- Character Bashing
- Dark Themes
- Alternate Universe
If you read my Project File, you know this was originally an All Steve All the Time story idea…until I recovered my sanity. Well, I decided to use the original starting off point and some of those plot points to wrap this up.
The original starting point is in this clip, from 00:45-1:22. I thought you might like to see it.
And Steve woke up.
It was the last thing he expected and it was close to the end of the list on the things he wanted as well. He was warm and dry, comfortable, in a bed big enough to fit him. There was music playing softly. Actual music, not that sensory assault most people called music in The Future.
Slowly, he opened his eyes and looked around. He was in a hospital gown, again that fit him, and had a number of leads and tubes in various places he probably didn’t want to identify. The music was coming from a phone on a stand on the table to his left. Sam was sitting on his right reading and something inside of Steve settled.
He was definitely not in enemy territory, if they let Sam sit with him. And Sam wasn’t obviously injured outside of the cut not far from his eyebrow.
“On your left,” he called out softly and watched Sam look up at him through his eyelashes. Sam’s smile was close-lipped and smaller than anything he’d given him before, even when he was being a jerk to him on their run that first day.
Still, Sam stood and walked away. Steve watched his back as he poured a cup of water and brought it to him. Now, Steve hadn’t been hospitalized since waking up in The Future until now but he’d visited injured agents often enough…and that cup was wrong. It was thick, not even plastic, it was glass. Not Styrofoam. The lid was rubber and the straw was flexible aluminum. “Where are we?”
“Stark Tower,” Sam answered easily and Steve felt it like a stab to the kidney. “Tony Stark showed up and saved our bacon, Steve. I didn’t even know you, you know, knew him knew him.”
Steve doesn’t say anything. He can’t.
“Why didn’t you call him to deal with the Helicarriers? He was pretty much the best person alive to deal with them. If those repulsor engines were not his design, I’ll eat my coat.”
“Stark’s not trustworthy,” he finally forced out. “He’s unreliable and refuses to follow orders.”
Sam frowned at him and took a step back. An actual physical step back. The guy that had no problem or hesitation on fighting with him against SHIELD and Hydra combined, stepped away from him at those words.
“According to who?” Sam asked after several moments of silent evaluation.
“My Adaptation Coordinator? Agent Sit-” And he stopped.
“Agent Sitwell?” Sam finished for him, knowing full well the only way Steve could finish that sentence after the briefing he and Nat had given him. “The guy you let Romanoff kick off of a roof because he was Hydra? They guy I let you let Romanoff kick off a roof because he was Hydra? Do you think, maybe, Hydra lied to you? They obviously wanted you isolated. It was the only way they could control you, how could they better do that than to set you against your biggest ally? You know you were found in a Stark Arctic Expedition, right?”
Steve silently shook his head.
“Howard Stark started running them, trying to get you back after the War. Hell, he might have started them during the war, I don’t know, and Tony continued it in his father’s honor. Fury stole you and hid you from people that actually cared for you, from the people that actually wanted to help you, and surrounded you with Hydra assholes. I’ll give it to him that he probably didn’t know they were Hydra but are you going to let him get away with that?”
“No,” Steve shook his head, this time with purpose.
“Then, what are you going to do?”
Steve blew out a breath, “I’m going to apologize to Tony.”
“Become the best damn friend he’s ever had. And find Bucky. And personally kick Fury’s ass the next time I see him.”
Steve blinked, “What about her?”
“You realize she’s been a raging asshole to Tony and from Tony’s stories Fury’s little lapdog this entire time, right? Jumping when he said, biting when he said. Biting Tony when Fury said. I wouldn’t be surprised if he assigned her to honeytrap you, either.”
He had no idea what that was supposed to mean. Well, no. That wasn’t true. He had an idea what a honey trap was because he could, in fact, read but he didn’t want to think that Nat had gotten close to him on someone’s order to do so. Though, even if she had, his friendship to her had been real and the only solution there was was to ask her, face to face, next time he saw her exactly how it was.
“I guess we can check the data,” was what he said out loud. “It’s all out on the internet for everyone to see, we can find out everything Fury’s done to all of us.”
