Chapter 18: Chapter 18
Summary: The rouge Avengers are pardoned under the influence of King T’Challa and it is up to Tony to ‘welcome’ them back. But as he and his new team are at the private airport, an unexpected fight breaks loose and the fate of the whole universe is changed when a wizard places himself as Tony Stark’s protector.
When the two month mark hit that they hadn’t seen or spoken to Tony outside of official meetings, training sessions and that one mission, Steve finally decided enough was enough and decided he was going to confront the billionaire in Avengers Tower - he refused to stroke the other’s ego by calling it Stark when it had been the Avengers Tower for years - and end this childish tantrum of Tony’s. Moving out of the Avengers Compound, not talking to them, turning their families and friends against them, ignoring them or leaving the room when they enter, turning the new recruits against them, stealing Shuri away, not making the real Avengers any gear or making them go through all sorts of roundabout channels only for their gear to return at second rate quality, it was all coming to an end, today. The genius had had his fun. It was time he started acting like an adult again.
Only Steve’s righteous march was met with a few problems on his way to Stark. For one, the Avengers’ liaison had insisted that they under no circumstances seek out ‘Mr Stark’ unless they make an appointment with him and the Accords Council beforehand, for one thing. The paparazzi waiting outside both the Compound and the Tower were another obstacle, what with their annoying questions and misguided half accusations. They didn’t know what the so called Civil War was about and they had no right to bother Steve or the other Avengers with their unthoughtful questions. And behind the journalists and reporters were civilians, only in front of Avengers Compound the only fans present were Thor’s and the Hulk’s fans. A little separate from them were what Steve knew were now called haters and he could see why. They booed when he exited, accused him of treachery and murder and terrorism and called for him to be brought to justice.
The situation at Stark Tower, though, was completely different. There was an excitement and cheer to the atmosphere when Steve stepped out of a cab a few meters away from the building since it was so crowded. He saw what appeared to be Vision signing autographs for a few kids and posing in a picture or two with that awkward, polite smile before he entered the building. Security watched on with a look and air about them that Steve found disturbingly familiar but could not place even if his life depended on it. They became instantly alert if Steve’s eyes on him and started discretely murmuring in their earpieces, probably alerting Tony that he was here. Steve didn’t know how he felt about that but ignored them for the moment because the crowd had noticed him and started booing and demanding he go away. A little girl even burst into tears when she saw him, wailing to her father that they had to go save Iron Man. The reporters swarmed him a second later, asking much the same misguided questions as their counterparts back at the Compound and Steve smiled through grit teeth as he tried to give a statement that they weren’t even listening to, demanding answers to their own questions, rather rudely. Back in his day, people respected when someone was trying to say something and let them say it in silence.
The security eventually intervened, although they looked none too happy about it. The taller of the two was even constantly fingering a familiar looking gun all the way to the elevator, where they told him he was expected and to not try to get off on any other floors than the top floor. Since Steve only wanted to see Tony and talk with him, he assured them that he won’t cause and trouble, only for the shorter to drag his college away when he lunged at Steve, hissing about him just breathing was already problem enough. The receptionist at the deck was giving him the stink eye even though she looked professional and uninterested to anyone else. When the doors of the elevator closed, Steve glared at the animosity Tony had spread. The employees of Avengers Tower had always been nice to the Avengers. This just served as proof of just how bad Tony as a leader and the Accords as accepted laws that restricted and controlled superheroes were for the world and Steve was set on fixing it.
It was just him and Tony now. It was time for them to settle everything.
Only the first thing he saw when he entered Tony’s floor in the Tower wasn’t the pilot of the Iron Man himself. Instead, he was greeted with a girl charging at him with horrid looking sharp claws sporting from her knuckles, an almost animalistic shriek escaping her lips while an adult man that shared her dark hair and eyes lunged for her to hold her back, swearing like a sailor as she kicked and screamed in his hold. She cut him a few times but the muscular man seemed to barely flinch. Steve did flinch when three claws sprung from his knuckles, close enough to the little girl’s face that she instantly quieted down and stopped her trashing, almost as though submitting to the adult. She retracted her claws but the glare in his direction was the nastiest thing Steve had ever seen.
