[personal profile] dragonofmemory
No Black and White in the Blue
By: Memory Dragon
Disclaimer: I do not own the Avengers movie-verse or Marvel Ultimates, nor do I make any claim to. Also don't own the song 'Blue' by Mai Yamane/Yoko Cano, from which I've stolen the title.
Characters: Steve Rogers/Tony Stark, Natasha Romanov/Ults Tony Stark, slight Tony/Tony, Clint Barton, Thor, Bruce Banner, Rhodey, Pepper Potts, Ults Steve
Warnings: Please note Ults Tony Stark is a self-professed higher functioning alcoholic. According to canon he's also had a few suicide attempts, and he does think about and doesn't quite care as much as he should about some of the fatal consequences of drinking too much. Keep that in mind, if you are unfamiliar with Ults and this is a problem for you. Also, there's a lot of talk about grief and the (off-screen) death of a child. The child's death was a little on the gruesome side, but there are no real descriptions of the event. Again, just take into consideration your own comfort levels. Finally, this fic was written in order to kill iloome through feels. That stated, there are a lot of feels. Really, a lot. I'm told they're pretty effective. Don't say I didn't warn you if you become collateral damage.
Rating: PG 13
Summary:Anthony Stark just wants to drink and contemplate his failures in peace. Unfortunately, Antonio Stark chose just that moment to appear. Now Tony has to deal with an alternate version of himself, the tension between him and Steve, and the differences between the dimensions on top of everything else.

But the biggest monster maybe too much for even two Tonys to stop...
Thanks: Many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] salmastryon and [livejournal.com profile] narwhale_callin for the betaing.  Also thanks to actionfan, Salmastryon, and iloome for commenting on the last chapter.  It was apparently not a well beloved chapter, but hey.  You win some and you lose some, right?  Also many thanks to those who have been reading from the beginning, and those who have just started.
Notes: So I apologize for this being late.  This has not been a good week.  I don't know why I thought anything in China would actually go smoothly.  It was to the point where I had to decide between rushing a post and adding more stress to my life, or waiting on it and posting when I could actually enjoy things.  I chose the latter.  I do have a new apartment though, and hot water.  Hot water is important.  I have to say, I'm not missing the roommates who smoke.

Anyway, I'm sure you care less about my life sucking recently, and more about the final chapter.  It was a long road, and I'm still not entirely sure I like how the ending turned out, but it is here at last.

Chapter One Chapter Two Chapter Three Chapter Four Chapter Five Chapter Six

~

When Tony was finally let out of the hospital, he was heralded back to the Tower with no small amount of fuss. Tony, being a pro at dealing with the other Avengers by now, basically gloated about the others' mothering of him until they finally went away. He was surprised to find the last to leave was the glowering Other-Steve. "Are you going to just stand there, or are you going to have a drink with me?" Tony asked finally, breaking the ice.

"You shouldn't be drinking at all," Steve said with a long suffering-scowl that Tony assumed was more directed at his other self, but he pulled up a chair. Tony poured him a drink, then one for himself - good scotch, not the vodka his other self was so fond of.

"And yet you'll still drink with me. My, what morals will we be compromising next?" Tony asked, looking up at the other Steve through his eyelashes and batting them.

"Shut up, Stark," the other Steve said, but he had a familiar sort of exasperated fondness that Tony could see through. Whatever his Steve had said about this one, he couldn't be that homophobic if he put up with any version of Tony. And Tony had heard lots about how insufferable Other-Steve was from his Steve. It was a bit strange to finally be alone with the other Steve, after all the rants he'd heard.

As far as Tony could figure, this Steve was a bit of an ass, but not much worse than that. Tony could appreciate a bit of an ass. Especially when it was Captain America's ass, though he'd admit the buzz cut the other Steve sported would horrify Tony's hair stylist.

Steve was staring pensively into the scotch. Tony was surprised to find his Steve wasn't hovering over them, since his Steve made sure this one hadn't had any time alone with Tony yet. But this was a new curiosity, and Tony fully intended to make use of the opportunity. "What can I do for you, Cap?" he asked.

Eyes that were both familiar and alien looked up at him. "The other you, how much has he been drinking?" Steve asked, his eyes cold.

