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Anthropos Polytropos, Chapter One

Anthropos Polytropos
By: Memory Dragon
Disclaimer: I do not own the Avengers movie-verse, nor do I make any claim to.
Characters:  Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Clint Barton, Natasha Romanov, Bruce Banner, Thor, Amora the Enchantress, Pepper Potts, James Rhodes, Happy Hogan.
Warnings: PTSD. Mentions of past torture. Temporary character death that the characters are aware is (probably) only temporary, though it still takes it's mental toll on them.  Mentions of potential child abuse.  Mind fuckery.  Minor self-abuse.  Cliff hangers.  Generally dark fic, though there is a happy ending and no one actually dies.  Not Iron Man 3 compliant in the slightest.  If you have any questions about the warnings, I'd be more than happy to clarify as best I can.
Rating: I think I'm just going to leave this at an M due to how dark it gets and some of the themes.
Summary:  He doesn't remember much from before he woke up, but he does know two things.  He doesn't like being called Tony Stark, and he hates Captain America.
Thanks: Many thanks to narwhale_callin for the beta. Also, many thanks to keroseneSteve and kerravon for being the only two people across lj, AO3, and ff.net who decided it was worth commenting on.  I do appreciate the comments, and kudos people have left.
Notes: So, hey, it looks like China has stopped blocking lj again.  Yay for that.  Anyway, this chapter has way more Captain America, and some of the PTSD trigger warnings.  I was honestly wondering if Tony's panicking in this chapter was a bit too much... and then I saw Iron Man 3 and realized I probably could have gotten away with more.  So yay for that too!  Also, the next chapter may be posted on Monday instead, because Fridays tend to be more hectic.



Chapter One: A man of many twists and turns

"Stark! Stark, wake up! Stark, come on..."

No. Waking up was a terrible idea. That meant more pain. At least, that's how these things usually went for him, though he couldn't have said how he knew that was a thing. Seventeen: Waking up after doing something phenomenally stupid usually brings pain, and this is not an uncommon occurrence for him.

He felt a pair of warm lips pressing forcefully against his, forcing air into his mouth. Next hands on his chest, which froze after a light touch. There was a small, helpless noise. "God, the arc reactor. How do I... Please, God. Tony you have to wake up."

It only took one uncertain compression before he started to gasp for breath, though he doubted it was the compression itself that started him breathing again. Something about this place was weird. Once he had air in his lungs, the coughing started. "Oh, thank God," he heard the voice saying over the ringing of his ears.

He should be in a lot more pain than this. Not to mention the fact that his thoughts were remarkably coherent, which shouldn't be possible. Remembering his earlier thoughts of how sore his body should have been and the sudden breathing, he decided he had enough evidence to make a point. "Eighteen: Body acting strangely," he said once the coughing died down. "Who kissed me?"

He heard a choked laugh, but before he managed to lift his eyes to see who it was, a strong pair of arms pulled him forward into a tight hug.

That was kind of nice. He looked over the blue clad shoulder to see blond hair, but all other observations were cut short when he felt the other man trembling against him. "Hey, kid," he said, awkwardly patting him. "It's okay. I'm fine."

"I thought I couldn't do anything. That I could just watch again. I was helpless," the kid said, his accent getting thicker as the kid pressed further against his neck. "Tony..."

Tony, huh? It was a better name than Anthony Stark, but not by much. Still, he felt a bit lost without any name, so Tony would work for now. That didn't mean he had to take it from anyone else though, but he could get on to the kid once he'd calmed down more.

Speaking of, the kid froze against him before pushing back so Tony could finally get a look at him. Not bad looking under the mask, and not exactly a kid either. Nice blue eyes. "Sorry," the kid said, sounding strained. He closed those blue eyes for a moment to take a deep breath. "I... Thor said it'd be harder to conceal emotions here, but I didn't realize how... Your reactor kept flickering."

The kid snapped his mouth shut as Tony looked down at the power source in his chest. Arc reactor. It was glowing steadily, though it looked a little paler than before. His chest felt... Not exactly fine, but the erratic thumping of his heart was calming down. It didn't even hurt where the kid had tried the chest compression.

