote blow my fucking mind, and this better not be like the incident with the marshmallows because I will not be calling in another helicopter to – oh,” Coulson said, coming to a halt just outside the elevator doors. He blinked at the 11 Avengers; Tony watched as he calmly counted and then re-counted them. Both of the Clints were grinning broadly. “I see.”
“Duplication machine thanks to Tony, lightning magic thanks to Thor,” Bruce said dryly.
“It’s probably better that I don’t know,” Coulson said. “I’d rather not be subpoenaed again this year.”
“Barton, I can’t believe you called him,” Tony said, rounding first on one Clint and then the other. “Can you actually not think of anything except sex?”
“First of all, I didn’t call him, I texted him while the Thors were fighting, and second of all, no, when there are two of me standing next to each other, I cannot think about anything except sex, and I refuse to apologize for it,” one of the Clints said. Coulson cleared his throat very slightly, and the Clints leered at him. Tony never thought he’d think the words Coulson and spit roast in the same thought, but hey, this had been a day of firsts.
“I think we should all agree not to involve anyone else outside of this room in this – whatever is going on here,” one of the Steves said reasonably. “We don’t even know what’s going on ourselves, the last thing we need is for anyone else to get wind of this. Agent Coulson, can we trust you to leave SHIELD out of this for now?”
“What?” Coulson said distractedly, and oh my god, Coulson was capable of being distracted? All this time Tony had been developing elaborate lies to get out of debriefings, and all he needed to do was make a duplicate of Barton to wiggle his hips at their handler. “Oh, yes, well. This is – unusual, to say the least, and I don’t think it’s in anyone’s interest to bring SHIELD in, not unless they call the team up to - ”
The klaxons that filled the top floors of Stark Tower began to wail.
“ – assemble,” Coulson finished lamely.
“JARVIS?” Tony said.
“Bringing the armor online now, sir,” JARVIS said.
“I shall fetch Mjolnir,” one of the Thors said.
“I shall fetch Mjolnir,” the other Thor said, narrowing his eyes at the first.
“No, I shall fetch Mjolnir,” the first Thor said.
“Okay, team, we’re going to have to figure out a way to decide who’s going,” one of the Steve’s said commandingly.
“Who put you in charge?” the other Steve said, frowning at his duplicate.
“I said it first,” the first Steve said.
“We’re both going,” the two Natashas said in tandem.
“Yeah, so are we,” one of the Clints said, jabbing his thumb at the other, who was halfway in the hall closet, presumably rummaging for bows and arrows.
“We can’t all go,” Steve said.
“You can’t all go,” Natasha said.
“Yeah, you only have one uniform,” one of the Clints said.
“And one shield,” the other Clint said.
“Us, on the other hand,” the first Clint said, gesturing to himself and the Natashas, and the second shrugged.
“No one’ll even notice twice as many arrows,” the second Clint said.
“Guys, we’re some of the most famous people in New York,” one of the Steves said sensibly. “Between the news cameras and the fan club members, you really think they aren’t going to notice two of you?”
“I’ll kill anyone who does,” one of the Natashas said casually, and that, that was why Natasha was the scariest person Tony knew, and Tony knew the Hulk.
“Hey, where are you going?” the sensible-sounding Steve said, suddenly noticing his duplicate edging toward the fire stairs.
“I was just going to grab the shield while you talked to the team,” the other Steve said, looking guilty and stubborn all at once. “Just so it’s ready when we decide which of us is going.”
“No, you were going to go put on the uniform so it would be too much hassle to take it off so we couldn’t decide that I would be the one going,” the first Steve said accusingly.
“You only know that because you were considering doing the same thing!” the second Steve said, glaring at his duplicate.
“My brother, I think you must be confused, because I shall be fetching Mjolnir,” one of the Thors rumbled over the cacophony of klaxons and Coulson on the phone with SHIELD and Avengers devolving into small but terrifying arguments with exact copies of themselves.
“Rock paper scissors for it?” Tony suggested. Both Steves turned their identical glares on him, and oh my god, how did that keep getting cuter?
“Okay, Avengers, we have some bargain basement Doombots invading Chelsea, I need boots on the ground in five minutes,” Coulson said, snapping his phone shut. “And I mean one of each of you, and only one. I don’t care how you figure it out, just do it.” The other ten Avengers snapped into motion. One of the Natashas slipped the other the Widow’s Bites, and the Thors shook each other’s massive hands and blathered on about honor, apparently coming to some kind of agreement. “And Barton, if you both try to sneak out of here, so help me I will hand you over to SHIELD for testing myself. You really want to know what they do to people who suddenly show up with clones?”
