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A Beautiful Journey

Chapter Text

A Beautiful Journey


Future Avengers-

Tom Holland as Peter Benjamin Parker/Spider-Man

Chris Hemsworth as Thor Odinson                                               

Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Professor Hulk

Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch

Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Captain America

Katherine Langford as Morgan Stark/Ironheart

Bex Taylor-Klaus as Lila Barton/Hawkeye

Emma Fuhrmann as Cassie Lang/Stinger

Adrianne Palicki as Bobbi Morse/Mockingbird

Chloe Bennett as Daisy Johnson/Quake

Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock/Daredevil

Elodie Yung as Elektra Natchios Murdock/Black Sky  

Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle/Punisher

Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones Cage/Knightress

Mike Colter as Luke Cage/Power Man   

Rachael Taylor as Trish Walker/Hellcat        

Future X-Men-

Hugh Jackman as Logan Howlett/Wolverine

Sir Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier/Professor X

Famke Janssen as Jean Grey/Phoenix

Halle Berry as Ororo Munroe/Storm

James Marsden as Scott Summers/Cyclops

Future Fantastic Four-

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Reed Richards/Mister Fantastic

Charlize Theron as Susan Storm Richards/Invisible Woman

Zac Efron as Johnny Storm/Human Torch

David Harbour as Ben Grimm/The Thing

Viewing Party-

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man

Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America

Chris Hemsworth as Thor Odinson

Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk

Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow

Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye      

Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man

Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch

Paul Bettany as Vision

Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/White Wolf

Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon

Don Cheadle as James Rhodes/War Machine  

Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man

Evangeline Lilly as Hope van Dyne/Wasp

Tom Hiddleston as Loki

Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther  

Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts

Marisa Tomei as Aunt May

Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury

Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill



 Avengers Tower, 2035

“So the decision is final?” Morgan Stark asked Peter Parker.

“Yes. I think this is the best we can do, Morgan.” Peter said with a sigh, “I just hope it works.”

“What if it doesn’t?” Cassie Lang asked him.

“Then I don’t know what I’m going to do.” Peter said with a sigh.

“Let’s not dwell over that right now.” Thor Odinson said, “We need to try it.”

“Thor’s right guys.” Bruce Banner or as he was now called due to his appearance, Professor Hulk, told them, “This is the only way now.”

“So we’re decided on who to bring?” Reed Richards asked.

“Yes.” Sam Wilson said, “The decision is final.”

“I hope watching all of this makes them get their heads out of their asses.” Logan Howlett commented.

“Good thing you’re saying it now and not later.” Peter said, “Cap would hate it.”

“Yup.” Logan said, “I know.”

“I don’t feel like I can face him right now.” Morgan said with a sad sigh, “I need time.”

“Same.” Cassie said, “I need to compose myself.”

“Even I do.” Lila Barton said.

“It’s all right.” Peter assured them, “Go right now. You can come whenever you want.”

The three nodded at him gratefully and walked away.

“If you need anything, I’ll be around.” Bobbi Morse said as she nodded at them and walked off.

“Let us bring your comrades from the past.” Charles Xavier said with a smile.


May 2018

Stark Tower

Tony Stark and Pepper Potts were arguing about something, with James Rhodes watching them from a corner when they disappeared in a flash of light.



Peter Parker had just returned home from school and a bit of superheroing as Spider-Man. As Aunt May asked him how his day was, the two disappeared in a flash of light.


Hope van Dyne was adding the final touches to the Quantum Tunnel with Scott Lang watching her when the two disappeared in a flash of light.



Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff and Sam Wilson were visiting Bucky Barnes when all of them disappeared in a flash of light.


T’Challa was about to head to his court when he disappeared in a flash of light.



Wanda Maximoff and Vision, who was in his human form, were having lunch together, when both of them disappeared in a flash of light.


Clint’s farm

Clint was about to teach Lila Barton some archery when he disappeared in a flash of light.


Unknown location

Nick Fury and Maria Hill were about to get into their car when they disappeared in a flash of light.



Thor was telling Loki why they should take the Asgardians to Norway, with Hulk lingering at the doorway, when all three of them disappeared in a flash of light.


Avengers Tower, 2035

All of them crashed onto the floor at the same time.

“What the hell?” Tony groaned as he got up.

“Mr. Stark?” Peter asked in shock.



Tony turned to see Steve standing there.


“What’s happening?” Bucky asked.

“Barnes?” Tony asked with a hint of anger in his voice.

“Tic-tac?” Sam asked in shock as he saw Scott and Hope.

“Hey man.” Scott greeted cheerfully.



“Never would have seen this coming.” Fury muttered.

“Sir?” Natasha and Clint said at the same time before noticing Hill, “Maria?”

“Where are we?” Wanda asked.

“Wanda?” Sam asked in shock before turning to see who was next to her, “Vision?”

“You were with her the whole time?” Tony asked Vision incredulously.


Everyone turned in shock to see the owner of the voice.


Tony, Steve, Natasha, Clint, Fury and Hill looked at him with glares that made the phrase ‘if looks could kill’ come to mind.

“My friends!” Thor greeted happily as they turned to him in shock.


“It’s so great to see you guys!” Thor said happily, “And great news, Loki is a good guy now.”

“How can you forgive him after everything he did?” Tony asked angrily.

“What if he is fooling you?” Steve asked, getting into business mode.

“Puny God good.” Hulk commented as everyone turned to him in shock.

“Bruce?” Natasha asked.

“Not Bruce. Only Hulk.” Hulk said.

“You can speak full sentences? Congratulations pal.” Tony said with a smirk.

Suddenly, Hulk grabbed his head as everyone looked at him in concern. He fell to his knees, holding his head, and eventually fell to the ground, and to everyone’s shock, his skin started getting normal again as his size reduced.

Hulk wasn’t there now. It was Bruce Banner.

“Hey guys!” Bruce groaned as he rubbed his head and got up, “What’s going on?”

“Uhhhh, Dr. Banner?” Aunt May said politely as she gestured below him for a second.

Bruce looked down and gasped in shock as he realized he was naked, “Oh God!”

“Do not worry, Dr. Banner. We were prepared for the event that you would need clothes.”

Everyone turned to see a bald man in a wheelchair with a kind smile on his face.

“Who are you?” Tony asked him, “Wheels?”

“My name is Professor Charles Xavier.” Charles introduced himself as Reed Richards walked up next to him.

“Dr. Banner.” He said as he handed Bruce a spare set of clothes, “Let’s get you changed. Come on.”

Banner nodded thankfully as Reed let him out.

“Professor Charles Xavier?” Tony asked in shock, “As in the one who wrote the thesis in genetic mutation.”

“Yes, Mr. Stark, that’d be me.” Charles said with a kind smile.

“Where are we?” Steve asked him.

“Look out of the window. You will realize you know this place like your own name. It’s the situation which makes you not realize where you are.” Charles told them.

Everyone looked out of the window and the Avengers realized they recognized the view.

“This is my tower?” Tony asked in shock, “So we disappeared and reappeared in my tower?”

“Now that’s a coincidence.” Pepper muttered.

“How did that happen?” Rhodes asked, “And how did we get here again?”

“Because I brought you here.”

Everyone turned to see the older Peter Parker walking in.

“Peter?” Aunt May asked in shock as she looked between him and her Peter, “How can there be two Peters?”

“Genetic cloning?” Tony tried to joke but no one laughed.

“You’re-you’re me?” Peter said in shock.

“I am you.” The older Peter Parker said, “From the future.”

Everyone’s jaws dropped at that.

“The future?” Tony asked incredulously, “Are you kidding me?”

“It’s true.”

This time, an older Thor Odinson walked into the room.

“You’re me?” Young Thor asked in shock.

“Yes. I am you.” Older Thor said, “This is the future.”

“And if you still don’t believe us, you can take a look at me.”

Everyone turned to see Professor Hulk walk in.

“B-Bruce?” Tony asked in shock.

“What happened to you?” Steve asked.

“I stopped looking at Hulk as some kind of disease and started looking at him as a cure.” Professor Hulk said.


Everyone turned as Bruce walked in, dressed in clothes, “So you’re me from the future?”

“Looks like Dr. Richards has told you of the matter.” Older Peter said.

“Oh! And Loki is a good guy now.” Professor Hulk told them, “So no need for hostility.”

“No need for hostility my ass.” Tony said angrily.

“Language!” Steve said out of habit.

“Yeah, of course! Language! I’m pretty sure you curse when you’re alone too.” Tony said as he whirled on him.


“What? Angry things are not going the way you want to?”

“Now I know why the two of you need to get your heads out of your asses.”

Everyone turned to see Logan walking in.

Steve’s and Bucky’s eyes widened in disbelief.

“James?” Steve asked, still in disbelief.

“Yes Cap. It’s me.” Logan said with a smirk.

“You two know this guy?” Natasha asked Steve and Bucky.

“Yes.” Bucky confirmed, “We fought with him. In World War II.”

“Okay, what?” Tony asked in total disbelief, “You gotta be kidding me. Unless he was on ice too.”

“I have a healing factor.” Logan told them, “It prevents me from ageing.”

“Where were you this whole time?” Steve asked him.

“I was drinking to remember.” Logan said cryptically.

“Now I believe we are in the future.” Hope commented, “But why did you bring us here?”

“To prevent a catastrophe.” Older Peter said, “And for that, we need all of you to trust each other again.”

“And how’re you gonna do that? Because I don’t see myself trusting these liars right now.” Tony said as he pointed at Steve, Natasha, Bucky, Wanda, Vision and Sam.

“Tony.” Pepper smacked him on the arm, “Be nice.”

“You all need to understand each other.” Older Thor said, “All of you know each other well. Some of you do understand each other pretty nicely.”

“Like Cap and Bucky. Mr. Stark and Rhodey. Natasha and Clint.” Older Peter said, giving examples, “But for all of you to trust each other again, all of you need to understand each other. What makes you tick. What made you into the kind of person you are.”

“And how are you going to do that, Mr. Parker?” T’Challa asked him.

“Please don’t tell me we’re doing therapy.” Tony said with a scared expression.

“No. That won’t be necessary.” Professor Hulk said, “In the future, a device has been constructed that allows people to record their memories in a visual medium, enhanced with eye witness reports, written articles, diary entries, what others said about them, CCTV footage, Internet pages, and a lot more.”

“Wait a second?” Peter asked, “You’re telling me our lives are a TV show?”

“TV show. Movie. Whatever works for you.” Older Peter said.

“This technology does sound fascinating.” Vision said, “Humans can do a lot of things if they put their minds to it.”

“Well, you’ve finally convinced me this is the future.” Fury said with a sigh.

“So you want us to watch the entire life of every single person in this room?” Hill asked incredulously.

“No. Not the entire life.” Older Thor said, “Only the important events that made you into who we are.”

“So I’m guessing it will include the time I was a bad guy.” Loki said dryly as everyone from the past except Thor and Bruce shot him dirty looks.

“Look, I know you don’t trust him. And I know you two do not trust each other.” Older Thor said as he looked at Steve and Tony, “But right now, you need to be civil to each other. Can you do that?”

Steve and Tony glared at each other for half a minute before looking at Older Thor and nodding.

“And him too.” Older Peter said as he pointed at Loki.

“All right.” Tony groaned.

“So we’re getting started?” Wanda asked.

“Yes.” Older Peter said as he pointed to a four huge couches, “Make yourselves comfortable.”

All of them started taking their seats. At the leftmost couch sat Tony and Pepper, Peter and Aunt May and Rhodes.

On the next couch sat Steve, Bucky and Natasha, Wanda and Vision, Sam, Scott and Hope.

On the next couch sat Thor and Loki, T’Challa, Bruce, Clint, Fury and Hill.

“Wait a second!” Clint suddenly asked, “If we’re going to stay here for a long time, wouldn’t the others back in our time wonder where we have gone?”

“That is not something I am comfortable with!” T’Challa said, remembering his duties as king.

“Don’t worry. We got that handled.” Logan said.

“After all of this is finished, we will drop you back to the exact time from where we picked you up.” Professor Hulk said.

Everyone instantly calmed down.

“Smart, buddy.” Tony commented.

“Is it just me or did I look better either of the other ways?” Bruce asked as he looked at Professor Hulk.

“You did.” Everyone commented at the same time.

“Yeah, I can understand why you feel that way.” Professor Hulk said, “But I feel the best I have in this form.”

Everyone simply nodded, deciding that Bruce knew best about what he preferred to look like.

“All right everybody. It’s starting.” Older Peter said.

“One more thing.” Tony asked, “How am I supposed to differentiate between the older and younger versions of you lot if I have to call you?”

“Call me Benjamin.” Older Peter said.

“My middle name.” Younger Peter commented.

“Odinson.” Older Thor said.

“Good.” Younger Thor commented.

“Professor Hulk.” Professor Hulk said.

“Professor Hulk. I like it.” Banner commented.

With that, Benjamin, Odinson, Professor Hulk and Logan sat on the last couch as Professor Xavier wheeled his chair next to them.

The screen was turned on.

Chapter Text

"So, who are we starting with in this?" Tony asked.

"It's actually you we are starting with, bub." Logan said to his shock.

"Me?" Tony asked, "Wow! I must be popular!"

"You ARE popular." Pepper pointed out to him.

"He knows that. He just likes saying it." Rhodes told her.

"Classic Tony." Natasha commented.

"While there were some superheroes who came before you", Benjamin started, "It all began with you, Mr. Stark."

"You are the man responsible for many things in this universe, Mr. Stark." Xavier told him, "It all began with you."

"Uhhhh, thanks." Tony commented.

"He is going to let that get to his head, isn't he?" Sam asked no one in particular.

"Won't be Stark if he doesn't." Fury said, "But it won't be Stark if he lets it get to his head too much either."

The scene opened at the Kunar Province, Afghanistan, as a military convoy was passing through the mostly empty road. "Back in Black" by AC/DC was playing at full volume.

"I like this tune." Thor commented.

"Really?" Loki asked, "It sounds like noise to my ears."

"So not only are you a murderer but you also have terrible taste in music." Tony said to him, "Why am I not surprised?"

"It's actually pretty good." Steve commented.

"That's my man." Tony said and everyone was a bit surprised that Steve and Tony agreed on something.

Inside the humvee, Tony Stark was sitting with his whiskey as the soldiers looked at him awkwardly. Tony commented on their awkward silence and asked if they were not allowed to talk, until one of the young soldiers said they could talk.

"It's like people are intimidated by your very presence." Hill commented.

"Well, I definitely was." Peter said, "When I met him for the first time."

"Really?" Aunt May asked, "I wasn't."

"I think he has that effect on many." Benjamin said.

"Well, I am considered larger than life." Tony commented as everyone rolled their eyes.

Tony commented that it must be personal, until the driver, who was a woman to Tony's surprise, said that he intimidated them.

"She just hit the mark." Clint said.

"Wow! You're making archery jokes of all things? Do something unexpected." Tony told him.

"I would but no one would like it." Clint said darkly.

Tony commented on the female airman's bone structure, making her blush.

"Back when you could never keep it in your pants." Rhodes commented.

"Hey!" Tony said, "I am a changed man now."

"I know." Pepper said as she held his hand.

"Awww." Scott said, making Hope smack him in the arm, much to his embarrassment.

The young soldier asked to take a picture with him and he accepted, though he joked about not wanting to see the picture on his MySpace page. Tony also told him not to throw a gang sign, making him put it down, until he told the soldier he was joking, making him put it back up.

"The sarcasm is strong with this one." Sam said.

"It really is." Natasha said.

"I wish I could be like that." Peter said.

"Nope." Aunt May told him sternly, "You try to act like him and I will-"

Peter immediately shut up.

"I told you to be better than me kid." Tony told him.

"Don't worry, Peter. Our brand of humor is annoying enough." Benjamin told him as Odinson, Professor Hulk, Logan, Xavier and Aunt May chuckled.

As the soldier put up his gang sign, Tony said, "Yeah, peace! I love peace. I'd be outta job with peace."

Tony looked down guiltily, ashamed of that sentence he had said. Pepper held his hand to offer support and comfort.

Just before the picture could be taken, the car in front of them was blown up, startling them and trapping their vehicle.

"Oh no!" Pepper said in horror. Tony had told her about this moment many times, but it was still not easy at all to see it happen.

The woman and the other soldier in the front ran out to fire at the insurgents, only to be gunned down in quick succession. The one who wanted to take a picture also got out, telling Stark to stay inside, only to be killed by an explosion which startled Tony.

"He was a good man." Tony sighed sadly as Pepper held his hand to offer comfort.

Steve sighed sadly, realizing why Tony had snapped when he had asked him if it was the first time he had lost a soldier after Coulson's death. [1]

"I'm sorry." Steve said to him and he simply nodded, not caring where his source of comfort came from at the moment.

His ears ringing from the explosions, Tony ran out of the humvee, avoiding two explosions, as the soldiers of the other humvee were also gunned down. He found cover and attempted to call Rhodes on his phone for help, only for a bomb to land close to him. He realized it was made by Stark Industries.

"Shit!" Sam said.

"There is a bit of irony there." Hope commented.

The bomb exploded, throwing Tony away by a few feet. He was still conscious though. He realized he was bleeding badly from various points of his body. He opened his shirt to see that shrapnel had penetrated his bullet proof vest, before losing consciousness.

"The shrapnel." Pepper said, "The thing you were trying to keep at bay."

"The arc reactor did that." Tony said, "For a time."

"Good thing you're free of it now, Mr. Stark." T'Challa said and Tony nodded at him.

The scene changed to an unknown location. Tony woke up, tied to a chair, as several people surrounded him, one of them reading a ransom note in Hindi to an unseen person.

"It is Obadiah Stane they are reading the note to." Vision said.

"Yup." Tony snarled, "That traitor!"

The Avengers who were fugitives from the law decided not to say anything, as he considered them traitors too at the moment.

Tony looked on in dismay at the various guns pointed at him, before losing consciousness again.

"This is where it started, didn't it?" Hope asked, "Your journey to be Iron Man?"

"Yes. This is where it began." Tony said.

"This was your crucible." Pepper told him and he nodded.

"Every hero has an origin story." Peter said and everyone except Benjamin rolled their eyes in annoyance, embarrassing him.

"Everyone still finds that annoying." Benjamin told him and both chuckled.

The scene changed to Las Vegas, 36 hours earlier, where a presentation of Tony's successful life was going on, as several of his achievements were shown- building a circuit board at age 4, a steam engine at age 7, and graduating Summa Cum Laude from MIT at age 17.

"You built a circuit board when you were 4 years old?" Scott asked incredulously.

"Yup." Tony said, "Was pretty basic compared to what I did later."

"And graduating Summa Cum Laude from MIT at 17?" Hope asked, "Really?"

"That's Tony for you." Pepper said.

"Larger than life." Rhodes added.

"I can see why people are intimidated by you." Aunt May told him.

"I wasn't." Thor said suddenly.

"Neither was I." Loki said.

"You are both Gods." Odinson told them, "Or at least considered Gods."

"Good point." Thor conceded.

A headline of Howard's and Maria's deaths was shown, as the narrator adopted a slightly sad tone.

Bucky looked down and sighed in guilt, not able to look anyone in the eye due to shame, as Natasha grasped his hand tightly to offer comfort and support.

Steve put a hand on his shoulder. He looked at his girlfriend and his best friend and nodded in thanks.

Tony decided not to look at him for the moment, not trusting himself.

Obadiah Stane was then shown, as the narrator said how he filled the gap until Tony took charge at age 21 and became CEO. The narrator also talked about the several weapons they had built to ensure freedom and protect America and its interests around the globe.

"Weapons of mass destruction." Fury said, "Back when they made you money."

"While I have moved on from that, it still causes me a lot of guilt." Tony said.

"I know it does." Wanda told him and everyone was surprised that she was the one offering him comfort.

Colonel James Rhodes walked up to the podium and praised Tony, calling him his friend and great mentor.

"You looked so different back then, buddy." Tony commented.

"Yeah." Rhodes agreed, "I looked very different."

"I know right!" Pepper said, "What happened to you?"

Rhodes shrugged, "No idea." [2]

Rhodes presented the Apogee Award to Tony but he was nowhere to be seen. Stane shook his head when Rhodes looked at him and walked up to the stage, taking the award in Tony's place and saying how honored Tony felt to receive this prestigious award.

"I bet you wanted it for yourself!" Pepper snarled angrily.

"He must be jealous of the attention I got." Tony said.

"I can't believe I never saw that coming." Rhodes said.

"Really?" Hill asked, "Because he is already setting off warning bells in my head even here."

"You are a SHIELD agent. You are trained, so you can sense when something's off." Tony told her.

"I know." Loki said as he shot a glare at Natasha, remembering the time she had outwitted him.

Stane said how the best thing about Tony was also the worst thing- that he was always working.

"Can't argue with that." Pepper said.

"Even I can't." Tony said.

"So you're making another suit already, Mr. Stark?" Peter asked in excitement.

"Oh, I made it already." Tony said before turning to Bruce, "You're gonna love it, pal."

"I would love to see it sometime, Tony." Bruce said with a smile.

"It was pretty awesome seeing it for the first time." Professor Hulk said as he remembered the fight with Ebony Maw and Cull Obsidian in New York.

"I haven't seen it yet." Rhodes said.

"Oh you're gonna love it." Tony told him.

The scene changed to Caesar's Palace, where Tony was playing craps. The crowd all erupted as they all won big, especially the two hot women by Tony's side. Tony bumped his head into Happy Hogan's shoulder who smiled.

"That doesn't look like work." Natasha said.

"Hey!" Tony said, "Gambling takes brains."

"Or lack of it." Pepper said, earning her a glare.

"And that, Peter, is why you shouldn't try to act like Tony Stark." Aunt May told her nephew as everyone chuckled.

As Tony flirted with the woman on his right using his intelligence, Rhodes arrived, angry at Tony for not attending the event while the billionaire did another roll. Tony was surprised that Rhodes was in on this. Rhodes simply said they wanted him to present it to make him feel honored.

"I am honored, Colonel." Tony said as everyone snickered.

"Very funny." Rhodes groaned.

Rhodes handed Tony the award. He took it and handed it to the woman on his right before picking up the dice again. He had the woman blow on his hand in a flirty manner as a good luck charm. He tried to make Rhodes do it too but he pushed his hand off, making the dice fall. But he crapped out. Tony glared at Rhodes who simply shrugged.

Tony glared at Rhodes and he just shrugged.

A few minutes later, Tony and Rhodes walked out along with the former's entourage, which also included Happy. Tony promised Rhodes he wouldn't be late the other day. He handed the award to a man cosplaying as Julius Caesar.

Everyone snickered as Natasha commented, "Caesar must be feeling very honored."

"He should." Tony said as everyone rolled their eyes.

Tony walked towards his car. As Happy opened the door, someone called out to him. Tony turned around to see an attractive reporter holding a recorder. The security tried to stop her as she introduced herself as Christine Everhart.

"Great." Scott groaned, "Her."

"You know Christine?" Tony asked him in surprise.

"Yuh-huh." Scott groaned, "She interviewed me one day before my release. She was being very unfair to me because Vistacorp, from whom I had stolen, was one of the financial bankers of WHiH World News. My animosity towards her remarks resulted in me getting tazed." [3]

"The woman really is an opportunity grabber." Hope commented.

"Typical of her." Tony said.

"I remember meeting her." Pepper said in disgust.

Tony agreed to an interview as she asked him several questions about his nicknames like the "Da Vinci of our time" and the "Merchant of Death." He dismissed the first one but accepted the second. She said she was a graduate of Brown University as Tony assured her that when weapons were no longer needed, he would start making bricks and beams for baby hospitals.

"So much for that statement." Tony groaned.

As the interview continued, Tony told her Howard's philosophy- "Peace means having a bigger stick than the other guy."

"Sad but true." Steve said sadly.

Tony told her how his father was a hero due to his breakthroughs and also said all the recent breakthroughs he himself had made in science were due to military funding. Christine asked if he had ever lost an hour of sleep in his entire life, to which he replied he would be prepared to lose a few with her.

"Don't tell me….." Aunt May started.

"Really dude?" Scott asked in disgust.

"Did you just call me dude?" Tony said.

"I don't want to see that." Pepper groaned.

"Well…." Benjamin started and everyone from the past groaned.

Sometime later, Tony and Christine have sex on his bed in his mansion, with her already in her panties. As the two continued kissing and groping each other, they fell off the bed.

"Peter Parker, you need to look away right now." Aunt May said firmly, but the young boy was already gawking with wide eyes.

"You do not need to protect him from everything forever." Wanda told Aunt May sadly, remembering how much bad stuff she had been exposed to at a young age.

Vision held her hand in comfort.

"Well, to be fair, I have already seen it Aunt May." Benjamin told Aunt May and she groaned.

"Wow! You must be really charming." Scott told Tony.

"Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist." Tony boasted. He then noticed Pepper giving him a glare.

"Genius, billionaire, philanthropist." Tony corrected and she smiled.

"Hey Viz, could you see when you were JARVIS?" Natasha asked him randomly.

"I couldn't exactly look away." Vision said defensively.

"You got a dirty AI there, man." Sam joked to Vision's embarrassment.

"You are moving pretty fast in the relationship." Thor commented.

"Excuse me, relationship?" Tony asked as everyone looked at Thor incredulously.

"You were consummating so I thought you were-"

"Brother." Loki said as Thor turned to him, "You were on Earth for 2 years and you never heard of casual sex?"

"Casual sex?" Thor questioned.

"I do know about it now." Odinson popped up.

"Good to know." Loki said.

"What is casual sex?" Thor asked.

"I will explain later." Loki said.

"He did get calls from angry exes while working with me." Bruce revealed to everyone's shock.

"You still get calls?" Natasha asked.

"He does actually." Pepper revealed as everyone snickered.

"Never change man, never change." Professor Hulk said.

"Good thing I never gave my number to women I slept with." Logan muttered, "Not that I had a number."

In the nearby room, Matt Murdock and his wife Elektra Natchios Murdock, Jessica Jones Cage and her husband Luke Cage, Frank Castle and Trish Walker were having lunch.

Hearing Aunt May telling Peter to look away from the screen, Matt said, "Looks like they have seen what Tony and Christine were up to."

"That man used to bring a lot of women home." Elektra said with a smirk.

"One of the many reasons I found his personality repulsive, until I found out what he did to save the universe." Frank said.

"You remember what Tony said about your show once?" Jessica asked Trish and the other woman looked away in embarrassment.

"What?" Elektra asked out of curiosity, "What did he say?"

"I think I haven't heard that one." Luke said.

"I want to know." Matt said.

"Yes please. Tell us." Elektra insisted.

"Even I am curious now." Frank said.

"Uh, well…" Trish started, "Tony was once asked if he would ever visit "Trish Talk" by an interviewer."

"And what did he say?" Elektra asked.

"He, uhhh, he said that…." Trish trailed off for a few seconds before continuing, "He said that if he visited "Trish Talk", it would change its name to "Trish Screaming.""

Everyone burst out in laughter at Tony's comment.

"That sounds like him." Matt said, struggling to control his laughter.

"Sweet Christmas." Luke commented.

Back in the viewing room, everyone continued watching.

Christine, who was wearing nothing but the bed sheets, woke up on hearing JARVIS greeting her.  She pulled the sheet around her and stared in amazement as the big window by the bed lit up with electronic icons showing the time, the temperature, and the weather forecast for the day as JARVIS continued telling her about the day.

"The Malibu house." Tony remembered.

Christine walked around, wearing Tony's shirt to cover her bra and panties, calling out to him.

"You're already on a first name basis." Sam joked.

"And you're already exchanging clothes." Rhodes added.

Everyone snickered as Tony blushed in embarrassment.

Christine tried to touch a small blue screen next to a door but JARVIS' voice told her she was not allowed to access the area.

"And you never will be." Tony said.

The voice of Pepper Potts said that it was JARVIS who ran the house as Christine turned to face her. Pepper told Christine her clothes had been dry cleaned and pressed and a car outside would take her anywhere. Christine mocked Pepper than even after all these years, Tony had her picking up dry cleaning. Pepper said she did everything Mr. Stark required, including occasionally taking out the trash.

"Burn!" Sam said.

"My God, you are badass, good woman." Scott complimented Pepper who blushed.

"You have a lot of sass in you." Hope complimented.

"She sure does." Natasha agreed.

"Yup." Clint agreed.

"Your wit sure is sharp, Miss Potts." T'Challa said.

"I'm so glad I never argued with her." Thor said.

"That was the best comeback I have ever seen." Aunt May said too.

"Where do you think she gets that from?" Tony said.

"You get that from me actually." Pepper said with a glare and he shut up as everyone chuckled.

"Who has the better girlfriend now, huh, Point Break?" Tony asked Thor in a mocking tone as everyone chuckled.

Tony was working in his workshop with JARVIS as "Institutionalized" by Suicidal Tendencies played at full volume. Pepper entered, getting off her phone and told Tony he needed to be halfway around the world while his flight was supposed to leave half an hour ago. The two then talked about some appointments as she made Tony sign a document. Tony asked if she had plans. She said she did, because it was her birthday.

"You forgot her birthday!" Maria said in amusement.

"Classic Stark." Fury added.

Tony told her to get something nice from him, sounding unusually sincere. She said she had and it was very tasteful. Tony drank from his cup and putting it in her hands, walked off.

"Awww." Peter said but shut up on seeing Tony's glare.

Tony arrived at the airport in a sleek sports car, with Happy pulling up behind him in a black sedan. The two exchanged some banter before he walked up to Rhodes, who was pissed that Tony made him stand for three hours.

"Three hours dude!" Rhodes said.

"You still salty about that?" Tony asked.


Inside the plane, Rhodes was obviously still pissed over Tony being late, feeling that the man didn't respect him. Tony tried to get Rhodes to drink hot sake as the blonde stewardess poured him a glass. Rhodes protested but eventually Tony convinced him.

"I knew you'd like it." Tony said as Rhodes buried his head in his hands.

Later, "Slept on Tony" by Ghostface Killah was playing as a drunk Rhodes ranted about how every person who had the uniform had his back, though Tony didn't pay attention as he watched the three stewardesses dancing for their entertainment, with their shirts tied above their stomach and their short skirts showing plenty of leg.

Rhodes buried his head in his hands as everyone laughed at him.

The flight descended to Bagram Base in Afghanistan as Tony walked out and greeted the army men.

"Uh-oh." Steve said as Tony looked at the place with wide eyes.

Tony then started giving a speech about weapons. "They say the best weapon is one you never have to fire. I respectfully disagree. I prefer the weapon you only have to fire once. That's how dad did it, that's how America does it….. and it's worked out pretty well so far." Tony said.

"The hell?!" Steve muttered.

Tony gestured with his hand, and the rocket began to move, cameras facing up, tips pointing toward the sky. First one, then the next, and then the third of the rockets zoomed into the air. In mid flight, smaller rockets burst out of the large ones, followed by yet another stream of even smaller rockets, all of which went flying a safe, far distance away. As they fell far behind him, Tony called it the Jericho.

"What will they do to the good guys?" Clint muttered.

Tony spread his hands as the explosives lit up the desert with fire before darkening it with smoke. An explosion that must indeed have echoed the force of the crumbling walls of Jericho shook the ground, and a cloud of dust nearly engulfed Tony and his audience, making some of their caps fly off.

Wanda shivered, the explosion making her relive the trauma of her parents' death from the Stark Industries bomb in Sokovia. Vision held her hand to provide comfort.

"Freedom line?" Steve asked.

"I knew the word 'Freedom' would get to you Rogers!" Tony grumbled

Tony then took a glass for himself and poured the wine before pulling out his phone. He accepted the video chat from Stane, who asked him how it had gone, to which Tony replied it was like early Christmas. Obadiah said he would see Tony the next day and cut the call.

"With a bunch of guns pointed at my face." Tony grumbled as everyone glared at Stane.

Tony then got into his humvee, making comments about it, as Rhodes complimented his performance. The humvee was started up by the lady driver as Rhodes walked off. As the convoy went through the desert, the explosion happened, trapping Tony's humvee, like in the first scene.

"This is where it began, Mr. Stark." Xavier said.

"Yup." Tony said, "Fun's over."

Tony faded in an out of consciousness as he was operated on, with a bright light shining down on him. He screamed in pain as his shrapnel was removed and something round was placed inside him.

"That was the operation?!" Bruce exclaimed, outraged.

"Terrorists didn't care about his pain." Professor Hulk said sadly.

"Because they're a bunch of gits." Logan added.

"They operated on him without anesthesia." Sam said, horrified, as Tony shuddered at the memory and Pepper held his hand to offer comfort.

Bucky held his head, Tony's scream reminding him of the screams of his victims. Natasha touched his face to offer comfort.

After a few more torturous seconds, the surgery was over.

Chapter Text

"You sure you can watch this, Mr. Stark?" Benjamin asked him.

"Yeah." Tony said with a nod and a confident smile, "I can."

Tony woke up to realize a tube attached to his nose with a bandage. He carefully removed it before ripping out the bandage.

"Ew!" Peter groaned at the sight.

"You had to remove it." Fury said as Tony shrugged.

Tony turned to see a cup and tried to reach it, only to knock it to the floor accidentally. He heard a cough and looked up to see an elderly man shaving in front of a small mirror, humming to himself. Tony tried to move but an electrical cord attached to his chest prevented him, as the man advised him not to do it.

"Who is that?" Scott asked.

"Name's Yinsen." Tony said with a sad sigh.

Wanda and Xavier could sense some of Tony's pain on seeing Yinsen. While they did not always read minds actively, the thoughts and feelings of people around them could still be heard by them in their heads as a very light background hum. This was the origin of Iron Man, written in blood and fire.

Tony turned to see he was hooked to a car battery of all things! He ripped off some of his bandages to see the other end of the cord was attached to a round rusty metal disc just larger than a man's palm, sitting right over his heart, held in place with five large screws.

"Jesus!" Scott said, "A car battery?!"

"The man hooked you to a car battery?" Aunt May asked.

"He saved my life with that." Tony said.

"That is your arc reactor." Hope said in realization.

"It is." Pepper said.

"Stark had a pretty rough start." Fury said.

"I can see." Hill agreed.

"Saving your life in a cave in the middle of a desert. The man is very impressive." T'Challa said, his eyes full of respect for Yinsen.

"He sure is." Steve agreed.

"Good thing there wasn't any rust on it." Bruce noted.

"Yeah, good thing." Professor Hulk agreed.

Later, Tony sat quietly as the man cooked. Tony asked him what he had done, to which he replied he had saved his life. He had removed some shrapnel but the remainder was headed to his atrial septum, with the electromagnet stopping it. He tossed Tony a container which showed the shrapnel that had been removed.

"Looks like he tried his best." Pepper said.

"He did." Tony agreed.

"That was the best that could be done in those circumstances." Vision agreed.

The man said that people in his village with those kinds of wounds were called the Walking Dead due to the fact that the shrapnel would reach their vital organs in a week.

"I loved that show." Scott said, referring to the Walking Dead.

"It has gone to crap." Hope said.

"Yup." Peter agreed.

"You watch the Walking Dead?" Aunt May asked with a glare.

"Ooops!" Peter said.

"Shut your mouth from now on." Benjamin told him and he nodded as everyone chuckled.

The man told him the electromagnet stopped the shrapnel from entering his heart. Tony zipped up his sweater without a word before noticing a camera. The man commented on it before telling Tony the two had met years ago at a technical conference at Bern, not that Tony remembered.

"I do now." Tony said, "A lot's happened since then."

"I know right!" Pepper said.

"I still don't know the exact details of what happened after that." Bruce said.

"Because you fell asleep!" Tony said.

"I do know the exact details now." Professor Hulk said.

The man chuckled and said how Tony had been drunk and still managed to give a lecture on Integrated Circuits.

"Wow!" Scott said, impressed.

"I have not met many people on Earth who can hold their liquor like you can, buddy." Thor told Tony who smirked.

"It holds true even now." Odinson added.

"I know you guys hate me, but I am going to agree with my brother- or brothers from different time periods on this." Loki said.

When Tony asked where they were, someone unbolted the door from outside and voices started shouting at them to get up.

"What now?" Bucky sighed.

"The terrorists." Steve said simply.

"The Ten Rings." Natasha realized.

"They were all sons of guns based on what I have heard." Clint said.

The man pulled Tony to his feet and told him to do as he did while a small crowd of armed men entered, with Tony realizing in horror those were his guns they were using.

"Lot of irony there." Hope commented.

"Bought them from you, used them on you." Fury said.

""Merchant of Death", remember?" Tony shrugged.

One of the men stepped forward and spoke in tones of welcome as Tony's fellow prisoner translated it for him- "Welcome, Tony Stark, the most famous mass murderer in the history of America."

Wanda was surprised someone else called Tony the same name she had for most of her life.

Tony's fellow prisoner told him their captor wanted him to build the Jericho for him.

"That's what they wanted!" Thor realized.

"To cause mass destruction." Steve sighed.

"Why am I not surprised?" Sam muttered.

"Pretty unpleasant lot they were." Rhodes said.

The captor passed him the photograph which he passed to Tony. After looking at it, Tony refused.

"Shit!" Sam said.

"Bad idea, bub." Logan agreed.

"Oh Tony!" Pepper exclaimed in horror.

Tony's head was shoved and removed from the water again and again until his electromagnet sparked and his body spasmed.

"Not every billionaire with no experience with reality can endure what you did, Mr. Stark." T'Challa said with some respect in his eyes.

While Sam and Clint still held grudges against Tony, they could still feel sympathy for him.

Tony suddenly heard the faint voice of Pepper in his head- "Tony!"

Pepper looked at Tony with wide eyes, touched by how much he felt for her even back then, "You were thinking of me the whole time?"

"You were what kept me going." Tony said and to everyone's shock, Pepper kissed him passionately, not caring about the others present in the room. Peter, Aunt May and Rhodes shifted away a bit uncomfortably.

After one full minute, the kiss stopped and the two didn't look at anyone else as Benjamin continued the recording.

Later, Tony's captors put a sack over his head and hauled him out of the cave into the open before removing the sack, making him adjust his eyes to the brightness. Tony saw several of his weapons there. The bearded man talked to Tony, with his fellow prisoner translating, saying they would set him free if he made the Jericho for them in a week. Tony shook hands with him, though he said the man wouldn't free him, with his fellow prisoner agreeing. From a distance, a bald man watched him.

"Free you from this world he means." Fury said dryly.

"Good thing I did that instead." Tony said darkly.

"The bald guy is the leader I guess." Peter said.

"Yup." Tony confirmed.

In the cave, Tony sat in grim silence as his fellow prisoner told him no one would find him in these mountains. He told Stark his legacy was in the hands of murderers. " Is that how you want to go out? Is this the last act of defiance of the great Tony Stark? Or are you going to do something about it?" The man asked with a raised voice.

"The speech." Steve commented.

"I think he can give you a run for your money, Cap." Sam told him.

"Not going to argue with that." Natasha agreed.

Tony was hopeless, saying they would kill both of them anyway, to which the prisoner responded that it was an important week then.

"It sure was." Tony said.

"And so it begins." Thor said.

"So it begins indeed." Odinson agreed.

Later, the place was in bustle as Tony gave instructions for the equipment he needed at his work station as his fellow prisoner translated.

"It was then, was it not?" T'Challa asked.

"It was then, Your Highness." Tony confirmed.

As the two unscrewed an explosive, Tony asked him how many languages he spoke, to which he gave his answer and also said these people were called "The Ten Rings." He suggested to Tony to include him in the planning process. Tony extracted a tiny piece of metal from inside a rocket, revealing it to be Palladium, saying it was point one-five grams, and one-point six more was needed. He told his fellow to break it down to another eleven.

"Palladium huh?" Peter said with wide eyes.

Two terrorists watched them and concluded Tony was working.

"Well, he is working." Rhodes said.

"Just not on what you want." Fury added.

"Shows how dumb you are, bub." Logan said to the terrorists.

Tony gathered stuff of deep, metallic red into a bowl and put a smelting cup into it before giving it a tap. His fellow lifted it with a pair of smelting tongs as Tony said they only got one shot at this, to which he said he had steady hands which kept Tony alive.

"He is a pretty good surgeon." Bruce said, impressed.

"Couldn't agree more." Professor Hulk agreed.

Tony put the car battery down as his fellow poured the melted Palladium into it. At Tony's request, he introduced himself as Yinsen.

"Hello, Yinsen." Natasha said.

"Nice to meet you." Clint said too.

"He was a good man." Tony said sadly.

Tony lifted a slender ring of the palladium, now cooled and hardened, from the red sand-like stuff with a pair of tweezers. He looked it over, and placed it inside a protective frame. He began welding pieces of copper wire to the frame, bit by bit. And then, there it was, sitting on the table, a small, circular object that glowed brightly. The lights around Tony flickered and the battery to which he was connected began to sputter.

"The Arc Reactor." Bruce breathed in awe.

"The first one." Tony said, "In all its glory."

As Yinsen commented it didn't look like a Jericho, Tony told him it was a miniaturized Arc Reactor which would keep the shrapnel out of his heart. It would generate 3 gigajoules per second, enough to run his heart for 50 lifetimes and something huge for 15 minutes.

"But how did you shrink it?" Scott asked.

"You are the shrink-dude. You tell me." Tony joked as everyone snickered.

Later, Tony showed Yinsen crumpled pieces of paper and joined them, revealing an image through multiple layers of paper.

"There it is!" Thor said in awe.

"The first Iron Man suit." Steve said.

"Can't wait to see it!" An excited Peter said.

"It was a pretty good basic model." Benjamin said.

"Sure was." Tony agreed.

"They have come a long way from there, haven't they?" Natasha asked.

"Yup. Very long." Tony said.

"Like you wouldn't believe." Professor Hulk said as he remembered the first time he had seen the Bleeding Edge armor again.

Later, while under surveillance, the two talked as Yinsen said he was from Gulmira, with a family he would see again after escaping. He asked Stark if he would to, to which he replied in the negative.

"You sure did see them again." Tony sighed sadly as Wanda saw an image of Yinsen lying on his back, trapped under a large sack, flashing across his mind, while Pepper held his hand in comfort.

"So you're a man who has everything. And nothing." Yinsen noted.

"Well, not exactly nothing." Tony said as him and Pepper exchanged a smile.

Later that night, as they worked, the big man looked at them through a small sliding tab in the door and walked away, satisfied. Tony continued working for some time with a powerful wood cutting machine and safety goggles over his eyes as pieces of the would be Suit were seen scattered around. He attached a normal tube to small green can. The watchers were uneasy as it didn't look like the picture.

"Not completely dumb." Thor noted.

"The guy who hired them must have seen something in them." Loki pointed out.

Sometime later, the bald leader barged inside with his men as the two stopped working.

"Oh no!" Pepper gasped, "This can't be good!"

The man looked at the Arc Reactor and said how the bow and arrow used to be the pinnacle of weapons technology.

"Still packs a punch if used right." Clint said and everyone nodded in agreement.

Talking about the history of empires and weapons, he said how the latest Stark weapons helped in making empires nowadays. He then turned to Yinsen and demanded an explanation. Yinsen tried to convince him they were making the Jericho but he had none of it and made his men force him to the ground. Using a pair of tongs, he picked up a piece of coal and tried to put it in his mouth. After few tense moments, Tony stopped him, saying Yinsen was a good assistant. Dropping the coal, the man said they had till the next day.

"That was close." Aunt May sighed in relief.

"Too close." Sam noted.

"But they do not have much time now." Vision noted.

"They have to work fast." T'Challa agreed.

"They will." Fury told them.

"It is about to be finished." Steve realized, "The first suit."

"Yup." Tony said.

Tony was working. With one hand, he held the piece of metal steady, with the other, he was forging-  clang, clang, clang , went the hammer.

"That looks so epic." Peter said.

"It sure does, no matter how many times I watch it." Benjamin agreed.

"You're a very good smith." Thor complimented.

"The Dwarves at Nidavellir would be proud." Loki agreed.

"Uh, thanks." Tony said, not understanding the second compliment but grateful for them both, even if the second one came from Loki of all people.

No one noticed the sad expression on Odinson's face at the mention of Nidavellir from Loki.

Then a large breastplate was fitted to an equally large back piece. Tony put his jacket back on, a pair of protective gloves went on his hands. Yinsen helped Tony put the breastplate on as he told him the layout of the place.

"Yes!" Thor, Bruce and Peter cheered at the same time.

"You learnt the layout of the place in spite of a bag on your head? Wow!" Natasha said, impressed.

"You're a potentially good SHIELD agent." Hill said.

"NO!" Tony and Fury said at the same time and everyone chuckled as they thought about how many arguments the two would have if such a thing ever happened.

The bald leader looked at the screen and frowned on realizing he couldn't see Tony or Yinsen on the screen so he sent two of his men to check. He managed to barely see Yinsen from one of the screens, hidden by something large.

"Uh-oh." Sam said.

"That's not good." Steve agreed.

"For them." Tony shot back.

The two men slid open the slide and called out to Yinsen in Hungarian, which he didn't understand, though Tony urged him to say something.

"Yeah, say something in a language you barely know!" Clint snarked.

Yinsen tried to reply but they started opening the door, not noticing the explosive wired to the inside of the door.

"Oh boy!" Scott said.

"This is going to be interesting." Hope said.

As they opened the door, there was a  bang.  The two were sent flying back by several feet as the camera was destroyed. The bald leader yelled to his men and they charged towards the prisoner's quarters as he picked up a walkie talkie and started barking orders.

"Not sure if it's gonna help you now." Bucky said for the first time, surprising everyone.

"It won't." Vision agreed.

Inside, Yinsen hastily initialized the power sequence on the laptop on Tony's instructions and progress bar started as he buttoned Tony up.

"It had to be buttoned up?" Pepper asked incredulously.

"He has come a long way from that." Wanda said.

"Very long." Xavier agreed.

Yinsen realized they were out of time as the progress bar was only a third of the way loaded. "We need more time. I'm going to buy you some time." Yinsen said as Tony protested, "Stick to the plan! Stick to the plan!" But Yinsen grabbed up a weapon from the floor where the men had been blasted backward earlier, and fired it into the air as he ran down the passageway.

"He is brave." Sam said.

"One of the bravest men I have seen." Rhodes agreed.

"Sometimes, simple men can show a lot of bravery." Steve said on seeing Yinsen's bravery, which reminded him of the old man who had stood up to Loki.

Tony didn't speak, replaying the horrible scene in his head.

A howling Yinsen made the terrorists run the other way as he fired his gun, only to find a score of men pointing their guns on him at the entrance, the bald leader among them.

"No." Scott groaned.

"Oh no!" Peter said, fearing for Yinsen's life.

The progress bar made it all the way as some more men entered the quarters, passing by the bodies of the two dead men. At the end of the metal tube, a gloved hand stirred and flexed itself.

"Oh!" Vision cried.

"This is it!" Tony said.

A bright light came up behind one of the men, who turned to look, only for a strong blow from the now alive Suit to send him flying backwards with a cry as he fired around erratically.

"How do you like that, huh?" Peter cheered.

"Not all that much." Natasha said dryly.

"At last!" Sam said.

The other three men fired but nothing happened. As they stopped, a bright light suddenly came up to them. The Suit smacked two of them away. The last one tried to fire but he was smacked away too as Tony straightened himself in the suit.

"Look how clumsy that is." Clint said.

"Can't disagree." Tony said, "Pretty heavy too."

"I wouldn't want to wear it." Rhodes said.

"Don't blame you." Wanda agreed.

"Still, he made that in a cave with a box of scraps under surveillance." Steve noted, impressed.

More men fired at Tony as he marched at them. One of them charged but he hit him so hard he was sent flying off and hit his head on a wall. Another charged but met the same fate as Tony elbowed a third one out. He marched towards more men as they ran off in fear and shut the door.

"As if that will save you." Bruce said.

"The suit does the damn job." Fury said.

"It did that pretty good." Tony agreed.

One of the men got locked with Tony accidentally. As Tony marched towards him, he knocked at the door frantically. On the other side, the men waited fearfully as the knocking stopped and someone banged on the door thrice. They ran the other way as with a fourth  bang,  Tony kicked the door open.

"Ouch!" Pepper said about the one who had gotten locked with Tony.

As the men ran in fear, Tony knocked one of them out, but his arm got stuck in a crevice of the rock. One of the men noticed and fired at him. But the bullet glanced off his helmet with such force that it rebounded and killed the shooter.

Everyone cheered happily at the scene.

"That's what you get for your sins!" Scott said.

Tony freed his arm as the bald leader prepared himself at the entrance. As Yinsen lay coughing and choking, partly buried under a pile of rice sacks, Tony turned the corner and called out to him. Yinsen tried to warn him but the bald leader had already fired. A small rocket sped towards him but he barely avoided as it exploded behind him. Tony raised his arm and fired his own blast, sending the bald leader flying back into the cave with a howl.

"Woohoo!" Peter cheered.

"Yeah!" Rhodes cheered too.

"You got what you deserved!" Sam said.

Tony threw the rice sacks away and removing his visor, begged Yinsen to come with him, asking him to stick to the plan, though Yinsen refused. Stark brought up his family, to which Yinsen replied, "My family's dead. I'm going to see them now, Stark. It's okay, I want this." Tony seemed to accept as he said quietly, "Thank you for saving me." A dying Yinsen said, "Don't waste it. Don't waste your life." And then his breaths ceased.

"No!" Peter cried out as Aunt May covered her mouth with her hand.

"He was brave!" Thor said sadly as he slumped back into his couch.

"I agree." Logan said.

Steve looked at Tony sadly, remembering the death of Erskine.

"Why did he have to go?" Scott muttered.

"I wish I could have met him." Rhodes said.

"Me too." Sam agreed.

"I'm sorry, Tony." Pepper said sadly as she grasped Tony's hand to offer comfort and he squeezed back.

Wanda could feel some of Tony's pain too.

Tony angrily turned his head up while the other terrorists waited outside for him, weapons raised.

"Death is upon you!" Thor declared to them.

"The flames of war are upon you!" Loki added.

"You guys are so screwed now!" Bruce said.

First, they heard a thumping sound. Then, they saw the glow of the Arc Reactor. And then Tony stood in front of them with the Suit on him.

The others watched with interest. While the Suit was very clumsy compared to the newer ones, there was something about it that felt intimidating.

The soldiers fired at him but he was unaffected. As they stopped, he said, "My turn." He raised his arms and streams of fire rained down, dousing all the men around him. Tony set fire to everything, including his great pile of weapons.

"Holy shit!" Clint exclaimed.

"You're really lighting it up." Steve noted as Tony nodded.

"Hell yeah!" Peter said as he pumped his fist into the air happily while Benjamin and Aunt May shook their heads in amusement.

One of the men fired at him from a mountainside as others followed. Tony staggered and sank to his feet before firing more streams of flames, but the explosives started going off. Tony flipped a red switch under his red arm and the Suit propelled into the air as a mass explosion began below him. As great clouds of fire and smoke sailed towards the sky, Tony flew out in the Suit, and directed its flight away from the encampment.

"Yeah!" Thor, Bruce, Professor Hulk and Peter cheered at the same time.

"The first flight of Iron Man." Sam said.

The Suit suddenly lost power and Tony plunged towards the sand with a yell.

"Uh-oh." Natasha said.

"Not the best first flight." Fury said.

"It's okay. The Wright Brothers failed too on their first try." Hill said.

"Ouch!" Pepper, Aunt May and Peter said at the same time as they saw the Suit crashing.

Tony was in the middle of the wreck of the Suit. He pulled off the remaining pieces with a grunt and tumbled across the sand, his jacket over his head to keep off the sun. Just as he came to the top of a high ridge and was about to go down the other side of it, two helicopters soared over his head. He happily called out to them and waved.

"YES!" Sam roared.

"Was it you?" Steve asked Rhodes.

"It was me." Rhodes confirmed.

"Phew!" Pepper sighed in relief as Tony looked at her and Rhodes with a smile.

"I'm so glad you came." Tony told Rhodes gratefully who nodded.

Five men came running out of one chopper as it landed, with Rhodes in the front. As Rhodes asked him about his comment on the humvees earlier, Tony managed a weak smile. Rhodes hugged him fiercely and said, "Next time you ride with me, okay?"

"There won't be a next time." Tony said.

"Yup." Rhodes agreed.

"Fortunate for you, bub." Logan told Tony.

"How long has it been?" T'Challa asked.

"Three months." Fury said.

"A long time." Benjamin noted.

"You were a changed man after this." Xavier said.

"Not fully changed, but still changed." Professor Hulk agreed.

In the nearby room, Reed and his wife Susan Storm Richards were eating snacks together as they heard everyone's reactions to what they were viewing.

"Looks like Tony has escaped." Sue noted.

"Yup." Reed said, "After building a suit in a cave with a box of scraps."

"Which is very smart." Sue said, "Almost as smart as you."

"Yeah." Reed agreed, "I think the two of us are about equal." [1]

"We need him, don't we?" Sue asked.

"Yeah." Reed agreed, "My and his brain together can do a lot of things that mine alone can't."

Chapter Text

"And now I'm back home." Tony commented.

The US Air Force One touched down, Pepper and Happy waiting for it in the airstrip. Pepper's eyes were flushed and her makeup was running. The ramp lowered, and inside the plane Rhodey pulled Tony to his feet and supported him as he slowly walked down the ramp. Tony's right arm was in a sling. Medical personnel came rushing up to him but he scoffed them with a dismissive gesture.

Pepper rolled her eyes, "Some things never change."

Pepper smiled through her tears as Tony asked her if she was weeping for her long lost boss, to which she replied she was weeping tears of joy as she hated job hunting. Tony told her vacation was over.

"It's like you two were made for each other." Rhode said as everyone snickered while Tony and Pepper blushed.

The two sat in the car as Pepper asked Happy to drive them to the hospital but Tony refused, saying he wanted an American cheeseburger and call a press conference, much to Pepper's shock.

"You and your cheeseburgers." Pepper sighed.

"So this is the conference?" Steve asked and Tony nodded.

"Bold move from a bold man." Fury said.

When Happy pulled up to the curb, a number of well-dressed people were standing waiting to meet him. They began to applaud as soon as they saw the car, and Obadiah Stane sprang forward, arms outstretched. Obadiah greeted Tony happily as Happy gave him his second cheeseburger, with Obadiah wondering why Tony didn't meet him at the hospital.

"Why, so you could stab me to death there?" Tony asked dryly.

"He doesn't even feel guilty after seeing your condition." Peter commented.

"No conscience in him. He won't." Natasha educated the boy.

"She is right, Peter." Benjamin told him and he simply nodded.

"Some people just want power for themselves. They don't care about who they hurt, bub." Logan told him.

Tony and Obadiah entered the conference room as the reporters applauded. Pepper stood at the back of the room, wondering what he was going to do. Someone called out to her and she turned to see a middle-aged man standing next to her, requesting to speak to her for a moment.

"Son of Coul!" Thor called out.

"Good ol' Coulson." Tony commented.

"He was a nice guy." Pepper said.

"Sure was." Tony agreed.

"How you doin' Coulson?" Clint asked on-screen Coulson randomly.

"Wish he could answer that." Natasha noted absently.

"Good to see him." Hill muttered to herself.

Loki didn't say a word, knowing they would glare at him the moment he did.

Fury didn't say anything either, as he knew what the others didn't.

"Are you going to keep it a secret from them forever, Director Fury?"

Fury was shocked to hear Xavier's voice in his head. He turned to see Xavier looking at him with a kind smile. Benjamin, Odinson and Logan looked at him and gave a simple nod before turning back to the screen.

'They know.' Fury thought to himself. [1]

The man introduced himself as Agent Phil Coulson of Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division. Pepper commented that it was a mouthful, to which he replied they were working on it.

"Didn't we already work on it?" Hill asked.

"The man had a sense of humor." Fury told everyone. [2]

Pepper said they had been visited by various agencies but Phil said they were a separate division with a more separate focus, saying they needed to debrief Tony about the circumstances of his escape. Pepper agreed to an appointment and he walked off with a 'Thank you.'

"What an appointment that was." Pepper remembered with a shudder.

"Good thing that sort of thing never happened again." Tony agreed.

Tony asked all the reporters to sit down so they could all see him and it would be a little less formal. He took a bite of his sandwich while the Press actually sat down after looking quizzically at each other as Obadiah sat next to Tony.

"They actually sat down?" Aunt May said incredulously.

"It's me, remember?" Tony said and everyone rolled their eyes at his antics.

"Yeah, we remember." Clint snarked dryly.

"Mr. Stark has some kind of quality in him." Vision said.

"Can't argue with that." Benjamin agreed.

Rhodes walked up to Pepper to ask her of the matter but she had no idea. "I never got to say goodbye to my dad." Tony said to Obadiah.

Bucky gulped as Natasha held his hand while Steve simply nodded at him.

Tony then said the same thing to the audience before telling them how he would have asked him if he was conflicted over what his company did. Tony then said how he saw young Americans getting killed by the weapons created to defend and protect them, and how he was part of a system with zero accountability.

"Americans?" Wanda asked with a raised eyebrow.

"I didn't know the full deception that had been carried out behind my back during that time." Tony told her, "I'm sorry." [3]

She simply nodded, letting the matter go for now.

The reporters asked him the details of his abduction and he got up and walking to the podium, said he had his eyes opened, saying he could offer more to this world than blowing stuff up. He then began, " And that is why, effective immediately, I am shutting down the weapons manufacturer division of Stark International -"The crowd went wild at that declaration as Tony continued, "Until such a time as I can decide what the future of this company will be, what direction it should take -"

"Whoa!" Peter beamed.

"That was when you stopped making weapons." Thor noted as Stark simply nodded.

"It looked like a disaster though." Pepper noted of the conference.

"It really did." Sam agreed as he looked at the screen.

Obadiah not so subtly pushed Tony off the microphone, joking about how many newspapers they will sell." - one that I am comfortable with, and is consistent with the highest good for this country as well,"  finished Tony as he walked away from the podium.

"What a bombshell." Hill said.

"Obadiah must be feeling very screwed right now." Bruce commented.

Rhodes had a mixed expression on his face as Obadiah tried to calm the situation, saying Tony was back.

"Yeah, I'm back!" Tony said as everyone sighed.

Later, outside the main Stark Industries factory, Obadiah came riding on a segway with a cigarette in his mouth. As Happy took the segway, Obadiah took the cigarette out of his mouth and using a keycard, went inside. Tony stood near the Arc Reactor prototype that powered the factory.

"That's pretty big." Bucky commented, summing up everyone's thoughts on it.

Obadiah chastised Tony for what he had done, bringing up the stock drop. Obadiah said that they were weapons manufacturers so they needed to make weapons. Tony countered, saying he didn't want a body count to be his only legacy, to which Obie said they were ironmongers. Tony said it was his name on the side of the building as Obie said they kept the world from falling into chaos.

"Your name on the side of the building doesn't really mean much." Loki told Tony.

"So you blew my name up?" Tony asked dryly.

"It was an accident." Thor shrugged, "I mean, you should feel lucky the power I emanate isn't powerful enough to destroy the galaxy as a side effect."

"Now I wonder if I could make things happen with a word." Wanda said.

"That would make life very uninteresting." Tony said.

"Yeah, it would be too boring." Natasha agreed. [4]

"Obadiah wants to keep the world in chaos." Steve said.

"But I'm guessing he is delusional enough to believe that he is doing something good." Sam said.

"All villains are heroes of their own stories." Rhodes said.

"I actually agree with that." Peter said as he thought of Adrian Toomes.

"I got a specimen of that right here." Thor said as he clapped Loki on the back who looked annoyed and even ashamed of his past actions.

Tony said he wanted them to do something else but Obadiah was having none of it. Tony then brought up the Arc Reactor, and Obie revealed he knew about it, making Tony unbutton his shirt to see it. Obadiah then told Tony that they were a team and they could do anything together, but he needed to lay low for a while.

"So that you can sell even more weapons behind our backs." Pepper snarled as everyone glared at Obadiah again.

Later, Pepper was watching an episode of "Mad Money" where the host was mocking Stark Industries in a very cartoonish way that would come off as funny to anyone who was below twelve or below but cringeworthy to anyone who thirteen or above. "Look! That's a weapons company that doesn't make weapons!" He mocked.

"Your Highness, please don't judge us by this." Steve said to T'Challa with a grimace.

"Everyone great country has some flaws in it." T'Challa simply said.

"Now I wonder why I even watched that thing in the first place." Pepper muttered.

"I know right!" Tony himself said.

"Yeah, I didn't expect you to be watching this either." Sam told her.

"Watch some real news." Aunt May said.

"I don't think people do nowadays." Fury said.

"They do if it involves celebrities." Hill told him. [5]

Suddenly, Tony's voice came from the Starkpad, asking her how big her hands were. She was confused until Tony repeated the question and said he needed her.

"Dude, she was your secretary!" Sam said.

"Really, Mr. Stark?" Aunt May asked, feeling a bit disgusted.

"It wasn't that kind of job!" Tony said.

"What?" Bruce asked.

"Continue watching." Pepper simply said.

When Pepper keyed herself into Tony's workshop, a shirtless Tony was reclining on a chair next to a rather ominous-looking monitor, to which he was connected by way of three cords - one red, one blue, and one white. He was holding another Arc Reactor that looked slightly different from the one he was currently using.

"I'm sorry for judging you." Sam said simply, though he still rightfully held a grudge for the airport fight.

"Me too." Aunt May said.

"Apology accepted." Tony shrugged.

"This looks much worse." Thor said.

"Good thing I had to do it only once." Pepper said.

"What?" Peter asked.

"Keep watching." Tony simply said.

At Tony's request, Pepper showed him her hands and he commented on how small and petite they were. She was astonished by the Arc Reactor already inside his chest. He told her he was upgrading it for another one and needed her help with a short wire. He took out the Arc Reactor from his chest and had her put it somewhere else before he made her lift the wire, saying she was the most capable, qualified, trustworthy people he had ever met.

"Adorable moment ruined by the fact somebody could die right now." Rhodes said.

"I find it adorable, disgusting and tense at the same time." Aunt May said.

Pepper reached in but was disgusted by the pus, though Tony replied it was an inorganic plasmic discharge from the device, not that it made her feel any better. She got the wire but it touched the sides, making a "ZZZ" noise. She managed to pull it out, but she also pulled out the magnet, making the monitor beep madly as Tony started going into cardiac arrest. Pepper comforted Tony and managed to put the other Arc Reactor into him just in the nick of time, making him yelp. Pepper told Tony not to ask her to do that ever again.

Wanda slightly gagged at Pepper's memory of the incident.

"But Mr. Stark said it was safe." Peter said out loud.

"If Tony says something is safe, then trust me- it isn't." Natasha educated the young boy and everyone nodded in agreement.

"Discharge from the device is even worse than pus." Bruce said.

"Couldn't agree more." Professor Hulk said.

"It's like you believe you have nine lives or something, bub. Trust me, you don't." Logan told him.

"What if I do?" Tony shrugged.

"You don't. I know someone who does." Benjamin told him. [6]

"I don't have anyone but you." Tony told her with unusual sincerity as he stared at her.

"Awww." Scott said and Hope smacked his arm again.

"It's cute!" Scott said.

"Doesn't mean you have to behave like a little girl." Hope shrugged as everyone laughed.

As he got up, he told her to burn the previous Arc Reactor or throw it away, saying he wasn't nostalgic. She walked off when he told her he didn't need anything else. Pepper walked off as Tony asked a robot who had been sitting above him the entire time to clear the stuff on his desk.

"Now that's a good boy." Tony said.

Rhodes was giving a demonstration to a line of cadets in a military hangar when Tony arrived and started making jokes about him, making the cadets laugh, though Rhodey asked him not to do that. The cadets walked off a while later as Rhodes commented on how surprised he was to see Tony walking around.

"You shouldn't be walking around like that." Bruce said.

"He doesn't care." Professor Hulk said.

Tony told Rhodes he was working on something big and wanted him to be a part of it. Rhodes wondered if the press conference was a doozey but Tony said it was something else, making Rhodes wonder if he was a humanitarian now. He asked Tony to get his mind right. Tony simply grimaced.

"You thought I had PTSD." Tony said.

"Didn't you?" Rhodes asked and Tony sighed, realizing he shouldn't be making jokes about that.

Later, Tony brushed a hand over his holographic keyboard and asked JARVIS if he was up, to which he replied he always was.

"Hello, JARVIS." Wanda simply said.

"While I am him, I consider myself very different." Vision said.

Tony then moved a holographic image of the suit to a holotable and told JARVIS to store it on his private server as he didn't know who to trust in the company. He moved some parts away and threw them into a holographic dustbin.

"Wow. That is so awesome!" Peter said, looking at the technology.

"Eh! Compared to this device, not that much." Logan said.

"Hey!" Tony said.

"He's got a point." Fury agreed.

"Yes, Mr. Stark. A device that can record memories and a time travel device are much more impressive than that or anything in Wakanda." T'Challa said.

Tony sighed and looked at the screen, feeling humbled.

In the desert, men wearing masks were digging up remains of Stark's first suit. One of them picked up his mask and called the bald leader, the right side of whose face was blistered and burnt.

"No more than you deserve." Rhodes said.

"Good work, Iron Man." Pepper said as she and Tony high fived.

"And now they're going to try to remake it." Steve sighed.

The bald leader took the mask and studied it closely.

"I doubt he has the brains to make that." Aunt May said.

"Yeah, good luck." Hill agreed.

In his workshop, Tony was working on the lower part of his suit which he called the "boot", with Dum-E trying to help. But it was subpar worker as Tony kept scolding him relentlessly.

"I feel bad for Dum-E." Wanda said.

"Did its feeling ever get hurt?" Natasha asked randomly.

"No." Tony said.

"Yes." Vision told him.

"Poor Dum-E." Aunt May said.

"Why didn't you replace it?" Banner asked.

"Looks like someone is nostalgic after all." Sam whispered to Steve, Natasha and Bucky.

The next scene was shown through the camera of another bot called "U." Tony had a boot on each foot with guards on his arms and metal handlebars in his hands. He stepped back on a large grid on the floor and as the bots started working on his command, he tried to fly at ten percent thrust capacity, only for the split-second surge power to propel him through the air as his feet flew over his head and he banged into the ceiling, before falling down with a crash. Dum-E blew a cloud of steam at Tony.

Everyone burst out laughing hard at the scene.

"You okay there?" Pepper asked him.

"Maybe." Tony said.

Later, Tony worked on his computer and formed a holographic gauntlet, slipping his arm into it. Later, he made a skeleton of that to test as Pepper arrived and dropping a box, told him Obadiah was upstairs. When she inquired about the gauntlet, he said it was a harmless flight stabilizer, but when he tried to use it, he was blasted back as Pepper covered her ears.

"Harmless? Yeah right." Natasha said.

"I believe you now." Peter told her.

"You're a fast learner, kid." Fury told him.

"You definitely own the mad scientist, Tony." Bruce told him, referring to the conversation they had had before creating Vision.

Tony went upstairs to see Obadiah playing the piano and realized it went bad as he saw the pizza. He started eating it as Obie told him the Board of Directors were filing an injunction due to his PTSD. Pepper told him the stock had dipped fifty six and a half. Tony said he still had the controlling interest but Obie pointed out the Board had rights too. After some arguing, Tony decided to go off with the pizza. Obie asked Tony for the Arc Reactor but he refused so he took back the pizza, though he still let Tony have a slice before he walked back to his shop.

"He wants it so much already." Hill said.

"Greed." Pepper snarled.

"He must have been the one who filed." Steve said.

"Yup." Tony said.

Later, Tony stood in front of his bots again and after berating Dum-E a little, he tried to fly at one percent thrust capacity and this time, to his own shock, he managed to get a stable flight, though he was still thrown sideways a few times.

"And you've done it." Rhodes said.

"That's me." Tony shrugged and everyone sighed.

Tony tried to fly again at 2.5 thrust capacity and struggled more than before but still managed to fly and land safely. "Yeah. I can fly!" Tony said.

"Cute." Thor shrugged.

"You're Gods, right?" Tony asked and Thor shrugged again.

Later, Tony put a suit around himself. It was plain silver but very recognizable. The Mark II.

"Hell yeah!" Peter cheered as everyone glimpsed the Mark II for the first time.

Inside the helmet, bright lights began flashing as icons appeared.

"So that's what it looks like inside." Steve muttered.

JARVIS was uploaded into the suit as Tony examined the workshop and started walking. Tony wanted to go outside but JARVIS tried to object, only for Tony to say, "JARVIS. Sometimes you gotta run before you can walk."

"And sometimes you should walk first!" Vision protested.

"Classic, reckless Tony." Natasha said.

Tony started flying and soared out of the garage.

"My first proper flight." Tony said, "Nothing beats that feeling."

"I agree." Rhodes said.

"You're very good at flying." Thor said.

Tony soared into the air, flying around the city. Two kids saw him and one dropped his ice cream in shock. Tony flew higher into the air but the suit had a fatal buildup of ice, making him fall down, though he managed to deploy flaps in the nick of time. He flew through the city and reached on the top of his building. Just as he depowered his suit, he crashed through several floors into his garage, with Dum-E blowing on the suit to thaw it.

"Epic fail!" Scott shouted as everyone laughed.

"The icing problem had its advantages." Tony simply said.

Later, as Tony used an ice pack on his head, he saw the box Pepper had dropped. It had a note with "From Pepper" written on it. He removed the note and opened it, to see a glass case and inside it was the first Arc Reactor. Around it were engraved the words- "Proof That Tony Stark Has A Heart." A smile spread across his face.

A smile spread across Tony's face.

"Awww." Natasha of all people said this time.

"That was very thoughtful, Miss Potts." Aunt May told her as she blushed.

Rhodes made kissing noises and Tony said, "Shut up."

Chapter Text

"I have a feeling we're about to see some very interesting stuff now." Tony said.

"Right you are, Mr. Stark." Charles told him.

In Afghanistan, two Ten Rings terrorists argued over the construction of the pieces of the first Iron Man suit as the bald leader looked on with a critical eye.

"They don't have the technology to get it right, do they?" Sam asked.

"Even if they did, they won't have the brains." Fury pointed out.

"What's the name of the bald guy?" Peter asked.

"His name would be Raza, bub." Logan said.

Tony looked at the digital mask on his screen in the workshop and commented on several problems, including the icing problem. JARVIS said that they should improve the exosystems if he intended to visit other planets.

Everyone laughed at the AI's wit.

"You are very witty." Odinson told him.

"Was I really that witty?" Vision asked.

"Who made you again?" Tony asked with a laugh.

After telling some solutions, Tony's attention was attracted by the television in the corner. It was about his own third annual benefit for the Firefighter's Family Fund. Tony asked JARVIS if he had gotten an invite, to which the AI replied in the negative. As Tony looked at the damaged mask of his second suit, the announcer said that no one expected Tony to show up.

"And he has jinxed it." Pepper said.

"Jinxes? You really believe in that bullshit?" Logan asked.

"Everyone has got to believe in something, James." Steve told him.

"It's Logan, Captain." Logan said.

"Logan." Steve corrected himself, "What do you believe in?"

"I believe that", Logan started, "I am the best there is at what I do. But what I do isn't very nice."

Steve simply nodded with a sigh, realizing how hard life must have been for Logan in all the years he had been alive.

JARVIS completed the render of the suit, but it was in bright gold, so Tony asked him to change the color by throwing in a little hot-rod red, which the AI did. The render was complete and JARVIS told him the estimated completion time was 5 hours. Tony told the AI not to wait for him.

"Now that's what I am talking about." Tony said.

"The render itself is pretty good." Rhodes told him.

"Which is why the finished product was even better." Professor Hulk told them.

Later, Tony sped down the road in a silver sports car with a nameplate that read STARK 4. He pulled up alongside the curb of the concert hall and stepped out, wearing a business suit. Obadiah Stane was being interviewed.

"And there he is." Hill sighed.

"Weapons manufacturing may be a small part of Stark Industries but that is the only one you care about." Sam said.

"Some people only care about power and position." T'Challa sighed.

Everyone cheered on seeing Tony as one of the women asked if he remembered her, to which he replied he didn't. He patted an elderly man with a cigar and good looking women around him on the shoulder. "You look great, Hef." Tony said as the man turned around to reply but the billionaire was already gone.

"Him?" Thor asked with a horrified look.

"You know him, brother?" Loki asked in surprise.

"He is the one who cut my hair!" Thor said.

"What?" Tony asked in surprise, "How could he have done that?"

"I think he is a neighbor of mine." Peter said.

"Really? I don't remember him." Aunt May said.

"But if he is your neighbor, how can he be at this party?" Pepper asked.

"And how can he cut my hair?" Thor said.

"We have seen all the recordings at least once." Odinson said, "And for some reason, he appears in all of them in some different role."

"Who he is, we don't know either." Benjamin said.

"Maybe he is a watcher or something." Natasha shrugged.

"A watcher?" Logan wondered.

"I like the sound of that." Clint said. [1]

"I think he shows up at a lot of places." Fury said as he looked at the man suspiciously.

"Well, to be honest, I like your hair, Thor." Natasha told him as he smiled, "So it looks like he hasn't done anything sinister."

"Which is a good thing." Professor Hulk said.

"Some mysteries will never be solved." Bruce sighed.

Tony greeted Obadiah who was surprised on seeing him. Tony then went inside as Obadiah said the board was at a good place now. Tony went up to the bar inside and asked for a Scotch, only for someone to call out to him. He turned to see Phil Coulson walking towards him.

"There he is again." Steve sighed.

"He looks calm and collected here." Natasha said, "But he fanboyed over you a lot."

Tony once again told Phil he needed to work on the name of his organization, though it had already been worked on. Coulson asked for an appointment. Tony wasn't paying any attention now though. He had spotted Pepper who was in a light blue satin backless evening gown.

"Look at that!" Scott said.

"That looks really good on you." Hope complimented as Pepper blushed.

"Yes, you look very good." Aunt May said too.

"Gift from Stark, right?" Natasha asked as Pepper nodded.

"That's me." Stark said with a smirk.

"Asgardian women would be jealous of your look." Thor complimented her.

Tony shook Coulson's hand while staring at Pepper and agreed before walking up to Pepper. He told her she looked so fantastic he didn't recognize her. Tony asked her about the dress and she told him it was a birthday present from him of all people.

"Classic, forgetful Stark." Natasha said this time as everyone laughed.

Tony asked for a dance and after some hesitation, she agreed. Tony swung her like a pro as she bit her lip nervously. Tony asked if he was making her uncomfortable, to which she replied that she always forgot to wear deodorant and dance with her boss in front of everyone she worked with in a dress with no back.

Pepper winced involuntarily at that.

Tony told her she looked and smelled great and then the two exchanged some witty banter about how long he would last without her. She asked him his social security number and he fumbled for the answer.

"Told you." Natasha smirked as she and Sam high-fived.

"You really don't know your own social security number?" Bruce asked in amusement.

"Still don't." Tony shrugged.

"You should." Aunt May told him sternly.

Pepper became nervous again and the two agreed to get some air. The two went off as Phil Coulson looked after them. The two argued again about how harmless the dance was, with Pepper saying how he was her boss so it would make her look bad. Tony was deflated and tried to calm her down. Without realizing, the two took a step forward as their heads came together. But then they realized what they were doing as Pepper asked for a drink.

"Oh, snap!" Rhodes said.

"That didn't go very well." Wanda muttered dryly.

She asked for a vodka martini with three olives and Tony walked off to get two from the bartender, with his dirty. That moment, Christine Everhart walked up to Tony, wearing a black dress, saying it was fancy seeing him there.

"Great." Scott groaned, "Her again."

"Fancy seeing a man at his own party!" Tony said snarkily.

"She hates you, doesn't she?" Pepper asked.

"Yup." Tony said.

"Won't blame her." Clint whispered to himself.

She said he had a lot of nerve showing up and asked for a reaction, to which he replied panic. Christine wasn't pleased and gave him some printed pictures, saying they were of a town called Gulmira.

"Gulmira?" Thor asked in a growl, making Loki a bit nervous.

"That's how you found out?" Bruce asked.

"That's how I found out." Tony said.

"Well, someone is going to be very screwed now." Bruce said.

Tony looked at the pictures in shock. There was death and devastation all around, with the terrorists carrying a smaller version of the Jericho Missile.

Wanda could feel the real Tony's fury at the reminder.

Christine said they had been taken the previous day, shocking Tony as he hadn't approved of any shipment. Christine pointed out his company had, which made him stride past her to Obadiah outside who shooed away some reporters. Tony inquired about the pictures and asked if they were double-dealing under the table. Obadiah simply said they should take a picture and they did, though Tony's eyes looked like could blister the concrete of the steps under the carpet. Obadiah told Tony he had filed the injunction to protect him before walking off.

"To protect him?" Pepper snarled angrily.

"To double-deal more." Tony snarked.

"You don't even look irritated or disappointed." Rhodes told him.

"He looks like he is ready to go to war." Thor noted.

"Good observation." Odinson told him.

"And now you're complimenting yourself." Loki said dryly as the two Thors chuckled.

"The truth has come out." Steve said.

"And it won't end well for some." T'Challa noted.

"That was the business he wanted to handle." Professor Hulk said.

"He is so screwed now." Bruce said.

"He sure is." Benjamin agreed.

Later, Tony was twirling with a screwdriver at a part of the glove of his new red-and-gold suit as he watched the news on the TV about the death and destruction in Gulmira. The news reporter described it as "a descent into Hell, into a modern day Heart of Darkness." The flight stabilizer in the palm began to glow as Tony watched live footage of armed men making their way into the ruins of the town. He also spotted Raza standing in the ruins. Tony's face was an emotionless mask but the fury he was feeling inside was visible. When the Jericho missile appeared on the screen, Tony's metal-gloved hand clenched and he stood up.

Tony's look matched that of his onscreen self. Pepper glanced at him a little uneasily.

Wanda had to forcefully squash down her own memory of what she had gone through at the scene she was witnessing.

Loki looked away in shame, reminded of what the Chitauri had done when he had brought them down to New York. Thor put a hand on his shoulder in support and he nodded in appreciation.

Aunt May held Peter tightly on witnessing that, afraid that she would somehow lose him to atrocities like that.

Tony walked around the couch he had been sitting on and threw the screwdriver away. As the news continued, Tony raised his arm, his palm held out in front of him. He aimed it at the other side of the garage and fired. After that, he walked into the middle of the room, in full view of the glass panels, as the news continued. He looked at his own reflection with self-loathing and fired at all the panels, shattering them into pieces.

The viewers did not miss the significance of that. Tony was blasting his own reflection due to self-loathing.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" Rhodes gasped.

"Jesus." Scott muttered.

Tony then walked onto a black grid which opened in pieces around his feet, and came up to the boot and leg pieces of Iron Man Mark III, all red and gold, and fastened over his feet and around his legs. A large yellow bot reached down with the front and back plates, the Arc Reactor glowing as the chest plate slammed down over it, and then came the arms and hands. Last of all came the sides of the helmet, the mask closing over his face and the "eye holes" glowing.

"This looks better." Steve said.

"YES!" Peter, Bruce and Thor cheered happily as Aunt May shook her head in amusement.

"You're going to Gulmira?" Sam asked.

"Yup." Tony said.

"I remember that." Rhodes sighed.

Tony, in his Iron Man Mark III Armor, soared through the skies. In Gulmira, the villagers were running around in terror as shots rang around them. Armed men kicked open doors of homes and fired into them. They grabbed all men who ran past, tearing them from their families, and shoved the women and children to their comrades. Raza's bearded thug was shouting orders. A family of four with a little girl and a slightly bigger boy were being hustled out when one of the children tipped and all four of them fell down. The leader ordered his men to grab the father. One of the men did as the boy broke away from his mother and sister and ran back to him. The father broke free of the grip of the man and ran to his boy, the two hugging each other tightly as the leader marched up to them and threw the boy off.

"GET YOUR HANDS OFF HIM YOU BASTARD!" Aunt May of all people roared in a rage as everyone looked at her in shock, Peter included. This was the wrath of a mother who saw innocent children getting hurt.

Peter was pale and Wanda saw in his memory the closest thing he ever had to a father bleeding to death at the back of a street in Queens. Aunt May held him tightly.

Wanda was stiff herself, memories of her parents and Pietro making her eyes water. Vision held her hand tightly to provide comfort.

Steve, Bucky and Logan were shaking with rage, reminded of the cruelty in the concentration camps.

"I wish I could have got my hands on them." Rhodes snarled angrily.

"You're not the only one." Sam said.

Natasha's blood was boiling at the scene. While she never had a family as a child, she would never wish the same upon anyone.

"Bastard." Clint snarled at the screen too, thinking about how many ways he would use to kill this man and others like him who would dare to hurt his family.

"Burn in Hel." Thor said angrily.

"Trust me, they are." Odinson said with a dark gleam in his eye.

"In all times, one thing that has remained a constant unfortunately is people's capacity to feel hatred for other people." Xavier said sadly.

Hill looked horrified at the scene as well, with Fury's face an emotionless mask.

Tony's expression was the same as his onscreen self earlier as Pepper held his hand tightly, horrified by what was going on in Gulmira in the screen.

"Jesus." Scott said uneasily as he thought of Cassie in this situation.

Hope held his hand to offer comfort, uneasy herself as she remembered losing her mother.

The children and the mother sobbed as the father was forced to his knees and was about to be shot down. The boy was calling out to his father tearfully when everyone heard a sound like thunder, and villagers and attackers alike looked up at the sky to see a red and gold blur descending down on them. Tony landed on his left foot and right knee, straightening up to face the man who was going to shoot the father.

"Just in time!" Thor said.

"Now they will burn in Hel." Loki said.

"No more than they deserve." Fury agreed.

"You guys are so screwed now." Bruce said.

"Like you wouldn't believe." Professor Hulk said.

The man fired vainly at the Suit, which charged at him and sent him flying off into the ruins of a house with a single punch. He then fired his repulsor beams in quick succession at three of them, sending them flying off. He turned around to fire a fourth one but saw the terrorists holding the villagers hostage.

"Cowards!" Steve spat.

"What're you going to do now?" Pepper asked.

"Cut the wire." Tony said with a gleam in his eye as Steve shot him a curious look which he returned and everyone realized it was something between the two of them. Only Thor, Natasha, Bruce and Fury knew what it was.

Tony lowered his palms as JARVIS identified the civilians and attackers with icons on the screen. Once it had been done, a small row of miniature guns rose from Tony's shoulders and shot down all the armed men, leaving the villagers intact.

"Hell yeah!" Peter cheered.

"They got what they deserved." Aunt May said.

"Sure did." Loki of all people agreed.

"You did good as well." Wanda told Vision, who was JARVIS back then, and he nodded in appreciation.

"Thank you, Wanda." He said.

The boy ran up to his father and the two hugged tightly.

Peter discreetly wiped his eyes as Aunt May patted his head lovingly.

Wanda did the same as Vision put an arm around her.

The boy saw Tony in the suit walking past them. The bearded thug was hiding behind a wall, trying to dial for help, when a red metal fist burst through the wall, startling him. It grabbed him and yanked him back through the hole, throwing him to the civilians.

"Shoot that dog!" Fury said.

"With pleasure." Hill agreed.

"I wish I could do it." Clint sighed.

"He got an even better punishment." Tony said.

Tony flew into the air and told the villagers, "He's all yours." As he flew off, the villagers surrounded the bearded thug who looked back at them in fear.

"This is even better." Natasha said cheerfully.

"I wish we could see what they did to him." Thor said.

Scott started, "I wish I could go up into his nostril and ex-" [2]

"Don't finish that sentence!" Hope said as she smacked his arm and everyone laughed for the first time since watching the action in Gulmira.

Tony flew through the air, identifying the Jericho Missile, when he was hit by a missile and thrown out of the sky. He crashed into the ground, forming a small crater.

"Ouch!" Rhodes said, reminded of his own fall, which was much worse.

Tony climbed out of the crater and surveyed the site. As a tank fired at him, he leaned sideways to dodge before lifting his arm and firing a small missile, destroying it. He walked away as the tank exploded behind him.

"Badass." Peter smiled.

As men fired at him, he flew up into the air and looked down on them. He fired at the Jericho Missile. The explosion killed all the men and destroyed all the weapons as Raza and more men arrived in trucks, watching the explosion with astonishment and horror. Tony flew off. At Edwards Air Force Base, California, the military watched their screens as they saw a blinking red dot, wondering what that was. When they discovered it wasn't the Air Force, Navy or Marines, Major Allen asked to get Rhodes.

"Now the military is interfering?!" Pepper asked in amazement.

"They want to take credit for my work." Tony said as he shot Rhodes a look who sighed in annoyance.

"They never got the green light, really?" Steve muttered.

"You have no idea how much people of power try to control the military these days." Rhodes sighed sadly.

"Tell me about it." Bruce groaned.

As Tony soared through the clouds, Rhodes walked into the intelligence room at the base, wondering how the thing had appeared out of nowhere and not shown on the radar.

"Too small." Scott said and everyone laughed at his shrink-jokes.

As the Major asked him what they were dealing with, Rhodes decided to make a call. While Tony was flying, a shrill ringtone sounded inside his helmet. He accepted the call, asking who it was as he couldn't hear due to the noise. JARVIS put Rhodes' credentials on the screen as the Colonel told him that a weapons depot had been blown up a few clicks away from where he had been held captive. Tony said someone did his job for him. As Rhodes asked him about the noise and his out of breath voice, he said he had been driving to the Grand Canyon where he was now going to jog.

"Jogging in the Grand Canyon?" Peter asked innocently.

"Yeah that's believable." Bruce said.

"And I thought Steve was a bad liar." Natasha muttered.

"There was a lot of noise there." Tony said.

"I know." Rhodes agreed.

Rhodes asked him if he had any tech there, to which Tony replied in the negative. As the bogey was spotted, Rhodes told him they were about to blow it up. Tony cut the call as two planes flew after him. He flew off at supersonic speed.

"Whoa!" Peter said, "Supersonic?!"

"Yup." Tony said.

"I'm beginning to think your father was wrong about the Iron Man Suit." Scott told Hope who simply nodded.

One of the planes fired a missile at him but he deployed flares and they made the missile explode behind him. He started falling before the Suit picked itself back up. One plane fired bullets at him and he avoided, though they scraped the metal of the Suit. He deployed flaps and two planes shot past him, shocking the pilots. Rhodes got a call from Tony and accepting it, berated him for sending civilian equipment into his war zone, to which Tony replied it was a suit with him inside it.

"And cat's out of the bag." Sam said.

"Just in the nick of time." Rhodes agreed.

The pilot of one of the planes spotted Tony on the underside of the other one and called out that it looked like a man. The pilot twisted his joystick and the plane rolled through the air. Tony lost the hold and crashed into the wing of Whiplash One, breaking it off.

"Uh-oh." Aunt May said.

"You okay?" Pepper asked.

"Yup." Tony sighed.

The military men stared in horror as the plane spun out of control. The pilot pulled the yellow handle and shot out of the plane just before it exploded. Still bolted to his chair, he fell through the sky, unable to open his chute which was jammed. Tony suddenly flew down. Major Allen commanded the other pilot to fire in spite of Rhodes' protests. Tony reached the falling pilot and punched the compartment open, with the chute coming out. He flew off as the pilot landed safely to the relief of the military men. Tony thanked Rhodes on the phone who gasped with a laugh. Rhodes asked what excuse he should give to the press, to which Tony replied training exercise.

"Nobody buys that anymore." Rhodes said.

"They did back then." Tony said.

"I'm beginning to think my father was a bit wrong about Tony too." Hope sighed. [3]

Sometime later, Rhodes lied to the press with the training exercise excuse as Obadiah watched the thing on TV.

"He definitely didn't buy it." Pepper said.

"Because he is smart." Steve said.

In the workshop, Pepper made her way down to the stairs and gaped at seeing the broken glass panels. She looked up to see a bot removing Tony's suit painfully piece by piece. She asked what was going on and he turned to see her. He tried to diffuse the situation but she was horrified on looking at the suit and asked, "Are those bullet holes?"

"Busted." Hope said as everyone chuckled slightly.

"I can relate." Peter said as him and Aunt May exchanged a knowing smirk.

"This is not going to be pleasant." T'Challa said.

"Right you are, Your Highness." Tony told him.

"Yup." Pepper agreed.

"The Suit had to be removed piece by piece?" Aunt May asked in surprise.

"Not anymore." Tony said.

"It got really cool and advanced later." Professor Hulk said, once again thinking of the Bleeding Edge Armor.

"Let us see what happens next." Steve said.

"It is about to get very interesting, bub." Logan told him as they continued watching.

Chapter Text

"Now we're onto some very interesting stuff." Benjamin said as everyone watched on.

It was night time in Afghanistan. A row of black SUVs rolled up near the new camp of the Ten Rings and Obadiah walked out as Raza approached him.

"Now this is something I needed to see!" Tony said.

"Me too." Pepper agreed.

"The villains making their deals." Steve said.

Raza said the scars were compliments of Tony Stark.

"Best compliments people like you will get from me." Tony said.

Obadiah mocked him for his incompetence with a smile, saying he should have killed Stark like told, to which Raza replied that he wouldn't kill a prince for just some trinkets. At Obadiah's request, Raza decided to show him the suit as he left his guards outside. The guards looked like they would come to blows.

"Well, they look friendly." Peter joked.

Obadiah and Raza walked into the tent and saw the reconstituted Mark I Armor. Obadiah started examining it as Raza said this was a crude first effort and Stark had perfected his design.

"Upgraded. Still not perfected." Tony said.

Raza said a man with dozens of those armors could rule all of Asia while Stane could get Stark's throne. Raza decided they were still in business due to their common enemy. Pouring a drink into his cup, he raised it and said that he would give Obadiah the designs as a gift and in return, get a gift of iron soldiers.

"He doesn't look like he is interested." Sam said.

"My throne, that's a laugh." Stark said.

"Stark Industries knows no king but the King in the North whose name is Stark." Scott joked and everyone laughed.

"You really have a thing for shows that have gone downhill." Hope commented.

"You have no ground to stand on. You defend the series finale of Lost." Scott said and she had a look of mock offense on her face. [1]

"Hey!" She said, "At least the characters had emotional payoffs!"

"Nothing was explained." Scott said, "At least Sansa and Arya got great endings and Ghost got petted."

"Still, D&D ruined it." Stark said, "And the series finale of Lost is horrible too."

"Couldn't agree more." Pepper said too.

"Haven't seen that show yet." Peter said.

"I will let you watch when you're 18." Aunt May told him.

"I don't think you should." Natasha said.

"Yeah, it is just a waste of a show at this point due to the last two seasons." Rhodes said too.

"You actually remind me of it, Point Break." Tony told Thor, "You too Reindeer Games. You even had fights for your thrones so you can relate."

"I can relate too." T'Challa said.

"I guess so." Thor said.

"Let's not discuss the fights for the throne." Loki said.

"I agree." Odinson said.

"Let's focus, guys." Benjamin said.

Obadiah put his hand on Raza's shoulder and pressed a small object that shone a bright light on Raza's face, exposing his nerves and paralyzing him as Obadiah said this was his only gift and that technology was their Achilles Heel in this part of the world. Walking off, Obadiah said it would last for 15 minutes. Walking out of the tent, Obadiah told his men to crate the armor. His guards had the terrorists on their knees and on Stane's order, shot them down. Stane then sat on the backseat of his car and ordered that he wanted the top engineers to make a prototype.