"Huh," he said, looking back up. This time, he took in more of the kid's odd outfit. Some sort of blue costume with red gloves? And a white star on his chest...

Tony's body went rigid as he stared at the star. Anger. Resentment. Hatred. The force of the emotions shocked him, but he didn't look away. "Who are you?" Tony demanded, his voice tightly controlled.

"Ton-Stark?" The kid looked confused, and he reached out to touch Tony's arm.

Tony jerked away. "Don't call me that. Who the hell are you?" he snarled, taking a small amount of pleasure in the hurt look that crossed the kid's face. He should know this. He knew the Hydra, and the outfit felt familiar, like an old wound that festered for ages.

Worry replaced the fear in the kid's eyes. "I'm Steve. Steve Rogers. You should know who I am, Star - I mean, Tony."

Tony made a mock buzzer sound, putting more physical distance between them. He glanced around, but didn't see the body of the giant lizard thing. Well, that's disturbing. "Also wrong. Don't call me that either. And you're not..." He paused, narrowing his eyes. "You're Captain America."

"Yeah," the kid said, frowning now. "Tony, are you-"

"Not Tony," Tony said. And yes, he knew how hypocritical it was to use the name in his own mind. Nineteen: He was not above being petty and hypocritical. "Not Anthony. And definitely not Stark. I don't like any of those names, they're not me."

Captain America blinked a few times, then shook his head. "If you're not Tony Stark, then who are you?"

"Dunno," Tony said, standing and brushing himself off. Captain Amer - okay, no. Way too long. Cap/Spangles/Embodiment of Patriotism/Stars'n'Stripes/Uncle Sam. Cap for now.

"Okay," Cap said slowly. "You know me as Captain America. Do you remember anything else?"

"Nope." Tony looked around again, this time in his immediate area. His makeshift taser was on the floor in a few pieces, the wires that had been connected to the reactor a little worse for wear. It made something twist in his gut, like losing an old friend.

Tony turned one of his smiles on Cap, keeping his voice cheerful. "But I know I don't like you. Twenty. Don't like Captain Spangles at all. So thanks for reconnecting this..." He tapped the reactor under his shirt, feeling a little self-conscious that Cap must have seen the scars surrounding it when he reattached it. "...but I'd appreciate it if you left now. Later."

He picked up the pieces and eyed them critically. Might work again, if there were a few more wires under the desk and he got the battery case open. Ignoring the open hurt in Cap's blue eyes, he walked back to the desk and ducked under it. He was perfectly happy to stay there until Cap left. Sitting cross-legged, Tony sat down and started picking through his collection of odds and ends to find a new wire that was long enough.

Tony had assumed Cap had left through the hole in the wall that he'd come through. Because while Tony had no idea who he was waiting for, he knew it wasn't Captain America. Cap didn't have the same connotations as the oak and bed did, and for some reason Tony couldn't push away the feeling that he was waiting for someone. Someone who was supposed to find him. Someone who would help.

Assumptions, he found, led to mistakes. More data was needed on Cap, because he'd barely gotten the battery cover off when his bulky shoulders blocked Tony's exit, and he ignored Tony's glare. "That's what you used to get rid of the Hydra, isn't it?"

"These batteries wouldn't have had the power required," Tony murmured, wondering if Cap would go away if he ignored him long enough.

"You still shouldn't have used the arc reactor," Oh, Cap's disapproval. That felt familiar. Tony bristled at his tone and at being boxed in under the desk, but proceeded with the hypothesis that ignoring Cap would make him go away.

Cap sighed. "Stark, that was dang-"

"Not Stark," Tony snapped, abandoning the experiment. "Not Tony, and definitely not Stark. I said that. I definitely told you that before, Spangles. I thought the super-soldier serum was supposed to make you smarter, or did all that muscle force out what little brains you had before?"