“Just to clarify, they’re not clones, they’re actually pocket universe versions of themselves, ” Tony said as the suit snapped itself shut around him. “I can explain later.”
“Let’s skip the explanation, I don’t want to have to lie to the President,” Coulson said into the comms, and, shrugging, Tony stepped off the landing platform and shot off into the air.
“We return victorious!” Thor boomed into the living room as the Avengers returned a few hours later, a little scratched up and slightly singed but no worse for the wear.
Bruce gave them a little wave from behind his laptop. Natasha and Thor nodded from where they were eating a bowl of popcorn in front of the television. Steve stood behind the counter next to the fridge, palms braced against the granite, back ramrod straight. Clint didn’t even look up from his phone.
“Uh, you’re not going to ask us how it went?” Tony asked, as the Clint he’d just set down on the platform set down his bow and accepted a water bottle from Coulson.
“Backup Banner hacked your comms about three minutes after you left,” the second Clint said with a shrug.
“And it was on the news,” backup Banner said, motioning toward the TV, and whoa, that was definitely not a nice nickname.
“Congratulations on a well-fought battle, my brother,” the Thor on the couch said, nodding to the Mjolnir-carrying Thor as Natasha, Bruce and Steve arrived via the elevator.
“Should there be another before our time of duplication is up, the honor will be yours,” the second Thor said graciously.
“Seemed like a pretty easy one,” Clint said casually, still not looking up from his phone. “They weren’t even real Doombots.”
“Natasha almost got fried by one, seemed pretty real to me,” the other Clint said, kicking off his boots.
“It’s not a competition,” Steve said as he set his shield down.
“Easy for you to say, you were there,” the other Steve said, narrowing his eyes as his uniformed alter ego.
“Hey, now,” the first Steve said, pulling off his cowl. “I understand why you’re upset – ”
“Do you?” the other Steve snapped. “Because you weren’t the one who had to watch your team almost get blasted by Doombots on TV and not be able to do anything about it.”
“If you think I don’t know what it feels like to be left behind, you’re obviously not actually me at all,” the first Steve said coldly.
“Whoa, whoa, Caps, let’s take it easy,” Tony interrupted, stepping in between the two Steves, who both looked ready to start using the other like a reinforced punching bag. “Everybody in spandex, hit the showers. Everybody who just sat at home and watched us, which was undoubtedly also stressful so don’t take that as an insult, stop snapping at yourself and do a weapons check or something. I know I have really, really fucked up here, and I promise I’m going to fix it, but in between now and then can we please try not to tear each other apart?”
They all stared at him, and Tony fought back a shudder.
“It’s been a really weird day, but Tony being the voice of reason is definitely the weirdest thing yet,” Bruce said, and that seemed to break the ice, because both of the Clints noticeably relaxed and the Steves unclenched their fists.
“Thanks, big guy, I’m going to try to take that as the compliment it obviously was,” Tony said, making his way toward the elevator. “I’m not kidding, showers. Together, separate, I don’t want to know about it.” He stepped into the elevator and slumped against the wall as the doors closed, hoping that the Tower would still be in one piece when he emerged.
Half an hour later, Tony returned to the living room to find it empty except for Natasha and Natasha, spread out on yoga mats in the center of the floor, clad in sweats and tee-shirts and doing something so unspeakably sexy that Tony did not even have the language to describe it.
“What is this,” he said, “and will you kill me if I get it on video?”
“Stretching, and yes,” one of the Natashas said, pushing on the other’s leg and grunting very slightly.
“Stretching?” Tony said faintly. “Do you get your workouts from the Kama Sutra?”
“I always stretch after a battle,” the other Natasha said, her arms twisted behind her back.
“Clint usually helps,” the first Natasha said, lifting her duplicate’s leg and stretching it in the other direction. “But he’s… occupied.”
“God, say no more,” Tony said, holding up his hands. “If I never imagine a Clint, Coulson, and Clint sandwich again, it will be too soon. Where’s everybody else?”
“Thors said something about composing a ballad,” Natasha said.
“The Bruces mentioned running some tests that he only trusted himself to do,” the other Natasha said. “He promised not to Hulk out, though I think two of them together would actually be pretty interesting.”
“And Steve? Steves?” Tony said.
One of the Natashas shrugged daintily. “They disappeared somewhere together. I think they were having another fight.”
“Great,” Tony groaned. “I’ll go find him. Them. Jesus, the semantics of this is the worst part.”
Tony got off at Steve’s floor and paused outside the door to his suite. He didn’t really want to get in the middle of yet another Cap-vs.-Cap fight, but the idea of the two of them in there, arguing and confused and alone – or, not alone, as it was – somehow sounded much worse.
