Disclaimer: I do not own Marvel or make any money from this. I just get enjoyment from this.
Anyhow, here is Part two of the The Changing Tide of Time series. I would recommend that you read Part 1: Malfunctioning Time before you read this.
In Part two: We will focus on two Movies: Iron Man 3 and Captain America: Winter Soldier, so most likely this will be a long ass story, so i hope you enjoy the long read.
Toni Stark was and will never be any good at sharing her emotions. To her, emotions were a sign of weakness, and she keeps them hidden instead. After her journey to the past, something snapped inside of her, opening her up to things that she never thought was possible. Now, she's in a relationship that she never thought was possible, and in a good way, Captain Steven Rogers challenges her in every way.
However, she finds herself struggling to keep her head above water as she suffers from panic attacks that only seem to get worse. She keeps seeing Barnes everywhere, and no matter what she does, she can't get him off her mind. How can she save the President from the Mandarin when all she sees is death? That a mere thought could send her into a panic attack? That she seemed to have picked up a shadow?
How can Steve help Toni, when he struggles to admit his own weakness? How can he help anyone when he is all over the planet on endless SHIELD missions? Steven Grant Rogers isn't sure how he can protect the woman he loves, when he's lost in his own head. Everything around him is ever changing, and he doesn't know how to handle that. To make matter worse, he isn't sure who to trust when the Winter Soldier suddenly appears, but he knows whatever happens it can't be good, especially when the Winter Soldier has an interest in Toni. Seriously, why does he seem focused on her? Whatever the reason, Steve doesn't like it one bit. Not one bit.
The Chaos of Time
An Evening Walk
It was around midnight, but the streets were anything but quiet. They were anything but dark. New York was a very loud city, and even at this hour, there were still hundreds of cars and trucks passing by on these streets. There were police sirens blasting, waking any sleeping person or persons, as cop cars were flying down these streets. Even the buildings were alive, as images were flashed against them. Plasma Screens plastered the skyscrapers flashes burr after burr and color after color, and these buildings were humming. They hummed as if they were live, which was what called a certain genius out even if it was unwise to go out at this hour.
Bars and clubs were still open and going strong; music was blasting, coming out into the streets from the numerous doors. People loitered in the streets and on the sidewalks, going from one place to place, and none of these people were quiet. Most were drunk or close to drunk, and they could barely walk, though none of them seem like they wanted to go home. No one wanted to go to sleep, even if they were already halfway there. These were the funny people, even if they were annoying to all hell.
However, it was the other people that you had to worry about. There were the quiet, sober people, who was had other ideas on their minds beside careless fun. These people weren't outright violent, but they could be if put in the right circumstance. These others were criminals, either drug dealers, prostitutes, robbers, etc., and what made them dangerous was that they were trying to make a living. They were willing to do whatever they needed as they had no other choice, which made them dangerous.
Toni Stark had always been a night owl, awaking up noon and sleeping at odd hours. Most of the time, she didn't go to bed until the sun was coming up, and when she did go to bed, it was usually only for a few hours. She didn't care who had an issue with it, as it was when she did her best thinking. It was when she felt the most free, but it was also when she felt alone. Alone to think…granted with Toni that wasn't always a good thing, but she was alone to be herself. To drop her mask. To be free of judgement.
In the past when she didn't want to be alone, the old Toni would go out to some random bar, get drunk, and pick up some random, hot (unless she had on her beer goggles on) guy with one thing in mind: Sex. Back then, it was the one thing that could make her feel anything. It was the one thing that distract her mind from the pain, and for those few hours, Toni was happy. However, it didn't last, and she ended feeling worse than she did before.
She wasn't sure if it was because her mind wouldn't shut off, and even before the nightmares, it never shut off. She would wake up every few hours with some new idea that she couldn't get off her mind, and she couldn't get back to sleep until it was completed. If she was honest with herself which she rarely was, there was another reason why she couldn't sleep. It was her doubt and loneliness. Sure, she had Pepper, Happy, and Rhodey, but they weren't always enough, and when they left as they always did, she was alone. Painfully alone. It hard to go to sleep when there was no one wake up to. No one to hold her when she needed it.