Cap flushed and his hands fisted, but Tony was back to ignoring him. Being a dick and then ignoring Cap, and still he wouldn't go away. His shoulders felt stiff, but rolling them didn't help the tension. Fine then. He didn't need to be relaxed anyway. He just needed to finish connecting the battery so he could get a proper charge.

Finally, he heard Cap take a deep breath before speaking again. Whatever he was saying earlier about emotions in this place, he seemed to have a firm grip on his temper now. "What do you want to be called then?"

Tony looked up at that, feeling a little lost. He clung to the name Tony because it was all he had. That didn't mean he liked it. Besides, he wasn't that person, not really. He had Tony's feelings, but none of the memories to go with it. It wasn't fair. He wanted a blank slate if he was going to be forced to forget everything.

"I don't know," he said finally, looking back down at the items he'd collected. Oh, hell no. His voice did not just waver like that. He pushed forward, ignoring the break in his voice (what was it Cap said? Harder to hide emotions in this place. Fuck that.) and the fact he wanted Cap to get out of the way. "Nobody. Nobody works. Nobody you need to bother with. I don't want you calling me anything, so - Don't!"

Tony jerked away as Cap touched his shoulder, knocking it against the wood panel in his attempt to get away.

Cap immediately withdrew his hand, holding it up in a motion of surrender. "I'm sorry," he said, making a visible effort to appear non-threatening. "Can you tell me why you're afraid?"

"I'm not-"

"Jumpy, then," Cap cut in, realizing his mistake. "What's making you so tense?"

"You're in the way," Tony blurted out, clamping his mouth shut to avoid revealing any more, but the strain was getting to him.

"In the way?" Cap looked around, a surprised expression on his face. Then he moved a foot back and a little off to the side. He was still there, which was annoying, and in plain view so that Tony couldn't just go to work and forget he existed. But he was no longer caging Tony in, and suddenly it was so much easier to breathe. The tension in his body slowly slipped away.

"Is that better?" Cap asked after a few moments of silence.

"It'd be better if you went away," Tony replied, but it lacked any real heat to it. He went back to putting together his little weapon, pointedly not looking back up at Captain America. Finally, he pushed the battery forward, smiling at the arc of electricity that spiked from it. He pulled the battery back, not wanting to waste the charge.

"How much do you remember?" Cap asked once Tony had set the taser aside to contemplate the remaining parts.

Tony debated the pros and cons of continuing his earlier experiment in ignoring Cap, but he was beginning to come to the conclusion that Cap was too stubborn to leave. He sighed. "I woke up over by the Hydra, found the desk and bed. A hot blond in go-go boots came in claiming to be a goddess who needed my help. When I refused to fight her ex, she said if I didn't find her again in two days, I'd be dead. She left off in a snit, and I made a taser. Then you crashed the party." He recounted the story with a few hand motions, only pausing to glare at the wood when he gestured a little too much and knocked his hand. "That's all."

"The Enchantress was here?" Cap sounded worried, but not surprised. "And she said you'll die in two days. Why were you sitting here instead of looking for her then?"

"Why do you care?" Tony asked, carefully keeping his tone blasé instead of defensive.

If Tony could remember what a kicked puppy looked like, he was quite sure the expression fit Captain America after that question. At least, it was the first phrase that came to mind, even if images of puppies were currently lacking. "Because you're one of my teammates," he said quietly. "And I don't have many people left to lose."

Tony tilted his head as he considered the Captain. Twenty-one: On a team with Cap. And that felt like a fairly big admission, but it was hard to find sympathy for Cap. He wished he knew why. "So you want to save me, Stars and Stripes?"

"I want to help," Cap said, wisely side-stepping that trap. "Please let me."

"Fine," Tony said dismissively, putting together a few bits of the phone just to look busy. "You want to help? Go find What's Her Name and bring her here."

"I don't think it works like that, To-" A glare from Tony cut him off. Cap sighed before continuing. "I think you have to come with me."

"Can't," Tony said, his eyes on the parts. "Busy. So sorry. You'll have to go on this quest alone. The sooner you leave, the better."

"Tony," Cap said, exasperation mixing with frustration in his voice. No amount of glaring from Tony at the name made Cap back down this time. "You'll die if you just sit here and do nothing!"