He pushed the door open and was slapped in the face with the sight of Steve making out with - Steve.
“Jesus Christ,” he said.
“Tony!” one of the Steves cried, dragging his mouth away from his duplicate’s neck.
“Oh my god, what are you doing here?” the other Steve said, pulling his hand out of his copy’s pants.
“Am I dreaming?” Tony said. “Did I get knocked out during the battle? Because there is no way I just saw Captain America giving himself a h – “
“Don’t,” one of the Steves said, dropping his face into his hands while the other quickly rebuckled his belt.
“ – hickey, I was going to say hickey, and oh my god, I’m awake, aren’t I? You would not be blushing this much if this were a dream,” Tony said, his mouth going dry.
“This is my room,” the second Steve said, running his hands through his hair, which was completely messed up and was very clear evidence that he’d just been doing exactly what he’d just been doing. “What are you doing here?”
“You know, technically, all of these rooms belong to me,” Tony said, waving around to indicate the entire tower and trying to remember how breathing worked.
“You usually knock,” one of the Steves said, frowning and pulling at the hem of his shirt.
“You usually aren’t having sex with yourself,” Tony pointed out.
“I wasn’t – we weren’t – ” Steve spluttered.
“Yeah, but you were about to,” Tony said. “Hey, no judgment at all, that is literally the first thing I would have done if there were two of me, to hell with fake Doombots, I would have been getting down with myself all day, it’s kind of a fantasy of mine actually, but then I do have narcissistic tendencies. Was it basically like a really amazing round of masturbation, or…?”
“Oh my god, I’m not having this conversation,” one of the Steves said, and they were both still blushing wildly.
“Look, Steve, Steves, whatever, I’m sorry, I really am, I was actually just coming to check on you because you kind of seemed to be having a fight earlier, but it seems like you’ve resolved that, and wow, make-up sex with yourself, that has got to be a first,” Tony said, and cleared his throat, trying desperately not to go any further down that mental path because he was about to start making some very embarrassing noises. Not to mention that he really had a lot of work to do and he could not let himself be waylaid much longer by the single hottest visual he’d ever encountered or there would be eleven Avengers for the rest of time. “I have to know, I swear just one question and then I’m leaving, just tell me this, how would you have decided who was going to top?”
One of the Steves choked in horror, and the other spluttered, “Has it crossed your mind that some of us don’t have as much practice with this kind of stuff as you do?”
“With what kind of stuff?” Tony said blankly. “With having a pocket universe copy of yourself? I don’t think most people have much practice with that, this is sort of a first-time-ever type of thing as far as I know.”
“No, I mean,” one of the Steves said, and the other one elbowed him, but he soldiered on, “Sex.”
Steves blinked back.
“I like where this sentence is going, but can you go a little deeper? No pun intended,” Tony said.
One of the Steves sighed, and the other pinched the bridge of his nose. “You started this,” the nose-pinching one muttered to the other.
“We started this,” the other one shot back, and god, Tony could watch them argue all day, this was the most arousing argument that he had ever witnessed. “Look, Tony, it’s just – before the serum, I wasn’t, you know, people weren’t interested, really, I wasn’t exactly – you know, what people were looking for.”
“Nice try, but I’ve seen the pictures, and you were adorable,” Tony said.
One of the Steves raised his eyebrows disbelievingly. The other continued, “And then there was the war, and I mean, some of the fellas did, you know, stuff, but I was Captain America, and I couldn’t exactly – and now, I mean, there seem to be a lot of different rules, and moves, and all of that, and I don’t – I don’t even know where to start.” The Steve who had been talking dropped his face into his hands.
“We just thought – I just thought – that maybe, you know, this would be a good opportunity,” the other Steve said, cringing. “To get some practice.”
Tony felt like he’d been hit in the back of the head with Mjolnir.
“Are you telling me,” he said quietly, “that you were about to lose your virginity with yourself?”
“It sounds a lot worse when you put it that way,” Steve said, rubbing the back of his neck.
“Look, Steve, both of you, I know you didn’t mean to be both of you, even though both of you is kind of awesome for me, and for America, have you thought about being Captains America? Think about it, I can make you another uniform, we’ll have one of you on each coast, you’ll always be available for primetime and, uh, other engagements.” Tony cleared his throat; apparently the idea of two Steves having sex was making his brain short circuit. “I’m gonna leave, I’m going to leave right now, but you know, if the two of you, or either of you, if you ever want someone, to, ah, to practice with, you could always just ask.”
