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the world turned upside down

Chapter Text

Darcy Lewis had always known that she wasn’t completely normal.

Even when she was a small kid, she felt like she was missing something, like there was supposed to be something else, something more.

Her mother was overwhelmed by Darcy’s odd mannerisms and weird habits. It was understandable, really. Her mom was barely 20 years old and Darcy behaved like she couldn’t believe she was alive. She was perplexed by the simplest things—she had stared for an hour when her mom had explained the telephone to her—had a weird fascination with certain bills—mainly ones and tens—and kept imagining siblings.

“Honey, I think I would know if you had siblings,” Riley Lewis smiled at her small bundle of joy every time Darcy brought it up.

The toddler would cross her arms, raise her head high, stand straight, and insist that she did, in fact, have two sisters.

It wasn’t until U.S. History class in Middle School that she got her first clue as to why she was the way she was.

The lessons about the American Revolution—and especially the people—sparked half-forgotten memories inside her.

The teacher had divided them into seven groups and assigned each group one of the key Founding Fathers according to some historian from the seventies—she had forgotten the details almost as soon as she had heard them.

Darcy had been in the group that had been assigned Alexander Hamilton. Most of them had been displeased to say the least.

“Who the eff is this guy?” Amitola Stevens complained to her best friend, Azizah al-Fasir. “Couldn’t we have gotten someone else? Like Jefferson or Washington?”

“They weren’t that nice people,” Stefan Kingsley pointed out.

Azizah huffed. “Yes, but at least I know who they are!”

“Hamilton was the first Treasury Secretary, a general, and a lawyer,” Darcy heard herself say. “He wrote the majority of the Federalist Papers. He was Washington’s right hand man during the war, for god’s sake!”

“How come I haven’t heard of him then?” asked Chu Huynh.

“Because he’s also very much a child with no impulse control and ruined his own legacy,” Darcy replied without thinking.

After that project, she began questioning where these memories had come from.

Because Darcy had never looked into history—at all—but her knowledge had to come from somewhere. And she had spoken like she had known Hamilton, like he was a friend, like she knew every single one of his little quirks.

Plus, she had a strong desire to punch the man in the face.

With some further research, she was at least able to figure the last part out fairly quickly. The Reynolds Pamphlet was hard to miss when researching Alexander Hamilton, after all.

And once she had read the name Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, Darcy just knew. She knew her sister like she knew her own mind.

Rebirth didn’t change that. If the universe wanted Darcy—Peggy?—to forget her sisters permanently, it seriously needed to step up its game.

(Which, for the record, hadn’t meant to be an invitation, but she admitted that she was at fault here.)

Once she had realized that she was an actual historical person™—she totally had been known enough to count—she had started to take an interest in things she had thought boring before.

When she had been just Darcy and not Dargy—no, that sounded completely stupid. Pegcy, maybe?—she had wanted to be a nurse or a doctor of some kind.

But, quite frankly, once she had realized how little had actually changed since then—no matter what they claimed, everyone who was not a cishet white male was still considered less by a great many of them—she wanted to do something different. She wanted to rise up and finally get the stick out of society's ass.

And it would be glorious.

Darcy—it was honestly the least complicated way to refer to herself, because she had no risk of slipping up and having to explain the mess in her had. It wasn’t like reincarnation was a very common phenomenon. Or a phenomenon at all.

Either way, Darcy began to study like Alexander had written in the subjects she chose to apply herself in.

Which maybe should have been less, but she would not worry until she was as bad as her—former—brother-in-law.

But her dedication proved to be worth it. She got into the college she wanted—and maybe her choice was influenced by nostalgia a bit, but it wasn’t like that was a problem, honestly—and her (so far) fifteen step plan progressed as planned.

Yes, she was acting like Alexander and Angelica and probably a few more, but she did it with style.

As cliche as it may sound like, everything changed when she heard she had to get six actualy science credits for some reason. Darcy had absolutely no idea why she needed to do that—neither did anyone else she asked—but this was not worth fighting against (yet).

Once she checked that yes, this particular project would work, she applied for internship to Dr. Jane Foster.

The woman might’ve been called crazy by a good part of the intellectual elite—or whatever—but her work on Einstein-Rosen-bridges—or, more commonly: holy shit, wormholes!—looked more interesting than anything else she had looked at.

And, if she was completely honest, this Dr. Foster kind of sounded like Alexander—and maybe she did have a problem, but honestly, it wasn’t like there was anyone she could talk to without the fear of being locked up somewhere.

