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Title: Just A Couple Of Boys From Brooklyn IV: There Was Summer (12-13/13)
Author: BradyGirl_12
Pairings/Characters: Tony Stark, James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes, Steve/Bucky (Bucky does not appear in Ch. 2, 3, & 4), Rosa Martinetti, Mario Martinelli, Ella Simms, Unnamed Teller, Arnie Roth, Howard Stark, Thor Odinson
Continuity: Captain America 1: The First Avenger (2011), Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier (2014) and Captain America 3: Civil War (2016).
Series Notes: Any ideas that pop up about the boys in their early days will end up under this umbrella title. Skinny!Steve and Protective!Bucky for the win! ;) The entire series can be found here.
Genres: Angst, Drama, Historical
Rating: PG-13
Fanworker: The talented [livejournal.com profile] taibhrigh! :) Link: here.
Fanworker: The superb [livejournal.com profile] dulcetine! :) Link: here.
Beta: The marvelous [livejournal.com profile] starsandsea! :) All mistakes are my own.
Warnings: (Ch. 2 & 4: Violence)
Spoilers: Captain America 1: The First Avenger (2011), Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier (2014) and Captain America 3: Civil War (2016).
General Summary: After what Bucky Barnes did to his parents, how can Tony ever reconcile that with Bucky being Steve’s oldest friend? An inexplicable trip to the past may provide the answer.
Dates Of Completion: May 5, 2016-September 3, 2016
Dates Of Posting: November 8/9/11, 2016
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Marvel and Paramount do, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 27,327
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Note: Written for the 2016 [livejournal.com profile] marvel_bang.



Chapters 1-4 (LJ)


Chapters 5-8 (LJ)


Chapters 9-11 (LJ)


Chapters 12-13 (LJ)


Chapters 1-13/13 (AO3)




XII

ALL HALLOWS’ EVE


When the veil
Between the worlds
Is at its
Thinnest,
Then Magic flies
On broomsticks
All through
The night.


Serena Ashby
“Witches’ Night”
1939 C.E.



Golden September turned to yellow-orange-and-scarlet October as the days and nights grew cool and there was frost on the pumpkins, at least in the fields outside the city. The World’s Fair would close before November with the promise of re-opening in the spring, its popularity encouraging a second season.

Poland’s suffering was still on the front pages, but people gently pushed those stories away. It was a time for holidays, to think about Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas and not about Danzig pounded to ash or Jews rounded up and crammed into the Warsaw ghetto with yellow Stars of David pinned to their coats. Eventually the crowding would lessen as many would be shipped to camps with names like Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Dachau.

None of those names were familiar to Americans. Poland’s troubles were far away, like rabid dogs chained in a crumbling front yard that pedestrians would pass, aware of the barking animals on the periphery but feeling safe because of a fence between them and a chain holding back the source of their fear. They knew that someday the chain would break and let loose the dogs of war, aimed for their throats.

But not today. For now, Americans would hurry past that front yard while going about their business, yet searching for weapons for when the day came when the chain broke.



Bucky brandished the tickets he had bought. “Knights of Columbus.”

“You got ‘em!” Steve crowed.

“Yep. What costumes are we going to wear?”

Tony yawned as he came into the parlor, looking rumpled. “What’s going on?”

“Bucky scored tickets to the Knights of Columbus Halloween Ball.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.” Bucky swaggered across the hardwood floor. “Got any costume ideas?”

“Not at the moment.” Tony ran his fingers through his hair, its pomade-free wildness indicating that he had been late getting up on this fine Saturday.

Steve snapped his fingers. “I got it! The Wizard Of Oz!”

“I call the Tin Man,” Tony said as he shambled toward the kitchen for coffee.

Bucky and Steve grinned.



When Mr. Smith Goes To Washington was released on October 17th, Tony insisted they go see the film. “It’s right up your alley, Rogers,” he teased.

