Chapter 1: Welcome to the 1950s
Steve wakes up to the radio telling him to vote for Kennedy, which, considering that Bucky said he might have assassinated him (and Natasha quietly confirming it), didn’t make any sense.The voice was talking at something resembling the speed of light and pausing for laughs, like it was a comedy skit. She mentioned something about Jackie and her parents and linen and Steve finally opened his eyes. She talked closer to what he remembered from his childhood than the 21 st century he was getting used to, and the small apartment was missing some of the appliances that used to be there. Everything felt groggy and unfocused and this wasn’t the right decade and-
Oh goddammit Fury. Again? The radio trick, again?
Steve bolted up, and instantly regretted it. His head was splitting open and he was nauseous as hell. He felt like he’d been drugged, which didn’t make sense. Was SHIELD still enough of a thing for them to drug him? What the hell were they thinking? God, his head was pounding.
Wait, actually, that was his door.
“Hey asshole! Pick up your fucking newspaper before others trip on it!” Steve stumbled out of bed and threw open the door. Or, tried to. The bed blocked it, and he couldn’t see anything. “Down here, you piece of shit.”
Steve looked down to see a short brown-haired women wearing overalls and a very impressive scowl. Steve tried to flash her a friendly grin, make her feel at ease. Somehow, that made her scowl more. Ok, damage control.
“Uh, I’m new to the building and-“
“Look, I don’t give a flying fuck what you’re doing, just pick up your damn paper and stay away from me.” The woman picked up the paper, shoved it at him. “And don’t bring anyone over after 2 am, the walls are thin.”
“Uh, I-, ma’am,”
“The name’s Suzy, not ma’am ” The woman, Suzy apparently, scowled at the phrase. Then she turned around and clambered down rickety stairs, leaving Steve still stuttering and processing. He glanced down at the paper and freezes. January 1 st , 1959.
This couldn’t be Fury. There was nothing to gain by making him think it was the late 50s. Steve quickly scanned through the paper and…
“Cuban government in disarray.”
“Soviet Union to the South Pole.”
“Tony Stark speaks about the Cold War.”
Wait. Tony hadn’t even been born yet. Steve went through that page again and looked through the story. Stark Industries, which was still a weapons manufacturer, wasn’t only run by Howard Stark; he co-ran it with his son, who was in conversation about the atomic bomb his father had helped build, along with the political tension involved. Steve turned to the page and swallows. That’s Tony, all right. The Tony Steve knew, and the one he hadn’t seen in a year, even if he looked a bit younger.
Well, time to find cab fare and a bus schedule. If anyone could fix it, it would probably be Tony. He wondered how Tony was doing.
Tony Stark was not doing fine, and it was all the aliens’ fault. One stupid hunk of technology that he had been running tests on and he wakes up in 1959 this morning, with his dad still alive and on decent terms with him. Not to mention Pepper was still his PA, Rhodey was in the army but he couldn’t call him and Stark Industries still produced weaponry. Alien technology got him jettisoned back to the beginning of the Cold War with phones that he was years ahead of when he was five and nuclear threats everywhere.
Fuck Aliens. Fuck them all to hell.
“Mr. Stark, someone is here to see you.” Pepper walks in, her face younger and her hair shorter and pinned up in curls. It reminds him of Aunt Peggy, and his chest hurt as he thinks about it. Maybe Peggy was still alive here. Tony had woken up younger, born right before the war had started. His mom had run away. Rhodey had still met him in college, but they hadn’t seen each other in years. Anything was possible.
“Who is it?” Tony asks, drinking some of the coffee on his desk and hoping it’s another random politician he gets to yell at. That’s happened three times this morning. Which is a good distraction, because good God, this coffee is disgusting.
“He says his name is Steve Rogers.” And Tony promptly spits out his coffee.
Pepper raises an eyebrow at the coughing fit he’s now trying to get control of, but she doesn’t say anything. Steve Rogers. Steve fucking Rogers. Of course. And he had to play along long enough to figure out how to get home.
And of course, the last time he saw this guy, he’d rammed his father’s shield into his chest. This was going to be fun.
“Send him in,” He muttered and caught Pepper’s face. “What?”
“How do you know it’s actually Steve Rogers? Your dad didn’t mention him showing up today.” Oh lovely, Steve Rogers was still dad’s old war buddy. That was going to be fun.
“If it’s not actually him, we can always have him thrown out. But thank you for looking out for me, Ms. Potts.”