She was curious to see what the end result of this would be.

What she had expected when she had started, Darcy had no idea.

She just knew that it wasn’t this.

And honestly, she would laugh in the face of anyone who claimed that they expected the chain of events that—at least for her—started with this internship. No one could honestly say that. Not scientists, conspiracy theorists, historians, pagans, or literally anyone else. No one.

Except, maybe Tony Stark and Phil Coulson, because they, apparently, knew things no one else did.

Chapter Text

Tony Stark knew that he wasn’t normal. There were many reasons for this, most of them well know in a good portion of the world.

His intelligence, his father’s money—and why did having a father fell so odd again?—and his ADHD—it was diagnosed by an actual medical professional, thanks to the Jarvises—were just some of the reasons he could name at the top of his head.

There were many more reasons and his father didn’t hesitate to point out every single one of them repeatedly whenever he had the slightest chance to do so.

It wasn’t even close to something a parent should do, but if he was completely honest, Tony kind of felt like not only he was used to it, but he deserved it to boot.

He didn’t know why he believed that—his mother, Aunt Peggy, the Jarvises or Obadiah would freak out if they ever discovered he thought along those lines, that was sure—but he had had an overwhelming sense of guilt for as long as he could remember. He had no idea what he could possibly have done to cause this feeling, but somehow Tony felt responsible for a lot of suffering.

(He hadn’t thought—or known—about the weapons at that time, but that worked just as well.)

The point being, Tony wasn’t normal and everyone and their deaf-mute hermit grandmothers with tinfoil hats knew it as well.

Whether it was for this reason or for his father’s personal preference, Tony never attended public school. He was home schooled and educated in the subjects either—or, in rare cases, both—of his parents deemed important and necessary.

His father insisted on maths, law, politics, and sciences—none of which Tony particularly minded—while his mother thought he should learn languages and arts.

By the time he was ten, he was fluent in English, French, Spanish, and Italian—the first three felt more... remembered than learned for some reason—and had a passing knowledge of German, Latin, and Hebrew—which, too, felt like he had learned them before, which was impossible.

Tony was also naturally gifted in the subject’s of his father’s choice. He surpassed most high school graduates in virtually no time—in the areas of physics and engineering in particular.

He could also recite the Constitution by heart, despite never intentionally learning it.

However, his history lessons basically started with the year 1914. Anything before that was sorely lacking coverage. Neither of his parents thought that he needed to know more about the past—his mother lived sorely in the present and his father only looked ahead.

If it wasn’t for Ana and Edwin Jarvis, he might even have arrived knowing about nothing that happened before World War One. But the two of them caught him up to the best of their ability.

They didn’t have the time to cover everything in the amount of detail they would have liked, but they would take whatever they got. They couldn’t let Tony head out into the world without this knowledge.

A few years later, when he went off to MIT, he instantly clicked with a fellow student, James Rhodes. It was more than a bit unlikely for Tony to befriend anyone like this, but it happened. They behaved like they had known each other for years after a mere night of acquaintance.

The two of them became roommates, a decision that a great many failed to understand. They would ask Rhodey—either James or Rhodes to everyone but Tony—why he put up with Tony working non-stop and his other habits, but he would simply smiled and respond that that was just the way Tony was and he wouldn’t have it any differently.

Even after graduating, Tony and Rhodey stayed in contact—neither ever figured out why so many were surprised by this. While Tony began to take care of his newly deceased father’s company, Rhodey worked his way up in the military. Eventually, he was assigned the liaison between the military and SI, possibly because no one else could work with Tony—or because Tony would not work with anyone else. Rhodey never asked.

They worked well together for years and years.

Then, there was that demonstration in Afghanistan.

It had been suggested by Obadiah Stane—which, in retrospect, should have raised a red flag or two—and it had ended in a total disaster.

Tony had been taken by terrorists—if this was the end of him, he wouldn’t even have his friend with him.

During the three months Tony spent in the cave, he imagined Death so frequently, it soon began feeling like a memory.

Which turned out to actually be the case.

Ho Yinsen—once known as Nathaniel Pendleton—made him realise many things. How naïve he had been, concerning his weapons and his legacy—what even was a legacy?—how he lacked something incredibly important—a family, his family.

Because Tony had had one in in previous life—his life as Alexander Hamilton, the one Founding Father to die before his time—until he had met Aaron Burr in Weehawken at dawn with their guns drawn.