"No, I'll die if you sit here and bother me for two days."

Cap made a noise that sounded both furious and impatient. "Are you really that self-centered that you can't even be bothered to save yourself?"

Asshole. Tony kept that thought to himself as his shoulders hunched over, afraid his voice might betray the hurt that punched through him. It was a lost cause though, because when he glanced up as Cap sucked in a breath, he saw guilt clinging to the edges of Cap's eyes. "Sorry. That was uncalled for. Why don't you come out from under this desk?" Cap's voice was back to being gentle, as if he were talking to a frightened animal.

Tony shook his head, pressing against the back side of the desk like Cap might pull him out. "Can't. I'm not - There's someone coming. Someone important. If I go out there, I'll learn more about Tony, and I don't want to. And if I leave, they won't find me."

Cap hesitated, parsing through the information Tony had given him with a strangely sad expression. "You don't want to know about-" he cut himself off quickly with a glance at Tony, as if he expected to be yelled at again. Tony looked back down at his half-assembled phone. "Who are you waiting for?" Cap asked after a moment, picking the safer topic.

Except the question brought back all the insecurities of having no memories. "I don't know," he said miserably, his hand curling tightly around the phone's frame. He wished he knew.

"Hey," Cap said, sliding beside Tony before he had a chance to panic. His body language was open and unassuming, and he made sure Tony had a route of escape by folding his legs up. It was cramped with the two of them there (Cap technically didn't even fit, sticking out from the hiding place like the giant oaf he was), but this time he only felt annoyed rather than tense. "Is this okay?" Cap asked.

Tony closed his eyes, leaning against the wood and resisting the urge to curl up into a ball. "Why are you still here?" he asked, honestly baffled.

Cap was silent for a moment. "Because ever since I woke up in this century, I've been alone," he said finally. "And it's not a feeling I like. It's not something I'd wish on anyone else either."

"So what? You're just going to sit here with me for two days?" Seriously, how was this kid real? Why would anyone put up with him for that long?

"If I have to," Cap said after he swallowed. Tony could almost hear his heart breaking in his voice as he spoke. "But I'd prefer it if we went to Amora, so you don't have to die."

"I have to wait for-"

"Someone that important would want you to try looking for her," Cap insisted. "They would understand. Maybe we can even find them while we're looking for Amora."

Tony opened his eyes, but didn't look over at Cap. He picked up the taser and fiddled with the wires. "Tony, please..."

Whatever the arc reactor was made out of, it wasn't stone. If it was, he might have been able to stand up against the earnest expression Cap was giving him. Hundreds of kicked puppies all in one spot and looking up at him pathetically would have been easier to face. Tony was really beginning to see why he hated the guy. "Fine," Tony said, shoving the taser into his pocket. "Let's just go. Adventuring, great. I'll just... It'll be like a road trip. An odyssey. 'Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns.' Yeah, that sounds right. Doesn't that sound-"

"Tony." Still exasperated, but this time with amusement rather than frustration.

"Stop calling me that," Tony snapped, putting his hands flat against the floor to hide the fact they were trembling. "That's now a condition of me coming on this trip: You can't call me that. No Tonys, Anthonys, or Starks allowed. I mean that. Call me Nobody, or Odysseus, or honey cake, or whatever, but no-"

"Thank you for coming with me." Tony jumped as he felt the hand on his shoulder. He didn't know if he liked the hand there, or if he should pull away or...

"It's going to be okay. I promise. We're all here to help, so it'll be alright. Tony-"

"Don't call me that," Tony snapped out of habit when he came out of his panic. He heard Cap let out a laugh of relief, squeezing Tony's arm just a little too hard before backing off. Oh. Apparently he'd zoned out while having a minor panic attack. Okay, this needed to stop happening. "Right, let's just... get going then," Tony said, his voice not wobbly. At all. Maybe a little, but if Cap wasn't going to mention it, it didn't happen.