Pepper almost smiled at that as she turned on her very tall heels and strolled away. Tony couldn’t help but grin. It had been a while since this had been the dynamic between them. From what he could tell, he’d woken up in an alternate world that had based itself off the original, and that meant that Pepper was his PA again, but this time with curls. The grin slipped off his face as he saw Captain America, back in old-looking clothes and the beginnings of a shaggy beard. Right. Dad’s old war buddy. Let’s do this.
“Hello Mr. Rogers,” Tony said, standing up and offering his press smile. He wasn’t eager to repeat that first meeting on the Helicarrier. He still had shit he had to do before he could go to a lab and figure this out, and “throwing hands,” as the Spiderling called it, wouldn’t help that.
Steve’s-no, wait, Rogers’s- face flickers a bit as he nods. He looks a bit disappointed, and isn’t that just the cake. Some things never change.
Ok, that sounded like the guy Tony had been on a team with, with too much familiarity for “dad’s friend”. He looked at him like he was expecting something, like he was waiting for Tony to notice him somehow. He never took his eyes off his face.
It was a little unnerving actually. Was it possible that…Oh screw it. Time to mess with the system a bit; he could always claim eccentricity later.
“I will say, I do miss the AC/DC as a soundtrack to my life, but The Platters isn’t half bad. Makes a fun wartime movie.”
Rogers’ eyes got comically round and his jaw dropped. Tony waited for a response, still shooting him his press smile as he stuttered. Maybe this wasn’t the cuddly Captain America he’d come to know and love. And then rammed his shield into his chest. Oops.
“Never mind. What can I-“
“Tony?” Steve’s-nope, Roger’s-voice cracked on his voice and Tony looked up into his eyes. He was still tall, muscular, and the beard made his eyes even bluer. Somewhere in Tony’s chest, his heart panged. He’d missed him. But he didn’t trust him, not after Siberia. Press smile, Tony, come on.
“Ok then Rogers, so we’re both stuck in the past thanks to alien technology, see you in 60 years.” Tony said, waving his hand to emphasize his nonchalance as he turned away, just so he didn’t have to look into his eyes
“Tony, listen…I’m sorry about Siberia.” Oh, great, now they were doing this. And he couldn’t suit up and fly back to the compound. Tony rolled his shoulders once, then turned around.
“Well, you’re sorry. Great. Fantastic. It doesn’t matter anyway.”
“Tony…” Steve trails off, giving him a sad look. For a split second, Tony wanted to do anything to get that look off Steve’s face.
But no. Tony’d been through months of therapy to build himself back up. He’d revised the accords, built up something with the Avengers that were left, got Rhodey walking again and dealt with the fact that Steve Rogers would never care about him half as much as he would about Bucky. All of that had stung, but he’d gotten through it. He wasn’t going to open his heart up just to have it smashed in again.
“Yeah, Rogers? It doesn’t matter anymore. It’s been a year.” Tony took in a shaky breath. “And you made your position pretty clear. Just because we’re stuck in an alternate universe where I’m 21, apparently, doesn’t change that fact.” Steve flinched, a bit. He looked a bit younger too, and more at home here than he’d ever been with the Avengers. Maybe he should stay here.
“How can you say it doesn’t matter?”
“Because it’s been a year. I’ve moved on from then. I’m sure you have too.”
Steve opens his mouth, and Tony sighs. “Look, give me a day, ok? I’ll figure out what’s happening, and get back to you. For now…I guess go talk to Aunt Peg and dad. They’re still alive.”
Yeah, he was well aware that he hadn’t let Steve talk. But if he had, then he’d have to deal with Sad Steve, and Tony was way too stressed for it. Maybe he’d be happier here; he had comically perked up as soon as he’d mentioned Aunt Peg. And Tony could then focus on getting home, because Peter had a science fair that he was going to miss and the kid was going to be so disappointed if he didn’t come.
Of course, several hours later, after he’d beaten his head against the non-holographic lab table (was it pushing it if he invented it himself?), Tony had taken a cab to “wherever there was cheap booze and some entertainment.” Because there was nothing that he could find out of the ordinary. He’d run every single test imaginable, but the tests all said everything was peachy-keen.
Did people say peachy-keen in this decade? They definitely said boss, because his dad had said that the new deal was “boss.” He’d also been told to “hang loose,” “pig out,” and listen to some “twitchin’ jams.” That one made Tony throw up in his mouth a little; It made him miss Peter saying “big mood” every time Tony said something vaguely depressing.
