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Only Human After All
6/21 (early A.M.) | Tag: Amora?
Marvel-MCU

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#1
Only Human After all

Spending time with Wanda had been… Enlightening.

It had also been enjoyable. Maybe one of the first truly enjoyable moments he’d been able to have since Tony had arrived in Hub.

Not that Tony being here was a bad thing! He was incredibly happy to have the man back in his life; he was just not so happy him hurt. Again. God, watching him fall through the sky again, that had hurt in a way that Steve hadn’t honestly been prepared for.

As Steve walked home, he considered the last year and more of his life. Waking up from the ice had been hard, finding out he’d been gone for over half a century had been even harder, but he had done his best to acclimate. New York, the formation of the Avengers, that had given him something solid to hold onto, to ground him, and he had been so grateful for them, for his new home. Then Bucky had ripped open a wound that had only just started to really heal.

That had been a defining moment for him, hadn’t it?

Steve stumbled as he made the realization; Bucky’s return had started this downward spiral, not because of anything his friend had done or hadn’t done, but because of how Steve had dealt with it. Or rather, how he hadn’t dealt with it. He hadn’t talked to anyone about it. He hadn’t trusted a soul other than Natasha with the information, and if he were being very honest with himself, he’d only trusted her because she’d been there, been present during the whole incident. His choice not to tell Tony hadn’t been a solitary decision, it had been part of a much larger problem.

Watching Tony fall from the sky again had made Steve realize a few things. He cared about Tony far too much to continue the path that he’d been walking. His decision to return to New York, to try to meet with Tony and see if they could even begin to mend the chasm between them had been the right choice, but he hadn’t gotten far with that before he’d found himself here in Hub.

Now, a week and a half after that, a week after Tony had left to go do...whatever… Steve was wandering back through Hub’s version of New York, more stumbling than walking, the alcohol still coursing through him. And even though so many things were left unresolved for him, even though there were still so many problems that needed solutions, Steve was smiling just slightly. It had been nice to just talk to someone, to not worry about how what he was saying would be heard. Sure, back home he had friends. He had Sam and Clint. (Wanda and Scott weren’t exactly his friends, but they were there, too.) But he still felt like he had to be Captain America with them. Sometimes it was almost like an obstacle course; Steve felt as though he couldn’t just open up, couldn’t just talk to them, they couldn’t see his doubts… He was the leader, and he had to keep that appearance up for them, even when inside he was breaking down, when was filled with apprehension and regret.

Wanda saw him as… A man. Capable of making mistakes, having regrets and doubts. Of being an idiot.

Arjay treated him as a comrade, younger than the elf (which was odd but actually quite welcome in a way), and again saw Steve as able to make mistakes, and struggle to rectify them.

Steve looked up for the first time in twenty minutes, trying to get his bearings. The tower was further away now than it had been when he’d started walking, wasn’t it? Had he taken a wrong turn? He had no idea.

Yep. He was an idiot. Well, that might as well be, but he was an idiot that needed to figure out how to get himself ho-- back.



“That’s not going away anytime soon.”
*
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Marvel Comics-Avengers Academy

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#2
Tonight was a profitable night.

Amora had been in the Hub for a week or so, and her interest in the place was beginning to wane. Oh, it was amusing to find feasts and parties across worlds, to enthrall the various little people of this strange nexus, but when you got down to it, she hadn’t really met anyone consequential. Ever since that run-in with the unfortunately colored harlot, she’d begun to suspect that Tony’s little effort to impress her had opened a gateway into a glorified refuse bin for people that no world wanted. It was the only explanation that satisfied her, and obviously it meant that she didn’t belong here.

Tonight, though, she found proof that she’d misjudged the place. At first, she wasn’t sure, he was obviously older than she remembered, but on taking another look, it was unmistakeable. That was Steve Rogers, and against all odds, he appeared to already be intoxicated. How that happened, she had no idea, but she wasn’t going to second guess a blessing like this. Of course… as she noted, he did look older, while she still looked as she always had. Well, that could easily be rectified, she supposed.

A few light glamours were all that she needed to keep him wandering, and honestly she didn’t even think she needed those. Meanwhile, she was Amora the Enchantress, mistress of enthrallment and beauty of nine worlds. All it took was a bit of makeup (one of the few things that the humans got right) and a little more illusion… Yes. She examined her reflection in a small compact as she trailed Steve from a distance. She might only naturally appear to be about nineteen, but done up right, she could appear to be in her mid twenties. Not as old as this Steve looked, of course, but closer, enough that his sensibilities might not be violated.

At this point, she saw that yes, he had noticed where he was, and how far abroad he’d wandered. Here was her chance. “Well now,” she purred, walking up behind him. “I had quite given up on this world offering me anything at all appealing, and then you wander back into my life.” She slipped her arm under his as she came up beside him, peering up at him with a smile that was as close to innocent as she could come. “Looking like you’ve had a long night as well. I do hate when I miss a party… I hope it was entertaining?”
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#3
Only Human After All

Okay. He had definitely drank too much. Way, way too much. How Wanda had managed to keep up with him at all was beyond Steve’s ability to figure out. Unless her abilities could negate the effects of alcohol... Huh. That might be possible. He'd have to ask her. Tomorrow. Or the day after. He had a feeling tomorrow would be spent nursing one hell of a hangover.

He was trying to get back to the tower. Back to Tony and Justin and... Friday. Steve managed to suppress a groan at the thought of the Al, but only just barely. Friday hated him, he was sure of it. Oh, he had hopes that he could better his standing with her, but he was also pretty certain that first he’d have to make things right with her creator. And what that meant was that she was angry with him still, and the next 24 hours were likely going to be miserable.

Suddenly he didn't mind being a bit turned around. He was no longer in a hurry to get back to the tower.

The appearance of the lovely blonde woman was a surprise, but not a wholly unwelcome one. "Hm?” Steve turned, looking for the source of the voice. Amora continued to speak, and Steve blinked at her words. 'This world', and ‘back into my life' specifically. As familiar as she treated him, Steve couldn't place her for the life of him.

It was the same as it had been with Justin and Wanda. She knew a different Steve Rogers from a different world. "A long year, really… It wasn’t a party, so you didn't miss much. Just two friends drinking very strong drinks and telling stories." He shifted, turning his head to get a better look at the lady that had sidled up to him, "I'm sorry, but I’m pretty sure that I’m not who you think I am." he paused before adding, "That tends to happen here." It wasn't a dismissal, it was a genuine apology. Whichever Shue Rogers she knew, it wasn't the one she was currently speaking to. Besides, he didn't know her, but he hadn’t known Justin either. And Wanda, whom he had spent hours drinking with, hadn't been the one he had known; it didn’t mean he wouldn’t enjoy her company. And he really wasn't in a huge hurry to return to Tony, who didn't remember the last year, and an AI who seemed to loathe and disapprove of him.

“That’s not going away anytime soon.”
*
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Marvel Comics-Avengers Academy

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#4
Unlike Justin, Amora didn’t seem to be put off by his lack of recognition at all. Rather, she just offered him a cheeky, knowing smile as she walked the fingers of her free hand up the arm she had hers threaded through. “Oh, aren’t you ever the gentleman, darling. Yes, I’m well aware you aren’t the Steve Rogers I knew. You’re a bit older… not much, though. Much more put together, as well…” She stopped to squeeze his bicep, a happy little shiver running through her as she did. “Mm, much more, yes. But you don’t know me? My my, this is an interesting development. I suppose that just means no real competition.”

She started leading him across the street, peering about this dismal part of the city… of course, all of New York looked dismal, didn’t it? “Well, then, I suppose I’m the one who needs to do the introducing, don’t I? You may address me as Amora, the Enchantress of Asgard. On my world, we were… hm, teammates, I suppose?” She couldn’t exactly call him a minion, he hadn’t succumbed like that to her advances or her enchantments. It had been rather frustrating, in all honesty, but maybe this one would be different. “The All-Father, Odin, decided that the Avengers would have the help of gods and goddesses, and so I was one of those who was hand-picked to lend her power to keep the mortals safe.” It was, after all, true, and the finer points of the situation were completely irrelevant.
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#5
Only Human After All

Justin's disappointment was understandable, but it was so dang nice that Amara didn't seem to mind that Steve didn't recognize her. Well aware, she said. Was he so different from his other-world counterparts? Older, she said. Age difference, too, seemed to be a theme. Had he awoke from the ice earlier or later in those worlds, then? That could make a difference; seventy years was a long time, a decade could make quite a difference either way. He actually snorted in amusement when she called him more put together. Physically, perhaps, but emotionally, Steve was lost, and he knew it. "No. I'm afraid we've never met in my world.” He paused, then asked, "Competition?”

What did she mean by that?

Amora the Enchantress of Asgard? "That's a mouthful. You don't just go by Amora?” Thor had always just been Thor... It seemed a little bit… What was the word? Um... Hmm... Pretentious. A little pretentious, yeah. That… “You're an Avenger?” Another Asgardian on the team. That seemed powerful. While Steve was fully aware that Amora was being rather… Touchy-feely, he didn’t comment on it. It was nice, really, though he was starting to think that she only liked him because of his physical traits. Which he owed entirely to the serum.

He was more than that, though..... She had called them teammates, but not friends. "Are you new to the Avengers, or have you been a member for awhile?”

“That’s not going away anytime soon.”
*
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#6
“Mm… Generally, I go by Enchantress, but you can call me Amora, darling,” she confirmed. She preferred the title, of course. Was it pretentious? Naturally, but she was a goddess, it came with the territory. She thrived on the adoration and exultation of the commoners… but for a man like Steve Rogers? Yes, the more… intimate form of address was much more pleasing to her.

How to explain the very… unique nature of the Avengers without saying too much yet? That was quite the difficult proposition, but she was up to the task, she believed. “Hm… we’re all new to it in my world, I’m afraid. Nick Fury started a sort of… academy, I suppose, to train us all to be a team. It’s a rather informal setting, but it suits us.” Now, did she excel at the whole ‘team’ thing? Of course not. She thought that the fact that she hadn’t subjugated all of the men was a testament to her dedication to the team, though, wasn’t it?

“So, darling, what, might I ask, has made this year so long? It must have been quite something to leave you in a state like this, filled with enchanted alcohol as you are.” Oh, she could tell that much… the question was, if she wasn’t around already, who had been enchanting a drink for him? Certainly not Loki… or was it? “Surely there’s nothing that our dear Captain can’t overcome, is there?” Say what you want about his physicality or his pure heart, the good Captain’s strength of will was what intrigued her the most.
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#7
Only Human After All

It was very pretentious. Asgardians were an odd bunch. But then, he hadn’t really met all that many of them. Thor and Loki, and really, it was leaning toward the idea that maybe, just maybe, the majority of Asgardians were more like Loki than they were like Thor. It wasn’t a comforting thought, really. Thor spoke highly of his people, of course, and they were certainly an advanced, impressive race, especially from the stories that Thor had shared with them, but certainly he had chosen his friends with care. Steve wondered if Asgard was much like Earth in that way; filled with a diverse population in color, stature, skill, and personality. That seemed more likely to Steve… It took him a few moments, much longer than it would normally, for him to draw this conclusion, which left him standing quietly for a minute as she gave him permission to call her by her actual name. ”Well… Thank you for that. The title is a bit long, too.” It was true; Steve was still very inebriated, and really, it was a lot to say.

It was a really interesting word, though. Enchantress. Enchaaaaantress. Enchantresssss.

An...Academy? To train them. Run by Nick Fury. Steve blinked blankly at Amora, trying (and failing) to imagine Nick Fury running a school. Because that was just wrong. That was so, so wrong on so many levels… ”A school?! Tell me that Tony isn’t a teacher there… That… Nick Fury runs a school? How… How does that even work?!” Yeah, alright, he was having a really hard time wrapping his head around this idea, even a little bit.

What has made this year so long? Steve frowned, turning to look up at Avenger’s Tower, where he had been heading before Amora had stopped him to talk. ”I haven’t been able to go home. I don’t… Everything changed for me.” Steve sighed quietly and added in a whisper, ”I’ve missed Tony. And the tower. I miss all of it.” The Avengers had been his family, his home, and he couldn’t have it anymore, not the way it had been. There was no going back, though. And he didn’t want to veer off away from what had happened, which only left one way: through. He just had to work through all the bad to come out on the other side. Tony was in the tower now, Tony was here, and so Steve had a chance to make things right with him.

”Enchanted alcohol? I don’t know… It was from Thor. Wanda had it.”

Captain. Steve flinched at the title, ”Please, don’t. Just Steve. I gave the title up a year ago, Amora.” No, he’d given up that title the same time as he’d given up the shield, as hard as that had been for him. Captain America was good and right, and after he’d seen what he’d done to Tony? No, Steve definitely couldn’t be Captain America.

“That’s not going away anytime soon.”
*
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#8
Well of course her title was long. How else was one supposed to know that a person is important unless their title tells them so? Still, she wouldn’t begrudge him this ease of addressing her. “I suppose that there’s something to be said for brevity,” she allowed. She liked the titles… and not just for herself, really. What did ‘Amora’ mean? What did ‘Steve’ mean? Those names told people nothing about you, but if you said that you were the Enchantress, or if you said you were Captain America, that told people all they needed to know of you, or at least gave them a very good idea. Still, mortals seemed so very adverse to titles… at least, the ones who hadn’t been born to them did. Maybe dear Captain Rogers could grow accustomed to it after some time.

The very idea of Tony being a teacher made Amora let out a ringing, pleasant laugh. “Oh, darling, no. Tony… oh, he can make the director furious with his slacking off, his womanizing at the sake of his work, his utter lack of seriousness. As for how it works, we all train, we all go on missions, we thwart Hydra and their ilk, and Director Fury does his best to hide all of his operations from us and keep as many secrets as possible. Really, it’s terribly amusing, trying to put together or pry from him what secrets he’s really working toward.” And there was one of the truths that kept her at the Academy. When all was said and done, it wasn’t boring, and if her magic grew stronger, taking her rightful place of power would eventually be much easier.

His utter despondency, though, led her to frown, peering up at him curiously. This was most certainly not what she’d expected to find from him. Something had gone wrong, enough so that he was rejecting his title, the role that he, himself, had created and defined. That was a crises of self that she couldn’t say she ever would have imagined the good Captain going through. The man was… vulnerable, in a way that she never would have thought possible.

Slowly, as they walked, a small smile tugged at the corners of Amora’s lips.

“Very well, Steve,” she said. “I suppose, there’s only one question I can ask, knowing what a trying time you’ve been through.” She stopped, stepping in front of him, placing her fingertips on his chest to stop him, the very enchanted presence of her serving to stop a man in his tracks more effectively than the Asgardian strength she could put into her hand. Once he was stopped in front of her, she reached up, running her fingers along his face, weaving the subtle spell into her voice as she smiled up at him. “Put your worries aside for the moment… they’ll be there in the morning when your mind is clearer and the divine hangover is settling into place. Right now, there’s no problems, no Avengers, no Tony… just you and me… and though you might not know me, we can certainly fix that. The measure of a man doesn’t change so much between worlds that I can’t say that I know you. I might be missing bits of history, but…” She smiled cheekily up at him, tracing her fingers along his jawbone. “I can see the parts that count.”
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#9
Only Human After All

Really, being important wasn’t something that Steve considered. He certainly didn’t prioritize it. If he were important that was because of what he did, or what he could do in service to people, not because of any title he held or because of who he was. Captain America was important to many people, but not because of the title, but because of what Captain America stood for, what he did, how he acted.

And Steve would argue to the end of his breath that Captain America didn’t tell anyone all they needed to know about him.

The idea of Tony Stark being a teacher was… Shocking. But in a way, Steve could see it. He could see Tony getting along with a classroom of kids, old enough to reason and talk and discuss, and young enough not to let certain social norms and ideals get in the way of said talking and discussion. Still, it was an incongruent idea to just come out of nowhere, and Steve couldn’t help but to blink at it. Frowning slightly, ”Tony can be serious. Very serious. And I hardly think his work suffers because of any interest in… Womanizing. Your Tony must be very different from the man I know.” Fury sounded pretty much the same though. Amora seemed to have interest in finding those secrets of Fury’s, and honestly, he could imagine that there were a few others who would find that just as engrossing as she did. Tony, for starters, maybe his womanizing and antics were a cover for his actual curiosity. He couldn’t help but to think there were others who would be interested in helping Amora uncover Fury’s secrets, too.

Steve didn’t consider himself despondent, but then, he wasn’t paying that much attention to himself. He’d left Wakanda and gone to New York in hopes to try to make things right with Tony. To see if he had a prayer of coming home again, even if not legally, to at least have a chance of being welcomed by Tony if no one else. But he had ended up here instead, and hadn’t gotten the chance of seeing Tony again. Until Tony had crashed into Hub, anyway. And now Tony didn’t remember any of what happened! It was beyond frustrating! But yes, he knew that he wasn’t Captain America anymore. He didn’t even have the shield anymore, he’d given it back (as hard as that had been to do) when Tony demanded it. When Tony said he didn’t deserve the shield. And Steve had realized that Tony was right; he didn’t deserve the shield or the title. He hadn’t been acting like a hero for days, what right did he have to call himself one?

The smile was… Suspicious.

Every touch the younger woman made was… Sensual. Even drunk as he was, Steve understood what those touches were angling at; he was drunk (and old fashioned, sure) not stupid. He always wasn’t dead, and only a dead man never had any interest in a beautiful face. Put his worries aside? Huh.

No Avengers, no Tony.

Amora would feel Steve’s jaw set at those words. Maybe the Avengers were broken, split and separated, but they were still all Avengers. And Tony might be angry with him, he might not remember, but he was still Tony. Gently, he caught her fingers in his own, ”Can you? I’m not the man you knew, Amora, that Steve has lived a different life. That Steve still holds his shield, doesn’t he?” Steve shook his head, ”I don’t. Because I don’t deserve it. I’m not the hero you admire, I’m just a man.”

“That’s not going away anytime soon.”
*
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#10
“Oh, he’s probably different. Younger, I’d guess, judging from you. Brilliant, of course, and… well, easily distracted, but he has quite a lot to get distracted by.” The boy was only about twenty, what could be expected, after all? Plus, he had all that delicious confliction over his parental issues to need to deal with, but so very many mortals did these days, particularly in a place like that.

Yes, this man was so much more like her Steve Rogers than their years of difference could change. As he rejected her assertions, she let out a small, impatient sigh. “Of course I can, darling. My Steve holds his shield because he lived a different life. Do you think that you’d be so different than him if you were offered just the chances that he has?” She let him have her hand, but poked him in the chest with a finger of the other. “You are putting far too much stock in ‘what happened’ instead of who you are. You are still a particularly willful man who has a very particular idea of what is right and what is wrong, and you won’t let anything change that idea or anyone off the hook for going against that idea, even yourself. Do you know how completely rare that is, darling? Faced with a situation where they took a given path, anyone else might decide to use that to justify themselves or their decisions. Do you? Of course not. You hold yourself to that idea of right and wrong, even if you find yourself lacking.” Her eyes drifted down to his chest, straightening his shirt, running her hand over his chest in the process. “Now all you need to work on is forgiving yourself like you’d forgive other people in that situation,” she mused.

“And of course you’re a man… I’m a goddess, darling, I can see that. I’m rather… intrigued by that, really. If you’re going to spend so much time carrying the burden of your supposed sins about with you, don’t you deserve one night to enjoy life? If you aren’t going to enjoy life… well, what’s the point of anything?”
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#11
Only Human After All

Nodding slowly, Steve acknowledged that his Tony was likely older than the Tony that Amora knew. ”Well, considering that he’s older, I mean physically, than I am, chances are pretty good that he’s younger in your universe.” Easily distracted… Steve didn’t think that was really an accurate way to describe Tony, but if he were younger, then maybe at a younger age, Tony was more easily distracted. ”Seems like that probably has more to do with his age than anything else.”

He couldn’t say what he would be like if he only had had the chances that this other version of himself had had, because frankly, he didn’t even know what those chances had been. He had no idea what this other Steve had been through, and what support he’d been able to amass in her world. How could he make any sort of educated guess without any information?? Stubborn but patient, Steve gazed at Amora, ”Those events affected who I am. We are shaped in part yes, by that core of us, of who we are, but also by our experiences. I made decisions that I hope your Steve hasn’t, and never has to make. And I decided wrongly. I put my own fears and discomfort before a friend’s well being, and I regret that decision deeply. I hope that those decisions aren’t entirely because of who I am at my core, because if they are, then I can’t say that I really like me all that much.” He was frowning, but not at Amora. No, this frown was that of a man who was spending all of his energy and attention on trying to focus and think clearly when he was far too intoxicated to be having this particular discussion…

Forgive himself. Steve blinked, as though the idea of forgiving himself was a foreign one. ”I’ll consider that once Tony has forgiven me. How could I even dare consider forgiving what I did to him before he does?”

A goddess. Asgardians. Steve might have shaken his head and sighed at the comment from Amora if he’d been sober. Drunk, he gave a soft huff of a chuckle, ”I don’t think it takes a goddess to see that. But so many people seem to think I’m something more, and they’d be wrong.” He made mistakes, bad decisions… He had feelings. He wasn’t just Captain America, the legend that Steve Rogers could never really live up to, he was also just Steve Rogers, a man struggling to do what was right, and failing sometimes. Her question, what was the point of everything if he didn’t enjoy living, gave him pause. What was the point? He was carrying around the guilt of his fight with Tony, of disagreeing with the Accords when so many thought it was the right thing, of tearing apart the Avengers, of what had happened to Bucky… And what was it that he kept on fighting for? Some of the tension drained out of him as he looked at Amora and shrugged, what was the harm?

“That’s not going away anytime soon.”
*
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#12
Amora scoffed a little at Steve’s profession to not be able to tell. “Darling, picture yourself in a position with a gun to a crying woman’s head. Can you see yourself pulling the trigger? Of course not. It would go against who you are. Worlds are born. Worlds die. Men, women, gods, we all make the same mistakes, embrace the same flaws, over and over… Being different from who you are is harder than you might think, dear. Oh, you could find a world where your life is radically different, but there would still be some things that would never change, some things that always stay constant. Every cycle of Ragnarok, I try new things, but the old habits start up again before you even realize it…”

His assertions, though, that Tony had to determine when he was absolved were… well, self-pitying, for one thing. Had they been closer in this world? She supposed that they must have been. Whatever the event that had happened, it must have been much different from on her world. They never fought this badly. Well, in any case, there was only one thing to do to stop him from this silly cycle.

She stroked her fingertips across his cheek, raising up on her toes a little higher. There was nothing subtle about the press of her body against him now, nothing hidden in what she wanted. She was a goddess, after all, why would she need to hide? “The curse of humanity, the need to raise something up over yourself. For a god, it’s quite the opposite. We reach, ache, for that one thing that can bring us back to earth…” She leaned up closer, her lips so close that her breath was hot over his, “…Even just for a moment…” She poured all of her glamour into the kiss that she laid on his lips. Not to make him want her, no, but to cloud his mind just enough from the foolish guilt he was feeling. “Well, darling,” she purred, her lips still touching his, her fingertips holding onto the back of his head as she pulled herself in tighter to his chest, “I have something you can hold up above yourself, albeit in a much more literal manner…” After all, if there was any man capable of manhandling her in that manner, it was the best man that 20th century science could create for her pleasure.
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#13
Only Human After All

Could he see himself pulling the trigger on a crying woman? Steve blinked, then shook his head, no, of course he couldn’t, because she was right, it would go against whom Steve was at his very core. Against his values. He wasn’t a cold blooded murderer.

No, when he came close to killing someone, it was with blood rushing in his ears, pounding through his heart, and coloring his vision.

With a sigh, Steve looked at Amora, considering what she was saying with a head far more fuzzy than he was used to dealing with. What was in that alcohol that Thor had stashed in the mansion?? Part of Steve wanted freer access to it, and part of him never wanted to feel so muddled again. ”Sure, there are some things that might not change, Amora, I’m not arguing that. But I can’t believe that the choices I’ve made, the mistakes I’ve made, would be repeated over and over again in every dimension. That I would hurt people I care about as thoughtlessly as I did in my world. There has to be worlds where I would never do something like this. Worlds where I told Tony the truth he deserved to know, worlds where we never had that fight. Where we listened to each other off the battlefield as well as on it...” There had to be worlds like that, better worlds than the one he had helped to shape.

”Worlds where Ultron wasn’t a...thing…” And where the Accords never happened, where heroes were just heroes instead of dogs on a leash. He tipped his head back slightly, closing his eyes against the unbidden thought. He still had his eyes closed when she touched his face, causing them to open and look at her.

It seemed that she was finished being subtle, though she hadn’t really been subtle since she’d met him, had she? The kiss took him by surprise enough that he returned it after a moment of surprised hesitation. Steve didn’t realize that the guilt he had been feeling was gone; his mind was still cloudy enough from the alcohol, and now Amora’s magic that he felt more relaxed than he had in a long time.

He was so tired of being alone. Tired of being lonely. Steve smiled slightly and then leaned to kiss Amora, ”Maybe we should find a place a bit more private to have this discussion.”

“That’s not going away anytime soon.”
*
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Marvel Comics-Avengers Academy

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#14
“Oh, darling,” Amora sighed, smiling fondly like one would to a person saying something very obvious or silly, “Do you think that there would be nearly as much hurting in the world if people couldn’t constantly be thoughtless? Like you said… you’re a man. You’re going to be thoughtless. I’m fairly sure you’ll do it a bit less than others, and that you won’t make the same sort of mistake multiple times, you do tend to be very thoughtful. But I’m afraid that you should get used to the fact that since you aren’t in tune with the world at a cosmic level, and therefore with your fellow man in that same way, you’re going to be thoughtless. It… just happens, doesn’t it?” She shrugged a little. “Honestly, you wouldn’t be nearly so interesting if you were perfect. Perfection is… fairly stagnant and boring, really.”

Wait, had she just said that? Damn it. She’d either just labeled herself stagnant and boring, or imperfect, and… damn it. Well, he was drunk, maybe he wouldn’t notice. This was why she didn’t try to be nice to people!

“Mmm… but if Ultron wasn’t a thing, everything would have been so dull that month,” she speculated, considering it. “And it is always amusing when he gets bored and tries to take over Tony’s tower on the weekends. Honestly, I think the two of them enjoy it at this point. They’ve stopped complaining about losing and making the rest of us deal with it, at the very least…” Still, from what she could tell from Steve, his world seemed a bit more… consequence-oriented than hers, so their Ultron might not have been sorry for what he’d done in the end. Maybe he was in one of the little cubes in their dimension.

Steve’s suggestion to find privacy was well-received, and instantly acted upon. She didn’t waste time, she didn’t ask for suggestions, she just snapped her fingers, taking them to the rather lavish room that she’d been staying in. After that…

…Several hours later, Amora lay in her bed, pressed against Steve’s side and purring like a cat. Was she a little sore? Well, a little, but these were things that even gods needed to grow accustomed to… even if she did know that in the last Ragnarok cycle, she’d been quite the collector of lovers. “My my, you never get tired, do you,” she murmured, sliding her fingers down his stomach, tracing her fingertips around his abs. Odin's beard, he was as well put together as she’d imagined…
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#15
In a world where everyone was thoughtful? Yes. Steve thought in a place, a world, like that, there would be much less suffering. No world would ever be perfect for everyone, and there would be hurt no matter what, but things could definitely be better. "I suppose. It could just happen a little less, though." she was right, about perfection being boring. Without something to strive for, a goal to achieve... What would be the point? He didn't comment, not seeing a need. No one was perfect.

We don't find Ultron amusing. He... A lot of people died because of what he did." The idea of a friendly rivalry between Tony and Ultron was… On a lot of levels, it was appealing. But it was also appalling, too. The idea of their fights being entertainment.

He suggested privacy for a number of reasons. And it was a suggestion that seemed well relieved, as Amara used magic to take them somewhere… Else.

He didn't fall asleep. The time had allowed the alcohol to leave his system, and Steve was hungry, and thirsty. His head hurt. Steve knew it would get worse before it would get better, but he found that the only regret he really had was not letting Friday know he wouldn't be coming back so that Tony wouldn’t worry. “Oh, I do, but not like most people. It's the serum." He didn't shift or flinch at the touch; it wasn't as though steve minded being touched or even admired. Just as he was not objectified.
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#16
Amora waved a dismissive hand at his protest that it was just the serum. “That’s like Thor saying that it’s just the hammer,” she said. “Sometimes, darling, the universe decides that someone is meant for something. Have you ever thought it strange that no one ever managed to make another super soldier again? One man managed it, one man was turned, and then… nothing else? Quite the bit of improbability, isn’t it? Someone else should have managed it by now if it was possible. Maybe you were a rather integral part of the process. Or maybe you were the only one that was supposed to be made into… this,” she said, dragging her fingernails lightly over his abs again. She sighed, still sated, though she shifted against him, feeling a bit sore. “Although if you find a world populated by super-soldiers while you’re here, do let me know, please. That would be a glorious thing to see…” She peered across his chest at his face, then waved a hand, enspelling a stone statue in the corner so that it walked over to them, producing a tray of fruit to begin feeding them. She’d worked up quite an appetite as well, after all.
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#17
“Language!”

Steve laughed quietly, ”You didn’t see me before the experiment. Trust me, you wouldn’t be saying that if you had.” What was it that Tony had said when they’d first met? Everything special about him had come out of a bottle. Most of the time, Steve disagreed deeply, but there were moments when he wondered… Just how much of him had the serum changed?

But Amora did have a point; how was it that he was the only one that any experiment had worked on? But that… That wasn’t entirely true, now was it? ”Bucky. The experiment worked on Bucky at least some. And there were others. Zemo killed most of them, but there were a few others. Not exactly the same as me, but it was close.” Steve shrugged, then shivered slightly as she touched and shifted against him. ”I’ll be sure to tell you if I happen across a world like that one.” Not that he thought it was likely. Hell, in the only other reality that had included him that he’d come across thus far he was dead. And Bucky had taken his place.

The magic got his attention, of course. Steve didn’t have a problem with magic the way some others did, but he also knew that it could be very, very dangerous, and that there were few ways to overcome it. Loki had taught him and all of the Avengers some very real lessons when it came to that. Hawkeye had had it the worst, but they’d all felt the effect of Loki’s spear… Still, Amora hadn’t threatened him, and she didn’t seem to be interested in hurting him or anyone else for that matter, so Steve relaxed. He was hungry, too, so when fruit was offered, he took some. He wasn’t one to allow someone (or something) to actually feed him, but he definitely accepted an offer of food.

“That’s not going away anytime soon.”
*
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#18
Amora made a dismissive gesture as he tried to dodge the impact of her assessment. “The procedure that was done on the Winter Soldier was quite different,” she said. “If you want to find artificially strong soldiers and killers who are addled with mind control or some other means of removing their free will, I’m afraid that you’ll find that you’re asking for a fairly common item. You were born to be the ultimate soldier, a captian, not a grunt, and the universe arranged for that to happen. If you’d been born healthy like your friend Barnes, none of that would have been able to happen. You’d have been drafted into your little war the conventional way, you would have possibly died, and aside from some shiny medals on your chest, you would have gone largely unrecognized. It’s entirely possible that there never would have been a Captain America in that event.”

Contrary to Steve’s amusing sensibilities, Amore had no issue with the statue feeding her directly, and so she let it. Sighing contentedly at the attention, she turned her attention back to Steve. “So… What brings our dear Steve Rogers to this very interesting place? Are you off seeking your fortune in the multiverse as well? In need of an army to lead? Because I’m sure I can find a world that needs to be stormed, if that’s what you’re looking for. We can form the most interesting army from this place, I’m sure.”
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#19
“Language!”

Mind control. Steve tensed at the mention of it; Bucky had been terrified that someone would get their hands on that book, those words, and use them to bring him to heel again, to send him after people he cared about again. In the end, it had been that very fear that had made him go back into cryo, that had chased away his oldest living friend, leaving Steve very much alone.

Steve hated the very idea of mind control.

Amora, on the other hand, seemed to have one hell of a high opinion of him. He wasn’t entirely certain what to make of that. Tony had spoken to him, viewed him, like a person, flawed and imperfect, another man. Agent Coulson had treated him as an icon. Nick Fury as a soldier to be ordered about. Amora treated him as though he were… Some sort of savior. But he was just Steve Rogers, a man, albeit one who strove to be as good as he could be. ”If it hadn’t been me, it would have been someone else. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful it was me; who knows what my life would have been like if I hadn’t gone through Project Rebirth, but it’s hard for me to imagine that they wouldn’t have found someone to be Captain America in my stead.”

What brought him here? ”I was at Coney Island. It’s a sort of amusement park on Earth, and I hadn’t been there in a long time… I was saying goodbye, to Bucky. To my past. I needed to speak with Tony, to try to work things out after our...falling out...but I ended up going through a portal and coming here.” Seeking his fortune… ”I suppose I am just trying to figure things out for myself. I can’t say I need an army just now.”

But as Tony always said, he thought something was coming, and after hearing what had happened to Tony and Friday’s world, well… ”Still, making some friends and allies here just in case my world needs help is never a bad idea.”

“That’s not going away anytime soon.”
*
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#20
“Maybe it would have been someone else,” Amora said dismissively. “It was, however, you. In world after world, the only one created like you is, well, you, darling. Again, it’s the most interesting coincidence. Perhaps it’s the universe picking you each time, perhaps it’s simply a pattern that it likes to repeat. Honestly, darling, I’m not a very big fan of fate as a concept. I’m a slave to it, yes, but that doesn’t mean I have to like the idea.” Ragnarok, as some were wont to say, was a bitch. “So yes, perhaps they would have found another soldier to fill that spot. What would the result have been? Would he have been another man to be pulled from anonymity to walk with icons and gods and men of power, infusing the role with an ideal? Or would he have been a soldier who fought his war, lived it out, and passed back into that anonymity? Who knows. Who cares, really. You’re what we have, world after world.”

His answers to her were both disappointing and encouraging. It was strange how the man could manage something like that, but there you had it. Perhaps he wouldn’t lead her army… yet. Still, he had the idea. “Friends and allies to save your world… yes, darling. A… worthy idea.” After all… a world that needed saving just might need a new goddess under whose benevolent rule they could luxuriate and adore.
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