The three of them enjoyed the movie, munching on popcorn and sipping Cokes as the young, idealistic, incredibly naïve Jefferson Smith took on corruption in Washington, D.C., and through sheer stubbornness prevailed. Bucky chuckled quietly throughout the movie while Tony smirked and Steve ignored both of them, resolutely keeping his eyes on the screen.

Once out on the sidewalk after the movie ended, Bucky said, “You recommended a fine film, Tony.”

“Oh, the finest.” Tony nodded.

Steve marched to the wastebasket and dumped his empty popcorn box.

“Such heart! Such determination! Such stubbornness!” Bucky declared, tilting his head up as he swept his arm out in grandiose fashion.

“The Saunders tomato was delicious,” Tony added, referring to Jefferson Smith’s love interest and partner-in-crime.

Steve dusted off his hands over the wire basket. “Jean Arthur is not a tomato. She’s a fine actress.”

“And Jimmy Stewart nails Jefferson Smith as a character. Hey, Bucky, does Jeff Smith remind you of anybody?”

“Gee, I dunno. What about you, Steve?”

Steve ignored his friends’ laughter as he stalked down the street. They followed in amusement.

“I think Steve needs to cool down,” Bucky said. “We should bring him out to Coney Island. Remember our trip there last month?”

“Yeah, I appreciated going out there when the weather was cooler. Cooling the hotheads!” Tony said the last three words loudly.

Bucky and Tony laughed all the way home.



As Bucky and Steve worked on their costumes, Tony assured them that he could find something out of what he could find in the basement. He poked around in the musty cellar while Bucky somehow found cornstalks and sewed sheaves of the yellow stalks to an old dark-blue shirt and pair of pants. He found an old slouch hat at a secondhand store and debated on whether to wear a domino mask or paint his face.

Steve kept his costume out of sight. He said he wanted to get the full effect when he was finished.

The residents of the building decorated their doors with cut-outs of Jack O'Lanterns, Witches and ghosts and someone had put a black cut-out of a bat on the building's front door.

As Halloween dawned, the weather forecast was for a clear evening to start while a thunderstorm was predicted for later.

"Well, at least it's not a hurricane," Bucky remarked. "Last year a huge hurricane blew up the coast in September."

“Yeah, it whacked Long Island, slammed Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and was a horror show all the way around,” Steve called from the bedroom.

Tony entered the living room with a silver-painted costume that resembled the Tin Man. Bucky was impressed at the cardboard and metal that combined to make a convincing costume.

“Where did you get all that stuff?”

“Oh, just from scraps in the basement.” Tony’s eyes twinkled.

“Okay, guys, I’m coming out,” Steve said.

Bucky and Tony turned to face the entrance to the parlor and their jaws dropped.

Steve was wearing a blue-and-white gingham dress, a brown wig parted into pigtails with red ribbons, and red shoes sprayed with glitter. His face was pink with rouge and he was wearing false black eyelashes. Steve clicked his shoes.

“There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”

“Wow.” Bucky approached his lover. “So you decided to be Dorothy?”

“Yes.” Steve smiled shyly.

Bucky drew Steve into a kiss. When they broke apart, Steve blushed.

“Sorry for the show, Tony.”

“Hey, I’m a fan of love.” Tony waved the axe he had made out of a stick of wood and cardboard for the head with it all painted silver. “Looks like we’ll have to go to the ball without the Cowardly Lion.”

“Actually, no. Arnie Roth is going as the Lion, so I invited him to come along,” Steve said.

Tony liked Arnie. A chubby guy who also a kind, humorous man, he was a good friend to both Steve and Bucky. He felt relaxed around Arnie.

“Oh, forgot something!” Steve ran back to his bedroom.

“Maybe it’s Toto,” Bucky drawled.

Tony laughed. “I wouldn’t be surprised.”

Steve returned to the parlor carrying a picnic basket.

“No Toto?” Bucky asked.

“With my allergies? Sorry, no.”