"Evil always sells out evil!" Logan said.

"Yes." Xavier agreed.

"No sympathy for Raza though." Clint said.

"Agreed." Bucky said too.

"Now Stane will get his." Fury said.

"Let's see." Hill said.

"He wants a prototype of the first suit now." Thor said.

"The suit still looks good all things considered." Bruce said.

"It sure does." Tony said.

"Totally agreed." Professor Hulk said too.

Pepper walked into the lab to see Tony working on the Mark III Suit and handing her a drive, he asked her to hack into the mainframe in the office and retrieve all the shipping manifests, giving her all the instructions. Pepper asked what he was going to do, to which he replied he would destroy his weapons. Pepper said she would help him with anything, but she couldn't do it if he was going to start all of it again.

"Why wouldn't you help him?" Aunt May asked.

"Because the last time he had gotten mixed up with the Ten Rings, he was missing for three months." Pepper pointed out and everyone nodded, realizing Pepper cared about Tony too much.

Tony held her hand and she squeezed back.

Tony told her there was nothing except this now. Only the next mission. Pepper then said that she quit and throwing away the drive, started walking off. "You stood by my side all those years while I reaped the benefits of destruction," said Tony, making her stop and turn around in the doorway, "And now that I'm trying to protect the people that I put in harm's way, you're going to walk out?" Pepper said he was going to kill himself and she wasn't going to be a part of that. Tony said he shouldn't be alive unless there was a reason. Looking at her with conviction, he said, "I just finally know what I have to do. And I know in my heart that it's right." Pepper gave a long sigh and finally picked up the drive. "You're all I have too, you know." She said before walking off.

Steve seemed to realize why Tony and Pepper had taken a break during the fiasco with the Sokovia Accords and Bucky.

Everyone realized that Pepper was as alone in this world as Tony.

Scott started, "That was…."

"Intense?" Sam asked and he nodded.

"Things are about to get very interesting." Tony said.

"Right you are, bub." Logan said.

Pepper blew out her breath, "Here goes."

Pepper walked towards Tony's office, seeing all the assistant offices empty. She walked inside and shut the door before sitting down in front of the computer and pulling out the drive which she plugged into the USB Port. After access was granted to her, she was brought to a ghost drive. She clicked some files, seeing shipping transactions before seeing a file with a number of images of the Mark I with "Sector 16" on top of them.

"The Suit he was working on." Steve said and Tony nodded.

She then saw a video and clicked on it. It saw Tony slumped in a chair as the Ten Rings terrorists surrounded him with guns pointed at him and one of them read the ransom note.

"That's the video they shot at the beginning." Peter said and everyone nodded.

That was when Pepper was startled by a voice and looked up to see Obadiah standing there.

"Shit!" Sam said.

"He had to show up at this time!" Rhodes said in panic.

"Why does the universe have to make everything difficult?" Hope said.

"Because the universe hates us." Scott sighed.

"There is some truth to that." Benjamin said.

Tony himself looked distressed. More distressed than even Pepper. The two held each other's hands tightly.

Obadiah poured himself a drink and walking towards her, said how Tony always got the good stuff. Pepper just smiled and nodded and when Obadiah looked up, she hid the drive with a paper.

"Way to make it obvious." Fury said.

Obadiah poured himself a second glass and came around the desk just as Pepper copied the last of the files and clicked on "Screen Saver."

"Holy shit!" Bruce said.

"I share your sentiments." Professor Hulk said too.

"Phew!" Peter sighed in relief.

"It was close." Hill said.

"Too close." Natasha agreed.

"You cut it real close, Pepper." Clint said.

"You okay?" Tony asked her.

"I'm still here, remember?" Pepper said with a smile which he returned.

"Isn't Obadiah invading your personal space?" Hope noted to Pepper.

Obadiah said how Tony had left a part of himself in the cave and Pepper said he was a complicated person.

"Sure is." Wanda said.

Pepper said he would be all right and Stane told her she was a rare woman and Tony was very lucky.

"Now he has to flirt?" Aunt May said incredulously.

Peter was tense himself as he watched the tense moment.

Pepper unplugged the drive and started walking out, only for Obadiah to ask for the paper, which she handed to him. He looked at them as she walked off and looked at the drive.

"Couldn't you have waited to look at it until you were out of sight?!" Natasha asked in horror as she watched the scene.

"She is an assistant, not a SHIELD Agent." Clint told her.

"Good point." She conceded.

"She did make it." Vision pointed out.

"I made it!" Pepper said.

"Which is a great thing." Tony said.

As soon as Pepper was out of sight, Obadiah opened the computer to see the words "Download Complete." He ran his hand over his head and practically leapt to his feet.

"Uh-oh." Sam said.

Pepper made her way down the stairs when Phil Coulson called out to her. He asked her if she had forgotten about their appointment, to which she replied he needed to come with her right now. Coulson found himself nearly running to keep up with her as she told him she was going to give him the meeting of his life as Obadiah watched from above.

Thor growled at him, "You lay one finger on her and I will lighten you up."

"Too late for that, aren't you?" Loki asked with a smirk.

"Nice to see myself all enthusiastic again." Odinson commented to Thor.

"Thor, I am here." Pepper pointed out.

"Thank God for Coulson." Steve said.

"Indeed." Fury agreed.

"I have a bad feeling about this." Scott said.

"You're not wrong." Tony told him.

Obadiah strode into Sector 16 as all but one of the assistants fled. He told Stane that there was a hiccup- the technology to power the Suit didn't exist.

"It does." Tony said.

Stane's hand went around the assistant's shoulders and he invaded his personal space, saying the technology was here and he only needed to make it smaller.

"I can do that." Scott joked and everyone laughed.

The assistant said they were trying to do that and Obadiah thundered at him as he poked at his chest, "TONY STARK WAS ABLE TO BUILD THIS IN A CAVE! WITH A BOX OF SCRAPS!"

"Damn right!" Fury said.

"Well, he is pissed." Rhodes said.

The assistant, whose name was William, apologized, "Well, I'm sorry, but I'm not Tony Stark."

"I'm the best." Tony said with spread hands and no one felt like calling him out on it.

Tony walked into his lounge and accepted a call from Pepper when a familiar buzzing sound immobilized him. Stane took the phone and hung up, easing Tony onto the couch and showing him the device that he had used to paralyze Raza.

"Great." Sam groaned.

"That thing again." Peter said.

"The universe doesn't make things easy." Xavier said.

Wanda actually felt worried for Tony. If someone had told her just a day ago that she would be worried for Tony, she would have laughed at that person's face as she rightfully held a grudge against him for the house arrest. But she could see he was a complex individual who was good at his core.

"You okay?" Pepper asked Tony.

"I am here, remember?" Tony said this time as the two smiled at each other.

Obadiah boasted about the hit he had put on Tony and putting a device on his chest, pulled the Arc Reactor out. He asked Tony if he really thought an idea belonged to him just because he had it.

"I think it does belong to him." Vision said.

"Agreed." Wanda said too.

Obadiah said how Howard had helped give the world the atomic bomb and the world wouldn't be this good if he had been as selfish as his son. He yanked the cable up, the magnet dangling at its end.

"NO!" Pepper cried out as Tony squeezed her hand.

"I'm here!" He whispered to her.

"The magnet!" Scott said.

"The shrapnel!" Bruce said.

"Oh my God! Oh my God!" Peter was repeating to himself.

Steve was watching the scene with wide eyes, worried for Tony.

Obadiah said this was Tony's legacy- a new generation of weapons with the Arc Reactor at its heart. Tony choked and gasped as some blood leaked out of his ear and Obadiah said the weapons would put the balance of power in his hands which were the right ones.

"Do you even hear yourself?" Rhodes said.

"He is insane!" Sam said.

"All villains are heroes of their own story." Peter said.

"He believes he is doing this for the greater good of humanity." Natasha said.

"But he just wants more money and more power." Clint finished.

"He is too self-righteous to see that." Aunt May said.

"Right you are." Fury agreed.

He smiled smugly, wishing Tony could see his prototype as he put the Arc Reactor in a black suitcase and said it was a shame Tony had involved Pepper, as he would have preferred if she lived. Tony's eyes slid over to him, the fury and distress visible in spite of the paralysis as Obadiah walked off.

Steve growled, "Don't you dare…."

"Just when I thought he couldn't sink any lower." Hill said.

Thor growled, his growl like the low rumble of far away lightning, "Coward!"

"Even I wouldn't do that." Loki said.

"I wouldn't spare anyone who said something like that to me." Clint snarked.

"Me neither." Scott said.

"How are you going to survive this one?" Wanda asked.

"You will see." Tony told her.

"This is getting more and more intense." Hope said.

"Yup." Professor Hulk agreed.

Rhodes was driving his car when Pepper told him everything over the phone in distress and he agreed to check on Tony.

"Quick!" Aunt May said.

"Not fast enough." Rhodes sighed.

"Then how?" Bruce asked.

"Just watch." Tony said.

Pepper, Coulson and some other agents drove away to arrest Obadiah as Rhodes swerved and drove off towards Tony's house. Tony managed to fling himself into the elevator and reached up, crawling out.

"WHAT THE HELL?!" Scott bellowed.

"I don't believe it." Hope said, impressed by Tony's willpower.

"Son of a gun." Steve muttered.

"Where are you even going?" Fury muttered.

Tony managed to push open the door of his garage and crawled towards the desk where the old Arc Reactor was put as a gift from Pepper.

"You're an Angel, good woman." Aunt May told Pepper, who was gripping Tony's hand so tightly both of their knuckles were white.

"So this is how you did it." Hill said and Tony nodded.

Tony pulled himself up on a plastic bin and stretched up his arm, before falling back down on the floor.

"Oh no!" Bucky of all people muttered.

That was when a peculiar whine was heard and a robotic arm came down with the Arc Reactor in its claw. It was Dum-E. Tony reached up for the case, looking at Dum-E which gave a concerned click. "Good boy." Tony said to it and shattered the case against the floor.

"Good boy." Tony said.

"The best boy." Pepper said.

"Dum-E!" Vision cried.

"I knew it was good for something." Bruce said.

"And that something was this." Professor Hulk said.

"Phew!" Peter sighed in relief.

"I think you have nine lives, Mr. Stark." Benjamin told him.

"A very good observation, Mr. Parker." T'Challa agreed.

Obadiah stood in front of the Iron Monger suit, Arc Reactor in hand. With a smirk, he put the Arc Reactor on its center.

"That looks like a lot of suit." Scott said.

"It is a lot of suit." Tony said.

Rhodes burst into Tony's lounge, calling out for him. He found Tony in his workshop, doubled over the shattered glass. He ran up to him and turned him around, revealing that the Arc Reactor was inside him now. He inquired about Tony's well being. Tony simply inquired about Pepper and Rhodes said that her and five other agents were about to arrest Obadiah. Tony said that it was not going to be enough as he got up.

"He's fine. He's asking about Pepper." Natasha said and the two blushed.

"Yup." Rhodes said.

"This is not going to be pretty." Sam said.

Pepper, Coulson and the other agents arrived outside the Stark Industries Factory and she led them inside, around the Arc Reactor, until they found Section 16. She tried to use her keycard to open the door but it didn't budge so an agent handed Coulson a device which he placed on the lock. They all took a few steps back with Pepper covering her ears as it exploded. Inside, Obadiah heard the explosion and rushed towards his suit.

"This is not going to end well for the agents." Hill sighed.

"If only they knew that crazy town was back and was about to get even crazier." Fury said.

"It didn't really pick the lock." Pepper said with dry humor.

"Nah. This was even better." Tony said.

Tony put on his Suit in his workshop in front of an awed Rhodey who said it was the coolest thing ever. Tony aimed a ray at the car he had crushed after falling from his first flight and sent it flying away from him.

"It works." Bruce said happily.

Tony's mask went down as he told Rhodes to keep the skies clear and flew off through the holes in the ceiling into the night sky. Rhodes stared after him in awe and looked at the unpainted but still impressive-looking Mark II Armor. "Next time, baby!" He said as he sat in one of Tony's cars and sped away.

"Next time!" Rhodes said as him and Tony high-fived.

Phil Coulson entered Sector 16 with Pepper and the other agents behind. The agents had their guns out. They came across the reconstituted Mark I Armor. Pepper thought it would have been bigger.

"A lot bigger." Pepper said.

Pepper heard a buzzing noise from behind her and looked to see two disconnected cables that were still buzzing.

Peter started, "How big-"

"Enormous. You will see it soon." Tony said.

The agents split up. Coulson and another agent went together while the other three found some upgrades to the Mark I Armor. Pepper heard a slight noise behind her but couldn't see much due to the darkness so she stepped further to look closely, only for two eyes to shine in the darkness.

"Oh shit!" Scott said.

"And it's on." Hope said.

"You should have stayed with the agents, Miss Potts." T'Challa said in distress.

Something colossal stood up and looked down on Pepper as she ran off in fright, alerting Coulson and the agents. They tried to fire but the Iron Monger suit knocked them all out and tried to grab Pepper, barely missing her.

Steve snarled, "Don't you dare!"

Tony flew through the sky, with JARVIS telling him the Suit was at forty eight percent power and falling as the Chest Piece wasn't designed for sustained flight. As Pepper ran out of the Stark Industries Factory, Tony called out to her on her cell phone. After inquiring about his well being, she tried to tell him about Stane, to which he replied he already knew. He asked Pepper to get out of the place. The pavement behind Pepper suddenly moved and cracked until it broke as the Iron Monger rose and towered over her.

"GET THE HELL AWAY FROM HER!" Bucky of all people bellowed, making Tony and Pepper look at him in surprise, with Steve and Natasha nodding at him in pride.

"I hope he is burning in Hel for all his crimes." Thor snarled.

Obadiah taunted Pepper as she backed off in fear with a scream. "Your services are no longer required!" He said coldly and a barrel of enormous rounds on his arm began to spin.

"NO!" Wanda cried out.

"STANE!" The two looked up as the Iron Man Mark III Armor sailed directly into the Iron Monger, knocking it backwards out of the Stark Industries grounds onto the busy roads outside.

"YES!" Peter, Thor and Bruce cheered happily.

"About damn time." Fury said.

"Thank God." Steve sighed.

Tony sailed into the side of a truck as Obadiah landed in the middle of an intersection. Cars swerved to avoid him but he grabbed a car and threw it over his shoulder. One minivan with a woman and her children halted right in front of Obadiah and he lifted them up, making them scream in terror. Tony demanded him to put them down but he coldly refused.

"Son of a bitch!" Scott snarled.

"What did they ever do to you?" Clint snarled, reminded of Laura and his children.

"Nothing. He is just an asshole." Logan snarled with rage.

"And a coward!" Steve spat.

"And a greedy warmonger." Natasha said.

"More like Iron Monger." Peter said.

Tony told JARVIS to divert chest power to RT and soon, a beam was fired out of the Arc Reactor, sending Stane flying back as the car fell but Tony caught it and fell to one knee while the power dropped to nineteen percent. The woman slammed on the gas pedal and the minivan came down with a thud, running into Tony who slid to the ground and lifted the back wheels over him to avoid getting crushed before letting it go and rolling away. The minivan safely sped away.

"That wasn't fun." Sam said.

"Not fun at all." Tony sighed.

As Tony got up, Obadiah leapt near him and grabbed a motorcycle, sending the rider tumbling down, before slamming it into Tony, sending him flying off. A nearby bus had stopped and passengers were running out. Obadiah slammed Tony into that bus and lifted him up before throwing him down again and slamming him with his foot, saying how he had lifted him up for 30 years and had built the company from nothing.

"No you haven't." Tony said.

"You and Howard Stark built it from nothing!" Fury corrected him coldly.

He hurled Tony into the now empty bus through the side, saying how nothing was going to stand in his way now, least of all Stark. A large projectile opened on his shoulder and he fired it into the now ruined bus. The resulting explosion sent Tony flying into the air and he came down just as his flight repulsors started working, helping him hover upright for a moment.

"Phew!" Pepper sighed in relief.

"That was close!" Rhodes said.

"It is about to get worse." Tony said.

Obadiah was impressed by the upgrades and said he had some of his own. The Iron Monger suit lifted itself off the ground and ascended into the air. JARVIS noted the Suit could fly.

"You're stating the obvious now." Wanda told him.

"I was designed that way." Vision said.

Tony wanted to fly up to maximum altitude in spite of only fifteen percent power and JARVIS obeyed as he soared into the clouds, Iron Monger following. Pepper watched worriedly from the ground. In the military surveillance area, the privates noted the return of the thing from Gulmira and were about to get Major Allen when Rhodey stopped them, saying it was just a training exercise, to which the young man agreed hesitantly.

"Now the military is interfering again." Hope sighed.

"Just like always." Pepper said.

"Good ol' Rhodey." Tony said with a smirk.

"I have my moments." Rhodes said with his own smirk.

Tony soared into the sky, noting the decrease in power as Obadiah flew after him.

"There is ice on him." T'Challa noted and everyone nodded, realizing Tony's plan.

Obadiah grabbed Tony and gloated that while his idea was great, the Iron Monger suit was more advanced in every way. Tony inquired about the icing problem, confusing Obadiah as the lights in the helmet flickered and then went out. Tony hit the helmet, sending Obadiah down as his own Suit went out of power but managed to run on emergency backup power.

"YES!" Peter cheered.

"That's the end of him." Bruce said.

"Hope he burns in Hel." Thor said.

"Actually, it's not." Tony revealed to their shock.

"What do you mean?" Scott asked, "It looks pretty final."

"Just watch." Pepper said.

Tony fell on top of the factory on his knees and called out to Pepper who asked if he was okay. Tony said he was almost out of power as he ripped out a glove and his helmet. That moment, he heard a clanking thud behind him and turned around to see Iron Monger looming over him. Obadiah taunted his efforts and tried to punch. Tony ducked but when he tried to fire, he realized he had ripped off that glove and received a punch to the face that sent him flying off.

"What did I tell ya?!" Tony said.

"Is there any end to him?" Scott asked angrily.

"I can't stand him for one more minute!" Hope said as he reminded her too much of Darren Cross.

"Don't worry. You only have to stand him for about five." Pepper said.

"I can live with that." Hope said.

Tony recovered and leaping up, punched Obadiah on the helmet but got caught in a bear hug. JARVIS told him repulsors and missiles were offline so he deployed flares, temporarily blinding Obadiah who let him go.

"It worked." Rhodes said.

"Kinda." Tony agreed.

As Obadiah recovered, Tony peered at him from a corner and called out to Pepper, telling her to overload the Reactor and blast the roof. Pepper asked him how to do that and he explained how to. Pepper agreed and went in as Tony told her to wait until he was clear of the roof and he would buy her some time. Tony ducked out of the way as Obadiah arrived and Pepper pulled down all the switches.

"Oh boy!" Sam said.

"This is just so intense." Peter said.

"Totally in agreement with you, kid." Scott said.

Tony jumped on Stane's back and JARVIS located a weak point which he ripped out triumphantly, making Obadiah lose the optical connection. Pepper pushed a row of square glowing buttons as Stane grabbed Tony and threw him onto the glass panes in the middle directly above the large Arc Reactor. Pepper twisted a row of dials as the chest pieces of the Iron Monger folded back and the helmet opened up to reveal Obadiah Stane inside.

"There you are, you rascal!" Thor said.

"Come on, Pepper." Aunt May muttered.

Obadiah held out the helmet of the Mark III Armor and said he was deeply enjoying the suit before crumpling it into a twisted lump of metal and throwing it next to Tony. Obadiah gloated that Tony had outdone himself and made his father proud. Pepper pushed the last buttons and opened the cover of a large red one. She asked Tony to get off the roof as Obadiah shot at the glass around Tony. He tried to defend himself but the glass was shattered and he clung to the metal bars as Pepper screamed and raised her hands to protect herself from the glass.

"Were you okay down there?" Tony asked.

"Were you OKAY UP THERE?!" Pepper asked incredulously.

Obadiah fired again, shattering more glass on the unfortunate Pepper who looked up to see Tony dangling and called out to him. Obadiah fired some missiles which missed and exploded behind Tony as he said how Tony had ripped out his targeting system as the man asked Pepper to push the button in spite of him being there. "Just do it!" Tony shouted. "You'll die!" Pepper howled as another explosion caused Tony to lose his hold and he had to hold with his bare hand. "Push it!" He shouted. Pepper punched the button, and raced away from the station as the Reactor came to life and filled the room with charges that could have individually powered a house each. Then it sent a blast of power up to the roof which blasted Tony aside and struck the Iron Monger's smaller Reactor.

"Whoa!" Sam shouted.

"That was awesome!" Peter cheered and saw everyone looking at him incredulously, "And very dangerous!"

"Nice save." Benjamin said as everyone laughed.

Obadiah gave a cry as the resulting shock sent a bolt of electricity into the sky, causing a streak of lightning and a clap of thunder. He was dead before the Suit even began to fall, clanking its way down through the factory into the great Arc Reactor. There was a burst of flame that nearly caught Tony as he rolled away from the hole in the roof. Then, slowly, the air cleared. Tony lay unmoving, the Arc Reactor flickering feebly. "Tony!" came the voice of Pepper. The Arc Reactor went out, and the screen went dark.

"That will do it." Sam said.

"You killed him with lightning. I like that." Thor smirked.

"Of course you do." Loki said dryly.

"I still do." Odinson told him and he sighed.

"What about the two of you?" Steve asked Tony and Pepper.

"Let's watch." Tony said.

"Yeah, let's." Pepper agreed.

"You two have very stressful lives." Rhodes told them, "And that in turn, makes my life very stressful."

"That was a good observation, Colonel." Vision noted.

"Now we will see the fallout of this, won't we Mr. Parker?" T'Challa asked and Benjamin nodded.

The next day, on a TV screen, a press conference was being streamed live. Rhodes stood at the podium, telling the official cover story. Tony sat on his couch, reading "The Chronicle" and being attended to by Pepper as the headline ran, "Who is the Iron Man?" There was a picture of the Mark III Armor which someone had managed to take.

"Now we know where the name came from." Thor said.

"It was a cool name." Peter said.

"That is a good picture." Natasha said.

"Wonder who took it." Clint said.

Tony commented how the "Iron Man" name was catchy with a nice ring to it but said it wasn't accurate as the suit was a titanium-gold alloy while Pepper pulled a bandage off his nose. He agreed that it was evocative at least. Phil Coulson handed him some blue cards and said they were his alibi.

"There is Coulson!" Steve said.

"Ready to save the day." Tony said.

"I think we all know how the alibi turned out." Xavier said with a smile as everyone chuckled.

Tony argued a bit about the alibi but Coulson said, "This isn't my first rodeo, Mr. Stark. Just stick to the official statement and soon this will all be behind you."

"I still remember that first rodeo." Fury muttered to himself.

Pepper thanked Coulson for all his help and he said that's what they did and that the two would hear from him. Pepper was about to pronounce the entire name of the organization when Coulson told her to call them SHIELD and walked away. Pepper helped Tony dress up as he commented the alibi was good enough. Tony said if he was Iron Man, he would have a girlfriend who knew his secret identity and would worry over him but would be proud of the man he had become.

"Awww." Natasha said.

"I think I'm kind of like that." Peter said, "Only except girlfriend, it's my aunt."

"Right you are, Peter." Aunt May said with a proud smile.

Tony reminded Pepper of the night they had and she reminded him that he had left her, making him deflate.

"Crap!" Rhodes said.

"And I thought we were having a moment." Tony said as Pepper smirked.

"Will that be all, Mr. Stark?" Pepper asked. "That will be all, Ms. Potts." Tony said at the same moment, and he left in rather a hurry.

"Snap!" Scott said.

Rhodes told the reporters Stark had prepared a statement and stood aside as Tony arrived and said he would just stick to the cards this time and the press chuckled.

"So much for that." Natasha rolled her eyes.

"Should have done that." Fury said as Stark looked over at him, "Would have saved everyone a headache."

Everyone laughed.

Tony talked about the speculation of his involvement in the freeway and on the rooftop when Christine Everhart interrupted him and asked if he expected them to believe the story of a bodyguard in a suit that conveniently appeared.

"And Christine is back with a vengeance." Scott sighed.

"I knew the excuse wouldn't work." Tony said.

Tony said it was one thing to question the official story and another to insinuate that he was a superhero, to which she replied that she didn't. Tony started backtracking when Rhodes told him to stick to the cards and he agreed.

"Here it comes!" Natasha said.

"Watch out!" Clint said.

"Truth is. . ." Tony looked up and his face went completely blank.

Everyone held their breaths in anticipation.

"I am Iron Man."

"Ta-da!" Aunt May said.

Loki started laughing merrily as everyone else except Clint and Fury clapped at Tony who almost felt like getting up and bowing down to acknowledge their respect for him.

Instantly the press conference room was in uproar and every reporter sprang to his or her feet - all except, of course, for Christine Everhart. Tony almost smiled for a moment, and then the screen went dark.

"She's not even standing." Scott said.

"To be honest, she doesn't have any obligation to." Hope pointed out.

"That's the end of it!" Tony said.

"Not quite." Benjamin said.

"Really?" Tony asked, "What's left?"

"Just watch." Professor Hulk said as the screen lit up again.

Tony entered his lounge as he called out to JARVIS who responded in a distorted voice.

"What's wrong with you?" Wanda asked.

"Just watch." Vision said.

"So we're watching this." Tony said as him and Fury exchanged a knowing look and everyone realized something was up.

Tony walked forward a step or two, and halted. Behind the couch, in the shadows of the room, stood a tall figure wrapped in something dark. "I am Iron Man." said the familiar voice, "You think you're the only superhero in the world?"

"Not for long." Tony said as him and Bruce exchanged a look.

"Oh!" Clint said.

"It's Fury!" Hill said cheerfully.

"About damn time." Fury said.

The shadowed form of the stranger turned to the large window. "Mr. Stark, you've become part of a bigger universe. You just don't know it yet." He said. "Who the hell are you?" Tony asked. The stranger came forward into the lamplight, which gleamed on a long black trench coat and a black eye patch. "Nick Fury, Director of SHIELD." He said.

"That's an awesome entrance!" Hill cheered as everyone smiled at what they were witnessing.

Nick Fury then said, "I'm here to talk to you about the Avenger Initiative." The screen went black.

"All right!" Sam cheered.

"So that's when it began." Steve noted.

"Yup." Fury said.

"And I didn't qualify originally." Tony said.

"You did later." Natasha told him.

"Now that's the end of this recording." Benjamin told them.

"How many more are there?" Pepper asked.

"21." He said to their shock.

"21?" Clint asked, "How're we going to view them all?"

"We did tell you we will drop you off to the exact time from where we picked you up." Professor Hulk reminded and they all relaxed, "You all must be hungry."

Everyone realized they were.

"Well, the dining room is nearby. Follow me." Benjamin said as he, Odinson, Professor Hulk and Logan got up while Xavier moved his wheelchair and the others moved to follow them.

Chapter Text

Everyone sat in the dining hall as some workers brought food for them. The people from the past noticed five more individuals sitting around the table. A blind man, a blonde good looking woman, a dark-skinned woman with white hair, a tall red-haired woman, and another tall man with some special kind of glasses.

One of them, the blonde good looking woman that is, was of course recognized due to her popularity in the past.

"Trish Walker?" Tony questioned as Trish looked at him and nodded.

"Mr. Stark." She said.

"Trish Walker?" Peter asked excitedly, "As in the one from "Trish Talk?""

"Yes, I am that Trish Walker." Trish said as they all started eating.

"Trish got superpowers." Benjamin said, "So now she is a member of the Avengers."

"But how?" Pepper asked, "A few months ago from our time, we heard you were arrested."

Trish winced at the reminder of her imprisonment and the actions that had led to that.

"We would like to not bring that up." The man next to her, whom everyone noticed was blind, spoke up.

"Who are you?" Steve asked.

"My name is Matthew Murdock. But everyone calls me Matt." The man said.

"Matthew Murdock?" Tony wondered before recognizing him, "You're the lawyer that defended the Punisher!"

"Ah, so you remember me." Matt said as he took a bite of his bread.

"What is a lawyer doing in the Avengers tower?" Bruce asked as he ate his salad.

"Well, you see, all the superheroes are my clients these days." Matt said, "Me and my partner, Franklin Nelson. You might remember him from the news. The Avengers. The X-Men. The Fantastic Four. I represent all of them legally."

"Wow!" An impressed Scott said, "What is it about you?"

"He is Daredevil." Fury said and everyone looked between him and Matt in shock.

"Wait what?" Tony asked in shock, summing up everyone's thoughts, "How can you be Daredevil when you're blind?"

"I had an accident when I was a kid." Matt said, "I pushed an old man out of the way of a truck but the radioactive elements inside it hit my face, making me blind. But they managed to enhance my other senses to a superhuman level. I can hear, smell, taste and feel better. They help me form a picture of the world around me."

"Wow!" An awed Peter said, "I have heard so much about your awesomeness as Daredevil. It is an honor to meet you."

"Thank you." Matt said with a flattered smile.

"And how do you know that he is Daredevil?" Sam asked Fury.

"I used to be Director of SHIELD." Fury simply said, and it did explain a lot.

That was when Logan walked inside. He had departed the group to smoke for a bit. The dark-skinned woman got up and walked up to him.

The two shared a quick kiss.

"How's it going honey?" She asked Logan.

"Pretty well so far." Logan said.

"Who are you?" Clint asked politely.

"My name is Ororo Munroe." The woman said.

"She is a member of the X-Men." Charles said.

"What are these X-Men exactly?" Natasha asked.

"We are mutants." The man with the special glasses said, "We have a special X-Gene in our body that causes mutation."

"It normally manifests during puberty." The red-haired woman said.

"As if puberty wasn't hard enough already." Hope muttered, making Scott snicker.

"So a superhero team of mutants." Hill said, "That's interesting."

"Oh, by the way, I am Scott Summers." The man with the special glasses said.

"I am Jean Grey." The red-haired woman said.

"So what is it exactly you want us to do?" Tony asked them, "Why did you bring us here?"

"To be honest, we're against the idea." Summers said as he gestured to himself and Jean.

"Why's that?" Steve asked.

"Because it messes with the natural laws." Jean said, "We're basically playing God."

Charles tried to say, "Jean-"

"Professor, this is not right." Jean said, "What if we make things even worse?"

"We have to try, Jean." Logan told her.

"If we do this, we're no different from Kang." Summers said.

"We won't be doing this if Kang didn't make a mess in the first place." Ororo said.

"Sometimes, to do things right, you got to get your hands dirty, bub." Logan told Summers who sighed.

"I am sorry, who's Kang?" Tony asked.

"Kang the Conqueror." Benjamin said, "A time traveler from the future who is making a mess of the timeline along with several other supervillains."

"What's his story?" Bucky asked.

"He is from the 31st century." Professor Hulk said, "He was fascinated by time travel technology so he used it to travel to Ancient Egypt where he turned himself into the Pharaoh Rama-Tut. He wanted to claim an ancient mutant as his heir."

"But the Fantastic Four got time displaced and found out about it so they defeated him and sent him off to his own timeline." Charles said.

"That embittered him." Summers told everyone, "So he travelled to the present."

"And met Doctor Victor Von Doom." Jean said.

"Who is that?" Rhodes asked.

"The ruler of Latveria." Ororo said.

"He will become ruler of Latveria three years from your time." Odinson said.

"I think I have heard about him somewhere." Tony said.

"You would have." Matt said, "Remember something in the news about a student from the Empire State University who got expelled after trying to create some kind of machine that exploded, damaging his face and part of the university?"

"Ah right." Pepper said as her and Tony both remembered.

"So that man is going to become the ruler of Latveria." Vision noted.

"And what is wrong with that?" Wanda asked.

"You've met Reed Richards right?" Benjamin asked and they nodded, "He was Victor's roommate."

Everyone's eyes widened in shock on hearing that.

"Victor despised him right from the start because of his own arrogant personality." Trish said, "He tried to warn him about the dangers of his machine, but Victor didn't listen."

"And yet, he blamed Reed for his accident, like a hypocrite." Matt said, "So now he terrorizes the Fantastic Four, and by association, the Avengers and X-Men."

"That's just- wow!" Hill said.

"Even I don't know what to say about that." Fury said.

"But the people of Latveria love him." Benjamin said, "Because he is benevolent to them."

"So this person is a good ruler, but a bad person overall." T'Challa noted.

"Back to the story, Doom and Kang together tried to beat us, but we beat them and sent Kang to his own timeline." Summers said.

"Unfortunately, he was sent thousands of years into the future from his own time." Jean said.

"During that time-period, the Earth was war-torn and the people used advanced weapons they knew nothing about." Logan said.

"Kang found it easy to conquer them." Ororo said.

"But because the future world was dying, he keeps coming back to try and conquer this world." Benjamin said.

"Oh God!" Aunt May said.

"Looks like the people at Earth are trying to gain more power." Thor simply said.

"And trying to use it in ambitious ways too." Loki noted, "Looks like I was wrong about humans."

"And what does that have to do with us?" Steve asked.

"Let's just say, because of you all not trusting each other, the future became a dark place." Benjamin said.

"And we feel the catastrophe could be prevented if things were different." Charles told them.

"That could have been done if you all had just signed!" Tony said as he turned to Steve.

Steve started, "Tony-"

"Cap, I told you it was the only way to keep the Avengers together." Tony said desperately.

"It wasn't." Matt said as everyone turned to him, "I'm a lawyer, so trust me when I tell you, the Accords are a flawed document that violate basic human rights of people just because they've superpowers."

"I've just noticed." Bruce said, "What's going on here? You seem to be pissed at Cap and the others, Tony."

"Yes. What is it my friends?" Thor asked.

"Almost an year after you left, Thor", Steve started, "There was a mission in Lagos. But a bomb went off unfortunately and people lost their lives."

Wanda looked down, feeling shame as Vision put a hand on her shoulder to offer comfort.

"So the governments of the world decided they should put us all under the oversight of a UN Panel." Tony said.

"The document was called the "Sokovia Accords."" Natasha said.

"We were supposed to sign and act within the boundaries of those Accords." Rhodes said.

"Or they would make us retire." Vision said.

"Unfortunately, a UN meeting in Vienna to ratify the Accords got bombed and everyone thought it was Bucky." Steve said as Bucky sighed.

"But Cap and I found out it wasn't and someone else was behind this, so we assembled a team to try and stop that man as we thought he planned to unleash five other Winter Soldiers upon the world." Sam said.

"That's when I was approached." Scott said excitedly with a smirk, only to see Hope glaring at him.

"But Tony and the ones who had signed were ordered to capture them." T'Challa said, "My father was killed in the bombing so I wanted revenge, which is why I joined too."

"And that's when I was approached. " Peter said excitedly with a smirk, only to see Aunt May glaring at both him and Tony.

"I still can't believe you brought a kid to the fight." Steve said as he shook his head.

"I was desperate at the moment." Tony said, "And I did order him to keep his distance."

"He should never have been brought there in the first place." Sam said, "He's a kid. And even if you thought there wasn't going to be a fight, there was a chance a fight would happen."

"While I accept you and my nephew working together, Mr. Stark, I have still not forgiven you for taking him to Germany without telling me the truth." Aunt May said with a glare.

"To be honest, that was pretty irresponsible of you." Pepper told Tony who sighed.

"So wait, this man made you all fight amongst yourselves? Oh I like this man." Loki said only for Thor to smack him hard on the head, making him yell, "OUCH!"

"Brother, you have redeemed yourself but I do not think this is the time to make jokes." Thor said.

"In the fight, everyone except Steve and Bucky were captured." Natasha said.

"We went to Siberia, where he was." Steve said.

"That's when I found out the truth." Tony said, "And I followed them."

"I followed them too for revenge." T'Challa said.

"And there the man, whose name was Zemo, revealed something to us." Steve said with a sad sigh as Bucky looked away in shame and Natasha put a hand on his shoulder comfortingly.

"What?" Bruce asked.

"That Barnes was responsible for killing my parents and Rogers knew!" Tony snarled angrily.

"What?" Thor asked in shock.

"Because of that, the three of us had a fight and we departed on bad terms." Steve said sadly.

"I heard Zemo confessing and arrested him on the spot, before offering asylum to Captain Rogers and Mr. Barnes in Wakanda. I also helped Mr. Stark out of Siberia." T'Challa said.

"Oh my God!" Bruce said in horror.

"I go away for one year and you all find yourself in petty squabbles." Thor sighed, "I can't believe it."

"Why didn't you tell me, Cap?" Tony asked angrily.

"Because I didn't know it was him." Steve said.

"Bullshit!" Tony exploded.

"I knew it was Hydra." Steve revealed, "Back when Hydra had taken over SHIELD, me and Natasha met an artificial version of Arnim Zola, a Hydra scientist who worked for the Red Skull."

"He said Hydra had caused many deaths in the world and when he said that, he showed us a newspaper clipping of your parents' death." Natasha said.

"So you knew too?" Tony asked angrily.

"Only that it was Hydra." Natasha said.

"I suspected it was Bucky." Steve said, "But until Zemo showed the video, I didn't know for sure it was him."

"Why didn't you say anything?" Tony asked.

"I thought I was protecting you but in truth, I was protecting myself. I made a subconscious decision to not look into the matter at all." Steve said with a guilty sigh, "I'm sorry Tony. I should have shared my suspicions with you a long time ago. You deserved to know."

Tony simply nodded, still bitter but a bit more understanding now.

"But like I have said already, the Accords were a flawed document." Matt said as everyone turned to him, "Mr. Stark, I know you're a good person, but during that time you were consumed by guilt, and because of that, you couldn't see the flaws in them."

"Like what?" Pepper asked.

"People who have signed and have superpowers have to wear a tracking bracelet at all times." Matt said, "It's a violation of their privacy."

"There is a tracker in me." Vision revealed.

"Which you had shut off." Tony said.

"Not everyone can." Vision said.

"And Enhanced are thrown into the Raft with no trial." Matt said as Trish sighed and nodded.

"Back where you're from, I committed a lot of crimes for which I am trying to atone now." Trish said with some shame in her eyes, "But back then, they threw me into the Raft without giving me a trial. I thought I would spend all of my life there. But five years from your time, the Accords were overturned and all the prisoners of the Raft were released and given a fair trial. I ended up getting seven years of jail time after I cut a deal. After my sentence was finished, I was released and since then, I have been trying to use my power for good."

"We were thrown into the Raft without a trial." Sam noted.

"I was trying to get the Accords amended." Tony said in his defense.

"How exactly would you do that, Mr. Stark?" Matt asked, "Withhold your latest technology phone from the countries that refuse to amend the Accords? Because you do not have any power to amend them."

Tony sighed, realizing the ridiculousness of his own idea.

"The Accords were a flawed document but at the time, people supported them because of Sokovia and Lagos." Summers said.

"Only later did they realize they were wrong." Jean said.

"How?" Steve asked.

"We will tell you later." Benjamin said, not wanting to talk about it right now.

"Captain Rogers. Mr. Stark. Both of you made mistakes." Xavier told them kindly, "But both of you need to trust each other again sometime. And that is why we have brought you here, to help you see your errors."

Steve and Tony looked at Xavier and nodded simply.

"And let's not forget, the Accords were brought to you three days before they were ratified. Fishy much?" Logan pointed out.

"Very fishy." Ororo said.

"They had been planned for a while." Natasha realized, "Yet they didn't consult the group of people they were making the laws about."

"And you do not know what Ross is capable of, do you?" Professor Hulk asked and Bruce tensed.

"Ross?" Bruce asked in shock, "As in General Ross?"

Professor Hulk nodded at him.

"He was the General trying to capture you, wasn't he?" Tony asked as he saw Bruce pale.

"I never told you about what he was, did I?" Bruce asked.

"What?" Tony asked.

"He wasn't trying to capture Dr. Banner for the government." Fury said, "But to save his own ass."

"Okay, what?" Tony asked in shock.

"I didn't talk about the incidents too much because I didn't want to relive it." Bruce said, "But I can tell you know."

"There is no need." Benjamin said as everyone turned to him, "Because the next recording we will watch is about you, Dr. Banner. During the time you were on the run."

After a deep breath, Bruce said, "All right."

"So Ross was involved in deep shit?" Tony asked and Benjamin, Professor Hulk and Bruce nodded.

"And you outed my family to him." Clint snarled.

"About that, Barton-"

"No. I am not forgiving you for that." Clint said, "I gave you a place to lay low. And this is how you repay me? By outing my family to Ross? Now I am on house arrest and Ross can use them anytime to threaten me."

Tony looked down in shame, realizing he had put his friend's family in danger due to his ego.

"Well, food is finished." Logan said to diffuse the situation, "So let's go."

"I still don't approve of this, but if you feel it is right, do it." Summers said.

"Yup. I agree too." Jean said as her, Scott and Ororo walked away, the latter sharing another quick kiss with Logan.

Matt and Trish got up and walked away too.

"Let's see what went down between you and this Ross." Thor told Banner who nodded.

With that, everyone made their way to the viewing room again.

Chapter Text

After lunch, everyone returned to the viewing room and took the same couches as before in the same positions.

"So it's me we're watching this time?" Bruce asked again.

"Yes, my friend." Odinson said.

"Well, Banner, it's your time to shine now." Thor clapped Banner on the back.

"Good thing." Rhodes said.

"Yeah, I think watching too much of you, Mr. Stark, might make them sick." Benjamin said as everyone chuckled and Tony had a look of mock offense.

"I will try not to take that personally." Tony said sarcastically.

"Bruce is your science bro though, right?" Pepper asked.

"Right." Tony said as he looked at Bruce, "It's gonna be awesome to see you on there."

Bruce just nodded politely.

"Now you will see why poking him is not the best idea." Loki told Tony who simply sighed and looked away.

"So Ross is this too?" Steve asked and Logan nodded.

"Yeah. And he's as bad as William Stryker." Logan said.

"Who's William Stryker?" Bucky asked.

"I think I've heard of him." Natasha said.

"An old military scientist." Fury said, "I heard he did some deep shit."

"Yes. Something about mutations." Hill said too.

"I'll tell you about him later." Logan said with a sigh.

"So let's get started." Xavier said.

"Yup. With pleasure." Professor Hulk said as he started the recording and everyone started watching.

Someone pushed a switch. There was another brain scan, and in a chair attached to a large machine sat a man, who was Bruce Banner himself. Everything was coming and going in flashes.

"So we're watching this." Bruce said.

"Your origin story?" Peter asked and Bruce simply nodded.

"Your hair's short in this." Scott said randomly.

"Actually, I think you look very different in this." Hope said.

"Yeah." Clint said, "You look very different now."

"What happened to you?" Tony asked, "In this recording, you look like you could be a member of a fight club or something." [1]

"I have no idea how my appearance changed so much over the years." Bruce simply said.

"At least he doesn't look like that Hector guy from the "Troy" movie Jane showed me when we were together." Thor said off-handedly. [2]

A woman in a white lab coat stood watching behind a glass panel.

"Betty." Bruce whispered as he remembered her. Thor put a hand on his shoulder in support and he nodded in appreciation.

From the chair, Bruce gave Betty a wink. The chair tilted into position for the procedure. Someone pushed a button. A green light shone into Bruce's eyes. Betty pushed another switch and a button. A red 'Danger' sign began to glow. The green light grew brighter. The irises of Bruce's eyes glowed green. Betty stared through the glass, clearly worried.

"Uh-oh." Tony said.

"This doesn't look good." Aunt May said.

"Not good at all." Sam agreed.

"Here goes." Bruce sighed as he almost didn't look.

"I still remember that day like yesterday." Professor Hulk sighed.

There was a roar. The white shirt Bruce had been wearing ripped. A mass of green rose from it. The chair was knocked on its side, steaming and smoking. Behind the glass, Betty ran forward, staring in horror. A huge green hand appeared in the corner, reaching for some part of the machine that dangled from the ceiling.

Bruce cringed and looked away again.

"Oh God!" Sam said.


Bruce turned to see Natasha looking at him.

"It wasn't your fault." She told him. While she had moved on from him and loved Bucky, with whom she was happy, she still cared for Bruce as a friend.

He simply nodded as Thor put a hand on his shoulder again.

"I know that now." Professor Hulk said.

Through the eyes of the newly released Hulk, they saw dimly the form of the man who was none other than General Ross, as he had then been. There was blood on his face, and he seemed to be utterly horrified.

Wanda gulped in fear on seeing him as Vision put an arm around her again.

"Ross." Clint growled darkly, thinking of ways to kill him.

"So he was involved in this accident." Steve muttered.

"Worse." Banner said.

"He is definitely covering something up." Tony said.

"To save his own ass." Fury told everyone.

"I call him "General Jackass."" Logan said and everyone laughed.

And then they saw Betty lying on the floor among the wreckage of the machines, unconscious, bruised and battered. The shadow of the Hulk loomed over her, and a great green hand reached down toward her.

"Oh God!" Aunt May said in horror.

Bruce turned away from the screen in shame as Thor said, "It wasn't your fault, Bruce."

"I know it wasn't but I still feel some guilt for it." Professor Hulk said.

But then there were flashes of a gun, of a military man standing by Ross and shooting. The Hulk seemed to roar, and he reached for Ross and shoved him aside before tossing the man with the gun out through the door of the lab. Ross, bleeding and obviously badly wounded, crawled across the floor and flung himself on top of Betty. His hand was outstretched and his mouth open in a silent scream of  No ! The room seemed to spin, and then another image of a scan appeared. Then the door of a hospital room slid open, and there lay Betty, still unconscious and looking terribly battered.

"No!" Bruce groaned as he put his head in his hands.

"I'm sorry." Thor said to him to offer sympathy.

Bruce's hand tenderly caressed the woman's face. Then came a glimpse like another memory of Betty with a radiant smile and bare shoulders lying under a sheet. Then Bruce was sitting by Betty's bedside, and now a hand clamped down on his arm. A thunderous-looking Ross loomed over him, and shoved him roughly from the room.

"The whole thing was your fault and you blamed me like a cowardly hypocrite." Professor Hulk snarled.

"He cared more about himself than anyone else." Bruce said.

"If I knew what he had done, I would never have listened to his proposition of the Accords at all." Steve said.

"That thing was shady anyway." Scott said.

"Agreed." Hope said too.

"Now I feel like idiot number 1 for signing them." Tony said to himself.

"It's okay. We all make mistakes." Pepper told him comfortingly.

"That man is not coming after my boy, is he?" Aunt May asked Peter.

"No. I made sure of that." Tony said and she relaxed.

"Thank you." She said to him.

"Thank you, Mr. Stark." Peter said too.

"General Jackass, always saving his own ass." Logan said and everyone laughed.

Betty's eyes opened, but Bruce was already gone and her father was staring stonily through the glass at her. At the door of the facility Bruce turned briefly to see Ross speaking to a private, then he turned back around and pushed out of the building. Newspaper headlines about first sightings of the Hulk flashed by; then an image of a house in ruins; then a crushed car. Military men stormed into another house, armed to the teeth, but seeming to find only traces of their quarry - books, papers, test tubes.

"You were good." Hill noted.

"But I still won't be a SHIELD Agent." Bruce said and everyone chuckled.

Ross stood in front of a table, peering intently at some report. A set of blinds in an upper story window twitched as someone looked out of them down at two armed soldiers outside. Two helicopters whizzed through the air; shadowy forms of more soldiers moved through a back street. Once again they were met with defeat; an empty cot and a pile of dishes greeted them. Ross spun in a chair, cigar smoke surrounding his head. Another newspaper headlines flashed past, followed by images from helicopter windows and another image of Ross. He seemed to be monitoring yet another pursuit.

"What does he want you for?" Scott asked.

"Don't ask." Bruce and Professor Hulk said at the same time.

"It must be something horrible." T'Challa said.

"I can always find records of that if I want." Vision said.

"I hope you do." Wanda said as she glared at Ross in hatred.

A page showing a Requisition Request: US Army Stark Industries - Approved notice appeared, followed by plans for some rather awful-looking device. Ross puffed at his cigar again while looking through a number of fingerprint scans. A plane touched down at a military base. An intercepted email from Bruce to Betty flashed across the screen.

Bruce looked at the screen angrily as Xavier told him, "Calm down Dr. Banner."

Bruce calmed down and sighed, "Meditation helps."

There came the briefest glimpse of the name Nick Fury, followed by a few images of Bruce. Ross seemed to have lost track of him. And then- remembered images went by in flashes - then a truck went up a snowy hill in Alaska, with Bruce Banner sitting in it. The driver dropped him off and he continued to climb and trek his way.

"So this was flashbacks?" Peter asked.

"Appears so." Bruce said.

"It was intense!" Aunt May said.

"We made this recording in such a way so as to not show all of that. It might cause the Other Guy to come out." Professor Hulk said, "Of course I don't have that issue."

Bruce nodded at that.

Eventually, Bruce stopped and stood in the middle of the snow. He took off his glasses and cap and looked at the sky, which looked a little greenish. An image of a battered and bleeding Betty in the lab flashed in his head and he closed his eyes sadly.

Bruce and Professor Hulk both cringed on seeing Betty and remembered what they were about to do in that moment.

The flame of decision forming in his eyes, Bruce took out a gun and holding it out, turned off the safety.

"What?" Peter said in horror, not expecting this.

"Even I had a hard time remembering I almost did that." Bruce said. [3]

"Oh my God!" Aunt May said as she covered her mouth.

"I'm sorry, Bruce." Steve told him sadly and he nodded.

"We are here for you, Banner." Thor assured.

"Thanks." Bruce said.

"That was one of the worst days of my life." Professor Hulk said.

Before Bruce could turn the gun on himself, his eyes suddenly glowed green. The screen then changed to Bruce's point of view and through his eyes, his hands could be seen getting bigger and greener as the Hulk crushed the gun.

"You put a bullet in your mouth." Tony said as he remembered what Bruce had told them all in the Helicarrier.

"And the Other Guy spit it out." Bruce finished.

The enraged Hulk punched the ground and a quake was caused, followed by an avalanche that brought mountain down.

"What the hell?" Natasha said in horror.

"That is why I wanted everyone to stay away from me." Bruce said.

"This incident was detected by satellite." Fury said.

"Yeah. I remember that." Hill said too.

"Oh no!" Tony said too.

Then, an unspecified amount of time later, metronome ticked incessantly and a hand clamped down on the metronome, and a shirtless and sweating Bruce Banner stared at it, panting. Bruce was sitting on a mat on the floor of a very bare-looking room, and had just moved the metronome from beside the mat. He pushed the ticker into place as the words " Days Without Incident: 158" appeared in white on the lower right corner of the screen.

"Just over five months." Vision noted.

"That was probably the best I ever reached." Bruce said.

"Impressive, buddy." Tony said.

"Yes. Your concentration to prevent that must have been impressive." Thor said too as Banner nodded.

There was a wide shot of the crowded ramshackle buildings of a shantytown, one that spanned many steep hilltops.

"The Rocinha Favela?" Clint asked.

"Yes." Bruce nodded.

"Really, nowadays I wonder why I didn't have an incident on there." Professor Hulk said, "It was one crowded place."

"Yeah. Last I heard, the place had two hundred and fifty thousand." Hill said.

"That's one big slum." Steve commented.

"Biggest in Brazil." Natasha said.

"And I lived there." Bruce sighed.

Bruce stood on a hilltop with a soda in his hand, looking out over the district. The scene changed and Bruce was cooking some meat with a wooden spoon. He paused to feed a bit of it to his black dog nearby.

"You have a dog?" Peter asked.

"I used to." Bruce said.

"Dogs." Thor commented, "Very loyal."

"Yes. If they were as big and fast as horses, things would be easier." Odinson agreed.

"I don't know what happened to him." Bruce sighed.

"I do. Professor Hulk said sadly and everyone realized from the tone of his voice that it was nothing good.

Bruce dished out the rest of the meat on a plate, and went to turn on a little old television, picking up a worn black English-Portugese dictionary resting on top of it. He flipped past a weather channel, a soccer game broadcast, a drama series, and paused on a Sesame Street segment.

"Cookie Monster!" Tony said with a smirk.

"C is for 'cookie', that's good enough for me!" Sam said in a sing-song voice and most of the people laughed at fond memories.

Bruce sat down in a chair in front of the television with his breakfast and his Portuguese dictionary. He opened the dictionary with one hand, glancing at the television as he ate. He flipped to the word he was looking for, which was  'hungry' , and said it over a few times as he ate. The dog blinked its round brown-rimmed eyes at him, and Bruce scruffled it affectionately behind the ears.

"So he knows what I'm saying." Bruce said with a smile.

"Yes. He does." Professor Hulk said.

Bruce walked down a staircase that sloped down the hill on which his very high apartment sat alongside a wall decorated with red tiles. Later, In a martial arts studio, the instructor flipped Bruce over his back and then practiced the move again more slowly. He told Bruce in Portuguese to work on his breathing as he finished. He sat on the floor facing Bruce, and put his hand on his chest just under his collarbone. He told Bruce to control his emotions. And Bruce puffed in and out, brow furrowed in concentration.

"Did it help?" Thor asked.

"Yes." Bruce said, "For a time."

The instructor told Bruce to use his diaphragm and demonstrated it too. He told Bruce to control his pulse and then struck him across the face.

"Bad idea." Rhodes said.

"If he had known, he wouldn't have probably." Wanda said.

"Yup." Bruce agreed.

"Good thing I wasn't around at the moment." Loki said and everyone glared at him, making him shut up.

Bruce's head was thrown aside, and his heart monitor began beeping wildly as he was struck again. He glanced down at it in some alarm, seeing that his heart rate had climbed dangerously high. He breathed a little and it lowly started climbing down.

"Phew!" Peter sighed in relief.

"Don't worry. It was fine." Bruce assured.

"For a while." Professor Hulk said.

Later, Bruce was changing in a locker room when a bald coworker bumped into him on purpose, making him almost hit the locker. Bruce glared at him and sighed, calming himself down as he took off his cap.

"Bad idea." Peter told the coworker.

"What's his problem?" Tony asked.

"Xenophobia." Bruce said and everyone gave a collective "Oh!"

Later, Bruce was wheeling some bottles around as they moved up on a conveyor. Workers were filling up the bottles with liquids and stacking them up. Bruce stopped to give a package to a female coworker of his called Martina. As he walked off, she looked after him with a smile.

"She likes what she's seeing." Tony commented and everyone snickered.

"I liked what I saw too." Bruce said as everyone turned to him.

"But because of everything going on, it would never have worked out." Professor Hulk said and they all nodded.

"I can understand." Steve said in sympathy as Bruce nodded.

The Plant Manager called Bruce upstairs to fix some broken machinery and he nodded. Bruce then worked on the damaged controller of a part of the conveyor with the manager next to him and managed to make it work as the belt started again. Bruce explained the problem as the manager joked that he needed a new factory. Grateful for how much Bruce had helped him in the past few months, the manager offered to put him on payroll. Just as Bruce finished putting the machine back in place, he sliced open his finger accidentally and two large drops of his gamma-infested blood fell down somewhere in the bottles.

"Shit!" Sam cursed.

"The world always makes everything tough." Scott said.

"Even impossible." Hope sighed.

"Yup." Bruce agreed, remembering what had happened after that.

"This is going to go downhill real fast." Benjamin said to prepare everyone.

Horrified, Banner ran down, demanding to stop the conveyor. The manager quickly had it shut down as Bruce looked around for his blood. He sighed in relief when he saw it had fallen between two of the bottles. He quickly cleaned it, making sure no stain was left, and closed up his finger with the crazy glue. He then told the manager to start it again. The manager shrugged and the conveyor was started. What nobody noticed was that the other drop of his blood had fallen at the opening of one of the bottles that was now being moved up in the conveyor.

"Uh-oh." Rhodes said as everyone paled.

That bottle, along with all of the others, was filled up and packed in a shipping container which was marked for the USA.

"And now the time for trials has come." Xavier said.

"General Jackass is coming." Logan said and everyone snickered.

Later, Bruce was walking off for lunch when he saw the bald coworker who bullied him trying to ask Martina out, though she refused. At first, he ignored but the man touched her face and Bruce returned, marching towards him. The man and his friends turned to him as Bruce asked Martina to have lunch with him. The bald man called him Gringo and told him to get lost. Bruce asked Martina to come with him again as the bald man tried to shoo him off. Bruce told him not to make him angry, but because he wasn't fluent in Portuguese, he ended up saying ' hungry' , confusing everyone.

Everyone laughed at that.

"It's not like all of you know Portuguese." Bruce said.

"Yeah. I don't think they do." Professor Hulk agreed.

"Doesn't meant we can't laugh about it." Odinson said.

"We have the Allspeak though." Thor pointed out and both the Thors nodded.

"Lucky you." Loki told him.

The bald man attacked him but he dodged. The manager arrived and broke up the fight. Bruce quickly led Martina away.

"Nice save." Clint said, impressed.

"That was very noble of you, Dr. Banner." T'Challa told him.

"She was my friend." Bruce said simply.

Later, Bruce met a man he had hired to get something for him- a special kind of flower. The man held the flower up and Bruce hugged him happily. He returned the hug. Bruce later returned home and showed the flower to his dog, telling him it was their ticket out of the place. He then plugged in his laptop and also took out a picture of Betty, staring at it. He entered an encryption into his laptop and started chatting with someone called Mr. Blue, while referring to himself as Mr. Green. Mr. Blue told him to try the flower.

"Who's Mr. Blue?" Bucky asked.

"You will see." Benjamin said.

"I believe he is a scientist of some kind." Vision said.

"Right you are, Viz." Professor Hulk told him.

Bruce cut off the flower's petals and slowly synthesized its ingredients into a chemical concoction. He then cut his thumb and put the blood on a glass slide before pouring the concoction over it and placing it under a microscope. He could see his red blood cells, with greenish glowing energy over them. The greenish glow slowly faded away and he smiled happily, thinking he had found the cure. But then suddenly the greenish glow returned and the red color of the RBCs vanished, making them totally green again. Bruce shook his head, visibly deflated.

"And it didn't work." Tony said.

"I wanted to cure it badly back then." Bruce said.

Bruce messaged Mr. Blue again, telling him he had used the entire flower and that it was a failure. Mr. Blue told Bruce to meet but he said it wasn't safe. Mr. Blue retorted that living with Gamma poisoning wasn't safe and requested a blood sample, saying he couldn't help Bruce if he didn't let him.

"I know how much you wanted to help." Bruce said with a glare.

"What happened?" Thor asked.

"Looks like the man was a fraud." Loki said.

"You will see." Professor Hulk told them.

Bruce took a blood sample and labeling it Mr. Green, he packaged it, labeling it to Mr. Blue, before having it shipped off the following day. In Arlington, Virginia, Ross was signing some reports when Major Kathleen Sparr handed him a file and told him that a man had drank some kind of soda in Milwaukee and it gave him gamma sickness. The scene changed as Sparr's voice was heard to show an elderly man trying the soda and dropping it as the gamma blood affected him.

"Him again!" Steve said as he recognized the old man from Tony's party in the previous recording.

"Who is this guy?" Tony wondered aloud.

"I still think he was my neighbor." Peter said.

"And I still don't remember him." Aunt May said.

"So the watcher drank my blood." Bruce said.

"And got sick from it." Professor Hulk said.

"So sick that he cut off my hair." Thor said and everyone laughed.

"And General Jackass is coming again." Logan said and everyone tensed.

At Port Johnson, Everglades, the soldiers got ready as Ross stood with General Sam Greller, who told him about a special ops commando known as Emil Blonsky. Said commando stepped out of a helicopter.

"Blonsky." Bruce growled.

"He is an asshat." Professor Hulk said.

"General Jackass and an asshat." Logan said and everyone laughed again.

The transport plane took off as Sparr told the soldiers about their mission, handing them photos of Banner. Blonsky asked if he was a fighter, to which Ross told him about everything Bruce had been charged with, telling Blonsky not to tranq him as soon as possible.

"You will find out soon enough." Bruce growled at Blonsky.

Bruce was lying in his home when his laptop beeped and he quickly entered an encryption, with Mr. Blue telling him he had reduced the gamma concentration in his blood. Bruce asked if it would cure him, to which Mr. Blue replied in the positive but asked for more data. Bruce told him he had no data. When Mr. Blue asked where the data was, Bruce looked at Betty's picture again and typed "HOME." He then shut the laptop.

"You loved her a lot, didn't you?" Natasha asked and Bruce nodded.

At night, a military vehicle arrived at the favela as some soldiers took their position outside Bruce's house. As Bruce slept, his dog sensed the intruders and woke up, making Bruce wake up too. The soldiers snuck a snake camera though the door and started looking for him. The dog saw it and bit it, making them retract it.

"Good boy." Bruce said with a smile.

A soldier put an explosive near the door and at Ross' order, Blonsky pressed the detonator, blowing the door open. They entered as the dog barked at them and shot tranqs into the sleeping form of Bruce. They removed the covers, only to see pillows and a Styrofoam head with a cap and wig on it.

"Smart." Natasha commented.

"I know you would say no, but you definitely are a potentially good SHIELD agent." Clint told him.

"But he wouldn't want to be." Fury said.

"Too many headaches." Bruce said simply.

Blosnky told Ross that Bruce was gone and annoyed by the dog's barking, shot him and a whimper was heard as the dog fell unconscious.

"No!" Bruce cried in agony out as Thor put a hand on his shoulder in support.

"Oh no!" Peter said sadly as he heard the dog's whimper while Aunt May put a hand on his head.

Wanda had tears in her eyes as she remembered the death of her dog on hearing the whimper when she was a kid and Vision put a hand around her for support.

"Bastard." Thor cursed.

"Even I wouldn't hurt defenseless animals." Loki snarled.

"What did he get by shooting the dog?" Steve said aloud.

"Nothing." Tony said.

"He was an asshat. He did bad shit." Logan said, "He thought shooting the dog made him powerful."

"I wish I could have taken him with me." Professor Hulk said.

"I should have taken him with me!" Bruce said as guilt flooded through him.

"Do not blame yourself, Dr. Banner. You were in a panicked state back then." T'Challa told him and he nodded.

"He's lucky I'm not getting my hands on him anytime soon." Sam said.

"Same here." Rhodes said.

"Trust me. You don't want that." Benjamin told them and they tensed.

"Hope he gets what's coming to him." Clint said.

"I am waiting to see that too." Natasha said.

"I have a feeling we will." Fury said.

"Same." Bucky said too.

"Can't wait." Hill said.

"You will see." Banner and Professor Hulk said at the same time.

"At least he didn't kill the dog." Pepper said and everyone relaxed at that.

Blonsky looked out of the window to see a rope. Banner climbed out and jumped into Martina's house, who was getting dressed. She screamed but he quickly shushed her. Blonsky and the other soldiers ran past the unconscious dog towards the streets as Bruce kissed Martina on the lips and thanked her.

"And that was the last time I saw her." Bruce said.

"She was a kind woman." T'Challa noted and everyone nodded.

Bruce put his hood over his head and ran across the street, only to stop on seeing Blonsky and another soldier. He hid his face under a hood and tried to walk away but Blonsky had recognized him and the two started running after him, making him take off in the opposite direction. In his vehicle, Ross ordered all soldiers to pursue Banner.

"And it's on." Sam said.

Bruce ran across Rocinha as the Blonsky and the others ran after him. He ran through some children playing with a ball. Blonsky and the soldiers ran after him and the kids screamed in fear on seeing the military men.

"A normal day in all of their lives ruined by uninvited guests." Bruce sighed.

"I would love to meet this Ross." Thor growled darkly.

Bruce continued to run across the confined space of the favela as Blonsky and the others ran after him. Blonsky aimed at him but Bruce ran into a corner and the soldiers ran after him as Blonsky took a shortcut. Bruce ran over at a rooftop, pushing the hanging clothes out of his way as his cap fell off. One of the soldiers ran after him but when the clothes were out of his way, he ended up falling off the edge to the ground.

"You had the entire place memorized." Natasha commented.

"For a time like this." Bruce said.

"And it paid off." Professor Hulk said, "Mostly."

Bruce continued running and jumping around on rooftops as one soldier fired at him but missed. Bruce leapt down from that roof but realized his heart monitor was beeping wildly. He staggered near a box of "Coca Cola" bottles and stopped there, breathing heavily. Blonsky saw him from the other side of the box and started aiming.

"Oh my God!" Oh my God!" Peter was saying repeatedly as everyone watched with held back breaths.

The heart rate managed to climb down as Bruce noticed Blonsky aiming at him and picked himself up. He saw Blonsky trying to aim at him and he ducked before running out of the way as people screamed in fear. Blonsky fired but Bruce avoided the dart. He continued running until the military vehicle stopped in front of him. And out stepped Thunderbolt Ross. The two made eye contact and the hatred for each other was visible in both of their eyes before Bruce took off again.

"General Jackass meets his quarry." Logan joked to lighten the mood and it worked as everyone chuckled lightly.

"He really is trying hard." Tony said.

"People try their best to save their asses." Fury said.

"And he managed to cover up his shady actions." T'Challa sighed, reminded a bit of his father.

Ross ordered the soldiers to find him as he continued running while Blonsky and the other soldiers were on the lookout. Eventually, Bruce found himself in a crowded area. As he looked back to see if anyone was following or not, he accidentally bumped into a man. He turned to see the man and his friends glaring at him. It was his bald, xenophobic coworker and his friends.

"As if things weren't bad enough already." Bucky sighed, remembering the chase in Romania.

"He had to be there." Sam said too.

"I handled it." Bruce said, "For a while."

"This guy was giving me bad vibes right from the start." Tony said.

"And Ross wasn't?" Steve asked and Tony sighed.

Bruce tried to diffuse the situation but the bald man attacked. Bruce dodged and flipped him over his back, just like the instructor had taught him. He managed to crush the second one's foot and pushed the third one off before running away again.

"So that did help." Thor noted.

"Brazilian jiu-jitsu." Natasha noted, recognizing the fighting style.

"The best I could get back then." Bruce said.

"If I still got into fights, I could combine that with Hulk' strength." Professor Hulk said and everyone nodded.

Bruce ran towards the bottling factory as the bald man and his friends chased him too. Bruce managed to sneak into the factory. Blonsky noticed the bald man and his friends sneaking in from his vantage point and informed Ross before moving in himself.

"And this is just getting worse and worse." Rhodes said.

"The universe hates everyone in this room." Hill sighed.

"Yup." Tony said in agreement.

Bruce once again stopped and took deep breaths to lower his heart rate before noticing shadows, causing him to move away again. As Blonsky and the soldiers looked around for him, Bruce ran up and opened a door, only to reveal the bald coworker and two of his friends on the other side. He turned around, only to see the bald man's other friend.

"Shit!" Sam said.

"And this is where it truly goes to shit." Bruce said.

"It's not gonna be pretty." Professor Hulk said too.

One of them grabbed him and the other one snatched his backpack. Bruce elbowed the one grabbing him and tried to take it back but they threw it off. The two friends then grabbed him and pinned him to a wall as the bald one taunted him. Bruce tried to explain the situation as Blonsky and the soldiers arrived. Bruce's heart rate was climbing now as he told the man to not make him angry, to which the man mocked him. Blonsky fired a dart and it hit one of the man's friends, making him faint as the leader punched Bruce down. Bruce's heart rate was very high at this point.

"Now that was a bad idea." Fury said.

"More like bad coincidence." Pepper said.

Bruce's eyes glowed green in the dark.

"Oh no!" Peter said as everyone tensed.

"Here it comes." Professor Hulk said.

"You might not like it." Bruce said.

The heart monitor fell on the floor as Bruce started spasming and the soldiers noticed it. The bald leader was annoyed by the noise and kicked Bruce, only to scream in pain as his foot broke.

In spite of the situation, no one could help their laughter at that.

He was pulled into the shadows by a huge figure as the two friends tensed. Blonsky noticed that too. As the two moved into the shadows, their leader was suddenly hurled away and he crashed through two windows before hitting a wall and falling down, dead.

Bruce and Professor Hulk both winced. While the man was a jerk, he didn't deserve to die.

"It wasn't your fault, Bruce." Thor assured him, summing up everyone's thoughts.

The two noticed a huge, green figure. It let out a terrifying and bone-chilling roar, making them run off. The sound was heard by Ross too via comms and the people there had to momentarily take off their earpieces for the sake of their ears.

"Uh-oh!" Sam said, summing up everyone's thoughts.

"It appears they have unleashed the Hulk." Vision noted.

Blonsky moved past the dead leader towards the source of the roar. The two friends of the leader were running off when the huge figure grabbed one of them. The other looked back but didn't break stride as the one who was grabbed was pulled into the shadows. A second later, his shoe fell on the ground.

"Is it just me or does anyone else think we're watching a horror movie?" Peter asked.

"Almost feels like a Japanese horror movie." Sam said and everyone chuckled lightly in spite of the situation.

The other friend ran past the soldiers as Ross told them to use everything they had got. Blonsky and the soldiers fired their darts at him but they deflected off his impenetrable exterior as he turned around and charged, throwing machinery around. He grabbed two of the soldiers, startling Ross as Blosnky fired again, smashing some bottles. The huge figure hurled the two soldiers away and they hit a pillar and fell down, dead. The alarms of the factory started blaring at this point and the conveyor belt started.

"And now this has gotten even worse." Aunt May said.

The bottles smashed into each other at the belt and fell down as the soldiers fired at the fleeing figure. They ran after him, trying to fire at him but only hit giant clotheslines of steel. One of them threw a grenade and it fell at the feet of the green goliath. It exploded, lighting up the place temporarily, revealing the huge figure's size to the soldiers.

"Oh boy!" A visibly terrified Peter said.

"These soldiers are in over their heads." Scott noted.

"Prevents me from feeling bad for them." Hope said.

As the smoke started clearing, the soldiers realized something was moving towards them. It was a giant clothesline, pushed by the figure at them. They ran or ducked to avoid as Blonsky fired at the floor under it to make it fall down but to no avail. He sidestepped to avoid as it crashed into the wall and green soda showered Blonsky.

"How do you like that, huh?" Tony said and everyone snickered.

"A bath in the middle of a job." Peter said and everyone snickered again.

"A green one." Bruce said and this time everyone laughed.

"I bet he wasn't expecting that." Professor Hulk said.

Blonsky was the only soldier not incapacitated now and followed the figure from above, firing at him to no avail. The figure stopped as Blonsky reloaded. The figure stepped out of the shadows, revealing its face- a huge green monster gritting its teeth angrily at Blonsky. The commando actually paled at the sight and lowered his gun.

"Oh boy!" Peter said in fear as everyone tensed.

"Is it just me or did you look more scary back then?" Tony asked and everyone wondered about it. [4]

"I think I agree with you, bub." Logan said.

The green goliath lifted a pitchfork truck and threw it at Blonsky, who barely avoided it as the floor broke and he had to hold onto the tiles for dear life. He watched in horror as the monster roared and smashed through the factory wall. Ross screamed in terror as more soldiers ran up behind Blonsky. A terrifying roar was heard across the whole favela and in the nearby forests.

"That was-" Sam started.

"Intense?" Steve asked and he nodded.

"I can't imagine how bad it would have been for you." Bucky said as Bruce and Professor Hulk simply nodded.

"Well, at least I got out of there." Bruce said.

"Under those circumstances, it was the best that could be done." Professor Hulk said.

"I concur." Tony said.

"Yeah, I think you did your best, Bruce." Natasha said.

"Well, I can't wait to meet Ross again." Clint said darkly.

"All this." Wanda snarled, "And he had the audacity to put me in a collar!"

"I will enjoy meeting him." Clint said. The man had threatened his family and treated Wanda like she wasn't human. He considered her a part of his family too. She was like his daughter.

"Take me with you." Thor said.

"Well, Ross should start counting his days." Loki said.

"I am with you lot on this." Tony said.

"Me too." Steve agreed.

"Let's continue watching." Peter said.

"Yeah." Logan said, "You will get more reasons to hate General Jackass."

Chapter Text

"So what's going to happen now?" Peter asked.

"I did turn back to normal." Bruce said.

"But like always, trouble ran into me." Professor Hulk joked and everyone snickered.

Blonsky put Bruce's bag on the table and noticing Betty's picture, asked Ross and Sparr if it was his girlfriend, to which he replied she was a non-factor. Blonsky then told the two about the huge thing that had attacked him and his men and thrown a forklift truck like a softball. He said he was going to put his foot on Banner's throat and Ross told him the creature was Banner and asked him to pack up so they could go home. He then looked out of the place from where Banner had climbed out.

"Ross doesn't treat him very respectfully either." Steve noted.

"He doesn't treat anyone with respect." Tony said.

"And Enhanced get even worse treatment from him." Wanda snarled.

"Because he is General Jackass." Logan said.

"I got a better name." Pepper said all turned to her, "General Jackoss."

"What?" Thor asked.

"Jackass and Ross combined make Jackoss." Pepper said with a smirk and after a few seconds of processing it, everyone laughed loudly at her wit.

"You're the wittiest woman ever." Hope said as she struggled to control her laughter.

"Wittiest person." Scott corrected.

"Hey!" Tony said in mock offense.

"I think I'm with those two on this, Mr. Stark." Peter said and Tony sighed.

"I won't forget this, kid." Tony joked and all laughed.

The scene changed to a forest area where a naked Bruce woke up near a waterfall as the words  "Days Without Incident: 1"  appeared in white on the lower right corner of the screen.

"And you're back to square one." Vision said.

"I'd be more worried about finding clothes at this point." Wanda said and everyone chuckled.

"It is still a huge problem." Bruce said.

"Not for me." Professor Hulk said.

"Lucky you." Bruce said.

Getting up, Bruce held the remains of his jeans tightly to cover his dignity and walked around until he spotted an oncoming car and stopping the driver, asked if he could help him, to which the driver replied he didn't speak Portuguese. A shocked Bruce asked where he was, to which the driver replied Guatemala.

"Okay what?" Rhodes asked in shock.

"Don't ask me." Bruce said, "I don't remember."

"Well, at least you managed to get out of Brazil." Natasha noted.

"And Ross is trying to gather more resources right now." Clint said.

The driver said he was going to the next town and agreed to help Bruce, letting him inside and putting a blanket over him. He asked Bruce where he was going, to which he replied, "Home." At the army base, Ross and Blonsky walked together as the latter told the former that what they were dealing with was a new level of weird and he didn't feel inclined to step away from that so if they took another crack at him, they needed to be prepared. Ross had an unreadable look on his face.

"He must really think of himself as a real life Tom Cruise or something." Tony joked, "That man does his own risky stunts and this guy wants to fight the Hulk."

"I think you have made a good observation, Mr. Stark." T'Challa said.

"But Blonsky managed to screw himself over." Fury said.

Bruce walked through the Chiapas, Mexico, half-naked and sat around near marketplaces, depressed, when a kid mistook him for a beggar and dropped alms into his hands. That gave Bruce an idea and soon, he had enough money to buy clothes. He got a huge pant and measured it behind a fat man near him and bought stretchy clothes.

"That was smart of you." Hill noted.

"The best I could do." Bruce sighed.

Bruce then walked through a path in the middle of a forest, eager to return home. In the army base, Ross beckoned Blonsky into a laboratory and told him about the Super Soldier program, saying he had got people working on it again.

Steve and Bucky exchanged shocked looks as almost everyone turned to them and Banner in shock.

"What?" Bucky asked, exasperated.

"The Super Soldier Serum?" Tony asked.

"What I was doing, it was an attempt to replicate the Super Soldier Serum." Professor Hulk said.

"Only I didn't know at the time." Bruce told them.

"They wanted to make it again because the formula died with Dr. Erskine." Steve realized and everyone nodded.

"What Ross didn't know was that he was playing with power he didn't understand." Fury said.

"Typical of humans." Loki smirked, only to find everyone glaring at him.

"You did the same." Thor said bluntly and he sighed.

"Well, Ross is giving me more and more reasons to expose his shady actions." Natasha said.

"I will put a few more arrows in him now." Clint said.

"Don't blame you, bub." Logan said simply.

"He was an immoral man." Xavier sighed, 'And now he is an immoral monster.' He thought to himself.

"Let's continue watching." Benjamin said.

Ross said he had made Banner believe they were working on radiation resistance which is why when he was sure what he was onto, he had tested it on himself. It had gone very wrong and very right at the same time. He then said Banner's whole body was property of the US Army.

"WHAT?!" Rhodes exploded with rage.

"How dare he?" Wanda shook with rage as Vision had to put an arm around her.

"And that makes about three more arrows." Clint snarled.

"He made me a fugitive and now he wants to use me." Bruce snarled, "Why am I not surprised?"

"Because he is the worst." Professor Hulk said.

"If anyone supported him after seeing this, then that person is as bad as him." Tony said, feeling guilty for working with him.

"We can make this right, Tony." Steve said and he nodded.

"I will not let him near my boy." Aunt May said as she clutched Peter close.

"I would love to light him up." Thor said.

"Trust me, you're not the only one." Odinson told him.

"General Jackoss. Wish I could have put my claws in him back then." Logan said.

Ross asked Blonsky his age, to which he replied 39. He asked Blosnky why he wasn't a Colonel at this point, to which he replied he was a fighter and if he combined his current experience with his 29 year old body, he would be invincible. Ross told him he could arrange something like that.

"Oh no." Steve said, realizing what Ross intended to do.

"Nothing good came of that." Hill remembered.

"Yeah, made my week even worse." Fury sighed.

"Your big week." Natasha told Fury, "I remember."

"This is going to get even worse." Benjamin said.

"I know." Bruce and Professor Hulk said simultaneously.

At Culver University, Virginia, Bruce hid behind a newspaper, watching students go in and out as the words  "Days Without Incident: 17"  appeared on the screen in white. He started walking towards the university but saw that the guard checked the IDs of the students so he turned away, visibly deflated. That was when he saw Betty Ross walking at the campus, talking to some other teachers with a smile on her face. She sat on a bench as Bruce watched her from behind a tree, his face a mix of happiness and longing on seeing her again.

Bruce had the same expression as his onscreen self. It had been years since he had seen her. And he still loved her even after all this time. What he had felt for Natasha was just infatuation. What he had felt for Betty was true love. [1]

Thor put a hand on his shoulder for support, "It's okay, Banner. Once I light up Ross, you can start something with her again."

Bruce nodded at him with a smile, "Thanks Thor."

"She is still my friend and partner at times." Professor Hulk said as they turned to him, "But because of my condition, it's impossible for us to be together."

Bruce nodded at that, "I will see if I can find a better solution."

"It'll be awesome if you do." Professor Hulk said.

She looked in his direction and he started moving behind the tree when he saw another man walk up to her. She got up and with a smile, kissed him on the lips and the two went away hand-in-hand. Bruce understood though. He couldn't expect her to hold onto him after all these years. But that didn't prevent him from being deflated.

"Snap." Tony said.

At a pizza parlor, the owner, whose name was Stanley Lieber, was about to close up when Bruce knocked at the door. He gestured him to look at the sign but Bruce knocked again and he looked up to see who it was. His eyes lit up and a few minutes later, the two were sitting across from each other. Bruce told Stanley that everything he had heard on the news about him was false and the man said that he never believed in that anyway as he knew Bruce and Betty well.

"Good to have your old friends believe in you even after so long." Wanda sighed.

"I know the feeling." Bucky said as he exchanged looks with Steve and Natasha.

Bruce nodded in appreciation.

"Even I know that feeling." Loki said with a smirk.

Bruce inquired about Betty and Stanley told her she was dating a shrink who was a really nice guy, which Bruce seemed to accept. Bruce asked for a bed and Stanley said he could use the spare room upstairs before Bruce asked for another favor. The next day, Banner rode into Culver University on a bicycle, dressed as a pizza delivery man with a box of pizza on the bicycle.

"Whoa!" Tony said, surprised.

"Dr. Banner, the pizza delivery guy." Sam said with a smirk as everyone snickered.

"I even delivered some of it." Bruce said.

Bruce attempted to sneak past a security guard, claiming someone upstairs had ordered a pizza. The guard refused to let him pass without clearance but Bruce said he risked being fired if he didn't collect payment and offered the guard a box of pizza he had not been able to collect on. The guard accepted it and the two shook hands with Bruce going inside.

"Nice." Natasha said.

"You are very convincing." Hill said.

"Sometimes." Bruce shrugged.

Bruce walked upstairs and remembered the space in which he had worked five years ago just before everything had gone terribly wrong. He then walked into the computer class and started typing on a computer, exchanging a look with a student he had bribed with the pizza.

"Oh my God!" Peter said as he recognized the student.

"What's the matter, kid?" Tony asked.

"Yeah, what happened?" Aunt May asked too.

"That's Roger Harrington. My science teacher." Peter said and everyone was a bit shocked. [2]

"Yup. That's him." Benjamin said, "He was the smartest student in computer class and worked on the computers."

"It's a small world." Professor Hulk said.

"Too small at times." Bruce sighed.

Bruce logged onto the computer using Betty's password and searched for the data, only to find it was gone. He tried to search for his own name but there was no record of that either. Deflated again, Bruce entered his encryption into the computer and called Mr. Blue, telling him the data was gone. Mr. Blue said he couldn't help him without the data and asked what he was going to do now, to which Bruce replied he would keep moving.

"You found the data after that?" Wanda asked.

"I did." Bruce said.

"And it wasn't pleasant." Professor Hulk told them to prepare for what was coming.

"General Jackoss always has to stick his nose everywhere." Logan said and everyone snickered at the nickname Pepper had given Ross.

"You should demand a fee every time someone uses that name." Tony told Pepper with a smirk.

"Nah. I am not heartless." Pepper said and everyone chuckled.

"I remember how bad it was." Fury said, remembering his big week.

At night, Bruce was preparing to move away as Betty and her boyfriend, Leonard Samson, arrived at the place. Stanley let them sit there and the two talked and laughed. Betty looked behind Samson for a moment and saw Bruce coming out of the door. He saw her and immediately shut the door, moving away. Betty, with a shocked expression on her face, got up and moved towards the door as Samson and Stanley looked at her in concern.

"And now it has become even more complicated." Sam sighed.

"Like always." Bucky said.

"Yup." Bruce agreed.

Betty walked out of the place and looked around in the night for Bruce, whispering his name. Bruce hid behind a trash can, his face a mix of emotions. He wanted to go up to her, touch her, hug her, kiss her, and never let go. But he couldn't put her in danger. Samson led Betty back inside and she asked Stanley to tell her the truth. With a sigh, he started telling her everything.

"And now it's out." Tony said.

"Is it a good thing or a bad thing?" Peter asked Bruce.

"A bit of both." He said.

"Sounds like something the Guardians would say." Professor Hulk said.

"The Guardians?" Thor asked.

"Friends of ours." Odinson said with a smile, having fond memories of them.

"We'll tell you later about them." Benjamin said.

Bruce was walking out in the rain, about to leave the city. That was when he heard a car pull up behind him. He turned around to see Betty walking out of the car, her face a mix of shock, happiness, and longing. The two ran up to each other and hugged tightly, not wanting to let go. "Don't go. Don't go." She begged as the two hugged even tighter and she stroked his face and hair, "I want you to come with me now. Please. Come with me. Please."

No one said a word. The scene in front of them was too emotional to comment on. Peter, Wanda, Aunt May, and Pepper, the most sensitive people in the entire group, actually sniffed.

Bruce lowered his head simply, remembering how happy he had felt in that moment. Professor Hulk had the same reaction.

Once everyone had recovered themselves, Benjamin continued the recording.

Betty drove Bruce to her home and shut all the blinds and doors before revealing to him that she had the data with her as she had taken it before they had covered up the mess.

"Yes!" Thor said happily.

"Don't be happy yet." Bruce warned everyone.

Bruce asked her if Ross knew about it, to which she replied she hadn't spoken to him in years. She asked him why they couldn't just go to him together and speak to him, to which Bruce replied that he wanted to dissect and replicate what he had inside him.

"She thought she could still reason with him." Steve sighed.

"He was an evil jackass but he was still her father." Logan said.

"A part of her thought he would do the right thing." Xavier said.

"That part was wrong unfortunately." Benjamin said.

"She found out soon afterwards what her father was." Bruce said.

"And she disowned him completely because of that." Professor Hulk said.

In the army base, Ross entered an old storage area and found what he needed. He unlocked the device and collected the Super Soldier Serum.

"The Serum!" Steve said as everyone watched in horror.

"Your strength in an animal abusing bully." Bucky sighed, "This is not going to end well."

"You will see." Bruce and Professor Hulk again said simultaneously.

At Betty's home, Betty helped Bruce set up his bed and gave him a shaver to shave his beard. He told her he needed to leave the next day, to her disappointment. He asked to borrow some cash for a bus and she agreed, saying she would walk him to the station, to which he agreed. The two later lay on their beds, thinking about each other and their predicament before finally falling asleep. At the army base, a shirtless Blonsky walked into a lab.

"Oh boy!" Tony said, summing up everyone's thoughts.

"He is going to be injected with the serum." T'Challa said.

Ross told him he had to stay disciplined though. The doctor told him they would inject him in the muscles and bone marrow. The latter one would hurt. Blonsky was then injected in the muscles via neck. He was injected into the bone marrow as well and winced in pain, trying not to scream, as Ross watched on.

"And now they have made an evil version of Cap." Tony said in horror.

"I wish you could teach him a lesson." Natasha said to Steve.

"I would if he ever crossed paths with me." Steve said.

"Just wait and watch." Benjamin said.

The next day, Bruce and Betty stood in the Culver University, preparing to leave as lightning cracked in the sky. Betty stopped Bruce and untucked his shirt before taking off his cap and setting his hair lovingly.

"Awww." Sam and Rhodes said as Bruce and Professor Hulk shook their heads.

That was when Bruce saw some soldiers running up and told Betty to run, in spite of her not wanting to leave him. He started running off too as military vehicles drove into the campus, with Ross giving orders in a tank.

"They had to ruin the moment!" Tony said.

"General Jackoss." Logan and Pepper said at the same time and everyone laughed.

"This is going to get serious now." Bruce said and everyone tensed.

Bruce saw Blonsky and several soldiers running up to him and he took off in the other direction as Blonsky managed to outrun the other soldiers but stopped on Ross' order, stopping the others too. Bruce ran into a library as some soldiers followed him. Crouching between two shelves, Bruce took out the memory stick and to his own disgust, swallowed it.

"Eugh!" Peter said in disgust, summing up everyone's reaction.

"I did the only thing that came to my mind." Bruce said.

Outside, Betty ran in front of the tank in which Ross was seated and begged him to stop. "DAAAAD!" She screamed and they all walked out, though Ross told her she couldn't see things clearly.

Everyone's jaw dropped at Betty's bravery and love for Bruce.

"She will see things clearly soon, General Jackoss." Logan snarled.

They noticed Bruce running up in the overpass and the soldiers locked him from both sides before two canisters were fired at Ross' order. As the gas came up, Bruce used his shirt to cover his nose. Betty ran up to him as two soldiers ran after her on Ross' order. She elbowed one hard, making him fall down as his nose broke.

"She has one strong elbow." Hope complimented.

"Maybe you can train her." Scott said.

"Oh even I would love to." Natasha said with a smirk.

The other one grabbed her and threw her to the ground. Seeing that, Bruce's eyes widened and he fell down. A second later, a large hand smacked the glass, cracking it. The hand got greener and bigger as Bruce started transforming, painfully tearing through his clothes. Everyone saw a huge silhouette from outside before it punched the overpass, shattering the glass. The Hulk jumped out of the overpass on the ground as Ross said, "Now she'll see."

"That you are a jackass." Tony snarled.

"Oh boy!" Peter said as everyone tensed, wondering what would happen now.

"I think these guys are screwed." Thor said.

Hulk roared loudly as Ross and Blonsky stared at him in anticipation while Betty stared at him in horror and shock, but not fear or disgust. The soldiers fired at him and he rushed them, unaffected. A humvee came up to him, firing. Hulk changed course and rushed the tank, ramming into its side and sending it crashing. Another one arrived as Hulk stood between it and the soldiers before kicking it, smashing it. He picked it up and crashed it into a nearby statue, shattering the statue and sending the soldiers fleeing as Betty gasped at the scene. Hulk then threw the lump of metal at two other humvees, shattering them into pieces and causing an explosion.

"This is intense." Sam said.

"Oh my God! Oh my God!" Peter was saying again.

"Did you do anything to Ross here?" Clint asked.

"No." Bruce said and everyone deflated.

"But I did do something to Blonsky." Professor Hulk said and everyone cheered up.

Students arrived to take photos and videos of the scene as Ross ordered Blonsky to enter the fray. Blonsky fired tear gas grenades at Hulk which staggered him back before he ripped out two large pieces of the statue and brought them together to defend himself from another grenade before gritting his teeth in anger.

Everyone was a bit unnerved by his expression except Bruce and Professor Hulk.

Blonsky then ran up to Hulk and leapt over him to the other side before firing at him with his gun. Hulk charged furiously but he flipped to his other side and continued firing.

"He's good." Natasha noted.

"If only his heart had been as good as his fighting skills." Steve said sadly.

The gun ran out as Blonsky ducked, rolled or flipped to avoid Hulk who attacked him with the pieces of the statue. Hulk brought a piece down on him but he barely avoided before kicking the piece to slide himself backwards. He then ran on Ross' order as Hulk chased him and two cannons arrived. They were activated. Blonsky tried to leap high but they hit him, sending him flying off as Hulk was hit with the full force of the cannons. He dropped the two pieces and covered his ears in pain.

Everyone watched the scene with wide eyes as Peter almost bit his nails.

"I'm so sorry, Bruce." Tony said as everyone turned to him, "Those cannon were made by Stark Industries."

Bruce looked down and with a sigh, looked back up, "It's okay, Tony. Who would think the US Army themselves would use your weapons like this?"

Tony nodded as everyone turned back to the screen.

Hulk dropped to his knees as Betty begged Ross to stop but he refused. She screamed Bruce's name and Hulk heard. Her voice invigorated him and he picked the two pieces before getting back up. He defended himself with the pieces and threw one at the first cannon, destroying it. He then leapt and embedded the other piece into the other cannon, destroying it too as Ross watched in shock.

"How do you like that, huh?" Peter asked with a chuckle.

"Not very much." Fury said.

"Even worse things will happen to him." Logan said.

"Not as bad as when I get my hands on him." Clint said darkly.

A helicopter flew in on Ross' order as Blonsky fired at Hulk until he ran out. He then walked up to the green goliath and stood face to face with him. Ross ordered him to pull back but Blonsky threw his earpiece off. "Is that it?" He asked Hulk, "Is that all you got?" With a snarl, Hulk kicked him hard as Betty gasped. Blonsky crashed into a tree, breaking most of his bones.

Everyone clapped and cheered at the scene happily.

"YES!" Thor and Peter said at the same time.

"You got what you deserved." Wanda said too.

"Appears so." Vision agreed.

"I'm normally not happy to see others get hurt but he deserved it." Aunt May said.

"He was pretty arrogant right from the start." Natasha said.

"And that arrogance was his downfall." T'Challa said.

"Doctor Erskine told me that on being injected with the serum, "good becomes great; bad becomes worse."" Steve said.

"So his arrogance increased." Bucky noted.

"And he became an even bigger asshat." Logan said.