The last time the two had met, Pendleton had to watch Alexander die.

This time—as some sort of cosmic joke—it was the other way around.

“Don’t throw away your shot,” had been Pendleton's—Yinsen’s—dying words and a part of Alexander—of Tony, of whoever he was in that moment—died right there with him.

Armed with rediscovered memories, a familiar hunger and several new and unique pieces of technology, he had managed to flee.

This would be the last time someone died for him, he swore to himself. He had caused more than enough grief in both lifetimes.

Upon his return to the United States—a nation, holy shit, he had studied, fought and killed for and had then gotten the chance to participate building—he immediately began to search for the person responsible for dealing under the table.

It hadn’t taken half as much time or energy as he and Rhodey—who turned out to be his Laurens, not that he was aware of it—had theorized.

Because the very first time he had met Stane again, the answer became obvious.

After all, why wouldn’t the former King George III sell weapons to the enemies of America?

Chapter Text

Growing up in Philadelphia was not easy for James Rhodes most of the time.

With a corrupt government, numerous drug dealers, and violence everywhere, it wasn't particularly easy for a black kid of with a dead father to stay out of it.

But he managed to do it, somehow. He did everything possible to avoid the bad crowd that was literally right on front of his house more often than not.

His mother wanted him to have a better future than she did. She had seen enough people—her twin brother, for instance—dragged down this rabbit hole and made James promise to stay out of it.

So he did. He spent as much time as he could either studying or working, because college was the only sure way to escape.

One memorable time, he hadn’t been able to steer clear of them. They had been standing in front of his house and James stood there one second too long.

They must’ve thought he was threatening them or something, because they almost shot him. He had seen his death coming and had decided to run instead of letting it be, thus narrowly escaping the hit.

In that moment, he truly realized how right his mother was, how much he needed to rise up if he wanted to escape this.

And he did. It might’ve only been through joining the US Army, but he did manage to get into a prestigious university. His mother was so proud when the acceptance letter from the MIT arrived.

Leaving wasn’t easy, but he was glad that he did it.

Not only because his life significantly improved with a guaranteed future income, but also because he met Tony Stark.

It was on some random party. The two of them had suddenly found themselves in a corner together and started talking.

“Rhodey, I like you a lot,” Tony commented mere minutes in their acquaintance.

These words felt achingly familiar, but for the love of God, Rhodey couldn’t figure out why.

Mere two weeks later, they were roommates.

Tony left papers, books, and tools everywhere, was loud, and regularly forgot to eat, drink, shower, and sleep, but Rhodey would never once regretted his decision to move in.

He wouldn’t have it any differently.

He got countless offers to move over the years—basically everyone he met would offer as soon as they heard he was living with Tony. He never even considered taking one.

When they graduated, they did so with a laughing and a crying eye. Leaving one another felt way too... permanent.

Rhodey looked Tony dead in the eyes. “Don’t forget to write.”

The younger man smiled confidently. “Don’t worry, I write every second I’m alive.”

And he had kept that promise. Rhodey would receive one several page long letter every week without fail, with a few messages and calls added here and there.

He replied to each and every single message, even if the replies were rarely if ever anywhere close to what he had been sent—he would never understand where Tony took the time to write him a fifteen-page letter.

But that didn’t matter to either of them. They kept in contact and their friendship would never suffer—it might never evolve into something else either, because neither of them were sure they wanted it themselves and both were convinced the other would not, under any circumstance, return their feelings.

(Years later, they would laugh about their naïvity, share a kiss with each other, and Pepper would glare at them half-heartedly.)

The two of them only grew closer when Rhodey was assigned as the liaison between SI and the military.

Life was good.

Then, Tony was taken by terrorists.

Rhodey scouted the Afghan desert non-stop, looking for any sign of his best friend.

The hope of succeeding kept retreating.

When Rhodey finally found his best friend again after the billionaire had spent three months in captivity, he had actually cried.

He wasn’t ashamed to admit it. And honestly, why should he? It wasn’t like his friend hadn’t cried as well.

Plus—and Tony was not aware of this and would never be if Rhodey could help it—that trip had always been intended to be the last one. His supervisors didn’t want to finance any more and he didn’t have the funds to organize them himself.

He had went to Pepper and Obadiah for support, but the former didn’t have access to such amounts of money either and the latter had already accepted the fact that Tony was most likely dead.