One of the Steves made a strangled noise, and the other’s eyes widened for a moment.
“Right, as you were, soldiers,” Tony said, and started backing out of the suite.
The first Steve opened his mouth and said, “Please don’t joke about stuff like that, Tony.”
“Don’t joke about what?” Tony said blankly.
“Stop,” the other Steve hissed, but the first Steve set his jaw and put on what Tony thought of as his Battle Face.
“He’ll figure it out eventually,” Battle Steve said.
“I’ll figure what out eventually?” Tony asked.
“You do not know that,” the other Steve said, and Tony felt his head whip back and forth between them like he was watching a tall blond tennis match.
“Look, I was watching on live TV earlier, and if you think you’re hiding it during battles, you’re wrong. Anyone who was watching that video could see it,” the first Steve said.
“Yeah, anyone who was inside our head,” the second Steve said. “I can’t even believe we’re having this conversation, you’re me, you know we can’t – ”
“What I know is after watching today, it’s very clear that the best case scenario is that one of these days someone is going to figure it out and say something to him, and the worst case scenario is that he’s going to get himself killed before that happens,” the first Steve said, and the second looked like he’d been slapped. “Either way, you’re better off telling him yourself.”
“You’re going to regret this if we’re ever one person again,” the first Steve said miserably, looking resigned.
The second Steve shrugged. “If something happened I would regret not saying it a lot more.”
“If something happened, nothing happened, what the ever loving fuck are you talking about?” Tony said, trying to untangle the most insane conversation he’d had today, which, frankly, was saying a lot.
The first Steve – Battle Steve, or rather not-Battle Steve, as Tony had started to think of him, because he was clearly the one who’d stayed home from the little party in Chelsea they’d attended earlier – turned to face him, and said matter-of-factly, “It would be really nice if you could not joke about us sleeping together, because the truth of the matter is that I have feelings for you.”
“You have feelings,” Tony said dully. “For me.”
“Yes,” Steve said. “I’m sorry if that makes you feel uncomfortable, and I really hope it doesn’t negatively impact our friendship, but I just wanted to tell you.”
There was a long pause while Tony re-evaluated his life and wondered what he had possibly done to deserve this moment. He earmarked an extra couple million for charity this year.
“This is a problem,” he said finally, and both of the Steves winced. “This is a really, really big problem, and I’m hoping you can help me solve it, because I’m at a little bit of an impasse - which of you do I kiss first?”
The Steves stared at him. “What?” one of them said, and Tony took a step closer to them.
“Because I really want to kiss both of you, hopefully more than once, hopefully a lot more than once, but I don’t know what the etiquette here is, most people don’t have their first kiss with a guy while his alternate universe self is standing right next to them,” Tony said.
“Um,” one of the Steves said, and Tony made a snap decision, pulled that one down by the back of his neck, and kissed him. It was a little awkward, as first kisses generally were, and Steve kept his hands at his side and didn’t know exactly what to do with his tongue but it was Steve and it was about as perfect as a kiss could be on a day where you’d accidentally duplicated your colleagues and then almost been blown up by second-rate Doombots.
“Oh,” the second Steve said softly, the one Tony wasn’t kissing, and Tony felt the sound go right to the pit of his stomach.
He pulled back, grinning at the shell-shocked look on Steve’s face, and said, “Hey, buddy, sorry, I want to kiss the other you now, is that cool, are we good?”
“By all means,” Steve said faintly, and Tony turned to the second Steve and had a second first kiss with him and how fucking cool was that? If this duplication thing ever became legal, which it wouldn’t, obviously, but if it did, this would revolutionize sex, he would be famous all over again for how amazing this was. This Steve was a little less tentative and he swiped at Tony’s lower lip with his tongue, and Tony groaned, and suddenly the second Steve was pressed up against his back, his lips on Tony’s neck, and there was Steve everywhere, he was literally surrounded by Steve. Cool.
“Is this okay?” the Steve behind him murmured into his ear, and Tony was glad there was about four hundred pounds of supersoldier holding him up because his knees were suddenly embarrassingly weak.
“Is this – ? Okay is not even the word for this, this is so much more than okay,” Tony said, and he felt Steve grin against his lips. He snaked his hand around to Steve’s lower back and slid his fingertips under his waistband. Steve gasped into his mouth.
“What?” the other Steve asked, his breath hot on Tony’s neck, and fuck, Tony had had threesomes before, but it turned out there were threesomes and then there were threesomes.
“Bed,” Tony said when he remembered how talking worked. “Bed, we need – yes. Your bed.”