Sam shifted and Steve looked up at him, “What?”
“It’s not on the internet.”
“What?” He felt a straight shot of betrayal. “Did Nat not-?”
“Oh, she did,” Same held up a cautioning hand. “But, like I said, Tony came to help. He had his AI’s catch as much of it as they could. They’re still trying to wipe bits of it off the internet—it’s been a week and they’re still trying—but they caught a lot.”
“Steve, do you realize what we did with that? We maliciously attacked the US government. We committed treason. People have been hurt, killed, and kidnapped, all because of what we did. Tony stopping the transfer is the only reason we aren’t in jail right now.”
No, that can’t be right. Nat had been so sure it was the best way to protect people, how would people get hurt- “What?”
“You need to see it,” Sam pointed at him. “Let me get the nurse. And the doctor. They’ll get you discharged and we can go see. Can you wait an hour to make up your mind?”
“Yeah, Sam. I can do that.” He could do anything for Sam.
The man had taken a spot similar to Bucky’s in his heart from that “oh, come on!” when they were running that day. Not the same spot as Bucky’s, never the same spot as Bucky, but- Steve didn’t want to think about it right now.
He closed his eyes and listened as Sam opened the door and called out, “Jolene?”
“At this point, sir, our investigation into the Battle of the Potomac is at a standstill until we can speak with Steve Rogers, Nick Fury, Natasha Romanoff, or Maria Hill,” Agent Hotchner reported as they stood side by side, teleconferencing with Matt in the fucking White House.
“Any news on that, Tony?” The President asked.
“The Stark Tower medical team finished their last on Steve Rogers surgery 5 hours ago. Once Dr. Arlotti is confident in his recovery, they’ll back off the meds and allow him to wake up naturally. Current estimate is tomorrow or Sunday.”
“And our three fugitives from SHIELD?”
Tony shot the question to Hotch with a look.
“No word yet, sir,” the Unit Chief answered. “We’d like to announce our interest in them through the media. If we expose the truth of their survival, we believe they’ll come to us.”
“It’ll ruin whatever they’re trying to do,” Tony offered when Matt glanced over at him, “whether that’s a good thing or not, I don’t know.”
“Whatever they’re doing, they don’t have the permission or the empowerment to do it and that makes it vigilante action. And I’m not inclined to tolerate any more vigilante action from Team Fury at this time.” Matt focused on Hotch, “has SHIELD indulged in any vigilante action outside of the Battle of the Potomac?”
“That would depend on how you define vigilante action,” Hotchner hedged. “Were you aware, sir, that SHIELD has a private detention center they call the Fridge?”
Tony blinked, he hadn’t known that.
“Yes, of course,” Uncle Matt answered. “They needed a place to hold enhanced threats be they people or objects. They are only allowed to hold people twenty-four hours, however.”
“Then are you aware that they have been detaining people in this facility? In many cases for multiple years?”
“No,” Matt drawled, sharing a surprised look with Tony.
“Three years ago, Sue and Johnny Storm, Reed Richards, Victor von Doom, and Benjamin Grimm conducted a successful space mission and due to unforeseen circumstances, returned to Earth altered.”
“No, they died,” Tony frowned at the agent. “I remember reading Reed’s obit. There was a huge NASA-sponsored memorial service. I renamed my Green Energy subsidiary in his honor, the Reed Richards Foundation.”
“SHIELD covered up their landing and faked their deaths because they refused to put themselves and their new abilities at SHIELD’s sole disposal,” Hotch explained. “They have been in the Fridge ever since. With no trial and no due process.”
“Jesus,” Matt muttered and ran a hand over his face. “You have a go for the press conference. Bring those assholes in.
“In the meantime, I want you to find every shady thing SHIELD did during Fury’s tenure. If he didn’t know about them, he damn well should have. That was his job as the director. And I want a complete list of every single person they’ve held for longer than 24 hours, no matter the facility used or the circumstances, without turning over to the proper authorities on my desk by Monday.”
“Yes, sir,” Hotch nodded.
“Status on Barnes?”