At least that was what Stane had said and acted like. Both of Rhodey and Pepper had believed him at that time .

It was only a few weeks after Tony was back with them again—maybe not safe and sound, but alive and honestly, that was enough—that they figured out how wrong they had been.

Tony’s odd behavior around the man should’ve clued them in, but they had thought it was just because of his recent experiences.

They had been very, very, very wrong.

Tony had known and recognized things about the man that they hadn’t realized.

He later found out that the billionaire—and really, how ironic was that?—had remembered his life as Alexander Hamilton through the familiar feeling of hunger—which was worrying in itself.

Rhodey had remembered his life as John Laurens when he had seen the man he was closest to—in two lives, apparently—laid on the floor, looking like death warmed over. Pale and only barely moving.

There would certainly have been better moments to remember, but it wasn’t like he had any choice or influence in that matter.

From one second to another, he remembered an entire lifetime’s worth of memories—even if it was a short one.

Rhodey—was he Rhodey, still, or was he John? Or both?—shook his head. He could panic later. Right now there were more important things to do.

He helped his best friend up, they looked each other in the eyes.

A soft “Laurens…” escaped Tony’s lips. “You remember.”

He nodded. “Yes, I do. But what…?”

Tony didn’t even let him finish the question, which was comfortingly familiar, no matter which set of memories they were talking about. “Stane is King George III. I don’t know how long, but he definitely remembers and he was the one that dealt under the table. And now he stole something that I was working on. We can’t let him do that.”

Chapter Text

Obadiah Stane had always known that he had lived another  life before his current one and that he had been someone immensely important and powerful.

He knew that he deserved more power than he had in this life. His mother insisted that he had to be content with what God had given him in their life.

“You aren’t hungry, you have a roof over your head, and you are getting an education,” she scolded him. “It could be so much worse.”

“It could also be more. I once had more,” he would whisper. “So much more.”

As a young boy, he had said it out loud, but he had stopped that after the third time his mother had debated talking money from the clothes budget to take him to a psychiatrist.

He wasn’t insane. He had lived before, lived a life full of extravaganza with people catering to his every whim. He knew it.

Obadiah finally remembered when he was fifteen. It was about time, too.

George—because quite frankly, his new name was ridiculous—longed for his last life. It had been infinitely better. He had been a King and—more importantly—he had been British.

And now? Now he was living in a trailer somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Kansas. Kansas . The arguably most boring place to be in the 1960s. Honestly, there was a reason no one had chose to live here back during his proper life.

During the life he had gotten the treatment he deserved and had the power that should be his to command.

He would get it this time as well. It
And so he worked hard, made the right friends, and rose back up to his proper station.

Well, almost.

Even if he had gotten that fool Howard and his stupid wife killed in 1991—his friends were excellent for things like these and the one they had picked for the task was perfect—there was still the issue of their spawn.

The genius child, who felt disgustingly familiar, despite being mere fourteen years old.

He had originally planned for the child to be killed as well, but then something else had occurred to him, something that was a lot more adequate.

He had acted like a surrogate parent to the child even before the “accident”, creating an emotional dependence, and a need for the child to impress him.

The irony alone was priceless. Hamilton had been one of the driving forces behind the rebellion and now he was acting the exact way George wanted.

He had gotten the boy to use his undeniable intelligence—how he had already graduated MIT at that point would forever stay a riddle in George’s mind— to invent better and better weapons that he, as the CEO of the company until the child was 21—and again when he would have a “tragic accident” a few years later—was selling to everyone who called themselves enemies of America.

China, North Korea, and Russia were among his customers, as were HYDRA, AIM; the Red Room and numerous terrorist cells in the Middle East.

Revenge was even sweeter this way. He half wanted the boy to remember, to realise he was doing, just to be able to rub it in his face.

He had simply pretended to care for the child when his father didn’t, to guide the boy along the way his parents would have wanted for him—which, at least in the case of Howard, was only barely a lie—and raised the child to believe what he said to be the truth.

There was no one else interfering, apart from the butler, his wife, and, occasionally, Peggy Carter.

The former two couldn’t do all that much because of their status as employees—if they did, they were risking being fired and abandoning the child completely—and Carter had her own family—her own bastard child and its children—and an entire spy organisation to take care of.

The young boy was largely influenced by him.

And, until he returned from Afghanistan—which wasn’t part of the plan when George had sold him to terrorists—he remained completely oblivious.