Ross coldly ordered the soldiers to fall back as Samson arrived at the scene and called out to Betty. Betty walked up to Hulk, unafraid of him. As he turned to her, she called him 'Bruce' and attempted to calm him down. As his anger started fading, the helicopter arrived and Ross ordered it to fire, not noticing how close Betty was to Hulk. The gunship fired and Hulk quickly ran up to Betty to protect her. Ross noticed her proximity to Hulk and ordered the pilot to stop firing but Hulk threw a huge shard of metal and it hit the helicopter, making it crash and explode. He covered Betty with his body as the explosion engulfed them. Ross screamed in horror.

"Oh you actually care about your daughter? Wow!" Tony snarled sarcastically.

"He is the most careless commander ever." Rhodes said.

"I wonder how he became Secretary of State." Steve wondered.

Rainwater poured down as Hulk emerged from the flames, cradling the unconscious Betty in his arms. She had some minor burns. Glaring at Ross, he gritted his teeth and snarled. Ross shivered and backed off, knowing that he had to give up for now. Hulk then turned and leapt away with the unconscious Betty.

"So he does know when to give up. I'm surprised." Sam said.

"No he doesn't." Clint snarled.

"He has a stick up his ass." Logan said.

"I know." Professor Hulk said, "He is the worst person ever."

"Let's see what happens after this." Steve said and everyone nodded.

Chapter Text

"So who called the military?" Tony asked.

"I don't know." Bruce said.

"It has to be Samson." Natasha said.

"Yeah. He is the only one who could have done that." Clint said.

"Stanley obviously wasn't going to do it." Steve said.

"Yes. It was Samson." Professor Hulk said.

"Jealous much?" Scott asked him.

"No. Concerned much." Professor Hulk corrected him.

At Betty's house, Ross and the soldiers investigated the place but finding nothing, came out. Ross told Samson he had done the right thing and that Betty was in incredible danger as long as she was with Bruce. Samson retorted that the only people from whom she was in danger were Ross and his soldiers because Hulk had protected her and they had almost killed her. Ross gave him his word that Betty's safety was his biggest priority.

"Your word means jackshit to everyone in this room, bub." Logan snarled.

"It doesn't mean much to Samson either." Benjamin said.

Samson told him that he was a shrink so he knew when someone was lying and said she would help him if she could. Ross said coldly that then she would be aiding a fugitive. As he walked off, Samson said, "I used to wonder why she never talked about you. Now I know!" Ross wondered how Betty met guys like Bruce and Samson as he walked into his vehicle.

"Respect." Sam said to Samson with a smirk.

"Yeah. He is great." Rhodes said too.

"I can see why Betty liked him." Bruce said.

"She can see which person is good and which person is not." Professor Hulk said.

Hulk carried Betty to a nearby forest as it rained overhead. He gently put her in a cave. She woke up and screamed for a second on seeing his face. He backed off and hit his head on the cave.

"Ouch!" Tony said.

"That doesn't look fun." Peter said.

"Because it's not fun." Aunt May told him.

As Betty realized who was standing in front of her, lightning cracked in the sky and Hulk snarled angrily, thinking of it as a threat. He turned around and threw a rock before roaring at the sky as Betty watched.

"Looks like you're afraid of my brother." Loki said to Banner.

"Not all thunderstorms are caused by me." Thor shrugged.

"I'm guessing this is why Hulk loves to fight you." Bruce said.

"Yeah. I believe that too." Professor Hulk said.

"Eh! I can beat you pretty easily these days." Odinson said.

"Yeah, you can." Professor Hulk agreed.

"Didn't Hulk beat the hell out of you, Reindeer Games?" Tony asked him.

"You really think my brother is anywhere close to me in power?" Thor asked incredulously.

"As much as I hate to say it, my brother speaks the truth." Loki said.

"Real power hates embarrassing himself so he is speaking the truth." Fury said.

"So Hulk isn't the strongest Avenger?" Hill asked.

"You sure you won our second fight?" Bruce asked Thor.

"Uhhhh, yes." Thor said.

"No you didn't." Loki said.

"I was until the Grandmaster used his Obedience Disk." Thor retorted.

"I actually agree with him on this one. Thor would have beat me if not for the Obedience Disk." Professor Hulk said.

"Wait, second fight?" Steve asked.

"We can tell you about it." Thor told him.

"We will see that too later so no need." Xavier said so everyone focused on the scene again.

Betty calmed Hulk down and beckoned him into the cave, making him watch his head. The two just sat down quietly and looked at the rain as she assured him it was just rain.

Pepper started, "It almost looks-"

"Romantic?" Bruce asked and she nodded.

"Yeah. Even I have to admit that." Professor Hulk said, "Beauty and the Beast style romantic."

"Except no one has Stockholm Syndrome here." Steve said as everyone turned to him incredulously.

"What? I'm catching up." Steve shrugged.

"So proud of you, Cap." Sam said as he patted his shoulder.

"A Disney princess movie?" Tony asked with a raised eyebrow.

"So our dear Cap is a little girl at heart." Natasha smirked as Steve blushed.

"So this was your plan, huh?" Bucky said as everyone laughed.

"It's not like that's my favorite." Steve said and then realized he had made his situation even worse.

"What's your favorite, Cap?" Peter asked.

"Let me guess- Sleeping Beauty?" Aunt May asked, "Because you were frozen in ice."

"Uhhh, no." Steve said.

"Aladdin?" Hope asked and he shrugged again.

"Oh I know." Scott said, "It's The Little Mermaid."

Steve didn't react this time.

"Gotcha, Cap." Clint smirked as everyone laughed at his expense again.

"What? I like its songs." Steve simply said as everyone stopped laughing and turned to the screen again. [1]

At the army base, Ross and a doctor looked at Blonsky, lying on the bed, battered, with bandages all over him. The doctor said that most of the bones in his body were crushed but his heart was like a racehorse. Ross nodded and walked off as Blonsky's fingers twitched and he clutched his fist, his right eye snapping open.

"Uh-oh." Sam and Rhodes said at the same time.

"Okay. That looked scary." Pepper said.

"Yeah." Bruce agreed.

"He's a fighter but a bully." Steve said sadly.

"Definitely an evil you." Bucky said.

Betty woke up to see Hulk had transformed back into Bruce and was lying, half-naked and prone. She quickly covered him with her jacket. Later, Betty supported Bruce into a motel in Ashwood, North Carolina, where he took a shower. He looked up at the shower and for a second, he saw the barrels of guns shooting at him instead and fell into the tub.

Almost everyone jumped at that.

"So you have it too?" Tony asked Bruce.

"Yeah. I'm just better at hiding it." Bruce said.

"Most of you are." Xavier told them and they nodded, knowing that all of them suffered from PTSD due to traumatic events, "But not you, Mr. Stark."

Stark simply shrugged.

Betty returned to the motel to hear Bruce gagging on something. She put her bags down called out to him and he walked out, saying he was fine. He showed her the memory stick which he had eaten. She was actually awed by that.

"Eugh!" Tony said this time, "It was pretty disgusting."

"Good thing you didn't show me vomit it." Bruce told the people from the future.

"Yeah. I was almost tempted to add it." Benjamin joked as everyone snickered.

"But I convinced him not to." Professor Hulk said.

"Thanks." Bruce said.

Betty then tossed Bruce a new heart monitor and stretchy purple pants, though he found them weird to Betty's amusement.

Everyone laughed at the scene.

"Learn to appreciate her, Banner." Thor said.

"I have." Banner said simply.

"Good for you." Tony told him.

In the news, the fight between the military and the creature was covered by all reporters, who all called him "Hulk."

"So that's where the name came from." Hill noted.

At the motel, Betty cut Bruce's hair expertly and asked how he had managed without her, to which he replied with clippers, making her chuckle.

"That actually looks pretty sweet." Sam said.

"Yeah." Natasha agreed, "You two were made for each other."

"Thanks." Bruce simply shrugged.

Betty then started kissing Bruce. He got up and the two looked into each other's eyes, the passion and longing clear. They then kissed each other passionately as Bruce pushed Betty onto the bed, his shirt out and her pants down.

Aunt May started, "I have a kid-"

"Don't worry." Logan said, "It doesn't go for long."

"Nothing happens really." Bruce said and everyone wondered what he was saying.

Bruce's heart monitor suddenly started beeping and he forced himself to stop, telling her he couldn't get excited. Both of them were dejected as she comforted him again.

"Oh boy!" Tony shook his head, "I am sorry, Bruce."

"It's okay." Bruce shrugged.

"Really?" Thor asked.

"No its not." Bruce admitted.

"How do you do it?" Loki asked Professor Hulk.

"I don't." Professor Hulk said, "There are no ladies of my size around." 'Except my cousin.' He thought to himself.

Everyone just nodded and looked back at the screen, not wanting to talk about this matter anymore. They all felt horrible for Bruce as he couldn't even procreate or have children.

Ross was smoking when Sparr told him something was up with Blonsky. The two walked to his hospital room to see that he was up again and looked perfectly healthy.

"What?" Peter asked shocked.

"After that beating-" Wanda started.

"The Serum and willpower." Steve simply said.

"I believe revenge is a powerful motivator here." Vision said.

Ross asked him how he felt, to which he replied, "Pissed off and ready for round three."

"Oh boy!" Peter said.

"Well, round three was just the worst." Fury said.

"Of course. It was part of your big week." Clint told him.

"Your big was the worst, wasn't it?" Natasha asked him.

"The worst of the worst. At the time." Fury said.

At the motel, Bruce told Betty they couldn't use their credit cards, ID or phone but she was allowed to take her lip gloss, which she used on her lips. She could also take her glasses and watch.

"You're pretty street smart." Hill told Bruce, "I never thought you would be."

"Yeah." Natasha agreed, "If you and Tony got stuck somewhere with no resources, I feel you will manage to survive."

"I will try not to be offended by that." Tony said.

"It's true." Pepper told him and he had a look of mock offense on his face.

"Thanks." Bruce and Professor Hulk said politely.

They wondered how to get to the city with just $40 and no credit cards. Betty considered selling her mother's necklace. Bruce refused, saying it was all she had left of her but Betty insisted.

Everyone's jaw dropped again at Betty's love for Bruce.

"You know what? You have to start it with her once we get back." Tony told Bruce.

"If you don't, I will beat you up." Thor said as everyone chuckled.

"All right. All right." Bruce shrugged.

Bruce and Betty later brought a truck with the money they got from selling the necklace as Bruce sent the data to Mr. Blue in an email. At the army base, Ross told everyone to look for them, saying he was looking for help so they had the chance to catch him. The email found its way to the base computers and Sparr saw Mr. Blue was someone called Dr. Samuel Sterns.

"Oh no!" Steve said.

"Busted." Tony realized.

"Badly." Hope said.

"Yup." Bruce said, "I wasn't expecting that."

Bruce walked towards the truck as Betty stopped him and took a picture.

Almost everyone went 'Awww' at that as Bruce blushed and Professor Hulk looked away.

Later, Betty drove the truck and asked Bruce about the experience. He said they were like the induced hallucination experiment at Harvard but a thousand times amplified. She asked him if he remembered anything, to which he replied fragments. Betty reasoned that it was still him inside but he rejected the idea, though she said it knew her in the cave. She said his mind was overcharged so he couldn't process it. "I don't want to control it. I want to get rid of it." Bruce said.

"And look what happened now." Professor Hulk said.

"Well, like I said, I will try to find a better solution." Bruce said.

"Just don't send him away or anything like that." Professor Hulk said, "He is still part of us."

Bruce nodded at that.

At the army base, Blonsky took a larger dosage of the Super Soldier Serum.

"Oh no!" Steve said.

"He is going to become the next Red Skull at this rate." Bucky said.

"Much worse." Bruce told them and they paled.

"Yeah. I remember." Fury said.

Bruce dreamt of a humvee blowing up on his face when he was awoken by Betty and the sounds of car honking. The two saw that all the cars entering New York had been stopped by the NYPD for checking because Ross would have alerted them about the fugitives. The two quickly got out of the truck and got off the bridge, using their remaining cash to hire a boat. They reached the mainland and stood in front of a map.

"That was close." Natasha said.

"A narrow escape." Clint agreed.

Betty suggested to use the subway but Bruce said him underground wasn't the best idea so she decided to take a cab. The scene changed to the cab driver driving like a maniac, even bumping a person slightly.

"Cab would have been better." Tony said dryly as everyone else was just speechless.

"Yup." Bruce and Professor Hulk said simultaneously.

Bruce's heart rate started going up as Betty made him stop and as the two got out, she yelled at him, "ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?" The driver tried to flirt with her, "What's the matter baby? You don't like a good ride?" He then made a kissing face but her rage filled face made him drive off in fear as she kicked the cab and roared, "ASSHOLE!" She turned to a shocked Bruce who said, "You know, I know a few techniques that could help you manage that anger very effectively." She cut him off, "Zip it up. We're walking." The two then walked off as Bruce now realized who to not mess with.

"Just when I thought your journey was a humorless drab." Tony said in amusement.

"I think even Hulk would be afraid of Betty." Hope joked.

"Of course. Hulk isn't completely senseless." Bruce told her.

"Yeah. I wouldn't want to fight her." Professor Hulk said before turning to Thor, "Would you Tho-"

"I don't have a death wish." Thor said as everyone laughed.

"She is the Goddess of Wrath." Loki said.

"Never mess with Elizabeth Ross." Steve joked and everyone laughed again.

"I wouldn't." Wanda said.

At Grayburn College in Harlem, Dr. Samuel Sterns was walking out when Betty approached him and introduced herself. He recognized her due to his work as Bruce arrived and asked, "It's Mr. Blue, isn't it?" A shocked Sterns asked, "Mr. Green?"

"He seems pretty nice right now." Aunt May said.

"Yeah. For now." Bruce warned her.

"I know him." Natasha said as everyone turned to her.

"How?" Bruce asked.

"I sent her to clean up whatever Sterns had but he had lost his mind by then so she brought him in." Fury said.

"So this really was your big week." Tony said and he nodded.

"I saw your fights at Culver and Harlem too." Natasha told Bruce to his shock. [2]

"And you still thought it was a good idea to recruit me?" Bruce asked incredulously and she shrugged.

Later, the three scientists sat together as Sterns said he was awed by how an unassuming man carried so much power and said that he had perfected an antidote, but even if everything went perfectly, they might just suppress one specific transformation instead of curing Bruce completely, so it was dangerous.

"I'm guessing that's what happened." Sam said.

"Yeah. That's what happened." Bruce said.

At the army base, Blonsky looked at himself in the mirror and saw his spine was deformed now.

"Okay. What is that?" Peter asked unnerved.

"His spine appears to have been deformed from the dosage." Vision said.

"Just like Schmidt's face." Steve remembered.

"And I doubt he can cover that up." Bucky said.

"You don't want to know what that is." Bruce said.

"Trust him." Professor Hulk agreed.

"You will see soon though." Benjamin said.

"And it won't be pretty." Logan told them.

Blonsky then sat with other men. One of them asked how he felt, to which he replied, "Like a monster."

"Because you are one." Fury said.

Sterns uncovered the dialysis machine and as Bruce was strapped to it, he kicked it to make it work. As Betty watched, Sterns gave Bruce an electric shock directly to the head, inducing the transformation.

Everyone watched the scene and tensed.

Bruce's eyes glowed green as he started transforming. Sterns tried to use the machine but Betty stopped him, saying there was more. Bruce then transformed fully, breaking his restraints and smacking Sterns on the face accidentally, sending him down.

"Ouch!" Pepper said.

Betty climbed on top of Hulk to calm him down as Sterns kicked the machine and the antidote flowed into him as he slowly transformed back into Bruce and she woke him up.

"That is one brave woman." Hill said.

"Very loving too." Steve noted.

"I know. I know." Bruce sighed.

"And it didn't work." Tony said.

"Nope." Bruce said.

"I'm glad it didn't." Professor Hulk said.

As helicopters flew into the city, Sterns told Bruce and Betty how that was the most extraordinary thing he had ever seen and said they could have permanently neutralized the cells or just suppressed one specific event, with him believing it was the latter, though there was no way to find out as the test subjects died. Bruce was shocked on hearing about the test subjects and when he inquired about them, Sterns lead them away.

"So he is ambitious too." Steve noted.

"And he went crazy later." Fury said.

"He is eccentric and ambitious." Bruce said.

Ross and his people were in the city as one of the soldiers looked at Bruce, Betty and Sterns from outside the lab using his sniper rifle.

"Uh-oh." Sam said.

"This is so not good." Rhodes said too.

Sterns showed Bruce and Betty how he had synthesized the former's blood with intention of using its properties to cure mankind and even make them impervious to disease.

"The Road to Hell is paved with good intentions." Pepper said as everyone nodded in agreement.

Bruce refused, saying they needed to destroy it as the government intended to make it a weapon, not a cure. He called it the Promethean fire.

"Very good comparison." Thor agreed.

Blonsky threw his earpiece off and ran upstairs in spite of Ross' orders.

"And that's what you get for trying to create another Red Skull." Fury said.

"The man is becoming crueler and more unstable every second." T'Challa noted.

The sniper outside fired a dart at Bruce as Betty gasped and Sterns yelped. He fell down as Betty removed the dart but Blonsky arrived. She tried to stop him but he threw her across the room, knocking her out.

Everyone clutched their fists angrily at Blonsky.

"Bastard." Thor sneered.

Tony started, "If I get my hands on him-"

"First hurting defenseless animals, now hurting defenseless women. He has become even worse than before." Steve said.

Blonsky then slapped Bruce repeatedly, demanding him to transform.

"Careful what you wish for." Wanda told him.

Bruce didn't transform even though his heart monitor beeped and as Ross and the others arrived, Blonsky knocked him out. Later Betty was given a shawl to wrap around herself by a soldier as Ross threatened a restrained Bruce and had him taken to the helicopter.

"Yeah. Threatening people who are restrained on beds or with collars. I bet you would piss your pants if they weren't." Tony snarled at him as Wanda realized he was defending her too, to her surprise.

"Well, Clint can hit him with arrows, I will light him up, and Wanda can throw him into the water to drown." Thor said as almost everyone laughed.

"I'm in." Clint said.

"Me too." Wanda smirked.

"Then I will take him out and throw him back in." Bruce said.

Scott started, "And I will go into his nostril and-"

"Do nothing! Because it's really disgusting." Hope said as she smacked his shoulder and everyone laughed.

"Just keep him away from my boy." Aunt May told them.

Ross called out to Betty and she told him, "I will never forgive what you've done to him." Ross said, "He's a fugitive." She responded, "You made him a fugitive to cover your failures and to protect your career. Don't ever speak to me as your daughter again." Ross discreetly threatened her, "It's only because you're my daughter that you're not in handcuffs, too." The two then walked to the helicopter.

"Threatening his own daughter. Just when I thought he couldn't get any worse!" Tony snarled.

"So he threatens not only others' families, but his own too. He is the worst." Clint said.

"Respect for Betty though." Sam said.

"Yeah." Rhodes said, "Take tips, Tony. This is how you stand up to Ross."

Tony shrugged as Logan said, "Maybe you should call him the nickname Pepper gave him in front of him."

Everyone laughed at imagining Ross' reaction as Xavier, "That would be very amusing."

"Yes. It would be very entertaining." T'Challa agreed.

Sparr asked Sterns if he could make more like Bruce, to which he said he couldn't yet. Before she could speak more, Blonsky snapped her neck from behind, calling her an annoying bitch.

"Ross put this guy on his team?" Steve said incredulously.

"Like I said, worst commander ever." Rhodes told everyone.

"And he somehow became Secretary of State." Tony said.

"He should be rotting in a cell." Xavier said.

Sterns asked Blonsky why he hit everyone, to which he responded by pulling out a gun and asking to make him like Banner. Sterns said that Bruce's blood mixed with what he already had inside could create an abomination, to which Blonsky lifted him by the throat. A frightened Sterns said he wasn't unwilling, he just needed informed consent, and Blonsky had now given it.

"What?" Steve said as everyone paled.

"The Serum combined with your blood-" Peter trailed off in horror.

"Is he out of his mind?" Hope said.

"I think it's established that he is." Scott said.

"Yeah. He took it." Professor Hulk said.

"And it wasn't pretty." Bruce told everyone.

"I saw that too." Natasha said.

"But Ross covered up his involvement." Benjamin said and everyone sighed.

"Which is why he isn't rotting in a prison." Fury said.

"Maybe we should leave him to rot in The Raft." Sam suggested.

"Good idea." Rhodes agreed.

"He did become an Abomination after this." Xavier said and everyone paled.

In the helicopter, Bruce smiled at Betty as she held his hands and he kissed hers.

"Awww." Natasha said.

"And you're doing it right next to him." Tony said.

"Respect." Rhodes agreed too.

Bruce and Professor Hulk shook their heads.

Sterns started the device and soon, Blonsky started growing huge too and soon, he stepped down the table as he continued growing and his spine protruded from his back. A terrified Sterns tried to tell him to get back on the table but he smacked him away. Sterns fell down as Bruce's gamma blood fell on his forehead, mutating him. He smirked as whatever Blonsky had transformed into leapt away and the terrified screams of the soldiers could be heard.

"Oh no!" Steve said as everyone paled.

"So Blonsky has now become something like Hulk." Bucky said.

"And Dr. Sterns is also mutating." T'Challa noted.

"I got him though." Natasha told everyone, "And he is locked up now."

"Thankfully." Fury said.

"And now this is going to get uglier." Bruce warned the others.

"Yeah. Very ugly." Professor Hulk said.

"If Luke was around back then, he would have joined in." Benjamin said.

"Luke Cage?" Tony asked and Benjamin nodded.

"Harlem's Hero." Peter said excitedly.

"Yeah. He is here too. He is an Avenger." Odinson said.

"Well, let's get this over with. It's very ugly." Logan said as everyone turned to the screen again.

Chapter Text

"That doesn't look good at all for the army." Sam said as everyone looked at the screen in horror.

"Yes. Only one person can stop him, right?" Steve asked as he looked at Bruce and Professor Hulk.

"Right." They both said.

The soldiers watched in horror as the machine was thrown down and a soldier was thrown out of the building into another one. A huge figure jumped down and they tried to fire at it as it threw a car away. They ran after but it was already on the streets, crashing cars.

"Oh shit!" Rhodes said in horror.

"What is this thing?" Tony said.

"An abomination." Fury said.

The soldiers and two cops got inside a vehicle and drove after it while calling Ross, telling him the Hulk was on the streets. Ross looked between the phone and Bruce in shock before deciding to turn the helicopter. The soldiers drove towards it with their cameras on to allow Ross to see the situation. They kept colliding into some cars accidentally as it threw cars around. Bruce looked down and saw the huge thing as his eyes widened in horror. The now humongous Blonsky threw more cars around and roared as he finally came into view. His face was a warped and deformed version of Blonsky's. His skin was grayish. And his spine was deformed badly.

"Oh boy!" Peter said in horror and disgust.

"Oh my God!" Steve said too.

"Damn! That thing is huge and ugly! Like some troll from "The Lord of the Rings" or something." Tony said.

"That would be a good comparison if the trolls were this strong." Natasha told him.

"Yeah. Agreed." Clint said too.

"This is going to get more horrifying now." Logan said.

Bruce asked Ross if it was one of his as Betty berated him. Down below, cops fired at Abomination but it was unaffected and sent killed them with a swipe of his hands. The soldiers fired a missile at him from a launcher but he grabbed it as it exploded in his hands but he was unaffected. The soldiers backed their vehicle in fear on Ross' order as Abomination rushed them, destroying more cars. He then lifted up a cab and threw it on them, killing them all, as the camera feed was cut off in the helicopter. Abomination demanded a real fight.

"Shit!" Sam said in horror.

"Oh God no!" Aunt May said as she covered her mouth in horror while Peter watched with wide eyes.

"And they still thought it was a good idea to make him an Avenger." Benjamin said.

"What?" Steve asked incredulously.

"Yeah. The World Security Council were going to make him an Avenger to save face." Odinson said.

"But I, Coulson, Stark and Sitwell prevented that from happening." Fury said.

"Yeah. That was when I first met the guy." Tony told everyone.

"You didn't know what he had done, did you?" Bruce asked.

"No." Tony said, "Fury simply asked me to make sure he didn't put forward Blonsky. I did as asked. If I knew what Blonsly was, I would have done it without Fury asking me. Either way, I annoyed him enough to not let Blonsky out."

"That's what you're good at." Thor told him as he smirked.

"Just don't annoy me enough to throw you out of the Mansion." Pepper joked and he shrugged while everyone laughed.

"He really has an annoying voice." Logan said.

Bruce asked Ross to take him back there, saying he might be able to control it. Ross protested but Bruce said that all of them were responsible for creating it.

"And yet Ross deflected all the blame onto you." Hill said to Bruce.

"A cowardly hypocrite. That's what this man is." Loki of all people said.

"Why am I not surprised?" Bucky sighed.

Ross finally accepted and Bruce had the back door opened.

"For once in his life, the man listened to reason." Tony said in surprise.

"That was the only time." Bruce told them.

"Yeah. He became even more unreasonable later." Professor Hulk said as he thought of Red Hulk.

"Really? More unreasonable than he already is?" Scott asked.

"You don't want to know, trust me." Logan said.

"Well, I'm convinced now. I don't want to know." Hope said.

Bruce walked up to the door as Betty tried to stop him, reminding him that there was a chance of him not transforming at all. Bruce said that he needed to try and apologized. The two then kissed passionately.

"That is so sweet." Aunt May said.

"Yeah." Natasha agreed.

"And she didn't even push me." Bruce smirked as Natasha turned away, her eyes wide.

Bruce then let go and threw himself to the ground with his eyes closed. But he realized he wasn't transforming to his horror. But as he neared the ground, he grew a little and a crater was formed as Betty was pulled back inside the helicopter.

"Good thing you transformed when you did." Tony told Bruce.

"I think sometimes distances are too short for me to transform in time." Bruce said as he remembered falling on the Bifrost.

A green hand burst through the ground as Ross and Betty watched from the helicopter. The former looked emotionless while the latter looked concerned.

"YES!" Peter and Thor cheered happily on seeing the hand.

"Here we go again." Natasha said as she remembered watching the fight.

"This is about to get intense." Sam realized.

"Right you are, bub." Logan said.

Hulk emerged from the ground as Ross and Betty watched. Hulk tore off the ragged remains of Banner's shirt and gave a loud, challenging roar to Abomination.

"Oh boy! This looks epic!" Rhodes said.

"You're so awesome, Dr. Banner." Peter said.

"Uhhh, thanks." Bruce said simply.

"Yeah, while I like this more, I will admit that I looked more badass as that." Professor Hulk said.

"Yeah, you sure did." Benjamin told him.

"Obviously." Tony agreed.

The two giants slowly started walking towards each other before rushing each other at full speed as the terrified civilians ran out of the way. Hulk roared and leapt but Abomination grabbed him and tackling him to the ground, threw him off through a car and as he fell down, Abomination challenged him.

"Ouch!" Pepper said as she watched the scene.

"He was stronger than me." Bruce said.

"But the angrier the Hulk gets, the stronger he gets." Professor Hulk said.

"I can agree to that." Thor told everyone.

Hulk roared and smashed a police car into two before lifting up both the pieces as Abomination rushed him. Hulk slammed both pieces together, deciding to use the two pieces of the police car as boxing gloves.

"Okay, that is so epic!" Peter said in awe.

"Yeah, you should do that more often." Tony said.

"I will try." Bruce shrugged.

Hulk angrily pummeled Abomination with his 'boxing gloves', slamming him into the ground and continued pummeling him until the pieces of the car broke and he punched Abomination hard. Abomination spit out a broken tooth and glared at Hulk.

"Oh boy! That is never good!" Tony said in shock.

"How do you know?" Bruce asked.

"Because when we were fighting, I did that to you." Tony said.

"And then we almost kicked his ass." Professor Hulk said as everyone laughed.

"We all know who won in the end." Tony reminded him and Professor Hulk stopped laughing.

Abomination taunted Hulk and kicked him into a building. He then ran up to that building and started climbing as Ross commanded a soldier to fire at him and cut him in half. The soldier fired a machine gun at him but he climbed higher and started running on the roof as Hulk woke up and jumped on the roof too. Abomination leapt at the helicopter, almost killing the soldier, but Hulk leapt and grabbed his foot. He managed to hang onto the helicopter as Hulk held onto his foot.

"Whoa! That was a narrow escape." Tony said.

"General Ross must be regretting his actions at that point." T'Challa said.

"Back then, yes. Now no." Wanda said.

"Don't worry, we will make him." Clint said darkly.

Hulk grabbed Abomination's spine and tried to break it as he elbowed hulk twice. Eventually, the pilot pulled the helicopter down as Hulk smashed into a building and was thrown off while Abomination let it go and fell down due to the impact of the helicopter crashing.

"Oh boy!" Scott said.

"And Ross managed to cover all of that?" Hope asked incredulously.

"Yeah. At least the part where he was responsible for the creations of Hulk and the Abomination." Fury said.

"Some men are good at abusing their power and status." Xavier said sadly.

Betty woke up inside the helicopter to see the soldiers dead but managed to wake up Ross. As Hulk got up, Abomination leapt on top of the helicopter. The two snarled and charged at each other as Abomination slammed Hulk into a wall and started pummeling him. Betty realized the fuel of the helicopter was leaking. Hulk tried to push Abomination off but he stabbed his chest with the protrusion on his elbow and Hulk roared in pain.

"Shit!" Sam said.

"Oh boy!" Tony said.

"He appears to have drawn blood." Vision said.

"So that's what pierced the Other Guy." Bruce remembered.

"Yeah. It was painful." Professor Hulk said.

"Oh my God! Oh my God!" Peter was saying as everyone tensed.

Abomination taunted Hulk, "You don't deserve this power! Now watch her die!"

"And you had to say it." Rhodes said.

"Big mistake." Fury said.

"He is even worse than before in this form." Steve said.

"Why am I not surprised?" Bucky said again as Natasha chuckled.

Hulk pushed Abomination's hands off him and punched him hard, staggering him back before slamming him into the wall. The fuel leakage caused a fire but Hulk did a thunderclap, putting it out.

"Wow!" Scott said in surprise.

"You can do that?" Hope asked.

"Apparently." Bruce said.

"Yes I can. I still can. Contrary to what you all think, I still am as strong as that. I just have inhibitions now because Bruce and Hulk exist together." Professor Hulk said and everyone nodded.

"Well, even back then, with your abilities, you seem like more than just a strong brute." Thor said.

Betty then screamed a warning to Hulk as Abomination hit him with a concrete pillar tied to a high tensile chain. He tried to get up but Abomination hit him again, sending him down. He then swung the chain at the helicopter, breaking its wings, and asked Ross if he had any last words.

"Only I get to ask that question." Clint snarled.

Hulk suddenly got up and raising his fists declared, "HULK…SMASH!" He then slammed his fists onto the ground, breaking the concrete and trapping Abomination's legs as the chain fell on him and wrapped around his neck. Hulk then pulled the chain hard, strangling him and ripping out one his protrusions, stabbed him with it on his chest.

"Back at ya!" Tony cheered as everyone clapped happily while Banner and Professor Hulk shook their heads.

Hulk was about to snap his neck when Betty stopped him. So he simply dropped Abomination to the ground and putting his foot on him, let out a powerful, victorious roar, as the cops, soldiers and civilians watched in terror. He then kicked the unconscious Abomination at a numb Ross' feet.

"That was terrifying and epic at the same time!" An excited Peter said.

"Yes. It really was." Aunt May agreed.

"Man, even he is at a loss of words." Tony said about Ross.

"Yup. The only time I have seen him like that." Logan said.

The soldiers aimed at him but Ross stopped them as Betty moved towards Hulk and once again assured him that it was okay with tears in her eyes. He wiped her tears and spoke her name.

"Awww." Natasha, Hope and Hill said this time and both Bruce and Professor Hulk blushed.

A helicopter shone its light down on him and he snarled angrily. He exchanged another look with Betty and leapt onto the helicopter. He looked back at Betty one last time, looking sad, and then leapt onto the walls, eventually jumping onto a rooftop, and then leapt away into the night sky.

"And that is the last time the Hulk was seen publicly." Tony said, "Until New York."

"Yup." Bruce said, "That was it."

Days later, Betty stood in front of the docks, contemplating everything that had happened. She looked at the picture of Bruce she had taken on her camera before they had driven the truck but the batter was low and it shut itself off. In Bella Coola, British Columbia, Bruce poured himself a coffee in a cabin and looked at a parcel. He took out Betty's necklace from it, having bought it back from a pawn shop. He put it back inside and signing the parcel, sent it off.

"You brought it back for her." Thor said.

"And sent it back too." Tony said.

"That was a good thing you did for her." Steve said.

"Least I could do Cap after everything she did for me." Bruce said and everyone nodded.

Bruce was then meditating as his heart beat could be heard. At the bottom left of the screen, the words " Days Without Incident: 31" appeared on the bottom of the screen. Bruce opened his eyes to reveal they were glowing green as the "31" changed to "0."

"Oh boy!" Tony and Peter said at the same time.

"So you transformed again?" Steve asked.

"Yes. But it was different this time." Bruce said.

"I learnt to control it." Professor Hulk said, "After this I could control it."

"For a time." Bruce said before glaring at Loki.

"I am really sorry about that." Loki said with a nervous laugh as everyone remembered the beating Hulk had given him.

"Good thing you apologized. You wouldn't want him to beat you up again." Thor told him with a smirk.

"There's more." Benjamin told them.

"Now what?" Pepper asked.

"Just watch." Logan said.

Ross was drinking and smoking in a bar when the door opened and a man approached him saying, "The smell of stale beer and defeat. You know, I hate to say, "I told you so," General, but that Super Soldier programme was put on ice for a reason. I've always felt hardware was more reliable."

"Is that-" Peter started as Benjamin nodded at him.

The man turned his face, revealing himself to be Tony Stark.

"Its' me!" Stark said happily with a smirk.

"Yes!" Peter cheered happily too.

"So your own recording wasn't enough for you?" Pepper asked him cheekily.

"Yeah, you are invading Banner's recording now." Fury said and he shrugged.

"Stark." Ross said. "General." Tony said. "You always wear such nice suits." Ross told him. "Touche." Tony said, "I hear you have an unusual problem." Ross said with a cigar in his mouth, "You should talk." Tony told him, "You should listen." Ross stopped to listen as Tony said, "What if I told you we were putting a team together?" Ross asked him, "Who's "we"?" Tony simply looked into his eyes and the screen went black.

"And that ends it." Benjamin finally said.

"We would be me, Stark, Romanoff and Coulson." Fury said.

"Yeah. And this is where I annoyed him enough to not let Blonsky out." Tony said.

"Good job." Steve told him.

"Maybe you could have annoyed my sister enough not to let herself out." Thor said.

"Wait, your sister?" Natasha asked him in shock.

"Yeah, I have an evil sister." Thor said to everyone's shock, "Or had."

"I had an evil cousin." T'Challa said.

"Killmonger?" Bucky asked and he nodded.

"What happened, Point Break?" Tony asked Thor.

"His sister broke his hammer and cut out his eye." Loki told everyone and they were shocked.

"Broke your hammer?" Hill asked in shock.

"Yes. It belonged to her before and she was more powerful than it so she broke it." Thor said.

"And she decided to make you look like me as well." Fury said as he looked at Thor's eyepatch.

"Yes. Like you and my father." Thor said sadly.

"It's a pretty long story." Odinson said, "We don't need to talk about it because we will see that too."

"We definitely need to see that." Sam said.

"I did not know there was something powerful enough to break Mjolnir." Vision said.

"You did not know there was someone powerful enough to beat you up." Wanda told him with a smirk and he smirked back.

"Well, we have one more recording for today." Benjamin said.

"Who is it about?" Rhodes asked.

With a sigh, Xavier said, "Tony again."

"Oh man!" Sam and Rhodes said at the same time.

"Enough of Tony!" Natasha said.

"Unfortunately, we need to watch it." Logan said.

"What's unfortunate about that? You get to watch me!" Tony said as everyone sighed.

"Well, let's get started." Benjamin said and started the recording.

Chapter Text

"So this is more about me being me?" Tony asked.

"Yes. Though your behavior isn't the best in this one." Benjamin said and he paled a bit.

"I'm pretty sure I would have seen that." Pepper sighed.

"Oh yes you have seen him at his worst and his best." Logan said.

The recording was started.

Tony's voice could be heard speaking about  the speculation of his involvement in the freeway and on the rooftop when Christine Everhart interrupted him and asked if he expected them to believe the story of a bodyguard in a suit that conveniently appeared.

"So this starts where the previous one about him left off." Rhodes said.

"These recordings really do start at interesting places." Tony said.

"We just make them in a way that they don't get boring and are easy to understand." Professor Hulk said.

"You sure do. I feel like we're watching movies." Peter said.

"Yes. An entire franchise starring us." Sam said.

"How much do you think movies about us would gross?" Natasha asked.

"A lot." Tony said, "I mean- me, Cap, Thor and you alone will draw a lot of audience."

"Why me?" Natasha asked.

"I think he is trying to call you eye candy." Bucky told her and she and Pepper both glared at him so he shut up.

"I think he is calling you and Thor eye candy too." Sam told Steve.

Steve and Thor simply shrugged.

"Well, let's continue." Odinson said.

Tony said it was one thing to question the official story and another to insinuate that he was a superhero, to which she replied that she didn't. Tony started backtracking when Rhodes told him to stick to the cards and he agreed. "Truth is…" Tony looked up and his face went completely blank as the conference appeared on a TV screen with Russian subtitles below it, "I am Iron Man."

"And there it is again." Fury said.

"You announcing yourself as Iron Man started an entire new generation." Vision told Tony who nodded.

"Don't let that get to your head." Pepper said.

"I won't, honey." Tony told her.

An old man lay on the bed and watched television and called out to someone called Ivan.

"Isn't that-" Hill began.

"Anton Vanko." Fury said.

"Ah. So this is what we're watching." Tony said.

A man with a hard, careworn face- Ivan Vanko, walked inside to his father Anton Vanko. Anton pointed at the TV and said it should be Ivan as Ivan told him not to listen to that crap.

"Did he just call that conference crap?" Tony asked in mock offense.

"I think it was a good conference." Steve of all people said and everyone was surprised he was speaking for Tony.

"Anton has basically painted himself as the victim to his son." Fury said.

Anton coughed and apologized, saying all he could give him was knowledge before his eyes closed and he went still. He was dead.

While everyone in the room knew that Anton had been up to no good and the same was true for Ivan, they did feel a little sympathy. Even Tony.

Ivan took a sip of alcohol as tears rolled down his eyes and gave a cry of rage and bitterness.

Almost everyone from the past jumped at that.

"Oh God-" Wanda trailed off as she witnessed Ivan's rage at Tony. It almost reminded her of her own.

"Sometimes knowledge is enough." Natasha said.

"And now he will come after you." Bruce realized and Tony nodded.

"This is not going to end well for anyone involved." Clint said.

Later, Ivan was working on something in his workshop as newspaper and magazine clippings of Stark were shown around. He kept hammering at whatever he was working on.

"He's like you in your first recording, Stark." Thor said to Tony.

"An evil version of me." Tony said.

A bird watched Ivan from the corners and flew up to the worktable as he fed it and later hammered at whatever he was working and soon, it lit up. It was an Arc Reactor. Ivan laughed like a maniac.

"What?" Steve said in shock.

"Another Arc Reactor?" Aunt May asked.

"Yes. Ivan created another Arc Reactor to battle Tony." Natasha said.

"We all know how well that turned out for him." Tony smirked.

"Yeah we do." Rhodes sighed.

"6 months later" appeared on the screen as Iron Man stood in a hangar as the ramp opened into the night sky. He jumped out and flew down as AC/DC's Shoot to Thrill played.

"Oh I hate this one." Loki snarled.

"Of course you would, Reindeer Games." Tony said.

"Yeah, I know why." Natasha said.

Fireworks lit up in the sky as Tony descended and landed at the Stark Expo on one knee as women clad in scanty Iron Man costumes danced behind him and people roared happily.

"Oh! This!" Tony said.

"The Stark Expo." Pepper sighed.

"Man that was something." Rhodes said.

"It sure was, wasn't it?" Tony asked.

"Yeah, it was your ego going crazy." Rhodes said and Tony shut up.

"Did you design those costumes the dancers are wearing?" Natasha asked.

With a sigh, Tony said, "Yup."

Tony stood as the arms of his bot removed his suit piece by piece to reveal his pristine business suit. The women all danced and struck poses around him before moving off as him and everyone else clapped. "Oh, it's good to be back!" Tony said cheerfully, "You missed me, I missed you."

"We didn't miss you." Sam said.

"I didn't either." Rhodes said.

"No one does." Pepper joked and Tony shook his head, not seeing the expressions on Benjamin, Odinson and Professor Hulk, who did miss him.

Tony then started saying, "I'm not saying that the world is enjoying its longest period of uninterrupted peace in years because of me." The audience cheered again. "I'm not saying that from the ashes of captivity!" He held out his arms, "Never has a greater phoenix metaphor been personified in human history."

"Well aren't you charismatic?" Steve joked.

"I think Cap is being very polite." Sam said.

"Yeah, he means to say you are very arrogant." Thor told him.

"I used to be very arrogant." Tony said, "But aren't you arrogant?"

"I used to be." Thor simply said.

Tony joked how he hadn't met anyone who would be mad enough to go toe-to-toe with him on his best day.

"And then you met me." Thor said.

"And me." Steve said.

"And me." Bruce said.

"Yeah, things changed a lot real quick." Professor Hulk said.

"Yeah, you lot can definitely go toe-to-toe with me." Tony said.

"I can beat you." Thor simply said and no one dared argue as that was the truth.

Everyone cheered for Tony as he said it wasn't about him but legacy and that for the first time since 1974, the Expo would be opened again. He then welcomed everyone back to the Stark Expo as everyone cheered again.

"It was about legacy?" Pepper asked.

"I hoped it was." Tony said.

Tony then asked the audience to welcome Howard Stark as a video of him appeared, telling about his plans for the city of the future as Tony walked off to the backstage area.

Bucky gulped again as Steve sighed sadly on seeing Howard there. The man was his friend.

Tony chose not to look at Bucky again for the time being and simply said, "Dad struggled to express his love to me but he did leave me a lot of stuff."

Tony held a small metal device near his chest with a screen and stuck his thumb on a needle before wiping it on the prick as the words "BLOOD TOXICITY: 19%" appeared on the screen.

"19%?" Bruce asked.

"Yes. The palladium in his blood rose to toxic levels, slowly killing him but he decided to fool around nad get drunk instead of tell-" Pepper started.

"Pepper-" Tony started.

"Don't you 'Pepper' me!" Pepper said, "Me and Rhodey had to clean up all of your messes."

"Me and Romanoff too." Fury added.

"Just a bit more discreetly." Natasha said.

"Yeah, me and Tony weren't so discreet." Rhodes said.

"Didn't you ask him to throw that party?" Pepper asked Natasha.

"I didn't think he would do all the stuff he did there." Natasha said.

"Metal poisoning, I can relate." Logan said.

"What?" Steve, Bucky and Tony asked simultaneously.

"I have had adamantium implanted in me. My healing factor constantly works to save me from it." Logan said and everyone felt a lot of sympathy for him as Wanda saw a memory of his for a second which had many needles piercing him at once.

She shuddered as it reminded her of the experiments done on her.

"Who did it?" Steve asked.

"Stryker." Logan said simply.

Later, an attractive reporter was talking about the Expo as Tony tossed his jacket to Happy and an assistant opened the door as they walked out into a huge crowd.

"I hate crowds." Natasha said.

"Me too." Bruce said, "They make me feel enclosed."

"I love crowds now." Professor Hulk said.

"Now that's a zoo." Rhodes said.

"Happy was right." Pepper said too.

"The Expo does look pretty great though." Steve noted as he remembered Howard's expo.

"Yup. Stark Heaven." Bucky muttered to him.

"Got to admit though, you look good on TV." Bruce told Tony.

"Thanks." Tony shrugged.

Some attractive women walked up to Tony and one even gave him her number as he signed autographs and patted a kid with the Iron Man helmet on the head before shaking hands with old people. He noticed an old man looking at him.

"Him again!" Hill said.

"This person shows up like everywhere." Fury said.

"Must be a watcher." Benjamin said again.

"Good theory." Tony said.

Tony and Happy reached his sleek silver car as an attractive woman stood near it. The two sat inside as Tony and the woman greeted each other and she introduced herself as Marshal.

"Who names their daughter Marshal?" Clint wondered.

"Yeah, Marshal sounds more like the name of a burly man to me." Hill said. [1]

Marshal said she was from Bedford and said that she was here to serve subpoenas. Happy said Tony didn't like being handed things as it was a pet peeve. Marshal said he had to appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee the next morning at 9:00 AM.

"Oh boy!" Sam said.

"So that's the meeting huh." Hope said.

"Doesn't look very good." Scott said.

Tony asked for a badge and she showed him. He asked Happy how far it was to D.C., to which he replied 250 miles. Tony then started to drive away.

"And you started driving right then." Pepper said.

"It said I had to be there the next morning." Tony shrugged.

The US Capitol appeared as the words "Washington, D.C." appeared underneath. Tony was turning around whispering with Pepper in the middle of the hearing before somebody banged a gavel and asked if they could pick up where they left off. The man with the gavel was revealed to be Senator Stern.

"Oh boy, him!" Tony said as everyone looked at him with disgust.

"The man was Hydra." Natasha said.

"Well, he seems pretty annoyed by you." Steve told Tony.

"That's me!" Tony said.

"And he gave you and Rhodes medals too." Fury told everyone.

"Being awarded with medals by someone who works for Hydra. Wow." Rhodes muttered.

"Ain't you lot funny?" Sam said.

"He looks like he has never done a hard day's work in his entire life." Wanda said.

"The observation seems correct, Wanda." Vision agreed.

"Even if he wasn't Hydra, he has the makings of a corrupt and weak politician." T'Challa noted.

"Basically Janos Slynt." Scott said.

"That seems like a very good comparison." Hope said.

"And he has Stern is his name too. Looks like all Sterns around here are shady." Bruce said.

"Couldn't agree more." Professor Hulk said.

Stern asked Tony if he possessed an advanced weapon, to which he replied he didn't and on Stern's request, defined it as a high-tech prosthesis, calling it the most apt description he could make as the audience except Pepper laughed. Stern called it a weapon.

"They are trying to pressure you with a hearing, aren't they?" Sam asked.

"Yup." Tony said, "Because I have got an army of lawyers."

"And yet you didn't have them read the Accords." Pepper said and everyone snickered while he sighed sadly.

"I make stupid decisions without you around me." Tony said.

"Aww." Pepper said as she touched his face, "Aren't you a little baby?"

Everyone laughed again.

"Guys, let's focus." Benjamin said and everyone turned to the screen.

Tony talked to him scornfully, saying his priority wasn't the well being of the American citizenry, to which he replied his priority was to turn over the Iron Man weapon to the people of the United States of America.

"Yeah right! To the people." Fury said scornfully.

"I always thought of him as a weak minded politician." Hill said, "I never thought he would be Hydra."

"It's obvious he was going to turn over the Suit to Hydra." Steve said.

"Yup. But good thing I didn't listen to the government in those days." Tony said.

"And now you do? Why?" Natasha asked.

"Guilt." Tony simply said, "I let it take over me. It made me not trust in myself but in others."

Pepper held his hand for comfort as it was obvious he wasn't very proud of his recent actions.

Tony said they could forget it as the Suit and him were one and turning it over would be like turning over himself and that would indentured servitude or prostitution, depending on which state they were in. The others behind Tony were already chuckling.

Everyone in the room was chuckling at Tony's attitude.

Stern tried to say he was no expert, to which Tony asked him if he was no expert in prostitution, before saying that he wouldn't be as he was a Senator. He then flung out his arm and raised two fingers as everyone laughed behind him.

Everyone in the room was laughing hard at this point.

"Prostitution?" Sam asked as he struggled to control his laughter.

"To be honest, he does look like one." Natasha joked and everyone laughed hard again.

"Yeah. Like the stripper for Phoebe's bachelorette in Friends." Scott said and everyone laughed again at the comparison.

"It's like you have a crush on Phoebe or something." Hope said as everyone chuckled. [2]

Tony made eye contact with Pepper and she shook her head at him so he sat back down.

"Yeah, he really does make stupid decisions without you." Fury said to Pepper who nodded with a smirk.

Stern said he wasn't an expert in weapons so they would be calling the military's weapons contractor- Justin Hammer.

Everyone started laughing again.

"What's so funny?" Peter asked innocently.

"He said "expert" and called Justin Hammer." Tony said.

"Yeah. The only good thing he had was the ex-wife." Rhodes said.

"But that didn't work on Ivan." Tony said.

"That's because it didn't develop enough kinetic energy." Rhodes pointed out. [3]

"Oh." Tony said.

As Justin Hammer entered, Tony said he wondered when an actual expert will be called as Hammer took his seat. Hammer laughed and said he was no expert but Tony was, calling him "Anthony."

"No one calls you that." Steve noted.

"Except him." Tony said.

Hammer rose and said the real expert was Howard Stark, the father to them all and to the military industrial age. He then said Howard was no flower child, but a lion.

"You want lions? Here we all are." Tony said as everyone chuckled.

Hammer said Tony had created a sword with untold possibilities but was using it as a shield, asking everyone else to cower behind it but this wasn't Canada and Tony won't be able to foresee all threats.

"Yup. This ain't Canada. Because idiots like Hammer are a rarity there." Logan said.

As everyone looked at him, Logan said, "I'm Canadian."

"I'm Canadian too actually." Hill said. [4]

"Always nice to meet fellow countrymen and women." Logan smirked.

Hammer then went back to his chair after saying, "God bless Iron Man, and God bless America." Stern then invited Lieutenant-Colonel James Rhodes to the chamber and the man arrived to Tony's shock.

"There I am." Rhodes said.

"You look so different from the previous recording." Tony said, "Even from the back."

"I know!" Rhodes said.

Rhodes walked in as Tony said he didn't expect to see him here. Rhodes said, "Look. It's me, I'm here, deal with it, let's move on."

"It's like you're trying to convince me you're Rhodey." Tony joked. [5]

Tony then dropped it on Rhodes' request and he took his seat as Stern said he had a complete report on the Iron Man weapon and asked him to read page fifty-seven, paragraph four. Rhodes protested, saying specific lines won't reflect the entire report but Stern didn't have any of it.

"Government pig." Scott said and everyone laughed again.

"Hydra pig." Hope corrected and the laughter increased.

"Taking statements out of context is something that happens a lot in such public matters." Vision said.

Rhodes then read that Iron Man didn't operate in any branch of the government and that Iron Man was a threat to both America and her interests, but he continued on, saying the pros outweighed the cons and it would be in their interests to fold Stark into the existing chain of command, but Stern had already interrupted him.

"Who cares for context?" Steve said dryly.

"No one." Natasha told him.

Tony said he wasn't a joiner but he would consider Secretary of Defense if asked nicely and if they could amend the hours. Everyone laughed.

"The probability of that happening is as much as the probability of me amending the Accords." Tony joked and everyone snickered.

Stern then decided to show some imagery related to the report but Rhodes said it was premature, but Stern insisted.

"They were too premature." Rhodes laughed.

The flat screen then started showing images of landscapes as Rhodes said they were photos of attempts to recreate the Iron Man Armor.

"'Attempt' is the operative word." Pepper said.

Tony looked at the screen with a frown and took out a device, his thumbs flying over the icons as Rhodes continued.

"He had you all over it." Wanda said to Vision.

"Yes he did." Vision said.

Tony stopped Rhodes and pushed an icon as a black box with lines of code appeared on the screen with the words "WELCOME, MR. STARK."

"Did you just hack the US government?" Fury asked.

"In front of them." Hill added.

"Now that's Tony Stark." Logan said and everyone laughed.

"Yeah, that's me!" Tony said.

Tony said he commandeered their screens and pushed an icon to reveal North Korea where a very heavy kind of suit staggered and fell down.

Everyone laughed at the display in front of them. Thor and Odinson sounded like rumbling thunder.

"North Korea." Clint said dryly, "Why am I not surprised?"

"Even the Accords sound like they are something out of there." Logan said.

"Yup. So wishing I could remove my signature right now." Tony said.

"Me too." Rhodes agreed.

Two reporters sprang to their feet as Stern demanded to turn off the TV while Hammer ran to the front of the television and Tony revealed Iran on the screen. Some explosions were shown on the screen before Hammer appeared, fumbling with a Suit which collapsed. Tony mocked Justin, telling him to focus up as he was on TV.

Everyone laughed really hard again. Wanda was clutching her stomach at this point.

"He's too shy to be on TV." Banner said.

Tony said most countries would take 5 to 10 years to make a Suit but Hammer Industries would take 20 while Hammer managed to disconnect the TV and said the pilot had survived.

"But lost his limbs." Natasha said.

"Even Stephen Strange didn't treat him." Benjamin said.

"Stephen Strange?" Tony asked, "The brilliant neurosurgeon who couldn't use his hands after a car crash?"

"Yes. That one." Xavier said.

"How do you know him?" Steve asked.

"Long story." Benjamin said, "Though he got into the crash right after refusing to treat that pilot." [6]

"Karma?" Clint asked.

"Oh you have no idea, bub." Logan said.

Stern tried to diffuse the situation as Tony said they were welcome. When Stern asked why, he said because he was their nuclear deterrent and that America was secure. He then said, "You want my property. You can't have it!"

Everyone clapped happily at the scene.

"If only you were this good while dealing with the snake known as Ross." Loki muttered.

"Do not bring up snakes again." Thor told him.

Tony said he had successfully privatized world peace and he wouldn't play ball with the ass clowns as he raised his fingers and everyone clapped for him. Stern actually said "Fuck you" to Tony.

"Did he just drop the F-bomb on national TV?" Aunt May asked incredulously.

"It appears he did." T'Challa said.

"He cannot control his temper." Steve said.

"So he is not fit to be a politician either." Natasha said.

Stern adjourned the gathering as Tony put on his sunglasses and gave flying kisses to them all before he walked out and waved to people and shook their hands.

"Now that is the Tony Stark we know and love." Sam said.

"Yes. Not the person who played ball with Ross." Bruce said. [7]

"Yeah. Now I won't play ball with corrupt government officials like him ever again." Tony declared and everyone in the room nodded with pride, especially Pepper.

Ivan Vanko watched the hearing on TV with Russian subtitles as Tony said that he would serve the country at his pleasure and that they could count on him to pleasure himself.

Everyone laughed hard again.

"Do you stop with the dirty puns?" Pepper asked as she struggled to hold her laughter.

"I don't do them anymore." Tony said.

"Hide the zucchini?" Natasha asked with a glare and he paled.

Ivan worked on something and soon electricity crackled. Few seconds later, Ivan walked around with those electrical weapons and some kind of suit and swinging them, cut the TV in half.

"Oh boy!" Peter said.

"Meet Ivan Vanko." Natasha said.

"We called him Whiplash." Fury said.

"I can see why." Steve said.

Chapter Text

"Well, now you've pissed off the government." Logan said.

"And I will do something that is 'me' next." Tony smirked as everyone snickered.

At Tony's mansion in Malibu, California, he 'woke' JARVIS up with four holographic desktops and the AI congratulated him on his openings and the Senate hearing which was seen on a monitor.

"Good morning JARVIS." Everyone said in unison.

"Good morning." Vision joked.

"That is some very advanced tech there." Peter said in excitement.

"Some of which I gave you, kid." Tony said with a smile.

JARVIS said it was good to have a video of him with clothes on.

Everyone burst out laughing as Vision said, "There is a special file for that."

U attempted to mix something in a blender but knocked it over accidentally, spilling it on the counter as Tony said he would dismantle it.

"Take it easy." Natasha said.

"Yeah, it's just a machine." Sam said.

"And Mr. Stark hurt its feelings." Vision said and everyone snickered.

JARVIS told Tony it was trying to counteract the symptoms and after testing, Tony saw the toxicity in his blood was 24%.

"So you told JARVIS but not me?" Pepper asked with a glare.

"And me neither." Rhodes said.

"I am the dumbest genius around." Tony said and everyone chuckled.

"And Mr. Richards would be the smartest." Xavier said and everyone nodded.

Tony unscrewed an Arc Reactor from his chest and pulled out the large chip on its back.

"That thing smokes?"Hill asked.

"It does." Tony said.

"The extra metal is poisoning you." Clint said and he nodded.

JARVIS said no other elements were viable replacements and the device keeping him alive was also killing him. Tony looked at his blackened veins against the translucent skin.

"How did you survive?" Thor asked in shock.

"Just watch, Point Break." Tony said.

"That looks very frightening." Aunt May said about his nerves.

JARVIS said Pepper was approaching and he should tell her but Tony commanded the AI to "mute" and lowered his shirt.

"Why wouldn't you tell me?" Pepper asked.

"Because I'm an idiot." Tony said glumly.

Tony put on the screensavers and walking through his workshop, started putting the holograms away as Pepper asked what he was thinking donating their art collection to the Boy Scouts of America, to which Tony said it was a worthwhile organization.

"I still think it is." Tony said and everyone sighed.

He then told Pepper it wasn't their art collection but his.

"You had the nerve." Pepper muttered.

"I bought it." Tony shrugged and she glared at him.

"I think Mr. Stark has a death wish today." T'Challa said and everyone nodded.

"Typical." Sam said.

Pepper said she felt entitled to it considering the ten years she had spent curating it. Tony said he needed a tax write-off.

"Really?" Clint asked and he shrugged.

Pepper started talking again when Tony told Dum-E to stop spacing out and do other work.

"Is it weird that I want to pet Dum-E and U?" Wanda asked.

"Uhhh, no." Pepper said and everyone chuckled.

Pepper said the Expo was a waste of time as Tony asked her to wear a surgical mask until she was feeling better. Tony said the Expo was his primary point of concern as Pepper told him it was his ego going crazy.

"It was." Pepper said.

"You really should have told Pepper or Rhodes."Steve said.

Tony then picked up a framed picture of the Iron Man suit and in spite of Pepper's protests, took down Barnett Newman and hung it up as she talked about the stocks of the company. Pepper brought up other ideas Tony was supposed to do but he called them boring and asked her to do them, to her shock. The two argued again for a bit before Tony said he had made her CEO.

"So this is how you became CEO." Fury noted.

"You two talk really fast." Steve said.

"Tell me about it." Rhodes shrugged.

Pepper asked Tony if he had been drinking, to which he replied chlorophyll and then seriously said he had made her CEO of Stark Industries, to her shock.

"Wow!" Hill simply said.

"Well, you did better than him." Natasha shrugged as Tony glared at her.

"She speaks the truth." Rhodes told him and he sighed, conceding their points.

Tony had a bot bring some vodka which he cracked open and then said he had been trying to think of a worthy successor and it was her. It had always been her.

"Awww!" Aunt May said as everyone nodded in approval.

Pepper sank onto a chair as Tony said he was appointing her without any legal issues and gave her a glass of vodka, telling her not to think and just drink. The two toasted and drank as Pepper had a bright smile on her face.

"Is that your motto or something?" Bruce asked.

"Yup." Tony said.

"And that, Peter, is why you shouldn't act like Tony Stark." Aunt May said and everyone snickered.

Pepper was still not the most pleased about that affair.

"That was actually nice." Steve noted about Pepper's reaction to being CEO.

Ivan stood in an alley in Moscow and a man gave him something in an envelope. Ivan thanked him and saw he had a passport now and a pass to Grand Prix de Monaco Historique.

"Good to know that wasn't my fault." Pepper said.

"You actually thought it was?" Tony asked her in shock and guilt.

"Well, now he is coming after you." Hill said about Ivan.

The Clash's The Magnificent Seven began to play as Pepper walked into a fitness room and asked Tony to sign the transfer paperwork for the notary, but Tony replied he was on Happy time as he was boxing with Happy in the boxing ring.

""Happy time?"" Sam asked, "That's the best you can do?"

"I wasn't on the top of my game back then." Tony said.

"Yeah. That is rather obvious." Professor Hulk said.

Tony blocked and dodged some attacks before hitting Happy on the head, staggering him back.

"What the hell was that?" Clint asked.

"Mixed martial arts." Tony shrugged.

"Dirty boxing." Logan said and everyone chuckled, "I once popped out my claws during boxing."

Tony apologized and said he had used mixed martial arts to which Happy replied it was dirty boxing. That was when an attractive woman in a white blouse and black pants with dark red hair arrived. Happy gaped at her. Tony turned around and had the same reaction. She eyed Tony critically before moving to Pepper.

"Look who it is!" Sam said.

"Hi Nat!" Bucky said happily and everyone clapped as Natasha gave a flattered smile.

She asked Pepper to sign as Happy told Tony never to take his eye off his opponent, only to receive a kick, to which he replied he was done.

"Poor Happy." Hill muttered.

"Oh you have no idea." Benjamin said.

Tony asked the woman her name and she introduced herself as Natalie Rushman.

"Isn't that close to your real name?" Bruce asked.

"Not really." Natasha whispered to herself as Wanda saw a flash of Natalia Alianovna in her head.

Tony welcomed her to the church to Pepper's shock who apologized to Natalie, calling her eccentric. She stepped into the ring and stared at Tony, measuring him, as he drank his water and walked out while Happy decided to give her a lesson.

"Now this is getting good." Pepper said as Natasha smirked.

"I would pass out if you measured me like that." Sam told Natasha who gave a flattered smile.

"Yeah. You would." Fury agreed.

Benjamin, Odinson and Professor Hulk looked at the screen sadly. It was almost saddening to see Tony and Natasha on the screen together, considering they had sacrificed themselves against Thanos. The first two of the original Avengers to meet were the first two to lose their lives.

Pepper told Tony she was from legal and if he didn't stop ogling her, she could be a very expensive sexual harassment lawsuit.

"Or very expensive surgery for me." Tony joked and everyone laughed.

Tony said he needed a new assistant.

"A new hot woman to hang around you." Bucky corrected.

"You think I'm hot?" Natasha asked with a seductive smile.

"Of course. No one comes close." Bucky said and everyone groaned at the couple's antics.

"Guys, there are people here." Steve said and the two immediately shook their heads and looked at the screen again, a little embarrassed as everyone laughed.

Pepper said she had three excellent candidates but Tony said he felt it was her. Happy asked Natalie if she had boxed before and he asked what kind.

"Oh you have no idea." Fury said as everyone chuckled.

"Looks like both you and him have death wishes, Mr. Stark." T'Challa noted.

"You might just be right about that, Your Highness." Xavier said with a smile.

"Well, what you did worked, Nat." Hill noted and she nodded.

Tony asked Natalie how her name was spelled. She told him and he looked her up. Pepper asked if he was googling her, to which he replied he thought he was ogling her.

"Rich." Wanda muttered.

Tony saw her resume and found her impressive, seeing that she knew Italian, Russian and Latin. He asked Pepper who spoke Latin, to which she started explaining it was a dead language as he saw pictures of Natalie modeling at Tokyo.

"Now that was fun." Natasha said.

"Was that a mission too?" Tony asked.

"Yup." Natasha said, "But a fun one."

Natalie was watching them when Happy told her not to take her eye off her opponent, only for her head to snap around. Her left hand closed on Happy's right arm. She pushed sideways on the arm, and in an instant her body had flipped completely around, her feet flying over her head and her legs fastening round Happy's neck. The man topped easily. "Oh my God!" Pepper howled.

Everyone clapped happily at the scene.

"Poor Happy." Aunt May muttered.

"He started it." Natasha shrugged.

Natalie unwound her legs from Happy's neck and got up as Happy made excuses but Tony called it a TKO. Natalie walked out of the ring and asked for his impression. Tony started joking when she said she meant his fingerprint.

"Hiiiree meee." Natasha mock squealed and everyone laughed.

Tony did as Pepper walked up next to them and Natalie asked, "Will that be all, Mr. Stark?" Tony said "No" but Pepper said, "Yes, that will be all, Ms. Rushman, thank you very much."

"Called it." Steve said.

"Good call." Benjamin agreed.

"You can't let him have good stuff." Aunt May said in amusement.

"Looks like someone is jealous!" Sam said and Pepper shook her head in amusement, though it was true.

"There was no need to be though. Of course I couldn't tell anyone that." Fury said and everyone snickered.

"I want one." Tony said and Pepper replied, "No."

"You won't have anything." Natasha said and everyone laughed as Tony looked away.

'And we want her back.' Odinson thought to himself.

And then appeared Monaco as the announcer spoke in French about the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique.

"You were supposed to spend a vacation and you raced there." Pepper sighed.

"I can relate." Loki of all people said.

Tony, Pepper and Happy stepped out of his car and walked into the building, Happy carrying a bright red-and-silver briefcase.

"Good thing you had that." Tony told Pepper.

Tony and Pepper walked inside to see all the rich people as Natalie greeted him in a pink dress with a professional smile and asked him about his flight, to which he replied excellent and said it was good to see her.

"Nice dress." Wanda commented.

"Thank you." Natasha said.

Tony and Pepper had a picture of them taken as they exchanged witty banter and then Tony told Natalie she looked fantastic to which she thanked him but then he called her unprofessional.

"Dude, stop with the flirting!" Rhodes said.

"Not even making it subtle." Fury shook his head.

"She always looks fantastic." Bucky said and Natasha looked at him with a smile.

"I agree." Tony said and everyone was surprised they agreed on something.

"And me?" Pepper asked with a glare.

"Oh you are breathtaking." Tony said and she smiled as everyone chuckled.

That was when Elon Musk greeted Pepper and congratulated her on the promotion, to which she thanked him.

"Elon Musk?!" Peter said excitedly.

"Peter is a huge fan." Aunt May said.

"He is right to be." Hill agreed.

"Yeah. He is a smart guy." Sam said.

"Oh absolutely." Rhodes agreed.

"He might even give our Stark a run for his money." Natasha said and everyone nodded thoughtfully.

"He might." Steve agreed.

"If given the chance that is." Benjamin said.

"Mr. Stark has an IQ of 270. Mr. Musk's IQ isn't known but it is estimated to be close to 170." Vision said.

"270?" Aunt May asked in astonishment and Tony shrugged.

"And yet he makes stupid decisions." Clint muttered.

"Dumbest genius, remember?" Tony said with a smirk.

"Well, it's not like Musk does everything perfectly either." Logan said.

"We are all human after all." Xavier said.

"Not me." Odinson and Thor said at the same time.

"Me neither." Loki said.

"I would consider myself somewhere in between." Professor Hulk said.

"I would consider myself a human who shares his brain with something else." Bruce said.

"To be honest, I like the guy." Tony said.

"Don't blame you." Scott said.

"Yeah, he holds up pretty well." Hope agreed.

"One of the few people Tony respects." Pepper told everyone to their shock.

"Maybe in another world, Elon Musk is Tony Stark." T'Challa joked and everyone chuckled.

"Could be." Fury muttered.

Tony greeted Musk and said he loved the designs for the Merlin engines as Musk thanked him and said he had an idea for an electric jet. Tony said they would make it work as him and Pepper walked off.

"Is that possible?" Bruce asked.

"According to Musk, six years from your time." Benjamin said and everyone shrugged.

Tony asked Pepper for a massage but she refused as he said he would have Natalie make an appointment but she refused. Tony apologized for springing it on her as Justin Hammer called out to them from behind, calling Stark "Anthony."

"And he's back." Rhodes said as everyone groaned.

Hammer clapped Tony on the shoulder, calling him pal as Tony told Pepper Hammer was his least favorite person on Earth as he turned to face him. Hammer then said Christine Everhart was there too as she walked up to them.

"Great." Scott groaned, "Her again."

"It's like she is a ghost haunting Stark or something." Hope said.

"Might be." Pepper said.

"Oh look at them, aren't they a happy couple?" Tony said sarcastically about Hammer and Everhart as everyone snickered. [1]

Some forced "Hi's" went around as Hammer told Christine Pepper was the new CEO of Stark Industries. Everhart said her editor would kill her if she didn't grab a quote for their Powerful Women issue, amusing Pepper.

"Oh my how the tables have turned." Scott said and everyone laughed.

"Trash walks back in sometimes." Hope said.

"Yeah, but it's still trash." Pepper said and everyone chuckled.

Hammer said she was doing a big spread on him in the Vanity Fair and she had done for Tony the previous year.

"She had!" Rhodes said and all chuckled.

Pepper walked away in spite of Tony's protests as Hammer and him took a picture, to Tony's displeasure and Everhart tried to ask them questions and Tony said Hammer had got his contract revoked, to which he said it was on hold. Hammer deflected and said he wanted to present something at Stark's Expo, surprising him. Tony said if Hammer made something that worked, he would get him a slot as Natalie pulled him to the table and Hammer said he had a slot.

"Now that was one presentation." Tony muttered to himself.

"I know." Pepper sighed.

"Worst presentation ever." Rhodes groaned.

As Hammer told Christine him and Tony were kidders, Stark checked his blood toxicity in the bathroom and found it at 53%.

"That high already?" Steve asked in shock.

"And you didn't tell anyone?" Sam said.

"I was dying." Tony said.

"And that doesn't entitle you to be stupid-" Rhodes started.

"And reckless." Pepper said.

"Guys!" Benjamin said and everyone focused on the recording.

"Got any new bad ideas?" Tony asked his reflection.

"Worst one." Tony muttered.

Tony was then surrounded by guards, photographers and fans as he walked towards the race track in a blue and black jumpsuit with "Stark" stitched on it. He jumped to the race track.

"This was it." Natasha sighed.

"The worst." Pepper said.

"I am the worst." Tony said.

Hammer was giving his interview to Christine when the TV showed Tony on the race track to his shock. Pepper beckoned Natalie and asked her about it but she said she hadn't known about it until now.

"New bad idea." Tony groaned.

"I would stay still if I were you and sitting next to Pepper." Loki said.

"Yeah, I agree." Thor said.

Tony shut up as Pepper shot him a glare.

One of the racers stormed off angrily after throwing off his helmet as Stark had taken his place and Pepper said she needed Happy to get there.

"God Bless Happy." Steve said.

Hammer tried to give his interview to Christine but she walked off on getting a phone call and she needed to cover Tony's latest screw up. Hammer looked at the TV again.

"His thunder keeps getting stolen." Odinson said and all laughed.

"Nice thunder joke." Thor said.

"Wouldn't expect any less from you." Tony said as the laughter stopped.

After revving the engine, Tony gave his assistant a thumbs up and the race began as everyone cheered. A figure dressed in orange walked up to the tracks with "Intervention" on his helmet along with the assistants. It was Ivan.

"Shit!" Sam said.

"Just watch." Tony said.

Pepper was waiting for Happy to arrive as Ivan walked onto the track, to everyone's shock while Hammer watched him with interest. Tony and the others raced out of the tunnel as Ivan emerged and his whips came out while his jacket was burnt off by his suit. He swung his whips skillfully.

"Oh God!" Steve said.

"That is not good!" Bruce said.

"For him." Tony said.

"Because of me." Pepper added.

"I know he is a bad guy and all but that still looked awesome." Peter said and everyone shook their heads.

Ivan then hit a car with his whip, destroying it as Pepper and Happy drove over to the tracks with Tony's suit. Tony drove over but Ivan hit his car with his whip, sending it flying off as Tony fell down and took off his helmet to look at his opponent. Ivan walked towards him as the cars blew up behind him.

"Shit!" Sam said.

"How are the cars blowing up?" Rhodes asked.

"No idea." Natasha said.

Pepper took the case from Happy as they struggled to drive while Ivan cut off Tony's car, only to see he wasn't there. Tony hit him from behind with the broken door but was sent flying off as Ivan tried to hit him but he dodged, one strike almost hitting his- thing!

"Close one." Pepper said.

Tony tried to escape as the whip slightly hit his leg, making him fall down near a car whose fuel was leaking. Ivan swung his whips and hit the car as Tony jumped off while it exploded. He got up to see a bit of his shoulder was on fire and put it out as him and Ivan faced each other. That was when Happy hit Ivan with the car as Tony jumped to the railing where Ivan got pinned. Happy backed off as Pepper yelled at Tony, asking if he was out of his mind.

"I was." Tony agreed.

He said he needed better security and she was CEO while also not being very grateful to Happy.

"You ungrateful son of a bitch." Fury said.

"You kiss your mother with that mouth?" Steve asked and everyone snickered.

"Just because you're dying doesn't give you the right to act like that." Hill told him.

"I know, I know." Tony said, "Dumb genius."

Ivan woke up again and Happy hit him a few more times before his whips started damaging the car, breaking doors and the roof as Pepper finally threw the case out. Tony put his foot on the handle and then the briefcase opened to reveal many folded layers of red and silver. It unfolded partly as Tony bent down and grasped two more handles. He pulled the main part of the Suit up and put it on his chest, stretching out his arms as the gold-titanium mesh and outer shell fitted itself over his arms, down his back, around his legs, and finally, over his head. The Arc Reactor glowed brightly as the Suit connected to it.

"Okay that was awesome!" Peter cheered.

"Yup." Rhodes agreed.

"Nice suit." Steve said.

"Ivan is so screwed now." Bruce said.

"That was a great suit-up." Thor said.

"Wait till you see my new one." Tony shrugged.

Iron Man tried to fire but Ivan staggered him back with his whips a few times before deflecting a few blasts and wrapping his whip around Tony. Tony's monitors flared as he got up and wrapping more of the whip around himself, he moved closer and punched Ivan twice before slamming him to the ground. He ripped out his Arc Reactor and crushed it as a medical team arrived to take him away. Happy and Pepper watched in horror while Hammer watched with interest as Ivan said, "You-you lose! You lose. You lose, Stark!"

"What does he mean?" Thor asked.

"Nothing good." Tony said.

Tony walked with another man and some police in a prison as the man said they had got nothing off Ivan and weren't even sure he spoke English.

"Oh he definitely speaks English." Rhodes said.

Tony asked for five minutes and went inside alone as Ivan sat in a square box-like prison with only a cot and a bench.

Wanda shuddered, reminded of her own imprisonment as Vision held her hand for comfort.

Ivan wore nothing but a pair of boxers and had a lot of tattoos on his body. Tony commented on his suit, calling it a passable knock-off.

"And now you're giving him ideas." Fury chided as everyone shook their heads.

Tony told him he could have sold it around to some countries as he said Stark came from a family of thieves and butchers and was trying to rewrite his history like all guilty men, forgetting the lives his family had destroyed. Tony asked where he got the design, to which he replied from his father Anton Vanko. Tony said he had never heard of him as Ivan said his father was the reason Tony was alive.

"Part of the reason." Fury said.

Tony said the reason he was alive was that Ivan had a shot, he took it and missed. Ivan said if he could make God bleed, people would cease to believe in him and he had to sit and watch. Tony joked he would watch it from a prison cell and walked off, saying he would send him a bar of soap. Before he was gone, Ivan told him that Palladium in the chest was a painful way to die. Tony stiffened and walked out of the door, slamming it shut as Ivan gave a triumphant laugh.

"How the hell did he know?" Pepper asked.

"No idea." Tony said.

"I have a bad feeling about this." Sam said.

"You're right to, bub." Logan said.

Chapter Text

"I have a feeling the government will us this to their advantage." Steve said.

"Right you are, Cap." Tony said.

On the TV, Stern was berating Tony for the incident at Monaco and his statement of the Suit not being invented for 5 to 10 years which was wrong. Tony muted the TV and told Pepper that Stern should give them a medal.

"He did eventually." Rhodes said.

"Yup. I remember that." Tony smirked.

"It was amusing to watch." Fury remembered as everyone snickered.

Pepper asked about the food which Tony said was her in-flight meal. She asked him if he had made that, to which he told her it had taken three hours.

"Awwww." Natasha, Hill and Aunt May said at the same time as Tony and Pepper blushed.

"That was nice of you, Tony." Steve said and Tony shrugged.

Pepper asked Tony what he wasn't telling her.

"The fact that you're dying." Sam said dryly.

"Due to metal poisoning." Logan added.

"From the thing that's supposed to keep you alive." Bruce said as Tony winced.

Tony said he didn't want to go home and that they should take a holiday but Pepper said as CEO she needed to be there. Tony then said as CEO she was entitled to a leave or as he called it- company retreat. Pepper said this wasn't the time due to the mess but Tony said that made it the best time.

"You're not making much sense." Peter said.

"When do I?" Tony shrugged.

"At that time, you made even less sense than usual." Pepper told him.

"Apparently, almost dying brought out the worst in Mr. Stark." Vision noted.

"Pepper as a CEO can take a leave but not that early." Natasha said and everyone nodded.

Tony said they needed to recharge their batteries but Pepper told him not everyone ran on batteries and both smiled.

"I thought you were going to give another quip." T'Challa said.

"Wasn't in the mood." Tony shrugged.

Ivan was sitting in his cell when the guard put a food tray on his cell. He picked it up and saw a message on it that said "Enjoy the potatoes." Ivan turned the white lump to see a bomb with a timer.

"Okay, those are not potatoes." Sam said.

"Duh!" Tony said as if it was obvious.

"I have always wondered how he escaped." Natasha said.

"Well, we're about to find out." Clint said.

"Damn right." Fury agreed.

Another prisoner was shoved inside and his inmate number was the same as Ivan, which caused Ivan to smirk.

"Oh my God!" Aunt May said in horror as everyone realized what was going to happen.

Ivan smashed the man's head around, killing him before fitting the bomb near the wall as the guard left a key. He unlocked the door and walked out.

"That man must be an infiltrator." Thor said.

"Right you are, brother." Loki agreed.

As he walked, a real guard tried to stop him but he snapped his neck.

"Oh God!" Wanda said in shock.

"Good thing he didn't fight you in hand to hand." Rhodes said and Tony paled as he thought of the possibilities.

He walked as the bomb exploded but two guards shut the gate so he turned around, only for some infiltrators to grab him and put a bag over his head as they shut him in a truck.

"So this is how it happened." Hill noted.

"A pretty smart plan." Fury said.

"So Hammer isn't as dumb as he appeared." Tony noted.

Later, the bag was taken off his head and he saw Justin Hammer sitting in the middle of a magnificent room, ready to eat.

"I always wondered how they met." Tony said.

Hammer told the guards to get the cuffs off Vanko and after some hesitation, they did as told and tried to argue a bit with Hammer but he sent them off before asking Vanko to sit, saying he would like to do business with him and apologizing for bringing him in the way he did.

"Is he being serious here?" Steve asked incredulously.

"Apparently." Professor Hulk said.

"I still don't get how he thought he would get a man like Ivan to work for him." Benjamin said.

"He was a fool." Odinson said.

"Yes. He is a vain fool." Thor agreed.

"Yup. And a dumb person." Tony said.

Hammer's men then brought some delicious food on his order.

"Okay, now I'm hungry." Wanda said as her mouth watered.

"We will have dinner." Xavier simply said.

Hammer told Ivan how him standing up to Tony in front of everyone was great.

"Nothing new about that." Tony shrugged.

"Hammer saw things the way he wanted to." T'Challa said.

Hammer said that instead of trying to kill Stark, he should be trying to kill his legacy and that the two of them were alike in a lot of ways with one difference- Hammer had resources and Ivan needed them. He could be Ivan's benefactor.

"Another difference is that Ivan has brains." Bruce said.

"Along with brawn." Peter noted.

"A very dangerous combination." Steve said grimly.

"And he will now try to do both- kill me and destroy my legacy." Tony said grimly.

Ivan laughed what seemed to be a mocking laugh and said something in Russian.

Natasha suddenly started laughing as everyone turned to her in shock.

"What is he saying?" Aunt May asked.

Struggling to control her laughter, Natasha said, "He says "When I die, do not wake me. It is better to be dead than live in your world.""

Everyone laughed as they realized how Ivan was mocking Hammer.

Hammer asked if he needed a translator but Ivan then said in English it was all good and the two shook hands happily and raised a toast before Vanko said he wanted his bird. Hammer asked if he wanted a bird but Ivan said he wanted his bird and Hammer finally agreed as he asked if the bird would be found in Russia.

"Yup." Natasha said.

"And now he will send men there too." Clint said dryly.

Pepper was talking to an anchor on the news as she asked her questions as Natalie worked next to her. Pepper told the anchor that Iron Man had never stopped protecting them as Rhodes asked where Tony was and she told him to go downstairs.

"It is obvious I tried." Pepper said.

"I never said you didn't." Tony told her.

"Don't ever say that." Pepper and Rhodes said simultaneously.

"Now that is going to be an interesting conversation." Hope said.

"Not that interesting." Tony sighed.

"You should have told me!" Rhodes said again.

"Yeah, yeah." Tony sighed.

"Not telling anyone was pretty reckless of you." Scott said.

Tony was sitting in front of his computers as JARVIS was telling him about Anton Vanko, a Soviet physicist who had defected to the US in 1943 but was accused of espionage and deported in 1967 and his son Ivan, who is also a physicist, was convicted of selling Soviet-era weapons-grade plutonium to Pakistan, and served fifteen years in Kopeisk prison. No further records existed.

"Family of crooks." Loki said.

"On point, Reindeer Games." Tony agreed.

"My records have been updated since then." Vision said.

Rhodes arrived and asked him to handle the situation, telling him they were sick of his games and were going to take his suits. Tony had said nobody would possess the technology for 20 years but someone else had it the previous day so it wasn't theoretical anymore.

"I said 5 to 10, Hammer 20." Tony said and everyone rolled their eyes.

Rhodes asked Tony if he was okay. Tony tried to get up and fell down as Rhodes supported him to his desk on his request. Tony ripped out his Arc Reactor and Rhodes was shocked that it was smoking.

"It is depleted." Tony said.

Tony then took the new Arc Reactor and put it in himself as Rhodes asked him about the high-tech crossword puzzle on his neck which he called a road rash.

"Yeah right." Bucky said.

"You really should have told someone." Fury said.

"Yeah, I get it. I should have." Tony said.

Rhodes wasn't convinced but let it go and told Tony that his lone gunslinger act was unnecessary. Tony said contrary to the popular belief, he knew what he was doing.

"Contrary to your popular belief, you did not know anything." Scott said and everyone nodded.

In Queens, New York, Hammer lead Ivan into his workshop, telling him he could work in peace.

"Not with Hammer pestering him." Tony said and everyone chuckled.

Hammer showed him the Suits which had a rushed prototype and weren't combat ready as Hammer started typing.

"Of course you rushed them." Thor said scornfully.

"This man talks more, works less." Odinson said.

"I can see that." Loki agreed.

"So he's hacking." Tony said.

"What is h hacking?" Bruce asked.

"Just watch." Professor Hulk said.

Ivan managed to access the computers as many lines of code appeared and he said their software was shit.

"Did he just say that to Hammer's face?" Pepper asked with a smirk and everyone nodded.

Hammer was about to show him his workplace when Ivan climbed up to see a suit but accidentally broke the head as Hammer assured he would fix it while Ivan climbed down.

"Clearly, he has his own ideas of where to work." Sam said.

Ivan asked what Hammer wanted the suits to do, to which he said he wanted them to put him in the Pentagon for the next 25 years so he could take a dump in Stark's yard.

"The dump would be more useful than anything you make." Tony said and everyone laughed.

"How he managed to run his company like that, I'll never know." Natasha said.

Ivan agreed and the two laughed as Hammer said he had a feeling.

"Of course you did." Hill sighed.

A long line of cars pulled up in front of Tony's mansion.

"The party." Pepper whispered as her and Rhodes already looked stressed while Tony looked embarrassed.

"Let it be known that I tried to stop him." Natasha said in her defense.

"Yes you did." Tony agreed.

Tony was looking at his blackened veins in the mirror and now his toxicity level was 89%.

"Damn!" Sam whispered.

"Why didn't you ever tell anyone?" Peter asked this time, shocked by how careless his mentor really was.

"Dumb genius." Tony shrugged.

"This time, just dumb." Wanda said and everyone nodded in agreement.

Natalie arrived and asked what watch he would like to wear to which he replied he would take a look and asked if he should just cancel the party, to which she said he probably should.

"Look!" Natasha said, "Evidence."

Natalie told it was ill-timed. Tony said it sent the wrong message and Natalie agreed it was inappropriate as he drank and she asked if it was dirty enough for him. He then asked her to bring him a watch as he sat down and she brought the entire case and sat on the arm of his chair, looking at him with a smile as he smiled back.

"Still ogling me." Natasha said.

"I didn't know you could kill me." Tony said.

Natalie started covering Tony's face with makeup compact as he said it was hard to get a read on her and asked her where she was from and she said legal. He then asked her a hypothetical question- If this was her last birthday party, how would she spend it. Natalie smiled and said, "I'd do whatever I wanted to do. With whomever I wanted to do it with." She left the room as Tony started considering.

"No, no, no, no, no…." Rhodes said.

"Out of all the things Miss Romanoff said, those were the ones you decided to act on." T'Challa said as he shook his head.

"With whomever you wanted to do it with?" Bucky asked Natasha flirtily.

"Whatever too." She responded with a flirty smile of her own.

"Guys!" Steve said in an annoyed tone and they looked away again, blushing with embarrassment.

Later, the party was going on in full swing as Tony, drunk out of his mind, danced in his Iron Man Suit with the DJ playing music next to him as several well-dressed men and scantily clad women stood around. Pepper was watching in astonishment as Tony did a fist pump with the DJ, hurting the DJ's hand.

"Oh my God!" Steve said as everyone shook their heads.

"Aren't you something?" Fury said sarcastically as Tony winced.

Rhodes arrived, assuring his superiors Iron Man would be under watch again in 24 hours. He walked inside to see the drunk Tony tripping away and was astonished. Rhodes was about to call someone as Pepper tried to stop him and said she would handle it. Tony slurred that the question he was asked most was how he peed in the suit.

"Really?" Steve asked in disgust.

"Don't tell me I peed in the Suit." Tony blushed in embarrassment.

"Oh my God!" Aunt May said as everyone shook their heads.

"Definitely don't want to be like you now." Peter said to Tony.

"Don't be." Tony agreed.

He then leaned forward and straightened again before saying "Just like that!"


"You peed in the Suit." Vision said as Tony put his head in his hands.

Pepper walked up to the stage and announced the party was going to be over, telling everyone to go home as Tony tried to protest but she pointed out he was out of control.

"I was." Tony agreed.

"If you had a little more alcohol, you would have killed yourself." Bruce said.

"Yet you would have had it." Professor Hulk said.

"Dumb genius." Tony shrugged again.

Tony tried to smooch her but she refused.

"Nope, nope, nope!" Pepper said.

Pepper said he had peed in his Suit and it wasn't sexy as he said his Suit had a filtration system and she could drink that water.

"Ewww!" Hope said, "Seriously?"

"What the hell was wrong with you, man?" Scott asked.

"Gross!" Clint said too.

"Yeah, I'm an idiot." Tony agreed.

Pepper then handed him the mic and took the bottle.

"And now you've handed him something." Rhodes said as everyone was a bit uncomfortable.

Tony first appeared serious, saying Pepper was right and the party was over, but then revealed his true colors, saying the party had been over for him an hour and a half ago and the after party was going to start in 15 minutes and if anyone didn't like it, there was a door. He then blasted a glass pane as everyone including Pepper ducked to avoid the glass shards.

"What are you doing?" Steve asked, shaking his head.

"It was a bit funny till now. Now it isn't." Sam said.

The women threw up wine bottles as Tony blasted them while Rhodes walked off angrily, looking at three Suits.

"How did you get one?" Wanda asked.

"He was authorized." Vision said.

"So that's how he just took it." Fury said.

"Someone could have died!" Steve told Tony.

"I know! I'm an idiot!" Tony agreed.

Tony blasted more bottles, using mirrors and then used his Unibeam to shatter a melon as everyone turned on hearing Rhodes' voice, "I'm only going to say this once. Get out!" Everyone ran off as Tony and Rhodes faced each other.

"You left me with no other choice." Rhodes said.

"I didn't." Tony agreed.

"Before trying to control others, maybe you should learn to control yourself, Mr. Stark." T'Challa told Tony.

"Yes, your Highness." He said.

Rhodes told Tony he didn't deserve to wear the Suit as Tony asked the DJ to play a tune to which he could kick Rhodes' ass. The DJ played Queen's Another One Bites the Dust as Rhodes grabbed Tony in a chokehold but he flew up and they crashed through a glass pane into a gym.

"Ouch!" Hill said.

"How embarrassing." Aunt May said.

Tony walked away, telling Rhodes to put it back where he found it but he threw the removable cylinder of a weightlifting dumbbell on Tony's head and he turned around, avoiding another one that went into the shower stall. Tony grabbed a dumbbell and shaking the cylinder off one end, smashed Rhodey with it, sending him flying off.

"I didn't know how to use it." Rhodes said.

"You were a better fighter but Tony knew how to use the Suit." Steve noted.

"So kind of a fair fight." Sam said.

"Not really." Benjamin said.

"But it was needed to prevent you from being an idiot, Stark." Logan told Tony who winced in shame at his behavior.

Tony said Iron Man didn't need a sidekick as Rhodes hit him with a post, telling him to sidekick that. Rhodes then threw Tony onto an upper floor as Pepper berated Natalie, telling her she was onto her.

"I tried!" Natasha said.

"I know." Pepper sighed.

Tony and Rhodes crashed down as everyone backed off in fear. Tony slammed Rhodes back down as Happy led Pepper away and Natalie walked away.

"Briefing Fury?" Bucky asked.

"She was." Fury said.

"Yup." Natasha agreed.

Tony and Rhodes continued fighting, Rhodes gaining the upper hand for a moment before they traded blows and Tony slammed him into a table. Tony looked at the crowd watching them from outside through the glass doors and screamed angrily, making them run off in fear.

Tony looked down in shame.

"That's the worst you did?" Steve asked.

"Yes." Tony said and everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

"Well, at least no one died." Sam said.

"Someone could have and it would have been on me!" Tony said, "I'm an idiot!"

Rhodes smashed Tony with a table, sending him across the room. Rhodes tried to reason with Tony but he refused and raised his hand, firing a ray as Rhodes fired his own.

"Why did you do that?" Thor asked.

"To die." Tony sighed.

"You wanted me to do it?" Rhodes asked, appalled.

"Yup. I'm a horrible person." Tony said.

There was an explosion and all the glass shattered. When the dust cleared, Tony was lying still but his Suit lit up and he saw Rhodes looking back at him sadly before taking flight, flying into the night sky.

"The first flight of the War Machine." Sam said.

"And the downfall of the Iron Man." Hill noted.

"Yup." Tony and Rhodes said at the same time.

"Your behavior at the time made matters even worse." Xavier told Tony.

"I know. I know." Tony said, "I should have handle stuff better."

"Well, let's watch further." Benjamin said.

Chapter Text

"What did you do next?" Sam asked Rhodes.

"You will see." Rhodes said.

In the Air Traffic Control room at the top of a tower, Major Allen and several other cadets stood as Rhodes flew down in his War Machine armor and landed while they all looked at him in awe.

"Nice landing." Natasha said.

"Thanks." Rhodes told her.

Major Allen was awed as Rhodes said they should take it inside and they did.

"Well, you're getting popular." Tony said and Rhodes sighed.

"Why did you fly away with the Suit?" Peter asked innocently.