“You look great.”

“Nice,” Tony agreed.

A knock on the door caused Steve to hurry to answer it. Tony could see the Cowardly Lion framed in the doorway.

“Come on in, Arnie,” said Steve.

Arnie came in dressed in a tan shirt and pants with an authentic-looking lion mask. A tail swung up behind him, made of an old drapery tassel. Tony had a vision of Scarlett O’Hara and drapes. Maybe Carol Burnett, come to think of it, and laughed quietly to himself.

The doorbell rang and Steve picked up a bowl of candy set on a card table by the door. He opened the door to a small gaggle of kids dressed as a cat, Witch, and two ghosts.

“Trick-or-treat!” they chorused.

“Hi, guys.” Steve scooped up a handful of Hershey miniature chocolate bars and dropped them in the kids’ bags and plastic Jack O’Lanterns. “Happy Halloween!”

As soon as Steve closed the door, the doorbell rang again. He opened it to another group of children. “Dorothy!” a little girl in a fairy princess costume exclaimed.

Steve grinned and handed out the candy. Once again he closed the door. “The kids’ll be done soon. The Ball won’t start for awhile yet.”

Everyone took a turn answering the doorbell, amused by the costumes of the excited children. The children were equally delighted by the Oz costumes.

“Where’d you get the mask, Arnie?” Bucky asked.

“I saved up and got it from a costume shop on Broadway.”

“Must’ve cost you a pretty penny.”

“Oh, not so bad. Besides, I can rent it out next year. I’ll get my money back. Things are lookin’ up, you know.”

“It’s the Emerald City lights at the end of the tunnel,” Bucky said as he snitched a Hershey miniature from the bowl.

“Quit dippin’ into the till,” Steve chastised.

“Okay, Dorothy.”

Steve adjusted his dress. “These garters are a pain. How do women put up with them?”

“Careful you don’t put a run in your stockings.”

“Thanks for the advice.”

When the doorbell rang again, Arnie went to answer it this time. Steve smiled. “Brings back memories, huh?”

Bucky nodded. “We didn’t get much candy because we were all poor, but the trick-or-treating was fun.”

Tony thought of his own trick-or-treating experience. His parents had never wanted him going door-to-door to strangers’ houses so forbade the ritual, but one year they were out of town and Tony persuaded Jarvis, butler and confidante, to take him trick-or-treating. It had been a successful outing, and every year after that until Tony got too old for ‘kid stuff’, he and Jarvis managed the ritual, sometimes right under Howard and Maria’s noses.

The influx of trick-or-treaters became a trickle until the doorbell no longer rang. Steve checked his make-up in the bathroom mirror and said, “Let’s go.”

The four of them caused a bit of a stir as they walked four abreast down the sidewalk. Bucky hummed, “We’re off to see the Wizard” and his companions grinned. They joined in, all four singing the song and getting waves from kids and smiles from grown-ups. It was a night when adults could act like kids and get away with it.

The Knights Of Columbus had rented out the VFW Hall for their event. They usually held their meetings in St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church but needed more space than the church hall for the Halloween Ball. Proceeds would go to fund their various charitable works, much of which would funnel back to the neighborhood. The Merensky Recreational Hall was decorated with skeletons that clacked and Jack O’Lanterns that grinned. A scarecrow was keeping vigil on the front lawn while plastic black cats arched their backs at its feet.

Inside was even more impressive with black-swathed walls and glittering cut-outs of ghosts, Witches, and bats. Real pumpkins and carved Jack O’Lanterns were on tables and in corners as a dais featured a swing band. Tables with food and drink lined the walls in an adjoining room where round tables were arranged so that there was plenty of dance space in the main room.

The leader of the Knights took the microphone and said, “Welcome, ladies and gents, and Happy Halloween! Let’s get this party started!”

The crowd cheered and entered into the spirit of the evening by getting right into the dancing as the band played Little Brown Jug.