Cap squeezed his arm once more before shuffling out of the small space. Tony took one more deep breath of the familiar wood before crawling out himself. He looked back nervously at the desk, reaching out to touch the wood one last time. "We'll find them, won't we? They always find me here and..." And he didn't know. It was terrifying, not knowing who he was waiting for or why when the compulsion to stay was so strong.

"You can leave a note," Cap said. He started to open the drawers, rummaging through them. "There should be paper or pens in here some-here!"

He pulled out a pad of paper and a pen that obviously hadn't been in there the first or second time Tony has searched the desk. He didn't care though, because the thought of leaving a note sent a rush of relief through him.

But as Cap held the notepad out, Tony shied away. He nearly tripped over the long forgotten chair in his haste to retreat, barely righting himself before he completely fell to the floor.

"Ton- Are you alright?" Cap asked.

Tony ignored the concern he saw in order to brush himself off non-nonchalantly. "Right, could you just - Maybe put the pad on the desk. Pen too. Great. Now back away. Sorry. Is that a thing for me? Apparently it is. Twenty-two: He does not like to be handed things."

Cap looked worried, but did as he was asked. With Cap out of the way, Tony wrote a quick note. 'Hey, sorry for not waiting, but we had to go stop me from dying. We're headed to the edge of the shadows if you want to catch up.'

Tony paused on the last line, body hunching over again. "I don't... How do I sign this?" Obviously with Tony, but he wasn't Tony. Tony had memories. He only had Tony's feelings.

"Why not sign it 'me'? I've seen you leave a few notes to Dr. Banner or Ms. Potts like that," Cap suggested.

That... actually didn't feel like a bad idea. There was a chance whoever it was that was supposed to find him wouldn't know who 'me' was, but it was better than nothing. He signed it with flourish, then tore off the top page, leaving it on top of the desk.

He didn't quite want to leave the paper and pen though. It felt awkward and bulky, but since he had taken apart the tablet and the cell phone and he might need something...

"You can take it with you," Cap said, a hint of a smile on his lips.

"Yeah, that... that sounds good?" Tony got the feeling he didn't like paper very much, but with a lack of alternative, it would have to do. And Cap was nodding as he grabbed a round shield - Captain America's shield/vibranium/indestructible/he'd love to study it/still hated the wielder - and looked out the hole he had crashed through.

"There's a door to your left, Winghead," Tony said, putting the pen in his pocket and holding the pad of paper against his chest.

"I didn't see it," Cap admitted with a slight blush.

That made Tony feel better about missing it earlier, though that still didn't explain why the desk was empty when he first checked it. "I noticed," Tony said, hesitating at the door.

Okay, this really was pathetic. And with Captain America watching him, no less. His anger at the man never really went away, and here he was, showing weakness in front of someone he hated? Yeah, not happening.

Without further pause, Tony pushed open the door, feeling the heat of the sun on his face as he stepped through. Which was strange, since the hole Cap made was large enough to let the hot air in. Silently, he filed it away with the empty desk.

The source of the heat was a lush jungle, green and vibrant. He could hear birds and insects the moment he stepped through. Cap followed behind pulling his cowl back over his head, but if he noticed the irregularities, he didn't show it. Tony found himself wishing for a pair of sunglasses to shade his eyes. "Is that a tree house?"

"Yeah," Cap said with a small grin. It faded when Tony failed to return it. "It's where I found myself when I got here. Made me think of the Swiss Family Robinson."

"Or Robinson Crusoe. Where's your group of natives, Uncle Sam? Not patriotic enough for you?"

Cap's lips perked up again into a shy smile. Tony doubted even his best glare could dim it. "You're making a reference I get for once."

"Yeah, great. Glad you approve." Tony pushed through the foliage, wishing he could remember which references Cap would know so he could purposefully pick ones he didn't.

Tony heard Cap's sigh and made doubly sure not to look back and see the slightly hunched shoulders he somehow knew Cap would have. "Would you at least tell me what your problem is with me?" Cap asked, his voice pleading. "You seemed fine before you saw the uniform."