“Easy, bud. We talked about this.” The wild looking man scolded casually, as though this was an every day occurrence and Steve longer for his shield because Tony, what have you done bringing these people here? “No attacking morons until they attack first, okay? Okay?”
“Si.” The child all but spat, still glaring at Captain America but completely at ease in the man’s arms. She huffed and turned her head away with a sniff, as though disgusted of just looking at him. The man restraining her sighed but the look he graced Steve with a second later was neither apologetic nor friendly. It was cold and impassive.
“Laura, go back to your friends. Take them to the room you were given. Stay with Vision.” The girl, Laura, made to protest but the man gave her a severe look and she pouted but did as she was told, leading a group of children around her age out of the common room, where they had been watching some cartoon before Steve had arrived. He looked after them when the wild, clawed man cleared his throat pointedly and Steve looked back to him, only to find him in a protective, aggressive stance, glaring at him now. “Can I help you, Mr Rodgers?”
“It’s actually Captain.” The blond replied with a sheepish, polite smile which fell at the derisive snort from the stranger.
“No, it’s not. You never finished basic training. You couldn’t, not until you got the supersoldier serum. You’re just a trained dancing monkey, now what do you want?”
A flare of anger and annoyance roared inside Steve but he brushed it aside. It was just like Tony to send out someone to face Steve just to be difficult. And someone who obviously just likes to hate people, especially Captain America. Steve worries for the kids he saw just a minute ago. They’re all obviously enhances or superpowered or something and they were already being trained to be Stark’s and the corrupt politicians’ little soldiers. Steven was disappointed with Tony for using children like that. “I’m here to talk with Tony. It’s about time this foolishness is put to a stop and for him to act like a reasonable adult.”
The man, who has a strangely cut beard and a weird haircut, opens his mouth to say something but another, slightly slurred voice interrupts just before he can. “Wolwie~! Where are you? You promised we could have a drink. Oh.” A pretty woman in blue jeans and a black leather jacket with pale skin and dark hair enters the room and the smile slips off her face upon seeing Steve, replaced with a neutral expression and Steve wants to scream because why was Tony teaching people to treat them like this!? They weren’t the enemy! “You didn’t say we had a guest, Logan. To what do we owe this unwanted pleasure of the good Captain’s questionable company?”
“Beats me, Jess.” The man, Logan, told this Jess with a shrug. “I was just waiting for Tony with the kids to see what he did ’bout ’em when Laura tried to cut his throat and I had to stop her.” Jess came to stand beside Logan and the two observed the intruder with narrowed, suspicious eyes. “Says he’s here to talk to the big man himself but I can’t help wondering why.”
“Probably to spout some bullshit again, like with the Witch. Where’s the wizard when you need him? That Dark Dimension sounds like a place he deserves to be.” The black haired woman snorted, clenching her fists and Steve automatically took on a more crouched, defensive stance when a vaguely familiar portal opens but a completely unfamiliar Asian man steps out, dressed in some strange brown robe like clothes.
“Don’t tempt him. He’s already itching to do it.”
“Wong,” both strangers nod to the new stranger, Wong, and Steve suddenly starts feeling overwhelmed. He came here to speak to Tony, hash things out with him and finally get the Avengers back together. Instead, he was almost assaulted by a kid, is being threateningly stared down by some weird guy with claws and a lady that reeks of alcohol and seems to hate his and Wanda’s guts and now is face to face with another wizard. “What brings you here?”
“I wanted to have a word with Stark, since Stephen has avoided once again to bring to his attention some business that should have been addressed since day one.” Wong goes even as far as to roll his eyes and Steve feels like that is a great and rare feat where this man is concerned. “Since Stephen is too chicken to bring it up and has fled into another dimension for the time being, I decided enough was enough and took matters into my own hands.”
“Unfortunately, Tony’s out of the country again.” Yet another voice interrupts and they all turn to see a shy looking, expensively dressed young businessman smiling at them sheepishly. “He and Sue went to Latveria to finish up those negotiations he started last month. I think Hope met up with them when they stopped for the conference in England about the new Accords deal regarding Kamar-Taj, but I don’t know.”
“You didn’t go with them?” Logan asked curiously and Steve felt really out of the loop. Kamar what now? What’s that!? And since when has Tony felt comfortable enough around magic to let two wizards run around his house? Or these strangers, for that matter!?