The friends found girls to dance with (Bucky always managed to find them), and Steve danced with men, careful to keep up his feminine façade. He and Bucky danced several dances and he took turns with Arnie and Tony, too.

As Steve and Tony danced, Tony’s eyes twinkled. “Never knew you were the Belle of the Ball.”

“That’s me.” Steve laughed. “You cut quite a rug yourself.”

Tony wiggled his hips. “You bet.”

“You’d make a good fan dancer.”

“Yeah? You think I’m Sally Rand?”

Steve did a quick little dance step as the boogie-woogie beat thrummed through the room and dancers clomped and stomped. “You are an exhibitionist, Tin Man.”

“True.”

Steve twirled his dress. “You’re also an odd man, Tony Barton.”

“Thank you, Dorothy Gale.”

The revelry continued as Tony danced with a pretty Snow White, wisps of coppery hair trying to escape her black wig. Finally tired, Tony decided to get some food. He made a roast beef sandwich with mustard and put a fat dill pickle on the side. He drank punch that was thankfully not too sweet (the spiking would probably come later by some wiseguy) and saw Bucky sitting at a table. He walked over and joined him.

“Good party, huh?” Bucky asked.

“Swingin’.”

Bucky grinned. He was eating a turkey sandwich and chips. An orange-frosted chocolate cupcake was on a separate plate to be consumed as dessert. He washed down his sandwich with a bottle of Moxie.

Tony felt guilty as he ate his sandwich. He could warn Bucky about his fate, save him from seven decades of suffering. Save his parents.

For most of his time here in the past, he had been incredibly mellow about everything. Lately, though, he had been feeling the urge to warn Steve and Bucky about their fates, though he was uncertain about just what to say. Warn them against joining the Army? Not very practical, as a man sitting out World War II was going to be a target of scorn and worse.

And Steve? What should he say to his starry, wide-eyed friend? Steer clear of the Super-Soldier Serum Project, which was Top Secret and sounded like Buck Rogers stuff? Tony began to laugh.

“What’s so funny?”

“If you and Steve got married, you’d be Buck Rogers.”

Bucky rolled his eyes as Tony laughed again. Bucky jibed, “Or maybe he’d be Steve Barnes.” He shook his head. “Aren’t you the wit?”

“Half-wit?”

“Yes.” Bucky’s expression turned smug. “I gotta go see if I can snag Dorothy for another dance.”

“She’s a popular one.” Tony crunched on his pickle.

“Damn, I forgot to get a pickle.”

“You like pickles.” Tony had seen Bucky’s preference for pickles during many lunches. "Steve likes pickles, too.” Tony’s eyes were dancing.

“Yes, he does.” The glint in Bucky’s eyes matched Tony’s. He took a long swig of Moxie.

“You’re a good friend, Bucky,” Tony said, that urge to speak again welling up within him.

“Thanks, Tony. So are you.”

Steve suddenly showed up, blue eyes shining. “Best Halloween Ball ever!”

“Pull up a chair,” Tony invited.

“Let me get something to eat first.”

When Steve came back with a cold chicken sandwich and a giant pickle, Bucky and Tony exchanged a mischievous look.

“Arnie says he’s going to nominate this band for best ever at a Knights Of Columbus shindig.” Steve sat in a chair he pulled from an empty table.

“I’d vote for that,” Tony said.

“Me, too,” said Bucky.

“Well, if FDR runs like you predict, we can vote for him, too,” Steve said to Tony.

“Ha, ha,” Bucky snarked.

“Heh, heh,” Tony added.

“Woo woo!” Steve quipped.

“Are you suggesting that we’re the Three Stooges instead of the Three Amigos?” Tony asked.

“Either title fits,” Bucky answered.

All three laughed.



As it grew later, Tony went out on the front lawn. Thunder rumbled in the distance as lightning arced on the horizon. The predicted storm was coming. He felt a strange, hollow feeling in the deepness of his chest.