"Sorry, kid," Tony said with a shrug. "I have no idea. Ask Tony. He's got all the memories. I've just got all the feelings without any of the reasons." He paused, thinking about that for a moment. "Which really sucks, come to think of it. Twenty-three: He does not like feelings."

"So... you don't even know why you don't like me?"

Oh, God. He could hear the kicked puppies. That wasn't fair. Tony should be safe from the kicked puppies so long as he didn't look over at Cap, but now all he felt was guilty. He rubbed his temples and wiped away some of the sweat that was starting to form on his brow, batting aside a leafy branch with more force than necessary. "No, I don't. I don't know why I didn't trust the blond bomb shell, why I hate you, why I wanted to stay under the desk, or even why I could make this." He pulled out the taser and waved it around. "I just... Your guess is as good as mine. I have no idea. And I didn't see you arguing against my mistrust of the Enchantress, so I'm guessing I feel this way for a pretty good reason."

He went still as Cap's hand touched his arm, but he didn't jerk away this time. He reviewed his last few sentences to realize he'd probably come off as a little pathetic. The look of guilt in Cap's eyes when he turned around confirmed it. Damn. "I'm sorry," Cap said. "I should have known better than to ask that. But..."

Cap broke off, looking away. But not before Tony saw the depth of... Tony didn't know what emotion it was, to be honest. Cap just looked lost as his hand fell back to his side. Lost and despairing all at once in a way that twisted Tony's stomach in knots. He might hate the guy, but for some reason he never wanted Cap to have that expression again. It was too lonely, which was something Cap didn't deserve to be. "But what?" Tony asked.

Cap stayed quiet for a moment more, though the noises of the jungle were just as loud. Louder now, it felt like, without anything to drown it out. Tony raised a hand, then lowered it, unsure of what to do. Cap kept touching him - for comfort? - but Tony had no idea if returning the sentiment would be appreciated or... Revision to Twenty-three: He hated emotions because he was terrible at them. "Cap?" he asked, a little desperately, raising his hand again. This time his fingers brushed against Cap's shoulder before he aborted the movement. "But what?"

Looking up finally, Cap's eyes closed as he tried to reign himself in. "Sorry. Thor was right. It's harder to..." he swallowed, then started again. "Harder to hide things here. Even from myself."

"You feel this way a lot?" Tony asked, wondering why he cared if Cap looked like that when he obviously didn't like the man.

"Yeah," Cap admitted softly, managing a weak smile. "I suppose I do."

That was surprisingly unacceptable. Completely, totally, and shockingly unacceptable. Except Tony had no idea how to fix it. That was just frustrating.

At least he could distract Cap though, then he could go back to properly hating him instead of feeling guilty all the time. "You were saying something before? But?"

Shaking his head as if to dispel the emotions, Cap smiled again. "But if you don't remember why you don't like me, could you at least give me a chance?"

Tony could easily see why he hated Cap. Because it was a Catch-22. If he said yes, he would actually have to try. If he said no, he'd be smothered in pitiful puppies. Not to mention he'd feel like an asshole, but that felt pretty par course for him. And unlike with Amora, Tony was willing to admit that his emotions towards Cap were more complicated than just a gut reaction that he was bad. "Right. I - Yeah, great. Trying sounds great. I make no promises, cause I'm apparently an asshole anyway. Twenty-four. But I can try? That sounds reasonable. Logical."

Cap looked bewildered by the sudden barrage of words, but he got the gist. He reached out to Tony's shoulder again, and smiled more sincerely this time as Tony tried not to fidget with the contact. "Thank you," he said simply, just as he'd thanked Tony for agreeing to try searching for Amora.

Okay, feelings. He was getting hives. He needed to get out of here like, five minutes ago. He turned and started walking again, not entirely sure where he was going. "Right, so this tree house. Anything worth seeing in it?"

"Not really," Cap said, keeping pace with Tony easily. He held up one of the heavier branches as they walked by. Tony followed the line of Cap's biceps and decided to revise items Eight and Twenty. He likes to flirt, probably with both sexes, though data was required with someone he didn't actively hate. And Twenty: He hated Captain America, but it was complicated. Facebook complicated. Except he couldn't remember exactly what Facebook was. He filed both Cap and Facebook under Issues for lack of a better idea.