"Because by giving them one suit, I'm preventing them from barging into Tony's house to take away all of them." Rhodes said.

"Thanks mate." Tony said and Rhodes shrugged.

"Even though you were a dick to me and Pepper, though you had a reason for that, I got your back." Rhodes said.

"Me too." Pepper said as the two held hands and Tony nodded at both of them.

Tony was sitting somewhere, still wearing his Suit, with the exception of the helmet, eating donuts.

"That is a lot of donuts." Steve said.

"I was hungover." Tony shrugged.

"Maybe you should try some water." Bruce told him.

Then it was revealed that Tony was sitting inside an actual huge donut of a restaurant called "Randy's Donuts."

"Now that is a big donut." Thor said.

"Biggest one I have seen so far." Odinson agreed.

A very familiar voice asked Tony to 'exit the donut' as he looked down to see Fury standing in his trench coat. He looked at Tony and walked off.

"And our Director is here." Hill said with a smirk.

"Never thought I'd tell you to exit a donut." Fury told Stark.

"And I never thought I would exit a donut." Tony said.

"How do you exit a donut?" Pepper wondered.

Later, Tony was sitting in an empty restaurant with Fury and a cup of coffee. Tony told him he didn't want to join Fury's band as Fury asked sarcastically how that was working out.

"Pretty terrible." Aunt May said.

Tony asked if he should look in the eye or the eyepatch and asked if it was a hallucination.

"You shouldn't ask that." Clint told Tony.

"Look at the eye. Never at the eyepatch." Fury said and everyone wondered what that was about.

Fury leaned forward across the table and said, "I am very real. I'm the realest person you're ever gonna meet."

"Can't argue with that." Tony said.

"Me neither." Steve agreed.

"Well, I think about every possibility." Fury shrugged.

As Tony asked where the staff was, Fury turned his head to see the alarming veins on his neck and a woman in some kind of a black suit entered.

Bucky whistled as everyone turned to him and Natasha, who was smirking.

Natalie Rushman, clad in SHIELD attire said that they had secured the perimeter.

"Well, hello Natalie." Steve said as Natasha winked at him.

Tony just looked at her in shock, struggling to form a witty retort as Fury smirked at him. Tony tried to say she was fired but she said it wasn't up to him.

"Of course it isn't." Tony shrugged.

"It is actually very amusing to see you at a loss of words." Loki said in amusement as Tony glared at him but he didn't back down.

She sat next to Fury who put an arm around her and introduced her as Agent Natasha Romanoff as Tony greeted her.

"Hi Natasha!" Steve, Bucky, Clint, Sam, Thor and Bruce said at the same time as Natasha smirked while everyone except Fury clapped.

Natasha told him she was a SHIELD Agent monitoring him as Fury told him how he had made Pepper the CEO and given Rhodes his Suit, to which Tony replied he had taken it, much to Fury's shock who asked him if Rhodes had kicked his ass and taken it.

"That's what happened." Bucky said.

"It did." Fury agreed.

"Rhodes is the only one who can." Benjamin said.

"Yup." Tony agreed.

Natasha said there were redundancies to prevent unauthorized usage as Fury glared at Stark.

"Colonel Rhodes was authorized." Vision said.

Tony asked Fury what he wanted from him but Fury turned the question on him in annoyance, telling him contrary to his belief, he wasn't the center of Fury's universe.

"All of them are." Hill said and Fury shook his head.

Natasha then pushed a syringe into Tony as he gasped as Natasha looked at his neck while he joked if they were trying to steal and sell his kidney.

"Wasn't that too much force?" Pepper asked.

"He wasn't cooperating." Natasha said.

"Nope." Tony said.

"That was actually very satisfying." Fury said as everyone smirked.

Fury said the lithium dioxide was abating his symptoms as Tony said he had tried every known permutation and combination of every known element but nothing worked.

"Then how?" Peter asked.

"Just watch." Professor Hulk said.

Fury said he hadn't tried them all.

Tony smiled as Logan said, "And now you will see."

Ivan was working as Hammer and Jack brought a cage covered with a cloth and revealed the bird inside it but Ivan said it wasn't his bird. There was some arguing before Hammer told Ivan he shouldn't get too attached to things and learn to let go.

"He won't." Tony said.

"It looks like the same bird to me." Natasha said.

"It is." Clint said as he squinted his eyes.

"Right you are, Agent Barton." Xavier told him.

"So Ivan was screwing with Hammer." Bucky said.

Justin then noticed the suits didn't have heads and asked Jack to put it on in confusion just to display in front of Ivan it wasn't a head.

"And that is why this guy sucks." Tony said.

"I can see that." Pepper said as everyone watched in amusement.

Hammer said 'drone better' as people make mistakes. Hammer protested until Ivan told him not to get too attached to things and learn to let go, just like he had said to him. Justin told him the drones better rock the show.

"Burn." Sam said as everyone laughed.

"The drones did rock the show." Tony said.

"Yup." Pepper said.

"A little too much." Rhodes said.

"Let's not talk about it." Natasha said and they all nodded.

At the army base, a General was pleased with Rhodes as the Suit would get the Senate off his ass and said he wanted Hammer to weaponize it for a presentation at the Expo. Rhodes protested but the General said the world needed to see that.

"No, the Senate needed to see that." Fury said.

He told Rhodes that was an order and he accepted as the General said he had made his country proud.

"Right." Sam muttered as him and Rhodes exchanged a look.

In Tony's house by the sea, Tony and Fury sat in a lounge as two agents stood on the balcony. Fury said the thing in his chest was based on unfinished technology.

"Unfinished?" Thor asked.

"You had to show that!" Tony said to their future friends.

"Well, we didn't cut my worst moments either." Odinson said as he remembered his 'Bro Thor' phase with a shudder. [1]

Thor assumed Odinson was talking about his embarrassing moments at Sakaar.

Loki did too, "I remember those."

Tony tried to protest as Fury said the Arc Reactor was a stepping stone to something greater. Howard was about to kick off an energy race that would have dwarfed the arms race and made the nuclear reactor look like a Grade-A battery.

"Whoa!" Steve said.

"I didn't know that." Natasha said.

"Because you're only supposed to act like you know everything." Fury told her and she shrugged.

"What stopped him?" Peter asked.

"Technology of his time." Tony said.

Tony asked Fury about Anton Vanko as Fury said they were two sides of the same coin, telling him why he had been deported and then raised his son in a vodka-fueled rage. Tony asked Fury what he meant by him not having tried everything as Fury said Howard had said that only Tony had the knowledge and resources to finish what he had started.

"Wow!" Pepper said.

"Yeah, he said that." Tony shrugged.

Tony was shocked as Fury told him that if he was what Howard said, he could solve his heart's riddle. Tony protested how Howard wasn't his biggest fan as his happiest day had been when he had shipped Tony off to boarding school and Fury said it wasn't true. Tony then said Fury must have known his father better than he did, which Fury said was true.

"Lot of people did." Tony said with a look at Steve and Bucky who didn't say anything.

"He was a good man who couldn't handle parenting." Fury said as Tony nodded.

Fury then revealed Howard had been a founding member of SHIELD.

"He was?" Wanda asked in shock.

"Yup." Tony and Fury said simultaneously.

Two more agents brought a grey case in front of a shocked Stark as Fury said he needed to go.

"You're leaving us on a cliffhanger?" Clint asked.

"I got an intelligence organization to run." Fury shrugged.

Tony asked Fury about the grey case but Fury said he had got it as Tony protested.

"You did figure it out." Fury said unrepentantly.

"Yeah." Tony snorted.

Fury said Natasha would remain a floater at Stark Industries as her and Phil Coulson arrived.

"Coulson." Tony said fondly.

"Yeah." Steve shared his sentiments.

"I never knew him. He seems like a nice guy." Bruce said.

"He was." Clint said.

Fury went off after inclining his head at an angle with Tony and telling him he had got his eye on him.

"When he does that, he is being serious." Hill said.

Natasha told him they had disabled communications and there would be no contact with the outside world before wishing him luck and walking off.

"Got a job to do." Natasha shrugged as everyone chuckled.

Tony tried to get Coulson on his side but he said he would tase him and watch Supernanny while he drooled on the carpet as Tony decided not to mess with him and he walked off, telling him to enjoy his evening's entertainment. Tony looked at the box which was his father's property.

"Okay, not so nice." Tony said.

"I wasn't expecting him to be that savage." Aunt May said.

"That nice look is to fool you." Natasha told her.

"Appears so." Peter said.

"You have no idea." Fury said as he remembered some of Coulson's exploits with his team.

At the army base, Rhodes took out the Arc Reactor with Major Allen as Hammer arrived happily with two cadets pushing a large metal box behind him as he drooled over the Suit.

"He appears to be happy." T'Challa said.

"He is going to orgasm or something?" Tony joked.

"Wouldn't be surprised if he did." Benjamin said.

"Me neither." Scott said.

"Me neither." Hope agreed.

Hammer said he would change the software as Rhodes said he wanted weapons and Hammer popped the lollipop in his mouth.

"Don't touch the software!" Tony protested before turning to Rhodes, "Thanks man!"

"No problem." Rhodes said.

"Don' blame you for your reaction." Scott agreed.

"This guy is full of himself." Hope said about Hammer, "But he is more entertaining that Cross and Stane. I will give him that."

"Yeah. That is true." Scott agreed.

"At least try to look professional." Natasha said to Hammer.

"He is too much of an idiot to notice." Bucky said.

Hammer then presented his weapons to them- Clearage high-tech semi-automatic nine-millimeter pistol, which he then called too downtown, M-24 shotgun, pump action five-round magazine, but dismissed that too as they weren't hunters, F-N-2000, from Belgium, but it wasn't disco enough, mill-four military grenade launcher which had tear gas, smoke, hippie control. Rhodes and Allen didn't laugh at joke.

Everyone was laughing at how pathetic Hammer was though.

"Not disco enough?" Aunt May said between laughs.

"Really? Not a hunter?" Sam said.

"Trust me. You're not." Benjamin said as he remembered Kraven the Hunter.

"This is the most unprofessional man I have ever seen. And I'm counting myself." Logan said.

"And hippie control?" Pepper said as everyone continued laughing.

"I was composed there but I was laughing inside at the guy." Rhodes said.

"And he thought he could give a presentation." Scott said.

"He should just take a dump instead." Hope shrugged.

Hammer took out an M-134 762 minigun but got no response so he then took out his best weapon- the ex-wife.

"How angry was she?" Natasha wondered.

"A lot." Clint said.

"Wouldn't blame her. The guy eats everyone's head like candy." Tony joked.

"That could have worked with kinetic energy." Rhodes said.

"So the only thing of his that worked." Peter concluded and everyone nodded.

"But with a condition." Wanda reminded him and he nodded.

Rhodes said he would take all of it, stunning Hammer.

"Oh boy!" Tony said.

"I know." Rhodes agreed.

"This must be his lucky day." T'Challa said.

Tony opened the case and looked at its contents, including blueprints and newspapers and books. He then put on a video of Howard where he was about to give some kind of speech.

"Looks like behind-the-scenes footage." Peter commented.

Howard said how everything was achievable through technology, including the possibility of world peace as Tony flipped the pages of the book. Howard started fumbling.

"One mistake and back to square one." Pepper said.

"Yup." Steve agreed.

Howard began again but a young Tony appeared in the background behind the model.

"Hello." Pepper said sweetly with a wave.

"Hey kiddo." Rhodes said.

"I'm a riot." Tony said.

"You look cute." Scott said.

"All kids do." Aunt May said.

Before Howard could continue, he noticed Tony and saw him holding a circle.

"Oops!" Steve said.

Howard told him sharply to put it back as the adult Tony watched the footage of his younger self putting it back and a worker took him away to Maria.

Tony winced at that as Pepper held his hand for comfort. While Tony's childhood hadn't been the worst, it wasn't rainbows and sunshine either.

Steve and Bucky wondered how much Howard had changed from when they knew him.

In the nearby room, Morgan Stark, Cassie Lang and Lila Barton were eating their dinner when they heard the recording from the next room and Morgan realized there were some tears in her eyes.

"What happened?" Lila asked kindly.

"Nothing. Just remembered something." Morgan said as she wiped her tears.

"What?" Cassie asked.

"When I was a kid, I interrupted my dad the same way he interrupted his in the video." Morgan said with tears, "He had just discovered time travel. But unlike his father, my dad didn't tell me to go away. He indulged me instead." [2]

With that, her tears returned as Lila and Cassie hugged her to offer comfort. Tony may not have been a perfect man. No one was. But he had been a great father to Morgan for the first five years of her life. The best she could ask for. And she still loved him 3000.

Back in the viewing room, everyone continued watching.

The videos continued, with Howard fumbling and even saying he wanted to show his ass in one of them.

Everyone laughed hard at that.

"Oh my God!" Sam said.

"I don't think anyone wants to see that." Thor said.

"Nope." Loki agreed.

Finally, he addressed Tony in a recording and the grown up Tony looked at the video as Howard said he was limited by technology of his time but Tony could figure it out. And when he did, he would change the world. He finished with, "What is and always will be my greatest creation - is you." Tony and Howard stared at each other, separated in reality by 35 years.

Everyone watched silently as they absorbed the emotional scene and Pepper held Tony's hand for comfort. Once again, the most sensitive people in the room- Wanda, Peter, Aunt May and Pepper sniffed.

Tony drove in his car, stopping to buy strawberries from a man who said they believed in him.

"And I have just brought strawberries." Tony sighed.

"It's okay." Pepper told him.

At Stark Industries, Pepper was talking to someone about maintenance of propriety ownership while on the news the anchor criticized both Tony and Pepper, asking for the qualifications of the latter as Tony entered, with an old woman saying she had tried to stop him as Tony muted the TV.

"Thank you." Pepper said.

"Don't mention it." Tony shrugged.

"That channel seems lacking and biased." Fury said.

"This is terrible news though." Hill said.

"Yeah, it's like he personally hates you or something, Pepper." Hope told her.

"Most of these guys are like that." Pepper shrugged.

Pepper continued talking as Tony took his seat. Pepper was asked if Tony would attend the Expo. She glared at him and said he won't, in spite of his protests. Tony asked if he could get 30 seconds to which she started counting down.

"Savage." Natasha said.

"I have my moments." Pepper shrugged.

Tony then said he was working on apologizing and asked to move the revolving object on the desk, but she refused.

"To be honest, it is distracting." Bruce said.

"Yes it is." Professor Hulk agreed.

"Yes. Such images can distract the mind." Xavier said.

"Thank you!" Tony said gratefully.

"I had it removed." Pepper reminded him.

"Yes thank you." Tony said to her too.

Tony tried to tell her about his condition but he fumbled a lot and an annoyed Pepper stopped him, saying she was putting out his fires and taking the heat for it. She then noticed the box on her desk as Tony looked up hopefully but she said she was allergic to them and he deflated.

"Sorry." He said.

"It's okay." Pepper shrugged.

Tony said this was progress as he had known there was a correlation between her and strawberries before Pepper told him to leave.

"Oh boy!" Rhodes said.

That was when a professionally dressed Natasha entered with Happy as Tony realized they were both under Pepper now and joked how he lost both kids in the divorce.

"Bad joke?" Tony asked.

"Tasteless." Natasha said and he paled.

Tony asked 'Natalie' if she was blending in well as he realized her and Pepper didn't care for him much currently. Pepper and Happy walked out of the office as Tony complimented Natasha and asked her if she spoke Latin. She spoke a sentence and when he asked the meaning, she said he could either drive himself home or she could have him collected.

"And I'm being very lenient." Natasha said as Tony sighed.

Natasha walked out as Tony stopped the revolving device with scotch tape and threw the strawberries in the dustbin after putting one in his mouth. He then noticed the Expo model and removing the cloth, looked at it carefully. It had a small plate that said- "THE KEY TO THE FUTURE IS HERE."

"The key to the future?" Steve asked.

"Just watch." Tony said.

Tony stared at the model after shutting one eye and later drove back home with the model. In his workshop, him and JARVIS started manipulating the projection.

"You can do that too?" Peter asked excitedly.

"I can do a lot of stuff." Tony said before turning to Vision, "And we're at work now."

"I believe you would give me twelve percent of the credit." Vision said as Tony and Pepper laughed while Wanda look confused.

"What?" She asked.

"I will tell you later." He said.

Tony manipulated it a bit more as his eyes fell on the great globe which looked like an atom so Tony looked for the nucleus and had JARVIS highlight the unisphere. JARVIS asked him what he was trying to achieve, to which Tony said he was trying to rediscover and element as he removed all the background stuff. He clapped his hands and threw them apart and commented how Howard was still taking him to school in spite of being dead for almost twenty years.

"I don't say this often but that was awesome." Steve said.

"Thanks Cap." Tony said gratefully.

Tony stared at the hologram as JARVIS said it would be a good replacement for Palladium and Tony said, "Thanks dad." JARVIS said it wasn't possible to synthesize it though when Tony looked at Dum-E and said they were on hardware mode again.

"Hi Dum-E!" Wanda said fondly as everyone chuckled.

"Well, someone is going to work." Loki commented.

"Work very hard." T'Challa realized and Tony nodded.

Tony then worked hard, hammering stuff around as music played and he set up more stuff, setting up huge pipes from many angles.

"Always a pleasure to see you work, Stark." Thor said.

"Thanks, Point Break." Tony said.

Coulson arrived, saying Stark had broken the perimeter as Tony asked him where he had been to which he said he had been doing stuff.

"New Mexico?" Thor asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Yes." Fury said with a nod.

"Wasn't that a coincidence." Hill said.

Coulson then saw Captain America's shield and asked him why that was there and if he knew what it was.

"Always the Captain America fanboy." Natasha smiled.

"Don't blame him." Bucky said.

Tony said that was what he needed as with Coulson's help he put it under a pipe to support it.

"So I just got symbolically relegated to supporting Stark?" Steve asked.

"And now you have blown up his ego." Rhodes said ad Tony smirked.

Coulson then said he had been reassigned to New Mexico and walked off saying they needed him. Tony joked that they needed him more than they knew but he said not that much and walked out.

"Yes that much!" Tony said as everyone rolled their eyes.

"And now he is off to New Mexico." Fury said.

"Where interesting things happened." Loki said.

Tony went back to work, flipping a switch and running the pipes in a circle as they glowed with a bluish light and Tony turned a steering wheel as he managed to set some of the room on fire but finally hit the small triangle in the center and it glowed.

"Ooooh!" Pepper said.

"You burnt stuff up but you did it." Bruce said cheerfully.

Tony flipped a switch as the lights receded and he saw the triangle, commenting on the ease with which he had done it and removed it with a pair of pliers. JARVIS said, "Congratulations sir. You have created a new element."

"Yeah!" Thor, Peter, Bruce and Professor Hulk cheered at the same time.

"Just like that?" Hope asked.

"Just like that." Tony said.

"Kind of anti-climatic." Scott said, "But still nice."

"We discovered the element, Viz." Tony told Vision.

"It appears I am getting credit after all." Vision said.

JARVIS said the reactor accepted the element, to Tony's joy as the AI started running diagnostics. Somewhere else, Ivan worked on his own Arc Reactor.

"My dark version." Tony said.

"He is working too." Thor noted.

Hammer, who was playing golf with Stern called him, wanting to see the drones but he said they weren't ready and could only 'make salute' before cutting the call, making Hammer furious. Ivan was working on another whip though.

"Oh boy!" Peter said.

"Make salute?" Steve asked.

"Let's not talk about it." Rhodes said.

"Temper tantrum incoming." Tony said.

Hammer and 2 guards walked to Ivan, taking away his bird, pillows and shoes as Hammer asked if he felt bad for having his stuff taken, because he did. He wondered if Ivan was a genius or a fraud.

"He's smarter than you." Tony said.

Hammer said he had gotten a piece of Stark tech to save himself and Ivan was just paperweight now as he spoke Russian and Hammer lost his temper. He said they would renegotiate their terms or Ivan would die and then he walked off, leaving his two guards with him.

"He hates his guards." Logan joked.

"What a tantrum." Pepper said.

Tony and his bots were cleaning up the mess when he got a call from a blocked number. It was Ivan, who had killed and hung his guards.

"Oh boy!" Peter said as everyone looked shocked.

Tony was shocked as Ivan said he had taken his advice on the Suit.

"Told you." Fury said as Stark shrugged.

JARVIS tried to locate him as he said what his family had done to Ivan's family in 40 years, he was going to do to Tony in 40 minutes.

"Come and try." Rhodes snarled.

JARVIS failed to locate Ivan as Tony saw a picture of Hammer and spinning around, put the new Arc Reactor in, telling JARVIS to run tests right now as it glowed a bright blue color and Tony said it tasted like coconut and metal.

"You can taste it?" Bruce asked and Tony nodded.

"The veins are getting normal." Clint noted.

The blackened veins were healed as Tony screamed happily, feeling better as the light of the Arc Reactor engulfed the screen.

"Things are about to take a turn." Fury said as everyone nodded.

Chapter Text

"So now we're going to see the Expo?" Tony asked.

"Yes." Benjamin nodded.

"Man that was embarrassing." Rhodes said.

"At least Hammer was caught." Pepper said.

"Yeah. I liked twisting his arm." Natasha said.

"It was satisfying to see." Pepper agreed, "I wonder what happened to him."

"You know Luke Cage used to be Carl Lucas, right?" Logan asked and they nodded.

"When he was at Seagate, he heard rumors of a millionaire there." Professor Hulk said.

"His imprisonment there was kept a secret from all the other inmates." Xavier said.

"Well, he isn't coming out I guess." Tony sighed in relief.

"No." Odinson agreed.

At the Expo, Happy stopped the car as Natasha and Pepper walked out and into the Expo where Hammer was dancing on the stage. The two women exchanged amused looks.

"What is wrong with this guy?" Tony said.

"He is arrogant and stupid." Natasha said.

"Though he is more amusing than Cross and Stane." Hope said.

"Yeah, he can give us some laughs at least." Rhodes agreed.

"Like he is giving right now." Sam said.

"His arrogance would be his downfall." Steve said.

"Right you are, Captain." T'Challa agreed.

Hammer then gave a speech saying how their brave men and women had been suffering in war and criticized Tony for keeping the Iron Man technology out of reach before saying he had made Hammer Drones as the new face of the US military. And then several drones appeared on the stage on raised platforms- the army, the navy, the air force and the marines. Everyone applauded as Natasha looked emotionlessly while Pepper looked a bit shocked.

"Taking credit for his friend's work." Tony said.

"Ex friend." Wanda corrected.

"Eh, that's all he can do." Clint said.

Hammer then said that in spite of the revolutionary technology, a man needed to be present at war and welcomed Rhodes as Pepper was shocked. Ivan, on the other hand, was typing into the drones.

"What is he doing?" Scott asked.

"He is trying to control the drones." Aunt May said as everyone looked at her in shock.

"I was there too." She said, shocking everyone again, "Along with Peter and my husband."

"Wow!" Pepper muttered.

"That's quite a coincidence." Fury said.

"Yeah, I remember being there." Peter said as he exchanged a look with Benjamin.

Rhodes appeared in the War Machine Suit on a raised platform and saluted along with the drones and Hammer who was about to speak more when suddenly they all heard a soaring sound and looked up to see Iron Man flying in. Natasha and Pepper looked shocked as Iron Man in the Mark VI Armor flew up to the stage and landed on his knee. Everyone stood up and applauded as he stood up.

"That was an awesome entrance!" Peter said.

"You always know how to steal the show." Hill said.

"Yup." Tony shrugged.

"And now it's all about to go to hell." Rhodes said.

"I can see that." Thor agreed.

"Yes. Ivan is up to something." Loki said.

"It isn't pretty." Bruce agreed.

Tony walked up to Rhodes, telling him everyone was in danger and to trust him though Rhodes wasn't in the mood due to obvious reasons. Tony told Rhodes Hammer was working with Vanko, shocking him as he asked Hammer where Ivan was, who acted all confused until the weapons of Rhodes and all the other drones suddenly pointed themselves at Tony.

"And this is it." Rhodes said.

"The ruining of the Expo." Pepper said.

"Yup. That was horrible." Tony said.

"Damn right." Fury agreed.

Tony asked Rhodes if it was him as he said it wasn't. Ivan had hacked into his suit and all the drones and made them aim at Tony as he flew up and they fired above, shattering the glass, making all the civilians run off in fear.

"Good thing they evacuated themselves." Vision said.

"And it's on." Sam said.

Rhodes told Tony they had been locked onto him as the War Machine Suit and the drones fired at him and he dodged all of the shots, with some glass being shattered as the civilians ran off. Hammer went up to Jack and the technicians and asked to regain control of the drones as a technician said he had locked them out. Natasha and Pepper arrived, the latter asking who had locked him out.

"You will soon find out." Natasha said as her and Pepper exchanged a look.

Hammer said they had it handled as Pepper questioned him incredulously and he said it was Tony's fault.

"Typical of Hammer." Tony shrugged.

Hammer told her to go away before Natasha grabbed his arm and twisted it to Pepper's shock, making him grunt in pain as she asked him who was behind it and he finally said it was Ivan Vanko as she let him go and walked off, leaving a stunned Pepper behind.

"You go girl!" Bucky said as Natasha smirked and Steve looked at her with a smile.

"That was just badass." Sam said.

"The first time I realized Natalie was something else." Pepper said.

"Which she was." Tony said.

"Thanks." Natasha shrugged at everyone's praise.

Pepper then called the NYPD in spite of Hammer's protests.

"Did he just call you 'honey?'" Tony asked.

"I didn't pay attention." Pepper said.

She made Hammer move out of the way as she talked to the technician. Tony continued flying as the War Machine Suit and the drones fired at him and JARVIS failed in rebooting Rhodes' suit.

"Sorry Colonel." Vision said.

"It's all right, Viz." Rhodes said.

Ivan watched as the drones continued targeting Tony. Natasha walked out as Happy saw her and she asked him to drive her away. He said he wasn't so she asked if he wanted her to drive, which made him agree to drive her. He then sat on the driver's seat as Natasha sat on the backseat and he drove her off.

"He doesn't like anyone else driving the car." Tony said.

"Yeah I know." Natasha said.

"That's why she said it." Fury said.

Tony was flying around when the drones on the ground fired missiles, making the civilians run off in fear as more of them aimed at Tony but he avoided and a drone on his tail was hit, sending it crashing to the ground.

"YES!" Thor, Bruce and Professor Hulk cheered.

"You have got some brains there." Loki said.

"Thanks Reindeer Games." Tony shrugged.

Ivan diverted the drones and they all fired at the building, making some rubble crash as the people ran off in fear. One of the drones saw a kid in an Iron Man mask and assumed it was Iron Man, aiming at him as the kid aimed his palm at it.

"THAT'S ME!" Peter yelled as he jumped out of the couch.

"What?" Steve asked.

"The kid! It's me!" Peter said excitedly. [1]

"Yes. It is us." Benjamins said as Aunt May widened her eyes in horror.

"PETER PARKER! HAVING A TOY MASK DOESN'T MAKE YOU IRON MAN!" She yelled as Tony, Pepper and Rhodes shifted away uncomfortably.

"Uhhhh…I'm so sorry." Peter started babbling, "It's just I was wearing the mask….and I was scared…and….."

"COME HERE!" She yelled as she hugged Peter tightly, almost suffocating him.

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry." Peter said.

"It's all right." She said as she let him go and finally started calming, "You were 10 and stupid. I'm just glad to have you with me. I love you."

"Love you too, May." Peter said.

"I love you too." Benjamin said and she smiled at him.

Everyone's hearts melted at the mother-son bond Peter and Aunt May had.

"Well, hate to interrupt but on with the show." Logan said.

The drone aimed at the young Peter Parker who was aiming his palm at it when Tony flew behind him, firing at the drone and destroying it as Peter jumped and looked at him. "Nice work, kid." Tony said as he flew off and Peter looked after him.

"Thank you. Thank you Mr. Stark." Aunt May said.

"No problem." Tony shrugged.

"I guess that's where your obsession with him began." Aunt May said to Peter.

"Yes." Peter said.

"I'm over the obsession now." Benjamin said, "I still look up to you, Mr. Stark. But that's that."

"Good." Tony agreed.

Tony flew off and decided to get the drones away from the Expo as Happy drove Natasha to her location and she told him to watch the perimeter while taking off her dress, revealing her bra. Happy adjusted the rear view mirror to watch her change and almost collided with a truck as he steered the car away. Natasha told him to watch the road.

"Perv." Natasha and Bucky said at the same time.

"Wasn't expecting this from him." Tony shrugged, "Perv."

Everyone chuckled.

Tony flew around as the drones chased him and one of them collided into a pillar, getting destroyed in the process as Ivan watched. Rhodes told him they had been diverted back to the Expo as they fired at Tony and he avoided which destroyed the cars. Happy stopped his car near Hammer's warehouse as him and Natasha, now in her tactical SHIELD gear, stepped out. She told him to stay in the car as he asked her what she was wearing.

"SHIELD uniform." Natasha shrugged.

He said he wouldn't let her go in alone.

"Dude she shouldn't let you go in alone." Tony said as everyone laughed.

"She has that effect on many." Fury said.

Natasha asked him to keep the car running but he entered with her anyway as Ivan noticed. A guard tried to stop them but Happy punched him. Natasha slid to avoid a soldier's punch and threw two tasers under him, tasing his feet as he fell down.

"That's my girl." Bucky said.

"Nice job, Nat." Steve said.

"Thanks." Natasha smirked.

"Happy is getting his education right now." Sam smirked.

"I would love to educate him myself." Hope said.

"I would love to see that." Scott smirked.

Happy continued punching the guard but he started fighting back, gaining the upper hand.

"I think he is already getting his education." Tony shrugged.

Natasha flipped over a cart and kicked another guard on the neck, knocking him out. She ran further and slid between a guard's legs, hitting his thing as he fell down and she glared at the next opponent in her pose. As he rushed her, she flipped over the downed guard and wrapped her feet around the other one's neck, flipping him to the ground.

"Been a while since I saw a good hand to hand fight." Steve said.

"Always happy to please the most skilled fighter." Natasha complimented Steve.

"Thanks." Steve said.

Ivan saw Natasha coming up to his location as another drone collided into a building and was destroyed while another flew after Tony and Ivan then deployed them all after him. The technician said the drones were communicating in another language as Pepper asked him to focus on one and Hammer asked him to try Russian.

"Because that will work." Natasha said.

"He is already spilling his beans now." Hill said.

Happy was still getting beaten up as Natasha saw two more men and threw her flashbang discs at their feet. They exploded, blinding the two as Natasha swept one's feet from under him and leapt at the other, kneeing him on the face, knocking him out. Another attacked with a stick but she used a garrote to wrap it and wrapped his neck, knocking him out before blocking another's punch and punching him down while pulling the garroted one down. Another one got up but she wrapped her feet around his neck and flipped him to the ground before twisting the elbow of another one and elbowing his nose and then flip kicking him out. She then stood up and marched further, spraying the last guard's face with pepper spray.

Everyone except Fury clapped at the scene.

"Badass." Peter said excitedly.

"Oh you have no idea kid." Bucky said as Natasha smirked.

"So Natasha used Pepper to get the last guy." Tony joked as Pepper smacked his arm.

"Pretty tasteless." Clint commented.

"What has happened to me?" Tony said.

"I can see why Matt and Elektra like your fighting style." Logan noted.

"Who's Elektra?" Steve asked.

"Matt's wife." Benjamin said.

"Well, Daredevil has a pretty good fighting style too based on what I've heard." Natasha said.

"You are a very resourceful woman, Miss Romanoff." T'Challa said as Natasha nodded in appreciation.

Happy was getting beaten up before he bit the guard on the ear and he screamed in pain as Happy punched him in the abdomen and finally knocked him out with a uppercut, yelling to Natasha he had got one, only to notice all the others already taken down, to his shock.

"Looks like he got his education." Tony said.

"Now he knows he isn't one of those 'Men in Black.'" Thor said as everyone looked at him. [2]

"Jane made me watch the movies." Thor shrugged.

"So you know 'Men in Black' but you don't know casual sex." Loki sighed as everyone laughed.

Ivan was still working and finally started up another suit.

"Oh boy!" Peter said.

Natasha kicked the door open with Happy behind her and pointed both her guns around but saw no one there except the dead guards and realized Ivan was gone. Tony was still flying and told Rhodes to be prepared as he flew into the globe of the Expo. The other drones followed but were destroyed as they collided with it.

"That was a good plan, bub." Logan said as Tony shrugged.

"Not a fan of that." Rhode said.

"Sorry pal." Tony said.

Tony told Rhodes he had to thin out the herd as Rhodes slammed into him and onto the ground. The suit slammed him to the ground and tried to fire as Tony dodged and Natasha started rebooting Rhodes' systems. Tony flipped Rhodes away as Natasha finally rebooted the War Machine Suit and told Tony he had his best friend back, to which he thanked her.

"Thanks Nat." Rhodes said gratefully.

"Don't mention it." Natasha shrugged.

"You just did it in here." Bucky said with a smile as she smirked back at him.

Natasha told Tony his new vitals looked promising as he said he wasn't dying anymore. What he didn't know was that Pepper had been connected to the line too and asked when he was dying.

"Busted." Hope said.

"She busts you in all of these." Scott said.

"Yeah that's her." Tony said.

"Yup." Pepper agreed.

Tony told her he wanted to tell her but didn't as she got mad and he told her he would have made her an omelet and told her.

"Awww." Natasha, Wanda, Hill and Aunt May said simultaneously.

Natasha asked them to save it for the honeymoon as Tony had incoming and he told her they would talk after he had fended off the Hammeroid attack, to which she agreed. He then woke Rhodes up who apologized as Tony told him not to but he did anyway and they agreed to be partners.

"I'm sorry too." Tony said.

"No problem." Rhodes told him.

The two then argued about where to stand before the drones landed and the two lowered their visors.

"And it's starting." Peter said excitedly as everyone watched with tense breaths.

The drones started firing at them as Tony fired his repulsor beams while Rhodes fired his guns. Tony kneed a drone hard, shattering it before punching another and throwing another away as Rhodes continued firing and Tony punched two more away before JARVIS displayed a missile coming for him and he leaned sideways to dodge before firing three missiles that embedded into the three drones and destroyed them.

"Badass." Peter said again.

"Really is." Sam agreed.

"Thanks Viz." Tony said to Vision about warning him on the missiles.

"It is my job, Mr. Stark." Vision said.

Rhodes continued firing and kicking the drones as Tony punched them around before asking Rhodes to duck as he fired palladium powered lasers from the back of his hands. In a rotatory motion, the lasers cut all the drones into two and some trees as well.

"Okay that looked great." Steve said.

"It was awesome!" Peter cheered.

"Yes. You are very resourceful Stark." Thor told him.

"Thanks." Tony shrugged.

Rhodes complimented him but he said it was a one-off as police arrived to arrest Hammer. He pretended to be confused, saying how Pepper was thinking like a CEO and removing the competition as the cops lead him away and he told her he would see her soon.

"Bastard." Pepper snarled.

"I would love to get my hands on him right now." Tony said.

"He was trying to get under your skin, Pepper." Steve told her and she nodded.

"Stop joking, bub." Logan said to Hammer, "You're not going to see Pepper. You didn't even see Luke Cage when you guys were in the same prison."

Everyone laughed at that.

Pepper walked out with the cops and told them how to evacuate people as they agreed and asked if she'd like to come but she refused until the park was clear and they walked off.

"You should have gone with them." Tony said.

"Yes." She agreed.

Natasha told Tony another drone with a higher repulsor signature was headed at them and the Whiplash Armor: Mark II landed near them and the visor removed to reveal Ivan Vanko who said it was good to be back. He then brandished his electrical whips. Rhodes fired the ex-wife but it didn't gain enough energy before hitting his suit and fell down, fizzling out as Tony realized it was Hammer tech and Rhodes confirmed it.

"The one thing of his that worked and even that didn't work." Rhodes said.

"That's Hammer tech for ya." Tony said.

Tony fired some missiles as Ivan's visor came down and he defended himself before swinging his whips as the two flew off to avoid. Rhodes fired at him but Ivan cut off his big gun. Tony flew up but he wrapped the whip around his leg and smashed him into a rock. Rhodes fired again with his miniguns as Tony flew into him but was thrown away. Ivan wrapped his whip around Rhodes and pulling him closer, punched him off as Tony leapt at him with a roar and punched him. He punched twice before being head-butted back and wrapped in the whip as Rhodes tried to fire but Ivan stepped on him.

"The guy's kicking both of your asses." Sam said.

"That was his life's mission." Tony said.

Ivan wrapped his other whip around Rhodes until Tony said he could use a side kick and raised his palm. Rhodes realized what he was getting at and raised his too as their repulsor beams collided and exploded, shattering more glass.

"So that's what you did." Fury said.

"Yeah. The same drill." Tony said.

"Yup. The same." Rhodes agreed.

"Good job." Steve said and they nodded.

Tony and Rhodes looked at the battered Ivan who said, "You lose." They noticed something red beeping on him and all the drones.

"Oh no!" Aunt May said in horror.

Rhodes realized he had set them all to self-destruct as he flew off and Tony flew to where Pepper was. A drone exploded just when Tony grabbed Pepper and flew into the air.

Everyone clapped happily.

He put her on a roof as she said her body couldn't handle the stress and she was quitting as Tony threw his damaged helmet off and joked she was making excuses. He complimented her for taking care of him and she thanked him for understanding.

"Awww." Hill and Aunt May said.

"Wait for it." Rhodes said.

Tony and Pepper talked about how to clean up the mess when their lips met in a deep, loving, passionate first kiss.

Everyone clapped happily.

"YES!" Thor cheered.

"Finally." Sam said.

"About damn time." Fury said too.

Tony and Pepper blushed.

Tony asked if it was weird and she said it was good and they kissed again as Rhodes, who had been there the entire time, said it was as they were like two seals fighting for fish.

"What?" Natasha asked in amusement as they all laughed.

"Drax can take some pointers from you." Benjamin told Rhodes.

"Drax?" Rhodes asked.

"I will tell you later." Odinson said with a smile.

Tony asked him to get lost as he said he had arrived first and told Tony and Pepper to get a roof.

Everyone laughed happily.

"Best one-liner ever." Hill said.

"Hey!" Tony said in mock offense.

He then flew off with the Suit as his car had been destroyed in the explosion and Tony joked Pepper couldn't resign if he didn't accept and she laughed.

"And so it begins." Steve said.

Next day, Tony sat at a debriefing as he looked at his own preliminary report for the Avengers Initiative while footage of the Culver University Incident played around him.

"Look my footage is playing." Bruce smirked.

"Yes." Professor Hulk said.

"Same week." Natasha shrugged.

"My big week." Fury said.

Fury told him not to look at that but Romanoff's assessment of him. He read it as it said he had compulsive behavior. Tony defended himself by saying it was the previous week before reading it said he was prone to self-destructive tendencies. He defended himself by saying he was dying and joked they all were before reading that it called him a textbook narcissist. He agreed and read Iron Man was recommended. Fury told him to continue reading and he read that he was not recommended, confusing him.

"How's that possible?" Peter asked.

"Just watch, kid." Fury said.

As Tony explained himself, Fury said they would only keep him as a consultant. Tony joked how they couldn't afford him as the two shook hands and he asked Fury for a favor as he was being honored in D.C. to which Fury agreed.

"You still can't afford me." Tony joked as everyone rolled their eyes.

"I think I know what the favor is." Rhodes said.

"You do, Colonel." Fury agreed.

The next day, Tony and Rhodes stood as Senator Stern praised them and said they deserved the awards.

"Oh my God!" Aunt May laughed.

"He is hating every second of it." Hill laughed.

"I made sure of that." Tony said.

Stern gave them both their medals, thanking them for their distinguished performances and saying they deserved them as Tony did a mock 'ouch' at the medal being pinned to him as Stern joked how painful a 'prick' could be.

"Yes, yes. You're very painful." Tony said.

"And Hydra." Steve added.

"And a prostitute." Natasha added and everyone burst into laughter.

He then took a picture with them as Tony put an arm around him to make him more uncomfortable and Tony raised his fingers as the screen went black.

"You're torturing the guy to death." Bruce joked as everyone chuckled.

"There's more." Professor Hulk said.

"What?" Steve asked.

"Just watch." Odinson said as he smirked at Thor who suddenly realized what they were talking about.

In a desert in New Mexico, Phil Coulson drove his car somewhere and pulled up before coming out. He looked down at several people surrounding something.

"Coulson!" Tony said happily.

"What're they making?" Aunt May asked.

"You will find out soon." Xavier said.

"I'm pretty sure I know." Thor said.

Coulson then called Fury and said, "Sir, we found it." Down there lay an ancient hammer as the screen went black and thunder was heard roaring.

"YES!" Thor cheered as loudly as he had cheered on seeing Hulk in Sakaar.

"I share your sentiments." Odinson said with a smirk.

"Point Break's lovely hammer is in this too." Tony said.

"So we're seeing this?" Peter asked excitedly.

"We will." Benjamin said.

"Same week, remember?" Natasha asked.

"My big week." Fury said.

"Now I wonder if you should have thawed me out earlier so I could be part of your week." Steve joked.

"No Rogers, I do not want to ruin my week even more." Fury joked as all laughed.

"You all must be really hungry again?" Odinson asked and they realized they were.

"Well, dinner time." Benjamin said, "After that, we will show you to your bedrooms and you can sleep for the night."

Everyone nodded and got up as they walked towards the dining room.

Chapter Text

Everyone sat in the dining hall again as food was brought for them by the workers. This time they again noticed some new individuals sitting around the table. A tall blonde woman, a shorter dark-haired woman with some Chinese features on her face, a dark-skinned man and a medium-sized dark-haired woman in a black leather jacket.

Of course the tall blonde woman was recognized by Natasha and Clint.

"Bobbi?" Clint asked as she turned to them while sipping her soup.

"Clint." She greeted him before turning to Natasha, "Nat."

"So you're an Avenger now?" Natasha asked and she nodded.

"How do you know each other?" Steve asked out of curiosity.

"She was a SHIELD Agent and our partner at times." Clint said.

"Honor to meet you, Captain America." Bobbi said and he nodded.

"They call her the Mockingbird." Natasha said.

"Really?" Tony said in amusement, "You mock people or something?"

"Very funny." Bobbi said sarcastically as she finished her soup.

"You're Luke Cage!" Peter said excitedly as he recognized the dark-skinned man and the woman next to him, "And you're Jessica Jones!"

"Pleased to meet a fan." Luke shrugged.

"You were right Peter. Little you is excitable." Jessica said to Benjamin.

"I know." Benjamin said.

"You're no less annoying either." She told him.

"Well, I'm on the young side." He joked as they all laughed.

"We met your sister." Pepper told Jessica.

"Yes, Trish." Jessica said before turning to Stark with a glare, ""Trish Screaming?""

Tony gulped as Pepper chuckled and everyone looked at him in confusion.

"What is she talking about, man?" Sam asked.

"I have an idea but I won't tell you." Tony said.

"So he made her scream or something?" Thor asked.

"I think you should stop talking." Odinson and Loki said to him at the same time.

"Wow, we agree on something." Loki smirked.

"I know right!" Odinson laughed as Thor shook his head.

"So what's the story?" Steve asked.

"I don't want to tell." Tony said as Jessica gave him a mock glare.

"I think I have heard it somewhere but I can't remember." Aunt May said with a smirk.

"Tony was once asked in an interview if he would ever visit "Trish Talk."" Pepper started.

"And what did he say?" Bruce asked with a smile.

"He said if he ever visited it, it would change its name to "Trish Screaming."" Pepper finished and in a second, there was laughter all around the table.

"So you really couldn't keep it in your pants." Fury said dryly.

"I can now." Tony said as Pepper stroked his elbow with an amused smirk.

"We know." Hill sighed.

"And who're you?" Wanda asked the last woman there.

"Daisy Johnson." She said, "You may know me as Quake."

"Quake?" Rhodes asked, "The vigilante."

"Yes. That's me." Daisy said, "I used to be in SHIELD too."

"Well, we're meeting a lot of people in the future it seems." Vision said.

"So this Kang guy or this Doom, is there any way to stop them?" Bucky asked.

"To stop Doom, you will have to wait a few years." Professor Hulk said, "Though with the changing of the timeline, it might happen earlier."

"Changing of the timeline?" Scott asked.

"By bringing us here and showing us some of the future, they have made sure the timeline might play out differently." Hope explained to him.

"Yes, while it was a risky move, some of us here felt it was the only way." Xavier said.

"And hopefully, it pays off." Logan said.

"I think you'll have to tell us a little more to make it pay off." T'Challa said.

"We will. In time." Benjamin said, "We still have many recordings to show you. And we will keep revealing more as time goes on."

"You're evil. You know that." Tony said jokingly as they all chuckled and continued eating.

"I don't trust people who do not tell me the full thing." Fury said.

"Well it appears we have beaten you at your own game then, Director Fury." Xavier said with a smile as Fury paled a little.

He found Bobbi and Daisy glaring at him as well.

"Any problem, Agent Morse?" Fury asked.

"No Director." Bobbi said, though Fury knew what both of them were trying to say, "And I'm not an agent now."

"And I'm not a Director." Fury said.

"Well, food's finished." Steve said.

"Bobbi and Daisy will show you to your rooms." Odinson told them as they nodded in appreciation.

They lead all of them to their separate rooms one by one.

"It is good to see you again, Bobbi." Clint smiled.

"You too Clint." She said as the two hugged.

"We'll catch up sometime." Natasha said.

"Oh yes we will. Later." Bobbi said as Natasha and Bucky went to their room while Clint lay on his bed.

Steve took a shower as well before sleeping while Peter immediately fell asleep on his bed.

Tony and Pepper fell asleep on their beds too.

It had been a long day and watching the three recordings had been tiring.

"Well Logan, I think I'm leaving for now." Xavier told him.

"I'm going to stay here though." Logan said.

"I understand." Xavier said, "Good luck."

"Good luck to you too." Logan said.

"Bye Logan." Jean said as she started wheeling Charles away.

"Bye Jean." Logan said as Scott Summer shook his hand.

"Good luck man." Logan said.

"Good luck to you too." Scott told him as he started walking away with Jean and Charles.

Storm made no move to join them though.

"You coming, Storm?" Scott asked.

"I think she is not." Xavier said.

"I'm staying for now." Storm said.

"Well, we will see you later." Jean said.

Scott and Jean then wheeled Charles away as Logan and Storm waved.

"I got some work to do as well." Professor Hulk said, "Gotta go."

"Good luck, Bruce." Logan said as he shook hands with him and Storm did too.

"Good luck." She said.

"Thanks guys." Professor Hulk said, "Good luck to you too."

With that he walked off.

"Well, I guess I'm staying for a while." Storm said.

"Good to know." Logan sighed.

Benjamin walked into his room where a young woman who was slightly older than him lay sleeping. She had brown hair.

He shook her and her eyes opened as she smiled at him.

"Peter." She said as he sat next to her.

"Wanda." Benjamin smiled.

The two kissed each other on the lips as Future Wanda asked, "So how's it going, Tiger?"

"Well, we are done with Mr. Stark's first two recordings and Dr. Banner's recording." Benjamin said.

"So twenty more to go." Future Wanda said.

"You want to meet them tomorrow?" Benjamin asked.

"No. I think we should wait before we drop any bombshells on past me." Future Wanda said.

"Yeah. I think its better that way. Don't want you to explode no do we." Benjamin joked and they both chuckled.

"So past self annoying you?" Future Wanda asked.

'Yeah, but he's just a kid." Benjamin said, "So we can look past that."

"You're still annoying though." Future Wanda joked and both chuckled.

"Only to the bad guys when I serve them their cups of baddie harm." Benjamin joked and both chuckled again.

"Good night Peter." Future Wanda said.

"Good night Wanda." Benjamin said as both of them kissed each other and went to sleep.

Tony and Pepper were asleep in their room when Morgan approached their sleeping form and stood over them with tears in her eyes as she looked at Tony.

"Daddy." She whispered in a quivering voice as she stroked his forehead lightly and lovingly. With tears, she kissed his forehead and whispered, "I love you 3000."

With that she walked out of the room as she wiped her tears and lightly shut the door behind her.

Chapter Text

The next day, all of them woke up and after cleaning themselves up and wearing some new clothes that had been put in their wardrobes, they had their breakfast. A pretty big breakfast as Benjamin had said they needed to get through the other recordings fast.

So the breakfast was big enough for the stomach to not bother anyone during lunch.

"Where's the Professor?" Tony asked.

"And future me?" Bruce asked.

"The Professor needs to run the school." Logan told them.

"And Bruce has gone back to his lab for some experiments." Benjamin said and they all nodded.

"So it is me we're watching today?" Thor asked.

"Yes." Odinson told him.

"Can't wait." Loki said dryly.

"This time I'm watching too." Storm told them.

"Us too." Daisy said as she gestured to herself and Bobbi.

"So we can finally catch up huh." Natasha smirked.

"Yeah." Bobbi said.

"Good to know." Clint said.

"So breakfast done?" Steve asked everyone.

"Yes Captain." Peter said.

"I think we should start viewing now Cap." Scott said.

"Still calling him Cap." Hope said in amusement as the two smiled at each other.

"Well, we do need to get it all over with." Fury said and they all got up and moved to the viewing room. Benjamin turned the TV on as everyone took their places. The same as before really with Storm, Bobbi and Daisy sitting with Benjamin, Odinson and Logan.

"So now we get to witness the origins of the God of Thunder." Hill said.

"Yeah. But they aren't pretty." Thor said.

In the middle of a desert in Puente Antiguo, New Mexico stood a van. Inside the van were Erik Selvig, Darcy Lewis and Jane Foster, looking at their devices and calibrating them as Eric and Jane climbed out of the van and looked in the sky but nothing happened. Darcy asked to turn on the radio but Jane refused.

"Jane." Thor smiled.

"You two broke up though, right?" Loki asked.

"Yeah we did." Thor said.

"I think it was for the best." Odinson said. While they had been good for a time, their relationship wasn't going to work out forever.

Erik tried to dissuade Jane but she was sure there was some connection between the atmospheric disturbances and her research.

"She is very determined. I can see why you liked her." Loki told Thor who nodded.

That was when Darcy noticed something and directed Erik and Jane's attention to it. A wormhole was opening up in the sky, shocking Erik. Jane told Darcy to drive as they moved towards the wormhole and Jane started recording the event happily when it hit the ground in the form of a storm. Darcy tried to drive away but Jane snatched the wheel from her.

"I do understand she is a good person but risking her and her friends' lives for research was pretty risky." Steve told Thor who nodded.

"Yes. She sometimes focused on her research too much to think about others." Thor said.

"Well, we all have flaws." Odinson said. [1]

"This guy here is a walking complexity filled with flaws and good traits." Pepper said as she gestured to Tony next to her.

"That I might just be honey." Tony smirked.

She drove the van into the storm when a figure appeared in the middle of it and she accidentally hit him with her van, knocking him down as Darcy and Jane looked at each other in shock.

"I'm guessing that's you." Bruce said and Thor nodded.

"Finally we're getting to see this play out." Fury said as he had always thought about how the Bifrost worked, never having seen it.

Darcy, Jane and Erik ran out of the van and looked at the fallen tall man as Darcy told Jane it was legally her fault but she told her to get the first-aid kit. Jane looked at the downed man and begged him not to be dead as he stirred and they wondered where he had come from.

"And now you're on Earth for the first time." Hill noted.

"Not the first time." Thor said.

"We did go to Midgard in earlier time periods." Odinson said.

"There's a reason the Vikings worshipped us as Gods." Loki pointed out.

"Good point." Hope shrugged.

Tonsberg, Norway was seen in 965 A.D. as Odin's voice was heard narrating that mankind had long accepted the simple truth that they were not alone. They worshipped some of the people in the realms as Gods and learned to fear others.

"How did you get this?" Thor asked.

"Basically they got how it played out in my head but it isn't that far from reality." Odinson said and they all nodded.

Odin then narrated how the Frost Giants came down to Earth to conquer humanity. They were shown killing humans and breaking their boats as one of them froze a mother and her child to death.

Wanda shivered on witnessing it as Vision put a hand on her shoulder for support.

Peter an Aunt May were scared too and held each other's hands.

Odin's voice then said that the humans were not alone as the Bifrost came down and out stepped Odin Borson and the Einherjar in all their glory.

"Father in his glory days." Thor said happily.

"And with both eyes." Loki joked.

"You look like him though." Odinson told Thor.

"How do you have both eyes though?" Thor asked him finally.

"It's a cybernetic given to me by my friend Rocket." Odinson said.

"Rocket?" Tony asked, "Does he look like a rocket or something?"

"You called him a build-a-bear when you first saw him, bub." Logan said.

"Really? He looks like that?" Bucky asked.

"You don't know what is out there in the Universe." Daisy said.

"Like what?" Sam asked.

"Kitson." Daisy sighed, remembering the place.

"Good thing I never accompanied you lot on any space trips." Bobbi said.

"And then there were those 'puffs'." Benjamin reminded Daisy who blushed in embarrassment.

"Do not mention that again." She said as he chuckled.

"On with the show." Storm said.

The Einherjar and the Frost Giants charged at each other as a battle was fought. Both sides killed many on the other side as Laufey, King of the Jotuns froze some of the Einherjar while Odin stabbed and threw one away with Gungnir and killed another before using it to fire a powerful blast, killing many of the Frost Giants. His voice was heard narrating how they drove the Frost Giants back into Jotunheim and defeated their king. Odin was shown standing over a downed Laufey, pointing Gungnir at him as his right eye was missing with some blood.

"And there goes the eye." Loki said.

"And he dons a pirate look." Tony joked.

"So I look like a pirate to you?" Fury asked and Tony paled.

"And I look like a pirate as well?" Thor asked and Tony paled more.

"Just because someone wears an eyepatch doesn't mean they are pirates, contrary to the popular trope." Pepper said.

Odin narrated how they took the Frost Giants' source of power as an Einherjar lifted the Casket of Ancient Winters. Odin then narrated how they all returned to their home realm of Asgard, the realm eternal and remained as a beacon of hope. Then a view of Asgard was shown in all of its glory.

"It looks so beautiful." Natasha said as everyone's jaws dropped at Asgard's beauty.

"It almost looks like Heaven to me." Aunt May said.

"It feels like a Heaven nowadays." Thor sighed sadly.

"Yes. Though there is New Asgard now." Odinson said as everyone looked at him in shock.

Thor then asked, "So we-"

"Yes. In Norway." Odinson smiled.

"Asgardians in Norway in modern day." Tony said, "So now I've seen everything."

"This Asgard looks like it can rival even Valinor." Scott said as Hope shot him a look.

"So you've read Tolkien's works?" Peter asked excitedly.

"Yeah. Huge fan." Scott said.

"Tolkien. He fought in World War I." Steve remembered, "His experience inspired him to write The Lord of the Rings."

"While I'm a science guy and all, those books are amazing." Bruce said.

"Yeah. The movies change some stuff but they worked out nicely too." Clint said, "And I wish to be better than Legolas."

"Keep dreaming." Tony joked.

"Then The Hobbit movies came." Sam sighed.

"I think they were pretty great as movies except some stuff but not that good as adaptations." Pepper said.

"Amen." Hill agreed.

"Yeah. And the Tauriel character was pretty nice." Hope said as Scott chuckled.

"Yeah. She won me over in a while." Scott said. [2]

"Guys, let's focus." Benjamin said.

Odin said how they had fallen into man's myths and legends but it was Asgard and its warriors that brought peace to the universe.

"After drowning it in blood first." Odinson sighed.

"What?" Steve asked in shock.

"I have just recently discovered that before my father became benevolent, he used to be a warlord." Thor sighed sadly, "And not a kind one."

"Jesus." Sam said, not believing it.

"So basically you're trying to tell us that he was as bad as he is in the 'God of War 4' game?" Tony asked in shock.

"I don't know what 'God of War 4' is but yes, he was a warlord." Thor said.

"I'm sorry." Steve said in sympathy as Thor nodded. Now suddenly some of Loki's behavior made sense.

"Though he did become a better man later. You've got to admit that." Storm said.

"Yes I do." Thor agreed.

In the weapons' vault of Asgard Odin told the young Thor and Loki how one of them would have to defend the peace one day as Loki asked if the Frost Giants still lived.

"Now that is the definition of irony." Loki said.

"So real power is the biggest case of irony then." Fury said in amusement.

"You two look pretty cute." Wanda commented.

"Thank you, little witch." Thor said and Wanda wondered how he could make 'little witch' sound sweet.

"I wonder what you will call me. 'Weather Witch?'" Storm asked as everyone chuckled.

"So you control the weather too?" Thor asked.

"Yes." She nodded.

"Maybe you should date her." Loki joked to Thor.

"Not a chance, bub." Logan said as he put an arm around Storm and glared at Loki while she smiled.

"So you've got two people controlling the storm and one that controls the Earth." Clint said as Daisy smirked, "That is great."

"What about me?" Bobbi asked with a mock glare.

"I'm pretty sure you ground them to reality." Clint said and she smirked.

Thor said how he would hunt down the Frost Giants and slay them like Odin did.

"If only he had corrected my behavior back then." Odinson sighed.

"But then you'd never have met us." Steve pointed out.

"Well then I guess a lot of things happen for a reason." Thor realized.

Odin looked at both of them with his one eye and said, "A wise king, never seeks out war, but... he must always be ready for it." Thor and Loki both said excitedly that they were ready as Odin walked out and said that only one of them could ascend to the throne even though both of them were born to be kings.

"I wonder sometimes if he wanted to tell me." Loki said.

"Perhaps he dead but never gathered the courage." Thor said.

"We'll never know." Odinson said.

"Not everyone knows their parents the best." Daisy said as she remembered Cal and Jiaying.

As the three walked out, Mjolnir was shown sitting in a corner.

"The hammer." Steve smiled.

"I miss it to be honest even if I have my power now." Thor said.

"I can understand. It has a special place in my heart too." Odinson said.

"I can't help but notice, but the handle is too short." Bobbi said.

"Yeah, why's that?" Daisy asked.

"Loki the prankster." Thor sighed.

"Yeah I pulled a prank." Loki said.

"So the origins of Mjolnir written Norse Mythology are true?" Bruce asked and they nodded.

"What is it exactly?" Hill asked.

"Loki once cut off Sif's hair as a cruel jest." Odinson said and Bobbi and Daisy glared at him, having briefly known Sif when she had come to Earth to help against Lorelei and Vin-Tak.

"I then threatened him." Thor said.

"Great." Daisy said happily as Loki shook his head.

"I then promised to get replacements and went to Nidavellir where I got new hair and the Dwarves also made a golden ship and spear with magical properties." Loki said.

"Asgardian culture is rich." T'Challa noted.

"It is, your Highness." Odinson said.

"I was convinced no one could challenge craftsmanship of the Sons of Ivaldi, who had made those treasures, so I challenged a dwarf named Eitri to make finer treasures." Loki said.

"You were a fool for doing that." Thor said.

"I didn't know it then." Loki said, "He created a golden boar spear with magical properties and it was so beautiful that I panicked so when they were forging Mjolnir in the heart of a dying star. I thought I would lose the wager so I transformed into a mayfly-"

"Okay what?" Tony asked.

"Yes I can transform." Loki said.

"Why didn't you transform in the fight against us?" Tony asked, "That way we could just squish you."

"Yeah, yeah I'm not stupid." Loki said dryly.

"Ant. Boot. Fly. Hands." Fury said with a smirk as Loki sighed.

"And then he, like the trickster he is, stung Eitri's assistant on the brow." Odinson said.

"Just when he was working on the bellows." Thor said.

"He stopped to wipe the blood and the bellows fell flat." Loki said, "So the handle was shorter than originally intended."

"And I could wield it only one-handed." Thor finished.

"Wow!" Daisy said in awe.

"That is an enlightening backstory." Vision said.

"So you've always been a prankster." Storm said.

"Not prankster. Trickster." Loki said, offended.

"What's the difference?" Bobbi asked.

"Pranksters play pranks. Tricksters deceive." Benjamin said.

"Not much of a difference." Daisy noted.

"On with the show." Logan said.

Years later, Thor drank wine from a goblet as he walked towards the magnificent throne room and threw it off into the fire while holding Mjolnir in his hands, "Another!"

"And you still haven't changed, bub." Logan told Odinson.

"With drinking partners like you, Frank and Jessica, I doubt I will." Odinson said as they all chuckled.

Loki, in his helmet, met him near the throne room and asked if he was nervous, to which he laughed and asked him if he had ever known him to be nervous.

"And then Sakaar happened." Loki smirked as Thor grunted.

"Sakaar?" Tony asked.

"Not in the mood." Thor said.

"I'd love to find out more about that." Tony said.

"I do know bits of it." Bruce said.

"That was just embarrassing." Odinson said as him and Thor exchanged a look.

"Not as embarrassing as those puffs." Daisy said and he nodded.

Loki reminded him of Nornheim as Thor said that was the rage of battle while Loki reminded him of the smokescreen. Thor laughed and said how some did battle and some just did tricks.

"I do both." Tony said.

"Because you're one of a kind." Thor said just to shut him up.

"I do tricks." Clint said, "With my arrows."

"I remember." Loki said with a disgruntled look as he remembered the explosive arrow while Clint smirked.

A servant brought more wine in a goblet and also smiled at what Thor had said when Loki raised his hand and three snakes came out of the goblet, making the servant drop it in fear. Loki then started laughing as Thor chided him, calling it a waste of good wine.

"Really Reindeer Games?" Tony asked.

"I can't believe your brother wasted wine." Logan told Thor and Odinson.

"It was just a prank." Odinson said.

"Yeah, I play snake-related pranks a lot." Loki joked.

"I remember." Thor said.

"The prank looks pretty mean to me." Natasha said.

"Well, I play mean pranks." Loki said.

Loki said it was a bit of fun as the three illusory snakes disappeared and the servant went off as the two brothers laughed while an Einherjar brought Thor his helmet and presented it to him with a bow. He accepted it as the Einherjar went off and Loki commented on the wings as Thor chided him and he said he was being sincere, to which Thor responded with how he was incapable of insincerity.

"I'm not." Loki said, "People just don't know when I'm being sincere and when I'm not."

"So I guess that's your real power." Fury commented.

Loki said he had looked forward to this day just as much as Thor because he was his brother and friend and while sometimes he was envious, he didn't doubt him.

"Why did you summon the Frost Giants then?" Thor asked.

"That was a prank." Loki said, "Fatal for them of course. But it was for fun."

"Your definition of fun is very different from ours." Daisy said.

"How do you have fun?" Thor asked.

"By putting whipped cream on people's faces." Bobbi said as both her and Daisy laughed, remembering when Melinda May had done it to Fitz.

"That is pretty funny." Steve said.

"And you have fun on the left, don't you?" Sam asked as Steve smiled and everyone wondered what that was about.

Thor thanked Loki as he jokingly asked for a kiss. Thor laughed and told him to stop.

Everyone laughed at Loki and Thor's banter.

The two stood side by side as Thor asked, "Really, how do I look?" Loki turned to him and said, "Like a king." Thor nodded in appreciation as Loki said it was time and Thor told him to go, saying he will come later. Loki walked off as Thor looked after him.

No one said a thing.

Steve, Tony, Bruce, Natasha, Clint, Fury and Hill realized how deep the brotherly bond between Thor and Loki truly was. And considering how long they had been alive, it would be deeper than most people thought.

Suddenly, Thor's earlier defense of Loki and him trying to reach out to him made a lot of sense.

"Good old days." Odinson said.

"I'm sure we don't get that in Norway." Loki said.

Later, Thor, now wearing his helmet, raised Mjolnir high as all the attendees from the Nine Realms clapped and cheered and the Einherjar bowed to him.

"Why don't you wear the helmet anymore?" Bucky asked.

"It's uncomfortable." Thor said. [3]

Sif looked at Thor raising Mjolnir and was amused.

"Well hello, Sif." Daisy smiled.

"You know her?" Thor asked.

"Yes." Bobbi said.

"She helped us beat an escaped Lorelei." Daisy told him.

"Okay when did Lorelei escape?" Thor asked Loki with a glare.

"It wasn't important." Loki said, trying to calm Thor down.

"Relax, they got her." Odinson told him.

"And then there was the time with the Kree." Bobbi said.

"The Kree?" Thor asked, "I heard rumors of a glowing woman who fights them."

"Pretty convincing ones." Loki said, "Though we've never met her."

"Trust me she is more than a rumor." Odinson said.

"And then you had to banish Sif." Thor told Loki.

"You should be thanking me." Loki said, "If I hadn't banished her, then Hela would have killed her too."

Thor nodded, "Good point. But you still banished her."

Thor walked further as the Einherjar bowed to him and he kneeled in front of Odin while winking at Frigga who shook her head in disapproval and amusement.

"Mother." Thor whispered, as her memories came to his mind.

Bruce and Loki both put their hands on his shoulder to offer comfort. Odinson closed his eyes and after a deep breath, looked back up.

Thor then turned to look at the Warriors Three- Fandrall, Volstagg and Hogun.

"My friends." Thor smiled sadly.

"I still miss them." Odinson said.

Odin rose from his throne and tapped Gungnir on the ground, silencing the entire room as he spoke to Thor, calling him his first-born and telling him how he had been entrusted with the might hammer Mjolnir that had been forged in the heart of a dying star with no equal as a weapon to destroy or a tool to build. It was a fit companion for a King. Loki stood with a dull expression on his face as Odin continued his speech.

"And now you mess up." Thor said.

"It was a fatal prank." Loki said again.

"Good thing no one plays those kinds of pranks on Earth." Steve said.

"Two guards died." Odinson pointed out.

"I thought the Destroyer would be deployed before that." Loki defended himself.

In the weapons' vault, two Einherjar were walking around when the wall and ground started freezing. Odin asked Thor if he swore to guard the Nine Realms and preserve the peace as Thor swore. He then asked if Thor would pledge himself to the realms and Thor raised his hammer, swearing. Odin was about to proclaim him king when his Asgardian senses detected something. In the vault, the guards saw the freezing ground when suddenly three Frost Giants popped out and stabbed them to death.

Thor glared at Loki.

"Sorry." He said.

They ran towards the Casket of Ancient Winters and started getting away with it when Odin tapped Gungnir and the Destroyer walked out, killing all three of them with powerful beams before going back inside.

"Oh that!" Fury remembered.

"Son of Coul made a weapon out of it." Thor remembered, "Though he didn't know what it did."

"I think he did." Fury said as he remembered the last fight against John Garrett.

"He definitely did." Daisy said as she glared at Fury but he didn't say a thing.

Odin, Thor and Loki walked into the vault and saw what had happened as Thor was furious but Odin remained calm. Thor pointed out that the Frost Giants had broken through their defenses and Laufey had broken the truce. Odin asked him what action he would take, to which he said he would march into Jotunheim and break their spirits. Odin told him he was thinking as a warrior, not a king.

"After finding out the truth about his past, my behavior makes sense." Thor said.

"I think he banished us so we wouldn't become the next Hela." Odinson said.

"Or maybe he could have tried correcting you right from the start." Storm told them.

"Yes. He could have." Odinson said with a nod.

Thor wanted to take action as King of Asgard but Odin told him he wasn't King yet and he realized the ceremony hadn't been finished. Odin then walked off, leaving Thor and Loki behind.

"Well, that sucks." Scott said honestly.

"It truly does." Peter said.

"And now you're king only because it's your duty." Loki noted.

Later, a furious Thor toppled an entire table of food.

"Whoa!" Scott and Hope said at the same time on seeing Thor's anger.

"He wasted good wine, you wasted good food." Pepper said.

"I know." Thor agreed, "I was too angry back then."

"And it had consequences." Odinson said.

"We know." Steve nodded.

He then sat sadly as Loki sat next to him and comforted him while Sif, Fandrall, Volstagg and Hogun entered, shocked by the spilled food as Loki told Thor that he was right about the Frost Giants but they couldn't do anything without defying father. Thor then had a look in his eyes as Loki immediately regretted his words.

"Aren't you the God of Lies and Mischief?" Hill joked.

"Subtly manipulating your brother right from the start." Natasha said.

"Since when did you go off the rails?" Fury asked.

"I had no idea father would banish you, Thor." Loki said as Thor shrugged.

"At least some good came out of it." Odinson said.

"Yes." Thor agreed.

Thor announced they were going to Jotunheim. At first his friends tried to dissuade him but he reminded them of all they had done together, reminding Fandrall and Hogun he had led them to the most glorious of battles, given Volstagg the most succulent delicacies and supported Sif when she had wanted to become a fierce warrior so they all agreed.

"You do have leadership qualities." Steve said, "Look how they listened to you."

"I do." Thor said, "But you're still the leader of the Avengers because you can lead better."

Steve nodded in appreciation on being praised by him.

"I think it is going to Hell now." Aunt May said.

"Oh you have no idea." Loki told her.

"It became such a huge mess that even Earth got involved in it." Fury said.

"Doesn't that happen every time?" Daisy asked as Fury shrugged, "Because we have saved the Earth too so many times."

"I know, Johnson." Fury said.

"Maybe you should share a bit more about it." Bobbi told him and he knew what she was talking about.

The six rode on their horses on the Bifrost and reached Heimdall's Observatory.

"I know I've already said it but this place is beautiful." Hope said.

"Thanks." Thor shrugged.

"Your people's culture is as rich as ours." T'Challa said, "That is something to be proud of."

"It is." Odinson agreed.

A dark-skinned man stood guard there.

"Is that-" Peter started.

"Heimdall. Gatekeeper of Asgard." Thor said as they all looked at the Norse God they had read so much about in Norse Mythology.

"Pretty nice guy." Bruce said.

"I think you lot should sue the Santa Monica Studios and Sony Interactive Entertainment for defamation." Tony joked as he remembered God of War 4 again.

Loki tried to talk to Heimdall but the man already knew what their intentions were as Thor asked him if they could pass. Heimdall said he wished to know how an enemy got past him but he wouldn't open the Bifrost for them if their return spelled doom for Asgard. Fandrall asked if he could just leave it open, to which Heimdall replied that such a thing would destroy the planet.

"Oh boy!" Sam said.

"No wonder you tried to use that trick." Storm said to Loki who sighed.

Heimdall let them go as he twisted Hofund and the Observatory started rotating, activating the Bifrost which sucked them all inside. Soon, they were standing in the cold and chilling wastes of the dark Jotunheim. They looked around at the dark and desolate place, with so many tall icy buildings.

"I'd love to ride through the Bifrost." Natasha said cheerfully.

"Well, now that can't happen unfortunately." Thor said sadly.

"I'd have loved to ride it too." Wanda smiled as she thought of herself standing on a rainbow.

"This place is creepy." Aunt May said about Jotunheim.

"Yeah, it's like a horror movie." Peter agreed.

"It's gonna get more creepy, bub." Logan said.

The six moved around before Laufey's voice stopped them. He sat there on his throne with a bone-chilling glare.

"Oh boy!" Peter and Scott said at the same time.

"The King of the Jotuns." Bobbi said.

"He doesn't look happy." Daisy said dryly.

Thor asked him how his people had gotten into Asgard as he said the house of Odin was full of traitors, angering Thor as Laufey got up and called Odin a murderer and a thief.

"And now it turns out he wasn't lying." Thor said sadly. Odin had changed but he still had been a warlord at first.

"Yes. And he wasn't lying about the traitors either." Loki said in shame.

Laufey mocked Thor again, calling him a boy trying to prove himself a man as Loki tried to stop Thor while other Frost Giants surrounded them with weapons. Laufey allowed them to go for the time being. Loki accepted and Thor was about to leave when one of the Giants who stood close to them said, "Run back home, little princess."

"Damn!" Tony said.

"Damn!" Loki said as Thor smiled and turning around, hit the Giant with Mjolnir, sending him flying off. "Next!" He mocked before sending more flying off or tripping and smashing them with Mjolnir.

"And this journey has officially gone to Hell." Clint commented.

As more arrived, Hogun brandished his mace and hit one, knocking him out as Sif used her double-edged sword to deflect and knock another one down. Fandrall to brandished his sword and fought a Giant as Loki threw his knife at one, shattering his weapon. Volstagg was knocked back by a Giant but he hit him with his axe, knocking him down. Thor kicked a Giant away by many feet. "At least make it a challenge for me!" He mocked as more Giants jumped down. One of them punched the ground and the ice protruded from the ground, knocking Fandrall away.

"All right that is not good!" Sam said.

"Good thing you didn't become king back then." T'Challa said.

"Yes. Clearly, I wasn't ready." Thor agreed.

One of them roared at Thor and he roared back in mockery. The Giant head-butted him, staggering him slightly. He laughed and it kicked him away. Getting up, he said, "Thats more like it!" Near him, his brother and friends continued battling the Giants as he threw Mjolnir on the Giant's face, putting him down as Mjolnir returned to him.

"So the hammer was connected to you?" Daisy asked.

"Yes, we shared a mental link." Odinson said.

Sif was disarmed by a Giant but Hogun killed him with a knife throw while a Giant charged at Loki who backed, only to see a cliff behind him. The Giant leapt at him but passed through him, falling off the cliff. The real Loki smirked from a corner as his illusion faded. Volstagg was touched by a Giant and his arm froze a little before he killed him.

"Sif is such a badass." Bobbi said, "The Warriors Three too."

"That is why people think of them as Gods." Storm said.

Volstagg warned the others not to let the Giants touch them as Sif stabbed another Giant with her sword and blocked some ice shards with her shield as Thor knocked two of them away with Mjolnir while Loki's hand was grabbed by a Giant, breaking his armor. But to both his and the Giant's shock, the arm didn't freeze. Instead, it took on a pale shade just like a Frost Giant.

"Oh boy!" Tony said, realizing what was happening.

"Busted." Hope said about Odin.

"Yes. The beans are spilled." Thor agreed.

"And I won't take it well." Loki said.

Loki and the Giant looked at each other in shock before he stabbed the Giant dead. He again looked at his arm in shock as its normal shade returned. Fandrall was disarmed by a Giant but slid under him and picking up his sword, cut off his hand and stabbed him dead. Just as he turned around, he was stabbed by a pointed icy protrusion and screamed in pain. Loki killed the offender with a knife throw.

"Things are getting worse." Bruce said.

Volstagg and Hogun supported Fandrall away as Thor told them to go as he threw Mjolnir at a line of Frost Giants, killing them. Laufey raised his hand and a Jotunheim Beast woke up.

"Oh my God!" Wanda said in horror.

Thor twirled Mjolnir, hitting the ground as the pieces of the ground sent the Giants flying off. Thor then brought Mjolnir down and a huge, powerful lightning bolt descended, killing many Giants and destroying all the towers while the floor shattered.

"Why didn't you use all that power in New York or Sokovia?" Tony asked.

"Too many civilians." Thor said.

"Yeah. Civilians prevent me from going all out as well on several occasion." Daisy said.

"Yes. People like you two are very careful." Bobbi agreed.

"Your lightning is powerful." Storm said.

"I'd love to see your powers." Thor said.

"You can see them sometime later." Logan shrugged.

"She is pretty powerful." Odinson said, "Not as much as I am though."

Storm didn't argue as that was true.

Loki and the others continued running, avoiding the Beast as everything crumbled around them. Hogun asked Heimdall to open the bridge but nothing happened as the Beast rose to kill them. Thor twirled Mjolnir and pointing it skyward, flew towards the Beast, passing through its mouth, killing it with Mjolnir. It fell down, dead, as Thor descended in front of it. The hole in the back of its mouth was big enough to show the view behind it. It then fell off the cliff as Thor turned around with a laugh.

"Badass." Peter said.

"Just wait kid." Benjamin told him.

The smile vanished when he realized they were surrounded by an entire army of Frost Giants. The amount Thor and his friends had killed weren't even a fraction of their forces. Laufey glared at him as they all charged when suddenly a bright light hit the ice. It was the Bifrost!

"Phew!" Bruce sighed in relief.

The light faded as they witnessed Odin the Allfather, riding on his black eight-legged horse Sleipnir, Gungnir in his hand, looking as magnificent as in his glory days. Thor happily yelled they would finish the Giants together but Odin silenced him furiously as Laufey mocked him while rising to face him. Odin tried to reason with him but he refused and was about to stab Odin before he raised Gungnir and the Bifrost came down, throwing Laufey back and sucking in the Asgardians.

"Well, now you're safe." Hill noted.

"From them." Odinson said.

At Asgard, Odin berated Thor as Sif, Volstagg and Hogun took Fandrall to the healing room while Odin berated Thor more, calling him a vain, greedy, cruel boy while Thor retorted by calling him an old man and a fool.

"Shouldn't have said that." Fury said.

"Especially considering your old man is much more prone to anger than mine." Tony noted.

"I was an idiot." Thor said.

Odin agreed, saying he was a fool to think Thor was ready. Loki tried to talk to him but he roared, "NAY!"

Almost everyone in the room jumped in shock.

"Thor Odinson." Odin said as he twisted Gungnir and the Bifrost opened again, "You have betrayed the express command of your King. Through your arrogance and stupidity, you've opened these peaceful Realms, and innocent lives to the horror and desolation of war! You are..." Odin ripped off pieces of his armor, "unworthy of these Realms!" He ripped off Thor's cloak, "Unworthy of your title! You're unworthy... of the loved ones, you have betrayed."

Thor and Odinson both looked away from the screen in shame. While they had deserved punishment, it was still an uncomfortable memory.

Bruce and Loki put hands on Thor's shoulder for support as Benjamin put one on Thor's shoulder.

Thor looked down in shame as Odin raised his hand, "I now take from you, your power!" Mjolnir flew out of his hand into Odin's as he declared, "In the name of my father! And his father before! I, Odin Allfather, cast you out!" Odin fired a golden light from Mjolnir as Thor fell down and his armor shattered while he was sucked in by the Bifrost as Loki walked off in fear. Odin had turned Thor into a human.

"And now you will make my week even worse." Fury said dryly.

Holding the hammer, Odin whispered, "Whosoever holds of this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor." He then let Mjolnir go as it was sucked in by the Bifrost.

"So there was an enchantment after all." Tony realized.

"Yes there was." Thor said.

Thor then collided with the van as Darcy told Jane it was legally her fault but she told her to get the first-aid kit. Jane looked at the downed man and begged him not to be dead as he stirred and they wondered where he had come from. He suddenly got up to their shock and started calling for his hammer and called out to his father as Jane took pictures of the marks left by the Bifrost.

"Now that is fish out of the water humor." Tony joked, "And you have no regard for any maintenance."

Everyone chuckled.

Thor asked Erik which Realm it was, naming Alfheim and Nornheim before Darcy pointed a taser at him and said it was New Mexico. Thor roared at her for threatening him with a puny weapon when she fired the taser and Thor was down as Erik and Jane looked at her in shock. She said he was freaking her out.

"The God of Thunder taken down by a taser?" Natasha said in amusement as everyone started laughing while Thor and Odinson looked embarrassed.

"Now that certainly is ironic." Vision said.

"Let's move on." Odinson said as the laughter died down soon.

Erik and Darcy put Thor in the back of the van as Erik told her the next time she tased someone, the person should already be in the van. The three then left in the van with the unconscious Thor as something crashed at a distance.

"Mjolnir?" Steve asked and Thor nodded.

"And that's where Coulson has gone." Fury said.

"After ditching me." Tony joked.

Chapter Text

"So how did you adjust to Earth?" Daisy asked.

"Very horribly." Thor said, "At least in the beginning that is."

Erik, Darcy and Jane drove Thor to the County Hospital where the receptionist asked his name and Jane said it was Thor. She asked how they knew him but Jane said she had never met him before as Darcy interjected by saying until she had hit him with her car. Jane said she had grazed him but Darcy had tasered him, which she agreed to as it was true.

Everyone present laughed at the scene.

"Darcy is always so amusing." Thor said.

"Yeah. She made life funnier." Odinson agreed.

"We all need some humor in our lives." Clint agreed.

"Yeah, my husband gives me the humor." Bobbi said.

"Who?" Clint asked.

"You know who." Bobbi said.

"Lance again?" Natasha asked, "Really?"

"We worked it out." Bobbi said.

"Trust me. They are as right as rain together." Daisy said, "Or FitzSimmons because those two are even more right than rain."

Thor woke up on his bed as the doctor said they were just taking some blood as he assumed they were attacking him and started pushing them all of while getting up, He fought a little with the doctors and security, throwing them around before some guards pinned him to the door. He tried to say how they were no match for him but a doctor hit hi, with a sedative, knocking him out before he could finish.

Everyone laughed again.

"When you said "horribly", you were downplaying it." Storm said to both Thor and Odinson.

"Like I said. Fish out of the water." Tony said and everyone nodded in agreement.

"I had no idea Midgard had changed so much during the years." Odinson said.

"And I found out the hard way." Thor said.

"Well, it's a good thing my situation never got this bad." Steve said, "Though I did fight my way out of a hospital."

"Yeah. I remember that very vividly." Fury said as him and Steve exchanged a look.

A van drove through the desert of New Mexico as the man inside saw Mjolnir lying in the middle of a crater. He pulled up near it and getting out, tried to pick it up but couldn't even budge it, shocking him.

"Yeah, keep trying." Tony joked, "You'll break your fingers."

"The two of us together with our gauntlets couldn't budge it." Rhodes said.

"Even Hulk couldn't lift it." Natasha remembered.

"And you didn't even try." Thor said.

"I wasn't interested." She said.

"None of us could lift it, could we?" Steve asked and everyone shook their heads.

No one noticed Odinson's smirk on that as Steve's question was pretty ironic.

"Viz did." Wanda reminded them.

"I am not 100% human so it doesn't count." Vision reminded everyone. [1]

"No it doesn't." Tony agreed.

"Which one out of us would be able to lift it?" Bucky wondered, "Not me."

"Me neither." Clint agreed.

"I wouldn't think about it." Sam said.

"Maybe Peter can." Aunt May said with a smile.

Everyone turned to him, wondering if he could as it did make sense.

After a sigh, he said, "No. I don't think so."

"We will never find out anyway." Benjamin said.

At their home Erik, Darcy and Jane looked at their screens as Jane said it looked like an Einstein-Rosen Bridge. Darcy questioned about it as Erik explained it and Jane gave the short explanation that it was a wormhole.

"She's pretty smart." Loki said.

Jane showed Erik a picture and said the stars they were seeing weren't their stars as Ursa Minor wasn't visible and they were someone else's stars.

"The Bifrost does that too?" Hill asked in shock.

"Yes it does." Thor said.

"Jane has a keen eye." Clint complimented.

"I was wondering how long it would take for you to compliment someone's eyesight." Logan said with a smirk as Clint smirked too.

Darcy called them over to see a picture and there they saw the figure of Thor in between the storm, shocking them as Jane walked off, saying she had left something at the hospital.

"I think we all know what that thing is." Storm smiled.

Back at Asgard, Odin was standing at the edge of the palace when Frigga walked up to him and asked how he could have done this.

"She stood up for me?" Thor asked in shock.

"Yes." Loki said.

"Our father wasn't a good parent but our mother was." Odinson said, "She loved us and would have corrected our behavior better."

"Yes. I can agree to that." Loki said sadly.

"It's funny how my mother was more unstable than my father which says a lot considering my father gave himself a drug that gave him enhanced strength but drove him crazy." Daisy said sadly.

"I'm sorry." Steve said in sympathy and she nodded.

Odin told her Thor had taken them to the brink of war but Frigga berated him for banishing him. yelling, "HE'S YOUR SON!" Odin asked what she would have done. She said she would not have banished him to a world of mortals to suffer as she wouldn't have the heart.

"Oh mother." Thor said sadly, "Still trying to protect me from the harsh realities of the universe."

"I'm sure all parents are like that." Odinson said.

"Yes." Wanda agreed as she looked at Peter and Aunt May.

Odin coldly said this was the reason he was king and that he too grieved the loss of their son but some things even he couldn't undo. She said he could bring Thor back but he refused. "His fate is in his own hands now." Odin said before walking away as Frigga stood alone, grieving.

"And she failed." Tony noted, "Your old man really is pragmatic."

"That's why he was king for so long." Thor said.

"Yes. Kings need to think with their minds as well as hearts." Odinson agreed.

"Which makes me an unworthy candidate." Loki said and everyone was surprised. Perhaps he was redeeming himself after all.

"We all know how much of my fate was in my hands though." Thor laughed.

"Yeah, I think it was in my hands." Loki laughed too.

Thor woke up in the hospital, strapped to the bed. He tried to break them but failed, which shocked him greatly.

"Okay that is not good!" Sam said.

"Nope." Daisy agreed.

Thor then slipped his hands out of the straps.

"You definitely can be a SHIELD agent." Bobbi said.

"If you were human." Natasha told him.

"Yes. You have the skills." Clint agreed.

"No. Too short-tempered." Thor shrugged.

"Yes." Odinson agreed with him.

"How long until it goes to hell?" Rhodes asked.

"Not long." Thor said.

"Yeah. Pretty short time." Storm agreed.

"That's what happens when fish comes out of the water." Logan said.

"I know how long it took." Fury said.

Erik, Jane and Darcy walked into Thor's room but to their shock, he was gone as they sat in the van, with Jane being frustrated by her most important piece of evidence missing. She decided to find him, amusing Erik. Just as she backed her van, she accidentally knocked down Thor again who was behind the van. The three ran out in shock as Jane promised she wasn't doing it on purpose.

Everyone laughed merrily at the scene again.

"How many times did she hit you with her car?" Peter asked.

"I've never seen a romance beginning with a car accident." Aunt May said too.

"That is messed up." Wanda said.

"Not as much as you think." Thor said.

In the desert, people had already gathered around Mjolnir, with everyone trying to lift it though it didn't budge while they scraped their fingers.

"Yeah. Keep trying, bub." Logan said.

"I wonder if any of them read about Norse Mythology." Bobbi said.

"Norse Mythology doesn't mention the enchantment." Scott told her.

"Wow! You're a total nerd." Hope said and they both chuckled.

"Any problem?" He asked.

"No. I love it." She smiled and he smiled too.

One of the people tied a chain to it and the back of a van as the man drove it, trying to pull the hammer off but instead the back portion of his van came off. The elderly man driving the van asked, "Did it work?" Everyone laughed at him.

"And he's back." Steve said as everyone chuckled.

"So this guy showed up there too." Fury said.

"Well, if he's a watcher, why couldn't he lift the hammer?" Logan asked.

"He didn't try to lift it by himself." Benjamin said.

"Yeah, he used the van." Tony said.

"Van's not worthy." Peter finished.

"I guess now we know why he hated me enough to cut off my hair." Thor joked.

"Yeah. You cost him half of his van." Loki said.

Then a car pulled up above and Phil Coulson walked out, looking down. He pulled out his phone and said to Fury, "Sir, we found it."

"Ah that scene again." Tony said.

"Coulson." Daisy said sadly, "I miss him so much."

"You knew him?" Clint asked in shock.

"We will tell you about it later." Bobbi said as her and Daisy shot Fury a look and he looked away.

Clint and Natasha noticed it but decided to pursue it later.

Thor put on some pants in Erik, Jane and Darcy's home as Darcy commented on his muscles.

"That he is." Aunt May smirked as everyone chuckled in amusement.

He then picked up a device but Jane stopped him as he could accidentally damage it. He then put on a shirt which had the I.D. of a "Donald Blake." He asked her what it was and she said it was her ex, good with patients and bad with relationships. She took off the tag.

"I met the guy once." Odinson said, "Looks like a weaker version of us." [2]

"Interesting." Thor simply shrugged.

Thor then said his mortal form had grown weak and needed sustenance as Erik, Jane and Darcy watched him in concern and confusion.

"Yup. Definitely unnerving them." Tony said.

"I had no idea about the modern culture." Thor said.

"And now I know it very well." Odinson said.

"Good to know." Loki sighed.

Back at Asgard, Volstagg said how they should never have let Thor go but Sif pointed out there was no stopping him and Fandrall said if the guard hadn't told Odin where they were going, they would be dead instead of Thor being banished. As Loki looked at his hand, Volstagg asked how the guard even knew, to which Loki said he had told the guard and that he should be flogged for taking so long.

"The guard can't fly like I can." Thor told Loki who nodded.

Loki pointed out that he had saved their lives and that he had no idea Odin would banish Thor.

"Yes, that is the truth." Loki said, "But I used your banishment as an opportunity."

"Of course you did." Thor smirked.

"Conspiring, scheming, backstabbing God of Mischief." Tony said and he shrugged.

Sif asked Loki to make Odin change his mind but he refused, saying that while he loved Thor dearly, he was reckless and arrogant and Asgard deserved better from its king before walking off.

"While you're conspiring against Thor, you do have a good point about the arrogance." Steve said.

"Yes he does." Thor and Odinson said at the same time.

Sif said Loki spoke of Asgard's good but he had always been jealous of Thor as Volstagg said they should be grateful to him. Hogun reminded them of Laufey's words about the House of Odin being full of traitors and how a master magician could bring three Frost Giants into Asgard undetected. Fandrall said Loki always had been mischievous but this was something else entirely.

"Wasn't off the mark, was he?" Clint asked and Loki nodded.

"Yeah, Hogun was more perceptive than people gave him credit for." Loki said.

"And I think Volstagg is more dangerous than people give him credit for." Bruce said.

"Yes, his eating habits make him look harmless when he is far from it." Thor said.

Loki walked over to the Casket of Ancient Winters and closing his eyes, lifted it up when Odin stopped him. He turned around, revealing his pale skin, asking if he was cursed. He asked what he was, to which Odin said he was his son.

"Uh-oh." Aunt May said.

"And now the beans are spilled." Scott said.

Loki closed his eyes and took a deep breath, remembering the scene.

Loki asked what more he had taken from Jotunheim after the war and Odin revealed that after the battle, he had found a baby in a temple too small to be a Giant's child. In a flashback, Odin picked up the baby and using his Odinforce, transformed his pale skin into normal, giving him Asgardian qualities. Odin then revealed Loki was Laufey's son.

"Oh no!" Wanda said in horror.

"And I'm going to take it very horribly." Loki said.

Loki looked like his entire world had been turned upside down and asked Odin why he had taken him, to which he said because Loki was an abandoned child. Loki had none of it and said Odin had a different purpose. When Odin didn't reply, Loki exploded, "TELL ME!"

Everyone jumped at the scene and suddenly Steve, Tony, Bruce, Natasha, Clint, Fury and Hill found themselves having sympathy for Loki.

True he had killed many people on Earth and caused a lot of damage for which there was no justification, but they could see why he had started becoming like that.

Odin said he had taken Loki so that he could make an alliance with the Frost Giants through him. Loki had tears in his eyes by now and told Odin he could have told the truth right from the start. Odin said he was trying to protect him.

"There is no protection from the truth." Steve said sadly.

Odin, visibly stressed, started collapsing as Loki exploded on him and said, "No matter how much you claimed to love me, you could never have a Frost Giant sitting on the throne of Asgard!" The combined stress from Thor's banishment, the impending war with Jotunheim and Loki knowing the truth was too much for even the Allfather to bear and he lost consciousness. Loki immediately regretted his words and called for the guards as two Einherjar arrived to take him away.

"Oh no!" Peter said as he watched in horror.