A stream of people were leaving, and Steve, Bucky and Arnie were heading down the driveway.

“Hey, Tony!” Steve ran over. “We’re going up to Harlem for the Halloween drag balls. Wanna come?”

Tony considered it, but a flash of lightning sent electricity skittering along his skin. “No, I’m kinda beat. I think I’ll go home.”

Bucky bounced over. “Arnie’s got some suggestions on which balls to hit.”

“Okay. See you tomorrow, Tony!” Steve hurried to catch up with Arnie.

“Sorry to lose the Tin Man,” Bucky said.

“Take Electro. I saw him around here someplace.”

Bucky laughed. “I guess we could.” He clapped a hand on Tony’s shoulder. “See ya tomorrow, buddy.” He turned to join his friends when Tony called, “Bucky!”

“Yeah?” Bucky looked at Tony.

“Don’t follow Steve onto the train.”

Puzzled, Bucky was going to ask what he meant when Steve called, “Come on, Bucky!”

Bucky waved and ran off to catch up with Steve and Arnie. Tony watched him go with a lump in his throat.World’s Fair would close before November with the promise of re-opening in the spring, its



XIII

AS FALL CAME


In the last days
Before the War,
There was Summer
And Freedom,
And you,
Because we knew
Our days were
Numbered.
We knew our days
Would be
Encumbered,
By worry
And fears
And tears
Washing up
On the shore,
Because
We had done it
Before.
As Fall came,
We laid no blame.
We lived our lives
Waiting,
To enter the War.


Sarah O’Grady
“On The Eve
Of The War”
1941 C.E.



Tony’s skin tingled as he headed for home. He watched the lightning in the distance and thought about the veil between the worlds of reality and beyond at its thinnest this night. He thought about it all the way back to the apartment building as people in costume glided past him, and when he reached his apartment and removed his costume and make-up. It was still on his mind as he went up to the roof with a pack of Bucky’s Lucky Strikes and matchbook, now wearing faun-colored slacks with suspenders and a white shirt with a suit jacket.

He lit a cigarette as he stood on the roof, the wind blowing with a gustiness that heralded the coming storm. He was fortunate to light the cigarette.

Tony smoked as the storm kept coming closer. It would be a spectacular show. It already was as the lightning arced around the clouds, casting light into darkness, blotting out the stars. The lightning grew more frequent as the thunder rumbled, the sound rippling around the city. It faded slowly as Tony waited.

The storm skittered around the edges of Tony’s mind. He had vague memories of a storm just before he woke up in the past. Something was pulling him to this spot now, something strong enough to make him pass on a trip to Harlem with his friends.

For the first time in a long time, Tony did not feel as if he was a part of the fabric of the times. He felt lost and lonely, which disturbed him. He had friends here. He had not, per his usual pattern, screwed things up. He was a friend to both Steve and Bucky and he had adjusted to the lack of computers, Tablets, cell phones, the Internet…something that before his strange odyssey he never would have thought possible.

Who knew I could be happy sitting in front of a radio listening to Glenn Miller music and Gangbusters?

He smiled gently. Would anyone in 2016 believe it? Or more to the point, would anyone care? Most of his friends were on the run and he was mostly alone in the future, except for Vision. Not that Vision was not entertaining, but it made it hard to throw parties with only two in the Tower.

Speaking of visions, they floated through his memories, of him and Steve and Bucky sitting around the kitchen table eating sandwiches and drinking beer, talking politics and the war or just neighborhood gossip. There were times of laughter and good fellowship and despite the scramble for money to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table, the two born into poverty knew how to have fun.

He remembered meeting Bucky’s mother and sisters in their modest apartment, all of them pretty, though Rebecca Barnes was looking a little careworn. They had welcomed him into their family when Bucky clapped him on the shoulder and declared him a friend, and they had sat around the kitchen and talked with warm gingerbread from the oven and lemonade in sparkling glasses on the table. The apartment showed ‘the woman’s touch’ with flowers and scrubbed surfaces and the smell of lemon polish and perfume. Tony had liked them immediately and when someone mentioned Poland, he saw the worry in Rebecca’s eyes for her son.