Tony was taken aback by the gaze, uncertain of how he should react to that. "Not as much as he had been."

The cold gaze melted into something softer, more like relief. "Has he let you run any medical tests?"

At this, Tony shook his head. He knew what Steve was asking, but he had no more clue of the status of his other self's cancer than Steve did. "Said he wasn't going to be here long enough to bother, but I've had JARVIS run some background scans while he's been here. It's not a lot of data to work with, but he's probably in remission from the best we can tell."

Steve sighed, closing his eyes. "I wish I could say that was a good sign, but..."

The alternate Tony had definitely been a bit peculiar on the subject of his cancer. "Why wouldn't this be good?"

"I think he's still hoping for that tumor to come back," Steve said. "I never trusted Anthony myself, but Tony..."

Tony blinked. Then he blinked again. "What does the tumor have to do with Anthony?"

"The tumor was Anthony," Other-Steve said. "Or an infinity gem, I guess. It was destroyed with all the others from what Tony said, but I think he's still hoping for Anthony to come back."

Tony's mouth fell open. Then he snapped it shut. He resolved to never let Clint hear of this, and he threw back the scotch. "The other me had a talking brain tumor named Anthony who died," he said, still not wrapping his mind around it.

"That's what we've figured, since Director Cheng hasn't heard from Anthony in a while and Tony's been pretty tight-lipped about it. Has he said anything to you?" Steve asked. Tony wondered if his Steve was this meddling behind his back. It was kind of nice knowing Steve cared, even if it had been him, Tony probably would be furious.

Tony shook his head in answer to the question. "Only that Anthony was his best friend, past tense."

"That's more than he's told us." Steve sat back in his chair. "Since he's been here has he tried to..."

Extremely meddling. Tony couldn't find the heart to withhold the information though. "Yes," he said flatly. "If it helps, he's been pretty passive about it when we've intervened." Not that Tony didn't understand. While he wasn't as bad as his other self, his stunt with the arc reactor also said he wasn't much better. His Steve had told Tony about how his other self had stopped drinking altogether too. Like he hadn't deserved to out with alcohol poisoning anymore, not if a more painful death was an option.

Tony wondered what he would have chosen for himself.

Tony didn't mention any of that, however, and he could see the relief again in the other Steve's eyes. He must have been expecting a lot worse. Steve put a hesitant hand on Tony's shoulder, squeezing lightly in thanks. It wasn't a light caress to his cheek that his Steve might have given him, but it was enough to draw him out of his thoughts.

"Tony's one of the few things left keeping Thor tied to us. If both of them left... The Ultimates are about all I have, since being around me put Bucky in danger. Going off on my own only made things worse last time."

Tony contemplated the Steve in front of him, openly showing grief and worry. His Steve packed everything away, opening up very rarely. "You're so much more expressive than my Steve is," Tony found himself remarking, though maybe it wasn't that he was less expressive, but quieter. Because he didn't doubt for one second that this Steve wasn't as emotionally constipated as his Steve was, but this one was willing to show that, maybe not to everyone, but to a few. He wasn't as good at packing things away, and his heart was worn much closer to his sleeve than his Steve.

"That why he's got a stick shoved up his ass?" Steve said with a snort.

Tony knew for a fact that this Steve had just called the kettle black, but he shrugged in response. "There's a few other things I'd rather-"

"Stark," Steve said, disapproval written over his face.

Tony smiled cheekily in return, returning to his earlier good humor. "You did ask. I just... You have your Bucky, and he survived the war, right? I wonder if that made a difference."

Steve grunted, finishing off his drink in a clear signal that this conversation was off limits. Definitely still emotionally constipated. "You never have any beer," Other-Steve complained.

"Au contrare," Tony said, standing up and making his way to the bar. He grabbed a beer can out of the fridge and tossed it to Steve. "Clint is a philistine and he converted Thor to a few European brews."

Steve caught the can with a faint smirk on his face. "Thanks for the tip." Then he looked longingly at the TV, which Tony was admittedly surprised over. His Steve didn't exactly hate modern television, but he'd never looked at it longingly before.