"Perhaps he could have told you right from the start." Logan said.

"At least when you were old enough to understand." Daisy agreed.

"Yes. He could have." Loki agreed, "Finding it out when I did made me snap."

"And you conspired against all of us then." Thor said.

"I'm sorry." Loki said.

"I know you are." Odinson said.

At a restaurant on Earth, Jane asked Thor how he got inside the cloud as Darcy asked how he could be this hungry after eating an entire box of pop tarts. Thor drank a coffee and liking it, smashed the cup on the ground, "Another!"

Everyone laughed hard at the scene.

"Wow!" Natasha said.

"Now that is something I've never seen." Sam agreed.

"We see it a lot during celebrations." Bobbi said.

Jane asked him why he did that, to which he said he liked it and wanted another. She said he could have asked nicely and he said he meant no disrespect. She told him not to smash anything and asked, "Deal?" With a smile, Thor said, "You have my word."

"Fish out of the water." Tony said as everyone laughed at Thor using archaic language in a modern setting.

"Don't worry, I use some normal language these days." Thor said.

A man who had been on Mjolnir's crash site arrived and started telling the waitress about the satellite crash and how the feds had shown up in the end as Jane inquired about it while Darcy took a picture of Thor to post on Facebook. The man told them about the satellite and how it was heavy. Thor realized what it was and asked him which way, to which he replied 50 miles west. Thor then walked out.

"And now you're coming to beat up my agents." Fury said dryly.

"Sorry about that." Thor said.

"To be honest, they took my property and I don't like it when someone does that." Odinson said.

"We know you don't." Hill sighed.

Thor walked in the middle of the road, annoying the car drivers who cursed him and turned away.

"Now you're causing traffic jams too." Bucky said.

"I was actually more shocked than you when I saw so many cars around me." Steve said.

"He doesn't look shocked at all." Daisy said.

"Yeah, he's just casually strutting around." Storm agreed.

"I just thought they were different kinds of chariots." Thor said.

Jane, Darcy and Erik stopped him as Jane asked where he was going, to which he replied 50 miles west because the thing was his and if she took him there, he would tell her everything she wants to know.

"I don't think you get enough credit for this but you too have a scientific brain." Bruce told Thor.

"Thanks." Thor and Odinson shrugged.

"Yeah, you were able to hold a conversation with Dr. Banner with scientific terms." Benjamin agreed.

"So you're also a science bro then." Tony said and everyone chuckled.

Thor said he just needed Mjolnir first but Darcy misheard it as "Myeuh-myeuh."

Everyone laughed at that.

"And a year later, she still called it that." Thor said.

Jane agreed to take him but Erik called her to a side and told her he was a delusional believing himself to be a God from Norse Mythology and very dangerous.

"Except he was a God from Norse Mythology." Rhodes said.

"No one had any way of knowing that." T'Challa said.

Jane apologized to Thor and said she couldn't take him. He then said goodbye and taking Jane's hand, kissed it like a gentleman and she thanked him, feeling flattered. He addressed the three by their full names and bid them farewell with a bow as they bowed back and walked off.

"They seem to like your style." Pepper said.

"People always find old culture interesting." Logan said.

As the three were walking back, Jane saw her research equipment being taken away in a truck. The three ran inside and saw Phil Coulson and several SHIELD agents taking her equipment away as Coulson introduced himself. Erik tried to calm Jane down but she was having none of it.

"You could have explained the situation to her." Steve said to Fury.

"We didn't have time." Fury defended himself.

Phil gave her a cheque to help by replacements at radio shack but she said she had made most of it herself, to which he replied she could do it again.

"Okay, wouldn't that take ages?" Daisy asked.

"It would." Bobbi agreed, "Though it's not like he took it forever."

Jane said she would sue him as an agent took away her book. She tried to stop him but Erik stopped her as Coulson thanked them for their cooperation and drove away as they needed her equipment to investigate a security breach.

"The breach being me." Thor said.

Later, the three sat dejected as Darcy ranted about her I-Pod and Jane said they took all of their backups too and wondered who they were. Erik said there was a scientist who was a pioneer in gamma radiation but when SHIELD showed up, he was never heard from again.

"I think they're talking about me." Bruce said.

"They are." Hill agreed.

"You were heard from again." Natasha said.

"Just not in the way you liked." Tony said.

"Yeah, that's true." Bruce said.

Jane said she would get it back as Erik said he had a colleague who had dealings with SHIELD and could help them after Erik sent him an e-mail but Darcy said they had taken his laptop too.

"Ouch!" Scott said.

"Who was this colleague?" Hope asked.

"It was your father, Hope." Fury said and she looked a bit shocked before realizing it made sense. [3]

At Asgard, Sif and the Warriors Three arrived to speak to Odin but to their shock saw Loki there.

"Uh-oh." Wanda said.

"Yes. 'Uh-oh' would be right." Natasha agreed.

Loki said Odin was in the Odinsleep and Frigga wouldn't leave his side so he was King of Asgard and they could bring their matters to him. Sif asked him to end Thor's banishment but Loki said his first command couldn't be to undo Odin's last and their people needed a sense of continuity to feel safe for the good of Asgard. Sif looked like she was about to attack him when Fandrall restrained her. Volstagg asked him to reconsider but he ended their meeting.

"If you want to be subtle, don't be a douche." Tony told Loki.

"Perhaps you're right." Loki shrugged.

Erik sent an e-mail to Hank in a cyber café before picking up a book on Norse Mythology and reading the stories, chuckling at them. Jane waited in her van outside a pet place where Thor asked for a horse.

"You've better chance of stealing one from a ranch." Sam shrugged.

"I love riding horses." Natasha said as she remembered how she used to go to the Montana ranch to ride horses as a leisure activity with some degree of privacy. [4]

The man said they only had dogs, cats and birds so Thor asked for one big enough to ride.

Everyone laughed as Tony said, "Even experimentation can't do that."

"My sister had a wolf big enough to ride." Thor said.

Jane honked her horn and Thor decided to go with her. She said she had never done such a thing before as Thor said he had many times and she was brave to do it and far more clever that anyone in this realm, amusing her with the "realm" word. She found him strange. He asked if it was good strange or bad strange and she said she was undecided as she hit something and lost control of the van for a moment before regaining it.

"Well, sparks are flying." Tony said as everyone chuckled while Thor and Odinson shook their heads.

Jane asked who he was and he said she would know soon. She said he had promised her answers and he said she was looking for a bridge. She asked if it was an Einstein-Rosen bridge, to which he said it was a rainbow bridge. Jane hoped he wasn't crazy.

"You are not but you sound like one." Fury said.

At Asgard, Loki and Frigga watched Odin in his Odinsleep as Loki said he never got used to it while Frigga said it was unexpected this time. Loki asked why Odin hadn't told him the truth to which she said they didn't want him to feel differently.

"Now that makes sense." Steve said.

"But I was too stupid to see it." Loki said.

She said Loki was their son and that there was a purpose to everything the Allfather did as he walked off. On Earth, Jane and Thor looked at the entire facility that had been built around Mjolnir as Jane was confused by SHIELD's actions. Thor gave her his jacket, saying she would need it as he would get her stuff out. Jane was skeptical though but Thor said he would fly out while lightning cracked in the sky.

"You didn't." Clint said.

"Nope." Thor agreed.

In the facility, the agents were monitoring everything using the tech with Jasper Sitwell looking around.

"Sitwell." Steve snarled angrily.

"He was Hydra, wasn't he?" Tony asked and they nodded.

"Yes he was." Fury said.

"And a very condescending man." Hill said as she remembered how he had talked down to her after Fury's 'death' in spite of her being his second-in-command.

"I would've loved for him to fight me there." Thor said.

"Don't worry, I kicked him off a roof." Natasha said and everyone chuckled.

"So you killed him?" Loki asked.

"No, I just kicked him off." Natasha said.

"He died pretty horribly." Steve remembered and Bucky winced as he remembered his brutality as the Winter Soldier but Natasha held his hand for comfort.

They noticed a breach in their fence as two agents went to check it out in a truck but Thor punched one out before hitting the other with the gun, knocking him out too as Jane watched via binoculars in shock.

"And so begins the humiliation of SHIELD." Bobbi said dryly.

"Yes, that was embarrassing." Fury said.

"You kicked serious ass without your powers." Clint said, "I was there. I saw it."

"Didn't know that." Thor said.

"It's a small world." Daisy shrugged.

Thor walked around in a hoodie as Jane backed to avoid detection and calling Erik, asked him to come by the crash site and apologized while Mjolnir hummed and it started raining, making Thor smile as he started running inside and agents ran after him.

"Stealth isn't your strong suit, is it?" Hill asked.

"Nope." Thor and Odinson said at the same time.

"It's mine." Loki said.

Thor ran inside and grabbing an agent, flipped him over. Another attacked from behind and threw off Thor's hoodie as Thor deflected his kick and grabbing him, threw him into the previous agent, knocking them both out.

"Nice moves." Steve said, impressed by Thor's skills.

Thor ran around as Coulson said he needed eyes up high with a gun. One agent moved to grab a sniper rifle but changed his mind at the last second and picked up a compound bow instead.

"I think we all know who that is." Natasha said.

"Yup." Clint agreed.

Bow in hand, Clint Barton ran and jumped to his vantage point as Thor jumped down some ladders and kicked an agent out.

"Tom Cruise would be proud of that move." Tony said.

Thor punched another agent out and kicked another out before running the other way on seeing many agents run after him. He ducked to avoid another agent and punched him down before flipping the other one down. He then grabbed the support above and leaping up, kicked another agent away.

"And now you even used his move." Tony said and everyone chuckled.

Barton moved up on his vantage point as Sitwell told Coulson systems were barely coping with Mjolnir's electromagnetic surge. Barton's face was revealed as he asked Coulson if he could slow Thor down or if he would send more men for him to beat up.

Everyone clapped on seeing Clint's face.

"And Hawkeye is here." Bobbi declared.

"It's more of a cameo really." Benjamin said.

"Oh." Clint said.

"But a good one." Daisy told him.

Thor saw Mjolnir and walked towards it with a smile when a big agent threw him down.

"Well, he looks pissed." Fury said.

"Toughest opponent I fought as a human." Thor said.

Thor smirked, "You're big. Fought bigger."

"With your powers." Loki said and Thor shrugged.

"Doesn't change the fact." Odinson said.

Thor punched the agent who punched him back a few times and tackled him outside where they both got drenched in mud as Clint aimed from above. The agent grabbed Thor in a chokehold but he elbowed him thrice, making him let go before the agent flipped him away. The two got up and Thor leapt in the air, kicking him away with both feet. He then kicked him out.

"That was awesome!" Peter said excitedly.

Thor walked towards Mjolnir as Clint said he was starting to root for Thor.

"Don't blame you." Bobbi said.

Thor looked at Mjolnir with a smile as Clint said it was the last chance and Coulson said he wanted to see this.

"Sir had perception." Daisy said.

"That's why I recruited him." Fury told her.

Thor then grabbed Mjolnir's handle to pick it up but to his horror, he couldn't even budge it. He grunted, trying to lift it with all his strength but failed. Looking up at the sky, Thor roared, "WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?!"

Everyone watched the scene with wide eyes, their greatest sympathies going out to Thor.

Thor and Odinson sighed sadly. True they weren't worthy back then, but it was still a huge shocker to them.

Jane watched in shock from outside as Coulson asked the ground units to move in while Barton lowered his bow. An agent hand-cuffed Thor as several others pointed their guns at him to prevent him from making a move. He didn't even resist, just looking at Mjolnir sadly as he was lead away while Heimdall watched the scene from his observatory at Asgard.

"Can't imagine how that would have felt." Scott said.

"And you never should." Thor said.

"How did you regain your worthiness?" Bucky asked.

"Keep watching." Odinson said.

Chapter Text

"What did you do before becoming worthy again?" Steve asked.

"Hung out with Erik, Jane and Darcy." Thor said.

Erik told Jane Thor was in jail for committing a crime as she argued. Darcy pointed to "Myeuh-myeuh" in the book as Jane asked him where he had got it to which he said in the children's section to show them how sill his story was.

"Except it wasn't." Loki smirked and everyone nodded.

Jane pointed out how Erik told her to follow all the leads as he said he was talking about science, not magic. Jane said science was just magic they didn't understand.

"Damn right." Fury said.

She cited Arthur C. Clarke who wrote science fiction that was a precursor to scientific facts and that if there was an Einstein-Rosen Bridge, advanced beings could have crossed it as Darcy said a primitive culture like the Vikings could have worshipped them as Gods.

"Now they're just harassing the poor guy." Steve said.

"They can be persistent." Thor said.

At the SHIELD base, Coulson said how Thor made his men, some of the most highly trained professionals in the world look like a bunch of minimum wage mall cops which was hurtful.

"And very embarrassing too." Fury said.

"Like I said, the humiliation of SHIELD." Bobbi said.

Coulson asked Thor where he had gotten his training and who he was but got no reply due to how shocked Thor was. He said they were good at getting info but got a call so he walked off, telling Thor not to go anywhere.

"I'm sure you would go somewhere if you weren't in so much shock." Logan said.

"Oh absolutely." Thor agreed as everyone laughed.

"SHIELD would get even more humiliated in a single day." Daisy said.

"Which is not something he would want." Hill said about Fury.

"Yes, it would make my week even worse." Fury said.

"And I wouldn't want to do that." Odinson said.

Loki then appeared, shocking Thor.

"Oh boy!" Sam said.

"This wasn't pretty, was it?" Storm asked.

"Nope." Thor and Odinson said at the same time as the former glared at Loki.

"Sorry." He said.

Thor asked him why he was here, to which Loki replied their father had passed away, shocking Thor as tears fell out of his eyes.

"Jackass." Tony said to Loki.

"I know." He said.

Loki said how Thor's banishment and the threat of the war was too much for Odin to bear and that it was cruel to put the hammer within Thor's reach, knowing he couldn't lift it and that the burden of the throne had fallen to him now.

"Burden?" Steve asked with a raised eyebrow.

"He is a good actor." Thor shrugged.

"Thanks." Loki said.

"I can see that." Natasha said.

Thor asked if he could come home but Loki said the truce with Jotunheim was conditional upon his exile and mother had forbidden his return.

"Now that I look back, I knew that was a lie." Odinson said.

"But I was too depressed to think about it." Thor said.

"I know." Loki said, "And I'm sorry."

Loki said this was goodbye and apologized as Thor apologized too and said goodbye as Coulson returned, puzzled, saying he had just got back.

Everyone chuckled lightly,

"He always had a good sense of humor." Daisy said with a sad but fond smile.

"He did." Bobbi agreed.

Some scientists were working near the hammer when Loki tried to lift it with one hand but failed so he tried using both hands but it didn't even budge so he gave up.

"Well, this is embarrassing." Loki said.

"You deserve it to be honest." Bruce told him, "After the stunt you pulled in there."

"Guess so." Loki shrugged.

"Yes, it was pretty cruel." Bucky said.

"I know." Loki sighed.

Sitwell told Coulson Thor had a visitor who was none other than Erik Selvig, and he told Coulson the man was called Dr. Donald Blake. Coulson told him he had dangerous co-workers but he said Donald was distraught on having all of his research taken away by a big faceless organization with their jackbooted thugs. Coulson gave him a look and he said that's how Donald had put it.

Everyone chuckled lightly.

"Big faceless organization with jackbooted thugs." Fury said, "Now that's actually hurtful."

"To be honest, their actions made them look like that to Erik, Jane and Darcy." Steve said.

Coulson asked how he had beaten their security, to which Erik said he had been on steroids. Sitwell told Coulson the data was falsified and Coulson said their data said he was an MD. Erik said he had switched careers to become a brilliant astrophysicist. Coulson just looked at him.

"He bought it?" Sam asked.

"Nope." Daisy said, "Sir was smart."

"Yes." Bobbi agreed, "He knew something was up."

Later, Erik walked into the room where Thor was and calling him 'Donny', led him away. Outside, Thor discreetly picked up a book of Jane.

"Okay, I take back what I said about stealth." Hill said, "You're decent at it."

"Perhaps." Thor told her.

Coulson told Erik to keep Thor away from the bars and they walked off. Thor asked where they were going, to which Erik said they were going to have a drink. Coulson told two men to follow them.

"What happened to those men?" Fury asked.

"Our friends just knocked them out when they arrived." Odinson said.

"Oh." Hill sighed.

"Unlucky agents." Loki smirked.

Later, Thor and Erik sat in a bar as Thor told him he had it all backwards and wrong and that he didn't know what to do for the first time in his life.

"Not a bad start actually." Pepper said.

"Yeah, sometimes that can be enlightening." Rhodes said.

"That's what he said." Thor told them.

"Well, he's a smart guy." Scott said.

Erik said it wasn't a bad start. Thor thanked him but he said he had only done it for Jane with whose father he had taught at the university and that he had been a good man who never listened. Thor said he hadn't listened either as his father had been trying to teach him something important and he had been too stupid to see it. Erik told him he didn't know if he was delusional or a con but he cared about Jane and he had seen the way she looked at him.

"Well, someone has seen the sparks." Hope said and everyone chuckled.

"It's rather obvious." Bruce said as Thor shook his head.

Thor told him that he meant her no harm so Erik said he would buy him another round and then he can leave town the very same night.

"I think we all know how that turned out." Natasha said and everyone chuckled.

Erik got two boilermakers and poured them for both of them. Then they started drinking heavily as Erik gave Thor a look.

"Oh boy!" Peter said in amusement.

"I share your sentiments." Benjamin told him.

"There goes the plan of you going away that night." Aunt May said with a chuckle.

Loki arrived on Jotunheim using the Bifrost and walked marched towards Laufey who was on his throne as the Giants stood around him. He ordered the others to kill Loki but Loki revealed he had done a lot for them and Laufey realized he had shown them the way to Asgard.

"So the beans are spilled." Clint said.

"Yes." Thor, Odinson and Loki said simultaneously.

Loki said he had done it ruin his brother's big day and save the realm from his idiotic rule a little longer.

"So it wasn't just a prank?" T'Challa asked.

"A bit of a prank, a bit of something for the good of the realm." Loki said.

"While your methods were too much, the realm definitely didn't need the rule of someone like me." Thor said.

"So you're basically Lord Varys." Scott said to Loki and everyone chuckled.

Laufey decided to hear Loki, who said he would conceal him and a few more Frost Giants so they can come to Asgard and kill Odin. Laufey asked why he wouldn't do it himself, to which Loki said the Asgardians wouldn't take kindly to a king who had murdered his predecessor.

"You planned to kill your father?" Tony asked incredulously.

"Yes." Loki said, "But not that father."

"Oh no!" Steve realized which father Loki was talking about.

"So what was the plan?" Natasha asked.

"Much worse than it looks right now." Loki said as he looked down in shame before looking at the screen.

Loki told Laufey he could kill Odin and he would return the Casket using which Laufey could return Jotunheim to its former glory. Laufey got up and with a smile, accepted. Loki then returned to Asgard and asked him why he looked so troubled, to which he said he had turned his gaze upon Loki in Jotunheim but could neither see him nor hear him. He had been concealed like the Frost Giants that had snuck into Asgard.

"Of course he would suspect you." Clint said.

"He was smart." Loki said.

"That's why you banished him, right?" Thor asked.

"Yes." Loki said, "That and his gaze."

Loki told Heimdall his senses had probably dulled and asked if Odin feared his power. Heimdall said he didn't because he was his king and he was sworn to obey him. Loki reminded Heimdall he was his king now and he was sworn to obey him. Heimdall reluctantly accepted as Loki walked inside, telling him not to open the Bifrost to anyone until he had fixed the mess his brother had made.

"You mean make it even worse." Natasha said dryly.

"Yes." Loki sighed.

"You were a huge schemer back then." Logan told him and he nodded.

"The God of lies and mischief and deception." Loki smirked.

Jane was reading when there was a knock and she opened the door to see Thor with Erik over his shoulder. They had drank and fought and Erik had made his ancestors proud. Thor put Erik on the bed and he said in a drunken state how he still didn't believe Thor was the God of Thunder but he ought to be.

Everyone laughed again.

"Poor Erik." Storm chuckled.

"Don't worry, I held back a lot." Odinson said.

Thor asked Jane if these were her chambers and she said it was a temporary living situation where she never had guests. She put her cornflakes and a plate in a cabinet before realizing the plate wasn't supposed to be put there and apologizing to him, put it in the sink, asking if they could go outside.

Everyone laughed at Jane's antics.

"Not the best social skills but understandable." Bruce said.

"I knew you would understand." Thor told him with a smile.

The two sat outside near the fire as Jane told Thor how many times she came outside. He thanked her for her kindness and that he wasn't as grateful as she deserved but she said she had hit him with her car a few times so they were even.

"Now that's a funny love story." Storm said and everyone laughed.

Thor then realized he had her book and gave it to her. She was thrilled as he apologized for not getting as much as she asked for but she said she wouldn't have to start from scratch now. He asked her why she was worried and she said SHIELD would make sure her research never saw the light of the day.

"Hey!" Fury said in offense.

"While I love Coulson, he didn't leave the best first impression." Daisy said.

"No he didn't." Bobbi agreed and Fury sighed.

"Yeah. I can understand they didn't have time to explain but he definitely didn't leave a good first impression." Steve said.

Thor told her she shouldn't give up because she was right. Thor then took her book and drew branches around the realms, saying her ancestors called it magic while she called it science and he was from a place where they were the same.

"Asgard is more advanced than myths give it credit for." Hill said.

"Myths were written at the time people considered it magic." Odinson said.

He drew branches around the realms and said how the Nine Realms in the cosmos were linked by Yggdrasil the World Tree and that they saw it daily without knowing through the 'Hooble' Telescope. Jane corrected him by calling it Hubble Telescope and he acknowledged her as the two laughed.

Everyone laughed at Thor's pronunciation.

"Still fish out of the water." Tony smirked.

"I still don't know enough about earthly customs." Thor said.

"You haven't lived here as long as I have." Odinson said.

Thor told her the names of the realms and she listened. Later, she was asleep as Thor put a blanket around her and thanked her.

"You're really sweet, you know that?" Wanda asked with a smile as Thor and Odinson shook their heads.

"And you really do have a scientific brain." Tony said.

On Asgard, Volstagg was eating as an angry Fandrall berated him for eating under such circumstances and threw his plate away as Volstagg roared at him to not mistake his appetite for apathy while Sif and Hogun pulled them away.

"Fandrall is a bit short-tempered." Steve said.

"Yes, he was the most short-tempered and reckless out of those three." Odinson said.

"And Volstagg had the best appetite." Thor said.

"Which makes him look harmless when he is far from it." Loki said.

Hogun said they needed to find Thor as Fandrall said it was treason while Volstagg said it was suicide. Sif said Thor would do the same for them as Volstagg told her Heimdall might be watching. An Einherjar arrived, telling them Heidmall was waiting and Volstagg said they were doomed.

"I think Heimdall has a plan." Bucky said.

"Yes, he is definitely not on your side, Prince Loki." T'Challa told him.

"You would be right." Loki said.

"Yup." Thor and Odinson said at the same time.

Heimdall asked them if they would commit treason and break their oaths to bring Thor back and she said they would. Heimdall said it was a good thing and walked past them as he asked if he would help them. Heimdall said he was bound by honor to their king and wouldn't open the Bifrost to anyone as he walked off as Fandrall said he was complicated and Volstagg wondered what to do now.

"So what did he do?" Peter asked.

"I think I know what he did." Steve said as he exchanged a glance with Thor.

The four saw Heimdall had left Hofund on the Bifrost twisted and gone off, like a careless person so the Bifrost opened while Loki watched in anger.

Everyone clapped happily.

"And he outwitted me." Loki said.

"Was he the first one?" Natasha asked.

"Yes, and you were the second." He said as everyone chuckled more.

"This guy just found a loophole. I love this guy." Tony laughed.

"Of course you like anyone who finds loopholes." Pepper said and everyone laughed.

"Yes. Those are his favorite people after you." Rhodes told her.

Sif and the Warriors Three landed near the city as Coulson and Sitwell detected the energy reading and decided to investigate it. Erik and Darcy were sitting on their dining table as Jane made their breakfast and Thor served it to them with a smile, not finding the task beneath him this time as the two thanked him.

"Now you look like you're adjusting." Bobbi said.

"I thought I'd have to live here, until a few minutes later." Thor said as him and Loki exchanged a look.

The two agents watched from outside as Loki summoned the Destroyer in Asgard and told it to ensure his brother didn't return, telling it to "Destroy everything."

"With that, you made my week worse." Fury said.

"And caused a lot of damage." Hill told him.

"I'm sorry." Loki simply said, not that it covered it which he knew.

Sif, Fandrall, Volstagg and Hogun walked through the streets of the town as everyone shot them strange looks due to their attire.

"Being discreet isn't the strongest suit of Asgardians, is it?" Tony asked.

"Nope." Thor, Odinson and Loki said simultaneously.

"It is in their genetics." Benjamin said and everyone chuckled.

The two agents wondered if a Renaissance fair was in town and told base they had got Xena, Jackie Chan and Robin Hood.

Everyone laughed almost hysterically at that.

"They forgot Gimli." Peter said about Volstagg and the laughter increased.

"Yes, Gimli if he was taller." Scott said and everyone laughed more.

Erik told Jane her theory was beautiful but she wouldn't be able to convince the scientific community without hard evidence when there was knock and they saw Sif, Fandrall, Volstagg and Hogun standing outside as Erik dropped his mug in shock while Jane and Darcy just watched with wide eyes as they walked inside and Thor hugged them happily.

"Now that's a reunion." Steve smiled as everyone clapped happily.

"And they have got their hard evidence." Natasha said.

Thor said he was happy to see them but said they shouldn't have come as his father was dead because of him, which made Jane look at him in sadness. He said he must remain in exile when Sif told him his father still lived. Thor then had an expression of realization on his face.

"And busted." Hope said again.

"That was pretty cruel." Bucky said.

"I know. I was a greedy, power-hungry bastard." Loki said, "But I am not anymore."

"No he isn't." Thor agreed and everyone nodded.

Loki walked up to Heimdall who asked how he had gotten the Giants into Asgard as he said the Bifrost wasn't the only way and that he was blind even with all of his gifts which he no longer needed due to his treason and stripped him of his position as gatekeeper and banished him.

"Not the best move, bub." Logan said.

"I had a backup plan." Loki said.

Heimdall told Loki he didn't need to obey him then and was about to attack him with Hofund when Loki summoned the Casket of Ancient Winters and froze Heimdall in place, with only his eyes visible.

"Aren't you a bastard?" Tony said as Loki sighed.

Coulson, Sitwell, other agents and some technicians were investigating the Bifrost site when the clouds darkened. Everyone from the town walked out to see it as Darcy asked if someone else was coming. Everything shook as a cup of coffee in an agent's car fell down while the Destroyer appeared. Sitwell asked Coulson if it was Stark's but he said the guy never told him anything.

"Because you ditched me." Tony said and everyone chuckled, "And now I want to make something like that."

"NO!" Everyone said simultaneously and he shut up.

Coulson thought it was a human using unregistered weapons technology and asked the person to identify themselves. Some of its facial layers went up and Coulson thought he would see Stark until it fired a beam and they all avoided as it destroyed their vehicles and wounded them.

"You almost killed my agents." Fury snarled at Loki.

"I apologize for wounding them." Loki said, "But they're alive, right?"

"They are." Hill said, "Others aren't."

Loki sighed and just didn't make eye contact as they looked at the screen.

Sif, Fandrall, Volstagg and Hogun decided to fight as Thor said he was only a man now and needed to get the people to safety while Jane said she would help him.

"She is brave." Steve said.

"And noble." T'Challa added.

"Why do you think my brother was attracted to her?" Loki asked and everyone chuckled.

Thor, Erik, Jane and Darcy started evacuating the people as Sif asked the Warriors Three to keep it distracted while it fired at some more buildings, destroying them. Fandrall and Hogun threw Volstagg at the Destroyer as he roared "FOR ASGARD!" but the Destroyer smacked him away and he fell on a car.

"Oh boy!" Peter said in shock.

"Shit!" Sam said.

"This is not going well." Scott said.

It was about to fire at him when Sif leapt at it from above and stabbed it through the neck with her double-edged sword and it died down. Volstagg sighed in relief while Sif smirked when it started again and turning its head around, fired at her and she dropped down to avoid while it freed itself from the sword.

"Oh no!" Bruce said as everyone watched in horror.

The four ran as the Destroyer fired after them and Sif was thrown down. It fired again at the charging Warriors Three but they were thrown back. It continued firing around as Thor ran up to Sif and told her she had done all she can. She said she would die a warrior's death and that stories would be told of this day but he told her to live and tell those stories herself.

"You're going to do something now." Natasha realized and Thor nodded.

Sif gave Thor her shield and ran off as Thor told the Warriors Three to go and that he had a plan. Sif, Fandrall, Volstagg, Hogun, Erik, Jane and Darcy were about to go off when Thor threw down his shield and they all stopped to look.

"Your plan was to die?" Aunt May asked.

"If it saved the town, yes." Thor said and everyone realized why he had become worthy.

Thor walked towards the Destroyer as everyone wondered what he was doing. Walking closer, he said, "Brother, whatever I have done to wrong you, whatever I have done to lead you to do this, I am truly sorry. But these people are innocent. Taking their lives will gain you nothing. So take mine... and end this."

Everyone watched in awe as they witnessed Thor's bravery.

Loki looked down in shame, not wanting to look anyone in the eye.

The Destroyer's flames died down as it turned away but then turning around, it hit Thor hard and he was sent flying back.

Everyone flinched hard.

"Whatever I have done to wrong you all, I am truly sorry." Loki said emotionally as tears fell out of his eyes and everyone realized that he was truly being sincere.

Thor put an arm around him for support as Loki cried, "Forgive me."

"It's okay, Loki. I forgive you." Thor said as everyone watched the scene emotionally.

Thor fell down wounded as Jane ran towards him and he told her it was over and she was safe. She said they would be all right but Thor closed his eyes and she wept over him as everyone watched the scene sadly.

Everyone watched sadly as Peter, Wanda, Aunt May and Pepper sniffed again. Loki too because of what he had done.

The Destroyer walked away as Loki walked to his throne while a tear fell out of the sleeping Odin's eye.

Thor and Odinson watched that scene with heavy sighs as they knew their father did care for them in spite of having banished them.

That was when the hammer's pressure started spiking as Odin was seen saying in a flashback, "Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor."

"Oh boy!" Sam said as everyone watched in anticipation.

"It appears your power is about to return." Vision said.

"This is it." Benjamin said.

"My return." Odinson said.

"Glorious one." Thor said.

Mjolnir flew off and towards where Thor lay as Erik saw it and pulled the protesting Jane away. Thor's hand caught Mjolnir as lightning flashed in the entire area. Sif and the Warriors Three looked at the scene happily as the Destroyer turned around.

"YES!" Peter cheered happily as everyone clapped at the scene.

"YOU GUYS ARE SO SCREWED NOW!" Bruce roared while clapping.

"I am." Loki said as everyone continued clapping.

Thor stood in the middle of the lightning with Mjolnir raised as Jane said, "Oh! My! God!" The Destroyer fired at him but he threw his hammer and its beam was thrown in a random direction before the hammer hit it again, making it fall down. Thor was revealed standing in his full battle armor and cape as Jane smiled happily.

"KICK HIS ASS!" Rhodes yelled.

"Turn it into scraps!" Tony said and everyone laughed.

Thor summoned a powerful tornado as the others moved away while the Destroyer was lifted into the air along with several cars that hit it. Thor twirled Mjolnir in the air and deflected two beams fired at himself before blocking a third and flying towards the machine. Then there was an explosion and the Destroyer fell down along with the cars as the winds died down and Thor walked out of the cleared dust.

Everyone clapped happily again.

"Now it's time for the real thing." Sam said.

"Your weather control is even better than mine." Storm said.

"Don't be offended." Thor and Odinson shrugged.

"That was awesome!" Peter said.

"It was." Daisy agreed.

"And now the true colors are revealed." Bobbi said.

Jane asked if this is how Thor looked and he said it was as she said it was a good look. Thor said they needed to go to the Bifrost and he would have words with his brother. That was when Coulson arrived and told Donald he hadn't been completely honest with him.

"No sir he wasn't." Daisy said and everyone chuckled.

Thor said they both wanted to protect the realm and he was their ally if he returned the items he had taken from Jane. She said he had stolen them but Coulson said they had borrowed the items and she could have her equipment back to continue her research.

"We borrowed it." Fury said.

"Could have told her." Hope told him.

"No time." Hill sighed.

Thor then asked Jane if she would like to see the bridge he had told her of and she agreed as he held her with his left arm and lifted her off the ground, startling her as she flew off while Coulson said he hadn't debriefed him.

"About the Avengers Initiative?" Thor asked.

"Damn right." Fury said.

"You lifting her up like that was sweet." Scott said and everyone chuckled.

At Asgard, Loki took Gungnir out of the device as Laufey and several Frost Giants stood there. He welcomed them to Asgard as they walked past the frozen Heimdall and two Giants stood guard near him and he grunted, cracking the ice.

"You underestimated him." Steve said.

"I did." Loki agreed, "And it's a good thing."

"Let's finish this up." Benjamin said.

Chapter Text

"Now we're going to see a battle between you two?" T'Challa asked Thor and Loki.

"Yes." Thor said, "Unfortunately."

"I am not very proud of my actions." Loki sighed.

"I know." Odinson said.

Sif, Fandrall, Volstagg, Hogun, Erik and Darcy reached the Bifrost site in Erik's van while Thor flew down there with Jane, asking Heimdall to open it. The frozen Heimdall roared as the ice cracked more.

"Good thing you underestimated the guy." Tony said dryly.

"Yeah, saved the Nine Realms a lot of trouble." Storm said.

"Many things happen for reason, I guess." Logan said.

Thor continued calling out to him as the others walked closer when Heimdall broke free and swiftly dispatched the two Giants before twisting Hofund, opening the Bifrost.

Everyone sighed in relief.

"Thank God for Heimdall." Steve said.

"Good thing he recovered when he did." Natasha agreed.

Thor and the others watched as the Bifrost came down. Thor told Jane he was going back to Asgard for now but he will return to her. Kissing her hand, he asked, "Deal?" She pulled him into a deep passionate kiss.

Everyone clapped and cheered at the scene.

"Finally!" Scott laughed.

"Looks like you kids love shipping." Pepper said and everyone chuckled.

"Yeah, Scott's a kid at heart." Hope said and he gave her a mock glare, "I dig it."

Everyone laughed more.

"Well, glad I managed to entertain." Thor said with a laugh.

"You still do." Benjamin said as Odinson chuckled.

The two pulled away and Jane said, "Deal." Thor, Sif, Fandrall, Volstagg and Hogun then walked into the Bifrost and reached Asgard, where Thor told his friends to get Heimdall to the healing room and leave Loki to him. The door to Odin's bedchambers froze and broke down as a Frost Giant walked inside. Frigga dispatched him effortlessly but Laufey had been behind the Giant, waiting to strike at the right moment. Before Frigga could even react, he knocked her down.

"Bastard." Thor snarled.

"Oh don't worry. I took care of him." Loki sighed, "Though I'm not very proud of what I did during this time."

"I know." Odinson sighed.

"So what is your plan exactly?" Pepper asked.

"Keep watching." Bobbi said.

As Thor flew towards the palace, Laufey opened Odin's eye and said how he had heard Odin could sense everything transpiring around him. "I hope it's true." Laufey said as he brandished an ice dagger, "So that you may know, your death came at the hand….of Laufey." Just before he could bring it down, a blast hit him and he was sent flying off. It was Loki. "And your death came by the son of Odin." Loki said as Laufey watched in horror and betrayal before he fired another blast from Gungnir, disintegrating Laufey.

"Once again proving yourself to be a two-faced traitor huh." Fury said dryly.

"No wonder you played us all against us." Hill said.

"I'll take that as a compliment." Loki said dryly.

"So you two are going to fight now?" Peter asked.

"Yes they are." Daisy said before they could reply, "And it won't be pretty."

"I can only imagine." Aunt May said.

"I can relate." T'Challa said, "A little."

Frigga hugged Loki for saving Odin as he said the Frost Giants will pay when Thor arrived. An overjoyed Frigga hugged him as he glared at Loki, daring him to tell the truth that he had sent the Destroyer to kill him and his friends, shocking Frigga.

"Busted." Hope smirked.

"I think it is your favorite word." Scott said and she chuckled.

"Yeah, she has said it a lot." Bucky agreed.

"By my calculations, she has only used it four times." Vision said.

"Wow you must be really fun at parties." Sam said dryly and everyone laughed.

"What do you see in this guy, Wanda?" Rhodes asked her dryly before saying to Vision, "No offense."

"None taken, Colonel." Vision said.

Wanda suddenly realized she didn't have an answer to the question.

"I have no idea." She sighed. What no one knew was that this one joke question had made her start thinking about her relationship with Vision more deeply.

"Now we're going to fight." Loki said.

"Don't worry, I have forgiven you." Thor said.

"Yes I have." Odinson said.

"Doesn't mean it's easy to watch." Loki said and Thor put a hand on his shoulder to provide support.

Loki tried to lie, saying the Destroyer was enforcing Odin's last command but Thor was having none of it.

"Still trying to lie to save your ass huh." Bruce said and Loki sighed.

"It's what I do." Loki said.

"You play the game really well." Scott said and everyone chuckled again.

"Yes, you were a two faced traitor so you played the game really well." Fury agreed and everyone chuckled.

"I did, didn't I?" He said dryly.

Loki said he had to destroy Jotunheim and blasted Thor with Gungnir, sending him flying out as he rode towards Heimdall's Observatory.

"So that was your plan?" Natasha asked.

"Yes." Loki said.

"Have the Giants try to kill Odin, then betray and kill them instead before using it as an excuse to destroy Jotunheim." Steve realized and everyone paled.

"You were one sick bastard, you know that?" Daisy asked and he shook his head.

"I was." Loki said, "I am not anymore."

"We know you are not anymore." Bobbi said.

"Must be hard to watch." Logan said.

"Very." He told him.

"Don't worry, we're watching it with you." Thor said.

Loki used Gungnir to open the Bifrost again before using the Casket's power to freeze its powers, directing them at Jotunheim as Thor flew and stopped near him. Loki told him he couldn't stop it as the Frost Giants ran around on Jotunheim in fear while their lands were destroyed. Erik, Jane and Darcy watched the Bifrost in action from Earth in horror.

"Oh no!" Steve said in horror.

"They're dying like flies hit by a spray." Wanda said.

"What did I do?" Loki said in shame as he saw them running for their lives. While they weren't a benevolent race, they didn't deserve to be wiped out like this.

"You were too blind to see you were wrong." Thor told him.

"I was." He agreed.

"And you thought this was the right thing to do when it wasn't." Odinson said.

"Yes. And I am truly sorry for everything I have done." He said in shame.

"Sorry won't be enough, bub." Logan told him, "But you will have to prove yourself when we send you lot back."

"I will." He said sincerely.

Thor tried to smash the ice but Loki blasted him away with Gungnir. Thor asked why he was doing this and he said he was doing this to prove he was the worthy son. When Odin would wake, Loki would have saved his life and destroyed the race of monsters, which will make him true heir to the throne. "You can't kill an entire race!" Thor told him. Loki asked why Thor had such newfound love for the Frost Giants as he could have killed them all with his bare hands.

"It is called empathy." Thor said and Loki nodded.

"We hope you're learning something." Daisy said and he nodded.

"Yes. I am." Loki said.

Thor said he had changed and Loki said he had too before striking Thor's face, asking him to fight. When Thor didn't, Loki hit him again and he was sent back.

"Why aren't you fighting him?" Peter asked.

"Because he is his brother." Aunt May said.

"And even if he has betrayed them all, he still cares about his brother." Wanda said and Peter nodded.

Thor started getting up as Loki said he never wanted the throne. He only wanted to be Thor's equal. "I will not fight you, brother!" Thor said. "I'm not your brother. I never was." Loki snarled. "Loki, this is madness!" Thor said. "Is it madness?" Loki asked, "Is it? Is it?" He asked Thor if the woman on Earth had turned him soft. Seeing his expression, he realized she had and said after this was over, he would pay her a visit himself.

"Bad idea, bub." Logan said.

"Real power if full of them." Fury said dryly.

"THIS-IS-ASGARD!" Scott said in reference to 300 due to Thor's 'this is madness' line, only to see everyone glaring at him.

"Just trying to lighten the mood." He said, "You know what? I'm not here. Look at the screen."

Everyone turned back to the screen.

Thor and Loki leapt at each other and he pinned Loki down before being kicked away. Loki tried to bring Gungnir down on him but he tripped him before trying to hit him with Mjolnir but Loki blocked with Gungnir and kicked him away. Mjolnir and Gungnir clashed twice before Loki pushed Thor down and leapt at him with the raised Gungnir before Thor blocked with Mjolnir.

"Oh no!" Aunt May said in shock.

"How did you stop the Bifrost?" Pepper asked.

"Keep watching." Thor, Loki, Odinson, Benjamin, Logan, Storm, Bobbi and Daisy said simultaneously, causing them all to chuckle a little in spite of the situation.

"Now that's how you lighten the mood." Hope told Scott and they both chuckled.

Thor tried to hit Loki but he avoided before using Gungnir as a lever, kicking Thor away with a laugh. Their weapons clashed again before Thor elbowed Loki and threw him off. Loki tried to fire a blast from Gungnir as Thor leapt at him and both crashed out of the Observatory onto the Bifrost and Loki rolled over the bridge, clinging to the edge, begging Thor to save him. As Thor tried to save him, he disappeared, revealing himself to be an illusion as the real Loki hit Thor from behind with a blast from Gungnir at point blank range, sending him down.

"Are you ever not going to fall for that?" Loki asked dryly.

"I didn't the last time you did it." Thor said and Loki's smirk vanished.

"Always nice to one up you." Odinson said with a smirk.

"Always nice to see it happening." Fury said dryly.

"You should have been there when I one-upped him." Tony said and everyone chuckled.

"I am sure we will see that." Loki said.

"We will." Benjamin said.

"Awesome." Tony said.

Many Lokis appeared as Thor roared, "Enough!" He slammed Mjolnir down and the impact sent the real Loki flying off as the illusions disappeared. To prevent Loki from getting up, Thor put Mjolnir on him. Loki tried to get up but couldn't due to the hammer on him.

"Oh boy!" Natasha said, failing to suppress her chuckle in spite of the situation.

"And that is why Thor is smarter than people give him credit for." Bruce said.

"I know." Daisy said.

"Yes, you have brains." Bobbi said too.

"Thanks." Thor and Odinson said simultaneously.

"This is embarrassing." Loki said and everyone chuckled at him.

Thor moved towards the observatory as Loki said he couldn't stop it. Seeing no other choice, Thor summoned Mjolnir to him and started smashing the Bifrost while Odin's eye opened.

"And that's the moment the old man wakes up." Tony said dryly.

"You both were creating a huge ruckus." T'Challa said dryly.

"Why did you decide to destroy the Bifrost?" Vision asked.

"Because that's what heroes do." Thor said as him and Odinson shared a look.

Loki told Thor he would never see Jane again if he destroyed the Bifrost.

"Low blow Reindeer Games." Tony said.

"Well what do you expect?" Loki sighed.

"Forgive me, Jane." Thor said as he leapt at the Bifrost with Mjolnir raised as Loki leapt at him with Gungnir but Thor smashed the Bifrost hard with Mjolnor, destroying it as an explosion of light engulfed the space around Asgard while Heimdall's Observatory died down.

"Oh boy!" Steve said.

"This is something." Bucky said.

Thor and Loki were both falling as Gungnir found itself in Thor's hand while Loki grabbed it to save himself and Odin grabbed Thor's leg.

"Just in time." Storm said.

"Yup." Odinson agreed.

Loki told Odin how he could have done it for all of them but Odin simply said, "No Loki." Loki looked at them both and in spite of Thor's protests, let Gungnir go as Thor screamed, "NOOOOOOOO!"

Thor and Odinson turned away from the screen with sadness in their eyes as Loki said, "I'm sorry."

"It's okay, bub." Logan said as he put a hand on Odinson's shoulder, "He knows he was wrong."

"I know." Odinson said.

"Doesn't make it easier to watch." Steve said with sympathy.

Loki fell into an abyss, being sucked in by the wormhole created by the Bifrost's destruction as Thor and Odin watched in despair.

"I'm sorry." Steve said to them all and they nodded in acknowledgement.

"I don't even know what to say about this." Wanda said.

"Let's just say our family is…..complicated." Thor said.

"That doesn't even begin to cover it." Rhodes said.

"Damn right." Fury said.

On Earth- Erik, Jane and Darcy watched sadly as the Bifrost was gone. Erik and Darcy walked back towards the van. Jane looked down sadly and walked back too.

"Heartbreaker." Tony said and Pepper smacked his arm.

"Be nice." She said.

"I know." Thor sighed.

"Love is a complicated thing." Bruce told him.

"Yes." Steve agreed.

Days later, there was a feast on Asgard as Volstagg narrated how he had laid the Destroyer low and everyone laughed while Fandrall said he had fallen on his ass.

Everyone laughed at Volstagg's tale.

"He is a good story-teller." Steve said.

"Just wait till you meet Luis." Scott said and Hope started laughing.

"I miss him." Thor said, "I miss all of them."

"Me too." Loki said.

"I wish we could change everything but alas." Odinson said.

Thor walked past the table as Sif watched him in concern. Thor exchanged a loving look with his mother as they held hands before moving away as Sif walked up to Frigga and apologized for her loss. Frigga patted Sif's shoulder as she inquired about Thor. Frigga said Thor mourned for Loki and missed the mortal.

"You know, it's not my place to say, but I think she is into you." Daisy said as Thor's eyes widened.

"Yes, it has been years and now I realize she had feelings for me all the time." Odinson said.

"Oh no!" Thor said with a wide eye as everyone chuckled at his expression.

"Oh she absolutely had a thing for you, brother." Loki said, "I still can't believe you failed to see it."

"I am dumb." Thor realized.

"No. Just not the smartest." Bruce said and everyone chuckled.

"It's never too late." Bobbi said.

"She is right." Odinson said and Thor considered.

Thor walked up to Odin who told him he would be a wise king but Thor said there would never be a wiser king than Odin or a better father and he would make him proud. Odin turned around and putting a hand on Thor's shoulder, told him he already had.

"You were brave and selfless, Thor." Steve said and he nodded in appreciation.

"That is high praise coming from you, Captain." Thor said.

"If the Bifrost is destroyed, how did you return to Earth a year later?" Clint asked.

"Father used dark magic to send me." Odinson said.

Thor walked up to Heimdall, asking if Earth was lost to them as he said there was always hope. Thor asked if he could see her, to which he chuckled and replied yes.

"That's like asking me if I'm a good archer." Clint said.

"Or asking me if I'm good with tech." Tony said and everyone chuckled.

On Earth- Erik, Jane and Darcy were shown working as Thor asked how she was and Heimdall said she searched for him. Jane looked up and smiled and at the same time, Thor smiled. The screen went black.

"What a coincidence." Tony said.

"Love works in strange ways." Aunt May said.

"All right, one more scene before this ends." Benjamin said.

"Let's see what that's about." Loki said.

Erik walked around in a SHIELD facility as a familiar voice called out to him.

"Look who it is." Hill said cheerfully.

"And you were accusing me of invading other people's recordings." Tony said dryly and everyone chuckled.

"Yeah, I know. I'm a hypocrite." Fury said with a chuckle.

"So we are watching this." Loki realized.

"I guess you had something to do with this." Thor said.

"Yup." Loki said.

Erik realized Fury was the one behind all of this and said the place was like a labyrinth, joking that he had thought he had been brought down there to be killed. Fury said he had heard about the New Mexico situation and Erik's work had impressed a lot of people smarter than him. Erik said he had a lot to work with, including the Foster Theory.

"They named a theory after her?" Bucky asked in shock.

"Yes." Thor and Odinson said at the same time with pride.

"Best way to put a mark on the scientific community, have a theory named after you." Tony said and everyone chuckled.

"I wish I could do that." Peter said.

"You will, Peter, one day." Aunt May said before looking at Benjamin, "Has anything like that happened?"

"Not yet. Sorry." Benjamin said and she shook her head.

"Legend tells us one thing, history another. But every now and then, we find something that belongs to both." Fury said as he opened a box to reveal a glowing cube inside it as Erik watched with wide eyes.

"Oh boy!" Bucky said.

"So this is what it was about." Natasha said.

"Yes, Agent Romanoff." Fury said.

"I remember that." Clint said.

"Of course you would." Hill told him.

"The Teserract." Steve breathed.

"A pain in our ass." Tony said.

"Yes it really was." Thor agreed.

"Sorry." Loki said.

"Well, we did do something about it in the end." Bruce said.

"Yup." Tony said.

Erik asked what it was and Fury said it was unlimited power if they figured out how to tap it. That was when Loki's reflection was seen in the mirror alongside Erik.

"What?" Pepper asked in shock.

"Yes, it's me." Loki said.

"Oh boy!" Scott said as he shook his head.

"Well, I guess that's worth a look." Loki smirked. "Well, I guess that's worth a look." Erik smiled.

"So you're influencing him already?" Hope asked and Loki nodded.

"And that is the end of this." Logan said.

"So next is…." Daisy trailed off.

"Captain America!" Bobbi said with a smile.

"Yes!" Daisy said before turning to Steve, "I'm a huge fan."

"Thank you." He said, feeling flattered.

"So now it's time for you to shine, huh." Tony said.

"We need to see that." Fury said.

"Yup. Can't wait." Hill said.

"I guess I am in it too." Bucky said.

"You are." Storm said.

"So are you in it too?" Tony asked Logan.

"Nope." Logan said, "We cut out my part because it made it too long."

"Oh!" Peter said.

"I want to see it." Scott said.

"Of course you do." Hope said as everyone chuckled.

"Well." Benjamin said, "Let's get started."

Chapter Text

"I really wanted to see something like this." Natasha said with an evil smirk.

"I feel so embarrassed already." Steve said.

"Well, prepare to be more embarrassed, Cap." Benjamin said and everyone chuckled.

"Yeah, and they cut of my part, so you can't even look cool." Logan said and the laughter increased.

"And I don't have my long hair in this, so you lose all your chances of looking cool." Bucky said and there was even more laughter while Steve shook his head.

"Don't listen to them, Captain." Daisy said, "I found it very inspiring."

"Thank you." Steve nodded.

"I am sure it will be." Sam said.

"It was." Bobbi said, "And a little funny too."

"I can only imagine." Tony said, "I want to see it."

"Yes, of course you do." Storm said.

"Well, without further ado." Odinson said and the recording was started.

A truck drove through a frozen wasteland as it stopped near a man and two men walked out. The man asked if they were from Washington and they said they were as it was revealed something had been hauled out 18 hours ago. The guys from Washington wondered why no one had spotted it before as the man said it was probably a weather balloon.

"It's definitely not that." Natasha said, having put two and two together.

"Where is this happening?" Tony asked.

Fury and Hill exchanged a glance.

The three decided one hell of a crane was needed to do the job as something large loomed up through the mist, surrounded by many men as one of them stood over it and shined a flashlight over it, revealing what it was.

"Oh my God!" Steve said as his eyes widened.

"Is that…." Sam started.

"The Valkyrie." Bucky finished.

"The Valkyrie?" Thor questioned in confusion, "They were an elite warrior unit of Asgard comprised solely of women."

"No, not that Valkyrie." Odinson said.

"What is Valkyrie then?" Peter asked.

"The Hydra plane where they found Cap." Clint said.

Loki started, "And I'm guessing they named their plane after the Valkyrie unit because-"

"Their leader believed he walked in the footsteps of the Norse Gods." Fury said.

"And he wanted their power." Hill told them.

"Must be very crazy." Thor said.

"Yes he was." Natasha said.

"And Hydra wanted to impose their rule all over the world." Steve said.

Bobbi and Daisy exchanged a look, deciding to tell them about Hydra's true goal later.

The men drilled their way inside the great plane and two had lowered themselves inside. They searched the space which was covered in a thick layer of snow. One of them saw something colorful through the ice and called the other as they looked at it carefully. The other one was shocked and called a man known as Bates, asking him to call the Colonel, not caring what time it is as this one had waited long enough. They looked at the thing in the ice. Captain America's shield.

Tony watched with wide eyes.

"Oh boy!" Scott said in excitement.

"Your shield!" Bruce said.

"Which means you won't be far off." Aunt May said.

"Nope." Steve agreed, "So they're fishing me out huh."

"Yes, Captain." Fury said.

"I always wondered what that would have been like." Peter said.

"Now you will see." Benjamin told him.

Tonsberg, Norway was shown in 1942.

"Isn't that where your father fought the Frost Giants?" Wanda asked Thor.

"Yes, he did." Thor said.

"I remember our father once brought us there." Loki said.

"And that is why you are worshipped as deities." Vision said in realization and they nodded.

"A lot is being revealed today." Aunt May commented.

"Tell me about it." Hope said.

A very old church was shown as a man ran inside, telling an older man that they had come for it in full force.

"Is it just me or does the guy look like Argus Filch?" Peter asked as he pointed at the old man.

"Which would mean he looks like Walder Frey too." Scott said. [1]

"It's not just you." Tony said.

"Uncanny resemblance." Rhodes said.

"I wonder if I could join Hogwarts." Wanda muttered.

"I think Hogwarts is nothing compared to you really." Storm told her.

"Yeah, you are far more powerful than that universe." Clint said.

"Let us focus." Benjamin said.

That was when a great block of stone barged through the door, shattering it as the younger man fell down with debris falling on top of him. The old man removed a piece of debris to see him lying dead.

"Oh no!" Aunt May said as she covered her mouth with her hand.

Outside the church, a man pulled up beside a great tank in a black '40s motorcar on which sat a medallion which was a symbol of a skull with tentacles.

"Hydra!" Daisy snarled as she glared at the symbol with hatred, remembering the face of the one after whom the symbol had been modelled.

"Attacking a small village. What a bunch of sadists." Steve snarled angrily.

"Bunch of self-righteous morons." Tony said.

The man walked inside as his men tried to open a coffin while he walked inside. His face slowly came into view as he said how this place had taken him a long time to find and that the old man should be commended.

"Schmidt." Steve snarled as he stared at the screen with hatred.

"With the mask." Bucky added.

"So that's the guy." Bruce said.

"Yup." Steve and Bucky said simultaneously.

"Hydra's leader during World War II." Bobbi said.

Schmidt told him men to help the old man up. They did as he said the old man had a great vision so the two of them were alike.

"Does he have to praise himself every other sentence?" Scott asked.

"Classic villain behavior." Sam said.

"Especially when it is Hydra's head." Natasha said.

"Yeah, he always did stuff like that based on what I have heard." Fury said.

The old man said how he was nothing like Schmidt as he agreed and said what the others thought of as superstition, the two of them knew it to be science.

"Of course." Thor said.

The old man said what Schmidt wanted was just a legend but he asked if it was, then why they had tried to conceal it. He took off his hat and gave it to his man before shoving aside the lid of the coffin, revealing a skeleton clutching a cube in its decayed hands. Schmidt picked up the 'Teserract', saying how it was the jewel of Odin's treasure room, before shattering it.

"Is that it?" Peter asked.

"No. It is not the real one." Thor said.

"Yeah, it looks too plain." Clint said.

"And it broke." Tony added.

"Yup. The last time we saw it, it wasn't." Natasha said.

"And did he just say jewel of Odin's treasure room?" Aunt May asked.

"Yes. Father kept it in his treasure room as a prized possession." Thor said.

"And later, he gave it to devotees of Asgard for safekeeping." Loki said.

"Until Hydra found it." Odinson sighed.

"So wait, when you had both the Scepter and the Cube-" Hill started to Loki.

"You were in possession of two Infinity Stones simultaneously." Vision said.

"Oh shit!" Bruce said.

"Is that why you were refusing to listen to reason?" Thor asked.

"I don't know brother." Loki sighed, "But I did feel a little off."

"What was it?" Wanda asked.

"Well, normally I would never threaten people I don't know intimately." Loki said as he glanced at Natasha, "And I wouldn't enjoy ripping out a man's eye."

"Oh, that!" Clint sighed.

Daisy started, "So you weren't in cont-"

"Oh no!" Loki said, "I was in control of myself. But I feel I was a bit more unstable and sadistic than usual."

"You were being affected by both the stones together." Bobbi realized and he nodded.

"Well, I am sane now." Loki smirked, "As sane as I can be." [2]

Schmidt said something like that wouldn't be buried even if the replica was a good one. The old man said he couldn't help him but Schmidt said he could help his village as people he cared about would be in it and he didn't need to kill them.

"You bastard!" Tony snarled angrily.

"Showing power over people who don't have it." Steve said.

As a tank rolled up outside, the old man looked at a nearby engraving as Schmidt turned to it. It was Yggdrasil, tree of the worlds, Guardian of wisdom and fate. Schmidt touched the engraving.

"And now he has defiled it by touching it with his filthy hands." Thor snarled.

Schmidt pushed an eye on a small serpent and a small drawer sprang out as he looked at it triumphantly.

"That is not a good job of hiding something." Natasha said.

"I don't think they were expecting the Red Skull himself." Hope pointed out.

He opened the lid as a bright, dazzling blue light shone upon his face.

"The Teserract." Bucky breathed.

Schmidt commented how the Fuhrer looked for trinkets in the desert.

"What can you find in a desert?" Fury asked.

"A hammer maybe." Hill said as Thor and Odinson chuckled.

"Or a long-lost billionaire." Tony said and everyone laughed.

"Now that was a good one." Rhodes said.

The old man said how it was not for normal men to look upon and Schmidt agreed as he closed the lid, asking his men to open fire.

"What the hell?" Pepper said angrily.

"He is a rat bastard." Logan said, "His words mean a rat's ass to me."

The old man called him fool and said he would burn as Schmidt said he already had and shot him in the chest, killing him.

"Oh no!" Aunt May said in horror.

"And the Teserract burnt him again." Steve said in anger.

"Yes it did." Odinson said as he shared a look with the others.

He then adjusted his face as there was blood on his pin.

"Is that his face dripping?" Natasha asked in disgust.

"Yes." Steve and Bucky said simultaneously.

"That's really gross." Scott said.

The scene changed as many shirtless men were shown being called.

"Here we go." Steve sighed.

The name "Rogers, Steven" was called out as a frail, short, sickly man put away his newspaper, revealing the face of Steve Rogers.

"Oh my God!" Natasha said.

"Punk." Bucky said and Steve smirked.

"Really?" Tony muttered.

"That's you?!" Thor asked incredulously.

"I didn't expect you had it this bad!" Wanda said.

"I can't believe it!" Peter said with a wide jaw.

"Long story." Steve sighed.

The soldier next to Steve said how stuff made them think twice about enlisting.

"No." Bucky said.

"Of course not." Fury said.

"Nope." Steve said as he stood in a line and the man in the platform called out his name. He looked at his thin frame and asked how his parents had died. Steve said his father, who had been in the 107thInfantry, had died of mustard gas, while his mother, who had been a nurse in the TB Ward, had been hit by the disease.

Everyone looked at Steve in sympathy.

"I'm sorry, Cap." Tony said as Steve nodded in appreciation.

"You wanted to honor them." Thor realized.

"Yes. And also to defend my country." Steve said.

Wanda wondered how a man like Steve, who himself had been in pain for such a long time, could take care of his friends while putting aside his own personal feelings.

The man looked at Steve's many ailments on his form and apologized. Steve asked for a chance but he said he was ineligible due to his asthma alone. Steve asked if he could do anything and the man said he was saving his life as he stamped a '4F' on his form.

"Bummer." Scott said.

"With all due respect, how did you think you were going to enlist with all of those ailments?" Bruce asked.

"There are even visual standards." Clint said.

"One can hope." Steve said.

"No one can hope more than you." Bucky said and both chuckled.

Later, a black-and-white screen appeared in a movie theater as a voice-over said how war continued to ravage Europe while the Nazi flag was shown and then soldiers marching in formation were shown as the voice-over said how every able-bodied man was being called to serve and even children like little Timmy were doing their part by collecting scraps.

"Awww." Rhodes said.

"He is so sweet." Aunt May said as she patted Peter's shoulder, reminded of him when he was very little.

A man said he didn't care and to start the movie as everyone glared at him and Steve asked him to show some respect.

"What the hell?" Sam asked angrily.

"Jackass." Tony said.

"The man is disrespectful of his own fellow countrymen who are risking their lives so he can live." Thor said.

"Ungrateful bastard." Loki said.

"A bully." Steve told him.

The announcer commended the brave boys as he said to start the cartoon and everyone glared at him again as Steve asked him to shut up. That moment, the man got up and looked at Steve threateningly.

"Uh-oh." Natasha said.

"Well, that isn't good." Sam said.

"Nope. Steve is dumb." Bucky said and everyone chuckled as Steve shook his head.

"He was being a jerk." Steve said.

"Yeah, he is a coward asshole." Logan snarled.

"Noble gesture Captain, and I am sure everyone appreciated it." T'Challa said.

"Thank you." Steve said.

"I think you did a great thing." Daisy told him.

"It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay." Scott said, "Small acts of kindness and love."

"Hobbit reference." Hope realized.

"Yup. It just fit." Scott said.

"It did." Benjamin told him.

"I appreciate your gesture to, Captain." Thor told him.

Later, the man was beating Steve in the alley as he fell down all the time.

"I can't believe Captain America went through the same thing as me." Peter said as he watched the screen while Aunt May patted his head.

"Yeah, I didn't either at first." Benjamin said.

Steve then picked up a trashcan lid and held it as a shield.

"Look, the prototype shield!" Tony joked.

"I am practicing my hold." Steve joked too.

The man threw the lid aside and punched Steve down again. Steve staggered up to his feet and prepared to fight again as the man said, "You just don't know when to give up, do you?" With determination on his face, Steve said, "I can do this all day."

"Of course you can." Tony grumbled.

"Yup." Bucky agreed.

"You have no idea what he was about to do all day a few years from your time." Storm said as she remembered seeing him ready to fight Thanos' army alone during the Battle of Earth.

Everyone wondered what she was talking about.

"Cap is one immovable object." Logan said.

That was when a man grabbed the bully, telling him to pick on someone his own size. The idiot swung at him but he boxed his ear before literally kicking his ass, sending him off.

"Look who it is!" Sam said.

"Hi Bucky!" Natasha said as Bucky smiled and everyone except Tony clapped.

"Go Bucky!" Peter cheered.

"Punk got a nice lesson." Logan said.

Bucky joked how Steve loved getting punched as he said he had the bully on the ropes.

"We can see that." T'Challa said dryly.

Bucky looked at the new form, wondering how many times this was and saw Steve had given his hometown as Params. He told him it was illegal to lie on the enlistment form.

"Whatever it takes." Steve said.

"Nothing could do that." Natasha said.

Steve then saw Bucky's uniform and asked if he had got his orders. Bucky said he was Sergeant James Barnes of the 107 th , shipping out for England the next day.

"107th? Wow!" Rhodes said.

"Thanks." Bucky sighed.

Steve said he should be going as Bucky pulled him away, saying it was their last night in the city and they were going to 'the future' and handed him a newspaper which had the caption- "1943: The World Exposition of Tomorrow."

"Stark Expo." Pepper realized.

"Well, looks like we'll be seeing some stuff after all." Tony joked.

The globe was then shown as Steve and Bucky strolled the grounds. Bucky wondered what the problem was as Steve was going to be the last eligible man in New York with 3 and a half million women as Steve said he would settle for just one.

"You couldn't get even one girlfriend?" Tony asked.

"Look at me." Steve said.

"We are." Natasha said.

"The Serum didn't change your face, Captain." Bobbi said.

"Yeah, your face looks good." Daisy agreed.

"Don't tell me some women in 1940's were that shallow." Natasha said.

Bucky said he took care of that as he waved to two girls, one blonde and one brunette and they waved back.

"Connie and Bonnie." Steve remembered with a smirk.

"I remember them now." Bucky said.

"Did people always have rhyming names back then?" Tony asked.

"Many did." Steve said.

Steve asked what Bucky had told her about him and he said only the good stuff. A voice over the loudspeaker welcomed everyone as the four went to check it out, making their way past exhibits as the stage was lined with girls in little black uniforms with a red car behind. One of them welcomed Howard Stark on the microphone.

"Isn't that-" Steve began.

"The car." Bucky finished and both chuckled.

"Did it ever work?" Steve asked Tony.

"It did." Fury said as they all looked over at him.

Howard Stark took the microphone from the woman with a smile.

The smile reminded everyone of Tony's as Steve, Bucky and Tony looked at the screen with a pang.

Howards kissed the woman on the lips as she and the others filed behind the car Howard wiped his mouth with handkerchief before saying how in a few short years, their automobile wouldn't touch the ground at all. Steve offered his date popcorn but she refused.

"Rude!" Aunt May said.

The girls removed the tires as Howard said that with Stark gravitic-reversion technology, their automobile would do that as he started it and the car hovered for a few seconds and everyone watched in excitement before sparks flew off and it crashed. Everyone laughed and clapped as Howards told them he had said a few years.

Everyone laughed at that.

"Nice save, dad." Tony said.

Steve looked behind to see at a US recruitment sign that said "I Want You." Bucky said how they should take the girls dancing but saw Steve wasn't there at all. At the US Armed Services Recruitment Center, Steve paused to look at his own face in a mirror-picture painting of a soldier's hat and uniform after another man and barely came above the painted collar.

"You're small." Thor said.

"Very." Odinson added.

"I can go smaller." Scott said and everyone chuckled.

"So can I." Hope said as the laughter increased.

Bucky arrived, telling Steve he was missing the point of a double date as Steve told him to go ahead and he will catch up.

"Didn't look like much of a double date to me." Tony said dryly.

Bucky asked Steve if he was going to do this again as Steve said he was going to try his luck. Bucky told him they would catch him and even arrest him. Bucky told him this wasn't a back alley but a war as Steve said people were laying down their lives and he had no right to do any less. Bucky said there were more important jobs. Steve asked if Bucky wanted him to collet scrap.

"If it keeps you alive." Bruce said.

"Nobody wants to do it." Rhodes said.

"I know." Sam said.

Steve said he wasn't going to sit in a factory as men were laying down their lives and he had no right to do any less. It wasn't about him. Bucky said he had nothing to prove.

"A sickly warrior is a danger to his allies." Thor said.

"Thank you!" Bucky said.

"But appreciate the efforts." Daisy said.

"Yes, you are very persistent." Fury said.

An old man with gray hair and glasses listened to their conversation.

"Dr. Erskine." Steve said sadly.

The girls called out to him, asking if they were going dancing and he said they were.

"Spare the charm, Sarge!" Natasha said with a flirty smile.

"If it pleases you, my lady!" Bucky said.

"Oh God!" Steve shook his head.

Bucky turned to Steve and said, "Don't do anything stupid until I get back." Steve retorted jokingly, "How can I? You're taking all the stupid with you." Bucky called him a punk as Steve called him a jerk and both hugged.

Steve and Bucky just smiled, reminded of the old times as everyone watched the scene, feeling the bond between the two.

Steve asked Bucky to be careful and said, "And don't win the war till I get there!" Bucky gave him a salute and walked off with Connie and Bonnie.

"I didn't. Bucky said, "I followed your orders, Captain."

Steve shook his head in amusement.

"So you got both of them?" Hope asked. Bucky flashed her a grin.

Steve walked off to enlist again as the old man followed him. Later, Steve was sitting in the doctor's office on the table as a nurse came in and whispered in the doctor's ear. He asked Steve, who wondered if there was a problem, to wait. As they walked off, Steve fidgeted nervously, looking at the sign behind him that said it was illegal to falsify on the enlistment form.

"Epic fail!" Peter said and everyone chuckled.

Steve was about to wear his shoes when a guard entered. Steve looked at him in fear when the old man arrived and thanked the guard. The guard went off as the man asked Steve if he wanted to go overseas and kill Nazis and introduced himself as Dr. Abraham Erskine and that he represented the Strategic Scientific Reserve.

"Hi doctor." Bucky said.

"SHIELD's predecessor." Fury said.

"Yup." Tony said.

"The SSR." Hill said.

Steve introduced himself and asked Erskine where he was from as he said he was from Queens, 73 rd  Street.

"Queens? Wow!" Peter said happily.

Before that, he was from Germany and asked Steve if it bothered him but he shook his head. He then looked at Steve's folder and asked where he was from, noting he had given five exams from five different cities.

"Uh-oh." Scott said.

"Not really." Steve told him.

Steve said it was the wrong file but Erskine said he wasn't interested in the five exams but the five tries, asking if he wanted to kill Nazis. Steve asked if it was a test and Erskine said it was. Steve said at length, "I don't want to kill anyone. I don't like bullies. I don't care where they're from."

"Classic Steve." Bucky said as everyone chuckled.

Erskine said they had many big men fighting the war so they needed a little guy.

"You're the Frodo Baggins of this story, Captain." Scott said happily and everyone nodded in agreement.

"A Frodo Baggins who turned into Aragorn." Hope said and everyone nodded again, as it was true.

"I'm guessing Cap is a combination of the two." Tony said and a third time, everyone nodded.

Erskine drew the curtains and said he could offer Steve a chance which Steve said he will take. Erskine then asked where he really was from and he said Brooklyn. Erskine stamped on his form and congratulated him before walking off. Steve looked at his form on which Erskine had stamped '1A.' Steve looked at it with determination.

"And there you have it, Cap." Sam said.

In the Bavarian Alps, in which sat Castle Klaufmann, Schmidt asked a doctor with glasses if it would work.

"Arnim Zola." Steve snarled.

"Of course we would see him." Bucky sighed.

"In the flesh." Natasha snarled.

"So he was the one whose artificial version you two met?" Tony asked.

"Yes." They said simultaneously.

Arnim Zola said his machine required the most delicate calibrations so he may seem overcautious as Schmidt asked if his conductors could withstand the energy long enough for transference while putting down an old engraving featuring the Cube.

"I don't think so." Tony said.

"They can't." Vision said.

Zola said he wasn't certain with this artefact and it might not work at all as Schmidt opened the box and his face was bathed in the Cube's bluish-white glow. Zola put dark goggles over his glasses for protection as Schmidt picked up the Cube with a metal of 4 arms and handle on top and put it into the receptacle.

"Going okay so far but I hope it doesn't." Peter said.

Everything around the Cube began glowing as Zola looked at the Control Panel which stabilized at 70% but Schmidt pushed it further as he hadn't come all this way for safety as the machine vibrated and the light went scorching up.

"Oh boy!" Bruce said.

"Idiots!" Hill said.

"Power hungry." Daisy told them.

"And self-righteous." Bobbi added.

"Rat bastards." Logan said.

"Yup." Storm agreed.

The surge of energy ended as everything was dark and smoky. Zola wondered what it was as Schmidt congratulated Zola and said his designs didn't disappoint even if they needed slight reinforcement. Zola was amazed that the exchange was stable and the energy could power his designs and change the war. Schmidt said it would change the world.

"Oh God!" Steve sighed.

"Of course that's what he wants." Bucky said.

"Lord Elrond lookalike wants to change the world." Scott said.

"And rule it." Hope said, "He is worse than Agent Smith." [3]

"Well, it's going to get worse before it gets better." Benjamin said.

"For everyone." Odinson added.

Chapter Text

"So I'm guessing there's training now." Sam said.

"Yup." Steve said, "It's pretty embarrassing."

Steve was shown standing in a line of soldiers as a sharp British female voice asked them to stand in attention.

"Well, well, well." Bucky smirked as Steve blushed.

"So what do we have here?" Tony asked with a smirk.

"Something very nice." Natasha smirked as Steve blushed more.

A woman walked up to them, introducing herself as Agent Carter. She supervised the operations for this division.

"Peggy." Steve smiled sadly as he remembered carrying her coffin. Both Bucky and Natasha put their hands on his shoulder for comfort as Sam nodded at him. He nodded back appreciatively.

"Peggy Carter." Fury said, "One of SHIELD's founders.

"A very important figure in our history." Hill said.

"I know." Daisy said.

"She was an inspiration to us all." Bobbi said.

"The way you all speak of her justify Sharon's decision to hide her surname." Steve commented.

"Don't blame her." Clint said.

One of the recruits mocked her accent by calling her Queen Victoria and she asked him his name, to which he replied Gilmore Hodge. She beckoned him and asked him to put his right foot in the front. He did and said she would like some of his moves.

"Bad idea." Loki said.

"Do you not know death when you see it?" Thor asked and everyone chuckled at the reference.

Peggy punched him hard, sending him to the ground.

Everyone clapped happily at the scene.

"And that's why you don't mess with Peggy Carter." Natasha said.

"I know. No one should." Steve sighed.

"I like her already." Tony said, "Wish dad introduced me to her."

"If he did, I don't think she would take kindly to your behavior." Pepper told him.

"She's right man." Rhodes said.

"Which would be a good thing." Tony simply said. [1]

"She's such a badass." Peter said.

"Yeah, she sure is." Scott said.

"And she knows how to teach bullies a lesson." Hope said.

"I learnt it from her." Steve smirked.

"You had good influences around you, Captain." Aunt May said.

"Well, the asshat has been dealt with for now." Logan said.

That was when Colonel Chester Phillips arrived, amused on seeing how Peggy was already breaking in the recruits as he asked Gilmore Hodge to get his ass of the ground and not do anything until told. He immediately complied.

Everyone laughed.

"Well, they put him in his place pretty easily." Storm said.

"Not enough to stop him from bullying Captain Rogers though." Benjamin said.

"That bullying cost him his chance to be a super soldier though." Odinson said, "Which is a good thing."

"Thanks." Steve simply said.

"It's good to see him again." Bucky said with a smile.

"Now I wonder how a team-up between Colonel Phillips and Stick would go." Daisy said aloud.

The people from the future laughed heartily at Daisy's comment.

"Who's Stick?" Wanda asked.

"Matt's mentor." Benjamin said.

"He was a hardass." Logan said.

Phillips looked at the recruits and started pacing around, "General Patton has said that wars are fought with weapons but they are won by men. We are going to win this war because we have the best. . .men." His eye had just fallen on Steve, and he glanced reproachfully back at Dr. Erskine, who had appeared beside Agent Carter, "And because they are going to get better. Much better."

"He doesn't seem very fond of you." Peter said.

"He was under pressure due to the war." Steve said, "So seeing someone like me wasn't very encouraging for him."

"That makes sense." Aunt May said.

"If only he could look into you." Scott said.

"Yeah, he would see the goodness inside." Hope said.

"Well, I think he employed another method to do that." Steve smirked.

Phillips spoke, "he Strategic Scientific Reserve is an Allied effort made up of the best minds in the free world." Steve and the others got ready for training as Phillips' voice continued, "Our goal is to create the best army in history." And then they were climbing a jungle gym made with ropes, Steve falling miserably behind, even slipping and dangling upside down to scornful laughter from Hodge as the observing Sergeant yelled at him to get out.

"That doesn't seem funny to me." Vision said.

"Because the guy is a bully." Fury told him.

"What a jerk!" Pepper said.

"But every army starts with one man. At the end of the week, we will choose that man. He will be the first in a new breed of super soldier." Now they were crawling under a mesh structure, Steve obviously struggling. Hodge, who was passing by him, kicked the prop next to him and brought half a yard of mesh crashing down on him.

"Using his power to bully the weak." T'Challa said, "He is a coward."

"I can see that." Bucky snarled angrily.

"I can't believe this is you." Sam said.

"Me neither." Tony said.

"Don't blame you." Steve simply said.

"Was he ever reprimanded for his actions?" Thor asked.

"No." Steve said, "Disciplinary action wasn't the best in our unit unfortunately."

"Pity." Hope said.

"Did they give you any nickname or something?" Daisy asked him.

"Yes." Steve said, "Spaghetti."

Everyone chuckled at that as it was a bit funny.

"Oh." She said, "I was called Mary Sue Poots."

Everyone chuckled hard at that.

"I wonder who made that up." Bobbi said.

The Sergeant shouted at Steve to get out as Agent Carter watched while Phillips' voice finished, "And he will personally escort Adolf Hitler to the gates of hell."

"Would be nice to see that happen." Thor said.

"Yeah, no more than what he deserves." Loki said.

"Well, he did become a parody on YouTube after all." Peter said and everyone chuckled.

"Oh those videos are so hilarious!" Tony said as everyone laughed.

"I think there was one where Hitler planned to kill Justin Bieber." Scott said.

"Don't speak that guy's name." Hope said in disgust.

"Right." He said.

"And there was one where he watched the cursed tape from The Ring." Clint said and everyone laughed again. [2]

"Yeah, those were the days." Benjamin said.

"The glory days of YouTube." Daisy smirked.

The recruits were later running up a track as Steve was yards behind the others while the Sergeant shouted at them to pick up the pace while he kept up with them all. Agent Carter was nearby on an automobile, observing the men and taking notes. The Sergeant pointed at the flag and said they were at the halfway point. First person to bring it down would get a ride back with Agent Carter.

"Nice motivation." Tony commented as everyone chuckled.

Except Steve, all men rushed at the pole, trying to get the flag as the Sergeant said no one had gotten it in 17 years. Hodge climbed up to get it but slipped down as the others tried too but failed and were ordered to get in line. Steve then walked up to the pole, bent down and unscrewed its base, making the flag fall down with a thud.

"You're so smart." Tony commented.

"I think the men must have been very stupid if no one got the flag in 17 years." Vision said.

"It's an exaggeration." Odinson told him.

Peggy smiled at Steve as he climbed up to the automobile and she drove off with him behind while everyone stared in shock.

"What a bunch of idiots." Hill said.

"She already likes you, Cap." Bruce smirked as Steve shook his head.

"So not all women in the 40's were that shallow." Natasha smirked.

Later, the recruits were doing push-ups as Peggy said her grandmother had more life in her.

"She knows what to do." Tony said.

"And she is harsh." Aunt May said.

"Which is exactly what is required of her." Clint said.

Steve was gasping for breath as Phillips asked Erskine if he was serious about picking Rogers and he said Steve was the perfect choice. The recruits were performing jumping jacks now as Phillips said that a needle stuck through his arm would go right through him. Steve was flopping his limbs weakly as Phillips said he was making him cry.

"To be honest, don't blame him." Rhodes said.

"Yeah, he was under too much pressure." Steve agreed.

Erskine said he was looking for qualities beyond the physical as Phillips begged him to pick Hodge who was big, fast and obeyed orders. He was a soldier but Erskine said he was a bully. Phillips said wars were not won by niceness.

"No, they are one by having a patient and strategic mind." Steve said and everyone nodded.

Phillips took out a dummy grenade and said war was won by guts as he threw it in front of the recruits and told them it was a grenade. Agent Carter and all the men leapt away but Steve threw himself on top of it shouting, "Get away! Get back!"

Everyone's jaw dropped at that.

"You are braver than I thought, Captain." T'Challa said, respect shining in his eyes.

"Yes, it is an honor to fight alongside you." Thor told him.

"Thank you." Steve said simply with appreciation.

"Punk." Bucky said and Steve shook his head while both chuckled.

"Now I understand why you were picked." Fury said.

"Yes." Hill agreed.

"Wow!" Peter said in awe.

"No matter how many times I see it, it never fails to inspire me." Daisy said.

"Don't blame you, bub." Logan told her.

"Everything special about you did not come out of a bottle." Tony said as he turned to Steve, "It came out of you."

Steve nodded in appreciation and said, "And you are a good man without the suit, Tony."

Everyone looked at the two with wide eyes. Never had they expected them to respect each other like that.

"Now I have seen everything." Wanda muttered.

"Let's continue." Benjamin said.

Steve realized the grenade was a fake and asked if it was a test as Erskine and Carter smirked. Phillips walked off, obviously impressed though he still said Steve was skinny.

"Not for long." Hope said.

At night, Steve was sitting in his cabin as Erskine entered with some wine and Steve asked why he had chosen him, to which Erskine showed him the wine that was from Augsburg, his city.

"What's it got to do with that?" Scott asked.

"I am wondering too." Peter said.

"He is getting to the point." Storm told them.

"Must have been good wine." Loki commented.

Erskine said that people forgot how Nazis invaded their own country first and that his people struggled and felt weak and small. Then came Hitler with his marching flags and all and found him, asking him to make them stronger. When he refused, he sent the head of the Hydra division- Johann Schmidt, who was ambitious.

"You have no idea." Bucky said.

Erskine said how Hitler and Schmidt shared a passion for occult power and Teutonic myth. For Hitler, they were fantasies to inspire his followers but for Schmidt, it was real.

"I am sure it was real for Hitler too." Aunt May said.

"Damn right." Fury said.

"Heimdall once told me a dictator on Earth was praying for me to come down and smite his enemies." Thor said, "I think I now know who he was talking about." [3]

"Oh my God!" Steve said in horror.

"But we stopped listening to prayers after the Vikings were done with." Loki simply said.

"Good thing." Bucky sighed.

Erskine said how Schmidt believed great power had been left on Earth by the Gods to be seized by a superior man and he wanted the formula. In a flashback, Schmidt was shown holding Erskine at gunpoint as he plunged a needle into his arm. Steve asked if it made him stronger and Erskine said it did but there were other effects as Schmidt was shown crying in agony while his facial features were distorted.

Everyone winced.

"It only made him superior physically." T'Challa said.

Erskine said the serum wasn't ready but the man wasn't either. "The serum amplifies everything that is inside the man. So, good becomes great, and bad becomes worse." Erskine said.

"That explains a lot." Tony sighed.

Erskine looked at Steve with piercing eyes, "This is why you were chosen. Because the strong man, who has known power all his life, may lose respect for that power. But a weak man knows the value of strength - and knows compassion."

"Yes." Natasha agreed.

Steve thanked him as Erskine gave two cups to Steve and poured the wine saying, "Whatever happens tomorrow, you must promise me one thing. That you will stay who you are. Not a perfect soldier, but a good man."

"So Ross basically missed the entire point." Bruce said.

"I guess he is a jackass by thought as well." Logan said and everyone laughed.

Steve toasted to the little guys and both were about to drink before Erskine took his drink, remembering that he could have no fluids before the procedure. Steve said they would drink it after then but Erskine said he didn't have the procedure so he could drink it.

Everyone chuckled.

"Cheers!" Thor, Odinson and Logan said at the same time.

"Good thing he enjoyed one last drink." Steve said sadly as he remembered what had happened after the procedure.

At the Hydra base, Zola walked to where Schmidt was while opera music played as the man stood without his mask, his face obscured in shadow. He asked Zola if he needed something while the painter in the corner looked at Zola with annoyance. Zola realized Schmidt had found Erskine as he looked at some pictures of the scientist.

"Shit!" Sam said.

Schmidt realized Zola disapproved as he said they shouldn't concern themselves with him as he wouldn't succeed. When Schmidt responded with silence, he added 'again.'

"Of course." Pepper said sarcastically.

Schmidt said the Serum was the only defense of the Allies against their power and if it was taken away from them, their victory was assured. Zola asked if he should give the order but Schmidt said it had already been given.

"Burn!" Daisy said.

Schmidt turned on a light and asked Zola how the picture looked. Zola said it was a masterpiece and walked off.

"Yes, one hell of it." Fury joked and everyone chuckled.

The next day, Steve was sitting on the back seat of a car with Agent Carter as he told her he knew the neighborhood and had got beaten up in an alley and a parking lot and behind a diner.

"You basically got beaten up in the entire city." Bucky said and everyone chuckled.

"Really, you're talking to a woman by telling her about the places where you got beaten up?" Tony asked with a chuckle.

"Now you know why I don't have a girlfriend." Steve said with a smirk and everyone chuckled.

"Oh I'm sure you can get one." Natasha assured him.

Carter asked if he had something against running away and he said if he started running, they'd never stop, but if he stood up and pushed back, they couldn't say no forever. Peggy smiled at him and said she knew a bit of what it was like, to have every door shut in her face.

"Inspiring words, Captain." Daisy told him.

"Thanks." He said.

"I think Peggy's situation is a little different." Clint said.

"Nope." Bucky said, "She is just as persistent as he is."

"She would have needed it in those times." Bobbi said.

"Oh you have no idea how much patience she had." Fury said.

"I know." Hill said, "There was a radio show about you Captain after the war was over."

"I heard about it but I never really heard it." Steve said.

"I heard of it too." Tony said.

"Well, that radio show renamed Peggy Carter into 'Betty Carver' and turned her into a nurse who was nothing more than a damsel in distress and a love interest for you." Natasha said and Steve and Bucky both looked shocked.

"Really? They did that to her?" Steve asked incredulously.

"And she put up with all that?" Bucky asked.

"There's a reason we all at SHIELD look up to her." Bobbi said.

"Yes. She is an inspiration to us all." Daisy said.

"Earth really used to be weird back in the day." Thor commented.

"Well, respect." Hope said.

"Yes." Aunt May agreed.

"On with the show." Logan said.

Steve said he didn't know why a beautiful dame would want to join the army, before correcting himself hastily by calling her a woman, and then an agent, and then just said she was beautiful, fumbling badly as Peggy asked him he had no idea how to talk to a woman and he said this was the longest conversation he ever had with one.

"I think I'm now seeing why you never got a girlfriend, Cap." Tony said as everyone chuckled at Steve's awkwardness.

"Even I can do better than this." Peter said and everyone laughed at that.

"I know. I know. It's embarrassing." Steve said.

"Clearly." Benjamin told him.

"Even simple-minded women won't talk to you if you speak like that." Storm told him.

"And I thought you would make me look cool in front of the receptionist." Sam joked and everyone chuckled.

Steve said women weren't exactly lining up to dance with a guy they might step on.

"Remember the time I could step on you?" Hope asked Scott jokingly.

"I think we shouldn't talk about that." Scott said.

Peggy pressed how he must have danced as Steve said asking a woman to dance always seemed terrifying so he figured he would just wait. Peggy asked for what and Steve said the right partner.

"Awww." Natasha, Hill and Wanda said at the same time as Steve blushed.

"Yes, it's pretty terrifying Cap." Peter said as he remembered asking Liz to the prom.

"I'm guessing we are very alike." Steve said.

They stopped near Brooklyn Antiques and the two entered while two men leaning nearby a car watched them. An old woman greeted them and asked Peggy it was a wonderful weather in the morning, wasn't it? Peggy said it was but she always carried an umbrella.

"Ah, the classic code language." Clint said.

"Yeah, good way to recognize allies." Fury agreed.

The woman pressed a button underneath a counter where there was a gun too. Steve followed Peggy to a room full of books with a big bookcase on the back wall and they halted there.

"Please be a secret door, please be a secret door." Tony said.

The secret door swung open to allow them to enter.

"Yes!" Tony cheered and everyone chuckled.

They passed a woman at a desk, and a number of armed sentries. At the end of the corridor they passed through another set of doors that a pair of guards opened for them, and then came into the room in which history had been changed forever.

"Here we go." Clint said.

Steve stared around at all the men in white lab coats, the great machines covered with switches and dials and meters, and the man-sized chamber in the middle of it all. Peggy cast him a rather anxious look, and then led him down a short flight of steps and into the lab. Dr. Erskine greeted Steve as someone took a picture but he told them not to for now and asked Steve to take off his shirt, tie and hat.

"And the pants stay on?" Aunt May asked as everyone's jaw dropped, including Steve.

"Aunt May!" Peter said.

"It's not like they're going to grow with him." She said.

"Good point." Bruce conceded.

Steve managed to take them off and handed them to an assistant as Phillips greeted Senator Brandt and he asked if Brandt could have given them the generators like requested but Brandt dismissed him, saying a lot of people asked for funds.

"Asking the Senator for something? Good luck." Hill said.

Brandt then introduced Phillips to Fred Clemson of the State Department who said they would like to see this project for more than just headlines if it came through.

"Him." Steve snarled.

"What is it, Cap?" Scott asked.

"Keep watching," Steve said.

Brandt looked at Steve and jokingly said that someone should give him a sandwich.

"I think he is going to get something much better." Sam said.

Steve settled into the machine as Erskine asked if he was comfortable and Steve said it was a little big and if Erskine had saved him any of the schnapps. Erskine said not as much as he should have and asked Howard Stark about the levels.

"And now here dad is, creating history." Tony said dryly.

Howard said levels were at hundred percent and they might dim half the lights in Brooklyn but they were as ready as they will ever be.

"Dimming half the lights in Brooklyn? Now that sounds like something I would do." Tony said, seeing for the first time how much he and his father were alike.

Erskine asked Peggy if she would be comfortable in the booth and she quickly went off, flustered as she shared a look with Steve. Erskine picked up a microphone and said how they were on a path to peace with this and would begin with a series of micro-injections into the subject's major muscle groups. The serum will cause immediate cellular change and to stimulate growth, he will be saturated with vita rays.

"Oh. Vita rays. Didn't know that." Bruce shrugged.

The workers had strapped Steve in place and were pulling tubes of blue serum out of a compartment, before loading them in various places in the machine. Peggy was making herself comfortable in the booth. A woman pushed a needle into Steve's arm as he said it wasn't so bad but Erskine said that was just penicillin and started counting down to the serum infusion with a hand on Steve's shoulder for support.

"Rome wasn't built in a day, Rogers." Fury shrugged and Steve shook his head.

A white gloved hand pushed on a lever as the blue tubes of serum began to empty. Steve grimaced and shut his eyes before opening them a moment later. He appeared to be in pain.

Everyone winced at the scene.

Logan and Wanda knew this was a good thing they were seeing but it was still hard not remembering the experiments performed on them. The difference being they were done to control them while this one was done for Steve.

Erskine then asked Howard to do his part and he pulled down another lever which made the machine tilt to an upright position and its two pieces snapped together while a third one came down on Steve.

"You're not claustrophobic, are you?" Pepper asked.

"Nope." Steve said.

"Good thing." Bruce shrugged.

Cables were connected to the machine as Erskine asked if Steve could hear him and he said he joked that it was a little late to go to the bathroom.

Everyone chuckled.

Erskine said they would proceed as Howard turned a dial and putting on glasses, turned a small steering wheel next to a meter, saying it was ten percent. A bright light shone from inside the machine. Howard increased the power till it was at seventy percent when Steve started screaming in pain.

"What the hell?" Bucky said as they all heard Steve's scream.

Tony and Peter looked pale at this point as Logan and Wanda's eyes widened.

Erskine frantically called out to Steve as Peggy asked them to shut it off and Erskine asked Howard to kill the reactor but Steve yelled, "NO! DON'T! I CAN DO THIS!"

"All day!" Bucky added.

"Really dude?" Sam asked.

"I knew it was going to be painful." Steve added.

Howard increased the power to a hundred percent as the ringing grew louder and the light shone brighter while sparks flew and parts of the machine went flying out before the machine died down completely. The spectators rose from their booths.

"Oh my God!" Peter said.

"That looked awful." Pepper said.

"Now even I have respect for you." Loki said and everyone shook their heads.

Erskine called out to Stark and the pieces of the machine slid back. There Steve was, gasping for breath but he wasn't a Spaghetti any longer. He was tall, broad-shouldered and pure muscle. He was bare-chested and bare foot.

The jaws of all the women in the room dropped on seeing a shirtless Steve as he blushed.

