Anthony could not believe what he was seeing.
Tony Stark was something of a wonder. Tony had built a fully functioning circuit board by the time he was four. He had built a fucking engine when he was six. By nineteen, he'd graduated MIT with four PHDs, and had taken over his late father's company at the ripe age of twenty-one. He'd been kidnapped by terrorists, tortured, and escaped with a suit of armor—Mark I, he thought grimly—made out of scraps originally intended to be a nuclear bomb—the Jericho, apparently. He'd totally turned Stark Industries in a totally different direction than its original purpose to build bombs, and put his girlfriend, Pepper Potts, as the CEO. SI was now the leading name in clean energy, and Tony had built a tower as a beacon of clean energy, that, as a prototype, could run itself for a year.
Anthony was NOT Tony Stark.
Of course, everything matched up—the identical facial features, the Arc Reactor sticking out of his chest, the head full of math-y stuff, the face he'd now identified as Pepper Potts sticking out in his mind, hell, they shared the same names!—but Anthony wasn't Tony. First off, Tony Stark had died in the Battle of Manhattan—flying a nuke into a space portal, the stupid bastard—but even if he had been, he wasn't anymore. Not now. Sure, he might've been with his memories intact, but without them he'd been remade into a whole new person. Admittedly not a good person, with a bad drinking problem and broken eyes, but he wasn't Tony. And he couldn't just return pretending to be Tony. Because he wasn't.
Except he was.
Anthony decided he definitely needed a drink.
~LINE BREAK LINE BREAK L-L-L-L-LINE BREAK~
Bruce Banner found himself in the slums with no idea how he'd gotten there.
All he knew was that he had needed to get out of the Avengers Tower, and decided a walk in the crisp cold air, and suddenly there he was, walking down a street that smelled like cigarettes and tar, old beer cans rattling down the street with him. Though it was terribly cold, Bruce just kept walking; he couldn't seem to stop. That is, until he came across an old, dilapidated structure that reeked of alcohol. Faded black letters spelled the words Off the Wagon Bar & Grill, but grill had been crossed off. Quite honestly, it looked more like a crack house, and it was too early to be drinking—somehow day had broken while Bruce was caught up in his thoughts—but Bruce just needed to go in. It was an absolutely terrible idea, added to the fact that the Other Guy was triggered by alcohol, but Bruce felt the urge so keenly that he ignored all the warnings and pushed open the door anyway—the handle had been broken off.
Luckily when he came in, only two people were there. One was the bartender—Bruce wondered idly why he was even there at such a time—and the other was a hunched over man in a well worn jacket, staring at his beer bottle as if it contained all the answers to the questions he'd never asked. Bruce stepped forward, the notion suddenly dawning on him that this could very possibly end with the whole street getting destroyed by the Hulk, and took a deep breath.
The bartender, a scarred, nearly bald man with an eye-patch akin to Nick Fury's, gave him a smile that revealed many missing teeth. "A newcomer, eh?" he said. "What'd you like, lad?" "Just—just a beer, thanks," Bruce said, attempting to swallow the unease bubbling up. "Righty-o, then," the bartender said, and disappeared somewhere, presumably to get the beer.
Bruce took a seat next to the hunched man, tapping his fingers nervously on the splintered wood that made up said bar. "Would you stop that?!" the hunched man finally said, his teeth gritted as he continued to stare at his bottle. Bruce frowned. His voice sounded gratingly familiar. "Sorry," he said, slipping his hand onto his lap. The hunched man took a deep breath. "Sorry, I'm a bit on edge," he apologized. He still didn't look at Bruce. "Me too," Bruce sighed. "I angered one of my friends—she was the girlfriend of this late friend that I had. He was brilliant…I only knew him for a little while though. He died a hero." He swallowed a knot that had formed in his throat.
Why was he telling the man this, anyway? He was just a stranger. A stranger who was in a bar in the early morning, too. He shouldn't trust the man in the least. And yet, there he was, babbling on and on about his problems. "What's wrong with you, anyway?"
The man sighed. "It's just…you know how you sometimes look at yourself from a while ago, and realize that you've fallen so far from where you used to be, and you don't remember it even happening?" Bruce frowned. What was that even supposed to mean? "Sorry, you probably don't. Oh, uh, I'm Anthony, by the way," Anthony finally introduced himself, tearing his eyes away from the beer bottle to smile at Bruce.
Bruce just stared. Because, the man he'd thought to be dead, the man whom he'd been searching for over the last two months, the man who SHOULD NOT BE ALIVE, was right there, in front of him, with no sign of any recognition whatsoever as he held out his hand.
I'm a terrible person, I know, but I think I've apologized once too many times. Apologies entail that you mean to fix what's happening, and quite honestly, this will probably happen again. So, uh, here you go?