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There's No Place Like Hub
One-shot | July 4th
Marvel-MCU

237 Posts
10 Threads
Age:32
Job: Rogue Superhero
Ship Status: Single
Sexual Orientation: Bisexual
Nyte

All Accounts Posts: 755
Points: 6,105.35€
#1
“Language!”

Happy birthday, America.

Happy birthday, Steve Rogers. Now man up and go home.

Stepping through the portal put him right back at Coney Island. Huh. Turning around, the portal wasn’t exactly visible save for a slight distortion and glimmer where it stood. No wonder it had been so hard to find, but now Steve knew where it was, and could use it as he liked. That was a huge relief, to know he could come home when he needed to…

But then it also brought up the concern that Tony might want to go through, and that wasn’t something Steve was certain he wanted…

Because if the Tony here talked to the Tony there…

Steve physically shook himself, giving the portal a nod before turning to head to the bus station; Tony wouldn’t be in New York, he’d be upstate at the Avenger’s Compound. Which was in part good because Steve would spend less time in New York City, where he was more likely to be recognized by people who had actually seen him before, and bad because sneaking onto the compound to see Tony would be a bit more difficult. Well, he’d make do, he might not be a super spy like Natasha or Clint or Fury, but he could be… Quiet -er. Okay, so it wasn’t his strong suit, but he could sneak around a little, and he knew how to move fairly quietly. Friday would know he was there, but he had his version of Friday with him. As well as Tadashi. He didn’t love that he was putting them both in a position to possibly be hurt, even if it wouldn’t last so long, but the two AI’s had assured him it would be alright. Should be alright.

Steve wasn’t fond of not knowing how this whole thing might go, and it affected him as he rode the bus, keeping him anxious, fidgeting and shifting around. Not Captain America like at all, not even all that much like Steve Rogers, but that was good, he let it happen; who would look at the somewhat unkempt blonde on the bus wearing jeans and hoodie with a baseball cap and sunglasses who fidgeted and seemed excited and nervous at the same time, playing on his phone and think ‘hey that looks like Captain America!’? So instead, he chatted with Tadashi and Friday via text, busying himself with trying to think of the best ways onto and off of the compound, running ideas by his AI friends and letting his nerves stay on edge. Camouflage.

He used his time as wisely as he could while he rode on the bus, calling Sam via Friday, using his earbuds and having a quiet, reassuring conversation. Yes, they had gotten worried, and they had turned to T’Challa to see if Steve could be located, just to make sure he was okay. T’Challa had confirmed that he hadn’t been arrested or found by any government agencies, but he hadn’t found Steve. As it was, Sam had reached out to Tony and asked if he’d heard anything about the whereabouts of Steve Rogers. So there was that, but no threats had been made, no movement from his camp. Thank god. Clint and Wanda had mentioned coming to look for him, and Sam had been ready to finally capitulate, but Steve’s call, hearing his voice, hearing Steve chuckle and reassure them that he was fine, that he’d run into some complications, but nothing dangerous or risky calmed his friends.

In the end, getting onto the Compound was less of an issue than he had thought. They had a small, private? Tour group going, and he simply integrated with that. Granted, they weren’t going to anywhere but the most public of areas, but it still got him on site, and Tony Stark himself walked out to give them a quick greeting and to tell them to watch out for War Machine; he was test flying new armor today, and Steve felt something tense and cold melt a little at the words; Colonel Rhodes was flying again, and that was amazingly good to hear, especially after months of hearing nothing and then some time in Hub thinking the man had died. But something else broke a little bit further; Tony had looked right at him and hadn’t recognized him at all. Was it just that Tony thought so little of Steve, either now or the whole time, or had Steve changed so much in the time he’d been in Hub?

Once Tony started walking away, shockingly alone, he veered off, catching up to him quickly, “Mr. Stark, a word if you wouldn’t mind?” Tony all but rolled his eyes until Steve pulled off the sunglasses, blue eyes finding brown, wearing a look of earnestness. Tony might call the police, but Friday had assured him silently that she could intercept any such call, that she had gained access and was quietly waiting to be needed. And backing her up was Tadashi, still solely on his phone. His friends, and his secret weapons if it came down to it. “If you want me gone, I’m gone, I just… There are things I need to say, Tony. Even if you hate me, or end up hating me more for saying them.”

Maybe it was the anxiety he worried showed on his face, or maybe it was the plea for just a moment, just a chance to say something he needed to say, but Tony gave a single nod and waved for Steve to follow.

“Friday,” Tony said once they were in his office, “Lock the office down, no interruptions, no recording.” Steve wasn’t entirely sure if it was Tony’s Friday or his version from Hub that answered with a smooth, “Done, Boss.” But he wasn’t sure it mattered; neither Friday was all that keen on him, he figured. But the Friday he had spent the last weeks getting to know seemed to like him a little more than she had when she’d first shown up. When Tony looked at Steve expectantly and muttered, “So talk,” Steve knew he was on borrowed time.

Make it good, Rogers. “I came back in May to talk to you, but it didn’t… Work out. I was in Coney Island, trying to get a glimpse… It was a good bye, going to Coney Island. A year, Tony, and I couldn’t just wait and wonder anymore. And I know that the decision to call or not was one I left in your hands, so I didn’t want to use the phone, so I came. I’ll go into why I wasn’t here a month and a half ago later.”

He still had Tony’s (incomplete but he’d take it) attention by the nod he got, and Steve sighed, relieved he’d gotten even this far. “I was wrong, Tony. In all of it; not telling you about everything, being so uncompromising about the Accords, everything, Tony. And I’m sorry.”

If he thought he’d had Tony’s attention before, now that attention was undivided.

An hour later, and he was sitting in the chair across the desk from Tony, sitting with his hands in his lap, his eyes on the grain of the wood. He hadn’t meant to say it quite like he had. Quite so… Suddenly. ‘I have feelings for you’ was a little… Okay, it was a lot. Just a lot. “Huh.”

Not the response he’d been hoping for, but at least Tony had yet to call for the police, or kick Steve out…

“Kinda thought you were more Barnes’ foxhole buddy.”

Steve blinked. “We were always like brothers… I’m sorry, Tony, I know it’s not good timing, and that you’re… and we’re… But honesty has always been better for me, easier, and after all that’s happened, you deserve nothing but honesty from me.”

“Look, Steve,” Really, Steve hadn’t expected things to go as well as they were. It was half a relief, and yet he was still tense, still waiting the abrupt, rough dismissal, the accusations. They didn’t come. “Before everything, maybe, maybe. But Pepper and I, we’re good together, she’s good for me, she really is, and-”

Steve held up a hand, “Tony, I’m happy for you. Ms. Potts is good for you, and I’m so glad you have her. I didn’t come in here expecting that to change. I didn’t say what I had to say to make things complicated for you. I just needed to have it out there, to make sure you knew, in order to maybe try to start to heal things between us. No more lies, Tony, no more secrets, not from me. Those don’t work, I’ve learned that. If I had just told you when I learned, maybe… Maybe things could have been different.”

Tony nodded, then asked, “So about why it took so long for you to make it from Coney Island to here?”

Always the hard questions with Tony, wasn’t it? Steve smiled despite himself, “Well, you’re the one who tried to teach me about the multiverse, so hopefully you’ll follow better than I did at first.” Tony’s gaze went from unbelieving to amused to intrigued as Steve recounted his adventures in Hub. Meeting Asgardian goddesses, elves, a woman from a different Earth which had lost their technological advancements, to meeting an alternate version of himself (he left out some things, while honesty was a very good thing, there were some things that were meant to be private) Steve explained where he’d been, and that he intended to return there.

“I wanted you to be able to contact me. I know the letter might not have come off the way I actually meant it, Tony, but I truly mean it; if you ever need me, I want to be there for you. That won’t ever change.” He told Tony about the portal in Coney Island, and where he was staying. He told Tony that he had a version of Friday, and Tadashi with him from Hub, and that if Tony ever needed him, all he had to do was step through the portal and call him. He’d answer. He’d always answer.

Still, once Tony and Steve returned to Coney Island, Steve felt more relaxed. He texted Sam and Clint during the drive back, and spoke to Tony. And even if the conversation was more tense than it could have been, more stilted, it was better than the silence that had reigned prior to his visit. Standing outside the portal, Tony was already having Friday look into purchasing the real estate here, to build a little stand to protect the portal, and protect people from walking through just as Steve had, Steve turned to Tony, “I know I don’t deserve the uniform, or my old title. But you were right, Tony. There’s something out there, and when it comes, I need you to know I’ll come back. That I’ll stand with you and have your back. No matter what.”

The smile that Tony gave Steve was, he hoped, genuine. It could be hard to tell sometimes. He gave Steve a firm pat on the shoulder, “When it comes, I’ll call you, Cap. It’ll be good to have you back. Until then…” Tony motioned to the portal, “"Have some fun in the multi-dimensional sun while I get the heat off you and your crew. Just.." Tony gave him a pained look, "See if you can get them to play nice huh? Make it easier to get them back clean."

Steve gave Tony a nod and returned his smile, “Thanks, Tony. For everything.” Exile in Hub while he was labeled a war criminal was better than exile in Wakanda. It was beautiful there, but he was useless, and he knew it. In Hub, he might be able to help others. He sent off a few last messages to Sam and Clint, reassuring them he was fine, and taking some time for himself, and that he wasn’t in any danger of being found and arrested, but if there were any problems, he’d contact them. He also told Sam that he’d spoken with Tony, and things were… Not horrible. And he texted every one of the ‘rogue’ Avengers, telling them to sit tight, stay safe and quiet, and keep their damn noses clean while he was away, because they were working on bringing everyone home, so not to make it more difficult than it already was. Then, with a final wave farewell to Tony, Steve stepped back through the portal.

The moment he was through, he leaned against the building there heavily, his shoulders slumping. He’d been strong and kept it together in front of Tony, but now that he was alone, he let himself have a moment to just… Break a little bit. Still, he couldn’t stay like that long, and he knew it. “Tadashi?” The quiet, “Yes, Master Rogers?” was a relief. “Walk with me back to the tower if you don’t mind?”

“That’s not going away anytime soon.”
*
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