"Oh my God!" Pepper said.

"Ta-da!" Aunt May said.

"History is born." Daisy said with a smirk.

"Those abs." Scott said enviously.

Phillips looked impressed as Erskine and Howard helped Steve out and Fred got up from his chair, leaving a rectangular object on it. Peggy rushed up to them, asking how Steve felt. Steve looked around and realized that he was now towering over everyone in the room so he simply said, "Taller."

"By a foot." Sam said.

Peggy unconsciously touched Steve's chest for a second when he didn't notice before taking a shirt from somebody and handing it to Steve.

"Did she just…." Bobbi said in amusement.

"Don't blame her." Hill shrugged as Steve shook his head.

Brandt said some people in Berlin were going to get very nervous as Clemson pulled out an object that looked like a cigarette lighter.

"Is he….." Scott trailed off.

"Yes." Steve said.

"He was an assassin." Natasha said.

"His real name is Heinz Kruger." Clint told everyone.

The booth suddenly went up in flames, sending a shower of glass raining on everyone as Heinz quickly snatched a tube of the serum. Erskine yelled at everyone to stop him as he yanked out a gun and fired two shots into Erskine, who fell on his back, bloodstains coming from his clothes.

"Shit!" Sam said.

"The doctor again?" Pepper said, remembering Yinsen from Tony's recording.

"No!" Peter said in horror as Aunt May covered her mouth with her hand.

"He is going to pay, isn't he?" Rhodes asked.

"He will." Steve said.

A nurse screamed as Kruger ran up the stairs while Peggy withdrew a gun and fired, getting him on the shoulder.

"Nice shot." Clint said, impressed.

Kruger bolted up the stairs and shot all the guards as he reached the antiques part while Steve rushed towards the dying Erskine and looked at him in dismay. Erskine took labored breaths and tapped Steve's chest with his finger, reminding him of their conversation. With that, he closed his eyes.

"Rest in peace." Scott said as everyone looked sad.

Steve looked at his muscles, flexing his limbs as his face hardened.

"Now you'll get 'em, Cap." Fury said.

Heinz burst through the store as the elderly agent fired at him but was gunned down. He then grabbed her gun in his other hand and ran outside towards a car where a man was already at the wheel. He shouted a warning to another man who shot down the two guards who had followed Kruger as he went into the car and the driver started, with Kruger shooting two more men.

"They had it planned from A to Z, didn't they?" Bruce asked.

"It's Hydra." Fury said simply.

Peggy appeared and pointed her gun at the back window of the car when a car burst in flames behind her with a bang.

"Wasn't that your car?" Clint asked.

"It was." Steve said.

Peggy turned back around and fired at the car again, killing the driver as the car slammed into a yellow cab.

"Now that's more like it!" Hope cheered.

The driver of the cab went to check up on the people in the car when Kruger got out of it and into the cab, speeding off as his own driver was discovered dead.

"Did he just leave his car door open?" Aunt May asked.

"Not every day does another car slam into you." Logan pointed out.

Kruger headed straight for Peggy when Steve pushed her out of the way and he sped off. Peggy yelled she had it as Steve sped off, apologizing. He was still barefoot.

"I knew she wouldn't be happy." Natasha said.

"I said I was sorry." Steve simply shrugged.

"Now this is more like it." Thor said as they watched Steve running.

"Now I understand how you kept up with me." T'Challa said as he remembered the chase in Romania.

Steve ran down the street as he gained on the cab and accidentally smashed himself through the windows of a store, damaging it as he apologized while running off.

"Sorry!" Steve said.

"Get him Cap!" Scott yelled.

"Kick his ass!" Hope cheered.

With that, everyone in the room was cheering for Steve.

"Catch him!" Bobbi yelled as everyone cheered for him more.

Steve then ran up an alleyway and leapt over a fence flawlessly.

"Whoa!" Peter cheered as everyone clapped.

"Catch up!" Tony yelled.

"You can do this!" Sam yelled as everyone cheered.

"He is probably regretting being born." Natasha said about Kruger as everyone continued cheering.

"Thanks guys." Steve said with a smile.

Steve then leapt over a few cars before leaping onto the cab, hanging over it.

"Yes! Now get him!" Bucky yelled.

Heinz tried to fire at him but he avoided all the shots before hanging onto the door as Heinz fired again but he avoided before the cab crashed into a truck, flipping it over as Steve fell off while Heinz recovered and ran off again.

"The assassin is very persistent." Vision commented.

"Cap will get him. He is the fastest person I've seen after my brother." Wanda said as everyone continued cheering.

Kruger fired at Steve as he picked up the now broken cab door and blocked the bullets before Kruger ran off and Steve ditched the door, running after him again.

"Practicing your hold again?" Natasha joked and everyone chuckled.

Kruger then fired in the middle of a crowd as everyone dispersed and he snatched a kid from his mother's arms as she howled in despair. He threatened to kill the kid, stopping Steve. He fired at him but he took cover to avoid.

"What a coward!" Thor spat.

"Even I wouldn't do that." Loki said.

"Let him go!" Aunt May snarled as she held Peter's hand tightly and he squeezed back.

Kruger ran up to a waterside loading shed when Steve showed up and he pointed the gun at the boy's head. Steve begged him not to shoot the boy and Kruger fired at him, only to realize the gun was empty now.

"Phew!" Pepper sighed in relief.

"Good thing the gun ran out." Vision commented.

Kruger threw the kid into the water and ran off as Steve looked down but the boy started swimming away, telling Steve to Kruger as he could swim.

"There's a God in heaven! There's a God in heaven!" Daisy said as everyone sighed in relief.

Kruger then jumped inside a submarine in the water he had summoned and shutting himself, started it when Steve followed him, assured that the boy wasn't in danger. Steve dived into the water and followed the submarine. He then punched through the side window. Water gushed into the chamber as Steve lifted the top of the cockpit. He grabbed Heinz and hauled him upward through the water, tossing him up onto the landing stage and climbing up after him once he reached the surface.

"Good one, Cap!" Storm said as everyone clapped.

"YES!" Thor, Bruce, Peter, Bucky and Sam cheered.

"He did it!" Odinson said.

"Which is why you're such a legend." Logan said.

"Thank you very much." Steve said in appreciation.

Steve was upon Kruger who tried to strike but Steve avoided and kicked him down as the blue tube fell away and shattered into pieces.

"And the formula is lost." Bruce said.

"Already got the reflexes." Natasha said.

Steve grabbed Kruger by the throat and asked who he was as Kruger said, "The first of many. Cut off one head-", He stopped to dislodge something in his mouth, "-two more shall take its place. Hail HYDRA!" His mouth filled with foam even as Steve looked on, puzzled, and he choked and gurgled for a moment before becoming completely still. He was dead.

"What-" Peter trailed off.

"Oh no!" Aunt May said in horror.

"He is Hydra." Benjamin pointed out.

"They do that so they can't spill the secrets." Bobbi said.

"Always been there motto." Daisy said.

"Yup." Fury agreed.

Steve then looked at his muscles, as if noticing them for the first time.

"Captain America is born." Scott said as everyone clapped at the scene and Steve nodded in appreciation.

At the Hydra base, some men walked with Herr Schmidt, telling him he served at the pleasure of the Fuhrer and that he funded him because he was promised weapons. The facility was given to him as a reward for his injuries. Schmidt corrected them that it was his exile as he no longer reflected his image of Aryan perfection.

"Hitler is pissed." Sam said.

"Of course he is." Rhodes agreed.

"Of course you don't reflect his image." Clint snorted.

The man next to Schmidt berated him as his weapons division hadn't even delivered a rifle for over a year and that they had learnt from local intelligence that he had mounted a full scale incursion into Norway. One of them said that the Fuhrer felt the Red Skull has been indulged long enough.

"Oh he indulges himself now." Fury said.

Schmidt said he would show them the results of his work and led them to his room, saying how Hitler planned to establish a 1000 year Reich but he couldn't feed his troops for more than a month. His troops spilled blood across every field in Europe but he was no closer to achieving his goals. He then removed the cover off a very large gun on a revolving base.

"He can't feed his troops because he is funding you!" Bruce said.

One of the men mockingly asked if Schmidt intended to win the war through magic but he corrected them by saying he intended to win through science and that primitive men were confused by great power. Schmidt began pressing the buttons and flipping switches and said Hydra was assembling an arsenal to destroy his enemies in one stroke in a matter of hours regardless of what forces they possessed.

"They have Captain America now!" Thor said with a grin.

One of the men was suspicious Schmidt said his weapons contained enough destructive force to decimate every hostile capital on Earth and that he had harnessed the power of the Gods. One of them men said he was clearly mad when one of the men noticed Berlin was on his map.

"Busted again." Hope said.

"And they are all screwed." Logan said.

Schmidt turned the gun on him as he cried how Schmidt would be punished for his insolence and brought before the Fuhrer himself when the gun fired a stream of blue and disintegrated him.

"Oh boy!" Peter said in shock.

Schmidt turned his gun and fired again but missed before firing again, disintegrating the other man as the last one tried to run out but was trapped. He screamed as Schmidt fired at him too, disintegrating him.

"That didn't take long." Vision said.

"So he is smoked." Peter joked and everybody laughed.

Schmidt said to Zola, "My apologies, Doctor. But we both knew HYDRA could grow no further in Hitler's shadow. Hail HYDRA!" His men raised their arms and said, "Hail HYDRA!" Zola composed himself and also declared, "Hail HYDRA!" Schmidt walked off with a smile as Zola pulled himself together.

"Looks like he has never seen blood before." Natasha said.

Steve was sitting in a medical room as a nurse took his blood and Peggy said any hope of reproducing the Serum was in his genetic code but it could take years. Steve said Erskine deserved better and she said that if it could work only once, he would be proud it was Steve.

"Trust me Captain, he is proud." T'Challa said and Steve nodded in appreciation.

She looked at Steve with a smile as Brandt said how his committee was demanding answers and Phillips asked how a spy had entered his base in his car. Brandt asked Howard about the submarine. Howard spoke 'modestly', saying he was the best mechanical engineer in the country but even he couldn't figure out what that was.

"We all know how modest you are." Tony said with a smirk as everyone chuckled.

Phillips then talked about Hydra and asked if Brandt was reading their briefings but he said he was on a lot of committees as Peggy told him Hydra was a Nazi deep science division led by Johann Schmidt and it had even bigger ambitions. Phillips said it was a cult that worshipped him and believed him invincible.

"Well, they would believe that." Natasha said.

"They do worship someone." Daisy said as she exchanged a look with Bobbi and they remembered Hive.

Phillips said he had spoken to the President and they were going to take the fight to Schmidt. Peggy and Howard were coming too. Steve said he wanted in too but Phillips said he was going to Alamo as he was an experiment. Steve protested that it worked but Phillips said he had asked for an army and all he had gotten was him and he was not enough.

"Oh he has no idea." Bucky said cheerfully as him and Steve exchanged a smirk.

"And you are lucky you got him." Benjamin said and everyone nodded.

Brandt then told Steve he had seen him in action and so had the country as a paper was brought and it had the headline- "Nazis in New York: Mystery Man Saves Child." There was the picture of Steve holding the cab door as a shield. Brandt said they didn't take a symbol to hide in a lab and asked if he wanted to serve his country on the most important battlefield of the war. Steve said he did and Brandt shook his hand, telling him he had been promoted.

"Oh no!" Steve groaned.

"Oh yes!" Natasha rubbed her hands with an evil smirk.

Later, Steve was blowing his breath, wondering if he could do it. The attendant said he had to sell a few bonds. Bonds bought bullets, bullets killed Nazis. He was an American Hero.

"Why are you showing this?" Steve groaned.

"It was funny." Odinson said and everyone laughed.

"Prepare to die a slow death." Tony told Steve who shook his head.

The attendant said he could lead his platoon if he played ball with them as Steve took his shield and put on a balaclava-like mask that had an 'A' on it. He walked up to the stage, looking ridiculous in the middle of all the women in red, white and blue uniforms as they sang along the bouncing rhythm of the music. "Who's strong and brave, here to save the American way?" Steve lifted the shield and began obviously reading aloud from the back of it. And the women sang again. "Who vows to fight like a man for what's right, night and day?" Steve read on as the women danced and sang. "Who will campaign door-to-door for America? Carry the flag shore to shore for America." Steve posed for a photograph with a woman and her howling baby, who took the child from him and hurried off before Senator Brandt came up for his turn. "From Hoboken to Spokane. The Star Spangled Man with a Plan!"

The entire room burst in laughter. Tony, Thor, Odinson, Natasha, Bucky, Sam, Loki, Logan, Bobbi and Daisy were roaring with it as even Fury howled.

"Somebody kill me." Steve muttered with his head in his hands.

Steve read the same thing on another stage as the women danced and sang. "We can't ignore there's a threat and a war we must win. Who'll hang a noose on the goose-stepping goons from Berlin?"

"It's a tour!" Aunt May said.

Steve was then on the set of a film, marching with others as the director cut the scene and asked them to not look at the camera. "Who will redeem, head the call for America, Who'll rise or fall, give his all for America, Who's here to prove that we can? The Star Spangled Man with a Plan!" Brandt smiled from the audience. Steve read more as an actor dressed as Adolf Hitler tried to sneak up on him from behind the women with a menacing scowl as two children warned him. 'Hitler' burst through the line but Steve turned around and fake-punched him down as everyone cheered.

"Take that Dolfy." Scott said as everyone laughed.

Steve did the same thing in Buffalo, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Chicago. "Stalwart and steady and true, (see how this guy can shoot, we tell ya, there's no substitute!) Forceful and ready to defend the Red, White, and Blue!" Captain America comics were being sold by the dozens around the country.

"I've got one of those!" Peter said excitedly.

"I still have it." Benjamin said.

"I think Coulson had one too." Bobbi said.

"He did." Daisy said with a smirk.

Steve starred in more films and watched himself in a movie theater with his lips quirking as everyone clapped and cheered. "Who'll give the Axis the sack, and is smart as a fox? (Far as an eagle will soar) Who's making Adolph afraid to step out of his box? (He knows what we're fighting for!)" And there were still more stage performances and photos as Steve signed autographs for children off-stage and a woman greeted him as a picture was clicked. Steve then held up a bike with women on it as all of them sang. "Who waked the giant that napped in America? We know it's no-one but Captain America, Who'll finish what they began? Who'll kick the Krauts to Japan? The Star Spangled Man with a Plan!"

And this time, everyone in the room joined in.

"The Star Spangled Man with a Plan!"

"Why is this happening to me?" Steve shook his head as everyone laughed at his misery.

Steve then asked if they were ready to help his sock 'old Adolf' in the jaw but the uniformed men were silent. These were real soldiers who had seen combat and they weren't having any of it. The words "Italy, 1943: Five Miles from the Front" were shown on the screen

"Uh-oh." Scott said.

Steve said he needed a volunteer as one soldier said he had already volunteered and all his companions laughed derisively. Another shouted at him to bring back the girls and he said he would try as one of them called him "Tinkerbell." Everyone from the audience laughed.

"All right, they were not in a good mood but was that necessary?" Peter asked as everyone watched.

Steve said they were all on the same time.

"Except they're fighting and you're not." Sam said.

One of the men pulled down his pants and asked Steve to sign it as he looked away.

"Okay, I didn't need to see that." Hill said.

Then the soldiers threw projectiles at Steve as he deflected them with his shield and walked off the stage dejectedly and the girls returned.

"Sorry Cap." Tony said sympathetically as Steve nodded in appreciation.

As the music began to play, one of the helpers assured Steve they would warm up to him. But he just tramped off miserably down the stairs.

"They will. Eventually." Bucky said and everyone nodded.

Chapter Text

"So what did you do after this?" Sam asked.

"Earned their respect." Steve simply said.

It was raining as Steve drew a picture of a monkey balancing on a unicycle with a shield on its arm and an umbrella over its head. It wore a sweater with a big star on its chest.

"Expressive." Wanda muttered.

Peggy arrived, greeting a surprised Steve who asked her why she was here and she said she wasn't officially there. She talked about his performance and he said he had to improvise as his crowds were usually twelve year olds. Peggy told him he was America's new hope.

"That doesn't really sound like a bad thing." Pepper said.

"It isn't. But for someone like Captain America, it's a waste." Thor pointed out.

Steve said bond sales took a 10 percent bump in every state he visited but Peggy knew that those were Senator Brandt's words. Steve said that at least Brandt had him doing this because Phillips would have him stuck in a lab.

"Which would also be a waste." Scott said.

"Yeah, even bigger waste than this." Hope agreed.

Peggy demanded if a lab rat or dancing monkey were his only options. "You were meant for more than this you know." Peggy told him sincerely.

"You were." Natasha told him.

"And now you have proven it, time and time again." Daisy said.

Steve said he had dreamt of serving his country for the longest time and now that he had everything he wanted, he was wearing tights.

"If you wanted to fight, you haven't got anything you wanted." Rhodes pointed out.

Then a medical truck pulled up and man on a stretcher was brought out as Steve realized they had been through hell and Peggy told him that 200 men had gone up against Schmidt in Azzano and less than 50 had returned. Steve's audience had been the remainder of the 107 th .

"The 107th!" Bucky said in realization.

"Yup." Steve told him.

Peggy said the rest were killed or captured as Steve looked shocked and rushed to Phillips' tent where he was signing condolence letters. He dryly asked Steve what his plan was for the day.

"To hang a noose on the goose-stepping goons-" Tony began.

"Come on, let's not talk about that." Steve said.

Steve said he needed the casualty list from Azzano but Phillips said he didn't take orders from him. Steve said he needed only one name- Sergeant James Barnes.

"Well, look who is brought up." Fury said as he looked at Bucky.

Phillips told Peggy they were going to have a chat as Steve asked him again and he said he had signed more condolence letters than he had cared to count but the name was familiar. He apologized to Rogers.

"Not a good thing to say to you, Captain Rogers." T'Challa said.

"Nope." Bucky agreed.

"Let's keep watching." Benjamin said.

Steve asked about the other men and Phillips said they had to win the war to bring them back. Steve asked why they couldn't send an extraction team as Phillips said they were 30 miles behind some of the most heavily fortified territory in Europe and they'd lose more men than they'd but Steve wouldn't understand as he was a chorus girl.

"Technically, he isn't." Clint said.

Steve said he understood just fine but Phillips told him to understand somewhere else and reminded him he had to be somewhere in 30 minutes. He walked off as Steve looked at the map and said he did. Phillips told Peggy if she had something to say, she could keep it to herself.

"That's what she did." Bobbi said.

Backstage, Steve was packing up when Peggy asked him if he intended to walk to Austria and he said he did if that's what it took.

"Respect." Peter said.

Peggy said his friend was most likely dead but Steve said they didn't know that and it would be too late by the time the Colonel devised a strategy. Steve put on a coat and strode into the rain and put his bag in an army vehicle as Peggy called after him. "You told me you thought I was meant for more than this." Steve said, turning to face her, "Did you mean that?" Peggy stared into his face. "Every word." She said. "Than you've got to let me go." Steve said, climbing into the driver's seat. Peggy stopped him. "I can do more than that." She said.

"What did she do?" Loki asked.

"Oh you have no idea, bub." Logan said.

Backstage, one of the women reached for her helmet but found it missing as a voice called out if anyone had seen Rogers.

"So you never showed up for that, eh?" Tony asked.

"Nope." Steve said.

"Can't believe you abandoned your glory for me." Bucky said and everyone chuckled.

"That wasn't glorious, that was embarrassing." Steve said.

Steve and Peggy then flew in a plane piloted by Howard Stark while Peggy had a map spread out. She told him the Hydra camp was in Kreischberg between two mountain ranges and it was some kind of factory. Howard said they could drop him around the doorstep.

"Looks pretty ironic." Tony said, seeing his father helping Steve rescue Bucky.

No one said a word.

Steve said the both of them would be in a lot of trouble when he lands.

"No, she will be in a lot of trouble when you land." Tony corrected him.

"Yeah, he is untouchable." Pepper told Steve.

Peggy asked if Steve won't and he said if anybody yelled at him where he was going, he could just shoot them. Peggy said they would shoot back but he gestured to the shield and said that it might be good for something.

"Captain, it's a stage prop." Vision said as everyone chuckled.

Howard told Peggy if they weren't in too much of a hurry, they could stop in Loussern for a late-night fondue. Steve looked at Peggy and she seemed uneasy and said Stark was the best civilian pilot and mad enough to brave the airspace.

"Now if only he had told me about that." Tony said, seeing more similarities between his father and himself.

"I'm sure he wanted to." Pepper said as she held his hand.

Steve then asked Howard and Peggy if they fondue.

Everyone burst out laughing at that.

"You thought fondue meant sex?" Natasha asked.

"What is fondue?" Thor asked.

"Melted cheese on bread, or melted chocolate and fruit." Odinson told him, "Tastes pretty good."

"But it is not sex." Hope said as she laughed.

"I don't keep up with slang." Steve said.

"Do you know what shag is?" Daisy asked.

"An artist." Steve said as almost everyone around him chuckled.

"Yeah right." Daisy said as she turned away and Steve wondered what that was about.

"Screwing with America's golden boy. Never thought I'd see you do that." Logan said to her as everyone laughed.

"Well, I'm sure you're proud of yourself." Storm told her.

Peggy handed Steve a transponder as Howard told him its signal would lead them to him. But then shooting began as the plane rumbled.

"Shit!" Sam said.

"Oh boy!" Rhodes said.

"Why is everything so difficult?" Scott wondered.

"They are infiltrating a Hydra base." Benjamin pointed out.

Peggy insisted to take Steve all the way in but he said he would leave and they could turn the thing around and get out. Peggy told him he couldn't give her orders but he joked that he could as he was a captain and pulling down his goggles, jumped off as Howard turned the plane away while Steve's parachute opened up.

"Go get 'em Captain." Hill cheered.

In the Hydra lab, men were working as Zola told Schmidt production of the Valkyrie was on schedule even with the huge components. Schmidt told him to increase the output by 60 percent and have the other facilities do the same. Zola argued that the prisoners weren't strong enough but Schmidt told them to use up their remaining strength as there were always more workers before walking off.

"What a rat bastard!" Logan snarled.

"He really is." Bucky said.

"Can't wait to see him get beaten up." Clint said.

"He will." Storm assured.

"Just have patience." Odinson said.

"You're an archer so I'm sure you have patience." Bobbi told him and he nodded with a smirk.

"You have no idea." Fury told her.

In the cells, the Hydra soldiers led some prisoners into their cell as one of them removed a prisoner's hat with his stick. The prisoner, who also had a moustache, put his hat back on and turning around smugly told the guard that one day he would have a stick of his own.

"Dum Dum Dugan!" Steve smiled.

"What a badass!" Bucky said.

"He is in the history books." Natasha remembered.

"Yeah, read about him." Clint said.

"The Howling Commandos were important to SHIELD history." Fury said.

"Is it just me or does he look like a magician?" Peter asked about Dugan. [1]

Steve sneaked in, hiding between the trees of the forest as he looked at the facility and saw several military humvees going in. He ran into the last one, pushing back the tarp and jumping inside as two soldiers sat there. He dryly greeted them. There was some fighting and a few seconds later, both of them were thrown out.

"The classic two." Rhodes said as everyone chuckled.

The humvees parked at different points to unload as an armed man lifted the tarp behind the Humvee and saw the shield. Before he could react, Steve bashed his face with it, knocking him out.

"Look, it is useful." Steve said.

"I am unconvinced." Vision told him.

Steve jumped out and ran between the rows of the Hydra vehicles. He climbed on one of the smaller buildings and jogged up to the lab. He then knocked on the door and as a guard opened it, Steve slammed his head with it and knocked him out with a punch before hauling him aside and slipping into the lab.

"That was awesome!" Peter cheered.

"Captain America in action for the first time." Loki said dryly.

Steve cautiously slipped around the big machines before finding a machine that held little cartridges of Cube energy. He took one and put it in his pocket.

"How did he manage to store it?" Wanda asked.

"I have no idea." Steve said, "Science isn't my strongest suit."

In the cells, one of the prisoners looked up and saw a guard being knocked out. Steve leaned over his body and showed them the keys. One of the men asked him who he was.

"That's Gabe Jones." Steve told everyone.

"The Star Spangled-" Natasha began.

"Don't piss the little guy off." Bucky told her and both chuckled as Steve shook his head.

Steve introduced himself as Captain America, confusing them all. Steve then went down to the cells and opened them, freeing all the men. Dugan saw another man and asked if they were taking everybody. The man said he was from Fresno.

"Jim Morita." Bucky introduced him.

"Nice guy." Steve said.

"He is my Principal's grandfather." Peter revealed and everyone was a bit surprised on hearing it but Aunt May nodded too and it did make sense.

Steve then said he was looking for Sergeant James Barnes as Morita told him there was an isolation ward but no one came back from it. Steve told them the tree line was north-west eighty yards past the gate and they had to get out fast and give them hell. He would meet them in the clearing with anyone else he found.

"Giving orders like a Captain already." Hill said.

"You are a natural leader, Rogers. Which is why you are fit to lead the Avengers." Thor told him.

"Thanks." Steve said in appreciation with a nod.

Gabe Jones asked Steve if he knew what he was doing and he said he did as he had knocked out Adolf Hitler over 200 times. He then ran off to the isolation ward.

"They didn't even get the joke." Tony said.

"Pity." Aunt May agreed as everyone chuckled.

The men charged out of the factory. The few Hydra guards tried to fire at them and even got a few but over 100 prisoners were too much for them even with Teserract-powered guns. Dugan and a man called James Montgomery punched two out as Morita and another man called Jacques Dernier knocked out another and the latter picked up his weapon. Morita asked him if he knew how to use it and he fired, the recoil making him reel as a tank was destroyed.

"Now he does." Hope said.

"These men were all hardasses." Logan said.

"Yeah, I remember when you fought with us a few times." Steve said.

"And you were one too." Bucky said and Logan shrugged.

"They're giving them hell." Fury said.

"Go!" Sam cheered.

"So badass!" Rhodes said.

Dugan managed to climb into a tank while in the control room, Schmidt saw what was going on and pressed a large red button which sent an alarm blaring in the facility.

"And now they will escape." Bruce sighed.

Gabe had climbed beside Dugan in the tank as they started it and Gabe spoke German. Dugan inquired about it as Gabe said he had spent three semesters at Howard before switching to French as the girls were cuter. Dugan said he hadn't asked for the resume as James Montgomery climbed inside too.

"Still an impressive resume." Pepper said.

Dugan started the tank and fired it around on the soldiers happily.

"Wicked cool!" Scott said.

Schmidt looked at the screen and turning the camera, saw Steve fighting and beating several soldiers alone so he started the timer, shocking Zola. He pointed at Steve on the screen and said their forces were outmatched.

"So that's how he found you." Bucky realized and Steve nodded.

Zola ran to his room as Schmidt continued flipping the switches while Steve burst through a door, knocking down a man on the other side. He looked around in the empty lab as the freed prisoners fought the soldiers outside while Dugan, Gabe and Montgomery fired the tank around. One of them picked up a grenade and used it to kill more soldiers as Schmidt went to the central machine and picked up the Teserract with a metal thing and the timer counted down with less than 3 minutes left.

"Get out fast!" Peter said.

Zola was shoving papers in his bag and hurried out, leaving a large map behind as Steve appeared in the hallway. The two looked at each other before Zola ran off.

"Hi doctor." Steve snarled.

Steve then rushed into the room where someone was muttering incoherently. He ran up there and to his shock, he saw Bucky lying there, strapped to a bed.

"Oh my God!" Aunt May said in horror, summing up everyone's reaction. Even Tony looked pale and to his own surprise, worried about Bucky.

"It is horrible." Wanda said, remembering her own experience under Hydra.

"What did they do to you?" Hope asked.

"Whatever they did, it helped me survive the fall." Bucky said with a wince as Natasha held his hand for comfort and Steve put a hand around his shoulder.

The shocked Steve undid his restraints and called out his name, saying it was Steve. His name seemed to snap Bucky out of his daze and he was surprised to see Steve there.

"Now look at that. The dawn of bromance." Natasha joked and everyone chuckled.

Steve said he had thought Bucky was dead as Bucky said he had thought Steve was smaller. Steve then looked at the map Zola had left behind.

"I still can't believe you memorized it with just one glance." Bucky said.

Steve then carried Bucky off as he asked what had happened to him and he said he had joined the army.

"And taken part in a top-secret experiment." Bucky added.

"And become the Star Spangled Man with a Plan." Clint said and everyone laughed as Steve shook his head.

"Seriously though, thank you." Bucky said and Steve nodded.

The soldiers continued fighting the Hydra guards as Bucky asked Steve if it was permanent and he said it was.

"For someone who has been experimented on by Hydra, you seem very stable." Wanda said, remembering she hadn't been the most stable after being experimented upon.

"They enhanced me a bit so I guess I got my balance." Bucky said, "And they did use a different stone on me."

"All the stones are dangerous." Odinson said in a tone that invited no argument and for a split second Wanda saw a purple stone being pressed into his head by a giant purple being in an armor and he was screaming in pain.

She shuddered as the image vanished. The giant purple being in his head had left her rattled. She decided to ask the future people about it later.

The freed prisoners blasted through the gate and charged as the timers started reaching "0" and the buildings all started exploding.

"Get out!" Peter said again.

Steve and Bucky ran up to the railing as the latest explosion rocked the floor. They tore through a set of stairs and just when they were about to pass a bridge a voice called out, "Captain America!"

"Uh-oh!" Hill said.

"The Red Skull." Bobbi said.

Steve and Bucky turned back to see Schmidt and Zola. Schmidt mocked Steve, calling the situation exciting and saying how he was a great fan of his films.

"So he is a fan too." T'Challa said dryly.

Schmidt said how Erskine had managed it after all. Steve wasn't exactly an improvement but still impressive.

"He is 10 times the man you or Blonsky will ever be." Bruce said as everyone nodded in agreement.

Steve punched Schmidt, staggering him back and damaging his mask slightly. Schmidt then tried to punch Steve but he put the shield in the way, blocking the attack though the metal was dented.

"Told ya!" Steve said.

Vision didn't say a thing as everyone chuckled.

Steve tried to take out his gun but Schmidt punched him on the face, sending him to the ground as the gun fell off. Before he could attack again, Steve kicked him away. Zola then pulled a lever and the bridge split from the middle and started folding backwards. Captain America and Red Skull glared at each other as they were separated by a fiery chasm.

"Looks like a classic action movie." Tony commented.

Schmidt told Steve that no matter what lies Erskine told him, he was his greatest success.

"Anyone who still has food in their stomach, look away." Bucky said.

Schmidt gripped the flesh on his face and began peeling, slowly ripping it off and throwing it away, revealing his true face. He was bald with deep red skin.

"Ughh!" Wanda said.

"That was disgusting." Fury agreed.

"Ewww." Scott and Hope said simultaneously.

"The ears!" Tony said.

"The second most disgusting thing I have seen." Daisy said.

"What's the most disgusting?" Peter asked, not sure if anything could top what he had just seen.

"I'll tell you later." Daisy said as her and Bobbi thought of Hive again.

"This is not much to be honest." Logan said and Wanda saw an image in his head for a split second where he was covering a man with debris under a well as a powerful blast hit him hard, burning his skin badly.

She shuddered as the image vanished and she wondered what it was that had hit Logan and the other man.

A traumatized Bucky hoped Steve didn't have one of those.

"I don't." Steve said.

Schmidt tossed his mask aside and told Steve he was deluded as he pretended to be a simple soldier when they had left humanity behind.

"You aren't even a human to begin with you bastard." Bobbi snarled at him.

As he walked away, Red Skull said unlike Steve he embraced it proudly and without fear. Steve asked him why he was running then. Red Skull didn't reply and went into an elevator with Zola that took them up. Steve and Bucky continued running up as Red Skull and Zola stopped in front of a single-passenger plane. Zola asked where he would sit and Red Skull gave him the keys to his motorcar, telling him not to scratch it.

"I expected him to ditch the guy." Tony said.

"He would have." Hill said.

"If he still hadn't needed him." Fury finished.

Steve and Bucky reached a large metal crossbeam that rattled while Zola got to Red Skull's motorcar and starting it, sped off while Red Skull flew off in his plane. Bucky swung his legs over the railing and balanced himself on the crossbeams on Steve's suggestion. He then slowly walked as the beam began to snap.

"Shit!" Sam said.

"What the hell?" Rhodes said.

"It's like you love death." Loki said with a chuckle as Thor glared at him and he shut up.

"Oh my God! Oh my God!" Peter was saying.

Natasha unconsciously grasped Bucky's hand and he squeezed back.

As the beam fell, Bucky jumped to the other side and catching the railing, swung himself over, saving himself.

"Phew!" Aunt May sighed in relief as everyone relaxed a little and Natasha and Bucky let each other's hands go.

Bucky said there would be a rope around. "Just go! Get out of here!" Steve shouted. "No! Not without you!" Bucky screamed.

Everyone watched the bond between the two with wide eyes and agape jaws.

"You think you are the only one who can sacrifice himself?" Bucky asked Steve who sighed.

"Looks like we got a new candidate." Hill joked.

Steve bent the railing and backing up, ran forward, taking a leap just as everything exploded and was covered in flames.

"What happened? What happened?" Peter said frantically.

"I realized I could jump really high." Steve said dryly and everyone sighed in relief.

"Rogers you son of a bitch!" Tony said as everyone chuckled.

"And that is how Captain America won the respect of the soldiers." Benjamin said and everyone nodded.

At the army base, Phillips dictated a condolence letter to a man on the typewriter about Steve Rogers being killed in action.

"He is in for a huge surprise." Daisy said cheerfully as Steve smirked.

Peggy entered as the dictation was finished and said the last surveillance flight hadn't found anything. Phillips asked the man to get a cup of coffee and said to Peggy that he couldn't touch Stark as he was rich and the army's number one weapons contractor but she wasn't. Peggy said she didn't regret her actions and she was sure Steve didn't either.

"Still don't." Steve said.

Phillips said he didn't care about her opinions and him taking a chance with her had lead America's golden boy and many other people to death because she had a crush.

"Ah, so he sees it too." Tony said.

"He is an army officer." Steve said.

Peggy said she had faith as Phillips said dryly it would provide good comfort once the division was shut down. That was when they heard voices of disbelief coming from outside.

"Here it comes!" Clint said.

Phillips walked out with Peggy behind him and saw a crowd gathering. There, striding up the ridge with all the former HYDRA prisoners behind him and Bucky at his side and a fanfare heralding his arrival, strode Captain America himself.

Everyone in the room broke out in applause.

"Now that is what Captain America is supposed to do!" Aunt May said.

"Couldn't agree more." Sam told her.

Steve, Bucky and the others marched into the camp past the cheering men who had earlier mocked Steve. Gilmore Hodge was among them too.

"He ate humble pie too." Natasha said and everyone chuckled.

The sleeping men came out to watch too as Steve walked up to Phillips and giving him a salute, told him some men needed medical attention. Phillips glanced at the men and Steve who was ready to surrender himself to disciplinary action but he said it won't be necessary.

"Now that's what I call appreciation." Logan said.

Phillips joked a bit with Peggy about how she had faith and walked off as she walked up to Steve and said he was late. He took out the broken transponder and said he couldn't call his ride.

"Awww, look at that. So cute." Natasha said with a teasing smirk as Steve shot her a look and Bucky and Sam chuckled too.

"You have earned everyone's respect, Captain." T'Challa said.

"And that is a good thing." Thor agreed.

"Hey!" Bucky shouted, drawing everyone's attention. "Let's hear it for Captain America!" And all the men burst into cheers.

So did everyone in the room as Steve thanked them.

In front of the White House, Brandt announced how he was giving a Medal For Valor to his 'personal friend' Captain America but he didn't come out in spite of being called thrice.

"Ironic that when you finally earned a Medal For Valor, you weren't there to take it." Natasha said.

"I didn't do it for medals." Steve shrugged.

The assistant came out, apologizing to Brandt that he couldn't find Captain America as an elderly man in a uniform among the audience said, "I thought he'd be taller."

"Okay, what?" Rhodes said in shock.

"He is in this too?" Tony asked.

"Looks like he is a higher being." Thor said.

"He might be." Odinson told him.

"I can't believe it." Steve said.

"Me neither." Fury agreed.

"Maybe he is a watcher." Daisy said.

"Or The One Above All Himself." Bobbi shrugged as everyone decided to continue watching.

In the SSR Base, Steve marked the Hydra bases on the map and said he had just got a quick look as Peggy said no one was perfect.

"Nope!" Tony said and everyone sighed.

Steve said there were other weapons factories as manufactured weapons were shipped off to a facility that wasn't on the map according to Barnes. Phillips asked Peggy to coordinate with MI6 as he wanted every Allied eyeball to look for that Hydra base.

"Just call James Bond." Benjamin joked and everyone chuckled.

Phillips said they were going to set a fire under Johann Schmidt's ass as a woman with blonde curled hair called Private Lorraine came up to him and handed him a document before looking flirtatiously at Steve.

"Ugh." Steve groaned.

"What?" Natasha asked.

"Don't ask." He said.

Phillips asked Steve if he could wipe Hydra off his map and he said he could with a team. Phillips said he was assembling the best men but Rogers told him he was too.

"Oh that is going to be so awesome!" Scott said.

"Yup." Hope agreed.

"And I met those men. They were the best." Logan said as Steve and Bucky nodded at him.

Later, Steve sat down with Dugan, Gabe, Morita and James, asking them to join his team. James agreed as Morita agreed too as James talked to Gabe in French and both of them agreed as Dugan said he would always fight as long as one thing was done for him.

"Get the beer!" Tony said.

Dugan said if a tab was opened for him as he finished his beer.

"Look!" Tony said as everyone laughed.

Steve walked to the bartender, asking him for another round as he wondered where they were putting this stuff.

"In their stomachs." Vision said.

Steve walked up to Bucky who said they were all idiots as music was played.

"No. Just drunk." Wanda said.

Steve asked Bucky, "How about you? You ready to follow Captain America into the jaws of death?" Bucky shook his head, "Hell no. That little fellow in Brooklyn who was too dumb to run away from a fight, I'm following him."

Everyone smiled again at the bond between Steve and Bucky.

"I had to watch your back." Bucky said.

"And you did." Steve told him.

Bucky asked if Steve was keeping the outfit as he looked and old poster of the tour and said it was growing on him as the others sang a song about how the best of friends must part.

Steve and Bucky winced, with the former wondering if this was God's way of telling him he would be parting with his best friend for a long time.

They stopped as someone entered. It was Peggy Carter in a red dress.

Everyone's jaw dropped.

"Okay. She looks…beautiful." Peter said.

"She does." Aunt May smiled.

"You remember this, right?" Steve asked with a smirk.

"I do." Bucky sighed.

Peggy halted in front of the two as they got up and addressed her. She said Howard had some equipment for Steve which he could try out the next morning.

"Equipment huh." Tony said as Steve sighed.

Steve agreed as the others sang again and Peggy said dryly how his squad was prepping for duty. Bucky asked if she didn't like music and she said she did and would even go dancing when this was over. Bucky asked what she was waiting for and she looked at Steve and said, "The right partner."

"Awkward." Bruce said.

"Very." Hill agreed.

Bucky sighed.

She walked off, telling Steve the time as he agreed to be there.

"Score!" Hope said as everyone chuckled.

Bucky said how he was invisible and turning into Steve which was like a horrible dream. Steve asked him not to take it too hard as she might have a friend.

Everyone laughed as Bucky said this time, "Somebody kill me."

Howard and an assistant worked on the little cartridge of Teserract energy Steve had brought, thinking it harmless as he touched it with a pair of prongs, only for a pulse of light to send them both on the floor.

"Yup. I'm just like my old man." Tony said.

"Not in everything." Pepper said as she held his hand.

"Mad scientists." Clint said only for Tony, Bruce and Benjamin to glare at him and he shrugged.

Steve went around to look for Howard and asked Private Lorraine about it.

"Why this?" Steve moaned.

"Just like that." Benjamin chuckled.

"What?" Bucky and Natasha asked.

"Just watch." Daisy smirked.

She looked at him and said he was welcome to wait. She talked about how he had saved 400 men, though he tried to shrug it off.

No one could control their laughter.

"Back at you!" Bucky said as Steve put his head in his hands.

"Please shoot me." He said, "Why did you have to show this one?"

"To show how adorably dumb you are." Bobbi laughed as Steve held his head in his hands.

"Is it just me or does she look like Margery Tyrell?" Scott asked.

"Yeah, she looks like Natalie Dormer." Hope agreed. [2]

She got up and told him to tell that to their wives. She grabbed him by the tie and said the women of America owed him their thanks but because they weren't here, she would do it on their behalf. She then pulled him into a kiss.

"Margery Tyrell, always going for the alpha." Scott laughed.

"Whether it is in personality or status." Hope said.

That was when Peggy arrived and the two pulled away.

"Odin's Beard." Thor said.

"That would be an appropriate reaction." Loki said.

"Yes." Odinson agreed.

"Why? Why?" Steve was moaning as everyone laughed at his misery.

"I don't think that was your plan." Natasha laughed.

Carter said they were ready if he wasn't occupied and strode off. Steve ran after her and tried to explain as she said how finding a partner wasn't hard. He told her it wasn't what she thought as she said she didn't think anything and he was on the frontlines now. Steve pointed out her and Stark had been fondue-ing.

"Okay you are the worst!" Bucky said as everyone laughed again.

"I can never be this bad." Peter laughed too.

Steve just looked at the screen, not paying attention to them.

Peggy said he still didn't know anything about women and walked off as Steve looked after her. He then went in and Howard told him how fondue was just cheese and bread.

"Or chocolate and fruit." Thor said.

"Finally." Bucky said.

"This isn't over." Steve sighed.

Steve realized his mistake as Howard said when he understood women would be when his goose is fully cooked.

"Of course you'd know, dad." Tony scoffed.

Howard said he just focused on work which was to keep Steve and his team alive for now.

"Yes it is." Tony said as Steve and Bucky didn't look at him.

Howard then had Steve look at some shields as he said Hydra won't attack him with a pocket knife.

"I don't think so." Steve said and Bucky shook his head.

He then joked how Steve and the stage prop shield were attached as Steve said it was pretty handy. Howard was about to show him more shields when Steve saw a perfectly round one and asked him about it as he held it up.

"That's the one!" Thor smiled as everyone smirked too.

Howard said it was just a prototype and that it was made of Vibranium, the rarest metal on Earth and that shield was all they had got.

"It was all my ancestors let you take." T'Challa corrected.

"All righty." Tony said.

That was when Peggy arrived, saying how Captain had unfinished business. Steve asked her about the shield and she suddenly lifted up a gun and fired as Steve blocked with the shield. The bullets were deflected off.

"Oh boy!" Peter said in shock.

"Never making you jealous now." Bucky said to Natasha as he realized making agents jealous was a stupid idea.

"Why are you doing this?" Steve asked the future people.

"Too good for bloopers." Benjamin said and everyone laughed.

"Still, isn't the reaction too over the top?" Aunt May asked, "It's not like you two were together. So she had no right to do that."

"She does have a very good point." Sam agreed and Steve nodded. [3]

Peggy put the gun away and said it worked fine as she walked off while Steve and Howard stared after her. Steve gave Howard a note that had some ideas about the uniform.

"Now it will begin." Logan said as everyone watched.

Steve was now in his uniform with the mask as well. He loaded a pistol, strapped on his shield which was painted with the colors of America and it began. Steve burst into a Hydra base with Bucky, Dugan, Morita, James and Gabe as they fired at the Hydra soldiers together.

"Those were the days!" Bucky said.

"Yeah. With the Howling Commandos." Steve smiled.

"And I joined you on one such adventure." Logan said.

"With that friend of yours." Bucky said, "Victor Creed."

"Yeah, what happened to him?" Steve asked.

"Don't ask." Logan said in a tone that invited no argument as the two looked away, wondering what that was about.

Steve kicked men or knocked them away with his shield. Later, the Howling Commandos came running out of the back of the exploding base as Steve rode out on his bike and smiled as he looked back.

"Son of a gun." Fury said.

"Rock that bike!" Hill cheered.

"So you always did that." Tony sighed.

The Red Skull sped on his motorcar and looked at the wreckage with a scowl.

"What happened? Lost a base?" Daisy joked as everyone laughed.

Decorated pins were moved off a map in SSR by Peggy and Phillips as Steve and the Commandos walked in a forest. Steve sensed something and threw his shield at a tree, sending a hidden Hydra agent down as the others watched.

"How did you…." Clint trailed off.

"Superhuman senses." Steve shrugged.

"Matt would be proud of those." Bobbi said.

Steve caught his shield and put it on his arm as they proceeded and raised through the forest despite heavy fire, blowing up a tank as well.

"So nice!" Logan smirked.

Morita whistled and shone a flashlight from a hidden position as everyone else huddled. He ran and dove right under a running truck, fastening the thing on its underside as it passed him. He got up and closed his ears as the truck exploded and he smiled as the others laughed.

"What the hell?" Aunt May said.

"Not my idea." Steve said.

"Not mine either." Bucky said.

Footage of Steve and the Commandos played in a movie theater as Phillips and Peggy watched. The camera inched closer to Steve's hand and a picture of Peggy was shown.

"Awww. That is so sweet, Steve." Natasha said as he sighed.

Steve noticed it and put the picture away as Phillips looked at Peggy who looked uncomfortable but then smiled.

"So that's why she changed her mind about me." Steve said.

Somewhere else, Bucky looked at Steve with a sniper rifle before noticing a soldier aiming at him from above and shot him dead as Steve gave him a salute.

"Thank you." Steve said.

"You're welcome." Bucky told him.

"Go Bucky!" Hope cheered as everyone clapped and Bucky gave a flattered smile.

Steve fought Hydra men at another lab and tossed his shield like a giant Frisbee.

"Badass!" Peter clapped as everyone joined in.

Steve jumped on a tank, busted the lock, pulled open the door and yanked the man out, throwing him off. James then tossed him explosive devices as he threw them inside the tank and sealed it before jumping off as the tank exploded behind him.

"YES!" Thor, Bruce and Peter cheered.

"Now that is what the history books said." Fury told everyone and they nodded.

"You are failing!" Red Skull roared at Zola in some ruins, "We are close to an offensive that could shake the planet, yet we are continually delayed because you cannot outwit a simpleton with a shield!" Zola said he had only developed the weapons and couldn't fire them.

"Driving them nuts, aren't you?" Daisy asked as Steve smirked.

"That's what we lot did." Logan told her.

Red Skull asked Zola to finish his mission before Steve finished his as a man arrived held at gunpoint by one of Red Skull's guards and said they had fought to the last man. Red Skull said they hadn't and disintegrated him with a shot.

"Dictators." Pepper said.

"I know." Loki of all people said.

James looked down with some binoculars as Morita and Gabe listened to German messages on a radio.

"Oh God!" Steve paled.

"This." Bucky sighed.

"What?" Peter and Scott asked at the same time.

"A tragedy." Bobbi said as Natasha held Bucky's hand for comfort.

Bucky reminded Steve of the time he had made him ride the cyclone on Coney Island as Steve remembered he had thrown up. Bucky jokingly asked if it was payback as Steve said it wasn't.

"Don't like heights." Steve joked to lighten the mood and Bucky chuckled a little.

Gabe said Zola was on the train headed to somewhere as James said they were moving like the devil. Steve got ready to slide down a rope with a handlebar as he said they had a ten second window and if they missed that they'd be bugs on a windshield.

"Not really." Clint said.

Dugan joked at the bugs to get moving as Steve, Bucky and Gabe slid down and landed on boxes of the train. Steve and Bucky reached the ladder near the engine as Gabe remained up.

"So this is it." Fury said.

Steve opened the cabin door and entered with Bucky as they looked around at rows of weapons. Steve passed an open doorway cautiously when it was slammed shut in Bucky's face from the other side.

"Shit!" Sam said.

"What the hell?" Rhodes said.

"It was a trap!" Hill realized.

A Hydra soldier attacked Bucky as he fired back at him while Steve was attacked by a Hydra agent with some kind of big weapon. Zola ordered him to fire as Steve took cover and raised his shield to defend himself from the blue powerful shots.

"What is that thing?" Scott said.

Bucky exchanged fire with the Hydra soldier as Steve jumped up and grabbed something dangling from the ceiling and sliding towards the man while blocking his shots, jumped down to kick him and knocked him out with his shield.

"Way to go!" Tony said.

Bucky and the guard continued firing at each other when the former ran out. Steve pulled the door open quietly and tossed Bucky his gun. He then used his shield to send a compartment flying as the guard was pinned down and Bucky shot him dead.

"Very nice." Odinson said as everyone watched.

Bucky said he had him on the ropes as Steve said he knew he did.

Everyone chuckled lightly.

Suddenly Steve's opponent returned and fired as Steve blocked with his shield and was sent flying off as the blast ricocheted off his shield and blew a hole in the compartment. Zola ordered him to fire again as Bucky leapt up and grabbing the shield, fired. The man fired at him and he was sent out as the shield fell off.

"NO!" Aunt May cried.

"Why?" Peter said sadly.

Steve grabbed the shield and hurled it at the guard, sending him back. He then ran towards the opening as he took off his mask, calling out to Bucky. Bucky was dangling from one of the handlebars on the outside of the train, clinging for dear life. The track now ran along the edge of the mountain. If Bucky let go, he would fall to his death.

"No, no, no, no, no." Scott was saying as Hope looked pale too.

Steve began inching towards him and shouted, "Hang on!" He gave his hand and yelled, "Grab my hand!" But the bar Bucky was hanging from broke from one end.

"NO!" Bruce yelled.

Logan sighed angrily and looked down as Bobbi and Daisy watched wide eyes.

The other end broke as Steve roared, "NO!" Bucky fell down with a scream.

Steve realized tears were falling out of his eyes as Bucky trembled and Natasha grabbed him tightly to comfort him.

"It's okay." She said, "You're here."

Tony was trembling too due to the sadness he was actually feeling for Bucky as Pepper held his hand tightly for comfort and he squeezed back.

Peter was on the verge of sobbing as Aunt May covered her hand with her mouth.

Thor held his head in his hands, reminded of Loki's 'death.' Loki put a hand around him for comfort.

Scott and Hope couldn't say a thing either as Sam and Rhodes watched with wide jaws and Clint shook too.

Benjamin, Logan, Odinson and Storm didn't comment either and looked saddened as Fury closed his one eye sadly and Hill just sighed.

Wanda cowered a little, thinking about how Bucky endured things far worse than even death.

After about five minutes, everyone was back to normal and Benjamin finally restarted the recording.

Steve started crying. Zola looked back at the screen as Gabe jumped into the engine and held him at gunpoint as he shrank back in fear.

"No more than what you deserve, you piece of shit!" Logan snarled.

"He does." Natasha snarled too.

But they all knew this was a pyrrhic victory. Nothing more.

Chapter Text

"What happened to him after that?" Peter asked.

"He was asked questions." Steve said.

"It's in here." Benjamin told them.

Zola was led into a cell by a guard who handed him his glasses and went out as he examined the room, including some bloodstains on the ground when Phillips walked in with steak, broccoli pieces and some potatoes as he asked Zola to sit down. Zola asked what was in it and Phillips said it was a cow and asked him if he knew how hard it was to get a prime cut in these parts. Zola said he didn't eat meat.

"Dang." Peter said.

"All that effort and he is a vegetarian." Rhodes said.

Phillips started eating it himself and asked if cyanide gave him a rumbly tummy too as every Hydra agent they had captured had eaten it before being interrogated which meant Zola wanted to live.

"Or he is just too valuable." Scott said.

"I think Schmidt would still want him dead if he is captured." Natasha pointed out.

Zola realized Phillips was trying to intimidate him but Phillips pointed out he had brought him dinner.

"Which you won't even eat." Tony said.

Phillips handed Zola a paper which said he was being remounted to Switzerland in exchange for his full cooperation.

Steve and Bucky snarled angrily.

Phillips said he had sent that encoded message to Washington. Zola said Schmidt would know it's a lie.

"So they broke the codes." Hope sighed.

"They do have more advanced tech." Fury said.

Phillips said Schmidt would kill Zola anyway and the last person he had cost them was Captain Rogers' closest friend so they wouldn't count on the best of protection.

"And yet you recruited him." Steve snarled.

"There was a lot of opposition to this." Hill said, "But they still did it."

"And because of that, Hydra was a pain in our ass years later." Daisy said.

"Yeah, it was just the worst." Bobbi said too as she remembered infiltrating Hydra.

Phillips told him it was him or Schmidt. Zola said Schmidt believed he walked in the footsteps of the Gods and only the world would satisfy him. Phillips said that was nuts.

"With the Teserract on his side, no." Bruce said.

Zola said the sanity of the plan was of no consequence because he could do it. Phillips asked where his target was and Zola said his target was everywhere.

Everyone shivered slightly at that.

In a Hydra base, Red Skull stood near the Valkyrie in front of his men who stood in attention as he said the next day Hydra would be master of the world on the Valkyrie's wings. If their powerless enemies shot down one plane, hundreds more will take its place and if they cut off one head, two more shall take its place.

"Of course that's your motto." Clint snarled.

Red Skull finished his drink and said "Hail Hydra!" All the soldiers started chanting too.

"Preparing the world for your God's arrival I see." Daisy snarled.

"Their God?" Natasha asked in shock, never heaving heard of that. The others looked shocked too.

"We'll tell you about it when this one is over." Bobbi said as she exchanged a look with Daisy.

Peggy arrived at the ruins of a house and saw a depressed Steve who told her how Erskine had told him that Serum would affect his cells and create a system of regeneration which means he couldn't get drunk.

"I think that's a good thing." Tony said.

"Not if you want to drown your sorrows." Sam pointed out.

"Or if you want to remember." Logan sighed.

"Only Asgardian Ale can get you lot drunk." Odinson told them.

"Yup." Steve and Logan said simultaneously.

Peggy said his metabolism burnt four times higher than an average person as a side effect. She then sat down on a chair beside him and leaning forwards said, "It wasn't your fault."

"It wasn't." Bucky assured him and Natasha nodded too. Steve just sighed.

Steve asked if she had read the report and she said she had, with him telling her it wasn't true. Peggy asked if he believed in his friend and respected him.

"Always." Steve said with a look at Bucky who smiled.

Peggy said, "Then stop blaming yourself. Allow Barnes the dignity of his choice. He damn well must have thought you were worth it."

"I did." Bucky said, "Still do."

"It wasn't your fault, Steve." Natasha assured him.

"It was." Steve said.

"No." Sam said, "You tried to save him."

"I tried." Steve said.

"Stop blaming yourself!" Tony of all people said, "That's what I do. Don't turn into me, Cap."

"You told me Lagos was not on me." Wanda said emotionally, "Now I'm telling you, Bucky was not on you."

Steve just sighed as Daisy told him, "I understand where you're coming from, Captain. But sometime, you realize it wasn't your fault."

"They are right, Steve." Thor said.

"Nobody blames you, Cap." Logan agreed.

"Least of all me." Bucky said.

"You can't always save everyone." Storm said.

"So you shouldn't blame yourself for every single thing." Benjamin told him, "Neither should you, Mr. Stark."

Tony simply nodded in appreciation as Pepper held his hand, "He is right."

"This job, we try to save as many as we can." Wanda used Steve's own words on him, "Sometimes, that doesn't mean everyone. But if we can't find a way to live with that, next time we may not save anyone."

"Kid's right, Cap." Clint assured him.

"Yes Captain, all of us believe in you." Peter said.

"We do." Aunt May agreed.

"I hate to say it, but I do too." Fury said.

"Me as well." Hill said.

"And me." Bobbi agreed.

"We may have disagreed on you, but we never stopped believing in you." Rhodes said.

"Yes. I also consider you a good man, Captain." Vision said.

"Look, even a half-machine believes in you." Odinson said and everyone chuckled.

"Hulk believes in you too." Bruce said.

"So do we." Scott said.

"Yes we do, Cap." Hope said as Scott gave her an amused look and she smiled.

"Yes Captain. You are an inspiration to everyone." T'Challa said.

"I wish I could join." Loki simply said.

Steve looked around at all of them gratefully. His friends. His family.

"Thanks you guys." Steve smiled gratefully, "You're the best team I could have asked for. And the best friends. We're family."

Everyone nodded at that with smiles as Steve felt a huge burden had been lifted off his shoulders.

Steve said he was going after Hydra and not stopping till they were all dead or captured as Peggy said he wouldn't be alone. Later, at the SSR Headquarters, Phillips said Schmidt belonged in a bughouse as he believed himself a God and was willing to blow up half a world to prove it, starting with USA.

"That makes him a demon really." Thor said.

"It does." Loki agreed.

"He wasn't a human to begin with." Scott said.

"Nope." Hope agreed.

Howard said he had power beyond their capabilities and he could wipe out the entire Eastern Seaboard in an hour if he got across the Atlantic.

"Oh boy!" Peter said with wide eyes.

Gabe asked how much time they had and Phillips said under one day according to his new best friend. Dernier asked where he was as Phillips said Hydra's last base was in the Alps 500 feet below the surface. He handed Steve a photograph as Morita said they couldn't just knock on the front door.

"Don't jinx it." Sam said.

"Jinxes are bullshit." Logan said.

"Why not?" Steve asked. Everyone at the table turned and looked at him as he lifted his eyes from the photo, "That's exactly what we're going to do."

"And he jinxed it." Tony said.

"Jinxes are bullshit, bub." Logan said again.

Steve climbed on his bike, dressed in his Captain America uniform and rode through the sparse forest as some Hydra soldiers sped after him on a bike and fired, though the shots ricocheted off his shield.

"At least they have better aim than Stormtroopers." Peter said.

"They are a disgrace." Clint said about Stormtroopers.

"But can't penetrate the shield." Scott told them.

Steve pressed a button as ropes with arrows at the end snapped out of the back wheel and embedded itself onto trees. Most of the soldiers ducked to avoid but two of them couldn't and were thrown off.

"How do you like that, huh?" Sam said.

"Game on." Natasha simply said.

Steve then released a stream of fire from one of the exhaust tubes, sending some more soldiers down as a bike was burnt.

"So nice." Thor said.

"Yes. You have brains." Loki told Steve.

"Thanks." Steve said.

"Nice weapons." Tony said, "Dad?"

"Yup." Steve told him.

"I want that motorcycle." Hill said.

"Me too." Bucky told him.

"I think Tony will make one." Steve smirked.

Two of the guards veered off the path and through a shortcut appeared in front of Steve. Steve sped past them, snatching something small from a bike. When he was a safe distance away, the bikes exploded behind him.

"YES!" Bruce cheered.

"That was awesome!" Peter said.

"It really was." Rhodes agreed.

"You kicked ass, Cap." Daisy smiled as Steve nodded.

Then a great gate with a big tank opened and it fired at Steve as he put the shield in the way. Steve then pressed a button and two projectiles were launched out, blowing the tank up.

"That is a nice bike." Fury said dryly.

"Okay, now I want it!" Logan said.

"Relax, honey." Storm told him.

"Maybe Mr. Stark will make you one." Benjamin joked as everyone chuckled.

"Make one for me too." Bobbi said.

Steve rode high on the top of the high wall and zoomed straight off the edge and down on the ground with a thud. The guards shot at him but he avoided them. Steve pressed another button as he leapt off the bike and over a tank, bashing a guard away with his shield as he flipped down. He got up and threw his shield at another guard before catching it on return. The bike burst into the wall and exploded, blowing it open.

"Wow!" Pepper said.

"Why did you blow it up?" Hope asked jokingly.

"Didn't need it anymore." Steve said.

"I need it!" Bucky said and all chuckled.

Steve blocked a shot from a guard and bashing him aside, kicked him away before putting another down and punched another before upper-cutting him with the shield. He then out another one down with his shield and kicked him away. He continue running as soldiers followed him. He threw his shield at a tank. It ricocheted off it and hit a guard, knocking him out as Steve threw a soldier away and caught his shield.

"Awesome, Cap." Natasha smiled.

"Thanks." Steve said.

Then two guards with metal contraptions on them shot streams of fire from both sides, surrounding Steve with flames. They stopped and Steve found himself surrounded.

"Shit!" Sam said.

"Unless…." Hill trailed off.

"Yes." Steve said.

"Part of the plan." Tony realized.

The soldiers brought Steve inside as Red Skull arrived and said arrogance may not be a unique American trait but he did it better than anyone.

"Hasn't met me." Tony smirked and everyone chuckled.

He said there were still limits to what he could do even if Erskine told him otherwise. Steve said Erskine had told him he was insane as Red Skull said Erskine had resented his genius and tried to deny him what was rightfully his.

"In your dreams, bub." Logan said.

"Is that what I sound like?" Loki asked in shock.

"Not as bad but yes." Thor said.

"Oh no!" Loki sighed.

Red Skull said Erskine had still given Steve everything and asked what made him so special. Steve smirked, "Nothing. I'm just a kid from Brooklyn."

"Are you Steve from Brooklyn?" Aunt May asked with an edge to her voice as Peter paled.

"Aunt May." He said, "Cap didn't know I was a kid."

"Sorry." Steve said to her.

"Me too." Tony popped up.

"The three of us are going to have a chat you two are not going to like." Aunt May said to both of them and they paled.

Red Skull angrily pummeled Steve down, sending him to his knees gasping and coughing.

"You know what? Never mind." Aunt May said.

Steve looked up and said, "I can do this all day."

"We know." Tony grumbled.

"Yes." Natasha said.

Red Skull said he was on a tight schedule though when ropes with metal pins embedded into the wall. Red Skull noticed as the Howling Commandos swung in and began firing.

"The Howling Commandos!" Thor cheered.

"Our guys." Steve smiled.

"The best guys." Bucky said.

"Yeah." Logan agreed.

Red Skull tried to fire at Steve but he put a guard in the way and he was disintegrated as the Howling Commandos continued firing and Red Skull ran off while Steve flipped the other guard away.

"How do you like that, huh?" Bruce said.

"Not much." Fury told him.

Steve made to follow as James tossed him his shield and Steve thanked him.

"Gonna need that." Daisy said.

Steve ran as Hydra soldiers chased him as Morita said they were in and outside, Phillips and his men started charging in, along with Peggy. They all charged, meeting some Hydra soldiers as inside Dugan, Jones and James picked up Teserract-powered guns and fired at Hydra soldiers. Phillips, Peggy and the others fought Hydra soldiers as some of them were disintegrated but the unit fought them as trucks and tanks caught fire.

"Looks like there were a lot of explosives on the bike." Clint said.

"I want it!" Thor said now.

"After the airship?" Loki asked.

"Good point." Thor said.

"Airship?" Bucky asked.

"You will see later." Odinson told him.

Red Skull disintegrated some soldiers who came after him and ran off as Phillips' unit killed some of them. One of them said, "Cut off one head, two more shall-" He was cut off when Phillips shot him down and said, "Let's go find two more!"

Everyone clapped at Phillips' wit.

"I like this guy." Tony said as everyone chuckled.

Steve rushed after Red Skull who fired at him but he blocked. Steve then threw his shield but it got stuck on a closing doorway. Steve tried to get it when a Hydra soldier with the flamethrower fired, pushing him back. Then Peggy fired at his pack from behind, destroying it as he was killed.

"Go girl!" Hope said.

"She is so badass." Hill said.

"That is why we all look up to her." Fury said.

"Yup." Natasha, Clint, Bobbi and Daisy said simultaneously.

"She is a better inspiration than me." Steve said, being the modest guy he was.

Steve walked up to Peggy as other soldiers arrived and said she was late.

"Awww, so sweet." Natasha joked and everyone chuckled.

Peggy reminded him of his priorities and he rushed up to the doorway, taking his shield and going in as it shut behind him. Red Skull climbed up to the Valkyrie. Three Hydra thugs tried climbing behind him but the soldiers shot them down as Red Skull turned a handle and locked the Teserract in the machine before starting the Valkyrie on the pilot's seat.

"Trying to get away huh?" Scott said.

Steve arrived and saw it leaving as the soldiers fought the Hydra thugs. Steve smacked one away with his shield and punched another out and bashed a third one down with his shield as he ran. He then leapt up a crate and swinging on a chain, jumped down and continued running.

"Catch up!" Wanda said.

The plane moved too quickly as Steve halted when Phillips and Peggy stopped beside him in Schmidt's motorcar.

"Oh boy!" Rhodes said.

Steve climbed in and they sped after the plane. Red Skull increased its speed as Phillips increased the motorcar's speed and Steve stood up as they came close to the plane. Steve asked them to keep it steady and was about to jump in when Peggy stopped him and the two kissed each other passionately.

Everyone burst into applause.

"Finally!" Bucky said.

"Score for Peggy!" Hope said.

"And Cap!" Scott said.

Steve shook his head in amusement.

"Nice one, Cap." Natasha smiled.

"Yeah." Sam agreed.

"Oh absolutely." Tony agreed.

The two parted as Peggy said, "Go get him!" Phillips said to Steve, "I'm not kissin' you!"

Everyone giggled.

Steve put the shield back on and was ready to pass underneath the plane's underbelly as Phillips sped underneath. They reached out of the base into the snow as Steve leapt and grabbed the back wheels and Phillips screeched the motorcar to a halt right at the edge.

"Phew!" Peter sighed in relief.

As the Valkyrie flew off, Steve and Peggy exchanged one last look whirl the underside opened and Steve snuck in.

"And you're in." Loki smirked.

Steve looked around and saw planes marked for Boston, Chicago and even New York.

"Shit!" Rhodes said in shock.

"What an insane lunatic." Logan said.

Some guards arrived as Steve hid. When they passed by the narrow bridge, Steve leapt down, kicking one away. One of them brandished a pocketknife.

"Take that, dad." Tony said and everyone chuckled.

Steve twisted his wrist and pinned him down before kicking another soldier away. The last one tried to run but Steve took the knife of the one whom he had pinned down and threw it at the soldier. It hit his back and he was down. Another attacked Steve but he blocked and punched him down as the one whom he had pinned down staggered away to the Chicago plane. Steve then found controls and pulled one and the door under the Chicago plane opened, sending it to the ground with the man.

"YES!" Thor, Bruce, Sam and Rhodes cheered.

"Good going, Captain." T'Challa said.

The two previous guards attacked Steve again as he punched one away and lifting the other up, tossed him after his companion.

"Flight for free." Peter said and everyone laughed.

The Boston plane started and Steve leapt at it as a guard leapt after him, making his shield fall down. The two struggled as the pilot tried to shake Steve off until the guard fell on the blades of the plane which shredded him into bits of blood.

"Eugh!" Scott said.

Steve pushed a switch that opened the door and pulling a red lever, ejected the pilot.

"Nice job." Daisy said.

Steve then jumped inside and flew it back at the Valkyrie as the Red Skull fired at him. Steve avoided all the shots before going behind it and sped into the slot where he had been earlier, applying some brakes as he climbed out and picked up his shield again.

"Rocket would be proud." Odinson said.

"Yes." Benjamin told him.

"I want to meet the guy." Tony said.

Steve then opened a door and went into the cockpit, seeing the machine holding the Teserract. He walked towards the pilot's chair when Red Skull appeared behind him and fired. Steve blocked with his shield as Red Skull mocked how he didn't give up.

"Nope!" Steve said.

"Nope!" Steve said as he ran closer, blocking the shots and disarmed Red Skull and tried to hit him with the shield. He avoided and punched his abdomen and punched him away before slamming him to the ground. He kicked Steve and tried to do it again but Steve grabbed his foot and the two struggled before he was punched off and both fell.

"He is pissed." Tony said.

Steve bashed Red Skull down with a piece of debris before grabbing him in a chokehold. The two struggled and fell against the machine as Red Skull picked up the shield and hit Steve twice before being head-butted away. Steve took back the shield and slammed him into the controls as the plane began a nosedive.

"Uh-oh!" Clint said.

The two rolled around together as Red Skull kicked Steve away and crawling to the pilot's seat, put the controls back to normal as the plane straightened.

"Phew!" Natasha said.

Steve picked himself up as Red Skull took out a gun and fired at him, saying how he could have the power of the Gods but he wore a flag on his chest and fought a battle of nations. He had seen the future and there were no flags. Steve said that wasn't his future and jumped to his shield, blocking a shot and hurling it at Red Skull, who crashed into the machine that was holding the Teserract and shattered it.

"Shit!" Sam said.

"Red Skull is going to act like an idiot now." Fury said.

"He'll touch it." Loki realized.

"Almost no stone should be touched." Vision said.

"Agreed." Odinson told him.

"He's an idiot." Logan said about Red Skull.

Red Skull was horrified as he picked up the now free Teserract when it glowed more brightly than ever and blue tendrils formed over Red Skull's head. A ring was formed over his head as with a bang, a place appeared over Red Skull.

"A portal!" Natasha realized.

"Through Yggdrasil." Thor said as he looked carefully.

"Yes." Loki realized too.

"And where did it take him?" Steve asked.

"We'll tell you later." Bobbi said.

"I'm beginning to hate that sentence." Tony said as everyone chuckled.

Red Skull screamed as he was engulfed by the tendrils and was consumed while Steve fell back. The portal closed and the Cube fell down as it burnt a hole through the Valkyrie and fell through the sky.

"And it's lost." Hill said.

"For a time." Fury told her.

Steve picked up his shield and rushed to the pilot's chair, taking off his mask as he looked at the destination that was New York City. He stared out of the window and saw clouds before contacting the Hydra base where Morita answered and then Peggy asked if he was all right.

Steve took a deep breath as Wanda tensed, realizing what was coming.

Steve told her Schmidt was dead but the plane was tougher to explain. Peggy said she would find him a safe landing site but Steve said there were none and he had to force it down.

Everyone's jaws went wide.

Peggy said she would get Howard on the line but Steve said there was no time as the plane was heading to New York and he needed to put it in the water. Peggy' chin quivered as she begged Steve not to do it.

Peter, Wanda, Aunt May and Pepper had tears in their eyes.

Steve said he was in the middle of nowhere. "Peggy." He called out, "This is my choice." Peggy's face crumpled as he pulled out her picture and stared at it, his face hardening. He then started diving the plane.

Peter and Wanda wanted to cry at this point.

He then called out to Peggy who said she was there. "I'm gonna need a raincheck on that dance." Steve said. With tears in her eyes, Peggy said, "All right. A week next Saturday, at the Stork club."

Bucky's and Natasha's lips quivered at the scene.

"You've got it." Steve told her. "Eight o'clock on the dot, don't you dare be late." Peggy said, "Understood?" Steve said, "You know, I still don't know how to dance." The ice drew nearer.

Bucky and Sam shook their heads.

"I'll show you how." Peggy promised, "Just be there." "We'll have the band play something slow." Steve said, "I'd hate to step on your -" The radio cut with a buzz, and tears rolled down Peggy's cheeks. "Steve?" She called. There was no answer.

Bucky ran a hand over his face as Natasha felt a tear rolling down her cheek.

"These goddamn onions!" Tony said.

"Steve?" Peggy called, "Steve?" Phillips watched the scene sadly and walked out as Peggy lowered her head and wept.

Steve had never seen what Peggy had done immediately after his 'death.' And now he felt horrible on seeing it.

Lowering his head into his hand, he started weeping silently as Natasha hugged him.

"It's okay." She said, "It's okay."

The ruins of the Valkyrie died down in the ice and there was VJ-Day in London as people waved the flag happily and laughed while the Howling Commandos raised a toast to Steve. The Cube was shown underwater as a pair of metal arms reached it. Howard was informed of it as he looked at it and then asked them to keep moving, even though there were no signs of wreckage and the signature had stopped.

"He failed to save you." Tony said as Steve, who had stopped crying, looked up at him.

"What?" Steve asked.

"He wanted to save you. He tried. But he failed. So he praised you all the time to drown the guilt." Tony said as Steve nodded sadly.

Peggy was looking at a report as Phillips walked up to her and laying a folder, walked away. She opened it to see a picture of Steve, the SSR recruit. The pale, skinny, short one. But it was him.

Steve wiped his tears and smiled.

On the streets, a kid with a trash can painted like Captain America's shield ran though the street to join a crowd with his friends as the screen went black.

"Your successor." Bucky said as everyone chuckled.

"Is that it?" Hill asked.

"No. There's more." Daisy said.

A voice was heard talking about baseball on a radio as Steve's eyes opened and he looked around in confusion.

"Baseball commentary." Clint said.

"I know this." Steve said.

"We didn't want to shock you." Fury said.

"Yes. So we did it." Hill told him.

"It was a kind gesture. But I had seen that game." Steve said.

A red-haired woman entered and greeted him as he asked her where he was. She said he was in a recovery room in New York.

"You were in New York." Natasha said.

"Fair enough." Steve sighed.

Steve asked again and she pretended to be confused as he told her the game was from May, 1941 and he had been there.

"Busted." Hope said.

The woman pressed a button as two agents arrived. A moment later, the wall burst open and the two agents were down as Steve ran off while the woman tried to stop him. She called the other agents as Steve ran around and pushed more of them off and ran out of the building to the busy streets. He then reached a crosswalk and stared around in confusion and dismay. He was in Times Square.

"What a shock!" Wanda said with wide eyes.

"Yep." Logan said.

Six black SUVs surrounded him as a voice said, "At ease, soldier!" He turned to see Nick Fury standing there.

"And you're back." Hill said.

"Our first meeting." Steve said.

"Yup." Fury said.

Fury walked towards him and apologized for the show, saying they wanted to break it to him slowly. "Break what?" Steve asked. "You've been asleep Cap. For almost 70 years." Fury revealed as Steve looked around in shock and shook his head before looking away at the signs and buildings. "You gonna be okay?" A concerned Fury asked. "Yeah." Steve said, not sounding like it, "Yeah, it's just….I had a date." The screen went black.

Steve sighed as Daisy said, "I'm sorry, Cap."

"It's all right." He said as everyone looked at him sadly.

"One more scene." Bobbi said.

Steve was in a gym, punching a bag till he punched it so hard that it fell off and went sliding.

"Oh boy!" Natasha said.

"Dark side?" Tony asked.

"Frustrated side." Steve said.

"Trouble sleeping?" Fury asked as he arrived. "You here with a mission, sir?" Steve asked. "I am." He said. "Trying to get me back into the world?" Steve asked as he took the cloth off his hands. "Trying to save it." Fury said as Steve looked at him and the screen went black.

"That!" Fury said.

"Over and out." Benjamin said.

"Now, God of Hydra?" Natasha asked as everyone turned to Bobbi and Daisy.

"Years ago, Kree Hunters abducted a man and forced him to undergo Terrigenesis." Bobbi started.

"And he became a powerful Inhuman known as Hive." Daisy said, "The Kree wanted to use him."

"But he rebelled and with his army, drove them away." Logan said.

"He was feared though due to his power as he could possess dead people and mind-control other Inhumans due to his powers." Benjamin said.

"He was a collection of parasitic micro-organisms." Storm said.

"So humans banished him to another world." Odinon said.

"But his worshippers formed a secret society to bring him back." Bobbi said, "Their symbol was modelled after his face."

"And that society was Hydra." Daisy finished as everyone looked at them in horror.

"Didn't know that." Fury said.

"We have to stop him!" Steve said.

"No." Daisy said, "He has already been stopped a few years before your time."

Everyone sighed in relief.

"So what next?" Tony asked.

Bobbi looked up with a smirk, "The Avengers."

Chapter Text

"The Avengers?" Peter asked excitedly, "As in their first ever team-up?"

"Yes. That is exactly what we're going to see now." Daisy said as Peter looked happy.

"Well, that ought to be something." Tony said.

"Yup." Steve said.

"Is it too late to be sent back in time?" Loki asked.

"Yes." Logan said and he sighed.

"Don't worry." Benjamin said, "Just keep calm and don't kill Loki."

Everyone chuckled a bit at that.

"I think you won't now would you?" Storm asked.

"After seeing his regret, I don't think so." Steve said.

"Though I might call you a jerk at times." Natasha said.

"I think he can understand." Thor shrugged as Loki sighed.

"Well, let's start." Odinson said.

"Yeah." Bobbi agreed.

"With pleasure." Benjamin said as he started the new recording.

New York City is shown and inside it, people are recovering from the carnage that has just happened. The police officers and firefighters help the injured civilians as Steve is shown watching, with his shield in hand and no mask while Hill is heard saying to someone that they want to know what went wrong.

"We begin right here?" Natasha asked in shock.

"It will flash back after this." Benjamin said and everyone nodded.

Maria Hill is shown in a SHIELD Interrogation room 48 hours after the Teserract event as she tells the World Security Council how it could have gone better. One of the members mentions Nick Fury and she scoffs, saying in the time of war, he thinks of superheroes.

"It's me!" Hill smiled as everyone clapped a little for her.

"So you hate me?" Fury asked with a smirk.

"No. Just need to show them something." Hill said.

"You're definitely in line to be the next Director." Clint said and everyone chuckled.

Gideon Malick realized she was talking about the Avengers and she said with them together, this was expected as Hulk was suddenly shown roaring.

Everyone jumped at that.

"Okay, why did you do that?" Bruce asked.

"It was funny." Logan shrugged.

"You hate us too?" Tony asked jokingly.

"Performance, Stark." Hill said.

Gideon and Hawley mentioned how several aspects of the Incident are beyond everyone's grasp and inquired about the creatures as Hill told them what Fury had said to her, "In the time of Gods and Monsters, what is the worth of a man?" Thor was shown standing in New York as blood dripped from Mjolnir.

"You said that?" T'Challa asked.

"We were backing the Council into a corner." Fury told him.

"And I was the one doing it." Hill said as Fury smiled proudly.

"I don't know what he means." Hill said, "And men…are dying all around. Good men. Friends. Even some heroes." The visor of Tony's Iron Man Suit was shown falling on the ground.

"Mine!" Tony said and everyone chuckled.

"Ripped out by me." Thor said.

Hawley inquired if mistakes were made and Hill said astonishing ones before trailing off as Hawley continued calling out to her.

"All right. That is a great performance you're giving." Natasha said as Hill smiled.

"Thanks." She said.

"Yes. I can agree to that too." Bobbi said and Hill nodded at her too.

The Teserract was shown as a voice said it had awakened on a little human world. Strange blue steps were shown as some kind of creature was shown kneeling to an unknown figure, saying they wielded its power but their ally knew it was working and they will never learn.

"Who is that?" Bucky asked.

"The Other." Loki said, his face pale as he shook.

"Loki." Thor inquired gently as he shook him and he seemed to snap out of it, "You all right?"

"Yeah, yeah. I'm fine." He said though he didn't seem fine.

"Who is he talking to?" Sam asked.

Before Loki could respond, Daisy said, "We'll tell you at the end of this one."

The Other was shown handing the Scepter to Loki.

"Yes. It's me being full on supervillain." Loki said and everybody sighed.

The Other said he was ready to lead and their force, the Chitauri would follow.

"Chitauri." Odinson growled.

The Chitauri were shown, getting ready.

The original 6 Avengers clenched their fists angrily.

"The world will be his and the universe yours." The Other said, "And the humans, what can they do, but burn."

"You obviously haven't met us lot." Tony said.

"Especially this one." Rhodes said as he gestured to Tony and everyone chuckled.

"So this Other showed you the power?" Thor asked.

"Someone else. Someone worse." Loki said as he paled again.

A helicopter flew over the Joint Dark Energy Mission Facility and landed as Maria Hill stepped out with Nick Fury following. They met Phil Coulson as Fury asked how bad it was and Coulson said the problem was they didn't know. The place was being evacuated.

"I did." Loki said and everybody sighed.

Coulson said Selvig read an energy surge from the Teserract four hours ago and that it had turned itself on.

"Nope. Someone else had." Fury said as he glanced at Loki.

"I noticed." Clint said.

Coulson said everyone would be out in half an hour and Fury told him to get on with it as Hill said there might not be a minimum safe distance due to them not knowing much about the Teserract.

"Good point." Pepper said.

Fury asked her to get everything regarding Phase 2 out and it was a priority until a time when the world was ending.

"It was." Natasha said.

"Didn't know that." Fury shrugged.

"Phase 2, huh?" Steve asked with a raised eyebrow and Fury shrugged again.

"We like to be prepared." He said.

"I know. I know." Tony said.

"I wonder what took you so long." Daisy said as everyone looked confused.

Hill walked off to comply as Fury walked up to Erik Selvig who told him the Teserract was behaving by itself and was turning itself back on. They were trying to harness energy from space without a harness. Fury asked where Barton was. Selvig called him the Hawk and pointing up said he was in his nest.

"That ain't my nest." Clint said.

"He already seems off." Thor said.

"Yes. Because I was influencing him a little." Loki said.

"Yes you were." Odinson shrugged.

Fury called Clint Barton and he slid down from above via rope as Fury said he had asked him to keep a close eye. "I can see better from a distance." Clint said.

"Yeah you do." Fury said as Clint smirked.

Clint said no one had come or gone and Erik was clean so tampering was from the other end, confusing Fury. Clint said this Teserract was a door to space so tampering could have been done from the other end.

"You're so smart." Natasha said.

"Yes. Even though you don't show it." Bobbi agreed.

"Thanks." Clint smirked.

"There's a reason I hired him." Fury said.

Erik and the other scientists saw the Teserract was spiking again as sparks flew out of it and the entire building rumbled, which was noticed by Hill and Coulson. A light shot out of the Teserract at the other end of the room and a portal opened as a figure appeared. The portal closed and the blue light faded as the agents pointed their guns at him. The figure, who was none other than Loki, looked up with an insane smirk.

"It's me!" Loki said when Thor smacked his head.

"Shut up!" He said.

"You killed my agents!" Fury snarled.

"All right, I will shut up." Loki said dryly.

"You look off already." Peter said.

"I'm in control of myself but not totally sane." Loki simply said.

Fury commanded him to put down the spear as he looked at it with a smirk and pointing it, fired a blue light as Clint pushed Fury off and another agent was hit. Two others tried to fire but he threw his knives, killing them both. He fired a blast from the Scepter, destroying the computer and killing a scientist.

"Evil jerk!" Hill snarled.

"Thank you." Loki smirked and Thor smacked him again.

"Don't make me angry." Bruce said, "You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."

"I thought it was hungry." Loki joked and Bruce looked back at the screen.

The agents fired at Loki but the bullets ricocheted off his durable skin and he fired another blast, disintegrating an agent behind Clint before leaping at another and stabbing him. He then kicked another one towards a wall. Clint tried to get up but Loki grabbed him and pressed the Scepter to his chest as his eyes lost their natural color and turned blue.

"You changed my eye color. I put one through your eye socket." Clint snarled.

"You blasted me off!" Loki said.

Fury watched in horror as Loki did the same to a few more agents. Fury quickly picked up the Cube and putting it in a case, started walking away when Loki stopped him, saying he needed it. Fury said it didn't have to get any messier but Loki said it would. "I am Loki of Asgard. And I am burdened with glorious purpose." Loki introduced himself as Erik recognized him "We have no quarrel with your people." Fury tried to reason. "An ant has no quarrel with a boot." Loki countered.

"Nope. But it was the other way round later." Fury said.

"No need to throw it in my face." Loki said.

"Show some regret, Prince Loki." T'Challa told him.

Loki said he had glad tiding of a world made free of freedom itself as it was life's greatest lie and when people realized it, they would be at peace. With that, he touched Erik's chest with the Scepter and he was mind-controlled too.

"No. Freedom is something with a high price that everyone deserves." Steve countered and Loki didn't say a word.

"Jerk." Thor said to Loki as he looked at him controlling Erik.

Fury knew what he was talking about as Clint saw the machine spiking and told Loki Fury was stalling to bury them like the Pharaohs of Old. Clint then shot Fury in the side and he was down as Clint picked up the case and handed it to Selvig. They all walked away as the facility started collapsing.

"I'm sorry, sir." Clint said regretfully.

"It wasn't your fault, Barton." Fury assured, "And you didn't kill me."

Clint told he needed the cars as they stepped in and Hill inquired about Loki. Fury, who had gotten up, ripped the bullet out of his vest and told her Barton was compromised as he fired at her and she rolled to avoid. They sped away as Fury told her they had the Teserract. Hill got in her car and sped after them in the tunnel.

"It's on." Aunt May said.

An agent tried to fire at Loki but he fired from his Scepter and the car toppled as Barton continued driving. The building rumbled and the cases fell from the hands of the agents but Coulson told them to leave it and run.

"Sir cared about his subordinates a little more than the job." Daisy smiled.

"Which is why we all looked up to him." Bobbi smiled.

Fury simply sighed, realizing he needed to tell the others now.

Hill sped in front of Clint and the two exchanged gunfire before he forced her vehicle out of the way and sped off with her following. Coulson and his men got into a jeep as Fury leapt into a helicopter and flew up while the machine exploded, destroying the facility as Loki and Clint escaped while debris trapped Hill and Coulson's men watched in shock.

"Oh no!" Wanda said in horror.

"The facility is gone." Vision said.

"Were you all right?" Steve asked Hill.

"I was." She said.

Loki and Clint were out as Fury fired at them from his helicopter but Loki fired a blast at the tail of the helicopter, sending it down as he leapt off and it crashed.

"Shit!" Sam said.

Fury tried to fire again but Loki, Clint, Erik and the agents were gone in the vehicle as Coulson called out to Fury who said the Teserract had been taken by hostiles while Hill said men were buried underground. Fury said he wanted every living soul not needing rescue looking for the briefcase and Hill copied. He then asked Coulson to get back to base as it was a Level Seven. "As of right now, we are at war." Fury declared. "What do we do?" Coulson asked.

"Form an army." Fury said.

"Of freaks like us." Tony joked and everyone shook their heads.

"It takes freaks to beat a freak." Loki said.

In Russia, Natasha Romanoff, now with shorter hair, was tied to a chair, surrounded by several men, as one of them slapped her. His name was Georgi Luchkov.

"Get your hands off her." Bucky snarled.

"Relax, honey." Natasha said as the two held hands.

"How did they capture you?" Scott asked.

"I let them." Natasha said.

The two spoke in Russian about the illegal weapons deals Luchkov was doing while one of the men tilted her chair as Natasha realized he was using General Solohob as a front. Eventually, a henchman forced her mouth open as Luchkov picked up a pair of pliers.

"I'll kill all of them." Clint snarled.

"Not if I kill them first." Bucky said.

Steve was about to say something when Natasha said, "They didn't do anything."

Fury smirked.

A henchman's phone rang and picking it up, he handed it to Luchkov. Phil's voice came from the other end. He knew his location and told him to put the woman on the phone or he would blow up the area before he could make the lobby.

"He was going to save you by blowing you up?" Bucky asked incredulously.

"No!" Natasha said, "He was kidding. Luchkov brought it."

"Because he was a dumb dealer." Hill said.

Luchkov gave Natasha the phone and she said she was in the middle of an interrogation and the moron was giving her everything, confusing the man.

"She got you!" Steve smirked.

Natasha didn't want to be pulled out but Coulson told her Barton had been compromised and her expression changed.

"You came in for me?" Clint asked her.

"You gave me a chance." Natasha said, "I had to do something for you."

The two nodded at each other with smiles.

Natasha asked Luchkov to take the phone back but when he walked closer, she kicked his foot, sending him down before head-butting him out. Tied to the chair, she kicked another man down before hitting the last one with its leg, putting him down.

"You're kicking ass while tied to a chair? Wow!" Hope said, impressed.

"Thanks." Natasha shrugged.

"That's my girl!" Bucky said and the two smiled at each other.

Natasha rolled and hit another man before hitting his toes with the chair's leg and then hitting his face with her hair, sending him back.

"Okay, what did you put in your hair?" Tony asked.

"A lot of charm?" Natasha shrugged with a smirk and everyone chuckled.

As Coulson listened from the other end, Natasha beat the men and flipped on top of Luckov, breaking the chair.

"YES!" Thor, Bruce, Bucky and Peter cheered.

One of the men grabbed her but she freed herself and hit him with a broken piece, putting him down and then rushing another man, flipped him down too. She then grabbed Luchkov and wrapping him in a chain, left him hanging.

Everyone clapped happily at the scene.

"That was awesome." Scott said.

"Yeah. Nice work." Steve told her.

"I liked seeing it." Wanda said.

"Thanks." Natasha said.

She then picked up her heels and walked off as Coulson told her the situation and said she needed to bring in the big guy. She said Stark trusted her as far as he could throw her.

"And you trust me as far as you can shoot at me." Tony shrugged.

"Yup." Natasha smirked jokingly.

Coulson said he was getting Stark, she had to get the big guy.

"Me?" Bruce asked.

"Yup." Natasha said.

In Kolkata, India, a little girl ran around the congested streets before reaching a house where the woman asked her to go away as there was sickness there. The girl saw Dr. Bruce Banner there and holding up money, said her father was sick and not getting up. Bruce asked her if he was like the man he was treating and she nodded so he agreed to come with her.

"She was a good actress." Bruce said.

"She was." Natasha agreed.

The girl led Bruce to a house and as they went in, she climbed out of the back window and he smiled as Natasha appeared, telling him if he wanted to avoid stress, this was an interesting place to do so.

"The people were nice." Bruce said.

"Yeah, I've heard that a lot about India." Steve said.

Bruce said avoiding stress wasn't the secret and assumed the whole place was surrounded. Natasha said it was just them.

"Yeah right." Bruce said as Natasha shook her head.

Bruce asked her if she had come to kill him but she said she was on behalf of SHIELD who had never lost him and had kept other parties off his scent because Fury seemed to trust him. Bruce asked if he said no. She said she would persuade him. He asked if the Other Guy said no and she said he wouldn't want to break his streak that had been more than a year long.

"And you still did." Fury said and Bruce sighed.

She said they needed him because of a global catastrophe and showed him a picture of the Teserract on her phone. He jokingly asked if they wanted him to swallow it.

"Bad idea." Loki said.

"Unless you're a cat." Fury said and everyone looked confused.

Natasha said they wanted him to find it as it emitted a weak gamma signature and only he could find it. Bruce wondered if he was gonna be put in a cage. Natasha assured him he wasn't but he slammed his fists on the table, telling her to stop lying to him, making her pull out a gun.

Everyone jumped at that.

"I'm sorry, that was mean." Bruce said.

"Don't worry. I forgive you." Natasha told him.

"How do you do that?" Peter asked.

"How did you turn from that into such a comedian?" Thor asked Bruce and everyone looked incredulous.

"He's a comedian now?" Tony asked, "Which show."

"The Team Thor Show." Thor said with a laugh. [1]

"I guess two years as Hulk made me a comedian." Bruce shrugged.

Bruce apologized, saying he just wanted to see her reaction and she lowered her gun, telling the agents outside to stand down as Bruce remembered her telling it was just the two of them.

"Precautionary measures." Natasha said.

"Don't blame you." Bruce told her.

At the SHIELD Base, the Security Council told Fury the situation was out of control as Fury asked if they had ever felt an overabundance of control in a war. They asked if Asgard had declared war on the planet but Fury corrected it was Loki but they couldn't depend on Thor either even though he wasn't a hostile because he was worlds away.

"Not for long." Thor said.

"Nope." Loki agreed.

The Council told him to use Phase 2 but Fury said it wasn't ready and their enemy was so they needed a response team. The Council said he ran the world's greatest covert security network and he was gonna leave the world's fate to a handful of freaks.

