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Whatever It Takes

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Steve wasn't sure what to make of this universe so far.

It was clear that they'd just gone through a global catastrophic event and were only just starting to pick up the pieces of the aftermath.

What catastrophe he couldn't pinpoint exactly at the moment, but from what he's deduced it involved the Avengers of this universe having to resort to time travel.

"Kang?" Steve wondered grimly.

He really hoped that wasn't the case.

But the Avengers of this universe were being pretty tight lipped about everything, and he couldn't really blame them.

They'd only just experienced time travel.

To be faced with alternate dimensions so soon after their last catastrophe he could understand why they would be so wound up and mistrustful.

But dammit did he have so many questions and he knew Tony did too.

Starting with the fact that the Tower wasn't Avengers Tower.

It was Stark Tower.

Not only that, the Avengers here had to ask Pepper's permission to land.

If this universe's Hulk and Falcon hadn't already mentioned having a Tony Stark of their own he'd be more concerned than he was.

But even so…

Something didn't feel right.

And the fact that this universe's Steve Rogers kept staring at his- at Tony was grating on his last nerves.

"Cap" Sam called out, taking his cellphone away from his ear and snapping it shut.

Both Steves immediately turned their attention to the man, expecting a report of the situation.

"Uh. I meant my Cap" Sam corrected awkwardly.

"What's wrong?" Steve asked (demanded), "Is she not coming?"

Steve really wanted to know just who the hell they were talking about. But like with everything else they took to being cryptic like they were playing an odd version of the Silent game. Who would say what they weren't supposed to first?

"She is. Clint's with her...And some extras" Sam stated, looking very uneasy.

"Extras?" Steve demanded, not liking the way Sam had phrased things.

Steve and Tony immediately tensed, not liking the potential implications of what Sam had revealed.

"Apparently they weren't our only inter-dimensional guests" Sam explained, nodding his head over in the direction of the counterparts from Earth-616, confirming their counterparts' hypothesis.

"How many are we talking?" Steve demanded in disbelief.

"Just the two they came across. Vision sensed a disturbance in the Force elsewhere too, so it's possible there are others out there we don't know about" Sam reported grimly.

Steve closed his eyes and resisted the urge to let out a long huff of air.

This. This was getting out hand.

The Ancient One had warned him of the potential consequences of his actions...But she also said that his plan would work.

And so far he's only seeing the consequences.

"Well that's definitely not good" Tony stated, bringing a hand up to thoughtfully rub at his goatee, "Sounds like your universe is destabilizing, and in trying to right itself it's taking alternates from other universes"

"Sounds like Bruce was right then" Bucky stated, not liking that his theory on Steve's delay was likely partially correct, "Dare I even ask who they got coming with them?"

"I'll give you three guesses" Sam damn near grumbled as he sent a glare towards the dimension travelers.

"I'm starting to think I miss cryo. Less complicated at least" Bucky semi-joked, his dark humor coming through.

Steve stiffened a bit at the Other Bucky's words.

Did that mean he'd been taken by Hydra too?

"So your solution is to Sleeping Beauty your way out of all your troubles?" Tony sarcastically teased, giving Bucky a raised eyebrow.

"Does that mean a get prince to kiss me awake?" Bucky snarked right back, almost on reflex.

"Are you asking me?" Tony inquired teasingly (and curiously), both his eyebrows hitting his hairline as he gestured to himself in surprised.

"Are you offering?" Bucky retorted back before he could really control himself. Though immediately afterwards he did want to sock himself in the jaw for basically flirting with a Tony Stark.

Even if he wasn’t from their universe it felt wrong to be basically flirting with the guy whose parents he murdered…

Steve scowled at the interaction between the pair, significantly more disgruntled than he was a minute ago.

"Hold on! Are you and Barnes dating in your universe or something?!" Sam demanded (Seeing that Steve was too busy blue-screening to even comment), gesturing back and forth between the two of them in complete disbelief.

Maybe he never came back from the Soul Stone after all.

Or maybe this really was the Twilight Zone.

"Well he did ask me to stick around and see fireworks" Tony commented casually, making Steve tense at his side.

"But no" Tony corrected, seeing how taut Steve was, "Just friends"

Last thing he needed was for Steve to think that he was dating the guy he thought of as his younger brother. Their...sort of rekindling friendship was already on thin ice as it was.

"Just friends?" Sam inquired, raising an eyebrow at Tony.

"I'm sensing a lot of skepticism in that statement" Tony retorted back.

"We're...friends in your universe?" Bucky inquired slowly.

“I don’t fly my ass out twice to the middle of bum-fuck nowhere, and make a back-up arm for your-his reckless ass as a favor for just anybody” Tony commented.