He shoved some money at the cab driver and groaned as he trudged to somewhere called “the Gaslight.” It was a very dingy hole-in-the-wall club, but it was perfect for his 3 AM insomnia.
“What’s the strongest thing 10 bucks and a Sophie Lennon pin can buy?” He asked a short woman at the bar once he’d gotten inside. The woman glared up at him.
“You like Sophie Lennon?” She asked, her entire body on edge. She was pretty threatening, even if she was shorter than him. And he was pretty short. She certainly made up for it through persona.
“Lady, I have no idea who Sophie Lennon is. But I have no way to melt it down to make it more useful, so…you got anything you can do with it?”
The woman’s scowl changed into a grin as she slammed down a glass, and filled it with vodka. “Chuck that shit into the Hudson river and we’ll call it even.” Tony threw his head back and laughed as he grabbed the glass.
“You got yourself a deal,” He said as he shoved the money on the counter. Thankfully, she hadn’t realized who he was. His disguise, disgusting brown baggy pants and a bonnet, apparently worked really well.
He sat himself down somewhere near the bar and chugged half the glass in one gulp as he turned to his thoughts. There had to be something that could help. There had to be something that was off, it was alien technology for Christ’s sake. Its entire fucking job was to make things weird.
“ Ladies and Gentlemen, Mrs. Maisel!” Oh wait, this thing had entertainment. At 3 AM. Tony chugged some more vodka; he did not want to be sober for this.
“Good Evening, lady and gentleman!” A woman in a black cocktail dress had walked on stage. She looked furious.
“So what’s the deal with New Year’s resolutions? They’re weird, right? Once a year, we tell ourselves ‘I’m going to completely change my life,’ and then one week later we’re back to drinking wine straight out of the bottle and arguing with your mother about whether your kids looks more like Winston Churchill or Bugs Bunny.”
The room chuckles, and Tony looks around. The room is transfixed, hanging on her every word.
“Well, turns out my father didn’t get the memo. I walk in on New Year’s day to papers. Papers fucking everywhere. My dad, a Columbia professor, by the way, he’s paid to be smart, decides that he’s going to plan out the future. Apparently, we’re going to get to 50 states, Tony Stark’s going to build a flying robot suit and the Russians are going to join an alliance with aliens!”
Tony chokes on his drink, and looks around the room again. Tendrils of bright light were streaming around the room now, and the crowd looked to be under some sort of spell. Robot suit and aliens was a bit too close to call coincidence, and Tony’s gut felt cold. Was she an alien? A magician? A god? What the hell was going on?
“What the fuck?” Tony turned and saw the woman from the bar looking around too. She wasn’t affected by the spell. She seemed to be the only one.
“You can see this too?” He asked, looking at her. She stared at him in disbelief and nodded. “Does this happen often?”
“First time.” The woman said, looking up at “Mrs. Maisel.” “The fuck is happening?”
Well, at the very least Tony had found something otherworldly. Now to figure out what the hell was going on.
“So, what do you say to coming to Stark Industries tomorrow?”
Chapter 2: Susie being an Agent
A bit more about establishing than I was planning on, but I'm just along for the ride at this point.
Susie woke up in a really foul mood. Now, to be fair, this was nothing new; waking up was never a pleasant experience and it somehow got worse the more she did it. Today, however, it was a different kind of foul. The “something I don’t know about is happening and I don’t like it” kind of foul.
She rolled herself out of bed and squished herself around her crowded apartment to get to the newspaper, which had been jammed through the cracks in her door. Thanks Travis, you fucking moron, She grumbled, as she picked it up. It did not make her mood better:
Something something Stark, something something nuclear threat, something something Alaska. Perfect. Susie read the news most days to give Midge ideas when she decided talking about her parents had run its course, but she couldn’t find the motivation to look through it. Not after Midge had lit up the Gaslight like it was the fucking fourth of July. For once, Susie wasn’t being metaphorical.
Tony Stark had said to be at the front door around lunch as an explanation before he high-tailed out of the club, and Susie was very prepared to hold him to that. If nothing else, Stark could get Midge into some fancy clubs if they played their cards right. Or maybe he would build that robot suit Midge’s dad kept jabbering about and fight the aliens. Or the Russians. Or whoever the hell America decided was evil this week.