“Bad news? We were forced to remove his arm below the elbow,” Tony admitted. “JARVIS detected the activation of an explosive inside it. Someone had remotely set the power source, a mini-reactor to overload and it would have taken out several blocks of Manhattan if an empty Iron Man suit hadn’t flown it high enough to be the world’s most awkward firework display.
“I had Dr. Stephen Strange, the best surgeon in New York other than Dr. Arlotti, remove the rest of his arm. Apparently, it was pumping him full of all manner of chemicals from steroids to tranquilizers, memory suppressants. According to Strange, the only reason the guy didn’t stroke out was because he’s a super soldier. The withdrawal’s been fun and Bruce is the only one we can risk going in there at all at this point. Arlotti and Strange think he’s probably over it at this point but want to give it ‘til Monday before they test that theory.
“Good news? He managed to take a shower by himself without being ordered to this morning.”
“You’re going to need a psychologist,” Hotch interjected.
“Yeah, that’s proving really difficult,” Tony scratched the back of his head. “The person most qualified for it isn’t willing to leave his current practice no matter how much I offer. He’s willing to consult but there’s really no one he can refer us to. We’re still looking.”
“Would a Presidential Order help?” Matt offered.
“I mean, I’m sure he’d hang it on his wall? But he’s an Indian citizen living in New Delhi.”
Uncle Matt huffed a small laugh and rolled his eyes.
“Perhaps a team?” Hotch offered. “I can check with my people. I believe Dr. Reid has connections with a man at Harvard that works on cult deprogramming. Combine that with a specialist in PTSD and/or a specialist in Stockholm Syndrome and we might have a solution.”
“Sounds like a plan to me,” Matt agreed. “Make sure you charge all of your expenses in this endeavor to the Department of Damage Control, Tony. And keep your receipts.”
Tony rolled his eyes but nodded. Like Pepper would let him skip any opportunity for a tax deduction.
“Keep me posted, boys,” Matt leaned back in his chair. “Same time Monday, unless something blows up this weekend.”
The holographic screen in front of them disappeared and Tony slumped. Hotch didn’t leave but he didn’t say anything either until Tony looked up at him.
“It’s lunch time,” Hotch said. “You’ve been going full-bore for five days, why don’t you take the rest of the day and relax?”
“You’re a good boss, Hotch, but you aren’t actually my boss.”
Hotch smiled, “Would you like me to call Ms. Potts?”
“That’s dirty pool,” Tony laughed.
“As that may be,” Hotch tipped his head toward the elevator, “all I need is for it to be effective.”
Tony held up his hands in surrender and walked to the elevator that JARVIS opened as he got there, “Alright, I’ll go.”
They rode in silence together until they got to the level the BAU team was occupying. Then, Hotch got off and Tony rode back up to the Penthouse.
“Come on, Dr. Banner,” he could hear Jake Jensen say coaxingly the moment the elevator opened. “Who doesn’t like to dance? I’ll even let you lead!”
Tony rounded the corner to find Bruce looking amused but reluctant as Jake wiggled around the kitchen to… he was pretty sure it was Meghan Trainor. “Come on, Brucie,” Tony joined in. “He’ll even let you lead!”
Bruce laughed and rolled his eyes. Then he stood, put Bethany is Tony’s arms, and approached her uncle.
“Restart the song, J!” Tony ordered.
“Yes!” Jake fist-pumped. Then he straightened and pretended to be dignified as Bruce went completely over to top and bowed to him as he offered his hand.
Yeah, his Science Bro was the best.
Sam’s smile lit up his face as the elevator door opened. There was what Steve thought was a Salsa-style song playing at a decent volume and Sam made a display of hip-oriented agility on his way out of the elevator ahead of him in the most distracting show Steve had ever seen.
And he’d worked with honest to God showgirls!
When he made it to Tony’s big, open kitchen, Steve saw Tony bouncing a tiny blue-eyed girl child in a mimicry of dance while Bruce Banner lead a man that looked exactly like Steve in the kind of display that would have gotten both men jailed or beaten to death back when he was alive. As he watched, Sam cut in and took over dancing with his double while Dr. Banner took over baby duty and Tony started clapping along to the music.
