Who: Natasha, Dr. Strange, Tony Who: Natasha's arrival When: Sunday afternoon. Rating/Warning: Green, language
This month kept getting better and better. Stephen Strange was taking his first calming sip of tea for the day when he received a mystical ping of a new arrival in New York City.
Natasha Romanoff. Things really were in a state of flux, he thought to himself, as he honed in on her location through a brief moment of meditation.
With a long suffering sigh, knowing that he was going to have to take the blame once again, he stood up and motioned to the cape. It fluttered over, resting upon his shoulders as he opened a fiery portal to the location in question and stepped through.
There she was… Dirty and bloody and sweaty. And after the dust had finally settled around her, Natasha came to look around...New York… What the hell was she doing in New York suddenly. And now someone was appearing through a portal. With Proxima’s midnight spear still in hand, Nat took stand, ready to continue fighting.
So, when Strange stepped out, she was a bit perplexed to say the least. “Who are you?” She asked as she blew her blonde hair out her face. “And what am I doing in New York?” That demanding tone taken as she held that spear in her hands.
Where was everyone? Where was Rogers? Wilson? T’Challa...What happened to Wanda and Vision?
Stephen closed the portal behind him with a thought. They tended to draw attention, and there was already an assassin carrying a space spear, who looked like she took a hard tumble to hell and was dragged back again.
He eyed the spear as he opened his mouth to speak calmly and clearly, just as the cape began to raise up one lower corner and wave as though to say hello.
"....stop," he told it, staring straight forward as though he was done with his entire life at this juncture. When the cape drooped down as though dejected, he muttered 'timing' under his breath and appeared to collect himself.
"Natasha Romanoff," he said, "I'm Doctor Stephen Strange. Master of the Mystic Arts. You've experienced a space-time displacement due to a time spell gone wrong, and are now in a different but incredibly similar universe. I am not your enemy. We are going to need your help. And I am working with Stark, so we can deal with the anomalies in this section of the multiverse."
He remained perfectly still, as did the cape. Strange found himself hoping that he wasn't about to be impaled in the next three seconds. He went through that a few times fighting Dormammu. Not a comfortable experience.
“Did that cape just wave at me?” Asking as she pulled the spear back and listened. The only thing that saved him from getting his ass kicked, was the fact that he mentioned Tony. “Tony’s here? What about the others? Sam, Steve. What about Wanda.” She demanded to know where her friends… No her family was. Right now, that’s what mattered.
Hearing about anomalies needing to be handled she exhaled deeply. She just couldn’t catch a break. “Alright, you said this place is like the other universe. Does that mean Thanos succeeded here too?” The mission, that was what was important right now. She had to remind herself that.
Once confirmation from Strange on what was the same and what wasn’t he’d better give her information on her family.
"It did. Some magical relics have minds of their own," Stephen explained, not looking any different than the norm. The norm meant he was casually analyzing everything around him, sensing any lingering energy from her displacement clinging around her, and mentally discarding anything that was peripheral. That included the cape right now, as much as it was humming with energy to greet another arrival.
"Stark is here and funding everything. He's one of those affected. We're a small number of people who have experienced this. The world at large doesn't know yet. Sam, no. Steve and Wanda, yes. Among others."
Stephen didn't bat an eyelash at the mention of Thanos and success. That should speak volumes about knowing Thanos was an impending threat.
"Not yet," he confirmed, without a trace of hesitation or emotion. "Enough might have changed, that this timeline will experience a different outcome. No one has disintegrated so far. I'm cautiously optimistic. You weren't with us on Titan when we fought Thanos. Stark was there. Where were you?"
Hearing that Stark was funding everything, she smiled lightly. “Sounds like him.” Is all she said about that for the moment. “Titan?” She tilted her head. What the hell was Titan.
“Wakanda. Thanos showed up and everything pretty much went downhill from there.” She stated as she came to brush her hair from her face for the moment. “I don’t have the luxury to be optimistic right now.” She stated as she looked around. A nod given to Strange suddenly.
“Well.. If Thanos hasn’t showed up here yet this place has a chance. So let’s give it a fighting one and make sure we win this time.”
"That's...actually...what we need right now," Stephen conceded, letting out a deep breath he didn't know he was holding in. He had assessed what she told him, mulling it over as she spoke. Wakanda. There were so many pieces of his fragmented vision from before that included Wakanda, but because they hadn't been seen in a linear search pattern, he still didn't know what his counterpart had seen. Only that giving up his stone over there was the only way.
"Titan's another planet. Apparently, alien life decided to barge in and wanted this." He tapped a finger against the large gold amulet hanging from around his neck. "Long story short, I was knocked out and put on a ship. Parker and Stark saved me, but all of us ended up on another planet. And then Thanos showed up to take this from me. Needless to say....it didn't go well for us, either. Anywhere you want to go? Stark's or to the Thirty Warren apartments, so you can clean up and catch up? There's a network we're part of. I'll get you a laptop."
“Of course, Stark would find himself on another planet fighting aliens.” She said shaking her head for the moment as she thought. “Tony.” She said easily as she came to smile. “Might as well try and give him a heart attack with the way I look.” She replied with a smirk as she held that spear in her hand.
It wasn’t her batons, or taser or anything, but damn if she didn’t grow attached to it in some form or another, so she figured she might as well keep it. It’ll come in handy when Thanos and his creepy ass kids show up. Hearing about a network she nodded.
“We can do all that at Stark’s”
"Got it." Strange turned and opened a portal up, just as Tony was walking by.
The man visibly flinched, his whole body making a singular twitching motion.
"Enough already with the jump scares. I mean, what the hell do you thi-...?" The mouth vomit abruptly stopped when he saw who was with Earth's shittiest version of Gandalf. He looked her over through the portal, looking like he wanted to lean through it. "Nat?"