"Freaks?" Tony asked incredulously.

"That's the word used for anything that people can't understand." Pepper sighed.

"We mutants were considered freaks for a long time." Logan shook his head.

"I'm sorry." Steve said and he nodded in appreciation.

Fury said he wasn't leaving anything to anyone. While these people were isolated and even unbalanced, with the right push, they could be exactly as needed. The Council said war wasn't won by sentiment and Fury said it was one by soldiers.

"And now he will recruit the perfect soldier." Daisy smiled as she looked at Steve who shook his head.

An old black and white film of Captain America fighting alongside the soldiers against Hydra was playing when Steve shut off the laptop, his blank face visible on it. He then looked at files of the Howling Commandos. Most of them were deceased. He saw Peggy's file and it said she was retired. Her address and phone number were given. Steve looked at his phone but at the last moment, chose against calling her.

"Why didn't you?" Bobbi asked.

"Didn't have the courage." Steve sighed, "And I didn't want to shock her."

Steve then saw the file of Howard Stark and it said he was deceased too.

Bucky looked down in guilt as Natasha held his hand for comfort. Steve and Tony looked saddened too.

Steve then saw a file on Tony, Howard's son and read carefully before putting it away.

"You thought I could be a second Howard for you?" Tony asked.

"It had been 2 weeks since he was out, Stark." Fury said, "He was still processing everything."

"Of course he would look for links to his past life." Clint pointed out.

"Still, it was unfair of me to expect you to be like your dad." Steve said, "So I'm sorry."

"It's all right. I understand." Tony said, knowing how hard it would be for someone to find themselves out of their time and then being asked to save the world just 2 weeks after that.

Steve then walked around at the streets and sat at a restaurant near Stark Tower, sketching the buildings as Beth the waitress arrived.

"You're nice at sketching." Peter said.

"Thank you." Steve said gratefully.

"Art teacher would be a better job at school for you than the discipline videos." Aunt May said and everyone chuckled.

She asked if he was waiting to see Iron Man as many people did.

"Still do." Tony said and everyone chuckled.

Steve said another time and she said table was his as long as he liked. She walked off, looking back at him with a smile as an old man eating nearby said, "Ask for her number, you moron!"

"Oh my God! I didn't even remember that!" Steve said with wide eyes as everyone looked in amusement that the old man had appeared and talked to Steve.

"Well, you saw him for like a second." Natasha said.

"Good point." Steve shrugged.

"He appears in this one twice." Benjamin said.

Steve sat in a monorail train, looking back as the train kept running forward. Steve then arrived at the gym and took a key to his locker before he started pounding on the punching bag.

"Starting where we left off with you, huh." Tony said.

"Yes, seemed like the best place to start." Logan said.

Steve hit the bag, remembering his time with the Howling Commandos, the final fight against Hydra, Red Skull holding the Teserract, saying he needed to put the plane in the water, Peggy's voice, crashing the Valkyrie and being thawed out. With that, he hit the bag so hard it fell down.

"Damn! What a frustrated side!" Tony said with wide eyes.

Steve picked up another bag and started hitting when Fury's voice asked, "Trouble sleeping?" Steve turned to see Fury standing and said, "I slept for 70 years, sir. I think I've had my fill." Fury said he should be celebrating and Steve, untying the cloth around his hands, said when he had gone under, the world was at war. When he was out, they said they had won but no one talked about what they had lost.

"No. No one does." Wanda sighed.

Fury said they had made mistakes, some very recently. "You here with a mission, sir?" Steve asked. "Yes." Fury said. "Trying to get me back into the world." Steve asked. "Trying to save it." Fury said as he handed Steve a file and he read about the Teserract, Hydra's secret weapon. Fury said Howard had fished it out when he had searched for Steve and they believed it could be the key to unsustainable energy.

"Or weapons!" Steve said and Fury sighed.

Steve asked who had taken it and Fury said it was Loki and he wasn't from around here.

"No I am not." Loki smirked.

Fury said they needed to bring him up to speed on a lot of stuff and the world had gotten even stranger than he knew. Steve said nothing could surprise him now and Fury bet him 10 bucks for it.

"And I won." Fury smirked.

"Yeah you did." Steve sighed.

Fury said there was a debriefing package waiting for him. Steve picked up a punching bag and started walking away as Fury asked if he could tell them anything about the Teserract. "You should have left it in the ocean." Steve said as he walked out.

"You should have." Steve said.

In the water, Tony Stark, in his Iron Man Mark VI Armor was shown disconnecting Stark Tower from the water grids before he flew out.

"And I'm in!" Tony smirked as everyone shook their heads.

Pepper asked if he had disconnected the power grid and he said he had. Stark Tower was about to become a beacon of self-sustaining clean energy if their reactor took over and worked. Tony asked her to light it up and the Stark Tower lit up. Pepper asked how it looked and he said like Christmas with more him.

"That is a Tony Stark thing to say." Rhodes said and Tony smirked.

"That thing worked very nicely." Pepper smiled.

"Yup." Tony agreed.

Pepper said he needed to do press and she would be in D.C. the next day but Tony asked her to enjoy the moment and she said she would once he came in.

"That is sweet." Aunt May smiled.

Tony arrived at the tower as his Suit was being taken off and JARVIS said Agent Coulson was on the line. "I'm not in." Tony said as his Suit was taken off, "I'm actually out."

"Now that is a good pun." Fury said.

"It is." Storm agreed.

"Well, it's me!" Tony smiled.

JARVIS said Coulson insisted and Tony told him to grow a spine.

"You two have grown me a spine now." Vision said as he looked at Tony and Bruce and they shrugged.

"What about me?" Thor asked jokingly.

"Yes, what about me?" Odinson asked.

"They gave me a body. You gave me life." Vision said.

Tony walked in as Pepper said levels were steady and he agreed as he was involved. He asked her how it felt to be a genius as all of this came from her. Pepper disagreed, saying all of this came from the Arc Reactor.

"Give yourself some credit." Tony said.

"How much?" Pepper asked and he sighed.

Tony asked her to give herself some credit, like 12% as she sounded incredulous. He said an argument could be made for 15 as he had done all the heavy lifting and the security snafu was her fault as sweaty workmen were teeming up in their elevator.

"What was that about?" Rhodes asked.

"Don't ask." Tony and Pepper said simultaneously.

As the two poured the wine and clicked the glasses, Tony asked if he was going to pay for that comment in a subtle way later and she said it won't be so subtle.

"Nope." Tony said and Pepper smiled as everyone chuckled.

Tony said the next building would say 'Potts' on the tower but she wanted it to be on the lease as Jarvis said his protocols were being overridden and Coulson appeared on the phone. Tony joked he had reached a life-model decoy of Stark and could leave a message. Coulson said it was urgent so Tony asked him to leave it urgently when Coulson walked in.

"Life-model decoy? Ironic." Daisy said.

"What? They exist?" Tony asked.

"You have no idea." Bobbi said.

Pepper called him Phil and Tony joked his first name was 'Agent.'

"Very funny." Bobbi said dryly.

Coulson held up a SHIELD device as Tony said he didn't like to be handed things.

"Why?" Benjamin asked.

"It's a pet peeve!" Tony said, "How hard is that to grasp?"

Pepper said she loved to be handed things so they could trade. She gave Coulson her drink and took the device before giving it to Tony and taking his drink.

"Now that was good." Rhodes said as everyone chuckled.

Tony said consulting hours were between 8:00 A.M. and 5:00 P.M. every other Thursday but he said it wasn't a consultation. Pepper asked if it was about the Avengers which she knew nothing about. Tony said it had been scrapped and he hadn't even qualified and Pepper said she hadn't know that either.

"Of course you hadn't." Natasha said.

Tony said he was too volatile and self-obsessed and didn't play well with others and Pepper said she did know that.

"Of course you would." Sam smiled.

Phil said it wasn't about personality profiles anymore as Pepper walked up to Tony and said he thought they were having a moment and she said she was having 12% of a moment, making him give her an incredulous look.

"And back at ya!" Scott said.

"You are badass." Hope said to Pepper.

"Thanks." Pepper said.

Pepper said Phil seemed shaken as Tony opened several holograms that showed Steve, Hulk and a lot of stuff as Pepper said he had a lot of homework. Tony said he wouldn't but Pepper corrected when he finished and she would take the jet to D.C. tonight. She then whispered what they would do after he was finished.

"Oh boy! What a motivation!" Rhodes joked as Pepper smacked his arm and everyone chuckled.

Tony and Pepper kissed and then Pepper walked towards Phil, asking if he would drive by the airport by any chance and he said he could drop her and she inquired about the cellist as Tony looked at the holograms and picked up one of the Teserract.

"The cellist." Daisy smiled.

"You know her?" Tony asked.

"I know people who do." She said.

"And now we're about to meet." Bruce said.

"Yup." Logan said.

Chapter Text

"The Council didn't approve of the response team, did it?" Tony asked with a smirk.

"Nope." Fury said, "But it given it was stupid ass decision they made, I elected to ignore it."

"Don't blame you." Hill said.

Coulson and Rogers were sitting in the Quinjet as the latter read about Dr. Bruce Banner who was trying to replicate the Serum used on him. Coulson said a lot of people were as he was the world's first superhero.

"The First Avenger." Natasha smirked as Steve sighed.

"Look at Coulson, he is such a fanboy in this." Daisy said as everyone chuckled.

"Just as much as you're a fangirl." Bobbi said and Daisy looked embarrassed.

"I am not a fangirl!" She said.

"You are." Benjamin said.

"You were an Iron Man fanboy." Daisy said and he looked away.

"Well, always an honor to meet fans." Steve shrugged.

"Didn't really go my way." Banner said about his attempts to replicate the Serum.

Coulson said that Banner was like a Stephen Hawking. Steve looked confused and Coulson said he was like a smart guy.

"I think you would understand Albert Einstein better as a reference point." Tony said.

"Yes." Steve agreed, "Or Howard."

"Yeah, him too." Tony said.

Coulson said it was an honor to meet him and he had watched while he was asleep. Steve looked confused and he said he was present when Steve was unconscious and it was a huge honor to have him on board.

"Can't believe the guy actually sounds like a fanboy." Logan said.

"Yes, not even I can believe that." Daisy said as her and Bobbi looked at him on the screen, seeing how different he seemed from the Coulson they had come to know.

"Should have signed the cards." Steve sighed guiltily.

"Maybe you can some other time." Bucky said.

"Yeah, and drop them at his grave." Steve agreed.

Daisy and Bobbi both had pained looks on their faces on hearing that but no one noticed.

Steve said he hoped he was the man for the job and Coulson said he was and that they had made some modifications to the uniform with some input from him. Steve asked if the stars and stripes were a little old-fashioned and Coulson said with everything happening, they might need a little old-fashioned.

"We always do need old-fashioned in times like these." Storm said.

"Yes. That is probably how the universe keeps going." Odinson sighed.

"For a fanboy, his input for the suit did nothing for your ass." Tony and Steve looked embarrassed.

"What?" He asked.

"The suit does nothing for your ass." Natasha said and he looked more embarrassed.

"Come on!" Steve said.

"He does have a point." Hope agreed.

"Don't pay attention to them." Scott said, "That is America's ass."

Steve put his head in his hands as Hope said to Scott, "What a fanboy!"

Everyone laughed at Steve as Benjamin continued the recording.

Loki was sitting in his hideout as the small army worked and Selvig did too. Loki saw the gem on the Scepter glowing and allowed himself to enter a trance. He then found himself on the Sanctuary in a metaphysical form.

"The Mind Stone can do that?" Wanda asked in surprise.

"I have never tried." Vision simply said.

The Other appeared and said the Chitauri grew restless. Loki said he would lead them in a glorious battle. The Other was amused that there would be a battle against the meagre might of Earth and Loki said it would be glorious, not lengthy, if their force was as formidable as they claimed.

"For once in your life, learn to control your tongue." Thor said.

"Some habits don't die." Loki said.

"Bad idea to say that to him, bub." Logan told him.

"You didn't count on being thwarted, did you?" Tony asked with a smirk.

"I did. But not in the way you thwarted me." Loki said as he shot Natasha a look.

"Well, that was exactly what you deserved." Clint said.

Loki didn't respond as he was a bit unnerved on seeing The Other.

The Other furiously appeared in front of Loki, asking him how he had dared to question them and him. He who had put the Scepter in his hand, given him ancient knowledge and a new purpose when he was cast out and defeated.

"Who?" Fury asked.

"Someone worse than anyone you have ever encountered." Loki said with a pale face.

"You will know at the end of this recording." Bobbi told them.

"And you won't like it." Benjamin said and Wanda saw an image in his head of being slammed down to the ground by that same purple being she had seen in Odinson's memory and shuddered again. Was this the one?

Loki retorted that he was the rightful King of Asgard and had been betrayed.

"Betrayed?" Thor asked with a raised eyebrow.

"I had a narrow point of view back then." Loki said.

The Other said mockingly that he would be better on Earth and Loki said they were lost people who mistook selfishness for spirit and when the sky fell, it would be every man for himself.

"How wrong you were, brother." Odinson said with a smile and Loki sighed.

"Obviously, I underestimated humans." He said.

"Especially this one here." Rhodes said as he pointed at Tony who shrugged.

"He did fly into the wormhole." Pepper said and Tony sighed.

The Other asked how he would rule them and Loki said unmercifully.

"Is mercilessly too much of a mouthful or anything?" Peter asked and everyone laughed.

The Other mocked Loki and said his ambition was little and born out of childish need. They looked beyond the Earth to greater worlds the Teserract would unveil. Loki pointed out they didn't have the Teserract yet and he growled angrily as he neared Loki.

"You're full of bad ideas, bub." Logan said to Loki.

Loki said he didn't threaten but until he opened the door and their force was his to command, he was just words. The Other said he will have his war but if he failed and the Teserract was kept from them, there will be no realm, no barren moon, no crevice where they won't be able to find him and he would beg for something as sweet as pain as a Leviathan was seen in the background. The Other touched Loki's horned helmet and he snapped out of the trance, back in his hideout. He sighed heavily and looked a little afraid but determined too.

"They tortured you, didn't they?" Bucky asked, able to recognize the symptoms.

"Yes." Loki said, "They did."

Thor put an arm around him for comfort.

The Quinjet came down on the Helicarrier as Coulson introduced Natasha to Captain Rogers but unlike him, she seemed totally casual around Steve.

"Sir looks embarrassed." Daisy chuckled.

"Haven't seen him like that at all." Bobbi laughed.

"Me neither." Tony said.

"You acting casual around Steve must have been a shocker." Hill said to Natasha who smirked.

"I didn't know he would fanboy that much." Natasha said.

"Didn't expect this of him." Fury said.

"Well, you do know who he is, don't you?" Sam said jokingly as he pointed at Steve and everyone chuckled.

Coulson was needed on the bridge so he went off as Natasha told Steve it was a buzz finding him in the ice and she thought Coulson was gonna swoon. She asked if he had asked Steve to sign his Captain America Trading Cards, confusing Steve as she said they were vintage and he was very proud.

"I have those too." Peter said excitedly.

"I will sign them." Steve smiled.

"Yay!" Peter said excitedly as everyone looked amused.

"I thought you were on my side!" Tony said jokingly.

"Come one, both of you are awesome." Peter said.

Steve saw Bruce Banner and the two shook hands as Bruce looked at him in awe and said they had told him he would be there.

"Even Bruce is fanboying." Clint joked.

"Well, I did meet a living legend." Bruce shrugged.

"Everyone has different reactions to everything." Vision said.

Bruce asked if that was the only word about him and Steve said it was the only word he cared about.

"And that is why you are the Captain." Bruce said as Steve smiled.

Bruce said this must be strange for him but Steve saw some agents jogging and said it was pretty familiar.

"Just in time." Bucky joked and everyone chuckled.

Natasha told them they might want to step inside in a minute as it would get a little hard to breath. The Helicarrier's turbines started up as Steve wondered if it was a submarine and Bruce joked about how they wanted him in a submerged, pressurized metal container. The Helicarrier then started rising into the air and Bruce said it was much worse.

"It was much worse, wasn't it?" Tony joked.

The three walked inside as Fury and Hill engaged the retro-reflection panels and the Helicarrier became invisible.

"Wow!" Aunt May said, as awed as her nephew.

"That is decent technology." T'Challa said.

"Decent?" Tony asked.

"Wakanda is advanced." T'Challa pointed out.

Steve looked around and paid Fury the betted ten dollars.

"I won!" Fury said.

"I underestimated modern technology." Steve said.

Steve walked around as Hill looked him up and down.

"Are you checking him out?" Hope asked with a teasing smirk.

"He is Captain America!" An embarrassed Hill said as everyone chuckled and Steve shook his head.

Fury thanked Bruce for coming and he thanked him for asking nicely and asked how long he was staying. Fury said once they got the Teserract, he would be in the wind again.

"So much for that." Bruce said.

Coulson said they were accessing every wirelessly accessible phone on the planet and anything that was connected to a satellite. Bruce asked them to call every lab they knew to access spectrometers and calibrate them for gamma rays while he will rough out a tracking algorithm based on cluster recognition. They could at least rule out a few places.

"Aren't you useful?" Tony asked jokingly.

"Well, I am not a dumb genius." Bruce joked and everyone laughed.

"You are a serious genius." Pepper told him.

"No. He is a comedian." Thor said and everyone laughed and Bruce shook his head.

Fury asked Natasha to escort Bruce to his lab and she did as asked, telling him they have all the toys. Bruce asked if they had a specific device and she said she wasn't sure, to which he jokingly said she was very young.

"That makes you very old." Tony said.

"Well, I was 43 back then." Bruce said, "Though the Hulk was only 9."

Fury walked up to Hill and asked her if she had told the Council that Barton had been compromised. She said it was procedure and asked if he had told them who was on his response team. He said he didn't need to as he stood at the edge and Hill looked at him skeptically.

"The Avengers." Clint simply said.

"You appear skeptic." Scott said.

"Skeptic to loyalist." Hill said and Fury nodded.

In Loki's hideout, Erik and the others were working as Clint showed him the picture of a "Doctor Heinrich Schaefer" on the tablet, asking him if this was what he needed and Erik said the Iridium was. It was found in meteorites and formed anti-protons. It was hard to get hold of, especially if SHIELD knew someone wanted it. Erik said he didn't know.

"Heinrich Schaefer." Clint said, "Poor guy. Lost an eye."

Everyone glared at Loki, "So you believe in eye for an eye? In that case, my brother gave up his."

Thor smacked his arm as everyone looked away.

"He lost his life too." Steve pointed out and Loki didn't say a word this time as shame and guilt overtook him.

Loki arrived and Erik greeted him happily saying the Teserract had shown him a lot. It was more than just knowledge, it was truth. Loki said it touched everyone differently and asked Clint what it had shown him. Clint said it had shown him his next target. Erik joked how he had no soul.

"He has the biggest soul of us all." Thor said.

"Thanks." Clint said.

"Yeah. You and Natasha are the ones who keep us grounded." Steve told them both and they nodded gratefully.

"Even Gods need humans." Fury said and everyone nodded.

"But because of me, you lot do appear soulless." Loki said, "I am so horrible."

Erik joked about how he had chosen this tomb to work in and Clint said it didn't have 3 levels of flooring between SHIELD and the Cube. Erik nodded and walked off as Loki realized why Fury had chosen him to guard it. Clint said as long as Fury was in the air, he couldn't be pinned down. He was putting together a team and Loki asked if they were a threat.

"That's how you knew about me." Bruce realized.

"Sorry guys." Clint said regretfully.

"It wasn't your fault, Clint." Natasha said and he simply nodded.

"They are a threat to you, bub." Logan said.

"I know. Bigger than I imagined." Loki said.

"I hope you were taken down a few pegs after that." Thor said and Loki sighed.

Clint said they were more of a threat to each other but if Fury gave them a push, they could throw some noise their way. Loki realized Clint admired Fury and Clint said the Director had a clear line of sight.

"That's all you admire me for, Agent Barton?" Fury asked jokingly.

"For a lot more than that, sir." Clint said honestly.

"Some noise?" Tony asked with a smirk.

"You didn't have me with you then." Clint said, "With me, you beat them."

Everyone chuckled as Hill said, "No really. Barton is your good luck charm."

"I think Hill is right, guys." Banner said.

"Yes." Thor said, "When you were with Loki, you all managed to infiltrate the Helicarrier and cause a lot of damage even with all of us around."

"And when you went to their side, you won." Loki said.

"You were the only one who incapacitated me." Wanda reminded him.

"Sorry about that, kid." He said.

"Don't blame you." She told him.

"When I retired, everything went to Hell." Clint smirked.

"It is obvious, we all need you." Steve told Clint, "You are a lot more than just a good luck charm."

"Thanks, Cap." Clint said gratefully.

Loki asked if that was why he had failed to kill Fury and Clint said it was because he was feeling disoriented and he wasn't at his best with a gun.

"I think part of you was fighting back." Fury said.

"Maybe." Clint shrugged.

Loki said he wanted to know everything about the team so he could test their mettle.

"What a test!" Tony said sarcastically with a sarcastic clap.

Loki said he meant to rule this world, not borrow in it.

"Now you will have to borrow in it." Thor told him.

"I'm sure I'll manage." Loki said.

"I think you will." Odinson told him.

Clint said it would be a risk and Loki agreed with a laugh. Clint said if he wanted to make himself known, he could be useful in the upcoming mission. Loki asked him what he needed. Clint took out a recurve bow and said he needed a distraction and an eyeball.

"Oh! That!" Clint sighed.

In the Helicarrier, Jasper Sitwell was trying to locate Loki as Coulson told Steve the cards were a vintage set and it had taken him a few years to collect them all. There was some slight foxing around the edges but they were near mint.

"Is it seriously him?" Daisy asked in amusement.

"I can't believe it either." Bobbi said, "What is it about you, Cap?"

"I wish I knew." Steve said.

"He is adorably naïve." Natasha said and everyone laughed as Steve gave her a look of mock offense.

Sitwell said they had got a hit and it was a 67% match before saying it was a 79%. Coulson asked about the location and Sitwell said he was in Stuttgart, Germany. 28, Canning Strasse. A video of Loki in a formal suit popped up on the screen, a 100% match.

"You do look good in a suit." Thor said to Loki.

"Not as good as me." Tony shrugged and everyone sighed.

Fury told Steve he was up. In Stuttgart, the gala in the museum was in full swing as Heinrich Schaefer tested the mic while the musicians played their violins. In the Helicarrier, Steve walked towards his suit and looked at it with determination in his eyes.

"The return of Captain America." Sam smiled.

Two guards stood in an Iridium facility when both of them were shot down by Barton.

Clint cringed as Fury put a hand on his shoulder and nodded.

Clint handed his bow and quiver to another agent and stood in front of the facility, sticking a device to it. Loki walked down the stairs and saw his target- Dr. Henreich Schaeffer. With a smirk, he marched towards him as the violin played. One of the guards rushed him but he smacked him out with one hit of his staff.

"Making yourself useful, huh?" Thor asked and Loki shook his head.

The others looked at the scene in confusion when Loki suddenly grabbed Dr. Schaeffer and slammed him onto a statue. The others watched as Loki took out a device and to everyone's horror, used it to saw into Schaeffer's eyeball, allowing Clint to access the Iridium he needed as he used the device to create to use a hologram of the eye and access the facility. The people ran out, screaming in terror at what they had witnessed while Loki smirked sadistically, something that would have horrified anyone who had known him before his fall.

Everyone watched the scene, horrified.

Loki wisely didn't say a word, not wanting everyone in the room to kill him.

Loki got up and walked out as Clint took the Iridium. Loki's suit transformed into his battle armor with the golden horned helmet adorning the top of it. His stick transformed into the Scepter he carried which had become infamous for mind-controlling people. As a police van arrived with blaring sirens, Loki fired a blast from his scepter, flipping it to the ground. The running people stopped when a second Loki appeared in their way. "Kneel before me." As they tried to run around, they found themselves surrounded by four Lokis. "I said." He slammed the bottom of his scepter on the ground firmly, "KNEEEEEEEEEEEEEEL!" The people were almost frozen in unadulterated fear but slowly, they complied and got down on their knees, pure terror in their eyes.

"Oh my God!" A horrified Peter said, unable to reconcile the Asgardian in the recording with the Asgardian sitting in the room with them.

It appeared everyone except Thor and Odinson had the same dilemma.

"And then Hela asked you to kneel." Thor told him to lighten the mood.

"Yeah. Now I know what it feels like." Loki said.

His illusions vanished as he smirked and started walking amongst them, "Is not this simpler? Is this not your natural state?" Pointing the Scepter at the people, he declared, "It's the unspoken truth of humanity, that you crave subjugation." Some of the people actually looked down in shame. "The bright lure of freedom diminishes your life's joy in a mad scramble for power, and identity." Loki told them, "You were made to be ruled. In the end, you will always kneel."

"You have a low opinion of us, don't you?" Aunt May asked with a glare.

"I underestimated the entire planet." Loki said, "And I had become pretty delusional at that point due to my own failures and the Mind Stone."

That was when an old man rose up and stood firmly on his two feet, glaring at Loki defiantly. With his gaze fixed on the abandoned child of Laufey, he declared with a firm conviction in his voice, "Not to men like you." "There are no men like me", Loki said with a smirk. "There are always men like you." The man retorted. Even though he didn't show it, the remark obviously had managed to get under Loki's skin.

Everyone slowly started clapping for the old man and soon, the entire room was in applause.

"Now that's an unsung hero!" Tony said with unusual sincerity.

"Yes." Pepper agreed.

"Maybe we should ask him to join." Rhodes said jokingly.

"I will make sure to do it next time I see him." Steve joked too.

Pointing his Scepter at the man, he declared to the people, "Look to your elder, people. Let him be an example." And then he fired a blast. The old man's life flashed before his eyes for a split second when suddenly a figure jumped between them. The blast was deflected and hit Loki who was sent flying back by a few feet. Everyone looked up to see what had happened. It was a man in a blue suit with America's star on the center along with the color of the American flag. He wore a mask and also had a shield of the same design. Captain America!

Everyone clapped and cheered happily at the scene again.

"Don't be so happy." Steve said, "Loki packed a wallop."

"I'm stronger than you." Loki said.

Steve said he had a disagreement with a man the last time he was in Germany due to him standing above everybody else. Loki got up and recognized Steve as the soldier and the man out of time. Steve said he wasn't out of time as the Quinjet appeared in the sky and Natasha announced that Loki had to drop the weapon and surrender. Loki momentarily lowered his Scepter before firing. Natasha steered the Quinjet away, barely avoiding it. Using the opportunity he had been handed, Steve threw his shield. It hit Loki on the face, stunning him as Steve caught his shield on return and rushed Loki, giving him a punch. The people were now terrified of the fight happening in front of their eyes and ran off.

"It's on." Bucky said as everyone watched the fight.

Loki struck Steve who blocked with his shield before being swatted away. Steve threw his shield again and Loki deflected it with the Scepter as Steve rushed him. He avoided a few strikes from the Scepter before punching Loki and then being swatted away.

"You're losing." Wanda said in some distress.

"I didn't win by myself." Steve said as he exchanged a knowing look with Tony and Loki sighed.

"Kneel." Loki said as he pointed his Scepter at Steve. "Not today." Steve said as he removed the Scepter and flip kicked Loki. Natasha and the other agent in the Quinjet tried to aim at Loki but he was all over the place as Loki threw Steve off. That was when a voice was heard on the system, "Agent Romanoff, did you miss me?"

"I am coming!" Tony said with a smirk, "I know everyone missed me."

"Shoot To Thrill" by "AC/DC" started playing on the Quinjet's system as Natasha smirked and Steve and Loki looked up. Tony Stark flew down in his Iron Man Mark VI Armor and shot Loki with a repulsor, sending him flying back by a few feet.

Everyone clapped and cheered happily again at the scene.

"I hate this tune." Loki grumbled.

"That makes it even more enjoyable." Tony joked.

"Make your move, Reindeer Games." Tony Stark dared Loki as he pointed his entire arsenal at him while Steve walked up next to him. Loki raised his hands in surrender as his armor and helmet faded away. Tony lowered his hands, "Good move." "Mr. Stark." Steve acknowledged him. "Captain." Tony said as he looked over at him.

"Captain America and Iron Man meet!" Peter said excitedly.

Aunt May mouthed to Tony and Pepper, 'Excitable little kid.'

The two simply nodded.

"Nice first meeting, isn't it?" Tony asked sarcastically.

"Obviously, we got off on the wrong foot." Steve said.

"We have to make it right." Tony said and everyone nodded.

Natasha flew the Quinjet towards the S.H.I.E.L.D. base with Steve, Tony, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and a bound Loki. Fury asked Natasha to get him to the base and cut the call as Steve said he didn't like Loki giving up so easily as he packed a wallop. Tony joked Steve was spry for an older fellow and joked about pilates. Steve was confused as Tony said they were like calisthenics and he might have missed a couple of things doing time as a Capsicle. Steve clearly looked offended.

"Okay, Capsicle?" Pepper asked Tony, "You're not supposed to make fun of people's trauma."

Tony looked guilty and said to Steve, "I'm sorry, Cap."

"We both got off on the wrong foot." Steve said, "It has to be on both of us."

Steve said Fury hadn't told him he was calling Stark in and Tony said there were a lot of things Fury didn't tell him. That was when lightning cracked in the sky and Natasha was shocked. Loki was a little unnerved and Steve asked if he was afraid of a little lightning and Loki said he wasn't overly fond of what followed.

"I follow." Thor smirked.

"Yes, we are coming in now." Odinson said and everybody watched with bated breaths.

The lightning grew stronger as someone landed on the Quinjet from above and it shook. The lightning flashed and Thor was shown above the Quinjet.

Everyone clapped at Thor's entrance.

"I get off at the wrong foot too." Thor said.

"The big three of the Avengers all got off the wrong foot." Scott said, "How ironic."

"Right you are, tic-tac." Sam said.

Steve and Tony put on their mask and helmet respectively as the latter opened the backdoor and Thor landed, holding Mjolnir. Loki looked afraid. Before Tony could fire, Thor hit him with Mjolnir, sending him flying into Steve as both fell down. Thor then grabbed Loki and twirling Mjolnir, flew out.

"Reunion of brothers." Benjamin joked and everyone chuckled.

"I know. Best reunion ever." Logan said sarcastically.

Tony groaned as Natasha realized it was another Asgardian. Steve said they needed a plan of attack and Stark said his plan was to attack before flying out.

"Always so reckless." Pepper commented as Tony shrugged.

Natasha said she would sit this one out as these guys came from Legends and were basically Gods. Steve put on a parachute and said there was only one God and he didn't dress up like that before jumping out.

"Met two Gods, still a Christian huh." Bucky said.

"I met two Gods and I'm still an atheist." Tony said.

"We're not really Gods." Thor said.

"Yes, our powers just make us seem like Gods." Odinson agreed.

"Some are delusional enough to think themselves as Gods though." Loki said.

Thor slammed Loki onto the ground and he slid back by a few feet. Loki groaned and smirked at the same time. He groaned because of the pain he felt on being slammed onto the ground and smirked because of who had slammed him. Thor asked where the Teserract was and Loki joked how he had missed him too as Thor said he wasn't in a gaming mood.

"Another bad idea, Prince Loki." T'Challa said and Loki sighed.

"You're full of them." Daisy told him.

"Bad ideas. Bad life choices. I know." Loki said.

Loki managed to sit up on his knees and said Thor should thank him because with the Bifrost gone, the All-Father would have to muster dark energy to send him to his precious Earth. Thor grabbed Loki roughly and said they had thought him dead. Loki asked if they had mourned and Thor said they all had. Thor tried to talk about their father but Loki corrected that it was only Thor's father as Thor let him go and he asked if Odin had told him of his true parentage.

"Blood doesn't define relations." Daisy simply said and everyone nodded in agreement.

Loki walked past Thor as he tried to reach out to him, "We were raised together. We played together, we fought together. Do you remember none of that?" Loki turned to look at Thor and said he remembered living in the shade of his greatness and being tossed into an abyss.

"He didn't toss you." Wanda said, "You let go."

"I was clearly unstable." Loki said.

Loki said he should have been King and Thor asked if he was taking the world he loved as recompense because the Earth was under his protection. Loki laughed humorlessly and said the humans slaughtered each other in droves while he idly fret.

"Sad but true." Natasha sighed.

Thor asked Loki if he considered himself above humans and Loki said he did. Thor said he missed the truth of ruling and a throne would suit him ill. Loki shoved Thor away and walking towards the cliff, called him "Odinson", saying he had grown in his exile. He had seen the true power of the Teserract and would wield it. Thor caught a small detail in his sentence and asked him who had shown him the power and who controlled the would-be king. Loki said he was a king but Thor told him he wasn't and begged Loki to give up the Teserract and his poisonous dream and come home.

"And I didn't listen." Loki sighed.

Loki said he didn't have it and Thor angrily let him go as Loki said he needed the Teserract to take him home and he had sent it off to a place he didn't know. Thor summoned Mjolnir and said, "You listen well, brother-"He was cut off when a flying figure rammed into him and both of them were sent flying off. "I'm listening."

Everyone laughed at that.

"More like watching." Tony said.

Thor was thrown on the ground and sent rolling to a distance as Iron Man landed in front of him. Thor got up as Tony raised his visor. Thor told him not to touch him again as Tony told him not to take his stuff.

"So I am 'stuff?'" Loki asked indignantly as everyone chuckled.

"You both are also getting off on the wrong foot." Daisy said as she looked at the screen.

"You have no idea what you're dealing with." Thor said. "Uh…..Shakespeare in the park?" Tony asked jokingly, "Doth mother know, you weareth her drapes?"

Everyone laughed hard at that scene.

"Okay, that was funny!" Bobbi said in between laughs.

Thor said this was beyond him and called him metal man.

"Sounds more accurate than Iron Man but not as awesome." Tony said.

Tony said he would be Thor's when he gave up the Cube and until then he had to stay out of the way. He started walking away and called Thor "tourist."

"You're also full of bad ideas, bub." Logan told Tony.

"Both of you are." Storm told Tony and Loki.

Both of them shook their heads and looked at the screen.

Thor threw Mjolnir at Tony and it hit him just as he turned around, sending him crashing into some trees.

"It's on." Odinson said.

Tony got up with a groan as Thor summoned Mjolnir to him and twirled it. Loki watched from above with a smirk as Tony fired a repulsor at Thor, slamming him into a tree. Before Thor could recover, Tony flew into him at full speed and kicked him hard, shattering the tree behind him as he was sent crashing into the ground. Mjolnir fell a few feet away from him. Thor got back up and summoned Mjolnir into his hand. He then pointed it towards the sky. A powerful lightning bolt descended from the sky and hit the tip of Mjolnir, empowering it. Pointing it at Tony, he fired a lightning bolt. It hit him, making him stagger back as his suit let off sparks. When Thor stopped, Tony groaned.

"How did you survive that?" Peter asked in shock.

"Keep watching." Tony smirked.

Tony saw his power capacity increasing as JARVIS said it was at 400%.

"An astounding increase." Vision said.

Tony raised his hands and fired powerful repulsors at Thor, sending him flying back again. Thor managed to steady himself and the two flew at each other.

"Wow!" An awed Peter said.

Tony grabbed Thor and flew him into a hill, smashing his face into it as he flew up. Thor elbowed him hard, making him let go. The two struggled again as they flew towards the ground, crashing through some trees while Mjolnir dropped from Thor's hands.

"Why are you struggling with Tony?" Bruce asked Thor.

"Travelling to Earth via dark magic weakened me for some time so I wasn't fighting at my full strength." Thor said and everyone nodded.

"Way to make me look weak." Tony joked and everyone chuckled.

The two got back up and Thor punched Tony, whipping his face to the other side. Tony recovered and tried to punch back but Thor grabbed both of his hands, holding them in a deadlock. As the two struggled, Thor pressed the Titanium hard, slowly crushing it into flat metal. Tony noticed and fired a repulsor point blank at Thor's face, making him let go as he staggered back slightly.

"You are strong." Hill said to Thor.

"Very." Fury added.

Tony head-butted him but he was barely affected. Thor then head-butted him in retaliation, making him fly back by a few feet.

"That is a lot of strength." Daisy said.

Tony steadied himself and flew at Thor, grabbing him and throwing him at a tree, making him fall down. Thor got back up and charged. He easily dodged a punch before punching Tony on the side. Lifting him into the air, he slammed him hard on the ground. Summoning Mjolnir into his hand, he brought it down on Tony but he flew off at the last moment while Thor fell down due to his own momentum. Tony flew back at him and punched him on the face. The two then stood facing each other, ready to deck it out even more.

"This is not good!" Sam said.

"Not at all." Rhodes agreed.

That was when a shield hit them both on the heads and returned to Steve who was standing on an uprooted tree. He jumped down and told them to stop. He told Thor he had no idea what he was planning on doing. Thor said he was here to put an end to Loki's schemes. Steve asked him to prove it and put the hammer down. Tony said it was a bad call as he loved his hammer when Thor slammed him away with Mjolnir. "You want me to put the hammer down?" He growled at Steve.

"Not on me!" Steve said.

"I was a bit angry at the moment." Thor said.

"You are hot-headed." Loki said and Thor didn't argue.

Thor leapt at Steve with Mjolnir as he brought his shield in the way. The legendary hammer and the indestructible shield clashed. The impact was almost disastrous. A huge shockwave emitted from the clash and sent Thor flying off while the trees were uprooted and fell down. A few minutes later, Tony recovered from the literal hammering he had received and Steve stood up too as Thor stood there. Turning to Thor, Steve asked, "Are we done here?" Thor looked around at the destruction he had caused during the fight and finally nodded.

"Finally I listen to reason." Thor said.

"Yes." Odinson nodded.

"So what did we learn today?" Tony asked jokingly, "Never to ask Point Break to put his weapon down."

Everyone laughed at the joke.

Later, the Quinjet landed on the Helicarrier and a cuffed Loki was led to his containment cell by armed agents. He passed by the lab in which Banner was working. He exchanged a look with Banner for a second and it was clear that Banner was a little unnerved. Loki smiled as he was led away.

"Hello Doc." Loki said dryly.

"I am so not gonna enjoy what happens next." Bruce said.

"Neither am I." Loki said.

Chapter Text

"So I'm guessing-" Loki started.

"Yup." Benjamin and Odinson said simultaneously.

Loki was put in his confinement capsule and locked up as Fury said if he even scratched the glass, he would be thrown 30,000 feet below straight into a steel trap as he opened the cockpit to show Loki who looked down. Fury shut it off and pointing at Loki and the device said, "Ant. Boot."

"Didn't see that coming, did you?" Fury asked with a smirk.

"My brother doesn't get witty retorts that much." Thor said as Loki shook his head.

"I'm betting I changed that." Tony said as everyone chuckled and Loki shook his head again.

Loki laughed and said it was an impressive cage which was built for something a lot stronger than him. Loki knew it was the mindless beast who made play he was still a man. Bruce heard it but ignored as Loki asked how desperate he was to call on such lost creatures to defend himself.

"Clearly, you don't know enough about me." Bruce said.

"He didn't tell me enough." Loki said about Clint.

"It's not like I was an expert on him." Clint shrugged.

Fury said Loki threatened his world with war, stole a force he couldn't hope to control, talked about peace and killed because it's fun. "You have made me very desperate. You might not be glad that you did." Fury finished.

"I am not." Loki said.

"Obviously." Hill said.

Loki scoffed to him how close he was to the Teserract, asking him if he wanted it for all mankind to share and then to be reminded what real power is. Fury walked off, telling him to say if real power needed a magazine or something.

"Burn." Scott said and everyone chuckled.

"Very funny." Loki sighed.

Bruce joked about how Loki was growing on them all. Steve said Loki was going to drag this out and asked Thor about his plan. Thor said Loki had an army called the Chitauri which were not of Asgard nor of any world known. He would lead them against the Earth's people and win him the Earth in return for the Teserract.

"You thought you would lead the galaxy's weakest to conquer our world?" Logan asked mockingly, "Not very bright."

"Clearly, the Earth's Mightiest Heroes didn't know about the mothership for a while." Loki smirked and everyone sighed.

"There strength was in numbers really." Storm said, "And their Leviathans."

"Take the Leviathans away and they are not that hard to beat." Daisy said and everyone nodded.

Bruce realized he was building another portal and that's why he needed Selvig, shocking Thor as Natasha explained Loki had put him under some kind of mind control along with Clint. Steve asked why Loki had let them take him as he wasn't leading any army from his cell. Bruce said they shouldn't be focusing on him as his brain was like a bag full of cats and crazy could be smelled on him. Thor asked him to talk respectfully as Loki was beyond reason but still of Asgard and his brother. Natasha said he had killed 80 people in 2 days and Thor added that he was adopted.

"Wow! That was a nice burn!" Peter said.

"Thanks kid." Natasha smiled.

"Yup. That was awesome." Bucky agreed as the two smiled at each other.

"And then you proceeded to burn me too." Loki said and everyone chuckled.

"Did you really kill 80 people in 2 days?" Hope asked him.

"Some agents didn't escape the facility unfortunately." Hill said.

Bruce wondered why the Iridium was needed as Tony arrived with Phil and said it was a stabilizing agent. Tony then talk to Phil about how he would fly him and the cellist to Portland and Coulson nodded before walking off.

"I'm guessing he really loved the cellist." Bruce said.

"You have no idea." Daisy said sadly.

Tony said the portal won't collapse on itself like at SHIELD. He then turned to Thor and tapping his bicep said, "No hard feelings, Point Break. You've got a mean swing."

"Not anymore." Thor said.

"Maybe you can." Odinson said with a gleam in his eye and Thor wondered what that was about.

"Now you've got mean lighting." Loki said.

"So, Point Break." Pepper said as she looked at Thor, "Good comparison."

"I know." Tony said.

"Yes it is!" Peter agreed.

Tony said that the portal could open as wide and for as long as Loki wanted and pointing at a man in the corner said, "That man is playing Galaga. Thought we wouldn't notice, but we did."

Everyone chuckled at Tony's antics.

"Can't let them work in peace, can't you?" Aunt May chuckled.

"Play in peace." Tony corrected.

Tony tried to see the monitors with just one eye and asked Hill how Fury saw them. Hill said he turned and Tony said how it was exhausting.

"Not as exhausting as listening to your babble." Fury said dryly and everyone chuckled.

Tony said Barton could get his hands on the rest of the raw materials easily and he only needed a power source to kick start the Cube. As he said that, he put a small device on a monitor.

"Wow. Trust comes in short supply for you or something?" Hill asked.

"I think that is a better question for your boss there." Tony said and Fury didn't react.

Hill asked when he had become an expert in thermonuclear astrophysics and he said the previous night with the package, Selvig's notes, the Extraction Theory papers. He jokingly asked if he was the only one who had done the reading.

"Not all of us are rocket scientists." Steve said.

"Rocket scientist?" Tony asked incredulously, "Now that is insulting."

Steve asked if Loki needed any particular kind of power source and Banner said he needed to heat the cube to a hundred and twenty million Kelvin just to break through the Coulomb barrier. Tony wondered if Selvig had figured out how to stabilize the Quantum Tunneling Effect and Bruce said then he could achieve Heavy Ion Fusion at any reactor on the planet. Tony was happy to see someone else who spoke English.

"Your version of it you mean." Vision said.

"And the science bromance was born." Tony said and everyone chuckled as Bruce sighed.

Tony shook hands with Bruce and said it was good to meet him, saying his work on anti-electron collisions was unparalleled. He then said, "And I'm a huge fan of the way you lose control and turn into an enormous green rage monster." Banner thanked him lamely.

"I was not." Bruce said, "Not back then at least."

"I had no idea." Tony said.

Fury said Banner was only there to track the Cube and Tony could help him. Steve said Loki's stick was magical but it worked a lot like a Hydra weapon so they should start with that. Fury said it was powered by the Cube and said he needed to know how it turned to of the sharpest men he knew into Loki's personal flying monkeys. Thor was confused as monkeys did not exist on any other realm as Steve said, "I do." Everyone looked at him in confusion and he said, "I understood that reference."

Everyone laughed as Steve said, "Got one over you all there, didn't I?"

"Wizard of Oz I think." Bucky said and Steve nodded.

"Well, everyone knows some things." Bobbi said.

Tony and Banner went off to work as the man in the corner started playing Galaga again.

"There he goes again." Benjamin said.

"Video game addiction." Sam said.

Bruce later analyzed the Scepter and said the gamma readings on it were consistent with Selvig's reports but it would take weeks to process as Tony said if they bypassed the main frame and rerouted to the home cluster, they could clock it to about 600 Tera Flops.

"Wow!" Rhodes said.

"That was impressive, Mr. Stark." T'Challa complimented and Tony nodded.

Bruce joked he had only packed a tooth brush as Tony said he should come to Stark Tower. The top 10 floors were all R&D and it was like candyland. Bruce thanked him but said he had broken Harlem the previous time and Tony promised him a stress free environment.

"Stress free with you?" Logan chuckled, "That's like the Earth being flat."

"No kidding." Pepper said as Tony gave her a mock glare.

Tony promised no tension or surprises before poking Bruce with a prod as Bruce looked at him and nothing happened.

"Really?" Clint asked.

"I could take it." Bruce said.

"I knew it." Tony said.

Steve arrived and asked Tony if he was nuts.

"I am." Tony said.

Tony said Bruce had a lid on it and joked about his secret as Steve asked if everything was a joke to him and Tony said funny things were. Steve said threatening the safety of everyone wasn't funny as Bruce said he wouldn't have come aboard if he couldn't handle pointy things.

"Good point." Bobbi shrugged.

Tony told Bruce he was tiptoeing and needed to strut and Steve told him to focus on the problem. Tony asked why Fury had called them now and not before. Steve asked if he was hiding something and Tony said, "He's a spy. Captain, he's the spy. His secrets have secrets."

"Got that right." Fury said.

Tony said it was bugging Bruce too but Steve asked him too and he remembered Loki's jab at Fury about the Teserract of "a warm light for all mankind", saying it was meant for Tony. Bruce then ate some blueberries Tony gave him, referring to the Stark Tower as Steve called it a big, ugly building, getting a glare from Tony.

"All right." Steve groaned, "Not ugly. Just not my kind of place. I prefer natural settings."

"Comes with the 40's." Tony quipped.

Bruce said it was powered by a self-sustaining Arc Reactor and will run itself for a year as Tony said it was just the prototype and that he was the only name in the clean energy business. Bruce then asked why SHIELD had not called him on the Teserract project as Tony said they would know once his decryption program finished its work.

"There it is." Fury said dryly.

"Surprised that someone played your own game with you, eh?" Tony asked.

"I was actually expecting you to do it." Fury said.

Steve was shocked as Tony said Jarvis had been running it since he had hit the bridge and soon, he would find out all of SHIELD's dirty secrets.

"Wish you found out about Hydra that way." Wanda joked.

Tony offered Steve a blueberry as he said Loki was trying to wind them up so they should focus on him and follow their orders. Tony said following wasn't his style and Steve asked him if he was all about style. Tony asked which one out of them was wearing a spangly outfit and not of use.

"That was hurtful." Scott said.

"I'm being a bit of a jock." Steve said in shock at his on-screen self.

"And I'm taking out my frustrations at my dad on you." Tony said, equally shocked.

Bruce asked him if it felt fishy and Steve told them to find the cube as he walked out but had a contemplative look on his face as he considered what he had learnt from Tony and Bruce and decided to find evidence.

"And now you're on me too." Fury said.

"Both of them on you spells trouble." Daisy joked and everyone chuckled.

Tony said that was the guy his dad never shut up about and wondered if they should have left him on ice.

"All right!" Tony said as he felt the glares at him, "That was horrible to say. I agree. I'm taking all the anger at my dad on him. Not healthy. Sorry Cap."

"No problem. I can understand." Steve sighed.

Bruce looked at the readings on the monitor and said Steve wasn't wrong about Loki who had the jump on them.

"I did." Loki smirked.

"Yeah, yeah. No need to boast." Tony said.

Tony said he had an acme dynamite kit which was going to blow up in his face and he would be there when it does.

"And I was there." Tony smirked and Loki sighed.

"Yeah, yeah. No need to boast." He said.

Bruce said he would read about it and Tony said he would suit up with them. Bruce said he didn't have a suit. He was exposed like a nerve. It was a nightmare. Tony said he had a cluster of shrapnel trying to crawl its way into his heart and the circle of light stopped it. It was a part of him, not just the armor. It was a terrible privilege.

"You're actually good at this." Hope noted, realizing he was trying to get Bruce to accept Hulk.

"Thanks." Tony said.

"Wonder why you weren't like that with me." Peter said.

"Yeah. I wasn't the best to you." Tony said, "And I'm hoping to change that."

"I'd like that." Peter said.

Bruce said Tony could control it but he retorted he had learnt it. Bruce said their situations were different as Tony removed the readings from his monitor and said he had read about the accident. That much gamma exposure should have killed him. Bruce then wondered aloud if the Hulk had saved his life and said it was a nice sentiment. He then asked why it had saved him.

"It's actually been part of you longer than you know, bub." Logan said.

"Really?" Bruce asked.

"I think you'd know about that." Benjamin said and Bruce realized they were right.

"Wonder what he saved me for though." Bruce said.

"I think we know." Daisy said.

"Though you didn't enjoy it." Bobbi said.

"At all." Storm added.

"But you did it." Odinson said.

"What exactly?" Bruce asked.

"You will see later." Odinson said. [1]

Tony said they will find out. Bruce said he might not enjoy that and Tony said Bruce would.

"He didn't." Odinson said.

Steve opened a storage room and looked around before jumping up while Erik Selvig worked at Loki's base, lifting up a new power source with prongs and putting it in the device, which started.

"And it works." Pepper sighed.

At the Helicarrier, Coulson told Thor they had moved Jane to Tromso where she had been asked to consult very suddenly the previous day. She had a handsome fee, private plane and the place was very remote.

"Sir cares about people a lot." Daisy said.

"I know." Thor agreed.

Thor thanked Coulson and dreaded what Loki would do to Erik once he was done with him. He was a good man. Phil said Erik talked about Thor a lot as he had changed not just his life, but everything around there.

"Not everything." Bobbi said, "Though you did fasten the process."

Everyone except Fury wondered what that was about.

Thor said things were better as they were before. They pretended to be more advanced on Asgard but they came to Earth battling like Bilge Snipe. Coulson was confused as Thor said they were big, scaly and had pointy antlers. Coulson said they didn't have those and Thor said they were repulsive and trampled everything in their path.

"Good thing we don't have them then." Bucky said.

"When I first came to Earth, Loki's rage followed me here and your people paid the price." Thor said sadly, "And now again. In my youth I courted war." "War hasn't started yet." Fury said as he arrived.

"Always have to put all of us down, don' you?" Thor asked Fury jokingly who shrugged.

Fury asked if Thor could make Loki talk and he said he didn't know as Loki's mind was far afield. He didn't just crave power but vengeance upon Thor. No pain would prize his need for that.

"Got that right." Loki sighed sadly.

Fury said a lot of guys thought that until the pain started. Thor asked what Fury wanted him to do and Fury asked what he was prepared to do. Thor said Loki was a prisoner and Fury asked why it felt like he was the only person who looked like he wanted to be on the boat.

"Because he is." Loki said dryly and everyone sighed.

Loki was walking around in his cell when he realized someone was behind him and with a smirk, turned around to see Natasha Romanoff. He complimented her, saying not many could sneak up on him.

"I definitely can't." Thor said.

"Never could." Odinson agreed.

"I was better at stealth obviously." Loki said.

Natasha realized Loki knew she would come and he said after Fury had concocted his tortures, she would come as a balm and he would cooperate.

"The good cop, bad cop routine." Tony chuckled.

"Yup." Natasha said, "And he did cooperate."

"I know. I know." Loki groaned as everyone chuckled at his expense.

Natasha asked what he had done to Agent Barton and Loki said he had expanded his mind.

"Expanded?" Clint snarled, "If I had my bow right now-"

"You wouldn't do anything." Bobbi said.

"Because we did not bring you here to fight." Benjamin said.

Natasha asked what he would do to Clint once he was king of the mountain.

"Or under it." Clint said.

Loki asked if it was love and Natasha said love was for children.

"So you're a child now?" Bucky asked with a wink.

"You can say that." Natasha said and everyone chuckled.

She owed Barton a debt. Loki said he would like to hear about it.

"You don't." Clint told her.

"I do." Natasha said firmly.

Natasha said before SHIELD, she made a name for herself. She had a specific skillset and didn't care whom she used it for or on. She got on SHIELD's radar in a bad way and Agent Barton was sent to kill her but he made a different call.

"I don't regret it." Clint assured her, "Not for a second."

Natasha simply nodded with a smile.

Loki asked what she would do if he vowed to spare Clint. She said she won't let him out but he commented how her world hung in the balance and she bargained for the life of one man. Natasha said regimes fell every day and she didn't weep over that due to being Russian. It was simply. "I got red in my ledger. I'd like to wipe it out." Natasha said.

Benjamin, Odinson, Logan, Storm, Daisy and Bobbi winced on hearing that as they remembered how Natasha had wiped it out.

Loki asked if she could wipe out that much red. He got up and started mentioning Drakov's daughter, Sao Paolo and the hospital fire. Natasha clearly looked uncomfortable.

Natasha looked uncomfortable as Bucky held her hand in comfort and him, Steve and Clint glared at Loki who raised his hands in surrender.

Barton had told him everything.

"Sorry." Clint said.

"It wasn't your fault." Natasha told him.

Loki said her ledger was gushing red and she thought saving a man no more virtuous than herself would change anything. It was pathetic and the basest sentimentality of a child at prayer. Tony and Bruce were shown working in the lab as Hill and Fury were shown having detected the virus.

"And busted." Hope said and everyone chuckled in spite of the tense mood.

Steve was shown opening a box where he saw weapons and didn't look pleased while Loki said how she lied and killed in the service of liars and killers. She pretended to be separate and have her own code to block out the horrors but they were a part of her and would never go away. Loki then slammed his fist on the glass as Natasha backed off.

Everyone jumped at that.

Loki said he would make Barton kill her slowly, intimately, in every way he knew she feared and when he woke up and screamed at his handiwork, he would split his skull. Natasha looked away in horror.

"You bastard!" Bucky said as he almost shot out of his couch at Loki but Steve, Sam and Natasha restrained him as Clint was restrained by Thor.

Loki looked at the screen with wide eyes, shocked at himself. While he wasn't the most virtuous person, this was the stone. Thor put a hand on his shoulder.

"If you keep this up, I will send you out." Benjamin said and they stopped. Peter and Aunt May were both awed at how Benjamin actually could be a bit authoritative if he wanted.

Loki called Natasha a mewling quim and said this was his bargain. Natasha called him a monster and he said she had brought the monster. Natasha looked up and turned to him, realizing his play was Banner. Loki looked confused as Natasha told Fury on comms that Loki planned to unleash the Hulk so Banner should be kept in the lab and she was on her way. She asked to send Thor as well. She then turned to Loki and sarcastically thanked him for his cooperation before walking off.

"She got you there, didn't she?" Scott teased Loki.

"Well done, Agent Romanoff." Loki said.

"I do not think many have outwitted you before, Prince Loki." T'Challa agreed.

Tony and Bruce were in the lab as Fury arrived and said they were supposed to be locating the Teserract. Bruce said the model was locked and when they got a hit, they would get the location within half a mile. The search bar was at 46% currently. Tony then asked Fury about Phase 2 as Steve dropped a prototype weapon on the table and said Phase 2 was SHIELD using the Teserract to build weapons.

"Busted." Scott said this time to lighten the mood.

"Now we know why I wasn't called earlier." Tony said.

Fury tried to explain but Tony turned the screen towards and asked him about it again. Steve said the world hadn't changed one bit in a disappointed tone.

"Why exactly were you against weapons though?" Hill asked.

"Because of the Teserract." Steve said, "It had caused a lot of damage. I just found anyone using it to be a recipe for destruction."

"You weren't wrong." Fury said.

Thor and Natasha then arrived as Natasha asked Bruce to remove himself from this environment and he said he was pretty well removed in Kolkata. Natasha said Loki was manipulating him and Bruce said they were doing the same thing. Natasha said he hadn't come because she had bat her eyelashes at him and he said he wouldn't leave because she had suddenly gotten a little twitchy. He asked why SHIELD was using the Teserract to build weapons of mass destruction. Fury pointed at Thor and said because of him.

"And here it comes." Thor said.

Thor was confused as Fury said, "Last year earth had a visitor from another planet who had a grudge match that levelled a small town. We learned that not only are we not alone, but we are hopelessly, hilariously out gunned."

"And the Avengers Initiative was being shut down." Fury said.

Thor said his people only wanted peace with their planet as Fury said they weren't the only people out there and not the only threat. Fury walked around and said, "The world's filling up with people who can't be matched, they can't be controlled."

"And now the entire universe." Daisy said.

Thor said SHIELD's work with the Teserract was what drew Loki and his allies to it and was a signal to all the worlds that Earth was ready for a higher form of war. Steve was shocked as Fury said their hand was forced and Tony joked how a nuclear deterrent calmed everything down.

"It makes things worse." Wanda said sadly.

Fury reminded him of how he made his fortune as Steve said if he still did it, he would be neck deep but then Stark asked how it was suddenly about him and Steve dryly said how everything was. Thor said he thought humans were more evolved than this as Fury asked if they had gone to his planet to blow stuff up. Thor said they treated their champions with mistrust as Natasha said SHIELD monitored potential threats. There was a close up on the Scepter.

"It's affecting all of you, right?" Peter asked with wide eyes.

"Yes. It was warping us in that moment." Steve said.

At that moment, Tony felt great sympathy for Wanda, realizing that being experimented on by the Mind Stone for a year would have left her unstable too.

A small Quinjet flew up to the Helicarrier and communicated with the operator, saying they were arms and ammunition. They were actually the rogue agents led by Barton.

"Shit!" Sam said.

"Took the word right out of my mouth." Rhodes said.

"You speak of control yet you court chaos." Thor said. "It's his M.O., isn't it?" Banner asked, "I mean, what are we? A team? No, no, no. We're a chemical mixture that makes chaos. We're...we're a time-bomb." Fury asked him to step away as Tony casually put a hand on Steve's shoulder and asked why he shouldn't let off some steam as Steve forced his hand and asked him to back off. Tony asked him to make him. "Yeah, big man in a suit of armor." Steve mocked, "Take that off, what are you?" "Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist." Tony smirked smugly. Natasha had a bit of an impressed face.

"Hero." Steve added and everyone felt the tension in the room ease.

"I know guys with none of that worth ten of you." Steve said to Tony, "I've seen the footage. The only thing you really fight for is yourself. You're not the guy to make the sacrifice play, to lay down on a wire and let the other guy crawl over you." "I think I would just cut the wire", Tony said casually. "Always a way out." Steve said with a smirk, "You know, you may not be a threat, but you better stop pretending to be a hero." "A hero, like you?" Tony asked rhetorically, "You're a laboratory experiment, Rogers. Everything special about you came out of a bottle."

"Nope. Out of you." Tony said and the tension eased more.

"Well, you proved me wrong." Steve said, "You made the sacrifice play."

"When will you cut the wire though?" Tony asked jokingly and everyone chuckled.

"He will." Logan said, "Hasn't happened to you yet, but it will. And you'll love it."

Everyone wondered what that was about, though now they really wanted to see it, Steve included.

Steve asked Tony to put on the suit and they would go a few rounds as Thor laughed, "You people are so petty, and tiny." Barton aimed at the Helicarrier from outside and fired as the arrow got stuck.

"Damn!" Bobbi said.

Fury asked Romanoff to escort Banner to his cell but Banner said they couldn't kill him. Everyone stared at him in horror as he said, "I know, I tried. I got low, I didn't see an end, so I put a bullet in my mouth and the other guy spit it out."

"More like stopped you from putting it in your mouth." Tony reminded Bruce who shrugged.

Bruce continued, "So I moved on, I focused on helping other people. I was good until you dragged me back into this freak show, and put everyone here at risk. You wanna know my secret, Agent Romanoff? You wanna know how I stay calm?" Fury had a hand on his gun as Steve pointed at his hand and said he was holding the Scepter. Banner realized it too and put it down quickly, saying how they wouldn't get to see his party trick after all while the tracking machine beeped.

"Well, that thing was something." Banner said about the Scepter.

"Yes. It does seem like it is trying to communicate with me sometimes." Vision said about the Mind Stone.

Thor asked if the Teserract was found and Tony said he could get there fastest when Thor said it belonged to Asgard and no human was a match for it. Steve grabbed Tony's shoulder and said he wasn't going alone and Tony dared him as Steve asked him to put on the suit again. Banner's eyes widened as he looked at the screen and then there was an explosion.

"Oh boy!" A shocked Peter said.

"Now that was horrible." Pepper said.

"And it gets worse." Clint said, "Unfortunately."

Daisy and Bobbi looked tense as they prepared themselves for what they were about to see.

Chapter Text

"This is not good at all." Sam said.

"Nope." Rhodes said.

"It gets worse." Tony told them.

Steve and Tony were thrown on one side as Natasha and Bruce fell down. Steve helped Tony up and asked him to put on the suit to which he agreed.

"And now I'm listening." Tony said dryly.

All the agents were running around to defend themselves. Fury got up and called Hill via earpiece who said Number 3 engine was down but a technical worker said it was impossible to make repairs in the air. Hill realized they would go down if they lose another engine and someone needed to patch it outside. Fury called out to Stark who said he was on it.

"You're pretty good at commanding." An impressed Steve said.

"But you're better." Fury told him.

Fury then asked Coulson to initiate lockdown and get to the armory.

Daisy and Bobbi winced, knowing what was coming and Thor and Loki winced too.

Fury then called out to Romanoff whose leg was trapped under a piece of debris. She said she was all right but then saw Bruce struggling with himself and was horrified as that only meant one thing.

"No we're not okay." Natasha said to her on-screen self.

"Because of me." Bruce sighed.

"Don't blame yourself." Thor told him.

Clint and the other rogue agents entered the Helicarrier as Clint gave them all their orders and asked some of them to come with him.

"Damn!" Clint said in shock.

Tony asked Steve to go to Engine 3 where he would meet him and pressed a button, opening a door. The Iron Man suit was inside. He pressed another button and the suit was activated.

"Now that will be awesome." Peter cheered.

Natasha urged Bruce to fight it as two technicians arrived but she gestured them to run off as Bruce continued painfully tearing through his clothes. She swore on her life to get him out of this. "Your life?" A loud guttural voice interrupted her.

"The Hulk is coming." T'Challa said as everyone watched with wide eyes.

Natasha looked in horror as a partially transformed Bruce looked at her and then continued transforming as Natasha managed to free her leg and Bruce completely transformed into Hulk. Natasha looked at him, jaw agape, before he charged at her with a roar. She leapt on some stairs before Hulk smashed them to bits. She started running to avoid him.

"This is the first time I have seen you afraid in any of these recordings." Loki told Natasha.

Loki heard the Hulk's enraged roar and lifting his head up, gave a deeply disturbing smirk.

"All thanks to you, moron." Natasha said dryly.

Fury commanded the technician to put the sun on the left and take them over the water as they would be trapped if they lost one more turbine.

"This does not appear well for anyone present." Vision said.

Steve ripped open a door as 3 agents staggered out and he told Stark he was there. Stark arrived and scanned the area with Jarvis and said he needed to get the cooling system back online and then access the rotors to dislodge the debris. He asked Steve to get to the engine control panel and tell him which relays were at overload position.

"Didn't work out very well, huh!" Benjamin joked and everyone chuckled.

Steve leapt and flipping on a kind of lever reached the other side. He took out the control panel as Tony asked him what it looked like and he said it seemed to run on some form of electricity, to which Tony dryly said he wasn't wrong.

Everyone laughed at that.

"What?" Steve said, "I wasn't a science expert. Not even in the 40's."

"Yeah. You were the Star Spangled Man With A Plan." Bucky joked and everyone laughed as Steve glared at Bucky.

Natasha discreetly moved around, gun raised. Suddenly, Hulk emerged and roared.

Everyone jumped at that.

"Now that was scary." Hill said.

"Eh. Seen worse." Logan told her.

Natasha shot the pipe above him, staggering him. He recovered and rushed her. She ran off in a narrow space to save her life and Hulk ran after her, smashing everything in his way. With a light smack of his hand, Natasha flying and she crashed into a crate.

"Doesn't look good." Bucky said as him and Natasha gripped hands.

Natasha managed to sit up and had her back to the crate. Hulk was about to hit her when a blur smashed Hulk through the wall.

"Okay, who was that?" Wanda asked as the only person she had seen run in a blur so far was her deceased brother.

Hulk and Thor crashed through the wall, splintering it into bits as the workers nearby watched.

"It was you?" A shocked Wanda asked.

"Yes, little witch." Thor said.

"Why don't you use that much of speed?" Tony asked.

"Because of my Asgardian physiology, my speed generates a lot of energy." Thor said.

"So using it too much on Earth can cause destruction around me just due to the force I generate." Odinson said.

"Wow! Didn't know that." Storm said.

"Well, I'm guessing you're the second fastest person now after my brother." Wanda said, "Sorry Cap. You got pushed to a third."

"I can live with that." Steve sighed.

"Of course you can. You're Captain America. The epitome of humility." Scott said and everyone chuckled.

The two slowly rose up, staring each other down while the workers ran off for their lives. The two Titans stood facing each other, ready to fight.

"So it begins." Thor said.

"Yup." Bruce agreed.

"Battle of the Titans." Loki said.

"Beginning of a friendly rivalry." Odinson said.

Hulk roared and attacked with a punch which Thor backed to avoid before ducking to avoid a smack. He then punched the indestructible monster hard, staggering him back. Hulk raised his fist and brought it down on the Prince of Asgard. Thor blocked with one hand but found his opponent's strength humongous even for his standards so he used his other hand too, trying to push the Hulk's hand back. Unfortunately for him, with all his strength, he only barely managed to hold Hulk's hand back.

"Damn! You two are strong enough to actually give each other competition." Hope commented.

Thor tried to reason with Banner, telling him they were not enemies and to think. What Hulk did next almost shocked Thor more than Loki's betrayal. He used the hand to lift Thor up and punched him hard, crashing him through some crates.

"Ouch!" Aunt May said.

"Now that looked pretty bad." Bobbi said.

"The angrier the Hulk gets, the stronger he gets." Bruce said.

Iron Man kicked some debris away before looking at the conditions of everything around him. Steve said relays were intact and Tony said even if he cleared the rotors, the thing won't re-engage without a jump so he needed to get in there and push. Steve said Tony would get shredded if the thing got up to speed.

"So you know a little bit after all." Natasha joked.

"I'm not a scientist but I'm not stupid." Steve told her.

Tony asked him to reverse polarity long enough for him to engage mac lever but Steve asked him to speak in simpler terms and Tony asked him to stand by a red lever that would slow the rotors down. Steve leapt to It and waited.

"Well, not stupid but not a scientist either." Steve said.

Thor crashed through some more crates. As he got up, he felt some blood oozing out of his nose. Putting his finger there, he looked at his blood and smiled. It had been a long time since a foe had made him bleed on the battlefield. He was going to enjoy this.

"Warrior culture eh!" Daisy asked.

"Yes." Thor said, "While I have tempered myself, who doesn't love a good fight?"

"I sure do." Odinson said.

"Sif definitely liked one." Daisy said.

"Well, she is the Goddess of War." Loki reminded her.

Thor raised his hand as Hulk rushed him. Just when Hulk was near, Mjolnir crashed through some crates, finding its way to its owner's hand. Thor smashed Hulk hard on the jaw, throwing him on a plane on the process which broke on impact.

"Ouch!" Peter said.

"Even you are no match for Mjolnir." Thor said.

"But I can get stronger." Bruce said.

"You're assuming I'll let you fight long enough to get stronger." Odinson said.

Hulk then roared angrily and broke a wing of the plane before throwing it on the charging Thor. Thor slid on his knees to avoid it. The wing shattered a car behind him. Thor got up and threw Mjolnir on Hulk. Hulk tried to catch it but it flew with him. The two fell on the ground. Hulk tried to lift it but couldn't as the hammer deemed him unworthy. His feet sank into the ground as he tried to lift the hammer.

"Wow!" Clint said as he looked at with an agape jaw, "So there is an enchantment after all."

"You of all people should know." Thor said, "You saw me failing to lift it when I was unworthy."

"Good point." Clint shrugged.

"If Hulk couldn't lift it, I have no chance." Bruce sighed.

"And now that hammer is broken." Fury said.

"You have no idea what's possible." Loki echoed Hela's words.

The distraction was all Thor needed to kick him on the face with a leap, staggering him back again. Before Hulk could react, Thor picked up Mjolnir and leapt on Hulk's back, holding him in a chokehold with Mjolnir as Hulk staggered violently.

"Clash of the Titans." Rhodes said with wide eyes.

Fury told Hill he needed full evac but as she walked, a grenade landed in front of her. She tried to shout out a warning but it exploded, sending her and other agents back.

"This sucks." Sam said.

"When does it not?" Bobbi asked sarcastically.

"The answer to that is- never!" Logan said.

"I know right!" Storm said.

Two agents snuck in, guns raised. Fury grabbed one from behind and threw him down before shooting the other down. He then shot the one he had thrown down while Hill shot down another agent who was aiming at Fury from behind.

"Underrated badass." Bucky said to Hill.

"Thanks." Hill said.

"Well, I always appreciate fellow Canadians." Logan said dryly and everyone chuckled.

Coulson walked towards a door as the announcement echoed and he completed his retinal scan. Hulk smashed Thor and himself onto an upper level. Before Thor could get up, Hulk lifted him and threw him off.

"Looking bad for you." Bobbi said.

"I let him hit me." Thor revealed.

"What? Why?" Natasha asked.

"I figured if he was busy hitting me, he wouldn't have time to damage anything else or kill anyone." Odinson said and everyone felt their respect for him go up, realizing why he was worthy of Mjolnir.

"Well, sorry about that." Bruce said to Thor.

"Don't blame yourself." Natasha told him again.

An agent informed Fury that Hulk and Thor were on research level 4 as Hill said Hulk would tear the place down and Fury commanded to get his attention. Hill asked an agent to distract Hulk and not get too close.

"Distance doesn't matter unfortunately." Bruce sighed.

The agent flew to where Thor and Hulk were fighting and as Hulk threw Thor off, he fired, shattering the glass. Hulk turned to him angrily as he said the target was angry.

Everyone chuckled in spite of the tense situation.

Thor slid away to avoid the bullets.

"Why're you avoiding the bullets?" Bobbi asked, "I'm pretty sure you're bullet-proof."

"Doesn't meant they are not annoying." Thor pointed out.

Hulk leapt on the jet and started smashing it. The agent tried to fly off with his jetpack but Hulk grabbed him and threw him off. He managed to produce a parachute and used it to safely make his way to the ground.

"Lucky day for you, bub." Logan said to the agent.

As Hulk continued smashing the jet, it exploded, sending him flying off.

"On my way to meet the security guard." Bruce said.

Iron Man used his beam to weaken a piece of debris lodged between the rotors before jumping on it, sending it down. Steve noticed some agents arriving below them. One of them suddenly threw a grenade and Steve leapt to the other side to avoid.

"Oh my God!" Pepper said in shock.

Steve then leapt down and punched an agent down before kicking the other away and throwing another out. Another man fired at him but Steve threw a piece of debris at him and he jumped away to avoid. Steve then leapt up and picking up a gun, exchanged gunfire with the agent.

"Adjusting to modern weaponry?" Natasha asked.

"Yup." Steve said.

"And do you like it?" T'Challa asked.

"Yup." Steve said again.

Fury and the others engaged in a gunfight with the controlled agents before Clint fired an arrow which exploded, sending some agents down. Clint fired another arrow which made the computers malfunction. Fury fired at him but he walked off. The Helicarrier started toppling.

"Sorry." Clint said.

"I think I should be the one to say that." Loki said.

Sitwell told Fury they had lost engine one and Barton had taken out their systems. Fury realized he was headed for the detention lab and asked if anybody copied. "This is Agent Romanoff." Natasha responded, finally recovering from what she had just experienced, "I copy." She made her way to her destination.

"Now that's my agent." Bucky said and both of them smiled at each other as everyone felt the sexual tension between them and seemed uncomfortable.

"Guys, get a room." Scott said and everyone chuckled.

"They will, after this recording." Hope said and everyone laughed and Natasha and Bucky looked at the screen.

Fury told Tony they were losing altitude and he started pushing the rotors as Steve engaged in gunfight with the agent and suddenly slipped and started falling before brandishing a rope to hang on.

"Damn!" Sam said.

"And they consider Barton the least harmful Avenger." Fury said dryly and everyone knew not to underestimate Clint Barton.

Thor walked towards Loki's cell, only to see him walking out of it. He leapt at Loki, Mjolnir raised, only to fall into the cell. He got up and looked back to see Loki fading away while the real Loki shut the door. "Are you ever not going to fall for that?" Loki asked mockingly.

"I didn't the last time." Thor said and Loki sighed. Everyone decided they wanted to see that.

Clint was walking through the dark passage when he sensed someone behind him and turning around, fired as Natasha narrowly dodged but Clint kicked her away. He tried to smack her with his bow but she kicked him away and jumping down, used a pillar as a support and kicked him away again. She leapt away to avoid another arrow as he leapt after her.

"When did you get better than me?" Clint asked her.

"Ever since you started focusing only on archery and not on improving your fighting skills." Natasha said dryly.

The two exchanged blows as Natasha grabbed his bowstring and he pinned her to the railing and it her but she punched him away and both of them brandished knives.

"Getting worse and worse." Peter said.

"Yup." Benjamin agreed.

Thor hit the cell with Mjolnir but only the glass cracked while the stability decreased. Loki said they should test Thor's immortality. That moment, the agent with Loki fell down and the two turned to see Coulson arrive, holding a strange weapon. He told Loki to move away and he complied before pointing to the weapon as Coulson said this was what they had made from the Destroyer and even he didn't know what it did as it activated and glowed.

"He did later." Bobbi said as Daisy, Thor, Odinson and Loki watched the scene with wide eyes, knowing what was coming.

The gun was slowly activating when Loki stabbed Coulson from behind. "NOOOOOOOOOOO!"

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Daisy yelled in despair as tears dropped from her eyes on seeing Coulson's first death and Bobbi put an arm around her.

Everyone wondered how close Daisy was to Coulson to react like this.

Thor and Odinson were breathing heavily, feeling some guilt as Loki looked at the screen with wide eyes, ashamed of himself.

Tony looked distressed as Pepper held his hand for comfort and he squeezed back.

Natasha and Clint were saddened by the scene too but they knew that something didn't add up. There was no record of any Daisy Johnson in SHIELD before Coulson's death and he had never mentioned her. They had also noticed the glares Fury was receiving from her and Bobbi. Something was up.

Fury closed his one eye sadly as him and Hill exchanged a look.

Peter, Wanda and Aunt May put their hands over their mouths in horror as Logan and Storm simply watched.

Steve sadly lowered his head as Bucky, Sam and Rhodes did the same as a gesture of respect.

"Should we continue?" Benjamin asked Daisy after 5 minutes and wiping her tears, she nodded. Benjamin pressed the play button again as Loki ran a hand over his head.

The fake Loki disappeared in front of Coulson while the real Loki pulled the scepter out of Coulson's back. Coulson fell down, panting heavily due to his wound while Loki walked towards the controls. As Thor glared at him, Loki pressed the button and the cell fell down, with Thor in it.

"Shit!" Sam said.

Natasha blocked Clint's blow and punched him before blocking another one and twisted his arm before he tried to slice her with a knife but she avoided and grabbed his hand and he grabbed her hair before she bit him and flipped him down and punched him, making his head hit the railing. With a sigh, Clint looked up. Natasha noticed his eyes weren't blue any longer but their natural color. As his eyes flashed with recognition, Clint said in confusion, "Natasha...?" That moment, Natasha punched him out.

"Why did you do that?" Clint asked.

"Better safe than sorry." Natasha said and Fury smiled with pride.

The cell was falling on the ground at full speed, straight into the steel trap. Thor was thrown around inside it, trying to gain momentum. Finally, he put his feet on one side and leapt out, breaking the cell as it crashed into the trap while Thor fell face first on the ground and continued sliding.

"Damn!" Rhodes said.

"So you got out of a containment unit made for me." Bruce said, impressed.

"That is why I am mighty!" Thor smirked.

Loki was walking away when Coulson said he would lose because even though the heroes were scattered and the floating fortress fell from the sky, Loki lacked conviction. Before he could retort, the Destroyer gun blasted Loki and sent him flying through the wall. Loki staggered up as Coulson said, "So that's what it does."

Everyone clapped happily at the scene as Loki just sighed.

Tony roared and using all his strength, pushed the rotors hard, finally making them work and sustain the Helicarrier in the air. He asked Cap for a lever as he climbed back up. Tony got trapped between the rotors.

"Oh my God!" Pepper said with wide eyes as her and Tony squeezed each other's hands.

"I am here, honey." Tony assured her.

Steve managed to climb up and pulled the lever slowing the rotors down long enough for Tony to get out.

"Phew!" Peter said.

As another agent arrived to fire at Steve, Tony flew at him at full speed and knocked him out before lying next to him as his suit was low on power. Fury saw Coulson lying on the ground. He took the Destroyer gun away and knelt next to him as Coulson apologized.

"You don't need to." Fury said.

Fury asked him to stay awake but he said he was clocking out. "Not an option", Fury said. "It's okay, boss." Coulson assured him, "This was never gonna work if they didn't have something to..." Coulson stared at Fury with a glassy look without seeing. He was gone. Fury winced at the sight, a rare case of him showing emotion. One of his best agents and oldest friends…. gone!

Daisy put a hand to her mouth as everyone looked saddened and Bobbi comforted Daisy who had tears in her eyes.

Loki didn't say a word, just putting his head in his hands.

Fury got up as the medics arrived to take the body away. Pressing his comms, he broke the news, "Agent Coulson is down."

"Unfortunately." Tony said in a sad voice.

Hill, Natasha, Steve and Tony all heard the announcement and seemed sad. Later- Steve and Tony sat around a table as Fury paced around and Hill stood in a corner. "These were in Phil Coulson's jacket." Fury said as he held Phil's 'Captain America' trading cards in his hands, "Guess he never did get you to sign them." He threw them on the table in front of Steve and Tony as Hill watched from the corner. They were covered in blood.

"Should have signed them." Steve sighed sadly.

Logan glared at Fury with a snarl for his manipulation and everyone wondered what that was about.

Steve picked up one card which showed him giving a salute and looked at it with guilt-filled eyes. Fury said they were dead in the air and the communications were down. Tony was looking down to hide his grief. "Lost my one good eye." Fury said as he looked up with a sad smile, "Maybe I had that coming." He then admitted they were using the Teserract to build an arsenal of weapons but he didn't put all his chips on his number because he was playing something even riskier.

"Something not approved but worked like a miracle." Tony said.

Looking up to face everyone, Fury said, "There was an idea." Pointing at Stark, he said, "Stark knows this. It's called The Avengers Initiative." Turning to Steve, Fury explained, "The idea was to bring together a group of remarkable people, see if they could become something more. See if they could work together when we needed them to, to fight the battles that we never could." He then looked at Tony, whose back was turned to him, "Phil Coulson died still believing in that idea, in heroes." Tony immediately got off his seat and walked away. "Well." Fury said with a sigh, "It's an old fashioned notion."

"And worked like a charm." Hill said.

Thor slowly walked towards where Mjolnir was lying in the grassy field. He raised his hand, trying to call it to him but it didn't come. Thor realized his grief and anger over Coulson's death had temporarily severed his link with Mjolnir. Pressing his fist, he started calming himself down.

"Why can't you call it?" Peter asked.

"My grief and anger over Coulson's death temporarily severed my link to it." Thor explained.

"You fell out of the sky." Bruce groaned as he managed to sit up. He looked at himself and realized he was naked and blackened. He looked around and saw the building was smashed really badly. He looked up to see a guard. Bruce asked if he had hurt anybody and the guard said there was no one around to get hurt though he had scared the hell out of some pigeons.

"That is better." Aunt May sighed.

"Yup." Bruce agreed.

Bruce said he was lucky as the guard said it was good aim and he was awake when he fell. The guard had seen him falling when he was big and green and buck ass nude.

Everyone chuckled a little at that.

The guard tossed Bruce some clothes and asked if he was an alien from outer space but Bruce said he wasn't and the guard realized he had a condition.

"I do." Bruce said.

"And the aliens are coming." Tony said.

A strapped Clint shook his head as Natasha said he would be all right and he realized he needed to flush Loki out. Clint asked if she ever had someone take her brain and play and she said she had.

Bucky and Natasha held each other's hand tightly, having gone through the same thing.

Natasha unstrapped Clint and told she had hit him hard on the head to cause cognitive recalibration and he thanked her before asking how many agents he had killed and she told him not to blame himself and that this was Loki, monsters and magic which they hadn't been trained for.

"Nice points." Hill agreed.

Clint didn't know where Loki had gone off unfortunately but knew he was going to make his play soon that very day. Natasha said they needed to stop him, they being whoever's left. "Well, if I put an arrow in Loki's eye socket, I'd sleep better I suppose." Clint said.

"Now that is Clint!" Sam said.

"And you almost did it." Loki said.

Clint asked Natasha why she wanted to wade into a war as she was a spy, not a soldier. He asked what Loki had done to her and she said, "I got red in my ledger, I'd like to wipe it out."

Everyone felt great sympathy for Natasha.

Steve asked Tony if Coulson was married as Tony remembered the cellist. Steve apologized, saying he seemed like a good man as Tony called him an idiot.

"Hey!" Daisy said angrily as she glared at Tony, "He just lost his life and you're going to call him an idiot?"

"I'm sorry." Tony apologized, "I shouldn't have said that."

"He cannot process his emotions properly." Pepper told Daisy.

"I was- I was angry at him for dying." Tony said sadly and Daisy's expression softened, "I realized later how wrong that was."

Steve asked the reason and Tony said for taking on Loki alone. Steve said he was doing his job and Tony said he was out of his league and should have waited. Steve said sometimes there wasn't a way out and asked if this was the first time he had lost a soldier. Tony snapped they were soldiers and he wouldn't march to Fury's fife.

"It wasn't the first time." Steve sighed and Tony nodded.

Steve said he wasn't either because he had the same blood on his hands as Loki.

Fury winced, knowing it wasn't entirely false.

Steve said they needed to put it behind them and get the job done. Loki needed a power source and they could put together a list. Tony said Loki had made it personal and hit them where they live. He wanted to beat them with an audience. Steve agreed, remembering the act at Stuttgart as Tony said this was previews and now they were in for the opening night and Loki was a full-tail diva.

"I'm flattered." Loki said.

Doing gestures with his hands, Tony said, "He wants flowers, he wants parades, he wants a monument built to the skies with his name plastered." He stopped as Steve gave him a knowing look. "Son of a bitch", he muttered as he walked off.

"Only I can have that." Tony said and everyone chuckled.

Erik Selvig was working on the machine that would open the portal- right on top of Stark Industries.

"Damn!" Rhodes said.

Bruce put on his shirt as the guard asked if he was a big guy who got little or a little guy who got large.

"I think that would be me." Scott said and everyone chuckled.

Bruce said he didn't know at this point and needed to get to New York before shaking his head as the guard said his mind was confused and his body was all over the place.

"He isn't wrong." Bruce said.

"I know where I could do the most good, but it's where I can do the most harm." Bruce admitted to the guard. "Well, that's no different than anybody else." The guard said.

"Wise guy." Steve said.

The guard said he was stuck in New Jersey so Bruce could take his motorcycle. Bruce said he didn't know which way to. The guard took off his cap and said Bruce's mind was already made up and the rest of him would follow as he tossed him the keys.

"He was a nice guy." Bruce said.

Steve arrived at Clint's and Natasha's room and said it was time to go and asked if she could fly one of those jets.

"Didn't you see me flying one earlier?" Natasha asked.

"Right." Steve sighed, "Stupid question." [1]

Clint walked up to them and wiping his face, said he could. Steve asked if he had a suit. Clint nodded so Steve told him to suit up.

"And Hawkeye's in." Clint smirked.

Thor finally picked up Mjolnir and looked at it. Steve armed himself with his shield. Clint strapped his quiver to his back. Natasha activated her gauntlets. Tony worked on the Iron Man helmet and finally, the eyes glowed again. Thor raised Mjolnir and lightning struck it as his clothes started transforming into his battle armor while wind blew around him. Tony was in his armor, all decked out and started flying. Steve, Natasha and Clint walked towards a Quinjet, all suited up.

"Now that was awesome!" Peter cheered.

"I wasn't in it." Bruce said.

"You get something better later." Odinson said.

They reached the Quinjet. "You guys aren't authorized to be in here." The agent said, trying to stop them. Steve said casually, "Son, just don't."

"Badass Cap." Scott cheered.

Fury was looking at the cards as Hill walked up next to him and said the cards had been in Coulson's locker, not in his jacket.

"What?" Steve said as everyone turned to Fury angrily.

"They were in the locker?" Natasha asked.

"You son of a bitch!" Tony shot out.

"Why did you lie?" Thor asked.

"That's what you do, don't you?" Clint asked.

"You needed the push." Fury said, "You were dysfunctional."

"So you will lie to get us to be functional?" Bruce asked.

"Guys, I know you don't trust him right now." Benjamin said, "And I understand why. But understand why he did it too. And we are here to move past everything."

Everyone sighed and turned back to the screen.

"This isn't over." Tony said.

"Nope. It has just begun, bub." Logan said, knowing the secrets would be out after this recording.

"They needed the push." Fury said. That was when a Quinjet flew off as an unauthorized departure was announced. Fury realized they had found Loki and asked to get their communications back up as he wanted his eye on everything and Hill complied.

"So it begins." Steve said.

"So it begins indeed." Odinson agreed.

Chapter Text

"That portal was a pain in the ass." Tony said.

"No kidding." Natasha agreed.

Iron Man flew towards his tower at full speed as Jarvis told him the device was self-sustaining. Tony asked Selvig to shut it down but he ranted like a madman, saying it wanted to show them a new universe.

"You really did something to him." Thor said.

"Yup. The Mind Stone can make people sound delusional." Loki said.

Tony fired a beam but a barrier protected the device and he was sent flying back as Selvig was knocked out. Jarvis said the barrier was pure energy and unreachable so Tony looked down at Loki and switched to Plan B. Jarvis said the Mark VII wasn't ready for deployment so Tony told him to skip the spinning rims as they were out of time.

"I so did not enjoy Plan B." Loki said.

"It's me improvising after all." Tony said and there were chuckles.

Tony descended and had the armor removed from him as him and Loki marched towards each other and Loki asked if Tony was going to appeal to his humanity. Tony casually said he was planning to threaten as Loki said he should have left his armor on for that. Tony walked towards his little bar and said it had seen a bit of mileage and pointing at Loki, told him he had the blue stick of destiny.

"So now I am the machine of destiny?" Vision asked, puzzled.

"It's a metaphor, Viz." Wanda told him.

Tony friendlily offered a drink as Loki said stalling him won't change anything. Tony corrected that he was threatening and said he was having a drink as he got himself one.

"You're pretty good." Steve told Tony.

"Thanks Cap." Tony said.

"Yeah, your battle of wits delayed him a little." Natasha agreed.

"That's Mr. Stark for you." Benjamin said.

Loki walked towards the window and said the Chitauri were coming and nothing would change that. He asked what he had to fear and Tony said, "The Avengers."

"The Earth's Mightiest Heroes." Peter cheered happily.

"Protector of this world." Aunt May agreed.

Tony poured himself a drink and said, "It's what we call ourselves, sort of like a team. Earth's Mightiest Heroes type of thing." Loki chuckled saying how he had met them and Tony sad it took them a while to get any traction.

"Not wrong there." Fury said.

"You were pretty dysfunctional." Hill agreed.

"Really, now I wonder, when were we ever not dysfunctional?" Clint asked.

"I'd say during our attack on Hydra, we were pretty functional." Banner said.

"And before we were split." Sam said.

"Those would be the only times." Wanda said.

Tony then did a head count- Loki's brother who was the God of Thunder. Loki looked away as Tony put a bracelet on his wrist.

"Now that was a brilliant idea." Bobbi said.

"Yup." Tony said, "It's what I do."

Tony sipped his drink and counted the others- a super soldier who was a living legend and kind of lived up to the legend, a man with breath-taking anger management issues, a couple of master assassins and Loki had managed to piss of every single one of them.

"Shows how smart you were." Odinson said, "Or not."

"Not the smartest idea from me." Loki agreed.

Loki arrogantly said that was the plan and Tony told him it wasn't a great plan. "When they come, and they will, they'll come for you." Tony told him. "I have an army." Loki said. "We have a Hulk." Tony countered.

"Burn!" Scott clapped.

"That can be a meme." Hope said.

"Sounds right." Tony said, "Dany: I have dragons. Cersei: I have the Mountain. Jon Snow: I have Lyanna Mormont."

Everyone laughed at Tony's joke.

"Now that was a great one." Pepper said.

"Aragorn: I have the dead army." Tony continued, "Jack Sparrow: I have a jar of dirt."

At this point, everyone was rolling in laughter.

"Never lose your sense of humor, bub." Logan told him.

A confused Loki said he had thought Hulk had wandered off as Tony said he was missing the point. "There's no throne, there is no version of this, where you come out on top. Maybe your army comes and maybe it's too much for us, but it's all on you." Tony said before declaring, "Because if we can't protect the Earth, you can be damn well sure we'll avenge it."

Everyone applauded at Tony's stand against Loki and Tony felt flattered.

"Preach." Rhodes said.

Tony took a sip of his drink as Loki marched towards him and touched his chest with the Scepter but nothing happened due to his Arc Reactor in the way. Loki tried again but the result was the same.

"That thing is pretty useful." Sam said.

"And you had removed." Pepper said.

"Loki doesn't have the stick anymore." Tony shrugged.

Loki was shocked as Tony mocked about performance issues when he was lifted up by the throat and thrown to the floor. Tony got up, telling Jarvis to be prepared. Loki lifted him up by the throat again and said they would all fall before him as Tony told Jarvis to deploy. Loki threw him off. He crashed through his window and to the street below. As Loki watched his descent, he heard something and turning around, narrowly avoided the flying suit. As Tony fell down, the suit flew after him and detecting his bracelet, put itself on him and just when he was near the ground, he was fully armored.

Everyone applauded and cheered again at Tony.

"Already embarrassing me." Loki sighed.

Activating his thrusters, Tony flew up and was face to face with Loki. "And there's one other person you pissed off!" As Loki raised the scepter to strike, Tony fired a repulsor, throwing him back, "His name is Phil."

"Yes!" Daisy cheered happily at Tony's declaration.

"You deserved that for Coulson." Bobbi told Loki.

That moment, a blue light shot up into the sky from the device. As Tony looked up, a portal opened in the sky. On the other side of it was space. Out from it came dozens of flying vehicles. Flying them were reptilian-like creatures which looked like they were a mix between organic human tissue and machine. The Chitauri! "Right." Tony muttered in horror, "Army."

"They came in huge droves." Storm said, "That's what made them so hard to beat."

"Yup." Bucky agreed as he looked at the screen.

As Tony flew up, one of them fired at him but he dodged and destroyed the offender with a repulsor. He tried to fire again but one of the transports smacked him on the head, staggering him. Spinning around to dodge, he fired mini-missiles from his shoulders, destroying more of them. But even Iron Man couldn't hold back an entire army of aliens all by himself. Many of them flew past him and towards the streets. The people were standing still in horror and shock, jaws agape. The Chitauri then started rapidly firing from their transports and the people ran off to protect themselves as their vehicles were destroyed. They also fired at the café outside which Steve had been sitting earlier as all the customers and waitresses, including Beth, ran inside and watched the destruction with horror.

"What a jackass." Logan said to Loki.

"Not my best moment." Loki said, "Actually, one of my worst. No excuse for that."

"Good to see you're learning." Benjamin said to Loki.

Loki stood on top of the tower and looked down with a smirk while his armor and horned helmet appeared. It had begun! The Other appeared to him again as Loki said his time had come. The Other said there was resistance and Loki said it was from few. The Other asked about the rest of the Chitauri and Loki said they would mow everyone down. The Other smirked and the conversation ended.

"Damn!" Sam said, "I'm guessing the guy did do a number on you."

"Yeah. You can say that." Loki said, "But my actions were my own. Not anyone else's. I take full responsibility for everything I have done."

Everyone looked shocked at Loki on hearing that and felt respect for him, realizing that he actually had changed.

"It's a start brother." Thor told Loki.

"It's a start." Odinson agreed.

Thor, fully dressed in his battle armor, descended near Loki and told him to turn off the Teserract or he would destroy it. Loki said there was no stopping it and only the war. Thor reluctantly agreed as Loki leapt at him with a roar and Thor side-stepped to avoid. Thor struck with Mjolnir but Loki blocked with the scepter and swung at Thor who ducked to avoid. Loki fired a blast which Thor deflected before both of them clashed their weapons. The resulting energy wave destroyed the "K" at the end of "STARK" on the building and sent it down.

"My name is really hated." Tony joked and everyone snickered.

On the ground below, police vans pulled up but even the cops were horrified at what they were witnessing. The Quinjet flew towards New York. As Natasha informed Stark they were heading north east. Stark said he was going to lay the Chitauri out for them as they flew after him. Tony flew past where Thor and Loki were battling, dodging some shots and making them hit each other. The Quinjet arrived and Natasha brandished its gun, firing at some Chitauri and killing them. Jarvis told Tony there were more incoming and he decided to keep them occupied. Thor swung at Loki who ducked to avoid before grabbing Thor and slamming him into some glass.

"Why are you losing?" Peter asked Thor.

"I didn't want to hurt Loki." Thor admitted, "So I held back."

Natasha and Clint saw Thor and Loki fighting. Loki slammed Thor down again before the Quinjet fired on him but he fired a blast of his scepter and it hit a wing, damaging the vehicle. Thor roared angrily on seeing that and started pummeling Loki.

"And now you're not holding back." Loki said dryly.

The Quinjet was all haywire before it 3started going down. Steve hung on the top to avoid losing balance as Natasha and Clint tried to safely crash it. They managed to safely crash land it, being SHIELD's best pilots not only in flying, but also crash landing.

"You two are the best SHIELD pilots, aren't you?" Daisy asked.

"Yup." Natasha and Clint said simultaneously.

The backdoor opened as Steve, Natasha and Clint ran out into the center of the city and what they saw horrified them. A giant reptilian creature floated out of the portal and all the people were paralyzed in fear on seeing it. From it jumped Chitauri foot soldiers, scaling on walls, crashing into buildings and killing people with their firearms. Steve asked Stark if he was seeing this and he said he was but still working on believing.

"Don't blame you." Aunt May said.

"Nice use of humor there." Pepper told him.

"Best defense mechanism ever." Rhodes agreed.

Stark asked about Banner and Steve said he hadn't shown up. Stark told them to keep him posted. Flying after the Leviathan, Tony asked Jarvis to find him a soft spot.

"There weren't many." Vision remembered.

Thor asked Loki to look at the destruction around him, asking him if the madness would end with his rule. Loki said it was too late to stop it. Thor said they could- together. Loki looked like he was going to break down but he suddenly smirked and stabbed Thor in the abdomen. Thor grunted and staggered back, dropping Mjolnir. "Sentiment!" Loki smirked. Thor angrily kicked him through some glass and lifting him up, threw him down. Loki rolled away onto a Chitauri transport. Thor ripped out the knife.

"Really, you were very unreasonable during that time." Odinson said.

"I was." Loki agreed, "Not proud of it."

Clint said they had civilians trapped in the roof as Steve saw Loki flying past them on a Chitauri transport with other Chitauri and destroying vehicles. Some Chitauri arrived and fired at the three as Natasha fired back and told Steve to go. Steve asked if Clint could hold them off. "Captain." Clint said as he notched an arrow, "It would be my genuine pleasure." He fired, getting one of them.

"And my job begins." Clint said.

"You're an Avenger now." Wanda told Clint and the two smiled at each other.

Steve ran off, avoiding the shots as he flipped around. Clint and an officer helped some civilians out of a trapped bus. Natasha commented it was like Budapest all over again as she fired at the Chitauri and Clint said they remembered Budapest very differently.

"What happened in Budapest?" Peter asked innocently.

"Don't ask." Clint and Natasha said simultaneously.

Steve leapt around as the cops tried to fire at Chitauri and a young cop said the National Guard would come in an hour. The police captain asked if the National Guard knew what was going on and the cop asked if they did in the first place. Steve leapt in front of some cops on a car and ordered them to save the people through the basement or the subway and keep them off the streets and he needed a perimeter as far back as the 39 th . The police captain asked why they should take orders from him. That moment, some Chitauri destroyed a vehicles and caused a small blast, making the cops back off. Steve blocked one and smacked it away with his shield before turning around and blocking another. He punched it away and turning around smacked one out before using his shield to cut off one's weapon and smacked it away.

"That's why." Bucky said.

The captain now knew why to take his orders and said on comms and ordered his men on comms to do what Steve had said. Steve tossed the Chitauri's gun to the guard, telling him to see what he could do with it. Steve walked off as the cop dropped the hand stuck to the gun in disgust.

"Eww!" Hope said.

"Is it just me or does that cop look like Agent Sousa?" Hill asked, remembering the man's picture.

"You're not wrong." Fury said. [1]

"Who's Sousa?" Steve asked.

"SSR Agent who worked with Agent Carter." Fury told Steve.

Thor flew next to Selvig and checked his pulse. He was still alive. He then moved towards the device and struck it with Mjolnir but the barrier defended it and he was sent flying back.

"Can't smash everything with hammers." Loki joked.

The Chitauri fired at more vehicles as a family cowered in a car as the front of the car caught fire. The kid looked afraid and his mother covered him. The father started the car and drove into an alley. A Chitauri tried to fire at them from above but Steve leapt at it, throwing it down as his shield fell off. He saw the car coming and flipped to avoid as the Chitauri grabbed the car from behind and was dragged along with it. It broke the glass with a punch and tried to grab the kid as the mother tried to protect him and the father drove around when Steve picked up his shield and threw it, knocking the Chitauri out. The car rammed into some trash cans and stopped as Steve ran up to it and threw the unconscious Chitauri off. The grateful kid returned him his shield and he nodded.

"That was so sweet." Aunt May said.

Steve told the family to go underground and they complied. Iron Man fired mini missiles on the Leviathan and it turned to him as some debris fell on an ice cream cart. Tony joked they had got its attention and wondered about Step 2. He flew off as it followed him while Natasha leapt onto a Chitauri and stabbed it on the head before taking its weapon while Clint smacked one down with his bow and stabbed it with an arrow. Natasha ducked to avoid another Chitauri and deflecting its attack, smacked it out. Clint smacked another in the abdomen before knocking it out and shot one behind him without even looking.

"That was awesome!" Peter cheered.

"Sure was." Benjamin agreed.

"Show-off." Tony grumbled.

"You two are great fighters." Steve told them.

"Thanks." They said simultaneously, flattered at the praise.

Clint blocked a Chitauri's weapon with his bow and they were in a deadlock as Natasha stabbed one and Clint freed his bow from the deadlock. Natasha avoided another Chitauri and smacked one down and smacked the previous one too before pressing the weapon to another's neck and shooting it down. One Chitauri slammed Clint to the ground but he stabbed it with a fletchette, staggering it back before slamming it to the ground. Another one kicked him and he fell over a car. Natasha blocked two Chitauri's attacks and in a rotatory motion, fired at them, sending them down. She fired at more as they rushed her. Clint tried to elbow a Chitauri away as it slammed his head on the can and threw him away. He rolled away to avoid being hit as Natasha fought two more but they pushed her to the cab. She turned her head to avoid being hit. She got up and blocked an attack from one of them but it grabbed her by the weapon and tossed her onto a car. She fell on it and groaned in pain.

"Damn!" Sam said.

"For ordinary humans with no powers, you two are holding up very well." T'Challa complimented and they nodded gratefully.

"Yes, you two are doing great." Bucky agreed.

Clint ducked to avoid another Chitauri's swing and then shot it down. Determination flashed in Natasha's eyes and she got back up. Clint slid on the ground with his bow on the front as it smacked two Chitauris on their feet, putting them down. He turned around and shot another one down as Natasha battled one and stabbed it before shooting another and Clint shot one on top of a car. He kicked another one away as Natasha blocked attacks from another and stabbed it. Clint smacked his opponent away and shot it down. Clint and Natasha were then surrounded as the former raised his bow.

"Uh-oh." Bobbi said.

"That is not good." Daisy said in panic.

Suddenly, Steve leapt there and slammed the Chitauri away with his shield. He slammed another away with his shield in a rotatory motion and hit another on the feet, throwing it off. He slammed another down with his shield in a rotatory motion and stood in front of Clint and Natasha protectively. Some more Chitauri rushed them but lightning bolts descended from the sky and killed them all before Thor landed on the ground and used a car for support, still weakened from trying to destroy the Teserract.

"Just in time." Bucky said as everyone sighed in relief.

Steve asked Thor about the situation up there and Thor said the power surrounding the cube was impenetrable. Tony agreed, saying they needed to deal with the Chitauri. Natasha asked how they would do it and Steve said as a team. Thor said he had unfinished business with Loki as Clint jokingly told him to get in line.

Everyone snickered.

Steve told Clint to save it and said Loki was going to keep he fight focused on them and they needed that. He was about to give orders when they heard a bike stopping behind them and turned around to see Bruce getting off with a smirk.

"And Hulk is in." Bruce smirked.

"So this all seems horrible." Bruce said. "I've seen worse." Natasha said. "Sorry." Bruce apologized. "No, we could use a little worse." Natasha clarified. Steve told Stark Banner was there and he said to tell Banner to suit up as he was bringing the party to them. He then flew towards them, the Leviathan on his tail. Natasha commented how that wasn't a party as Bruce marched forwards. "Dr. Banner." Steve said as he turned around, "Now might be a good time for you to get angry." "That's my secret, Captain." Banner smirked, "I'm always angry." As the Leviathan came closer, Bruce turned into Hulk, tearing through his clothes, and punched it hard, toppling it. Tony fired a missile at it. The Leviathan exploded and the debris fell on them, though Steve protected Natasha with his shield while Clint took cover behind a car.

"Yes!" Peter cheered.

The Chitauri roared angrily. Hulk roared back louder as Clint notched an arrow next to him and Thor raised Mjolnir while Natasha loaded her guns. Steve stood with his shield as Tony descended next to him. The Avengers had assembled in a circle.

"Avengers….Assemble." Steve said and everyone started applauding at the spectacle on the screen, awed by its surrealism.

"And that was the day I became an Avengers fangirl." Daisy admitted.

"And there came a day unlike any other, when Earth's Mightiest Heroes found themselves united against a common threat. On that day, they became The Avengers! The Invincible Armored Iron Man. Thor, God of Thunder. Hulk, the strongest superhero there is. Captain America, the First Avenger. Black Widow, a woman trusted by some and feared by most. And Hawkeye, the best marksman in the world." Fury announced and everyone clapped again, considering how awesome and surreal it sounded coming from him.

Loki saw the spectacle below and commanded, "Send the rest." Two more Leviathans slowly came out of the portal along with more Chitauri on transports. Natasha said attracted everyone's attention to them as Stark asked Steve for their orders.

"Now I finally listen." Tony said.

Steve started commanding everyone, saying they had to contain the Chitauri until they could close the portals. Turning to Clint, he said he wanted him on the roof to call out patterns and strays. Turning to Stark, he told him if anything got more than three blocks out, he could turn it back or turn it to ash. Clint asked for a lift and Stark flew him off, calling him Legolas.

"Thanks." Barton said grudgingly, flattered to be compared to the best fictional archer.

Steve then turned to Thor and asked him to bottleneck the portal and light the bastards up with his lightning. Thor twirled Mjolnir and flew up. Steve then told Natasha the two of them would keep the fighting on the ground. "And Hulk." The indestructible green monster turned to the Captain. Steve raised a finger, "Smash!"

"Best Captain ever!" Daisy cheered as Steve gave a flattered smile.

Hulk grinned and leapt into the air onto a building, smashing the Chitauri hanging on it. Grabbing it, he leapt onto the opposite building, smashing another one and throwing them both down before grabbing a third one and leaping again. He threw that one into another building and it crashed through several floors while Hulk leapt into the air and smashed a flying Chitauri transport.

"And I'm listening." Bruce said.

"I told you to do what you do best- smash." Steve reminded him.

Thor flew up and stood on the top of the Chrysler Building. Raising Mjolnir skywards, he summoned a powerful lightning bolt. The lightning was conducted through the entire building, increasing Thor's power. He directed his hammer at the portal and with a mighty roar, discharged multiple lightning bolts. The bolts instantly destroyed multiple Chitauri vehicles that were coming through along with two giant Leviathans.

"Wow!" Peter said, summing up everyone's reactions.

"If you had used more power, you could have hurt civilians." Wanda said and Thor and Odinson nodded.

Fury was watching everything via monitors on the Helicarrier. Hill told him the Council was on and he solemnly nodded before shutting the monitor down and walking off.

"Council of morons." Fury said dryly.

Loki was flying around on the Chitauri transport when The Other contacted him again. He angrily asked Loki if this was the 'little' resistance he spoke about. Loki said the force lacked finesse as The Other retorted the warriors were fearless and welcomed a glorious death. Loki shook his head and said, "That may actually be the problem."

In spite of the tense situation, everyone burst out laughing at Loki's wit.

"Yes, that is a problem- for you!" Benjamin said.

"And a blessing for us." Odinson said as Loki chuckled too.

The Other asked Loki to lead them in that case as he wielded the Scepter. That was when Loki realized he had left the Scepter on Stark Tower.

"Good thing you made that mistake." Natasha said.

Clint fired at some Chitauri transports and told Stark some strays were sniffing his tail as Tony said he was keeping them off the streets. Clint fired at a Chitauri transport and destroyed it without even looking at it.

"Now that is awesome!" Bobbi said with a smirk.

"Thanks!" Clint said.

Tony flew past the archer. Clint fired a thermal tipped arrow on one transport, melting the metal as the Chitauri was down. Tony flew through a tunnel, leading the Chitauri on a goose chase. He avoided their shots and they crashed into the tunnel, getting destroyed as Tony flew out. Clint informed Stark Thor was taking down a squadron 6 and Tony grumbled that he wasn't invited. One Leviathan moved towards a building when suddenly Hulk leapt at it from inside, scaring the people. Grabbing it by the lower jaw, pulled it away, though its side still destroyed some windows.

"This was just horrible." Aunt May said as she remembered living through that day.

The cop to whom Steve had given the Chitauri gun was walking around with the gun. A Chitauri tried to fire at him but he took it down with the gun. Amazed at its capabilities, he informed the other cops, "If you find enemies down, get the guns. The guns are very good."

"And you didn't know that before?" Pepper asked incredulously.

Beth, another waitress and some more civilians were hiding in the café when a blast shattered the glass and she opened the door, running out with other civilians as the other waitress fell down, crying. A Chitauri fired at a man in front of Beth, killing him as she ran around in the middle of smoke when a blast destroyed part of a building and she ducked behind a car as some smoke and little debris covered her.

Loki watched the scene, shaking and feeling ashamed of his role in all of this.

Tony was shaking too, remembering his trauma as Pepper held his hand for comfort.

Beth got up and ran around, looking at the destruction around her in horror, including a dead Leviathan. She looked up to see Thor flying off when she saw the cop and he gestured her to run to him. But then a Chitauri shot him from behind and he died as Beth covered her mouth in horror. Suddenly, a Chitauri leapt at her and knocked her out.

Everyone closed their eyes and sighed sadly at the scene, feeling respect for the dead cop.

Natasha was pinned to a car by a Chitauri but she hit it on the side of the neck with a knife, destroying it. Taking its staff, she fired at another one, sending it flying off. She sensed movement behind her but turning around, saw it was Steve. She said none of it would work unless they closed the portal. Steve said their biggest guns couldn't touch it and she said it might not be about guns.

"Not wrong there." Fury said.

They looked up and Steve said she would need a ride if she wanted to go up. Natasha threw the staff away and said she had a ride, though she could use a boost. Steve asked if she was sure and she said she was and that it would be fun.

"Really?" Bucky asked.

"Just trying to cheer myself up." Natasha said.

Natasha she ran and leapt on a car and then on Steve's shield who pushed her up to a transport which she hung on to. Some Chiatauri fired near Steve and he turned to face them. Natasha cut off the chain of the Chitauri on the back and kicked it down. She then stabbed the other one, trying to control it. As other transports fired at her, Iron Man flew past them, firing his repulsors at some transports. He then flew down where Steve slammed a Chitauri to the ground and flip kicked another away. Tony fired a repulsor at a Chitauri, blowing it off before firing one at Steve's shield and it deflected off, killing more Chitauri.

"That looks like foreshadowing at this point." Steve said.

"No kidding." Tony said.

Tony then flew up a building and destroyed more of them with his repulsors while Clint shot down a Chitauri who was trying to climb that building. He ducked to avoid a shot and then fired on a Chitauri on a transport, toppling it on a Leviathan where Hulk roared and threw a Chitauri away before smashing more of them. Thor landed and with Mjolnir, sent two of them flying off. Hulk threw off more as Thor disarmed one of its gun and threw it off before throwing another off. Hulk ripped out a piece of the Leviathan and embedded it into its back. Thor charged Mjolnir and hit the piece hard, killing the Leviathan which crashed into an empty building. The two then stood there, side to side. Suddenly, Hulk sucker punched Thor sending him crashing to a side while Hulk gave a sniff of satisfaction.

Everyone laughed at the scene.

"I will pay you back for that." Thor said.

"Good thing." Odinson said, "I never got the chance."

"And you never will." Bruce smirked.

Selvig woke up, back to his senses, and looked around in horror. The army finally arrived in their tanks and fired at the Chitauri while also evacuating civilians. Steve was pinned to the ground by a Chitauri and its weapon but he managed to punch it away and got up as Clint told him the Chitauri had cornered a lot of civilians in a bank past Madison. Steve went there to save the civilians.

"The army is here at least." Scott said with a sigh.

The Chitauri had cornered the civilians in the bank, including Beth. She walked around and noticed the glasses and watch of some person who was probably dead by now and seemed horrified as she realized other people had been held hostage here before and killed. One of the Chitauri activated a grenade when Steve leapt in and threw his shield, knocking it down as the grenade dropped. The other two fired at him but he jumped behind an overturned table and kicked it at the two, sending one down and the other back. Steve then leapt over the table and punching the Chitauri, snapped its neck before throwing it down in the middle of the frightened civilians. He commanded everyone to clear out as the previous Chitauri grabbed him from behind and started taking off his mask as the two struggled. The one with the grenade got back up and tried to fire but Steve flipped behind his assailant and it was killed instead. The Chitauri picked up the grenade as Steve rolled and picked up his shield. The Chitauri threw the grenade at Steve and it exploded on his shield as he was sent crashing out through the window and onto a car.

"Oh my God!" Peter said in horror.

"One of the worst attacks ever." Storm said sadly.

"But you all did the best you could." Logan assured them.

Beth walked up to the door and her and two men tried to push it open. The army arrived at that spot too and fired at some Chitauri transports, destroying two as one soldier was also gunned down. One of them fired at the Chitauri with his machine gun as Steve picked himself up and looked around at the destruction in horror, disbelief and sadness, reminded of the horrors of World War II. Cops and firefighters arrived to help the civilians. A cop led Beth away as she looked at the now unmasked Steve and recognized him as the man who had visited the café earlier.

"Maybe you should date her." Natasha said with a smirk.

"Come on, Nat." Steve groaned as everyone snickered at him.

Steve looked determined to end this. A Councilwoman told Fury the Council had made a decision. Fury said he knew but because it was a stupid ass decision, he had elected to ignore it. Gideon Malick said Fury was closer than anyone else and he could scramble the jet. Fury countered that it was the island of Manhattan and he would not order a nuclear strike against a civilian population. Malick said they would lose everything if the Chitauri were not held and Fury said he would send out the bird they already had.

"Malick." Daisy snarled.

"What?" Steve asked.

"He is Hydra!" Bobbi said, shocking everyone.

"What?" Clint asked in horror.

"Yes. He was Hydra." Fury said, "I found out a long time later."

"What happened to him?" Bruce asked.

"Hive killed him and his family." Daisy said.

Natasha was riding the transport when Loki fired at her from behind. Turning around, she sighed and called out Clint for help. As both flew in front of Clint, he aimed and fired at Loki but he caught the arrow just before it reached his eye. He looked at Clint with a smirk when suddenly, the arrow beeped and exploded, sending him crashing to the tower, destroying the "S" and "T" of the Stark Industries building.

Everyone clapped at the scene.

"Got you, you son of a bitch!" Clint smirked.

"Yeah, yeah." Loki groaned.

"And my name is even more hated." Stark joked and everyone chuckled.

Natasha leapt off the transport landed on the building's top. Loki got up, only for a roaring Hulk to punch him into the building, crashing him through the glass. As Hulk rushed him, Loki got up and yelled, "ENOUGH!" Hulk stopped as Loki continued ranting, "You are all of you beneath me! I am a God, you dull creature, and I will not be bullied by a-" He was cut off when Hulk lifted him by the foot and started smashing him to the ground repeatedly. He stopped for a second and then smashed him again twice before throwing him down and leaving him lying on the ground. Walking away, he managed to speak in a guttural voice, "Puny God." Loki whimpered behind him.

Everyone burst out laughing hysterically at this point, unable to control their laughter as Loki looked traumatized.

"Puny God." Daisy laughed.

"Puny Giant actually." Loki said after recovering himself.

"We need to see that again sometime." Natasha laughed.

"Later, bub." Logan said as he stopped laughing.

As Natasha looked at the device, Selvig mentioned the Scepter. Natasha assured him it wasn't his fault as he didn't know what he was doing. He said maybe he did and said he had built in a safety to cut the power source- Loki's Scepter. Selvig said it may be able to close the portal and looked down to see it, saying he was looking right at it.

"Fortunately." Natasha said.

Thor smashed away two Chitauri away from their transports and twirled Mjolnir at the third one as a Leviathan burst from a building. Tony fired a laser at it and asked Jarvis for a soft spot and he said they would lose power before penetrating the shell. Tony asked Jarvis if he had heard the tale of Jonah and Jarvis said he wouldn't consider him a role model.

"Still don't." Vision said.

"I do." Tony said.

Tony flew into the Leviathan and exploded his missiles, destroying it as he fell out from behind it and crashed through some glass onto the ground. He tried to get up when some gunfire from Chitauri threw him down again. A shawarma joint was nearby.

"Oh no!" Pepper said in horror with wide eyes.

"So that's how you found the Shawarma joint." Steve said dryly and the original 6 Avengers snickered.

Clint shot a Chitauri behind him down and tried to fire at another one but realized he had run out and smacked it twice instead and kicked it away. He then saw many transports converging on him and ripped out his arrow from the dead Chitauri before pressing a button, making the arrow a trick one. The Chitauri transports fired at the roof, destroying it as Clint ran off and jumped down, firing the grapple arrow at the top and using it to swing into a lower floor, crashing through a window as he lay on the floor, groaning.

"They are gaining the upper hand." T'Challa noted, concerned.

Hulk smashed two Chitauri down and kicked one away before throwing another away when many transports converged on him and fired at him simultaneously, staggering him back as he roared. A pilot was sitting on the Helicarrier in a plane as he was informed Director Fury was no longer in command. He started flying off as Hill informed Fury about it and he ran out, firing a missile launcher at the plane's tail, making it crash land and stop. He saw another plane flying off as threw the launcher down before taking out a gun but the plane was gone.

"Shit!" Sam and Rhodes cursed at the same time.

Fury ran inside and told Stark the missile was headed for the city in 3 minutes. Stark asked Jarvis to put everything in the thrusters and the AI did as Tony blasted the Chitauri hitting him off and flew up. The missile was fired at the city. Steve's shield returned to him as Mjolnir returned to Thor and both of them smacked Chitauri away before a shot hit Steve near the abdomen and he fell down. Thor blocked shots from the Chitauri with Mjolnir and hit a car with it, sending it flying at them and crushing them. He then threw Mjolnir in another direction and gave Steve a hand, helping him up. "You ready for another bout?" He asked Steve. "What, you getting sleepy?" Steve joked dryly as Thor called Mjolnir back.

Everyone snickered at Steve's and Thor's growing bromance.

Erik opened his laptop as Natasha moved the Scepter to the device to close it at the crown. It penetrated the barrier as Natasha said, "I can close it! Can anybody copy? I can shut the portal down!" Steve ordered her to do it but Stark stopped them, saying he had a nuke coming in and it would blow in less than a minute. He knew just where to put it. Stark flew up to the nuke and grabbing it, started flying off as Jarvis tried Pepper's number, as Tony thought it was a one-way trip and needed to talk to her one last time.

"You thought you were going to die?" Pepper asked.

"Well, not an unreasonable assumption." Tony said when Pepper hugged him tightly and he hugged back while Rhodes, Peter and Aunt May shifted away uncomfortably.

"You did the right thing." Pepper assured him finally realizing how much the world needed him.

At the Stark Industries Plane, Pepper and some other employees were watching the news when Pepper's phone vibrated due to Tony's call but she didn't hear.

Pepper cringed at the scene but Tony gave her a reassuring smile.

Tony increased his thrusters' power and flew up as Steve, Thor, Hulk, Natasha and Selvig saw him. Tony flew through the portal as the call failed. The SHIELD agents all cheered at that as Hill sighed in relief and even Fury had a slight smile. Tony saw the Chitauri mothership and let the nuke go as his suit's power wore off due to him being in space. As he started falling down, the nuke flew up to the mothership and exploded, destroying the base utterly. The explosion was reaching Earth though so Steve sadly asked Natasha to close the portal but Stark fell through the portal right before Natasha closed it. The other Chitauri and Leviathans died and fell down when cut off from their power source.

Everyone applauded at Tony's bravery which had finally ended this fight.

"You did it." Steve said, "You made the sacrifice play."

Tony simply nodded with a smile, though he seemed uncomfortable, remembering how this had begun his trauma and made him prepare for whatever was up there. Pepper held his hand for comfort.

"Son of a gun." Steve muttered. Thor realized Tony was not slowing down and twirled Mjolnir but Hulk leapt into the air and caught him, sliding down via a building. He put Iron Man down as Thor and Steve ran up to him. Thor turned him around and ripped off his visor as Steve tried to listen for a heartbeat but the suit prevented him. The two looked saddened, thinking Stark was dead. But then Hulk roared loudly, startling them all as Stark's eyes snapped open. "What the hell?" He said frantically, "What just happened? Please tell me nobody kissed me?"

Everyone burst out laughing at that, all the tension in the room gone.

"That was the second funniest thing ever." Scott said.

"What's the funniest?" Hope asked.

"Hulk smashing Loki." Scott laughed and everyone laughed again as Loki sighed.

"We won." Steve simply said. "Alright. Hey. Alright. Good job guys." Stark said cheerfully, "Let's just not come in tomorrow. Let's just take a day. Have you ever tried shawarma? There's a shawarma joint about two blocks from here. I don't know what it is, but I wanna try it."

"What a way to find a shawarma joint." Natasha said, "Crashing through a Leviathan."

"We're not finished yet." Thor pointed out. "And then shawarma after." Stark said. Loki woke up, groaning as he was still feeling the pain from Hulk's beating. Turning around, his eyes widened as he saw Tony, Hulk, Steve, Clint, Thor and Natasha in front of him. Natasha held the Scepter as Clint had an arrow pointed at him. "If it's all the same to you." He groaned with a smirk as he tried to get up, "I'll have that drink now." A snarl from Hulk told him that wasn't going to happen.

"And that ends the Battle of New York." Benjamin said finally.

"When the world finally discovered that aliens existed after all." Storm said.

"You really thought you would get a drink?" Thor asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Nope." Loki said.

The deeds of the Avengers were shown on several news channels. Some praised them while others criticized them. "Heroes in New York? Give me a break." An elderly man said on TV as he played chess with another one.

"Him again!" Tony said.

"He appeared twice in this one." Steve said. No one commented anymore as they had gotten used to it at this point.

Beth the waitress was interviewed on TV, incredulous that some thought it was the Avengers' fault. She said Captain America had saved her life and wherever any of them were, she would just like to thank them.

Steve smiled, happy. This Beth seemed to be genuinely interested in Steve Rogers, not Captain America.

Fury stood as the Council asked him where the Avengers were and he said he wasn't tracking their whereabouts currently as they had earned their leave of absence. They asked about the Teserract and he said it was away from their reach. The Council said it wasn't his call to make and he said he didn't make it, just didn't argue with the God that did. They said Loki should be answering for his crimes and Fury said he would be.

"Good going." Loki told Fury.

A Councilwoman said Fury didn't understand what he had unleashed, saying the Avengers were dangerous. "They surely are." Fury said, "The whole world knows it. Every world knows it." Malick asked if a statement was the point of all this and Fury said it was a promise as he walked off and shut the monitors down.

"That is a badass statement." Tony said.

The scene with Hill in the beginning was shown again as Hawley called out to Hill and she snapped back to the present as Hawley asked about the worst mistake. Hill said they all knew who had made that. The Council thought the Avengers a threat and Hill thought them a joke but Fury only ever saw them as the Avengers. And if he hadn't, Midtown Manhattan would be a smoking crater. One of the Councilmen said the topic wasn't of any concern right now.

"Of course it isn't." Fury said in disgust.

Hill said it was a bad idea as Thor, Steve, Tony, Bruce, Natasha, Clint and Erik led a muzzled and cuffed Loki to Central Park. Hill said they were the wrong people at the wrong time but it worked and they came together and saved them. Selvig took out the Teserract and keeping it in a case, handed it to Thor who put a hand on his shoulder with a smile, happy to see him back to his senses. Hill said it was infuriating as they had all been trained to believe in a system and not to hope but Fury saw a current under the system. Thor nodded at the other Avengers and Erik in goodbye and used the Teserract to transport himself and Loki to Asgard.

"And you're gone." Tony said.

"For a while." Thor said.

Steve and Tony shook hands as Natasha handed Bruce a bag and he jumped into Tony's car with him and drove off as Steve drove his bike away. "The Avengers were the mistake that saved the world." Hill declared, "That's my official statement."

Everybody applauded happily at Hill as she gave a flattered smirk.

The Council looked disappointed as Hill called them morons for trying to nuke New York and said they had it on the record, as in they had recorded it, shocking them all. Hill shut off the interrogation room and getting up said, "So if you're thinking of coming after Nick Fury. Ever. Think really, really hard." She shut off the monitors and walked out.

Everyone clapped at Hill again.

"That was so awesome!" Peter cheered.

"You go girl." Hope said.

"They are afraid to face the consequences of their actions and wanted us to face consequences." Tony grumbled, "Hypocrites."

"I knew I didn't make a mistake, Hill." Fury told her and she nodded with a proud smile.

"Canadians are awesome!" Logan said and everyone chuckled.

Fury asked Hill how it had gone and she said she should have his job within a month.

"I won't mind you having it." Fury told Hill.

Fury commended her and said she should ask for a chair and she said she would keep that in mind. She then asked how it worked with the Avengers as they had gone their separate ways, some pretty extremely far.

"That one being me." Odinson said.

"Yes." Thor agreed.

Hill asked what if they got into such a situation again. "They'll come back." Fury said. "Are you really sure about that?" Hill asked. "I am." Fury said. "Why?" Hill asked. "Because we'll need them to." Fury said and she nodded before walking off, talking with another agent along the way.

"And we did." Steve reminded everyone.

At Stark Tower, Tony and Pepper looked at blueprints of new rooms they were making in the tower as the two kissed and outside, the 'S', 'T', 'R' and 'K' of the "Stark Industries" was shattered, with only the 'A' left.

"The Avengers Tower." Tony introduced with raised hands as everyone clapped lightly.

On a distant planet, The Other kneeled to someone saying, "Humans. They are not the cowering wretches we were promised! They stand. They are unruly and therefore cannot be ruled." Whoever was sitting on the chair was turned the other way. The person looked up as The Other kneeled down in fear again and said, "To challenge them is to court...Death." The being on the chair turned, a cruel smirk on his face. He was purple in color and had armor on him with a helmet too. He gave off an aura of terror.

All the viewers gasped on seeing him, already terrified by him. Though no one from the past except Loki knew who he was. The aura of terror around him actually made Loki look like the naughty little brother Thor always made him out to be.

"Who-who is that?" Steve asked. Wanda shuddered, realizing this was the same being she had seen in Odinson's and Benjamin's memory.

"Thanos." Loki whispered, visibly terrified.

"Thanos?" Tony asked.

"He showed you the power." Thor realized, "He was the one who was behind everything and made pawns out of all of us."

"He is the one against whom we want you united." Benjamin said as everyone turned to him.

"So he is the one?" Steve asked.

"Yes, Captain." Logan nodded.

"What is he?" Natasha asked.

"A genocidal warlord from Titan." Storm said, "His people were threatened by overpopulation. He proposed a solution."

"To randomly kill half of the people so the other half could thrive." Bobbi said.

"What?" Tony asked, "Is he insane or something?"

"He is." Bobbi said, "But his idea was dismissed by the people and they exiled him. Eventually, he was proven right as Titan was devastated and became uninhabitable."

"Thanos believed the vast swell of life in the Universe was depleting its resources." Odinson said, "So he decided to destroy half of life on all planets."

"And when he found out about the Infinity Stones, he decided to use them to wipe out half of the life from the entire Universe." Logan revealed and everyone had horrified looks on their faces.

"That was his goal all along." Loki said, "And that is why I didn't want to give him the Teserract even when we won."

"He has been in my head all this time!" Tony said.

"I'm sorry." Steve told him, feeling sympathy, realizing what Tony had been thinking about all this time.

"A Confederacy of six extraterrestrial species struck a deal with Hydra to take Inhumans and Gravitonium from them in exchange for protection from Thanos." Daisy said, "Didn't work out so well for any of them."

"And what happened?" Steve asked.

"We will tell you later." Bobbi said and everybody groaned.

"We knew his appearance would rattle you so we added a scene to calm you down." Benjamin said as they all turned to the screen.

Steve, Thor, Tony, Bruce, Clint and Natasha all sat quietly around a table in the shawarma joint, silently eating their shawarma. The screen went black.

"That's when I arrived." Rhodes sighed, "I was hunting members of the Ten Rings when this happened. So I arrived to help in the fight too late."

"Don't worry. We handled it." Tony said.

"Now, I'm sure you're all tired and hungry and need to process everything you have seen." Daisy said and everyone nodded as it was true.

"Well then, let's have food and then go to sleep for the night." Logan said as they all got up and moved towards the dining room.

Chapter Text

Everyone sat quietly in the dining room, eating silently as the people from the past tried to process what they had just witnessed and heard.

"Half of all life in the Universe." Tony scoffed, "And I thought Ultron was bad."

"Thanos was feared by many throughout the galaxy." Benjamin said, "For good reason."

"And he tortured you?" Thor asked Loki.

"Y-yes." Loki said, appearing a bit traumatized, "He did. And then he gave me the Scepter and allowed me to lead the Chitauri against Earth."

"You always planned to double cross him?" Steve asked.

"Yes." Loki said, "I wanted to rule the Earth but knowing his intentions, I intended to hide the Teserract from him. I was crazy, but not crazy enough to wipe out half of all life in the Universe."

"That is very reassuring." Clint said dryly.

"And to do that, he needed the stones?" Wanda asked and everyone from the future nodded.

"If he tries that, I feel the Mind Stone will warn me." Vision said.

"It will. But it's of no use, bub." Logan told him.

"Compared to him, you actually seem like the mischievous little brother Thor always makes you out to be." Bruce told Loki.

"If that ever happened, I can't imagine how badly the world would be affected." Aunt May said.

"Accidents will happen. Governments will fall." Pepper said.

"There will be riots, man." Scott said, "It'll be a disaster."

"And he thinks it will save everyone?" Hope scoffed.

"Why didn't he just double the resources?" Peter asked.

"He was told 'no' to an idea that he had felt was the only solution." Odinson said.

"And then he was proven right to himself when that solution was not acted upon." Storm said.

"So, his Messianic complex- he is now committed to following through on the idea that he had many, many years ago." Logan said and everyone visibly shook. Logan himself was reminded of Erik Lensherr who was like Thanos in that regard, though not insane.

"Insane, committed and believes he is doing the right thing." Steve summed it all up.

"Now that is just horrible." Sam said.

"No kidding." Rhodes agreed.

Natasha had remained silent this whole time, processing some other info and decided it was time to act on it now.

"Daisy." She said and the woman in question looked up to her, "How do you know Coulson?"

The question caught her off guard, "What?"

"There is no record of you in SHIELD before Coulson's death." Natasha said, "And he never mentioned knowing someone by your name. So I'm going to ask again, how do you know Coulson?"

"That is something I have been wanting to ask too actually." Clint said, "I noticed it too."

"Well, if you want to know the answer, that is the person to whom you should ask this question." Bobbi said as she pointed at Fury and all eyes turned to him.

"What is it, spy?" Tony asked.

"I believe you're hiding something." T'Challa realized.

"Of course he is." Loki said, "He is as manipulative as me."

Fury wasn't saying a word so far.

"It is of no use, Fury." Daisy told him, "Just tell the truth."

"We brought you lot here so that there are no more secrets." Logan said.

"Which means that some truths must come to light." Benjamin agreed.

Fury gave a deep sigh, knowing he was busted now.

"Tell them." Hill told him and he turned to face everyone.

"Romanoff. Barton. You remember Project T.A.H.I.T.I.?" Fury asked them both.

"Yes." Clint said, "But I thought that never came to fruition."

"You were wrong." Fury said.

"What is Project TAHITI?" Tony asked.

"We at SHIELD found the body of a dead alien of a species called the Kree." Fury said.

"Kree." Thor said, "I know of them."

"The cells of the Kree had cellular regeneration capabilities." Fury said and everyone caught onto what he was getting at, "So we decided to experiment on it. The goal of the project was to bring back an Avenger if they ever died."

"But the few people on whom it was tested showed signs of mental deterioration, including carving alien symbols onto walls." Hill said.

"Coulson was the head of the project and advised us to shut it down." Fury revealed.

"But you didn't?" Steve asked, feeling disgusted to his core.

"After the Battle of New York, I sent Coulson's corpse to the Guest House, the place where the Kree body was kept." Fury clarified on seeing the confused looks, "And they used Project TAHITI on him. They repaired the damage that had been done to him on a cellular level and after 7 surgeries, he came back."

Everyone gasped on hearing that, panting heavily. That was a huge shock to all of them! Biggest shock of the day actually!

"Agent is alive?" Tony asked as he started breathing heavily, "I need air. I need air."

"Breathe Tony. Breathe." Pepper said as she held his back and his breath slowly came back to normal.

"But he was showing signs of mental deterioration to so I had his memories of the operation wiped and replaced with a memory of relaxing in Tahiti to make him believe he was resuscitated there." Fury revealed as Daisy and Bobbi glared at him, the former remembering the pain Coulson had went through on regaining his memories, "Though he eventually regained his true memory of what happened and figured it all out."

Everyone was glaring daggers at Fury at this point, and Fury knew it.

"I know you're all upset with m-"

Fury was cut off when Clint shot out of his chair and punched him hard on the face, whipping it to the other side.

"You son of a bitch!" Clint snarled, "You have been lying to us all this time? How could you?"

"And if you say we needed the push, I'm going to do the same thing Clint did." Tony told him.

"How could you do that Fury?" Steve asked.

"And you knew too?" Natasha asked Hill and she nodded guiltily.

"We're done." Natasha said as the Fury and Hill looked at her in shock.

"What?" Hill asked, sure she had misheard.

"It is clear you don't trust anyone, Fury." Natasha said, "Not me. Not Clint. Not Tony. Not Steve. Not even Hill probably. No one. You manipulated us all, just like the Red Room did to me. And staying with him has made you just like him, Hill. So this is it. We're done."


"What? Trying to manipulate her again?" Bucky asked him with a glare.

"So you're as bad as me." Loki said dryly.

"Why did Coulson never reach out to us?" Thor asked.

"I asked him a few times." Daisy said, "He was going through a life changing experience at first and then tracking down threats to SHIELD. Then the Hydra uprising happened, followed by the Inhuman outbreak, Hive, and what not. He then said he was too much of a coward to face you guys after this long. And that was his biggest regret in his life."

"So you were all in some kind of a team?" Sam asked.

"Yeah." Daisy said, "We were the Agents of SHIELD. Coulson, me, Melinda May, Leo Fitz, Jemma Simmons and Grant Ward at first."

"Ward was Hydra." Hill said and Daisy nodded.

"May was with you lot too?" Natasha asked and Bobbi nodded.

"After we got rid of Ward, me and Hunter joined, along with Mack and Antoinne Triplett, who died unfortunately." Bobbi said, "Unfortunately, a mission me and Hunter were on a year later went south so we had to leave the team."

"I made Coulson the Director after the Hydra uprising." Fury said, "So he could lead SHIELD."

"And he did. Until Jeffrey Mace and then Ghost Rider, LMDs, Aida, space, time travel, and all that." Daisy summed up as everyone struggled to absorb the info.

"And is he around right now?" Natasha asked.

"No." Daisy said, "It's a bit of a long story."

"I'm pretty sure we have time." Peter said dryly.

"We recruited a doctor who started making Life Model Decoys." Daisy said, "One of them was a bot called AIDA. But he used her to create something called the Framework, which was a virtual life which removed all of our biggest regrets. Unfortunately for all of us, AIDA got feelings of her own due to an incident and decided that she wanted to have the love of Leo Fitz."

"Murder bot in love? Sounds like a recipe for disaster." Tony said, though Vision did not comment.

"So she sent most of the team into the Framework where everyone's biggest regrets were removed but most of them worked for Hydra while SHIELD was considered a terrorist organization." Daisy said, "Me and Jemma went inside though and managed to help everyone out. AIDA also returned but in there, she had experimented on and taken the powers of many Inhumans, so that made her all powerful. And Fitz was never going to love her as him and Jemma and meant to be. So she angrily tried to destroy us all."

"What happened then?" Clint asked.

"Ever heard of some vigilante with a flaming skull?" Bobbi asked and everyone seemed shocked.

"That guy?" Scott asked, "Skull guy? He is real?"

"Yes." Daisy said, "He made a deal with the Devil."

"I'd call BS but after all that has happened, probably not. Which is surprising." Tony said.

"He was called the Ghost Rider. And he used it to punish sinners. He was the only one who could beat AIDA but she always escaped whenever he came around." Daisy said, "So Coulson made a deal with the Rider."

"What?" Fury asked.

"To take it inside him and use it to beat AIDA." Daisy revealed to everyone's shock.

"So you're trying to tell us that Coulson used a cosmic force to beat a murder bot turned Inhuman?" Natasha asked and she nodded.

"Yes." Daisy said, "And he did it before returning the Ghost Rider to Robbie Reyes, the guy who had it. But he made a deal with and we only found out one year later."

"What was it?" Clint asked.

"Using the Ghost Rider burnt the GH.325 out of his body." Daisy said and everyone looked confused.

"That was what was keeping Coulson alive." Fury said.

"So he died again?" Steve asked, "Is there no way to save him?"

"There was. But a guy called Glenn Talbot absorbed a lot of Gravitonium and used it to try to tear the world in half and also beat Thanos." Daisy said to everyone's horror, "And the thing that could have saved him was used to stop Talbot instead. It was his choice. He made peace with it and accepted his death."

"So when did that happen?" Bruce asked.

"At about the same time Thanos attacked." Bobbi said.

Everyone was silent for a few minutes, trying to process the info they had just learnt.

"I know you're all pissed at Fury and Hill." Logan said finally.

"And you have every right to." Benjamin said as the winced, "But you will have to find a way to work through this."

"Yeah. In my dreams." Clint snarled.

"I know it sounds impossible." Odinson said, "But eventually, you will all have to learn to trust each other again. All of you. That is the only way to get through everything that will come at you."

"Fury. Hill." Storm said as the two turned to her, "No more secrets."

"Well." Benjamin said, "You want to go to your rooms?"

Everyone just nodded, to tired and shocked to talk much. So they were all led to their rooms where they decided to go off to sleep.

"You two going?" Benjamin asked Daisy and Bobbi.

"Yeah." Daisy said, "Juggling time between the Avengers and S.W.O.R.D. is something near impossible to do."

"I get it." Logan said, "Hope to see you all some other time."

"Yeah. We will." Bobbi said and they hugged the two before going off to the S.W.O.R.D. base.

"I think I'm going too." Storm said.

"Really?" Logan asked.

"Yeah." She said, "I have a teaching job, unlike you."

The two chuckled and kissed as Storm said, "Good luck."

"You too." Logan said and she walked off too, back to Xavier's Institute for Gifted Yougnsters.

Benjamin went back to his room where 2035 Wanda was waiting for him and the two kissed.

"Spilled the beans about Coulson I believe?" She asked and Benjamin nodded.

"Yeah. It had the exact effect we thought it would." Benjamin said, "But hopefully, they work through it sometime."

"I hope so too." She assured him and he nodded, thinking of everything that had happened and everything the people from the past will probably do on seeing and learning everything.

Hopefully, it turned out well.

Chapter Text

The next day, everyone woke up and had breakfast. No one spoke as tensions from the previous day were still very high.

When they went into the viewing room, there was one more couch though this time. And on it were Matt Murdock, Elektra Natchios Murdock, Jessica Jones Cage, Luke Cage, Frank Castle and Trish Walker.

"What're you guys doing here?" Benjamin asked.

"We had nothing better to do for the day." Elektra said.

"So we just decided to sit here and watch some movies." Luke said and everyone laughed.

"Movies. I like that." Tony said.

"You like a lot of stuff." Trish said, "Like screaming."

Everyone laughed again at Tony.

"It was a long time ago, Trish." Tony said, "I have changed."

"We know you have, Stark." Jessica told him.

"I'm interested to see how much." Frank said.

"I'm pretty sure he has changed a lot from back then." Matt said.

"You can't see bub. So why're you here?" Logan asked him.

"I can hear." Matt simply said.

"Well, in that case, I think he can stay around too." Steve shrugged.

"Now, we have to begin with-" Odinson trailed off.

"What is it?" Natasha asked him.

"Tony again." Odinson sighed.



Tony was happy, "Yeah it's me again! I'm gonna have so much fun watching myself work."

"It's about your PTSD after New York and the Mandarin business." Frank said and Tony's smirk vanished.

"Damn! You didn't have anything better to show?" Tony asked.

"You didn't have anything better to do?" Matt asked and everyone laughed.

"And then you had to tell me about it when I'm not that kind of doctor." Bruce said.

"All right. All right. Gang up on me." Tony said.

"I'm with you on this one." Pepper assured him.

"Thanks Pep." Tony said.

"As much as I hate to say it, me too." Rhodes said.

"Thanks a lot bro." Tony said to him.

"Well, let's get started." Benjamin said as he turned the TV on. Fury and Hill sat with Benjamin, Odinson and Logan this time, for reasons anyone could figure out.

Tony's suits were shown exploding as his voice was heard saying, "A famous man once said, "We create our own demons." Who said that? What does that even mean? Doesn't matter. I said it because he said it. So, now, he was famous and it's basically getting said by two well-known guys. I don't, uh..." Tony sighed, "I'm going to start again. Let's track this from the beginning."

"I remember that." Bruce said.

"So you were only pretending to be asleep?" Tony asked.

"I remember bits." Bruce said.

On New Year's Eve in 1999, Bern, Switzerland, Tony Stark was at a party after a conference with Maya Hansen. A young Happy Hogan was there too with long hair as Tony was complimented on his speech but he barely remembered giving it due to being drunk.

"That is Happy?" Natasha asked, amused at the sight as everyone else had the same reactions.

"This is the speech you gave while drunk?" Scott asked and Tony nodded as everyone laughed.

"Damn!" Hope said.

Ho Yinsen arrived and lead Tony to Dr. Wu, introducing them both as Tony joked how he had finally met a man called 'Ho.' Wu was a heart doctor and Tony joked how Maya would need one after he was done with her, dismissing them both as Yinsen said maybe another time.

"Oh boy! Of course! I remembered that." Tony sighed sadly, guilty over his treatment of everyone.

"You're a changed man now." Pepper said, "You can feel ashamed of what you did, but do not let that define you."

"Thanks Pep." Tony said with a smile.

Tony and Maya went to the elevator with Happy as Tony was heard narrating how his demons from 1999 returned to haunt him. A limping man with a cane arrived, telling Maya he was a big fan of her work and that he had been following her research. He forced his way into the elevator and said they were a private think tank called Advanced Idea Mechanics or A.I.M. and gave her 2 cards.

Pepper clenched her fists angrily on seeing Killian as Tony glared at him.

"Are you too drunk or too much of a jerk?" Sam asked Tony.

"Both." Trish said, "That's what he was like back then."

Maya went out as Tony told Killian he was interested to work with him and agreed to meet on the rooftop in a few minutes.

"And you never showed up?" Bruce then asked.

"Nope." Tony said, "Unfortunately."

"Some heroes create their own villains." Frank said.

"Is it just me or are you the Punisher?" Tony asked.

"I'm the Punisher." Frank said.

"How did you join their ranks?" Rhodes asked.

"Because they're not half-measures." Frank said.

Tony and Maya looked at her laptop as she showed him a brain scan and how she was trying to access the area that governed repairs and chemically recode it, impressing Tony.

"That is pretty impressive." Bucky said.

Happy touched her plant but she told him not to as she didn't like it and Tony supported her in that. The two went to her bedroom as Happy touched the plant anyway, breaking it a little.

"Respect the plants." Thor said in agitation to Happy.

The plant was then shown glowing like fire and growing back as Maya said she called it Extremis.

Pepper shivered on seeing that, reminded of the experiment on her as Tony put an arm around her for comfort.

Tony told Maya she was the most gifted woman he had met, flattering her, until he added in Switzerland as she took his glasses.

Everybody snickered.

"We all know who is the most gifted woman I have met." Tony said with an arm around Pepper said as everyone smirked.

The leaf exploded as Maya explained it was a glitch when Happy ran in and tackle Tony to the bed thinking it was a real bomb as Tony said how Happy was on top of him. Happy got up as Tony explained the situation.

Everybody laughed at the scene.

"Sweet Christmas!" Luke said.

"The IGH guys could never do that." Jessica said.

People were heard counting down and wishing each other a Happy New Year as Tony, Maya and Happy wished each other too before Happy walked off and the two made out.

"There it goes again." Elektra said and everyone chuckled.

People were bursting fireworks outside as Killian was shown waiting for Tony who never arrived.

"And you've created another villain, bub." Logan told him.

Tony was heard narrating how he had created demons as the next morning, he was shown taking his glasses and writing "You Know Who I Am" on the card as he walked off. Maya, now in her inners, was shown working on her laptop as she looked at Tony one last time.

"At least she didn't seem that bothered by a one-night stand." Clint said.]

Present Day Malibu, California was shown as Tony was heard narrating how the Afghan cave had changed him and he was different and that everyone knew who he was.

Everyone shook their heads at Tony's amusing narration.

Tony finished his micro-repair implant sequence as Jarvis said how he had prepared a safety briefing for Stark to entirely ignore.

Everyone laughed hard at this point.

"Why are you not witty as you used to be?" Wanda asked Vision and everyone nodded as she had a point.

Tony then saw Dum-E in a hat and said it had earned it before asking it to clean blood on his mat as he did some basic martial arts and hit a wooden wing-chun dummy.

"Dum-E." Wanda said happily.

"As cute as ever." Sam said.

"And I treat him better." Tony said.

"Very nice of you." Rhodes said.

"Even non-living things need love sometimes." Luke agreed.

Jarvis said how Tony had been awake for 72 hours as U raised a camera and Tony gave a funny speech to welcome Mark 42 which was under testing. He asked Jarvis to drop the needle and 'Jingle Bells' by Joe Williams started playing as Tony danced to the tune.

Everyone laughed again at Stark's antics.

"Just wait till you see what happens next." Tony said.

"I have a feeling you won't enjoy it." Benjamin told him.

Tony tried several poses before the pieces of his suit started flying up to him, forming the left arm and part of the right one as Tony asked Jarvis to send them all and soon, the pieces were flying around and breaking the room as Tony managed to get the right leg too.

"I think you moved a little fast." Steve said.

"Yeah. That's me." Tony said.

Tony asked to slow down a little bit as the pieces broke the workshop and he managed to get the left leg before a piece hit his crotch, hurting him a little and another piece hit him from behind, throwing him down.

No one could control their laughter at this point.

"Yeah, yeah, laugh all you want. I will get all the dirt on you." Tony said jokingly.

Tony used the repulsors to save himself as the rest of his suit put itself on him and he dodged the visor. It flew back at him and hitting a pillar, turned upside down so Tony flipped and put it on his face upside down before landing, though his face was a little hurt and he said, "I'm the best."

Everybody clapped at Tony managing to assemble the new suit.

"That was awesome!" Peter said.

Then a stray piece hit him on the back and the entire suit broke as he fell down and Jarvis said it was a pleasure to watch him work.

Everyone laughed again.

"That just sucks." Aunt May said.

"Yeah, all the hard work destroyed by a stray." Hope said.

"I knew you'd get the feeling." Tony said.

"I think you meant it was a pleasure to see him fall down a lot." Clint joked to Vision and everyone chuckled.

Tony's voice was heard saying how 72 hours was a long time between siestas and it couldn't get worse until he turned on the TV and saw 'him.' A strange bald man with a beard was seen on TV as his firing squad executed prisoners and he said that while some considered him a terrorist, he considered himself a teacher who teach America it's lessons as he had attacked the Ali Al Salem Base is Kuwait. Footage of the explosion was shown as he said President Ellis resisted him too much and while they knew who he was, they didn't know where he was and they would never see him coming. A symbol of two swords between 10 rings was shown.

"Damn!" Scott said as everyone watched the disturbing footage, "That footage was very well made!"

"I know right!" Tony said, "Even I bought it."

"It is pretty convincing." Bucky agreed.

"Well, considering who was behind it, not surprising." Logan pointed out.

The news reporters talked about the footage and how attempts to find this terrorist known as the Mandarin had been unsuccessful. Ellis was seen introducing people to Colonel James Rhodes in his War Machine Armor which was repainted and called Iron Patriot as a countermeasure against Mandarin and the news reporters joked how Ellis' response was to repaint War Machine in red, white and blue and call him Iron Patriot in case the paint was subtle.

Everyone snickered as Rhodes had his head in his hands, "That name and color didn't work on me."

"Yeah. Sounds about right." Natasha said, "Though it may suit better on Steve."

"You know what Romanoff." Steve said as everyone chuckled.

Tony and Rhodes watched the news in a café as Tony mocked the name and Rhodes argued it sent a better message. Tony asked about the Mandarin and Rhodes said it was classified. There had been 9 bombings and 3 were public as Rhodes said they couldn't find any device and Tony said he could help with the new stuff he had built. Rhodes asked when he had slept the last time as Tony argued Einstein only slept for 3 hours in a year.

"Not a good argument." Pepper told Tony.

Rhodes tried to tell Tony how everyone was concerned about him and that he was not trying to be a dick when they saw 2 kids behind him and he shut up.

Everyone chuckled at that again.

"Sucks." Rhodes said.

Tony asked the girl her name and she said it was Erin as he took her drawing to give an autograph as Rhodes said the Mandarin wasn't superhero responsibility but American responsibility. The drawing was of him diverting the nuke to the portal, which made him start breathing erratically as he broke the crayon and the kid asked him how he had escaped the portal. That caused Tony to bolt the area as he wrote on the drawing "Erin help me" and he walked into his Mark VII as Jarvis told him he was having an anxiety attack. Rhodes told him it wasn't a good look but he said he needed to split and flew off.

Pepper held Tony's hand, hoping to offer comfort as he clearly looked uncomfortable.

"Erin didn't help you obviously, but we can." Steve assured Tony as he turned to him.

"Look man, I don't like what you did during the Accords fiasco." Sam told him, "But let's just say that if after all of this, we move past that, I'm ready to help you."

"Thanks." Tony said gratefully.

"PTSD." Frank said, "Changes everyone. For better or worse."

"What do you think about me in that case?" Tony asked.

"I think better eventually." Matt said.

At Stark Industries, Happy, who was now the head of security, was telling all the employees to wear their ID tags as Pepper arrived Happy suggested robots could replace the janitorial staff because the human element of human resources was their biggest point of vulnerability and they should start phasing it out immediately.

Everyone snickered.

"The guy has brains." Jessica complimented with an amused phase.

"Well, he learnt from me." Tony joked.

"I can see that." Thor said.

Pepper was incredulous and told him that while she was thrilled that he was head of security, staff complaints had risen by 300% but he took it as a compliment because it meant someone was hiding something.

"So this guy is like the CW." Logan said and everyone laughed again.

Pepper was informed her 4:00 was here and Happy asked if he had been cleared with him. Pepper opened the room to see Aldrich Killian, no longer having the cane and looking very handsome. Pepper was shocked as Aldrich said she looked great and Pepper told him he looked great. She asked what he had been doing and he said he had been with physical therapists. Happy inquired about the ID tag but Pepper sent him out, saying it was okay.

"No its not okay." Pepper said angrily.

"Jerk." Tony said about Killian.

"I think the ID habit was pretty good in that case." Loki said dryly.

Happy sat outside and looked at Aldrich's right hand man Savin who was reading a newspaper as Happy pointed at the ID tag and he showed him.

"Yes it is good." Odinson agreed.

Aldrich told Pepper he had an idea called Extremis and putting a device on the left side of his head, opened a hologram of the brain, though he ended up opening one of the universe by mistake before opening one of the brain. Pepper said it was amazing and Aldrich said it was a live feed of his brain which he would prove.

"Okay, people can do that?" Scott asked.

"Want to learn more science, hang out with me." Tony joked.

He asked her to pinch him and she did as his brain's pain center reacted. Extremis harnessed the body's bioelectrical potential and put it in an empty slot which proved the brain was destined to evolve, awing Pepper.

"In the right hands, that would be something." Trish said.

"Which means, unfortunately, not many hands." Elektra said.

Happy got a call from Tony and they talked as he spoke about all of his previous embarrassments as Tony's bodyguard and told him about Killian who was now rich and handsome and they had met him in the Science conference in Switzerland in 1999, though Tony didn't remember.

"Now I do." Tony said.

Happy said they were talking business and now it was weird with him showing her his big brain so Tony asked him to flip the screen which he failed to do.

"Is he an idiot or does he not want to flip the screen?" Aunt May asked.

"I wish I knew." Tony said.

Happy continued ranting and talked about the shifty guy with Aldrich as Tony looked at his credentials and asked Happy to secure the perimeter. Happy told Tony that Pepper was the best thing to happen to him and he was ignoring her.

"He's got a point there." Rhodes said as Tony and Pepper blushed.

Happy said he was gonna follow the guy and if it got rough, no problem. Tony said he missed Happy and Happy said he missed him too but now he was off with his super-friends and the world was weirder. Tony told Happy there was a gal trying to steal printer ink in HR so he should zap her with a taser as he cut the call.

"I know he rants but why didn't I take him seriously at the time?" Tony said guiltily.

"Hey!" Pepper said as he looked at her, "It's not your fault."

"Attacks come at us from all ways." Frank told Tony as he remembered Billy Russo, "We can't see them all coming. So don't blame yourself, Stark."

Tony nodded in appreciation.

Aldrich told Pepper about his idea but she said while it was amazing, it was highly weaponizable so she couldn't help him. Aldrich said he had asked Tony to join AIM 13 years ago but now there was a new genius on the throne with less of an ego but she still refused even though she would like to help him.

"Good call, Pepper." Hope told her and she nodded.

Aldrich walked out and said he was disappointed but his father used to say failure was the fog through which they glimpsed triumph. Pepper said it was deep as Aldrich said his father was an idiot.

"And the son is a psycho." Tony snarled.

Aldrich said he would see her again and kissed her on the cheek before walking off.

"Jackass." Logan said.

Happy told Pepper the car was ready and she quickly went to get her other things as Happy took a picture of the nameplate of Aldrich's car.

"Smart guy." Matt said.

Pepper drove back home to see a huge stuffed bunny that couldn't fit in the house. She walked in to see Tony in his armor and he said everyone needed a hobby while she said he wore his in his living room. He asked if she had seen her present and she asked how they would fit it through the door. He said he was calling some guys to blow the wall open.

"Okay, what?" Natasha asked.

"You are an interesting person, Mr. Stark." T'Challa said in amusement.

"I know I'm over the top." Tony said.

"That was way beyond that." Scott said.

Tony gave her a massage and she got up to get a kiss but he acted like he was stuck so she had to kiss the slit but she decided to get a crowbar. He said there was a radiation leak but she would take her chances as she walked down to see Tony doing pullups while communicating via interface and said it was a new level of lame and Stark said he was busted.

"Took the words right out of my mouth." Hope said and everyone chuckled.

"Damn!" Sam said, "That is lame."

"Thank you." Pepper said.

Pepper realized he had eaten without her and he said they were going to host her as he wasn't sure if she would come home or have drinks with Aldrich Killian. She looked angry and said Tony was spying on her though he just said Happy was concerned. She started walking away as Tony called her back and apologized, saying he was a piping hot mess.

"To be honest, it was Happy being concerned." Natasha told her.

"Now I know." Pepper sighed.

Tony said nothing had been the same since New York and she sarcastically said she hadn't noticed. "Gods, aliens, other dimensions. I'm just a man in a can." Tony said and that the only reason he hadn't snapped was that she had moved in.

"Stuff affects us all." Steve said sympathetically, "How we deal with it is what matters."

"Thanks Cap." Tony said.

He said he loved her and he was lucky but he always had to tinker down here as a threat was imminent and he had to protect her because he cared about her most. His suits were a part of him though Pepper argued they were machines and distraction. Pepper then hugged Tony and removed his head piece, saying she was going to take a shower and he was going to join her to cheer him up and help him.

In spite of the sexual subtext, no one felt like joking this time as it was clear how damaged Tony was and how Pepper was trying to help him.

Later, the two were sleeping as Tony dreamt of battling the Chitauri and carrying the nuke into the wormhole. He groaned in his sleep as a concerned Pepper tried to wake him up.

"You know what man. I will help you after this as long as you pick a time when I'm not tired." Bruce told Tony.

"All right. Thanks science bro." Tony said gratefully.

Suddenly, the Mark 42 grabbed Pepper and she gasped as Tony awoke and shut it down before dismantling it with a mental command.

Everyone gasped at the scene.

"Did your suit just attack her?" Rhodes asked Tony.

"Watch the scene." Luke said.

Tony tried to catch his breath and said he had called it in his sleep so he should recalibrate the sensors but Pepper said she was going to sleep downstairs and to tinker with that.

It was impossible to take a side in this argument as Tony had PTSD which had made this happen but Pepper had been almost attacked by the suit so her reaction was understandable too.

The two looked at each other apologetically.

"Instead of building suits, spend time with us maybe." Natasha told Tony.

"You're not the only one with demons." Frank said.

At the Chinese Theater, a man was sitting quietly with his tags as Savin approached him and gave him a case, saying he had done a lot for him. The man thanked him for understanding as he walked off while Happy tried on glasses nearby, watching them both from a mirror.

"Smart maybe but not so subtle." Jessica said.

"Maybe you can train him." Matt told her and they all snickered.

Happy then bumped into the man, making him drop the case as the doses fell out. Happy apologized as the man's face glowed. Happy helped him in picking them up while keeping one himself as he walked off but Savin bumped into him.

"That is not good at all." Wanda said.

"The Extremis is about to explode." Vision said.

Savin asked if he was seeing a movie and Happy showed him the dose. Savin tried to take it as Happy punched him but he dodged. Happy punched again and he staggered back. The man glowed too, shocking Happy. He then grabbed Happy's arm and flipped him over his shoulder, sending him crashing through glass as everyone ran and the man took a high dose and called out to Savin.

"Shit!" Sam said.

The man exploded, destroying the theater as a wounded Happy lay on the ground and saw the man's tags while there was no sign of him. Savin got back up in spite of his wounds and tattered clothes and putting chewing gum in his mouth, walked off as Happy lost consciousness.

"Oh boy! This is getting worse for us all." Rhodes said.

"No kidding." Tony sighed.

Chapter Text

"So I'm guessing Mandarin took credit for that too." Scott said.

"He did." Tony said.

The Mandarin interrupted another broadcast, saying how fortune cookies looked and sounded Chinese but were actually an American invention so they were hollow and full of lies and left a bad taste in the mouth.

"That is incorrect info." Sam said, "They were made by a Chinese immigrant."

"David Jung." Tony supplied and everyone nodded.

Mandarin said his disciples had destroyed the Chinse Theatre and that this season of terror was drawing to a close but the big one was coming- The President's graduation.

"I know he is a faker and all that, but that imagery is still some disturbing shit." Jessica said.

"Considering where he is getting his funding from, not a surprise." Frank told her.

Happy, now in a coma, lay in the hospital wing as a female doctor set everything up. Tony was there and asked her to leave the TV on as Downtown Abbey was playing and it was his favorite show as he thought it elegant. She agreed.

"He even woke up to that show." Pepper remembered.

"Yup. I knew he would." Tony said.

He also told her that Happy wanted everyone to wear their badges so to make sure everyone did as his men wouldn't let anyone in without them anyway.

No one commented as they were all engrossed by the scene going on before their eyes. One of the rare cases of Tony showing empathy like that.

Outside, several reporters stood, waiting for Tony Stark to hear his reaction to the latest attack.

"Why do they always clamor up like that?" Luke wondered.

"It's their job." Matt said simply as he had more empathy for them than others due to Karen being a reporter.

As Tony walked out, all of them started asking him questions. As Tony walked to his car, a male reporter asked when someone was going to kill the guy.

"Shouldn't have asked that." Rhodes said.

Tony turned to them and said, "Is that what you want? Here's a little holiday greeting I've been wanting to send to the Mandarin. I just didn't know how to phrase it until now. My name is Tony Stark and I'm not afraid of you. I know you're a coward. So I've decided that you just died, pal. I'm gonna come get the body. There's no politics here. It's just good old-fashioned revenge. There's no Pentagon, it's just you and me. And on the off chance you're a man, here's my home address. 10880 Malibu Point. I'll leave the door unlocked." He then asked the reporter, "That's what you wanted, right?" He took the man's phone and threw it at a wall, breaking it as the other reporters gasped. "Bill me." He said before sitting in his car as it was driven off.

"Okay, I want to know one thing." Natasha said, "Are you really brave, or really stupid, or both?"

"Both." Pepper said.

"You just gave your home address to a terrorist." Aunt May said.

"I know why you did that." Steve said, "You were in a highly emotional state. But what if Aldrich had actually decided to take up your offer."

"And trust me. A guy like him would have come prepared." Logan said and Tony paled.

"You're right. It was stupid." Tony agreed before turning to Pepper, "All it did was put you and me in danger. And I don't want to repeat that mistake."

"I know you won't." Pepper said as she stroked his cheek.

Later, Tony was in his house as Jarvis compiled the Mandarin database for him drawn from SHIELD, FBI and CIA headquarters. With the holographic technology, Tony and Jarvis managed to reconstruct the crime scene.

"Whoa!" Peter said in awe, "That is great technology."

"You want to fight crime on the streets, kid?" Elektra asked as he turned to her, "Stop relying on tech."

"She's got a point." Benjamin agreed, "We are not Mr. Stark. We should rely more on ourselves than technology."

"So you don't like the suits I made or something?" Tony asked.

"It's not that." Benjamin said, "It's just that I got over-addicted to it for a while so I decided to take a break and make my own suit to do stuff. And I realize that is better for me. Tech-based suits are best for big threats like the Chitauri."

Tony nodded, deep in thought. He cared for Peter and only wanted what was best for him. But he should also let Peter have a say in what he wants. Because an overuse of tech-based stuff might not be good for someone like Peter.

"You're right." Tony agreed, "I shouldn't push you too much towards tech, kid. Otherwise you won't be able to do much without it."

"I was doing fine in the streets before your tech, Mr. Stark." Peter said, "I think I will do just fine. But like the other me said, the tech-based suit is good for big stuff."

Tony commented how Mandarin was a name of an ancient Chinese war mantle which meant "advisor to the king." Jarvis told him the heat from the blast was in excess of 3000 degrees Celsius and any subjects within a 12.5 mile radius were vaporized instantly. No bomb parts were found in a 3 mile radius of the Chinese Theatre. Tony looked at the virtual unconscious body of Happy and wondered when a bomb was not a bomb.

"When it is a cover for an experiment gone wrong." Bruce said.

Tony then managed to find the virtual dog tags and asked if there were any military victims but Jarvis said there weren't according to public records. Tony asked to bring up the thermogenic signatures again and factor in 3000 degrees. Jarvis managed to plot the last 12 months of thermogenic occurrences so Tony asked him to take away all the ones that were Mandarin attacks, which Jarvis did. Tony then saw Rosehill Tennessee still looked like a Mandarin attack and asked Jarvis if it was one of his but Jarvis said it predated any known Mandarin attack.

"Because it is covered up really well." Clint said.

An image of Sergeant Chad Davis appeared as Jarvis said the incident was the usage of a bomb to assist in a suicide.

Frank winced at the scene, reminded of Lewis Wilson. The situations were different as Davis had been injected with Extremis but the wording in this scene made it sound exactly the same.

Tony said the heat signatures were remarkably similar and asked Jarvis to create a flight plan for Tennessee as he shut the holograph off but then the doorbell rang and Tony commented how they were supposed to be on total security lockdown but Jarvis said there was only so much that could be done after Tony had given the world's press his home address.

"I tried my best." Vision said.

"We know you did." Wanda told him.

"Just proves how much of an idiot you are, Stark." Fury said.

"You speak one more time, I'm going to walk over to your couch and throw up on your eyepatch." Tony said as everyone glared at Fury, who simply sighed.

"You're a smart man, Fury. So I hope you know when to not open your mouth." Odinson told him.

Maya Hansen knocked on the door and it opened as Tony in his suit told her to stop where she was and jokingly asked if she was the Mandarin. Maya chuckled at how he didn't remember and Tony said he didn't remember what he had for breakfast. Jarvis reminded him that he had gluten-free waffles.

"I wonder what he'd do without you." Rhodes said to Vision.

"I won't get half as far as I have." Tony said.

Maya said she needed to be alone with him somewhere that wasn't here.

"I know she isn't asking you out or anything, but that is some poor wording." Scott said.

"I know right!" Tony said.

Tony said he would normally go for that sort of thing but now he was in a committed relationship. That was when Pepper threw down two bags and walking down, asked if anyone was there. Tony introduced Maya to her and she chuckled at the fact that Tony did remember her.

"You're a troll, you know that?" Natasha asked as everyone chuckled.

Tony jokingly asked her if a 12 year old kid was waiting for him in the car and she joked that the kid was 13.

Everyone chuckled.

"She almost got you there." Loki said.

Maya said she needed his help. Tony asked the reason and she said she had read the papers and didn't think Tony would last the week. Pepper said she wasn't expecting guests or ex-girlfriends but Tony corrected that it was a one-night thing and was a great one. Pepper told Maya she had saved herself a world of pain, offending Tony.

"Really, I'm that bad?" Tony asked.

"You are." Pepper and Rhodes said simultaneously.

"There are always chances of improvement." Trish said.

Pepper said they needed to go out of town but Tony refused. Pepper said normal people behaved like that as Maya saw the big bunny and asked if that was normal, to which Pepper said it sadly was. Tony yelled it was a big bunny and to relax about it while Pepper told him to calm down. He said he had gotten it for her and she hadn't even told him she liked it. She said she didn't.

"A dress or a small soft toy would have sufficed." Pepper said.

"To be honest, a big bunny is over the top even for you." Sam told him.

Maya then pointed at the monitor and asked if they needed to worry about it.

"You do." Hope said.

A missile hit the window at that very moment and exploded, sending the three of them flying back.

"Oh no!" Rhodes said.

"Oh boy!" Sam said at the same time.

"This is why you don't give terrorists your address." Logan said.

Tony mentally called the Mark 42 and it assembled around Pepper just before she fell, saving her.

"That kids, is the definition of irony." Jessica said and everyone chuckled.

"The very suit that attacked you a day ago is now saving your life." Trish said.

Helicopters flew up to the area, Savin sitting in one of them. Pepper saved Tony from falling debris and the two tried to escape the area as Tony saw a barely conscious Maya. He asked Pepper to take her and go as the ground between them broke. Pepper complied and picking up Maya, ran towards a window and tried to fire a repulsor but it didn't work. When she lowered her hand, the repulsor suddenly worked and the two were launched out, crashing through the window.

"Damn!" Scott said.

"That is one prematurely used suit." Steve said.

"You're not wrong." Tony told him.

"But it was necessary." Steve told him.

Tony ran around in the house, avoiding all the falling debris as the house fell apart on top of him. Pepper called out to him from outside. Jarvis told Tony that Pepper was clear of the structure so he called his suit back. It disassembled from around Pepper and as Tony was crawling in his house to avoid gunfire, assembled around him. He stood up and asked Jarvis about the flight power. Jarvis said he was working on it as the suit was still a prototype. It was only at 22% power currently.

"Still, better than no suit." Bucky said.

Tony tried to fire a missile at one helicopter but it was offline. The firing continued as the house fell apart and Tony fell around until he fired a repulsor at some debris and it crashed through the window, hitting a helicopter and taking it down.

"Score!" Rhodes and Sam said at the same time.

The helicopters still continued firing as Jarvis told Tony his suit wasn't combat ready. Tony took out a small piece from the arm and throwing it at a helicopter, fired a repulsor, causing an explosion that destroyed the helicopter. Pepper watched as the helicopter crashed right in front of Tony, sending him back as he hung on for dear life. Tony was thrown around and he saw as Dum-E and U were blown to bits.

"No!" Wanda said, having grown attached to the two bots due to the recordings.

Tony saw his suits getting blown up too.

"Oh my God!" Bruce said.

"This is getting worse and worse by the moment." Thor said.

Tony was finally thrown from the house as it started crashing into the water. Eventually, falling pieces of his house fell into the water along with him as Pepper walked up to the edge and called out to him in despair.

Tony and Pepper held each other's hands for comfort.

Tony started sinking in the suit as Jarvis asked him to take a deep breath and detached the gauntlet from his hand. The gauntlet then grabbed Tony's hand and started pulling him up.

"That is a really nice suit." Natasha said.

Jarvis said the flight power was restored and as the gauntlet reattached itself, the suit flew off with Tony inside it just as the helicopter left.

"At least you're out of there in one piece." Wanda told him, "Though your house is gone."

"Fortunately, that was the only thing I lost that day." Tony agreed.

An unspecified amount of time later, Tony was woken up by Jarvis and a beeping sound as Tony told him to kill the alarm but Jarvis told him that was the emergency alert triggered by the power dropping below 5%. A stag looked up and ran off as a screaming Tony crashed and flew through some trees, crashing through them too before falling in the snow.

"Ouch!" Aunt May said.

"So, how badly were you hurt?" Steve asked, cringing.

"Not that bad." Tony said, "Though my face hurt. And my arm."

"I think your face and arm always get hurt." Pepper said.

"Especially the arm." Rhodes reminded him.

"Good point." Tony agreed.

"Don't know what I'd do without my arm." Clint said.

Tony took off his visor and noted the snow, asking Jarvis where they were. Jarvis said they were 5 miles outside Rose Hill, Tennessee, shocking Tony who said it wasn't his idea as he needed to get Pepper. Jarvis said a flight plan had been prepared and this was the location. Tony asked Jarvis to open the suit.

"I was malfunctioning." Vision said.

"I know." Tony said.

Jarvis said he was malfunctioning as the suit came off. Tony sat up and took deep breaths, saying it was brisk and he needed to cosy back up but Jarvis said he needed to sleep and the suit powered down as Tony asked Jarvis not to leave him but it was too late.

"I get it. Don't overuse the battery." Tony said.

"This was the test of your life, man." Rhodes said, "Having to fight without your suits. And you did great."

"Thanks pal." Tony said.

Tony carried the suit through the snow, stopping to steal a poncho from a wooden Indian before he called Pepper through a secure Stark server outside a place called 'Texaco', apologizing for putting her in harm's way, saying it was stupid and selfish and won't happen again. He then apologized for the big bunny and finally apologized in advance as he couldn't come home and needed to find the Mandarin. He also told her he had stolen a poncho from a wooden Indian.

Almost everyone found their eyes a little wet at Tony's display of affection and were also amused by his way of showing it.

Pepper simply smiled at Tony as the two held hands.

Tony carried the suit through the snow again, eventually finding a work shop where he put it next to him on a couch and relaxed. That was when a kid arrived and pointed a potato gun at him. Tony said it was good but it would diminish his FPS, until the kid fired at a glass bottle, destroying it. Tony was impressed but said now Harley was out of ammo.

"That is a badass kid." Sam said.

"Harley Keener." Tony said, "Nice kid. And smart."

Harley asked what was on Tony's chest and he said it was an electromagnet and he should know as he had a box full of them. Harley asked what it powered and Tony moved out of the way to reveal his suit as Harley gasped in awe. He asked if it was Iron Man and Tony said technically he was. Harley told him he was dead technically as he gave him the newspaper which had a headline of him presumed dead.

"He is already looking like a younger version of you." Rhodes said.

"Duh." Tony said.

Harley asked what had happened to the suit and Tony said he'll fix it. Harley asked if he'd do it like a mechanic and he agreed. Harley started about what he would do if he was building Iron Man and War Machine, though Tony corrected that it was Iron Patriot now, which Harley found way cooler but Tony disagreed.

"No, it's not." Rhodes agreed with Tony.

"Iron Patriot sucks." Scott agreed too.

"Thanks man." Rhodes said.

Harley said he would have added the retro-reflective panels to make it stealth mode, impressing Tony who agreed it was a good idea.

"Smart, snarky." Natasha said.

Harley accidentally broke the suit's finger and Tony asked him to leave it alone before telling him he'd fix it. Tony then asked him who was home. Harley said his mom had left for the diner and his dad had gone to 7-11 to get scratchers but he had probably won as that was 6 years ago. Stark said dads left and there was no need to be a pussy about it.

Tony felt everyone's glares boring into him.

"Dude, what the hell?" Rhodes asked, "That is a horrible thing to say to a kid."

Aunt May said, "If you ever talk to Peter like that, I will-"

And she ended it there, leaving Tony thinking about the countless implications.

"You have every right to be upset about how your father treated you." Matt said, "But you have no right to be so callous to a child because of that."

"You're right." Tony said, feeling shame for what he had said to Harley, "I was a dick to that kid. It's a miracle he still helped me after that." [1]

"We're here to learn from our mistakes after all." Pepper said gently.

Tony told Harley he needed a laptop, a digital watch, a cell phone, a pneumatic actuator from Harley's bazooka, a map of town, a big spring and a tuna fish sandwich. Harley asked what was in it for him and Tony said salvation, asking him the name of the kid who bullied him at school, as he recognized the signs of a kid who is bullied. He then gave Harley a small flash grenade from his suit, telling him it discouraged bullying and was non-lethal, only to cover one's ass. Harley accepted it and decided to help Tony, finally introducing himself as Harley Keener as Tony called himself the mechanic. He then asked Harley about his sandwich again.

Everyone chuckled.

Outside the destroyed house, police, firemen and reporters had assembled, doing their usual job as Pepper stood there too. She picked up a broken helmet and touched it with her head, only to realize it was beeping. She put it around her head and when the retinal scan was verified, Tony's apology began playing. The very sound of his voice was enough to make Pepper smile happily as happy tears escaped her eyes.

Everyone smiled at the scene, knowing how relieved Pepper would have felt.

Later, Pepper drove Maya away, asking her why she was in the house. Maya said she thought her boss was working for the Mandarin and they needed to get someplace safe.

"He is the Mandarin." Tony said as Benjamin and Logan exchanged a look with Matt, Elektra, Frank, Jessica, Luke and Trish, knowing that he wasn't.

Pepper was confused until Maya told her she was actually a biological DNA coder running a team of 40 out of a privately funded think tank, not a botanist as Tony had described. Pepper asked if her boss had a name and Maya said it was Aldrich Killian. Pepper looked at her in shock.

"Busted." Hope said.

Aldrich was on the phone as Savin told him they had taken the house down but there was no sign of a body. Aldrich said the master was about to record and cutting the call, told his men not to make eye contact unless they wanted to get shot in the face. The Mandarin prepared himself and arrived at the location, ready to record.

"Stealing Aldrich's glory all over again." Tony said dryly.

Tony and Harley walked together as Tony said the sandwich was fair but the spring was a little rusty, though he'd make do with the rest of the raw materials. He then said he was hoping for something a little more adult when Harley had mentioned his sister had a watch. Turned out Tony was wearing a 'Dora the Explorer' watch.

Everybody laughed as Tony held his face in his hands and shook his head, "Someone shoot me."

"That is a nice watch." Peter said with laughs as everyone continued laughing at Tony who looked embarrassed.

Harley said she was only six and it was a limited edition.

"Inquire about age next time. Got it." Tony said.

"It's limited edition. You should be happy." Pepper joked and everyone laughed again as Tony looked offended.

Harley asked if they could talk about New York or the Avengers but Tony said they couldn't, asking the kid to give him space. The two stopped in front of the place where Chad Davis had blown himself up. Tony asked the official story and Harley said Chad Davis had won some medals in the army but had gone crazy one day and blown himself up. Tony remembered that six people had died but there were only five ash-imprints. Harley said that according to people, the shadows were marks of people going to Heaven except Chad as he had blown himself up and gone to Hell.

"When I call something superstitious, trust me, it is." Matt said, "And this is."

Tony asked if he bought that and Harley said that was what people said.

"People can be wrong." T'Challa said.

Harley then said the crater reminded him of New York, asking Tony several questions about it too, including if he had PTSD, though Tony denied it.

"Except you do." Logan said.

Eventually, he managed to give Tony an anxiety attack as he got up and staggered near a pole, laying down as Harley looked at him in concern. That was when two kids arrived on quad bikes and stopped them near Harley, spreading snow over him. One of them, who was his bully, EJ, asked him if Tony was his boyfriend.

"The bullies." Natasha realized.

Harley said it was Tony Stark but Tony needed to keep a low profile so he covered his head with his cap as EJ said Tony Stark was dead and the two drove off, once again spreading snow on Harley.

"Poor kid and poor you." Frank said to Tony.

Tony recovered and threw a snowball at Harley, telling him it was his fault before asking him where Mrs. Davis was. Harley said she was where she always is and Tony said now he was being helpful.

"That's better." Clint said.

Tony later walked towards a bar and bumped into a red-haired woman accidentally, making her drop her wallet. He picked it up and returned it to her, complimenting her hairstyle. She complimented his watch and he proudly said it was limited edition. She walked off, telling him to have a good evening.

"Her." Tony snarled.

"I guess she meant 'horrible evening.'" Rhodes said.

Tony then walked into the bar where people were having fun. He found Mrs. Davis who was sitting alone. Tony asked if he could join her and she joked it was a free country. He sat down and apologized for her loss, asking her what she thought had happened. She put a file on the table and told him to take it and go. Tony realized she was waiting for someone else as he read the file and saw that Chad worked with someone called Jack Taggart.

"The guy who exploded in front of Happy." Steve recognized him.

Tony assured Mrs. Davis her son hadn't killed himself or anyone else but had been used as a weapon, surprising her. She realized he wasn't the one who had called her and the red-haired woman from before slammed her badge into the table, telling him she had. She suddenly grabbed Tony in a hold to arrest him as Tony discreetly took the dog tags of Chad that Mrs. Davis had.

"This is not good at all." Jessica said.

"Nope." Tony said.

The woman, whose name was Ellen Brandt, put cuffs on Tony as the sheriff asked her what she was doing. She introduced herself as a Homeland agent but the sheriff didn't buy it. Mrs. Davis threw the file into a corner as Brandt's hand glowed, shocking Tony. She put the badge on the sheriff's face, burning it as he screamed and the others ran off. She then took his gun and shot another cop and him as everyone continued running. Tony ran out, jokingly asking if she wanted a party. He then saw Savin getting out of his car and ran the other way but Harley threw a snowball at Savin, distracting him.

"Oh shit!" Sam said.

"These people." Rhodes snarled.

Tony hid behind a car, jokingly asking a man if it was crazy and he agreed. Tony ran towards a window of the bar and crashed through it. A man tried to fire at Brandt but she snatched his gun and fired at Tony who jumped to hide behind the counter, still cuffed. He turned left but saw Brandt was already there. She picked him up and elbowed him. Tony tried to attack but she flipped him to the ground. He tried to roll away but she grabbed his hand and pinned him to a wall. The two grabbed each other as she glowed and Tony eventually leapt and grabbing her in a chokehold with his cuffs, held her against the counter, trying to choke her. She laughed as her neck glowed and Tony used that to burn through the cuffs as he backed off and threw them down.

"Smart." Steve said.

"That's Stark for you." Natasha said.

Tony then kicked some fuel at her along with the still glowing cuffs, igniting the flames. He then started setting up the microwave as Brandt walked through the flames, burning herself up. "You walked right into this one. I've dated hotter chicks than you." Tony joked.

Everyone laughed at Tony's wit.

"Now that is what I call the pun-master." Sam said.

A burning Ellen walked through the doors, now on fire. "That's all you got?" She hissed, "A cheap trick and a cheesy one-liner?" Tony exposed some gas and said, "Sweetheart, that could be the name of my autobiography." With that, he ran out as Brandt noticed Davis' dog tags inside the microwave. Tony hid behind an ice machine as an explosion erupted. Tony then walked out, noticing people running in fear and Brandt dead between some wires on a pole.

"Creepy." Peter said.

"Smart way to beat your opponents." Hope said.

"At least you had a point about being nothing without my suit." Benjamin said.

Tony suddenly saw the water tower shaking and realized Savin was using his Extremis powers to bring it down. He then saw EJ and his friend riding their quad bikes and ran to the fence, jumping on the other side, telling them to run off as the water tower was coming down. EJ tried but the water tower collapsed first, spreading a huge quantity of water all around, though Tony managed to save himself by holding onto a fence. He realized his foot was trapped under some debris and called out to EJ, before Savin arrived holding Harley hostage.

"Oh no!" Clint snarled angrily, thinking of ways to kill Savin.

"Coward!" Steve spat.

Harley apologized to Tony as Savin put him down and demanded the file and Tony assured him it wasn't his fault, asking him to remember what he had been told about bullies.

"Nice lesson about bullies, Tony." Steve said in an impressed tone, knowing what was about to happen.

Harley used the flash grenade on Savin, blinding him temporarily as he ran off. Stark then told Savin smart guys always covered their asses and fired a repulsor at him, sending him back.

Everyone clapped happily at the scene.

"Now that's what you get for holding a kid hostage." Frank snarled angrily at Savin, "Nice job, Stark."

Tony then pulled the debris off himself as Harley pulled EJ back up. With help from Tony and Mrs. Davis, they pulled EJ out of the water and put him on the ground as Mrs. Davis tried to perform CPR on him. Tony got an idea and slowly pulling out his Arc Reactor, shocked EJ, getting pushed back. He tried again and was pushed back again. But the third time, EJ's eyes snapped open and he coughed the water out as Harley and Mrs. Davis helped him up while Tony looked relieved.

Everyone's jaws gapped at Tony's act of selflessness.

"Proof that Tony Stark has a heart." Steve finally said in an impressed tone and everyone nodded.

"You're okay, Stark." Frank told him, equally impressed.

"You did the right thing, Tony." Pepper said as the two gazed into each other's eyes.

"You're a hero." Loki of all people said.

"A very good one at that." Wanda agreed. Everything she was seeing had made her see Stark in a new light. While he was still a little less than partially responsible for the bomb, he was a good man and would do anything to make up for it if he could. And that was enough.

"They're right." Rhodes said.

"Thanks guys." Tony smiled.

Tony suddenly started seizing due to the Arc Reactor being out of his body. As he fell down, Harley snatched the Arc Reactor from his grasp and managed to put it back inside, resuscitating Tony who patted Harley's head happily.

Everyone sighed in relief at the scene, smiles on their faces.

Tony then walked up to where Savin was lying and stole his car keys. Later, with the file in his hand, Tony walked off as Harley walked up to him saying "You're welcome." Tony wondered if he had missed something and Harley said he had saved his life. Tony said he had saved him first but still thanked him and asked him not to be a yutz as he would come off grandiose. Harley said Tony needed him as they were connected but Tony said he needed Harley to go home, be with his mom, guard the suit, and stay connected to the telephone. He then said they were done and got in the car, apologizing to Harley and saying he did good. Harley asked if he was going to leave him like his dad and Tony said he was, realizing he was guilt-tripping him. Harley childishly said he was cold and Tony mockingly said he could tell because they were connected and drove off as Harley said it was worth a shot.

Everyone chuckled at the witty banter between Tony and Harley.

"Kid's definitely a younger you." Luke said.

Savin's wounds healed and he woke up.

"Uh-oh." Hope said.

An advertisement was playing when the Ten Rings symbol appeared again. The Vice President also got the scene along with President Ellis in his plane. The Mandarin was there, saying only two lessons remained and this would be over before Christmas morning. The Mandarin showed a man called Thomas Richards, who was the accountant for Roxxon Oil Corporation, lying on the ground, sobbing.

"He is an actor too." Logan said about Richards, "For this scene."

He said if President Ellis called the telephone next to them in 30 seconds, he will spare Richards and that the number was in Ellis' phone. Ellis realized it was and asked how his phone had been hacked. In spite of being advised against it, Ellis called the Mandarin to save Richards' life, but he still shot him on the head, killing him as everyone watched the scene in horror.

"And then Richards got up and shook hands with the guy." Frank snorted angrily.

"Bunch of cons." Tony said.

The Mandarin said t