“They figured it would be for the best if someone of the rich and famous and sane stayed behind. Something about someone watching Reed?”
“Yeah, that idiot definitely needs watching.” Jess and Logan nod to Wong’s words, which were delivered with yet another eye roll. “I thought Stephen put the fear of other dimensions in that man but he is still trying to build a machine which creates portals through space and time. How didn’t Stark kill him for that?”
“He was simply lucky Susan got to him first.” Jess said with a giggle and the Asian and wild looking men snorted while the nervous businessman just smiled humorously. But then the woman turned to him and arched an eyebrow. “You’re still here?”
“I’m not leaving without talking to Tony,” Steve responded sharply, drawing back his shoulders but neither of the three in front of him seemed impressed and the businessman whose name he still didn’t know only frowned.
“Did you make an appointment? Doctor Doom did kind of call him last minute but I thought FRIDAY had covered his schedule.”
“Doom?” That name was familiar but Steve couldn’t put his finger on it from where. He just knew it was no good. Who would call themselves Doctor Doom?
“Yeah. Something about the UN. I don’t know what exactly. Doom is a tough cookie but Tony says he has it under control.” The still unnamed man said with a confident nod. Rodgers wondered what Tony had given or promised all these people for their support. He must have went out of his way to collect so many new faces. “He also said he’ll hold a meeting with Professor Xavior and the UN and Accords Council regarding the kids and what the protocol should be for their situation. He had already arranged for an arrest warrant and sent the Iron Legion to deal with it but it would seem a whole new clause of the Accords has to be opened for this.” He added, looking at the man apparently named Logan.
“What did Charles say about all this, Danny?”
“That you should stay here with the kids until at least the drafts are drawn up.” Danny, apparently, said. “I’d give it a week because there is no way Strange is letting Tony stay in Latveria with Doom longer than two days after the incident.”
Jess cackled at that, slumping against Logan as she tried to catch her breath. “Oh god! That was good! I thought Strange was going to start a magical war against Doom when Tony told us about that!” The cackling continued for a few more moments before the woman calmed down. “Is it bad of me to want Doom to annoy Strange enough for that to happen?” Wong grimaced at that, obviously displeased, by what, though, Steve couldn’t tell.
“Jessica,” Danny bemoaned with a look of long suffering exasperated fondness that Steve believed matched his own expression whenever Tony used to act like this before, well ... Before everything. Before Ultron. Steve just wants to get things back to how they used to be before Ultron, the team living in the Tower and no loitering strangers around like there were now. It feels like a life time ago, not just under two years. And now that they were back, Steve had hoped everything could go back to how it used to be. He and Tony had been such a good team and yet now ... Well, the billionaire was doing everything in his power to prevent that from happening. Going so far as to let Steve get his hopes up by gaining entrance to the Tower only to realize Tony wasn’t here ... ‘Wait a minute.’
“If Tony’s not here then who let me into the Tower?” The supersoldier asked in as an authoritative voice as he could pull, drawing four pairs of eyes back to him, three outright glaring at him, one frowning in a mirror of his own confusion.
“That would be me, Mr Rodgers,” a familiar voice said and Steve sighed, already looking around for Vision, only to find no one. He frowned and nearly jumped when the voice spoke again, seemingly coming from everywhere. “Have you forgotten about me so easily, Captain? Then again, you never did understand Sir and what he can do. To you, I was always but a machine. I don’t know what I was expecting, but some common courtesy might have been it.”
The ‘Sir’ comment is what did it. “JARVIS?” Steve asked incredulously because wasn’t the AI dead? Ultron killed him, right? The crazy killer robot had said so himself right after he came online! And then Tony and Bruce had shoved what was left of JARVIS into that Cradle thing and out of it came Vision, right? There was no more JARVIS. Cold dread filled Steve’s gut when he recalled how Tony had seemed obsessed with his AI. But he wouldn’t, right? Not to Vision! Right? “What did Stark do?”
The four individuals in front of him bristled, Logan even going as far as to let his claws slide out again and Danny came down to hold Jess - or rather Jessica, Steve guessed - back. The Asian man was looking at him as though he were something unsightly that his ancient looking footwear had stepped into. And if Steve didn’t have his enhanced hearing, he was sure he never would have heard the wiring in the wall crackle with electricity.
“I can assure you that Tony did not harm me in any way, Captain Rodgers.” Another voice very similar to the brilliant AI’s said from the direction that the kids from earlier had ran off to and Steve looked over to see a very disapproving Vision standing there with the same pack of kids, who all looked weary or afraid of him. Or angry, like that Laura girl. She seemed, for the lack of a better word, pissed. But Steve was just glad to see his teammate alive and fine and berated himself for so easily forgetting that he had not half an hour ago seen Vision interacting with his modest group of fans in front of the Tower. Worry had overtaken him for a second there. Vision did not seem to appreciate it. “Nor did he do anything I was not comfortable with or hadn’t given my consent for. Not that it is any business of yours after running away for twenty months without ever even checking if any of us are alright because you were too busy breaking several international laws.”
“The Accords are wrong, Viz.” Steve said with a tight voice, ignoring the shorts of the kids and the other four strangers, focusing on his teammate.
“Have you even read the Accords, buck?” Logan muttered under his breathe, which he also ignored. He couldn’t ignore the glare Vision sent his way because he had never seen the android glare before. It was actually quite intimidating.
“Captain Rodgers, I assure you that Secretary Ross had nothing to do with either Accords. The RAFT was explicitly his idea and doing and very much illegal. He is now imprisoned for life for his mistreatment of superpowered individuals, as well as a few others. The Accords were a response to your irresponsible behavior. Tony only tried to protect you.”
“He was only trying to protect himself and make himself look good in front of the press, like always.” Rodgers rolled his eyes at Vision’s naivety. He should probably stop spending so much time around Tony. It appears that he’s been corrupting Vision in his free time.
“I am contacting Doctor Strange.” FRIDAY, who had been up to now silent and observing and had gotten sick of it how this traitor was talking of her creator, said as though it was a threat and Steve recognized the name. Wasn’t that wizard that tied them all up and then marched away with Tony called Doctor Strange?
“What, Tony’s allies with our enemies now?”
Wong sent him a deadpan look before opening a portal. “Don’t bother, FRIDAY. The reception won’t reach him in the realm he is now. I’ve got it. Exposing sorcerers to the world seems like a small price to pay to watch Stephen deal with this misguided fool.” Then he stuck his head through the flaming wheel of sparks that hung midair and shouted for the other wizard. There was an enraged “WHAT!?” from the other side and Wong pulled back with a satisfied look, enlarging the portal and taking a few steps back as if to give someone enough space to step through.
“That won’t be necessary, Mr Wong.” JARVIS spoke again and Steve heard the familiar, telltale sound of repulsors charging. He tensed, looking around but seeing no one there but he felt the heat of the repulsors at his back. He looked cautiously over his shoulder but found nothing, only to jump away in fright when an Iron Man armor materialized from thin air. “The Stealth Armor will gladly escort Mr Rodgers out.”
“JARVIS, there’s no need for you to act like this-”
“Oh, but there is.” The usually polite AI all but spat, if that was at all possible with a computer. “You forget, Mr Rodgers, that I am Sir’s creation. I have hacked SHIELD. An abandoned bunker in the middle of Siberia is as easy for me to hack as it is for you to crash a Vibranium shield into Sir’s Arc Reactor.” There is a venom in JARVIS words that a robot should never be able to produce and the fury in Vision’s eyes seems to match the fury and outrage of the other current residents of the top floor of the Tower. “Now please remove yourself politely from Stark Tower and all other Stark properties other than the Avenger Compound or you will force my hand,” the charged repulsor shone brightly in preparation for attack to make a point. “Don’t make me take out the Hulkbuster Armor.”
Steve left the Avengers Tower with a thunderous scowl on his face, feeling utterly humiliated and the jeers of the crowds didn’t help. No matter. He’ll get Tony to talk to him when he’s actually back. He’ll catch him alone and they’ll finally settle all of this so things can finally go back to normal. No more magic users except Wanda, who they can trust not to attack her own teammates, the good guys. No more strange random people wandering around the Tower. And definitely no more haters.
He just needs to talk to Tony.