Bucky unconsciously flexed his robotic fingers.

"You made Bucky-your Bucky an arm?" Steve asked disbelievingly, finally coming out of his daze.

"You have visitors popping in from different universes and yet the most incredible thing is that I made my universe' Bucky an arm?" Tony stated sarcastically, raising an inquisitive eyebrow.

Sure Bucky had tried to kill him when they first met, but he could (fairly) confidently say that they had each other's back now. Maybe in this universe they were still at the ‘I-want-to-kill-you-but-I’ll-tolerate-you-for now’ phase? At least that's what it sounded like.

"I'm guessing we aren't friends here then?" Tony inquired curiously.

Steve didn't wince, but it was a damn near thing.

".......No" Bucky stated slowly, the grief and regret in his eyes making Tony tense with unease.

Something obviously happened between the two of them here...Bucky had never looked at him so...remorseful before. And that in itself was...interesting. If he were to place bets on who would be the one to fuck up in a friendship he would’ve put money down on himself...But from the look on Bucky, and even Steve’s face, somehow he got the feeling things were more different here than they initially seemed...And he wasn’t just talking about the Tower or Professor Hulk.

“Captain” Friday spoke out suddenly, breaking the silence, “Vision is requesting back-up at the Staten Island Ferry”

Tony and Steve near jolted in surprise at the sudden familiar voice.

“Situation?” Steve commanded, not taking his eyes off of the Alternates.

“He has located another version of yourself and Boss from a different alternate universe and requests an additional hand in bringing them in” Friday relayed curtly.

“I’ll go” Bucky volunteered, perhaps a little too quickly.

Though if anyone noticed no one said anything, though Tony’s lips did press into a hard line.

Steve nodded, giving Bucky the confirmation he needed to leave, trying not to look so relieved as he jogged his way out the sliding doors of the former Avengers lounge.

“Friday?” Tony inquired, trying (and failing) not to take Bucky’s eagerness to leave personally.

“That is my designation. Would I be correct in assuming there is a version of me in your universe as well Mr. Stark?” Friday inquired curiously, her tone noticeably less sharp than it had been when she’d been addressing Steve.

“There is” Tony confirmed fondly, his voice going soft for a moment as a small smile adorned his face, “And Tony’s fine Fri...Or uh. I guess not with the me here…”

Steve tightened his arms across his chest, the near palpable regret in his eyes as he stared at Tony causing a tic to form in Steve's jaw, while Tony himself remained oblivious to the change in the room's atmosphere.

“Well we’re gonna have to call you both somethin. We can’t be calling all of you Steve and Tony. The 'Who me?' joke’s gonna get old real quick” Sam stated, resisting the urge to rub his temples. He could already feel a headache looming on the horizon.

Tony chewed at his bottom lip.

“A nickname huh?” he muttered, almost to himself.

There was no way in hell he was gonna let himself be called Anthony. Or Mr. Stark.

“Tones” he decided, “You can call me Tones”

“Very well then” Friday accepted.

“And you?” Steve inquired blandly, turning his attention to his double.

His alternate self just gave him a hard appraising glare, his stance still as closed off and defensive as when they had arrived at the Tower.

Then Steve watched as his alternate self’s gaze shifted, his expression remaining stern and unimpressed, but his eyes glinted with a smug mischievousness that Steve knew all too well.

“Commander” Steve declared firmly, his tone coldly professional and relaying none of the smug superiority in his eyes as he stared Steve down.

Steve clenched his jaw, tensing in barely contained indignation.

Tony and Sam watched as the two Steves silently stared each other down, looking just short of turning the lounge into a fighting ring.

“So what’s an interdimensional traveler got to do to get some pizza around here?” Tony asked, hoping to break up some of the tension.

Steve’s gaze flickered to Tony’s face, softening slightly, “When everyone gets back we can see about ordering in”

Tony’s heart gave an extra beat as Steve stepped in front of him once again, his face twisting into a scowl Tony had only ever seen him direct at the Red Skull.

“Come on Cap easy. S’not like they’re gonna put poisonous mushrooms on our food...Probably” Tony said softly, resisting the urge to place a gentle hand between Steve’s shoulder-blades, his joke falling flat even to his ears.

“Just let them posture old boy. The alpha males need to beat their chests and assert their dominance” a familiar voice proclaimed in a calm laid-back drawl.

The room’s occupants immediately swiveled to the four new additions in the room.

Just as they had been warned, flanked between Wanda and Clint were another Steve Rogers and Tony Stark.

“I on the other hand could definitely use a drink” the newest Tony casually declared.