It was the strangest feeling, watching Sam dance with himself. He wished, fiercely, that he was the one Sam was dancing with. Sam threw in some fancy footwork and his double matched him step for step.
They were laughing when the song ended.
“You shaved the beard!” Sam crowed as he pinched his double’s cheek.
“Yeah, well,” his double slapped playfully at Sam’s hands, “no point in hiding who I am anymore, now is there?” He looked over at Steve and watched his own face cloud with fury. “It’s not like I can be in the Army anymore. Someone gave my secret away.”
Steve swallowed and had to sit down. “You’re- my-”
“Steve Rogers,” Tony said from where he was using his elbow to maneuver Steve onto a stool. “Meet Clone #107. Though now he prefers Jake Jensen.”
“It’s not the first name I’ve had since Peggy Carter saved me,” His double, Jake, gave Tony a small smile. “And it probably won’t be the last but it’ll do for now. At least until we rescue my sister from Hydra. Isn’t that right, dad?”
Steve had been shot. Recently, he’d been shot full of bullets by his own brother and that somehow hurt less than the vicious emotions he heard in that one word.
Steve bent forward to put his head between his knees.
“Sir?” He heard Tony’s AI, JARVIS, speak up.
“Christ, what now?” Tony muttered.
“The Losers have entered the executive elevator and are on their way to this level. Clint and Laura are with them despite his need for medical treatment.”
“What happened to Clint?” Steve asked, looking up.
Tony gave him a look that made him immediately regret asking. “He and his surgeon were stolen out of a recovery room in the Triskelion just before everything went down. Not sure what Hydra was going to do with him but Laura Howlett, his girlfriend, had objections to it and I got her the help she needed to make her objections stick.”
“Damn right he did,” A beautiful woman with big brown eyes and a veritable ocean of inky black hair agreed as she strutted into the room. She walked right up to Tony and kissed him on the cheek, “Thank you.”
Tony blushed. Tony Stark. Blushed. “It was nothing,” he waved her off.
“It wasn’t nothing,” Clint countered. When Steve looked at him, the first thing he noticed was the big cast covering his left arm from shoulder to fingertips being held it perpendicular to his body with a series of supports propped against his side. His face looked like the human equivalent of a punching bag. “You saved my life. Roque had to carry my ass out of there and Cougar kept me from bleeding out.”
“Why didn’t you go to medical?” Tony demanded as Jake cried “Cougar!” and bounced forward.
Steve watched stupefied as his…son approached the small, dangerous looking man with long hair and a patchy beard in the back of the group invading Tony Stark’s penthouse. The man gave Jake a small smile that Steve knew instinctively was a rare occurrence and pulled off his cowboy hat. He used the cowboy hat to give the two of them some semblance of privacy as they very obviously kissed in the middle of a room full of people.
Jake had wrapped arms around this Cougar’s shoulders, Cougar’s free hand came up to grip his hip in a possessive fashion, and they were practically pasted together. There were only so many things they could be doing…and Steve found himself a little jealous. He chanced a look at Sam only to find him smiling fondly at the two of them.
“You son of a bitch!” The bald man of the group grinned as he stepped up to Sam with hand raised. “Sam Wilson, a fucking Avenger.”
“Well, not everyone can be Bla-Gyver, Pooch,” Sam laughed as their hands met, held, and pulled them towards each other. Sam turned when he was released and smiled at Steve. “Steve, meet the worst decision of my sister’s life, Linwood Porteous. Pooch, Steve Rogers, also known as Captain America.”
“Goddamn,” Pooch grinned and offered Steve his hand. They completed the same ritual, though Pooch sort of bounced off his sternum rather than the two of them chest bumping like he had with Sam.
He kind of liked that Sam was shorter than him though, so he didn’t say anything against it.
“Fuck,” the big guy with a scar across his right eye was looking between Steve and Jake with a look of grumpy understanding on his face. “I knew the kid looked familiar,” he shook his head, “Should have recognized that.”
Jake laughed as he came out from behind the hat, “But I worked so hard to make sure you didn’t!”