Someone knocked on the door, and Susie called Midge as a way to stall. Maybe it would be that Steve guy, who was way too fucking tall. How did he fit through doors?
“Susie? You don’t normally call at-“
“Yeah, yeah, I know. We’re going to Stark Industries after whenever you have lunch. Please, just show up before 3 or something.”
“But my mother-Susie it’s Saturday afternoon.”
“Miriam, this is a billionaire. An actual fucking billionaire. He could jumpstart your career in under 10 minutes. I don’t care if Moses himself called you and told you to stay home, you get your ass to Stark Industries or so help me, I will call your father and tell him that my neighbor is secretly from the moon.”
Someone shuffled from the door and Susie took that to mean that whoever it was had given up. She slammed down the receiver and got up. Time to be a motherfucking agent.
Unfortunately, Stark Industries was fucking ginormous and crowded as all hell. There were three front doors. What assholes needed three front doors? Especially with guards and sleazy business suits walking through them constantly. Not to mention that Midge was entirely unhelpful. She had apparently thought it was appropriate to wear the puffiest yellow dress in existence and tell Susie that she should “muscle her way through.” It was like looking into the fucking sun and it telling you to man up. It was way too fucking distracting.
“So, normally, one has to go through a door to get inside of a building.” Some guy said from her left, and Susie spun around to find Tony Stark. She chuckled a bit as she saw what he was wearing, a disgusting baseball cap below a hooded sweatshirt, and sunglasses. Susie figured he was trying to look inconspicuous with it. It was only kind of working.
“The fuck are you wearing?” Susie smirked at him, and he blinked in surprise.
“Have you seen little Ms. Sunshine over there?” He shot back, and gestured over to Midge. Midge, who was now attempting to seduce the guard with hair twirls. Susie wasn’t sure if it was working or not, but she had to resist the urge to smack someone. And then the magic colors started again, swirling around the two of them.
“Ohh, shit, we should get to the lab.” Stark muttered, and sprinted over to Midge. Curse him and his slightly longer legs Susie huffed as she followed. Stark had slung his arm over Midge’s shoulders and turned her towards Susie, grinning and talking. He waved his arms around as he looked vaguely apologetic towards the spellbound guard, then lead Midge onwards, picking up speed as he did so. His arm was still around her shoulders.
“I think that’s close enough, buddy,” Susie said, smacking the offending arm as she matched pace with them. “Aren’t we supposed to be going into the building and not away from it?”
“Unless you want to explain magic to the assholes in the suits, not a great plan.” Stark retracted his arm and kept shuffling forward at a slightly faster pace than Susie could keep up with. “There’s a secret elevator. Dear old dad has a less crowded building over there.”
“Right, that’s not creepy in the slightest.”
Stark looked like he was thinking of something as he reached the door. He put in some access code as he rubbed his left arm and then snapped off some bracelet type things. He handed one to Susie and one to Midge, who was breathing heavily from the light jog. Heels are not good running shoes, apparently.
“These are like mini guns.” Stark jolted Susie out of her thoughts as the doors of the elevator opened. “If I, or anyone else for that matter, does anything either of you don’t like down there, point and flick your wrists back.”
“You just have these with you?” Midge asked, staring down at it. “They’re kind of weird-looking.”
“You can redesign it as a charm bracelet if you want, Banana-skirt,” Stark told her as they clambered inside. “It never hurts to be prepared.”
Susie flicked her wrist back and shot the ground in front of her. The thing was powerful enough to leave a smoking hole in the ground and threw her arm back. Susie stared at it as the elevator doors closed. She had a weapon. She had a weapon more powerful than the fuckers with guns in her neighborhood, all in this little bracelet. Hell, she had a weapon from Stark to use against him if she wanted to.
“You’re insane.” She told Stark, who grimaced.
“That’s what happens after you fly a robot suit for somewhere around eight years.” Midge looked at him, eyes wide, trying to see if he was lying. Stark’s face looked grim as he stared back into her eyes.
“So my dad…”
“Isn’t as crazy as you think he is.”
“So where’s your flying suit, then?” Susie scowled. That was pushing any and all disbelief she had. Stark looked towards her now, and smiled sardonically.
“It got lost in translation when I went back in time.”
Susie stared at him for a solid five seconds. That one took the cake.
“You’re fucking crazy.”
“Let’s hope so. Maybe that means this is all some elaborate hallucination on my part and I’ll wake up in my own bed tomorrow.”