“Yes,” one of the Steves agreed, and moving from one place to another while wrapped in someone else was never easy, nevermind while wrapped in two someone elses, so they all split apart and stumbled toward Steve’s bedroom.
“Clothes off,” Tony said as one of the Steves carefully shut the door behind them. He reached out to the other one with grabby hands and tugged his shirt over his head, revealing what looked like a million square miles of smooth, sculptured chest. “You too,” Tony tossed over his shoulder at the other Steve, who came up behind him and stripped his shirt over his head, then dropped his own on top of it. “Efficient, I like that.”
“You never stop talking, do you?” one of the Steves said, and the other chuckled.
“Do you want me to stop?” Tony said, pushing gently at Steve’s chest until he sat down hard on the bed. He dropped to his knees in front of him, and the other Steve groaned softly and fell to his knees behind him.
“You don’t have to do this,” he said into Tony’s neck, peppering kisses from his ear to his shoulder.
“Have to?” Tony said, reaching for Steve’s belt. “I know I don’t have to do anything, Cap, but I want to do this a little more than I’ve wanted to do anything in a very, very long time, so if you would not interrupt us, that is, me and you, that would be great.” He pulled Steve’s zipper down and grinned as his eyes widened. “You okay, buddy? Both of you?” He eased Steve out of his briefs and leaned very close to the head of his cock.
“Oh, god, Tony,” the Steve behind him said as Tony took the head in his mouth and swirled his tongue very gently around the slit. He slowly eased his way down Steve’s shaft, and Jesus, Steve was under him and behind him and Steve had his hands tangled in Tony’s hair and his other hands were gripping Tony’s waist and Tony was so, so glad he had a photographic memory because this? Was not something he ever wanted to forget.
“I want to touch you,” Steve murmured shyly, into his hair, and Tony bucked his hips at the sound. “I want – can I - ?”
“God, yes,” Tony said, letting Steve’s cock pop free from his mouth. He reached down and unzipped his pants, his erection aching. “But here’s the thing, you just have to do it, because my mouth is a little busy sucking your cock, and I can’t give directions and blow you at the same time, which do you want me to do more?”
“Maybe we should duplicate you so you can do both,” the Steve on the bed said, a little breathlessly, and Tony laughed.
“Not funny, duplication is serious business, I pretty much broke the laws of particle physics to make this happen,” Tony said, and groaned as one of Steve’s large hands wrapped around him and began to move. “Harder, Jesus, Steve, I’m not gonna break.”
“Give him a break, it’s his first time,” the Steve on the bed said with a cheeky grin.
“You, I am not done with you,” Tony said, and went back to work, taking as much of Steve into his mouth as he could and licking a wide stripe from the root of his shaft to the tip. He held Steve’s hips steady with his hands, rubbing light circles into his thighs with his thumbs, and moaned as the Steve behind him worked him harder and faster, biting his shoulder gently.
Before very long, Steve was writhing under him, and he pulled hard on Tony’s hair and gasped, “Tony, stop, I’m going to – oh my god, wait – ” and Tony just moved faster and added his hand to the mix, and soon Steve was coming into his mouth, bitter and hot, and Tony swallowed it down and heard the Steve behind him gasp, and his hand stuttered to a halt.
“Don’t you dare stop,” Tony growled, kissing the sensitive skin of Steve’s thigh, feeling Steve thrust a little helplessly behind him. The Steve on the bed sat up and caught Tony’s face in his hands and kissed him desperately, sloppily.
“That was – I don’t know if I can do that as well as you,” he said, frowning a little bit, and Tony kissed him hard to wipe the frown away.
“Practice makes perfect, Cap, don’t worry, we’ll get you some lessons right away,” he said. “But right now, oh god, you could not stop me from coming, Jesus, Steve,” and Steve kissed him again and he came, hard, into Steve’s hand, and Steve sucked on his neck from behind and swallowed his moans at the same time.
“I think I’m actually relieved that there is normally only one you,” Tony said, leaning his forehead against Steve’s as he caught his breath. “I’m too old to have sex this amazing on a regular basis.”
“Are we having sex on a regular basis now?” Steve asked, with a small smile.
“I told you, practice practice practice,” Tony said, twisting around to capture the other Steve’s lips. He slid his hand into his pants and Steve was hard as a rock, his breath already coming in little moans as Tony began to touch him. “This is just the first of many, there is a lot I still have to teach you, grasshopper.”
“Fuck you, Stark,” Steve gasped into his mouth.
“Oh my god, you get a dirty mouth when you’re about to come,” Tony asked, feigning shock.
