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Death takes a Stroll
June: 19th Open
Marvel-MCU-1

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Kel

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#21
Death rarely intervened with mortals directly wheel they lived, some few however were so repeated through the universes that they had formed their own nexus of fate, drawing others to them all unknowing.

Few still meant tens of thousands across the multiverse so perhaps s/he did meddle more than s/he admitted to.

Death did not watch impassively as Tony Stark broke, he had no need to be cruel here; Death wrapped his arms around Tony Stark, warm, human, extending the gift he could give.

The request was as expected, one he'd heard countless times before, even now others of him stood before kneeling mothers, lovers, children. All begging to be taken instead.

“I am not Fate.” He murmured again softly kissing the other man's forehead. “I do not judge, I do not pick who comes and who stays. One life does not equal another.” Death drew back eyes old and sad. “Free Will Tony.” He could not explicitly point to the path, there were too many possibilities and each became real to some version of Tony Stark. “Even I am powerless in the face of pure mortal determination.”
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Marvel-616

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Jasmine (starkly-tony)

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#22
Tony froze stiffly, his arms at his side, as Death embraced him. Aside from Rhodey occasionally, and once upon a time Steve, the list of men who ever hugged him was extremely short. The list of mysterious cosmic forces posing as men, even shorter. Death's touch, and the light kiss on his forehead, did little more than send a fierce chill down his spine. The flirting, before, when he hadn't known what he'd been dealing with, had been one thing. Now, and after seeing all those worlds--after seeing another version of himself with everything he wanted--even the simple touch felt like a violation somehow.

He was distantly aware there were still tears on his face. He didn't move.

"Why did you even bother asking?" Tony said stiffly. "You must have known what I was going to say. Or at least known I wasn't going to ask you to keep everything the same." Then he took a deep breath, stepping back and pulling away more forcefully. "Actually, make that: why did you bring me here at all? Is this fun for you, playing with people like this? Because I've had enough."
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All-All

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#23
A gift rejected. Death stepped back, allowing the man his requested distance. “You wish to bargain, deal. I could ask what you would give to return him to you. And you would say ‘anything’. As billions before and after will. A crueler aspect would hold your words as sealed. Taking from you everything else you hold dear; Rhodey, Pepper, not your life no, but your intellect leaving you enough to know what you'd lost, and returning a revant for your hubris.”

Death sat back, “You are not even the only Tony Stark here who has tried to twist time and fate. He has lost both his Rhodes, and his once lover.” The images of Steve sending his plane on a kamikaze run, Thanos punching a gauntlet fist though War Machines chest while the Tony he'd met screamed flashed above the chess board.

“Why did I bring you?” Death sighed threading his fingers together in his lap. “I thought I might..help. In the way mortals do.” Death looked at Tony regretfully. “You are more intelligent than this, I cannot bring him back. As I have said though;free willl I am powerless against.”
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Marvel-616

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#24
"I wouldn't say anything," Tony said in a low voice. "I wouldn't give up Pepper or Rhodey or anyone else. But my intellect? Sure. Take it."

As Death pulled away, Tony folded his arms over his chest. He wanted to reach up and wipe the tears he'd spilled, but that would draw far too much attention to them. Not that it was likely Death had missed them, but still. He had some pride.

His eyebrows drew together as Death went on. "I don't understand," he said. Any of it, really, which was unusual for him. "What other Tony? The one here?" If the other Tony had lost Rhodey (unimaginable), and...some lover, whoever that might have been, maybe it would help to explain the attitude. God knew Tony hadn't ever handled a loss well in his own life. "And what do you mean, help me like mortals do? You brought me here to, what, give me a hug? Remind me of my free will? Stop talking in riddles."
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All-All

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#25
“Yes the one here.” Death really needed to remember that when emotional mortals often lost their intellect. “He and his Steven were lovers. Before his death.” Death pointed out with far more patience than he really felt he had to. “Estranged but beloved nonetheless.”

Death rolled his eyes at the ‘smartest man’ in his universe, “You. Can. Find. Him.” Death bit out each word, a hand flicked out, the door to the building banging open. “Now. Go. You are welcome to return when you have better questions or would like to continue our game.”
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Marvel-616

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Jasmine (starkly-tony)

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#26
Tony shook his head slightly. "I met them both. The other Tony and Steve. You're saying they're from different universes?"

The possibility sent a slight stab of guilt through him. Maybe the other Tony had gone through exactly what he had, losing his Steve then turning up here to find a doppelganger with none of the right memories. The guilt was almost immediately subsumed by what what took him a moment to identify as jealousy. Of course that asshat of a Tony Stark had gotten to experience what Tony had only dreamed of for ten years. He could come to terms with the fact that other Tonys and other Steves had gotten to live that life. He wasn't sure he could deal with knowing that other Tony had been one of them.