Nat stepped through the portal just as Tony was walking by. Just the expression on his face was priceless as she stepped through the portal and into the office. “Hey, Tony.” She said leaning against the spear for the moment. She looked a mess, but she was also fighting a war and lost at that.
But she wanted Tony to see. To see just how bad things were on Earth. “Heard you took a vacation to Titan. How was that?”
It was the office adjacent to his lab space, so there were places to sit, and he was pointing over at a leather sofa. He used it for cat naps and coffee breaks. Right now, Natasha looked like she could use both.
"Yeah, I went there. Let's put it this way, I'm not gonna give it a great review on Trip Advisor or anything. Like...not even one star." He was eyeing the spear like that was a piece of tech he'd like to get his hands on, but Nat looked like she earned that thing and was proud of it. He was more asking Strange than Natasha, since the wizard was still on the other side of the portal, "Where'd you pop in from?"
"I'll let you two catch up," Strange said. "Let me know if you need anything."
"Sure thing, House M.D.," Tony said, waving one hand around dismissively, as Strange closed the portal. "God. That guy's an ass."
Pot calling the kettle black moment. It's happening.
There was no way in hell she was giving this up. Not yet anyways. “What, no room service?” She bantered back with a smile.
When he motioned to the couch she moved to take a seat. It felt like forever since she was able to rest her legs. With Strange gone, she looked over to Tony. “Wakanda.” She said as she rested that spear across her lap. Her hand coming through her blonde hair for the moment.
“It was bad Tony. For a second, it look like we’d won... And then, we didn’t.” She said as she brought tired green eyes to look towards him.
"Yeah and the pillows were rock hard. No indoor plumbing either," he quipped with ease. It seemed like no matter what or when or where, Natasha was always Natasha. And even if they disagreed or parted ways, when they were in the same room, it felt like no time had passed.
He was already doctoring her coffee up the way he remembered she liked it. He always suspected it was her sticking the grounds from the french press down the garbage disposal, just to watch him have an OCD meltdown about not using the composter.
He sat down next to her, offering the coffee. His own dark brown eyes weren't looking away. He looked right at her and, although she was always hard to read, it wasn't impossible to tell that she had seen and done too much too. He managed a tight smile. A smile that wasn't happy, but was more along the lines of 'it is what it is.'
"Who bit it?" he asked, out of morbid curiosity. If Thanos won, he knew what that meant. "Vis, obviously. Doesn't need spelled out. If you didn't...no. You know what? It's ok."
One hand rested on her shoulder for a moment, the other placed the cup of coffee in her hand.
"It hasn't happened here," he reiterated. "Not yet. Probably not ever. It's ok! We're ok."
It was the mantra of the optimistic. If he kept repeating it, it might make it come true.
“Room service must have been horrible too” She replied as she came to exhale and take the coffee from Tony. Oh Nat was definitely one to stir up Tony’s OCD. But she wasn’t alone. She had Clint to help with that also.
When he asked who was gone she sighed. “Barnes for sure. Saw it happen as I was walking towards Steve.” She said thinking a moment. “Not sure, we all got separated in the end. I know the last ones I saw around was Steve, Rhodes, Rocket… Talking raccoon.” She said filling in that last detail.
“And Thor.” She said as she sipped at her coffee. Tony always knew how make it. Hearing that it hadn’t happened here, she nodded her head. “And it’s not going to happen here.” She said looking forward for the moment. “Because this, we’ll be ready.”
Tony knew Thor could make it through anything. Steve and Rhodey made it too. That was good. But Barnes....
There was a blank look on his face, because he knew - he knew - that he effed things up when he found out that Barnes killed his parents. Total meltdown. Lost his shit. Even more when Steve said he knew too. Barnes wasn't even in control of himself when it he did it, but he was right there, and what he saw was fresh in his head. All that pent up anxiety, always being on edge, threw that video into an obsessive compulsive loop in his head, and it was over before he knew it. Steve was protecting his friend and Barnes was the unwilling triggerman.
This was dredging up fresh guilt from old guilt. And Barnes wasn't even around anymore. Hadn't used the keycard, hadn't shown up as scheduled. Just...disappeared. Like dust. Like Peter had when....
He blinked himself out of that downward spiral, focusing back on reality and Natasha, battered and bloodied and blonde, sitting next to him.
"No, it won't," he said, standing up so he could keep moving. If he kept moving, kept busy, he wouldn't sit around overthinking the wanna-should've-beens. "I'm gonna get you some car and apartment keys. Laptop and phone to do some recon on the network if you want. Fury's on there. So's Clint. You'll probably wanna catch up. Clint looks....rough."
Hearing that Clint was here and he wasn’t doing good, had Nat nodding her head. “I’ll stay with him, make sure our boy is taken care of.” She said as she came to a stand. “I will take the car and laptop. Strange mentioned a net so I wanna get on that as soon as possible.” She replied as she brushed her hair from her face.
She did notice Tony stare at her. “Cover up.” She said about her hair for the moment. Since she was in hiding when all this happened, they were looking for a red-head. Not a blonde so it made it easier to blend in when needed.
“It’s good to see you Tony, despite everything.”
That made sense. Everything Nat said made sense. She was as reliable as Pepper was. Ironic, considering she was a spy and used to double crossing people for a living.
"Yeah, Nat. It's good to see you too," he said, standing up to go get those things. He cast a look back at her as he rounded his desk to get her things. "We're good. I fucked up. I do that sometimes. It's just...water under the bridge."
He only hoped they didn't drown in it.
Nat came to look at Tony as she took her things. “It’s what family does. We fuck up, but we come right back to each other.” She replied as she exhaled lightly at the thought… Yeah, this was her family. All broken and battered. But she wouldn’t have it any other way.