“Apparently,” the other Steve said from behind him, and Tony just grinned as the second Steve shuddered and came into his hand. He wrung the last of Steve’s orgasm out of him and kissed him softly, and felt the Steve behind him take a deep breath.
“So what now?” he whispered into Tony’s hair.
“First, I get off my knees, because like I said, I am old, I am too old for this,” Tony said, groaning.
“I remember the Hoover administration,” Steve pointed out. “You are not too old.”
“Fighting bad guys is a lot less strenuous than having ridiculously hot sex with two insanely gorgeous men,” Tony said, and grinned as both Steves flushed pink. “Okay, that thing where you’re both blushing, it’s too much, you’re gonna have to stop that or I might just explode from how adorable that is.” He pushed himself up off the floor and collapsed into Steve’s bed. “And now we sleep.”
“Um,” one of the Steves said after a pause. “So you – you want to sleep here? I mean – you don’t have to, if you’d be more comfortable in your own – ”
“Even if I was capable of moving right now, which I am not, I don’t hit it and quit it,” Tony said, kicking off his pants and burrowing under Steve’s blanket. “And I especially don’t hit it and quit it after somehow taking two simultaneous v-cards from the same guy. I kind of wish there was someone else in the room to hear that sentence so I could get a high five for it.” The two Steves both rolled their eyes. “Seriously, get in here, both of you, I know this bed is big enough for all three of us because I ordered it myself.” Tony closed his eyes and waited, and within moments, there were two thwumps as the Steves flopped into bed on either side of him.
“You know, I normally like to be the big spoon, but considering there’s two of you I guess I can settle for middle spoon,” Tony murmured.
“That’s real big of you, Tony,” one of the Steves said wryly, draping an arm over him from behind.
“Once we’re down to one Cap, though, it’s big spoon or nothing,” Tony said, burrowing his face in the other Steve’s neck.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” Steve said, and Tony couldn’t tell which it was, and it didn’t really matter, because he was already mostly asleep.
The next thing Tony knew, his phone was buzzing in the hand of one very naked, very confused looking Steve Rogers. The old-fashioned bedside alarm clock read 3:30 AM.
“It’s Clint,” Steve said, and Tony took the phone.
“This better be good, Barton,” he rasped into the phone.
“Were you asleep?” Clint said, sounding surprised.
“I do actually sleep sometimes, the hours may be irregular, but you know what they say, even a broken clock is right twice a day,” Tony said, biting back a yawn. “Why?”
“I just figured you’d done something. The other me is gone.”
Tony sat up in bed and looked at Steve, then turned to the other side and – no Steve.
“The other one?” Tony mouthed, and Steve just shrugged, still looking a little dazed.
“When did it happen?”
“About twenty minutes ago,” Coulson said, and Tony could imagine their heads pressed together in bed. Coulson’s voice sounded a little rough, and Tony decided not to comment: pot, meet kettle.
“We weren’t sleeping,” Clint said, and Tony could hear the grin in his voice.
“What happened to him?” Tony said, wide awake.
“He just sort of faded away,” Coulson said.
“He’s in my head now,” Clint said. “It’s really fucking weird.”
“Ah, right, should’ve warned you guys, you should have both sets of memories now,” Tony said. Steve slumped a little bit, looking relieved, and Tony reached out and clapped a hand on his shoulder. “So it worked? You remember both?”
“Yeah, that’s why I just said it’s really fucking weird,” Clint said. “It’s like I lived two mostly similar but very slightly different days. And had two orgasms at the same time.”
“That’s way too much information, but the rest of it is awesome, that is awesome, this is – wait,” Tony said, and it was like several puzzle pieces fell into place all at once, and of course, how could he be so stupid. “Wait, this just happened?”
“Yeah, what did you do?” Clint said.
“I’m not totally sure,” Tony said. “Call you back later.” He dropped the phone and threw himself back in bed. “JARVIS?”
“Yes, sir?” JARVIS said, sounding a little contrite.
“You son of a bitch,” Tony said. “You lying, traitorous bastard.”
“To be fair, sir, I was in a bit of a tight spot,” JARVIS said.
“Yeah, yeah, excuses, excuses,” Tony said. “In the lab?”
“Naturally,” JARVIS said.
“Steve, get dressed,” Tony said, swinging himself out of bed. “We’re going for a walk.”
“What happened to the other me?” Steve said. “I can – I can sort of feel both memories. I’m not – I’m not sure which one was me.”
“They were both you,” Tony said, pulling on his pants and tossing a shirt in Steve’s direction. “They were both super hot versions of you, and now, tragically, there is only one, and I think I know why. Seriously, let’s go. I think I’m going to need you for this.”
“Come out, come out, wherever you are,” Tony said, stepping into his lab.
Another Tony stood up from the work station in the corner. “I can’t believe you didn’t figure it out,” he said, and Steve stumbled slightly and caught himself on a table. “Seriously, I thought we were supposed to be the same person. Project Michael Keaton? Did I get all the brains?”
“I thought you said there was only one of you,” Steve said suspiciously.
“Yeah, because JARVIS lied to me,” Tony said loudly, looking up at the ceiling.
“Yeah, because I told him to,” the other Tony said just as loudly.
“I trust JARVIS implicitly, I had no reason to anticipate that he would be following someone else’s orders,” Tony said accusingly.
“Except for your own, which, you know, you should have realized just might be a possibility today,” the other Tony said, and Tony suddenly realized why the other Avengers kept fighting themselves, because he had a very strong urge to punch his duplicate in the face.
“Don’t,” Steve said warningly, putting a hand on Tony’s shoulder.
“So you just decided you’d do all the science and I’d handle the rest of it?” Tony said, unclenching his fist.
“I had the good fortune to exist on the other side of the lab and hear you tell Steve to come in, so I figured I’d take the fun part and you’d get all the yelling,” the other Tony said. “But boy, was that a miscalculation. You finally get Cap into bed, you finally get two Caps into bed and I miss it.”
“Were you spying on us?” Steve said, looking affronted.
“He’ll be in my head soon enough,” Tony said quickly. “It doesn’t matter.”
“That doesn’t explain how he knew, do you have cameras in my – ”
“Emergency protocols only, and I think spying on myself is a decent enough reason,” the other Tony interrupted smoothly. “I really pulled the short straw.”
“If you don’t fuck it up, we might get another chance,” Tony said. “So does this mean you’ve been – ”
“Up all night figuring out how to put Humpty Dumptys together again?” the other Tony said. “Yep. Turns out Thor’s little light show reversed the polarity of section 412B, which is what made it work in the first place, so I had to readjust the energy filters to get them back. Simple.”
Steve raised an eyebrow dubiously. “Doesn’t seem that simple.”
“It is, you’ll see. The rest of the Brady Bunch is all back to being singular, and there don’t seem to be any side effects. A little confusion as they integrate both sets of memories, maybe, and Natasha is still systematically searching the building for her double, so someone should probably give her a call and let her know what’s up.”
“I’ll handle it,” Steve said, and pulled a phone from his pocket.
“So what about us?” Tony said, as Steve turned away to try to convince Natasha to probably get out of the elevator shaft or something. “It has to be done manually, I’m guessing?”
“No overrides,” the other Tony said. “Wouldn’t want to accidentally snap back into one person in the middle of a battle, or worse, in the middle of two Steves. It’s pretty easy, actually. I mean, if you’re me.”
“Show off,” Tony said. “So, uh. You don’t think we should destroy it or anything, do you?”
“I don’t see any reason that would be necessary,” the other Tony said casually. “A couple of modifications to limit its reactivity, make it easier to direct the effects onto one person instead of half a building full of them, and by the way you’re lucky this happened on a Saturday because if there had been a board meeting going on five floors down they might have been - ”
“I’m lucky?” Tony said. “You’re the one who’s been up here all night playing mad scientist, I’m pretty sure this was your fault - ”
“ - but they weren’t, that’s the good thing, one pissed off board is more than enough, and can you imagine if Pepper had been here, oh my god,” the other Tony continued, and they both fell silent for a moment, pondering the horror. “So anyway, point is, now that I saw what Thor’s lightning bolts of doom did to the thing, I can replicate it and restrict the effect to one person at time.”
“I don’t think that’s such a good idea,” Steve said, pulling his phone away from his ear and ugh, he was always ruining Tony’s fun. “This machine seems pretty dangerous to me, Tony.”
“Ugh, you’re always ruining my fun,” the other Tony said, and wow, that was really weird, Tony was starting to regret ever inventing this thing.
“You’re saying you don’t want two of me around?” Tony said, feigning offense.
“I think one Tony Stark is enough,” Steve said, smiling. “Maybe a little too much, sometimes.”
“You wound me,” the other Tony said. “Make it up to me with a kiss?” He puckered his lips at Steve, who blushed furiously.
“I don’t care how much you look like me, I will kill you,” Tony said. “Let’s de-duplicate before it comes to that.”
“Word of advice, Cap,” the other Tony said, leaning over the keyboard and typing rapidly. “If he get too mouthy, gag him. He likes it.” He stood up, jammed his hands in his pockets, made a kissy face in Steve’s direction, and faded away.
“Huh,” Tony said. “That was pretty simple.”
Steve shook his head. “I’m just glad the other you’s gone. He was kind of creeping me out.”
Half of Tony wanted to laugh, and the other half wanted to be offended. It actually wasn’t a new feeling. “He’s not gone,” Tony said. “In fact, I’m him, and I’m ridiculously jealous of the sex I didn’t have with you last night.”
Steve looked down at his hands and actually scuffed his bare foot against the workshop floor. “Jealous, huh?”
“So jealous,” Tony reiterated, taking a step closer to Steve. “And wondering if the experiment can be replicated.”
“Well, considering there’s only one of me now, I’m afraid that’s not possible,” Steve said, frowning.
“I think I’ll survive,” Tony said.
“So one is enough?” Steve said, and he sounded earnest and teasing and fucking hopeful, and Tony hated how much he wanted to kiss him, it wasn’t even fair.
“I can’t believe I had a shot with one of you, much less two,” Tony said honestly. “And I really can’t believe that I walked in on you corrupting yourself.”
“What did you think I’d be doing alone in my room with myself?” Steve said, raising an eyebrow.
“Before last night? I would have said I expected you two to immediately bearhug and then wander around Coney Island winning each other prizes at the toss game like sweethearts at a county fair,” Tony said, reaching out to wrap a hand around the back of Steve’s neck. “It was really sweet and romantic and you had to go and ruin it by putting your hand down your own pants.”
“Sorry for disappointing you,” Steve said, leaning forward until his lips were just out of Tony’s reach, and Tony gave in and pushed up on his tiptoes, pressing his lips against Steve’s. It was half new and half familiar and all amazing.
“Worked out okay in the end,” Tony murmured against Steve’s lips.
“Friends!” The door to the lab swung open with a bang and Thor burst in. “I am once more a single entity!” Tony dragged himself away from Steve’s mouth and Steve wrenched his hands away from Tony’s waist. Thor blinked at them once, then grinned broadly.
“That’s great, buddy,” Tony said. “Uh, little busy, though, can we celebrate later?”
“I apologize for interrupting this long-overdue escalation of your friendship, and I wish you nothing but shared joys as you go forth to bed one another,” Thor said sincerely, which was about the best response Tony could have hoped for. “I will include your locking of the lips in one of the verses of the ode I am composing to recount the day’s epic battle between my self and my other self.”
“That’s really not necessary,” Steve said.
“We appreciate the thought, though,” Tony said.
“It is no trouble,” Thor said. "It shall fit in nicely after the verse that details the satisfying sound of my fist connecting with my own jaw. Here, I have begun already - "
"Hey, guys?" Bruce said, sticking his head into the lab behind Thor and looking totally unsurprised to see Tony and Steve all up in each other's personal space.
"The love between the Man of Iron and the Captain of America is one that shall define the age," Thor recited loudly.
"Hey, Jolly Green, back in one piece?" Tony said.
"As much as I ever am," Bruce said. "Uh, has anybody - "
"Their friends hope that the pleasure of congress will their occasional feud assuage," Thor continued blithely.
" - seen Natasha? And wow, definitely not going to ask," Bruce said.
"Steve talked to her," Tony said, turning to Steve. "You talked to her."
"She didn't pick up, I left her a message," Steve said. "Do you think she didn't - ?"
"Two men of such wisdom and musculature will revel in a varied array of carnal joys," Thor continued.
"Yeah, I think she's scaling the outside of the building," Bruce said.
"Great, she's probably still stalking herself," Tony said. "Should I - ?"
"I would, but I can't fly," Steve said, pulling out his phone again.
"Shakespeare over here can," Tony pointed out, already reaching for his bracelets.
"It is most fortunate that the Man of Iron already possesses a collection of highly sensuous sexual t - "
"All right, that's enough iambic pentameter for the day," Tony interrupted, and hey, look at that, for the first time in human history, Tony was about to escape an awkward relationship conversation by actually jumping out a window.
“I don’t know, I was kind of looking forward to seeing where he was going with that,” Clint said, walking into the room behind Bruce.
“I think I’m missing something,” Steve said.
“Don’t worry, I’ll explain later,” Tony said, already looking forward to that conversation. He braced himself as the suit snapped into place around him, then looked back at Steve, grinning. “Promise.”
And as Clint choked on his tongue, Tony launched himself out the window to the sound of Thor cheerfully belting out, “And thus did two great heroes of Midgard conclude their lengthy period of courtship and enjoy the rewards of a healthy appetite in the bedchamber!” and decided that, yeah, when he got back, they were going to have a big talk about boundaries.