"I wasn't there for long before the Hydra-" Cap winced as he mentioned the giant serpent, though Tony was at a loss for why, "-attacked me. I did see the sea to the east of us though, and it looked like there was a boat out there."

"Any shadows or big dark areas?" Tony asked.

"I don't think so?" Cap looked perplexed at the question. Tony gave it up as a lost cause.

"To the boat then. Ship. Whatever it is. A boat would probably do us good." He was babbling. Apparently, he babbled a lot. Did he put that on the list yet? A quick review turned up a no, so he made it Twenty-five.

They walked in silence for about ten minutes, which was almost intolerable. Tony's fingers twitched when he thought of the notepad, but they couldn't afford the time for him to sit there and draw. After a while, he started muttering to himself, calculations and drawing straight lines in his head. An engine, though he didn't know for what. It kept him from the awful silence though, because bird song totally didn't cut it and talking to Cap would probably only get him in trouble.

It took them fifteen more minutes of walking through the heat and humidity before they reached the edge of the trees, and by that time Tony was hot, sticky, and distinctly not happy with the environment. But the grass was giving way to sand, and it wasn't long before they could see one of the clearest blues he'd ever seen. Even bluer than Cap's eyes. Wow.

"It's beautiful," Cap said beside him. For a brief moment, Tony was resentful. If he'd waited, he could have seen this with the person that he wanted to find him, not with Captain America.

Mentally, Tony sighed. Giving Cap a chance, remember? "Yeah," Tony said, toying with one of the edges of the notepad. Absently, he noted the sound of the waves and he had to keep himself from tensing up. Interesting.

"May I see that?" Cap said sharply.

Tony was so shocked by Cap's tone that he automatically clenched the notebook against his chest. "Why?"

Cap held up his hands in surrender, back to looking as non-threatening as a massively muscular man could with a shield. "I'm not going to take it from you. I just want to see it. The top page was blank when we left, right?"

Tony blinked, not sure what Cap was getting at. Though he did feel some of the tension slip from his shoulders at Cap's reassurance. Why was he so wound up in this place? "I left the note on the desk. The top page was blank." And considering he hadn't had time to sit down and draw out the designs, he hadn't even taken the pen out of his pocket.

"What's on it now, then?"

"There's nothing on it now," Tony snapped as he held it out as proof. "It's just a blank-"

As he glanced down, Tony saw that it wasn't, in fact, blank. The engine he'd been designing was drawn out on the page, simple and elegant, with the math written off to the side of in neat notations. Tony dropped the notepad, and jumped away from it. "How did it... That's the engine I designed. But it was in my head. I didn't have time - You saw me. I haven't-"

"Hey." Warm hands gripped his shoulders gently, and Tony looked up into concerned blue eyes. "It's okay. Thor said this world would be a little odd. That's just how this world works."

"That's not possible. None of this is possible," Tony said flatly. Not the items that kept appearing in the desk, or the jungle atmosphere staying outside of the original room he'd been in. Not even his body was reacting properly. And why did the ocean have to have so much water? "Where-"

"Agent Romanov said it'd be better if we didn't tell you where this is," Cap said, a look of unease crossing his features.

That snapped Tony out of his panic. His eyes narrowed in suspicion as he took a step back, knocking Cap's hands away. "Where are we?" he asked, anger replacing the fear.

"I'm sorry, but I can't tell you," Cap said, looking for all the world like he sincerely meant that apology. "We're here to help get you out, but I can't tell you where we are. Agent Romanov said it'd be dangerous if you found out."

"Is that so?" Tony said, sarcasm thick in his voice. "It's so nice to know how much you trust me, teammate." With that, he started to walk along the beach, ignoring the ship entirely as he searched for the shadows that Amora promised to be on the other side of.

"Tony, wait-"

"Not Tony!" he shouted back, not stopping. He ignored the waves on the beach, sticking close to the edge of the grass.