"The only thing that's on right now would be soaps and daytime TV," Tony warned.

At this, Steve puffed up to his most manly and intimidating pose. "What's wrong with soaps?"

Tony was never letting his Steve live this down. "Absolutely nothing. I'm sure Days of Our Lives would have been cancelled by now if there was. The remote is to your left."

Tony mixed himself a proper martini as the sounds of two women yelling at each other drifted over from the television. He really needed more alcohol if Other-Steve was going to watch day time TV.

He was saved by his own Steve walking in just as Tony sat down. He waved over his martini, mouthing 'play nice'. Then he leaned back and prepared to watch his own soap opera, which comprised of two ridiculously sexy twins arguing.

He wasn't quite prepared to be dragged into the middle of them, however, as his Steve grabbed him around the waist and pulled him closer as he... Did Steve just growl? Tony didn't put much stock in overly-jealous behavior being seen as romantic and he was of half a mind to bring this up later as things Steve would have to work on, but right now he couldn't help but be a little delighted by the casual possession. His heart rate sped up as Steve's arm wrapped protectively around him. "I thought you were leaving," his Steve said to his counterpart.

The other Steve snorted, not looking up from the fight on TV that now included some young guy. "Not going back without Tony, and he's leaving tomorrow," the other Steve said.

Tony felt a pang at that. He'd be back to sleeping by himself again, since current cuddling aside, he doubted either him or his Steve were willing to take that step yet. The lab would go back to seeing use every night.

"He's safe with us," his Steve grit out. "Unless you're so bigoted that-"

"Talk to the hand, mister," the other Steve said. "I want to find out what William does."

"You-" Steve started, turning a furious shade of red.

That was about as long as Tony could hold out before he doubled over laughing. By the time Tony wiped the tears from his eyes, his Steve was sulking and the other Steve was looking mildly annoyed by the outburst. "Christ, Cap," Tony said. "You can't just say things like that without warning. Though I have to say, whoever introduced you to the 90s was pure genius."

"You done braying like an ass?" the other Cap asked suspiciously.

"For now," Tony said with one last chuckle. He leaned back against his Steve, patting the arm around his waist. "Come on, Steve. Let's leave your other self to the bonnie William."

The other Steve snorted, obviously dismissing them now that he found out what he wanted to know and had his soap opera fix. Before his Steve could take offense, Tony wiggled out of his grasp and pulled him him to his feet. They left before either of the Steves could start another fight. His Steve trailed behind him, obviously still sulking. "Oh, come on," Tony said. "He's not that bad."

Steve snorted, reminding Tony very much of the Steve they'd just left. "That's what you think. I don't trust him."

"Now you're just being obstinate," Tony said, pivoting around to face his Steve. "If I told you that while he's not that bad, I definitely like you better, would you stop sulking?"

"I'm not sulking," Steve said, crossing his arms over his chest.

"Of course not. Captain America broods manfully," Tony said with a snicker. He got a glare for his troubles, but Tony felt his heart skip in a way that wasn't due to the arc reactor as he considered his next move. They weren't ready for this but...

"And what if I were to do this?" Tony asked. He leaned forward, kissing Steve chastely. His eyes slid closed as Steve's hand went to the small of his back and pulled him closer, sighing into the kiss.

Tony was tired of not being ready.

* * *

The next day Steve was quietly relieved to see their alternate counterparts off. One Tony was a handful to deal with, and while Steve liked Antonio Stark, even the serum's enhanced stamina could only keep up with two Tonys for so long. And Steve was definitely not going to think about the unintentional innuendo of that statement. Well, not outside of the privacy of his shower, at least.

Shoving away his decidedly impure thoughts, Steve focused on the fact that his other self (bigoted, meat-headed bully) would be leaving today as well. While Steve could admit he'd miss the other Tony, he would not be saddened by the loss of his adulterating other self in the slightest.

With the tech and those responsible for stealing it already on the other side of the glowing white portal to await trial, all that was left was to say good-bye. The other Avengers, Rhodey, and Pepper all turned out to see the two dimensional travelers off in the Avengers' living room.