The Barnes family had also taken in Steve, who had lost Sarah and needed a friend. Bucky was that friend, but so was his family, and Tony was warmed by seeing their affection for the skinny, sickly, young man who was fiercely loyal to their son and brother. Not for the first time, he wished that he had grown up with a sibling or two, though in his family they probably would have been set against each other in unending competition.

The atmosphere here on the roof was charged with electricity. He ran a hand through his hair and received a small static electric shock. His hand shook slightly as he studied his cigarette. A huge gust of wind blew it out.

“Damnit.” He fished around in his back pocket for the matchbook. “Always an obstacle.”

“Put there by your own actions, I’d bet.”

Tony turned quickly to see the last person he expected: his father.

Howard Stark’s eyes blazed as he stood on the rooftop. He was dressed in a tuxedo and expensive greatcoat, his hair slicked back and a pencil-thin mustache looking very stylish. His Gucci shoes shone as he pointed a gloved finger at Tony, their pearl-gray kid leather soft and extremely expensive. He held a matching fedora in his other hand. A white silk scarf whipped in the wind.

“Return my money, you thief!”

“It was only fifty dollars.”

“Only? I bet it buys two months’ rent in this dump.”

“Two-and-a-half, actually.”

Howard peered at Tony. “You do look like me.”

“How did you find me?”

“That teller you scammed saw you tonight at the Knights Of Columbus Halloween Ball. She even danced with you.”

Tony thought back to the dance partners he had enjoyed this evening. “Snow White.”

“Very good.” Howard’s voice was cold. “You’re smart.”

“So I’ve been told.”

“Smartmouth, too.”

“So you caught me.” Tony shrugged, trying to remain casual as his heart pounded. This was his father in the prime of his life before the war scarred him, before years of drinking and dissipation had jaded him, making him embittered and cynical by the time Tony was born.

Howard radiated energy. He looked every inch the privileged man of society, never knowing hunger or any privation yet driven to know things. It scared Tony to realize how much he was like his father.

“You bet I did. How did you know about that account?”

Tony took a drag on his cigarette after managing to light it. “I did some research. An old newspaper article mentioned your first bank account while you still were in short pants.”

Howard’s eyes narrowed. “Definitely a smartmouth.”

“And just plain smart,” Tony said as he airily gestured with his cigarette.

The wind was growing stronger as it began to sprinkle. Thunder cracked and the building shook. Tony felt as if his skin was alive with energy. The rain started coming down harder. It felt good on his skin.

“Give me back my money,” Howard demanded.

“You’re loaded. What’s fifty bucks to you?”

“It’s the principle of the thing.”

Tony snorted. “Fancy words for trying to justify wanting that small amount of money back, surrounded by all this poverty.” He gestured at the neighborhood, the glow of his Lucky Strike looking like a firefly’s dance.

“You’ve got a roof over your head,” Howard scoffed.

Tony jumped slightly as lightning flashed closer. He knew that stealing was wrong, but his father knew how to push his buttons even when he had no idea he was doing it. The rain and wind blew out his cigarette again and he tossed it away. Howard’s coat flapped in the wind. He and Tony glared at each other.

Loneliness was part of him, had been until he had met Happy when he was hired to be his chauffeur/bodyguard, met Rhodey at MIT, Pepper when he took over Stark Industries, and finally, the Avengers. They were his friends, his family. The whole Accords mess had broken apart that family.

Until now.

He had found a family here in the past. Now his father was threatening to take all that away.

Okay, maybe I’m projecting, but I can’t have any complications. If the cops get involved, they’ll find out I’m not a researcher for a new encyclopedia. I don’t have a job at all.