Then there were the nightmares that destroyed any chance of her sleeping, and now the nightmares had only gotten worst. She would woke up every few hours in a cold sweat with shivers running down her back, and even with Steve, she woke up alone. Unlike before, she couldn't get drunk at some bar and bring home some random guy, not that she wanted to. The idea of having sex with some stranger and waking up next to someone she didn't know didn't have the same draw as before. She didn't want that anymore, and it wasn't because she was in a committed relationship.
Okay, yes. That was one reason, but it wasn't the only reason. She didn't want one night stands anymore, and even if it scared the shit out of her, she wanted a long term committed relationship with Steve. Even with all the disagreements, she wanted him to be the one she turned to, the one she woke up to with bed hair. Even if it was battle to get the words out, she wanted to tell him everything. She may not be able to get the words out all of the time, but it was something for her to want to talk to him. To want to open up.
Tonight was no exception: she didn't want to be alone, but there was no one else in the tower, which was becoming more common with each passing month. Toni didn't blame Steve as he was Captain America, and he had a responsibility to the world. It was who he was, what he did, and Fury wasn't shy about sending him out at any chance he got much to her annoyance. However, Toni wasn't going to say anything, because she didn't want to be that person. She didn't want to be like….Pepper. She could handle it.
Besides, it gave Toni something to poke fun at. She could and would joke about him having a second family in DC with some blonde (Or red- color didn't matter) from down the hall. Joke that he had some hot blonde that he could replace her with. That he would replace her with. She ignored the ping in her heart every time she joked about it, because she refused to acknowledge that it hurt to think of him with someone else. Besides, it wasn't like there was a person…well that she knew of. Maybe, there was, and if there was, Toni wouldn't blame him. She was a handle full, a horrible partner. Maybe, the media was right. Maybe, he should listen to them.
However, on a night like this, she wished he was here. Here to tell her that her dreams were only nightmares. Dreams that she could control, but he wasn't here. He wasn't here to tell her that everything was okay. He was on some mission, and she was here alone. At first, Toni had gone down to her lab to work on one of the many suits that she was been creating, but she couldn't focus. Not Tonight. Their last fight had replayed in her head, and she was too guilty to design. Too guilty to lie which number she was currently, so she left a few seconds later.
Taking a page out of Steve's book, Toni decided to go for a run when she couldn't force herself to sleep. The second time she tried going to sleep, it only lasted for 20 minutes before she bolted up and out of bed in a cold sweat. She was shaking so badly that she had to do something. So in the middle of the night in the cold evening air, Toni put on a pair of running shoes, pants and a hoodie. She didn't care that it was past midnight or that there were shady people out, as she just needed to get out. She needed air.
After the first few blocks, Toni had lost track of how long she had been running for or how far she had gone, but if she had to judge by the number of people who flirted with her, she could guess that a few hours have past, that she had ran a few miles. She could feel her body protest as she pushed her body passed her limits. She was never the runner, never wanted to be, so this was a challenge. She could feel her legs tingle and her muscles contract. She had the urge to sit down and rest, but she refused to listen, refused to stop.
Toni had no interest in going back, even with the dropping temperature. She didn't care that her body was about to drop, and she even wished for it. Her nightmare—No Nightmares. Too many to count. She wasn't sure she wanted to count, but the number didn't matter, as the Nightmares—No matter the number- were still fresh in her head, and no matter what she did, she couldn't rid herself of those feelings. Those feelings of being alone. Of being worthless. Of being weak. She still felt like even now when she was awake.
She was hoping that she could run those feelings away, but she still felt like she was falling. Falling to her death. Free falling was one of the scariest things in Toni's opinion, because it was a total loss of control. There was nothing that anyone could do to stop themselves from falling to their deaths. The only thing a person could do was watch, watch him or her fall, and while they fell, they got to imagine what their death would feel like before truly feeling it. For Toni, this nightmare was the worst, because she had experience it before. She had free-fallen over New York, and she had been completely helpless, unable to save herself. Unable to do anything, and that feeling was worse than death itself.