"It was good to meet you," Pepper said, holding out her hand. Rogers shook it, while Antonio kissed her hand with a rakish smirk that earned him a gentle thwap on the head from Pepper.

Antonio just kept smiling. "Anthony is on to something by putting you in charge, Ms. Potts," he said. "I shall have to remember this."

Pepper just groaned as Rhodey pulled the other Tony into a hug. "I'm sure the me in your world will appreciate that," she said dryly.

"Speaking of our other selves, don't let the other me get away with leaving you," Rhodey said. "I'm not saying take him back, but show him what he's missing."

Antonio held on tightly, burying his face against Rhodey's shoulder like it would be his last chance to soak up Rhodey's comfort. "I'll keep that in mid," Antonio said, pulling away reluctantly.

The other Avengers said quick farewells, only Natasha hanging back. The look of distrust was clear on Rogers's face, but Antonio stepped forward with a sorrowful smile. He flinched as Natasha raised a hesitant hand to touch his cheek, but he held it there when she started to pull back. "Tony..." she said, her voice lost.

"Always beautiful," he said, leaning into her hand. "Everything else may change, but that fact always stays the same."

Natasha pulled her hand away, leaning up on tiptoe to whisper words Steve couldn't hear into Antonio's ear. His eyes grew wide as Natasha pulled back, kissing him on the cheek. The smile he offered in return was a weak, fragile thing, but beautiful. He watched as Natasha's breath hitched, and Steve had to resist the urge to pull his Tony into a tight hug and not let go.

When Antonio came to him, Steve felt his mouth go dry, unsure of what to say. The man who stood before him was so very much like the man he loved, but also so very different. Steve wasn't sure how he should feel towards Antonio Stark. The word 'friend' seemed both inadequate and too much for the few weeks he'd been in this world.

Antonio smiled at him, winking cheerfully. "Don't wait too long to make a move on the other me, old boy," he said conspiratorially, holding out his hand. When Steve reached out to shake it, however, he found himself being drawn into a hug.

He returned it awkwardly, unsure of the protocol here. If there even was protocol for a situation like this. "Hang in there, soldier," Steve said softly, knowing all too well how fine this Tony walked the line at night.

Antonio pulled back, giving him a mock salute. "I shall endeavor to obey, Captain," he said, but Steve could see the promise in his eyes. He hoped that Antonio's time in this world had helped, even if just a little.

Tony snorted. "Like we've ever been good at following orders."

"Touché," Antonio replied.

Rogers glared at him. Steve didn't offer his hand, perfectly willing to go back to ignoring the fact his other self existed. He'd much rather say good riddance than good-bye.

Neither Tonys missed the slight, but other than a raised eyebrow from his Tony and a soft chuckle from the other, they didn't comment.

"So you're going back," Tony said to the alternate one.

"Yeah," Antonio said in an out rush of breath. His Tony hesitantly took a step forward, and that seemed to be the only cue needed because within a heartbeat they were in each other's arms.

"Jasmine wasn't your fault," Antonio whispered, and Steve was just close enough to pick it up.

Tony bit off a disbelieving laugh. "Anthony's death and shorting out the arc reactor wasn't yours," he replied. Steve ached a little knowing neither of the Tonys actually believed those reassurances. They clung to each other for a few seconds longer, before his Tony started to step away.

Then Antonio stole a glance back at Steve, a startlingly mischievous glint in those blue eyes. Uh-oh. "Just so you know what you missed out on, soldier," Antonio said with a wicked smile. He stepped back into Tony's personal space, hand resting right on his ass.

"Now, wait-" Tony tried to say, but he was cut off with an indignant noise as he was dipped back and kissed thoroughly. Extremely thoroughly. Tony's eyes fluttered shut as he sighed into the kiss, giving in as Antonio got a tighter grip.

Steve felt the blood flow straight south as his brain short circuited. He was instantly, painfully hard, and Christ, was that... There was definitely tongue involved. Steve still hadn't gotten involved with Tony's tongue yet. Vaguely, he was aware of someone wolf whistling, but he was too caught up in the fact that Antonio was sucking on Tony's tongue and how his Tony gasped as the other pushed in again.