When Hamilton came back from the cave—in the arms of his precious Laurens and his wonderful wife—the young man realized what George had done.

The best thing was that, without proper evidence, the fool couldn’t even do anything to stop him.

The fact that he chose to become a hermit only helped George to convince the board of governors that the “poor boy” was suffering from PTSD and hadn’t really meant what he said concerning the weapons manufacturing.

It was almost too easy.

But he couldn’t risk Hamilton ever finding the needed evidence to condemn him. Reusing the boy’s own invention, he paralyzed him long enough to take the ARC Reactor out of Hamilton’s chest.

The chances that the boy would survive this were so small, and yet, by some wonder, he did. He did, and he used that suit of armour he had spent weeks developing to combat him.

His own group of scientists and engineers had only barely managed to create a suit for George as well, but they had and thus he fought on top of a factory of the company.

The fool had lead him towards the sky and attempted to make George’s suit shut down due to icing. And, while that unfortunately had worked the way Hamilton had wanted, the fall hadn’t been enough to kill him.

It had, however, taken out his targeting system.

The fool didn’t move, giving George the time to aim manually instead. And this man was supposed to have been one of the great strategists of the rebellion against his rightful rule over the american lands?

Laughable. It was completely and utterly ridiculous, really.

Until the roof they were standing on—right on top of the huge ARC reactor that no one but Hamilton seemed to be able to minimize—blew up.

George saw his lives flashing in front of him as he took his last breath. Why, just why couldn’t he seem to win against Hamilton?

Chapter Text

Virginia Potts was born in a small town in North Dakota. In fact, they were so far north, that it was practically Canada.

She was the third child of her parents and the only girl. As a young child, that was no problem for her, but as she grew older, she wondered why she was treated differently from her brothers.

When her brothers wanted to play football, they were allowed to. When she wanted to play soccer, she was dismissed.

“That’s nothing for you, my dear,” her father waved her off within seconds of her bringing it up.

“How do you know?” Virginia challenged him.

Stephen Potts lowered his newspaper and focused his gaze on her. “I’m your father, young lady. Show me some respect. You will not be playing soccer and that decision is final.”

So she didn’t.

What she did, however, do, was study hard in school. With that and the money she made from whatever job she could get a hold of—which she of course saved—she managed to get into her college of choice—her parents didn’t like it, but she didn’t care.

And, roughly a year before she would graduate, she applied to a number of companies, Stark Industries being the most notable among them by far.
And they accepted her.

One year and two months of Virginia’s life was spent in the accounting department of SI before she spotted a mistake.

It was a colossal one, one that would cost the company millions of dollars, so of course she spoke up. The unexpected thing was, when her boss dismissed her out of hand.

“Mr. Stark doesn’t make math mistakes,” he shook his head and, though he didn’t say it, Virginia could clearly hear the implied stupid girl.

This was not something that she could just let happen, so she turned around, left the room and marched right up to where she knew Stark’s office was located.

Two guards were placed outside of the door.

When they wouldn’t listen, she took out her Pepper spray and made them listen.

Virginia entered the room, completely furious and explained the situation to Mr. Stark who was thankfully inside.

She stood straight as she explained the situation to the man, but—to her immense surprise—he didn’t dismiss her concerns.

Instead, he looked at the numbers again as recalculated everything.

“Do you want a promotion?” Mr. Stark asked once he was done correcting.

Pepper was confused. Had he actually just said what she thought he had said. “I beg your pardon?”

“Do you want a promotion?” he repeated. “Do you want to work as my PA? You’ve already proven that you’re more competent than any of those I had so far. You don’t agree with everything people say. I like that. So, what do you say?” He looked at her expectantly.

“Yes,” she replied. It was a much more impulsive decision than she normally did, but something about it just felt so right.

And it was a good choice. For the next eleven years, Pepper grew increasingly fond of Mr. Stark, his weird quirks and his odd habits.

For the next decade or so that was her life. Getting the man to stop working long enough to remember eating, drinking, showering, and sleeping at least somewhat regularly-

But it was good. Being here, felt right, she was satisfied with her choices..

Then, Mr. Stark—Tony—got kidnapped. Three terrifying months followed for her.

Not one person of her family and none of her friends understood why she was so devastated.

“He’s a dick anyway,” they would say.

“Life goes on,” they would claim.

But that wasn’t what she felt. She felt so helpless at the mere thought of losing him forever—at yet, she felt oddly familiar. The pain of losing him felt like something she had already gone through once for some reason she couldn’t quite place.