The elevator stopped and Stark strode forward, shoulders back and a slightly fake smile in place. Susie honestly wasn’t sure why she followed. But she’d met her fair share of sickos at the Gaslight, and she prided herself on her instincts. Stark, for everything she’d ever read in the paper, hadn’t set off any bad vibes. He just looked defeated, tired and sincere. Actually, now that she thought about it, Stark looked as defeated as her sister did after her husband had lost his leg. Maybe that’s why she kept following him; she wanted to see what he was making out of this. That, and the bracelet gun.
The hallways had a few employees in them, but they seemed more like scientists than business men. Stark had taken them to Stark Industries R&D, one of the most secure places on earth. But Susie relaxed, slightly. This was still corporate. She knew how corporate worked.
“Time travel, huh? That doesn’t sound very fun.” Midge quipped as she looked around the facility, waving to people as she passed. Stark looked back at her with a sarcastic smile.
“It’s boss, darling.” He drawled and turned to the door at the end of the hallway. He put in another passcode, clapped his hands and grinned as the facility opened. “Daddy’s home, boys.”
“Hello, sir,” a disembodied British voice said. Midge and Susie jumped.
“The fuck is that?” she asked Stark. He turned to her with a bright grin on his face.
“That’d be J.A.R.V.I.S.” He said, smiling. “He’ll be helping us run some tests.”
“What tests?” Susie asked as Midge looked panicked. They hadn’t really talked about that. They hadn’t known what they were going to do here. Susie had completely forgotten about asking him to sponsor Midge, what with all of the secret elevator bullshit. She had looked at all of the passcodes, and she’d made sure she had an exit strategy. Talking was one thing, even if it was in a secret R&D building. Tests? That was something else.
“Lemonade over here is going to talk for a while and I’m going to try to figure out why she makes everything glow. Is that fine?” Stark said, looking first at Midge, then at Susie, for confirmation. Susie scanned over the equipment, and she didn’t see any recording equipment. She nodded at Midge.
Midge grinned at Susie as a response, who rolled her eyes and started laughing. This was like their brainstorming sessions they had now and again, and it couldn’t hurt if Stark listened to this and liked it. Plus, the magic glowing thing was really weird. Yeah, this was going to be fine
“Susie, I have a lot of material for tonight, tell me what sticks.” Midge told Susie, and she had barely nodded when Midge had launched into a long tirade against aliens, booze, and marriage. Not even slightly in that order.
All in all, she talked for an hour. Midge had paused for water halfway through, because Stark had gotten nervous that all of this energy might genuinely blow them up, and then gotten right back into her tirade about Rabbis. Some of the material had been so good that Stark had had to take a break to laugh when she’d started talking about Captain America’s dumbass shield.
“And that’s why marriage vows are bullshit.” Midge finished, and the glow stuff, which had become consistently yellow somewhere around the forty-minute mark instead of rainbow, flared brightly before dying. Midge looked at Susie, panting, then at Stark, who had just finished up one of his readings. “I think that’s all I got.”
“That was perfect.” Stark said, wiping some tears out of his eyes while he put his equipment down. “You guys should be at the big leagues.”
“It’d be nice to have a sponsor.” Susie told him as he finished typing something. Stark looked at her, vaguely amused. He knew exactly what she was trying to do.
“We’ll see if I manage to survive long enough to do it.” Stark deadpanned, and then looked at his test results. “Oh…shit.”
“What?” Susie’s chest seized. That didn’t sound good.
“Cheese-head over there has mental manipulation powers. That much is clear.”
“What?” Midge asked, her eyes wide.
“Apparently, the glow stuff ‘compels’ people to listen to you. They become like…puppets.” Stark shuddered at the end of his sentence. “We might have to run more tests, but…try not to use that on people. It doesn’t feel very good.”
Now, that sounded like personal experience. Susie was about to ask what that meant for Midge when the door burst open. A strawberry blonde woman is standing there, eyes wild and angry. Stark grins sheepishly.
“Tony, why the fuck are we in the 1950s?!” She screeched at them. Susie couldn’t help taking a step back. This woman looked terrifying. “Who are these two?! AND WHY IS ROGERS HERE?!”
Susie gulped. Midge grinned sheepishly. Stark looked relieved. Maybe it was going to be fine. Stark was smart. He could make sure they didn’t die from this lady’s spiky heels.
“I think we’re in an alternate dimension.”
Nope, she takes that back. She’s going to die.