When Antonio pulled up, Tony crossed his arms in front of his chest, looking distinctly unimpressed despite being on just the wrong side of debauched. Steve was going to have to spend the next day in the shower. One very long, very hot shower. Because that mental image was burned against his eyelids and he didn't think it was going away any time soon.

"You're incorrigible," Tony said as Steve tired to inconspicuously take his shield off his back.

"We both are, old boy. Never forget it," Antonio said as he waggled his eyebrows. "Also, check his pants before you assume he's angry."

That, at least, caused some of the blood to migrate back upwards to his face. Steve only just brought the shield down in front of him as his Tony turned around to see. From the considering look he received, Tony wasn't fooled and he doubted any of the others were either.

"That was more than I needed to know about Cap's sex life," Clint complained, confirming Steve's fears.

Rogers huffed, pulling Antonio by the collar of his suit jacket towards the portal. Steve knew that face he was making. He was pretty sure he wasn't the only one affected by the Tony's little display. "I think we've had enough of your tomfoolery, Tony."

"Rogers," Steve bit out, watching the other him stop and turn with a calculating expression in his eyes. Steve hesitated, but met his other self's eyes. "Take care of him."

Rogers looked at Anthony, a brief look of fondness softening his features. Then he grunted, gesturing towards Tony. "You do the same."

They nodded at each other, accepting the pact for what it was. He may not like his alternate self, but at least Steve could trust him to take care of Tony.

Speaking of Tony, his Tony had his arms crossed over his chest again and was huffing. "I love how they both assume we can't take care of ourselves."

Antonio smiled, patting Rogers on the arm. "Let them have their manly bonding, Anthony," he said. "It makes them feel better to think they're protecting us, and it gives us time to take them by surprise."

"Come on, Stark," Rogers said, dragging a cheerfully waving Tony through the portal at last. It flickered briefly, then disappeared.

Steve let out the breath he hadn't known he'd been holding as the others started to disperse. Rhodey and Natasha lingered, and Steve saw why when he noticed Tony was still staring at the place where the portal had been. He nodded to them to say he'd take care of it, before they both left as well. Only Natasha glanced back at them as she walked out.

Steve set his shield down, moving to stand behind Tony. He pulled the genius against him, reveling in the shiver that went through Tony as he discovered Steve's still half hard cock. But Steve didn't make a move to relieve it, and Tony relaxed in his arms.

"Do you think he'll be okay?" Tony asked quietly.

"Yeah," Steve replied, wrapping his arms tightly around Tony. His Tony. "He's got the other me and Thor to look out for him, and he knows where to find us now too. He'll be okay."

"And us?" Tony asked. "I... I'm bad press as it is, Steve. And I'm a mess. I don't know if..."

"We're both a mess," Steve said. "But I think it's sometimes easier to pick up someone else's mess than it is to deal with your own, so maybe we can pick up each other."

Tony groaned, his arms falling over Steve's and tracing them lightly. "You're such a sap," he said, rolling his eyes. But his lips were smiling, and Steve reached around, taking Tony's chin and tilting it so he could steal a kiss. He was not going to think of the orange vodka he could still taste on Tony's lips. Tony laughed into the kiss, proving he hadn't missed the twitch.

When Steve pulled back with a soft chuckle, Tony turned in Steve's arms until they were facing each other. He rubbed Tony's back as the other man wrapped his arms around Steve's waist, pulling them close until they were cheek to cheek. Steve held on, feeling the repressed tremors from Tony as they both stayed there. He started swaying them softly as he hummed a half remembered melody his mother used to sing.

"Did I mention you were a sap?" Tony asked, his voice a little shaky. But he didn't move away as Steve kissed his temple.

After a few minutes with his eyes closed as he committed the feel of the arc reactor and Tony's chest pressed against his to memory, Steve opened his eyes to see a vase of flowers on the counter that he hadn't seen before. He stilled, wondering when they'd gotten there. There had been so many people up here earlier that they must have been blocked from view. The flowers were all of one type, small and white, delicate-looking against the dark vase. Steve felt like he should know what kind they were, but his knowledge of flowers was sadly lacking.

"Those flowers..?" Steve asked.