A loud crack of thunder drowned out Howard’s next words. Lightning flashed close enough to charge Tony’s skin and cause his hair to stand on end. He felt a strong pull, but from what, he had no idea.

“So, what are you going to do about it?”

Tony blinked. For a minute he thought his father was asking him what he was going to do about the odd sensation.

“Listen, I’ll just give you your money back and let’s just forget the whole thing.”

“Forget…?” Howard jabbed his finger into Tony’s chest. “Listen, you no-good thief, I’m calling the police.”

Thunder cracked so loudly that Tony’s ears rang as he was blinded by multiple flashes of lightning. The wind picked him up and Tony shouted, “Nooo!!!” as Howard lunged at him. Tony felt himself falling over the edge of the roof as lightning lit up the world and the rain enveloped him like the deep, blue sea.



The rain was cold and drenching as Tony tried to breathe. His whole body crackled with energy but his legs were numb. Gasping, he fought to open his eyes.

“Tony…”

Tony’s vision was blurred with rain as he struggled to see who was trying to help him up. Blond hair? Steve? No, it was long hair. Thor!

“Thor,” he rasped.

“Come, Friend Tony.”

Thor lifted him up and carried him inside out of the raging storm.



Tony sat on his living room couch in the Tower, clad in his favorite bathrobe as his hands gripped a mug of hot lemon tea. Thor sat next to him as he spoke softly.

“A piece of Heimdall’s sword was magically broken off and threw you back to the past via the storm.”

“Isn’t that your territory?”

Thor smiled. “It is, but Heimdall also has some sway. It was not a planned trip, so Time tried to fix itself.” He took a sip of his tea, one of his favorite Midgardian beverages. He had changed and was now wearing a baby-blue sweater and jeans. He was barefoot and his hair was still wet from the storm.

“How?”

“Time at first tried to acclimate you to the past. You had no burning desire to return to your own time?” Tony shook his head. “Time was suppressing any desire to return since it did not know if it could ever return you. It worked to repair the anomaly, and eventually succeeded as it returned you to this century. You felt an urge to go up to that rooftop in the past?” Tony nodded. “Time was calling you.” Thor nodded to himself. “Now your presence will be erased from the past.”

Tony winced. “So no one back then will remember me?”

“It is unlikely, though they may have vague memories that are just out of reach, as shreds of dreams linger at the edges of one’s mind.” Thor watched Tony as he sipped his tea.

“Well, okay.” Tony stared down into his mug.

“I am sorry you were caught up in this, my friend.”

Tony smiled slightly. “It’s all right. I had an…interesting experience.”

Thor frowned. “What has been going on since I left for Asgard? These Accords…they have split up the Avengers?”

Tony sighed. “Yeah. It’s a long story.”

“I have time.” Thor stood up. “First I shall refresh our mugs.”

Tony handed over his mug. The tea was getting cold. “Thanks.”

As Thor ambled to the kitchen, Tony stared out the windows at the storm. It was putting on a spectacular show. The Tower rattled as thunder rolled and lightning flashed. He watched as he thought of Steve, Bucky and Arnie. He hoped they had enough money to take the subway home from Harlem.

The loneliness stretched out before him. His hands curled into fists. Damn Ross and that crowd! Persecuting everyone who had opposed the Sokovia Accords, putting them in the Raft, for gods’ sakes, like they were supervillains, not superheroes!

His blood boiled. Well, he was the rich and privileged son of his father, and he was going to throw his one percenter weight around. What good was being filthy rich if you could not help your friends?

Tony looked down at the cell phone Steve had mailed to him, the accompanying letter tucked underneath it on the coffee table. Steve had expressed loss at their friendship and hope that it was still theirs to rekindle, and to use the phone if Tony needed help.

As the rain lashed the windows, Tony picked up the cell phone and called the preprogrammed number.

“Hi, Steve? Tony. Come on home with the team, and bring Bucky with you.”









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