At least, she had the Hulk and Thor to save her, but the others weren't so lucky, which was what her nightmare reminded her. Halfway through her falling to her death, Bucky entered, replacing her, and she could do nothing but watch while he fell to his death, and that feeling was the worst. It was like someone had stabbed her in the heart repeatedly, and nothing she did could rid herself of that horrible feeling. She hated it.
"Stop it, Toni." Toni yelled at herself, as she jogged past a few drunk people. They might've said something to her, but the genius wasn't paying any attention. Her mind was a war zone, and it was struggle to focus on anything besides that nightmare crossing over into reality. This was where she wished that Steve was here, as he could always talk her down, even if all she did was throw insults at him. She was either nasty or a cry baby when she was like this, but he dealt with it all like the saint that he was. He was here for it all, protecting. Saving her… He really was a saint.
When Central Park came into sight, Toni slowed down to a trot. The thoughts were still there and she didn't want to stop, but she eyed the park, the only green spot in the city. It was where a lot of people went during the day for countless things, and it was where people relax, enjoying the sights. However, it wasn't the place to be at this hour, but for some reason, the genius made her way over to the park, ignoring the honking horns and insults throw at her.
"Oh, look who we have here. Didn't your mother tell you shouldn't go out alone in the dark?" A voice called out.
As the voice made Toni's skin crawl, she tried to ignore the man and walk deeper into the park. He was like everyone else on the street, throwing catcalls at her, but she didn't care- refused to care. They were just words, meaningless words, and they would not break through into her mind…though it might be a good thing. A distraction she needed.
"Hey, where do you think you are going?" the man asked, chasing after her. Toni shook her head and continued into the park, ignoring him following after her. "Hey, Hots Stuff."
Toni shook her head, as she let out a loud sigh. Why couldn't this guy leave her alone like the rest of crazies? Was he attracted to her crazy? She supposed it was her fault for being out this late. "Take a hint, and leave me alone," she snapped, stopping and turning around.
"You wouldn't want that," the man said, as he stepped toward her. He walked with a hop in his step as he was attempting to be cool. With the oversize clothes and sagging pants, it looked like trying too hard to be younger than he was. The tattoo on his face popped out at Toni as she tried to figure out what it was for a few long seconds. "A pretty little thing like yourself will only get hurt in Central Park at this time of night. There're scary things in here."
Central Park at night didn't scare her, as she was Iron Man, and she could call the Iron Man suit at any time. It was her nightmares that scared her. She could handle this joker, who didn't know who the hell he was talking to, and anyone who thought they could take her. "Why don't you go bother someone else," she hissed.
"It wouldn't be the gentlemen thing to do," he said, as he reached for her.
"You a gentlemen?" Acting quickly, she slapped his arm away, and before he could react, she did a rounding kick, hitting him hard in his chest. "Didn't your mother tell you to keep your hands to yourself? And whoever told you that boys will be boys was lying to you."
The man's smile fell, and anger took over. "You bitch," he yelled, as he got back to his feet. His fists were shaking at his side. "I was trying to be nice. Someone should teach you matters."
Toni's eyes twitched. Why did everyone keep telling her that? She had enough matters, thank you very much. "Listen, Buddy. I am not in the mood, so why don't you get going," she said. "Or stay and I kick your ass."
The man stepped forward to grab Toni, but before he could reach her, the genius threw a punch at his nose. He stumbled back, trying to catch his balance, but Toni didn't let up. She dropped to the ground and kicked his feet out of his legs. For a second, he didn't move as if he was in disbelief. "Y-You," the man hissed from the ground.
Toni jumped to her feet and stepped toward the hooligan. "Do you know who I am?" she demanded, her voice cold. She wasn't sure if it was because of the ass in front of her or her throbbing shoulder. The sudden movement flexed her muscles uncomfortably. For a second, she wished she hadn't asked Romanoff to train her, but if it wasn't for the kick ass moves that the assassin had shown her, Toni would've regretted the training with the Black Widow.
The Gangster-want-a-be looked up at her, his eyes narrowing. He didn't answer as if he didn't know how to speak, or maybe he didn't know what to say. It was possible that he didn't know who she was, as the lighting was anything but decent. There were barely any light, too dark to make out any features, so it was possible.
"Why don't you walk away with your tail between your legs before you get hurt?" She said, glaring. With the dropping temperature and a raw shoulder, she now wanted to go back to the tower.
The man pushed himself up, slowly getting to his feet. His eyes weren't on her, looking past her at something. He looked almost scared, but Toni didn't look back to see what he was looking at. He would probably jump her once she turned her back. "You're not worth it," he snapped, before he turned and walked away. Still not looking behind her, Toni watched him walk away, before she turned back toward Central Park.
There were some scantily dressed women in the park to Toni's surprise, granted she supposed why they were though she kept wondering why in this weather. She could hear them, which was a clue enough for her that it was time to go. Or the clue could've been one of the ladies calling after Toni saying that she could do whatever Toni wanted. Whatever Toni wanted. Against her better judgement, Toni replied back, snapping that unless she was a blue eye blond with a shield she wasn't interested. The woman replied saying she could be with the right money.
That time, Toni didn't reply back, but the woman still followed Toni for a few minutes, telling her that she could make her night. Telling her all the things that she could do, but the genius wouldn't bit anymore- not again. She just wanted to get away. This was another reason to leave, but she supposed the main reason was her twitching muscles and aching back. Then again, there was also the fact that it had started to rain, and it was the cold, freezing rain.
Toni let out a groan as the few raindrops became a downpour, and she was soaked within seconds. Her hair gained ten pounds as it was suddenly glued to her. Her clothes also gained a few pounds as they stuck to her body. Within mere seconds, she was shaking, and she knew she would be sick the next day. She would be a beast in a few hours, and it was at this moment that she wondered why she decided a run was a good idea. Toni was sore, soak, and cold, and she was feeling worst with each passing second.
Reaching into her pocket, Toni pulled out her phone, which was luckily waterproof. Even with a slick, wet phone, it only took a second for Toni to dial the tower. "J-JARVIS," the genius stuttered into the phone.
The AI's respond was quick. "Yes, Miss."
"Can you send the suit to come pick me up?" she asked, shaking badly.
"Yes, Miss. It would be my pleasure. Your body temperature is dropping, and if you stayed any longer, your health would be at risk. I-"
"Yea, yea," Toni replied, not needing the AI to tell her that. "Just send it."
"The Mobile armor is deporting, Miss." There was a pause. "Captain Rogers is inquiring about your location. Would you like him to meet you instead?"
Toni's eyes widened, not expecting Steve to be back already. "He's in the tower?" she asked, shocked.
"Yes, Miss. Would you like if-"
"No!" She protested strongly. She didn't need him to come and get her. She could and would get herself back to the town in one piece, and she didn't need him to come save her. "I got it. Just send the suit."
"It is on its w-"
The genius didn't let the AI finish, ending the call. As JARVIS was sending the suit, there was nothing else that she needed from him. Now, she just had to wait for the suit, which should only take a minute or two; however, Toni was never any good at waiting. Bad things happened when she was waiting with nothing to do. She tended to do stupid shit- well depending on who you ask- when she had on her hands. On the other hand, she had no interest at the moment to do anything, feeling like she had been ran over by a truck.
Walking toward the man made lake in the pouring down rain, Toni scanned the area as if she was looking for someone. At seeing no one around, Toni got down to her knees, scratching them against the hard ground, as she reached for the ice cold water. As she was already soaked and shaking from the cold rain, her panic wasn't clear right away- not that anyone was around to see it. The water didn't seem any colder to the freezing genius as she dripped her fingers in, fighting back her fear of standing water. Her heart was racing at the sight of it, but she held herself still. Ever since coming back, her anxiety of still standing water only grew, but she refused to be control by it now. She was tired of this fear, a fear that she would never be able to get over. She was tired of being scared. She wanted to take a bath, damn it.
Even if made her skin craw and her short of breath, Toni wondered for a second if the water would feel differently if she just jumped in clothes and all? She was already shivering, already freezing. Already panicking. She was already at the brink, where there was no turning back. No saving herself. Against her better judgement, she wondered if she would sink to the bottom, weighed down in wet clothes. She wondered how long it would take her to die like this. How long would it take for the water to enter into her lungs? How painful would it be?
Was that how Bucky felt when he fell to his death into a frozen bed of water? Did he feel anything? Was he aware that he was falling to his death? That he only had seconds left to live? Did he panic? Did he regret anything? Was his death painful? Did he feel a thing? Toni hoped not, but she doubted anyone had enough for luck that. His death was probably agonizingly painful, and he probably felt everything. He pro- "Stop it," she yelled at herself. She knew nothing will become of it if she continued that thought process.
Trying to regain her breath, she took a deep breath and pushed herself up and onto her shaky legs. It was a battle to stay on her feet as her soaked clothes were almost impossible to stand in. Her hoodie probably gained 25 pounds or more alone in the heavy, cold rain, but she wasn't sure that she was willing to take it off and expose her arms and chest to the freezing rain. She already felt like a popsicle. What would she feel like next without it?
There were very little movement around her, as the rain weighed everything down. The sounds from the city were drowned out by the water droplets, and it was like the park was separated from the city. It was like it was its own entity, and it was almost freeing in some sense. It was nice to only hear the rain in a city that was so loud; however, she didn't get to experience that for long, as she suddenly heard something behind her.
It was the sound of slapping leafs and falling stones that caught Toni's attention. It wasn't extremely loud, but she heard it. For a split second, Toni thought it was Steve but thought better of it. There was no way that the Good Captain could have made it to her in that short amount of speed. He wouldn't have beaten the suit here, which was impossible even at his top speed. He was fast but not that fast.
Turning around, Toni felt her heart drop as she eyed the man a few feet from her. It suddenly felt like her brain had stopped working, stopping firing, as she eyed the man. Her body didn't want to move, to obey her commands, as she stared at the man. It was like time had stopped and she was frozen in time. "Bucky?" she uttered… No, it couldn't be. It just couldn't be. He was dead. Died over 70 years ago. There was no way that he was here. No way.
The man didn't answer, only stared at Toni. His face was covered in dark shadows, like most of his body, and it was difficult- if not impossible-to make out any feature on his face. Toni could tell that he was a rather buff man, looking like he could give Steve a run for his money, which was saying something. Even in the darkness and bulky clothes, she could tell that he was a muscular, burly man, who handle his own in a fight and hold it well. She could tell that he was well build—not an ounce of fat on his body-through his clothes.
Ignoring her gut, she took a step toward the man as she tried to get a better look at his face. She just needed to as there was no possible way that this was James Barnes, but they had the same stance, the same poise, and she had to see his face for herself. To make matters worse, it was difficult to see his face as his long hair covered his face. "Barnes?" she uttered, stepping forward again. She blamed her nightmares, making her see the Sergeant everywhere.
The man stared at Toni for a few more second before he turned and walked. Just walked away without saying a fucken word. She knew he must've heard her. She knew it. "Wait!" Toni yelled, as she walked after him. He turned slightly, giving Toni another look, before he took off. Toni's heart thudded rapidly at the slight of this man running from her. Why was he running from her? Was this a trap? Why not stay and explain who he was? She couldn't understand, but she couldn't allow him to leave without her seeing his face. She needed to see his face, even if she knew it wasn't him. She just needed to see it for her sanity.
Fighting the soreness in her legs, Toni took off after him, but it was clear right away that she would never be able to keep up with him. As the distance between them grew, Toni was amazed at his speed, and she knew it was hopeless to keep chasing after him, not in her state, but she refused to give up. It wasn't in her DNA to give up. Her father would be kicking in his grave if she did. "Where's my suit?" she asked, glancing up toward the sky. There was nothing in the night sky—well anything that she could see, and the rain didn't help, pelting her in the eyes.
Toni's legs were burning, aching, but she refused to stop. She had to find this man, though she knew it was impossible that he was Barnes. She needed to settle her mind, or else she would torture herself. However, the second she looked back down was the second that Toni lost her footing on the muddy, uneven ground and tripped. Tumbling forward, Toni could feel her ankle twist as she plummeted, landing face first into the wet, muddy ground. She laid there covered in mud for a few second as pain shot up her leg.
Her shaky hands went straight for her ankle, as she rolled to her back. She fought back her groan as the rain pelted her in the face, forcing her eyes closed. "Fuck me," she cursed, as she laid there for a few seconds. "Just fuck me." Her whole body ached, and she just laid there, unable to will herself to move. Her whole body felt like it was on fire, and laying on her back did nothing to soothe it. During her last sparing/training match, the Black Willow had kicked her ass, though she was holding back. Toni had fibbed saying she was fine when Natasha had knocked hard into the wall, but she wasn't, and now, there was a huge bruise covering half of her back.
As she laid there in agony, Toni felt stupid. She, one of the smartest people on the planet, felt like the stupidest person on the planet. It was laughable, which was just what Toni did. For a good few seconds, she laughed as it poured on her. She was really an idiot, wasn't she? She twisted her ankle, chasing after a ghost. A freaking ghost. She was going crazy, driving herself crazy, as she kept seeing things that weren't really there. What was wrong with her? Did she—
"Are you okay?"
Toni's eyes snapped open as she glanced up at the newcomer. In the darken park, she wasn't able to make out his face, but somehow, he looked familiar to her. She just couldn't place where she had seen his face before, but she knew him from somewhere. Even his voice was familiar. "What?" she uttered, looking at his out stretched arm.
"Here. Let me help you up," the man said. He wasn't the same man (Smaller) that she was chasing, but she had seen him before. She just didn't know where, though she had met a lot of people in her life.
Toni eyed the man's hand before she took it. She could feel her shoulder throb as he pulled her up without any warning. "Thanks," she muttered, flinching. Unlike before, there was very little chance that she could defend herself- not with her bad ankle, but she could feel her body relax slightly, noticing her Iron Man Suit heading toward her.
The man eyed her, studying the wobble in her step. "Brock." He said placing a helping hand on her shoulder.
"Huh?" she uttered, feeling unsteady on her feet, but she didn't like feeling of his hand on her shoulder.
"The name's Brock," he said with a smile on his face.
No, she hated his hand on her shoulder. Yes, Toni most likely looked like a wet rat, but that didn't mean she was helpless… yes, her ankle was useless, but that was beside the point. She didn't need him to help her. "Nice to meet you, but my ride's here," she said, eyeing him. Being that it was past midnight, she didn't trust anyone. Only a crazy person was out at this time, but she wouldn't trust him at any point of the day.
Brock looked up, eyeing the Iron Man suit as it landed next to Toni. Thinking, he watched the water droplets run down the metal suit as it stood next to her. Even in the downpour, the reds and the golds of the suit shined through, and there was no mistaking the suit. "Toni Stark," he uttered, something surprised. "I didn't expect to find you here…at his time." His hand dropped to his side, but he kept close to her. "What brought Iron Man out at this time?"
"I'm full of surprises," she said, eyeing the man. Judging by his outfit, he was an off duty cop, who had disarmed (though he could have a hidden weapon somewhere) and removed his vest, but he still was dressed in his all blacks. "Now, if you excuse me, my Soldier's waiting." She needed him more than she thought, and even if she had to face one of his famous lecture, she would just for him to hold her. She needed to him to hold her, even if she wouldn't admit it.
Toni could feel Brock's eyes on her as he watched her hop over to the suit, trying not to put any weight on it. He must have thought she was funny, but he didn't laugh or crack a smile. She glanced at him one last time before he suddenly looked away. She wasn't sure what he was look at, but she wasn't sure that she cared enough to find out. She just wanted to get back to the tower, find Steve, change out of her wet clothes, and get off her sore ankle. Like her shoulder, her foot was throbbing. Even if she refused to admit, she was close to tears.
The end for now!
Don't worry, shouldn't take me too long for me to get the next chapter out. :) Maybe, the more reviews I get the faster I get the next chapter out. So hit that review button!
And on a different Note: I am not sure I can take Captain America: Civil War. Have you see that trailer? It killed me. Angst! The Angst!
Anyhow, I hope you enjoy this chapter.