“Well, we know now,” the oldest one with almost as much white as black in his beard said with a sigh, “so you can tone that down.”
“Sure!” Jake agreed with a grin that said he’d do no such thing.
“Everyone!” Jake crowed, bouncing to the middle of the room. “Meet my recently-former team, US Army Special Forces, codename: the Losers. My CO, Lieutenant Colonel Franklin Clay!”
The black and white beard nodded, “Call me Clay.”
“Our 2IC, Captain William Roque!”
“Just Roque,” Scarred Eye corrected.
“The best driver and heavy weapons expert in the United States Army, Sergeant Pooch Porteous!”
Pooch managed to look both grateful and disgruntled as he rolled his eyes at Jake’s antics.
“And the number two sniper in the entire U-S-of-A and the man I am pleased to have watching my ass in every possible situation,” Jake leered down at his partner and Cougar made a show of leaning backwards to check said ass, “Sergeant Cougar Alvarez!”
“Thank you for your help in getting Clint back,” Steve said into the silence. “He’s an important part of our team and we would all be poorer without him.”
“Oh, they’re part of the team now, too, Capsicle,” Tony offered, “if they want to be. The President offered them to us for intelligence analysis and scene containment and support. Which reminds me, Cougar, how are you with a bow and arrows?”
Jake’s sniper snorted in a way that conveyed his feelings on that quite clearly.
“Hey!” Clint objected.
“Just temporarily,” Tony held up his hands to show he meant no harm. “You’ve got at least two months of recovery ahead of you and you got us a great substitute but your stabby friend doesn’t do long range…unless she can forcefully eject her claws?” He glanced at the woman Clint was slowly beginning to lean on.
“No,” she laughed. “They’re connected. I could probably tear them off but I’d rather not.”
“Yeah, good. Because gross.”
Laura laughed, “I need to get this one down to medical before Jolene sends out a search party.”
“I’ll come down, too,” Pooch offered and moved to help support Clint’s weight. “I can distract her from yelling about unnecessary delays in an emergency medical situation…probably.”
“We need to go submit our resignations,” Lieutenant Colonel Clay offered as he physically tugged Captain Roque toward the elevator. He jerked his chin and Cougar got Jake moving that direction, too. “Before the President changes his mind or anything crazy like that. General Makepeace said you’d be putting us up, Dr. Stark?”
“Yeah,” Tony gave them a little wave. “J will let you off on the right floor.”
“Oh, look at that, Bethany needs changed,” Bruce said unconvincingly as he made for the elevator too.
“Don’t forget to feed Barnes!” Tony called after Banner and Steve’s world rocked on its axis. Again.
Tony Stark. Unreliable, untrustworthy, disobedient Tony Stark had probably saved Sam. Had saved Clint, had saved him, and had saved his son. He was going to save Steve’s daughter and, yes, he had in fact saved the world at least once that Steve knew of. Saved it once that Steve was there for.
And now he’d saved Bucky, too.
This was the man he’d disdained for so long. The man he’d started to hate because he was The Future incarnate and Steve hated The Future. Had been drowning in The Future with no salvation in sight until a change of venue on his morning run had introduced him to Sam.
Banner waved Tony off, “Pull his food out of the over when the buzzer goes off. It needs fifteen minutes to cool, I’ll be back before then!”
Soon Steve was left alone with both Tony and Sam. Tony wasn’t even looking at him and things were tense.
“I don’t know what to do,” he admitted to Sam.
“Don’t you?” Sam tipped his head to one side. “You made a list, not even an hour ago.”
Steve swallowed because, yeah. Yeah, he did, but apologies were- he swallowed a sigh. “Tony?”
His team mate turned away from what was probably a billion dollar view and looked at him with guarded eyes. Tony just raised an eyebrow at him when he took too long to continue.
“Tony, I’m sorry.”
Tony nodded but clearly wasn’t moved.
He set sincerity to 10 and continued. “I’m sorry I rejected you; I’m sorry I refused your help and friendship; I’m sorry I didn’t trust you; and I’m sorry if anything I said or did at any point hurt you in anyway.”
Tony snorted at him but neither argued with nor comforted him.