Tony stiffened in his arms, pulling away. He walked over to them, handing the note to Steve without looking at them. "Dr. Conner sent them when I was in the hospital," he said as he looked away.

Steve looked at the hand written note, reading the words with growing reverence.

'Dear Mr. Stark,

I hope these flowers will find you recovering. The news said you were hurt saving a lot of lives, and I've been keeping you in my prayers.

Jasmine flowers stand for a lot of things. The scent reminds us of our loved ones when they're gone. They also stand for nobility and grace, traits that I wanted Jasmine to have. Those were things she saw in you, and she wouldn't hear a bad word said about you even by the reporters.

There's one more thing the jasmine flower stands for, Mr. Stark, and that's divine hope. I know you don't believe like I do, but I know in my heart that my Jasmine was called back to be one of God's angels, and he's sent her to watch over us. Let these flowers remind you not to give that up. If you believe in nothing else, believe in the hope and faith that my family saw in you, and still sees in you.

God bless,
Becca Conner
'

Steve felt his throat close as he looked over the message again, remembering his own mother. She would have liked Dr. Conner. She would have liked Tony too. He was amazed all over again at the strength women like his mother and Dr. Conner showed, all without any of the support and chances that Steve himself had been given.

Steve looked up, seeing those extraordinary brown eyes staring at him, wounded and scared. "I haven't... I haven't read it yet," Tony admitted in a rush. "I don't..."

"Come on, Shellhead" Steve said, his voice cracking on the words. He pulled Tony over to the couch and sat down, giving into the urge to just hold Tony tightly against him. Tony huffed, but let him, still not looking at the card. "I'll read it with you," Steve continued. "Turns out jasmine flowers are pretty swell."

Tony laughed, a little hysterically. He closed his eyes, taking a shuddery breath. "Swell, Cap?"

"Yeah," Steve said, kissing the closed lids hiding the brown he loved so much underneath. He'd come so close to losing this, and he didn't know if he had the strength yet to move on like Dr. Conner did. He was still too raw from losing everyone else. "And they were right, you know. Dr. Conner and the other you. This wasn't your fault. You did everything you could."

Tony opened his eyes but still didn't meet his gaze. That was okay, though. Steve had the time to convince him, thanks to Antonio. "So what makes jasmine flowers so 'swell' anyway?" Tony asked instead of replying.

He had this now, and he would fight to hell and back for it if he had to. And if he fell to pieces like this in the future, he knew Tony would be there to help him pick himself back up. "They symbolize hope," Steve said before he started to read the letter out loud.

~FINI~

Memory: And that's the end of it, folks. There ain't no more. Though it's my personal head canon that Ults Tony totally comes back whenever he can't sleep for too long to cuddle with his personal teddy bear. Also, there may have been a sex tape of the Tonys made (with Steve's blessing). Ults Cap was not invited to MCU Steve's personal viewing, but he showed up anyway. It's probably one of the few times the Steves actually bonded.

Natasha was given her own tape (also with the blessing of all involved, especially considering she helped film it) and she admits that while it would have never worked out between her and either of the Tonys, watching them have sex is still insanely hot.

Clint and Bruce really just don't want to know that much about their team mate's sex lives. Thor doesn't really care either way, as long as his friends are happy. But both the Tonys had a limp for a day or so after, and neither Steve was particularly good at hiding their interest. XD

And that's the most you're getting out of that head canon, so don't expect me to write it.

Anyway, that's the fic. I hope you enjoyed it, and that the feels weren't too bad. Leave a comment about what you think. Also, I'm on tumblr now. You can find me here, but be warned that I post other scifi stuff along side my warped avengers head canon and writing updates. Thanks for reading!

And now for the final quote of the chapter, have a quote from B5 that I appropriated in this chapter.

"You know before I got married, Emily used to come by sometimes to help me clean out my apartment. Well, I asked her, how come you're so eager to help clean up my place when you place is just as bad? She said, because cleaning up your place helps me to forget what a mess I have made of mine and when I sweep me floor, all I have done is sweep my floor. But when I help you clean up your place, I am helping you. Of course, the way I lived back then sometimes the mess was to much for both of us, but it sure was nice to have the company.
-Reverend Will Dexter, Babylon 5
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