Pepper had a strong suspicion as for why she was so afraid of it, why she care so much.

When Tony returned from Afghanistan, the sheer relief that she felt was the last confirmation she needed.

She, Virginia Pepper Potts, was completely and hopelessly loss with her boss.

Oh boy.

For a few days, a week or two, after he returned, it didn’t really matter.

He was just recovering from the unimaginable he had gone through, meanwhile work was pretty much going on the same way it always had. Dragging Tony away from his work, because he always seemed to work non-stop, to work like he was running out of time, like he needed it to survive.

Then, it turned out to be literal.

Tony had needed to work to survive.

He needed a new, better reactor, because the other one was not as efficient as it could have been.

He needed the metal suit to fight Obadiah, who had been the one who had arranged the whole mess in the first place.

He had needed her to help in the fight, needed her to help kill the man that Tony had thought of as a father for years.

“Just press the button,” he ordered, beaten up, lying on top of the glass ceiling, above her.

“You’ll die as well,” she yelled in protest.

“Just do it!”

She pressed that button and Obadiah had died.

But Tony had survived.

And something had clicked in that moment.

She had remembered what had been before, why the thought of losing Alexander—no, his name was Tony now—had felt so achingly familiar.

It was because she had suffered through this before. Losing her husband—not to mention her sisters and two of her sons—had been an awful experience.

And she never wanted to repeat it.

“Never make me feel so helpless again, promise me that, Alexander?”

“Eliza,” Tony whispered in shock. It was almost as if he couldn’t believe she was there. “You remember.”

“Yes, I do.”

A voice spoke up behind her. “As do I, by the way. Though Alex, Tony, whatever, should already know that.”

It was Rhodey or—as her newly reawakened memories were telling her—John Laurens.

This proved to be interesting, if nothing else.

Chapter Text

Phil Coulson was born and raised in Virginia. He lived in a big city that he knew his parents had chosen so that his mother could blend in effortlessly.

His father, while doubtlessly loving him very much was not around all that often. It was understandable, really, and Phil didn’t blame him for it. He knew that his father loved him very much and that he was simply very busy with his very awesome job—Phil’s Dad worked with aliens! Actual aliens from space! How cool was that? But Phil wasn’t supposed to tell.

His dad came around whenever it was possible for him and he told the best stories! It made Phil want to be just like his father one day.

And he did. Just like his father, he became a government agent. A different agency, sure, but in all honestly, why would he go to the MIB when SHIELD wanted him? After all, SHIELD dealt with so much more than just aliens and that was just so much more interesting.

Plus, given his position as the son of the Agent K and the (retired) Agent O, it wasn’t like there was anyone in a better position to become the liaison between these two agencies.

He worked his way through the ranks and it didn’t take long until any newbies that were deemed problematic were sent in his direction. A rebellious circus kid with a bow and arrow? Sure, Phil will get him to follow orders. A Russian spy turned to their side? After Phil was done, the only real question of loyalty was if they were more loyal to the agency or himself.

This fact certainly helped him fly through the ranks. He was in the upper half of the agency by the time he turned thirty and was in a leading position before turned thirty-six.

And leading people, giving orders, things like that always gave him the weirdest sense of déjà vu.

(It took him a few years until he figured out why that was the case.)

Phil didn’t think that questioning Mr. Stark and his associates would be quite as eventful as it eventually turned out. Sure, Stark’s escape was miraculous, but that didn’t mean that it actually was . Kind of.

Both Stark and Potts dismissed him once or twice each, but eventually--after Stane had already died in his fight with Stark--he did get his interview.

And that was when he remembered.

He remembered leading people—not agents, but soldiers—into numerous battles that ended in both victory and defeat.

He remembered leading an entire country and building it from the ground up with one of the men that was as good as his son.

And he recognized that that man was standing in front of him right now, his wife in one arm and another former (and current) soldier in the other.

“Laurens?” he questioned. “Eliza? Alexander? Is that you?”

Laurens/Rhodes looked at him incredulously. “General Washington?”

“Mr. President?” Eliza/Potts quipped with a smile.

“Your Excellency?” Alexander/Stark seemed almost too relieved to see him.

That, however, was an issue for later. They had other things to sort out right now.

For example, what exactly he was supposed to call them. When he voices that issue, all three of them frowned.

“That is a good question,” Alexander/Tony nodded, almost as if the question never occurred to him. Similar looks can be seen on John/Rhodes’s and Eliza/Pepper’s faces.

“A really good one,” Laurens/Rhodes agreed.

“Are you telling me you haven’t thought about this in extensive detail?” Phil/George looked at Alexander/Tony as if he had grown a second head. Because really, how come he hadn’t thought about that? It seemed so unlikely, but, apparently, it was the case.

“We were a bit preoccupied,” Alexander/Tony defended himself, crossing his arms defensively in front of his chest.

“With what?”

“Oh, this and that,” Eliza said dismissively. “Figuring out our relationship, killing Stane—who, by the way, was the reincarnation of King George III—rebuilding our home, recalibrating JARVIS and the bots,-”

“Wait, say that again,” Phil/George ordered.

“Recalibrating JARVIS and the bots?” Eliza/Pepper repeated innocently, causing Laurens/Rhodes and Alexander/Tony to laugh.

Phil/George sighed. He could see where this was going, but he needed to make sure he had heard that correctly. “No, the one before that.”

“Rebuilding our home?” Alexander/Tony added with a grin.

“No, the one before that one.” Phil/George barely held back a groan, but at the same time he was kind of relieved to see them acting this way.

“Figuring out our relationship?” Laurens/Rhodes laughed loudly as he said this.

“After that one,” Phil/George corrected.

“Oh, you mean killing Stane or George III.” Alexander/Tony acted like it hadn’t been completely obvious which one Phil/George meant from the start. “Yeah, well, he was trying to kill me for the third time that I know of and so it was self-defense, really.”

“Don’t act like you didn’t enjoy it at all,” Laurens/Rhodes inserted.

“Maybe a little bit,” Alexander/Tony admitted. “But the asshole deserved it.”

Judging by the fact that Eliza/Pepper didn’t immediately protest, there was some point to that statement, so Phil/George focused on a different part of that issue.

“He tried to kill you three times?” If that was true—which it probably was—Phil/George may have to dig up a grave in the near future, just to also have a chance to kick that man’s ass. Maybe his father could help. No one hurt Phil/George’s sons and got away with it.

“Asshole arranged for the kidnapping,” Laurens/Rhodes explained. “Paid for Tony to get killed, actually.”

Yup. Grave digging had just been added to his to do list….Maybe he could even do both bodies, if he had the time. The MIB had several helpful gadgets for a plan like this.

“Back to the point, what should I call you?” he said out loud.

“I’d say just stick to our new names,” Eliza/Pepper proposed, always a reasonable one. “This probably shouldn’t get to the media in the near future—sooner or later it will happen, we all know that—but if we stick to the names we were given this time around, it should take longer.”

“You’re right.” Phil/George nodded and turned to leaved. “I’ll be back with paperwork tomorrow,” he promised, because he knew that SHIELD has to has some for this situation. They have paperwork for everything, after all.

Phil/George had learned that the hard way.

And hey, at least now he had a story that his father definitely couldn’t claim happened to him as well, only weirder. There was no possible way that was possible.

Chapter Text

Christine Everhart always suspected that she had lived a life before this one, as weird as that may sound like. There had just a sense of déjà vu at the back of her mind for as long as she could think.

Everything felt familiar and yet—at the very same time—everything felt so new and exciting. At times, it was really confusing, but Christine learnt to deal with it. It wasn’t like she couldn’t.

If there was one thing that her not-quite-memories were to blame for, then it was definitely her instinctive distrust of men, especially those with charming personas. She had been hurt by someone in more ways than one by a man that pretended to be all great but wasn’t.

(There was also a man that had just been trying to help until she had been forced to hurt him and they hurt each other and someone else in turn. It had had a terrible start, a worse end, and an amazing middle.)

It took Christine the longest time to decide what she wanted to do with her life, but once she had thought of  becoming a journalist. Yeah, that felt right. She deserves the chance to get her words out—to write her way out—just as much as anyone else did.

So yeah, she set her mind to it and worked for it. It turned out that she had an eye for stories. She could spot a front page story within seconds, even if it was hidden under layers and layers of lies. Christine had experience with that—sort of. In a way.

It made sense to her and it didn’t feel like a lie. But since she didn’t have any definite proof or example, Christine usually kept quiet about that part.

It wasn’t hard to keep her cards close to her chest. People didn’t really care how she got her stories, just that she did. Which, too felt familiar.

Basically she did her job, and she did it well.

Then came Tony Stark.

Instead of an interview, he slept with her—a thing that really shouldn’t feel familiar, but did—and, don’t get her wrong, it was good—like really good, almost scarily good—but still not what she wanted.

Christine had intended to try again, but then the man was kidnapped. Once he returned, she wanted to give him some space to recover before she showed him the things his weapons did.

Only then Stane died before she had the chance to. And the following press conference made it more than obvious that Tony had had no idea that the man went behind his back, nor a care for the man’s image.

“This man, he manipulated me over decades for his own gain. He supplied literally every enemy of this country with my weapons. You are, of course, free to think whatever you want—that is one of the principles this country was built on—” that pause sounded suspiciously like an ‘I should know’ to Christine “—but I, personally think that that man does not deserve to be remembered the way he would be had I not spoken out. He betrayed me and I know of three attempts on my life done by him—the Afghanistan debacle being the first and the fight that lead to his death the last. I do not see any reason why I should honor this man. You are free to see it differently, just don’t expect me to understand it. I also hope that you understand that I, personally will not be taking any questions. They will be handled by Agent Coulson and the wonderful Miss Potts, so I can assure you you are in good hands. Thank you.” Without another word, Tony Stark left the podium and the view of the many cameras.

Most of the reporters needed a moment to process the new information, but Christine was on the top of her game, despite the fact that she could feel that there was something else just waiting to reveal herself. She was a master in handling one problem at the time, after all.

Once all questions were answered, the room emptied quickly, since everyone was eager to get their articles written and printed.

But Christine lingered for a moment. And in that moment, she realized not only who she had been, but who Tony Stark was. Who Pepper Potts was.

Oh, she was in trouble. She was definitely in trouble.

She tried to get herself to leave the room, but found herself frozen in place.

“Miss Everhart? I am sorry, but I will have to ask you to leave,” Pepper Potts—why her out of everyone here—requested.

“I’m sorry,” Christine blurted out. “I’m so sorry.”

“Miss Everhart, I don’t know what you are talking about—”

“I was Maria Reynolds,” Christine interrupts her. “And thanks to my husband forcing me to, I had an affair with yours. And I grew to genuinely enjoy it. I’m so sorry for all the pain I caused you.” She didn’t even dare to look at the other woman.

“I think you better come with me, then,” Miss Potts proposed. “There’s no need for this to happen where anyone could see you.”

Hesitatingly, Christine let herself be lead into the backstage area. She didn’t dare to speak until they were out of sight.

The first thing she noticed was that Agent Coulson, Colonel Rhodes, and Doctor Stark—who had been her Alexander for a while and yet had never been hers at all—had been deep in a conversation right up until Christine and Miss Potts entered.

“Pepper? Who is this and why is she here?” Colonel Rhodes questioned. Beside him, Agent Coulson looked equally puzzled.

But Dr. Stark recognized her.

“Christine? Maria?” he stuttered.

Christine nodded slowly.

Her identity seemed to dawn on Agent Coulson—he had to have been someone too and she had a sneaking suspicion she really didn't like—but Colonel Rhodes still didn’t understand the situation.

“Alexander?” he questioned.

“Last time around, I ruined so much of not just my own life by cheating on Eliza. With Maria. And, full disclosure, Christine was the last person I slept with before Afghanistan. I regret it more than I can currently find words to express properly.”

Christine spoke up. “I wasn’t exactly guiltless either.”

Stark, however, shot her a look. “Your abusive husband pressured you into it. I had a choice to say no to this whole endeavour, but I didn’t. I should have said ‘no, thank you’ and helped you actually get a divorce—which I hear Burr did, after he shot me. But I’m really glad that you were able to build a life for yourself this time around. I’ve read your articles, they’re good.”

“I’m sorry, what?” Rhodes questioned. “ Burr shot you?”

“Is that really the part you are focusing on?” Stark responded.

 

"Yeah. I mean, we've established polyamory and Pepper has neither strangled her nor used her weaponized stilettos, so I'm assuming the affair is dealt with. But Burr was your friend last time I checked."

"I knew that their friendship had ended, but I hadn't been aware it had escalated like this," Agent Coulson agreed.

Christine simply continued to stand there, completely flabbergasted as the three men continued to talk about Burr.

Eventually, Miss Potts chuckled next to her. “They’re always like that. And don’t work, I have forgiven both you and Alexander.”

She had truly done the unimaginable. There was no way Christine would ever be able to thank her for that.