He looked at the door as it banged open, but didn't move. He stared at Death, the entity's condescending tone--as if what he were saying were so obvious any child could understand it--turning the other emotions into a kind of defiant irritation. "He's. Dead," Tony answered slowly, enunciating each syllable. "And I know exactly where he is. In the ice in the Arctic. So how, exactly, am I supposed to find him?"
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All-All

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#27
Death didn't bother to reiterate the answer Stark had already been given, instead opting to roll his eyes. He'd made it perfectly clear that they were not from the same universe yet this one seemed bent and determined to have the world spelled out for him.

“You know where something resembling his physical body is.” Death agreed, “but the rest?” The pawn with Steve's features was flicked through the air to Tony. “Is not in my arms. Which means…?” He trailed off expectantly for Tony to finish the thought.

If Death didn't have Steve…

He rather hoped he had not underestimated this human, that would be terribly disappointing.
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Marvel-616

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Jasmine (starkly-tony)

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#28
Huh. When he'd met them, he hadn't even entertained the possibility that the other Tony and Steve hadn't known each other for years. They'd seemed comfortable, familiar. To the point that he'd been immediately jealous (little as he'd wanted to admit it then).

Still, that was far from the most important revelation Death had just thrown at him. "Not in your arms," he repeated, feeling his heart start to speed up again. Unless he was very much mistaken, that could only mean one thing. Steve was... "Not dead."

He didn't believe in souls. That was sentimental nonsense, fantasy to make people feel better about the fact that sooner or later they'd all end up rotting in the ground or ash in an urn or otherwise erased from existence entirely. But there were other ways to be separated from one's body, and if Death itself said that that had happened to Steve... he'd believe it.

Tony strode forward suddenly, wanting to grab Death by the arms and shake a straight answer out of him, but stopping himself on the realization that that was probably not a good idea. Instead he swallowed, trying to maintain at least a little of the composure he'd regained after the tears he'd let fall, and said, "If he's not dead, tell me how I can find him. Help me find him. You're all-powerful, aren't you? Where is he?"
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All-All

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#29
Death’s head inclined fractionally, acknowledging Tony had finally come to the right conclusion, technically he was a little dead..ish, but for Stark what was important was that he wasn’t at his final place, which meant...he was still ‘saveable’.

“I am not.” Death answered raising an eyebrow, “Nor am I all knowing. I am not Fate.” He explained again. “In certain things I am limited, bound by rules that to break..” He shrugged, “Steve Rogers missing...energy would be the least of your worries.” Death quirked a smile, “And you have everything you need to find him at your disposal. Every resource you need you can access, every person whom you need help from is within reach.”

Death shook his head, leaving one last clue, “Not ‘where’ Tony Stark, but ‘when’ is a far better question.”
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Marvel-616

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Jasmine (starkly-tony)

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#30
Well, he had an answer now, at least. Steve was lost in time, somewhere, separated from his body. It was surreal and a sense of hope like he hadn't felt in a long time was jittering through him.

The one thing he didn't buy was that Death couldn't help. It was clear that Death had access to the entire multiverse. He'd shown Tony images of other versions of himself, other versions of Steve, as if he'd been able to tap into them without a moment's thought. That meant, if nothing else, s/he could find Steve. Tell Tony where in the multiverse to go.

That meant Death was holding back on him for some reason. Maybe there was something Death still wanted. What had Death said? He had wanted to comfort Tony like a human would. If that wasn't a euphemism, Tony didn't know what was. And he had seemed pretty...interested. Well, as interested as the literal embodiment Death could possibly seem, he imagined. Couldn't hurt to try.

Tony eased his face into a comfortable smile. He was already close enough that it was easy to reach out and gently rest a hand on Death's elbow. "Thank you," he said, letting his fingers caress the fine fabric of Death's suit gently. "That's a big help. It really means a lot to me."
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All-All

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#31
Death had expected the man to leave, the very fact that he'd been taken by surprise should have shown and well that he was not all knowing.

Glancing at the hand on his arm Death cocked his head quizzically, he understood the intent or at least had witnessed it in (a very few) other incarnations where someone would attempt to trade the last thing they had for his favor.

But why was the human doing this? He'd given more than enough information freely, with out such bargains.

Unless he was misunderstanding the gesture.

Leaning back in the chair, Death studied Tony Stark steadily, “I would have expected you to leap out on your quest.” He said at last. “However the politeness is appreciated, few take the care to.”
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