Natasha, Daughter of Ivan
CHAPTER 1: Vormir Again
“It should be ten seconds for us,” Bruce said as he keyed up the quantum realm device.
Steve picked up Mjolnir and was promptly sent into the past to put the Infinity Stones back on the timeline.
After returning all but the Soul Stone and many decades later from Steve’s perspective. (Perhaps to be explored later, or not?)
“Steven, son of Sarah…we meet again.” The cloaked figure drifted down the stone steps to approach the former Captain. Steve’s helmet retracted. His white Avengers suit was dusty, but not frayed; like it had sat in one place for a very long time, but not worn more than a handful of times.
Former Captain Steve Rogers was painfully old. He was finally looking his true age, really. “Red Skull,” Steve breathed in disbelief. They stood almost eye-to-eye once the Nazi-turned-eternal slave settled both feet on the ground. Steve had lost height in his old age, and now more than ever did he feel that weariness in his bones. They had both come a long way since that day on the doomed aircraft.
They stood in silence for an uncomfortable amount of time when Steve burst out laughing, because of course it was the Red Skull. “Captain America,” the wraith that had once been Johann Schmidt growled. He looked intimidating, but also somehow less than he was in World War Two.
“How are you here?” Steve rasped. He wasn’t as angry as he was straight up confused. The way the wind was blowing really highlighted the high fantasy-like feel the Nazi exuded.
“After claiming the Tesseract as my own, all those decades ago, it judged me. You see, it was not mine to possess, and so for my arrogance, I was sentenced to an eternity here. I am the Guardian and Caretaker of the Soul Stone,” Red Skull finished his story to a slow clap from Steve.
“I have it here,” Steve said as he pulled the glowing orange stone out of his pocket and it sat there gently, pulsing in time with his slightly elevated heartbeat. He then took out several letters each with different names emblazoned across them.
“What are you doing?” The Red Skull asked. There was no animosity in his voice.
Steve had taken notice. “I thought you’d be angrier with me, you know regarding this whole situation,” he finished lamely gesturing at Red Skull and then all around them.
“I’m at peace, Captain Rogers. As near it as I’ll ever be,” Red Skull hedged. He noticed the letters. “What are those?”
Steve smirked to himself. “I’ve come to make a trade. ‘A soul for a soul’,” he recited Red Skull’s words from the future.
Red Skull’s eyes widened. “You’ve been here before? In the future? My future?” he was remarkably quick to grasp the situation.
“No. But my friend was, and I’d like her back.” Steve replied with steel in his sharp greying eyes.
Red Skull tilted his head in consideration. “And the stone?”
“Goes back to whatever form it is before the sacrifice is made. I don’t want this thing anymore, and I’m going to trade it for my friend’s life.”
Red Skull’s eyes widened, “You would die for him?”
“For her. Yes.” Steve squared his shoulders, letters clutched in one hand, stone in the other, nestled gently against his wedding ring.