"-It's not that we don't trust you, but we're just trying to-"

A hand around his arm, turning him around. Tony pulled back, but they wouldn't let go. He wasn't strong enough and they could hold him down under the water for as long as they liked. "Don't! Let go!"

He was released immediately. Tony stumbled back, wobbling on his feet as he tried to regain his balance.

After a few seconds, he could make out Cap's voice. "-sorry. I didn't mean to. It's okay, Tony. It's just me. I'm not going to hurt you, I promise. I'm so sorry..."

"What just..." Tony started to say, sitting down on the sand before his knees went out. His head felt fuzzy, like he was trying to keep his head above - No, don't think of water!

"Do you mind if I sit next to you?" Cap asked hesitantly. Tony might have shaken his head, he didn't know, but he felt the warm bulk of a super-soldier slide down next to him. "I'll move slowly, but I'd like to hug you. Is that alright?" Again, he might have nodded, must have, because Cap was the sort of person to wait for permission for that. A warm arm pulled him gently against Cap's side. "Let me know if you want me to let go, and I will."

It was then Tony realized he was trembling.

That was completely unacceptable, no matter how nice Cap's hug felt. He still hated the guy, for one. And he shouldn't be showing this much fear in front of him. That was just embarrassing. Unfortunately, his body didn't listen to his commands very well.

It was another minute before he could speak, and Tony was almost exasperated with his traitor of a body that was leaning into Cap. "What was that?" he asked. He swallowed, and tried to make his voice stronger. "What... Why did I react like that?"

"I don't know," Cap answered. "It was probably shell shock, but you've never talked about it before. You're never usually this jumpy either. I didn't even realize you had it."

Shell shock. There was a different word for it now, if he just didn't think about it too hard... "PTSD?" Oh, look. His voice sounded so much better now.

"Yeah, I think that's what they call it now." Cap was rubbing soothing circles on his arm as he spoke, and Tony finally pushed away so he could sit by himself. For a brief moment, Cap refused to let go. Then a guilty look crossed his face and he let go immediately.

Huh. He never thought Captain America would be the clingy sort. Twenty-six: Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. A, he would refuse to admit he had it, but the evidence was pretty damning and there was no point in denial in this place. B, it sucked. "Why do I have it? No, wait. You said I don't talk about it. Twenty-six C. I'm not Tony, so why do I have all of his baggage? That's... that's seriously not cool. I don't even know what triggers it. Or why. Well, water, but-"

"Just calm down," Cap interrupted.

Oh. Panicking again. Tony took a deep breath, trying to regain his shaky control. "I hate this place," Tony said as he closed his eyes.

"That's why we're here, to get you out of it," Cap reassured him. "I promise. We'll get you out of here."

"We?" Cap said that before, but Tony had filed it away as currently unimportant. Right now he could use the distraction though.

"The other Avengers. Your friends. We just want to-"

That was when the arrow landed a few feet in front of them, digging into the sand.


Memory: Well, that probably outed me as a Classics minor.  Then again, I probably did that already with History Lessons.  As epic an Odyssey fusion would have been (actually, someone please write an Odyssey Avengers fusion.  I'd read the heck of out that), this fic doesn't really mirror it too much.  Though, considering the warnings, I don't feel bad at all using this quote as foreshadowing...

Quote of the chapter: (continuation of the last quote)

"Many cities of men he saw and learned their minds,
many pains he suffered, heartsick on the open sea,
fighting to save his life and bring his comrades home.
But he could not save them from disaster, hard as he strove..."
-Homer, The Odyssey.  Translated by Robert Fagles.

Also, in case you were wondering, anthropos polytropos means the man of twists and turns.  It's a description for Odysseus, and I think it fits Tony quite well too.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 14th, 2013 09:13 pm (UTC)
GreaT Story
Really interesting. Love that all their feeling are bare to each other
May. 14th, 2013 11:19 pm (UTC)
Re: GreaT Story
Thanks! If you like their feelings being laid bare to each other, just wait a few chapters. There's a lot more of it. Thanks again for the comments!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )