Title: Heart of Iron & Ice: Arctic Star
Fandom: MCU/The Sentinel Fusion
Genre/Series: Genderbent (rule 63), fusion; Heart of Iron & Ice
Warnings: the story will eventually have all kinds of badassery, possibly sex, and plenty of swearing. As yet, it only has swearing
Notes: This is the third story in the Heart of Iron & Ice MCU/Sentinel fusion series. The first was female Tony Stark/Loki getting together as an alternate universe of Iron Man; I plan on doing Thor and the Avengers as well. Thor will be number two. I have not started it (though I have done a lot of plotting). Yes, I started the third before the second. I’m a grownup, I do what I want.
Synopsis: Captain America is recovered from the arctic ice; SHIELD has plans for his slow introduction to the modern world. Tony Stark has her own plans, and a one-eyed pirate who keeps trying to take her stuff is not included in them.
“ — absolute moron! No, don’t even speak, I’m allergic to rampant stupidity. Who the hell was in charge of this clusterfuck? Did you even read the SHIELD file on Rogers?”
He had drifted awake during a vicious argument between two women; battle instincts and sentinel responses had him playing possum while he tentatively extended his senses.
“I told you not to talk! You can just march your dumb ass out of this room — and take off that uniform, for fuck’s sake, you aren’t a nurse or in the army, plus you were born in 1978. And take that radio with you. For fuck’s sake, that game is from 1941 — Rogers was stateside until 1943! You think a kid from Brooklyn would have missed a game between his home team and the damn Yankees?”
Beyond the radio — playing a game he had, in fact, seen in person — and the sounds of arguing was a rush of sounds both familiar and alien. Above and below him were layers of sound — conversations, phone calls, footsteps — but many he didn’t recognize. He could hear music playing from multiple sources, but there was no radio static except for the one in his room. A phone rang, but it was nothing like the familiar jangle. Conversations included typical base jargon, but also words that didn’t make sense. And everywhere, electricity hummed.
The sheets — he assumed they were bedsheets — didn’t itch, nor did the clothing he wore. Both women wore scents he didn’t recognize, but nothing was overwhelming or headache inducing. The air was cool and sterile, like a laboratory.
At least everyone seemed to be speaking English.
“Stark, what are you even doing here? This isn’t any of your concern.”
“Excuse me? Fury and his goons descended on my arctic exploration vessel, detained my people, removed all the salvage and data they’d accumulated, dumped them at a remote installation, and abandoned the ship at a port in Iceland — without even gassing the tank after their little joyride. Fury just doesn’t seem to get that I don’t like it when people take my stuff!”
“It was a matter of national security —”
“They were in international waters! Forget it, I’ve already sent Fury the bill — he owes me a quarter of a million dollars.”
He had to have heard that number wrong.
“But what interested me is why — which lead me here. SHIELD was spying on that vessel, and when they found the Hydra plane, that was when you goddamned thugs descended. Tell Fury he’s trying way too hard to work the pirate angle.” There was a rustle of clothing and a chair creaked. “Stealing lawful salvage — tisk tisk.”
“I’m not talking about the Capsicle — because, despite what SHIELD and the Army might think, he is not, in fact, property. Everything else found out there, however, is. And it’s mine. I figure my lawyers are delivering the paperwork right now.”
“Damn it, Stark.”
“What? You don’t like it when someone uses the actual rules to stop you lot from breaking them? You know what really gets me, though? All that effort to reclaim, recover, and hide the star-spangled icicle here — and you were still going to fuck it up in the eleventh hour. It’s one thing to be thieves — I might be able to forgive that — but I fucking hate incompetence.”
“And what do you think you can do here? Rogers is fragile and his situation will only make that worse.”
Steve swallowed his indignation at being described as fragile. Fortunately for his composure, the woman called Stark burst out laughing.
“Congratulations, Spinelli, you just proved that either you’re an idiot, or whoever put together Roger’s file is. He’s as fragile as titanium.”
“He committed suicide.”
“No, he made a choice that saved hundreds of thousands of lives.”
“The psychologist —”
“Go go fuck yourself — the man’s asleep, how the hell can a shrink have done an assessment on him?”
“He based it on the reports from Roger’s army service and supposition of the current situation.”
“Translation: he yanked it out of his ass.” A lusty sigh. “Right, I’m done with this, and you. Go away.”
“This is SHIELD property, Stark — you can’t kick me out.”
“Oh, I can — but I’ll let him do it.”
For a moment, Steve thought she meant him; then the third person in the room broke his silence. “My guide has asked you to leave. You will remove yourself from this space immediately. And do tell Director Fury that the more he irritates Antonia, the more inclined I become to interfere.”
“You can’t —”
“Leave, Agent. Before I remove you.”
There was a hesitation, then the clatter of heels and a door closing sharply. Steve felt himself relax; he might still be in the presence of unseen strangers, but they were sentinel and guide.
They were safe.
“I hate that bitch.”
“My love, you hate SHIELD almost to a man.”
“Tell me I’m wrong.”
“Never — not even when you are.”
“Sweet talker. For Tesla’s sake, look at this room — what the fuck were they thinking? Don’t answer that, they obviously weren’t I know the idea was to ease the shock, but this is not the answer. Why wasn’t Coulson in charge of this? He wouldn’t have fucked up like this.”
“He certainly would not have depended on thin walls to keep secrets from a sentinel.” Since Steve could hear not only through the walls, but also the floor and ceiling for at least a hundred feet in each direction, that was a great point.
“Honestly! Rogers coming online is part of the Captain America legend. It was instrumental in proving that dormancy was largely a physical matter, not some sort of moral issue.”
“Oh, there used to be a theory that moral deficiency led to dormancy. Most dormant sentinels came from poor or disenfranchised communities — like Rogers here, who was Irish American — and those groups were once considered to be inherently immoral or flawed. But mostly it was a lack of access to health care and poor sanitation. Vaccinations put the final nail in that theory’s coffin in the sixties with the rapid rise of sentinels emerging from the inner city populations.”
“I believe I read something about that, yes.”
“In one of the million books on Sentinel and Guide Studies you’ve devoured in the last six months? Probably.”
“Don’t sneer, darling; I enjoy the feel of a real book, however efficient your way might be.”
Steve nearly choked on laughter at that cheerful response.
“Later, magic man.” A rustle of clothing and the sound of kiss nearly made Steve blush — he wasn’t a prude, but he disliked the feeling of spying on an intimate moment. That the couple were a bonded pair made it worse thanks to that immediate sense of kinship with his own kind.
“I seriously wish Coulson and Barton were here. Why Fury trusted this to anyone but the ultimate man in black is beyond me.”
“No doubt they are on their way to New York; your phone call would have ensured that.”
“I was pissed off.”
“Oh, is that what we’re calling it? Darling, you put a fist through reinforced plate glass.”
“I’m sending Fury the bill for that, too. You know how I feel about intellectual theft — SHIELD stole, wiped, or corrupted three months of research data when they commandeered the Arctic Star. Valuable research. Not to mention screwing with my employees.”
“Fortunately, no one was harmed.”
“Those assholes dumped the whole crew at a weather station in the Arctic Circle stocked with one radio and three weeks of canned food! There wasn’t even enough fuel to run the generators or cookstove for more than ten days!”
Yeah, that sounded like bullshit to Steve. You don’t leave people vulnerable like that. He sympathized with Guide Stark’s temper.
“And now I’ve got to rub Fury’s nose in his mess, while dealing with the tower construction, a full slate of meetings and work on the reactor prototype project — while also keeping an eye on your brother, my company, the incredible survival story here, and keeping you entertained and out of trouble.”
“Trouble is entertaining,” the unnamed sentinel drawled, earning a laugh. “My brother hardly needs a babysitter —”
“That’s not what you said last week.”
“ — and he has his own guide to serve in that stead when he does.”
“Jane forgets to wear underwear when she’s in research mode.”
“Kettle, pot, darling.”
“Regardless, Thor and Jane can take care of each other and themselves, with the aid of the efficient Ms Lewis — which is why you hired her —”
“Also, she’s hilarious.”
“Granted. As for SI, it has not only you, but the formidable Pepper Potts at the helm. As for your inventing — you have yet to neglect mad sciencing no matter the demands on your time. I will certainly aid you in your efforts with the captain.”
“Only if you ask — I do hate to ruin your pleasure.”
“Rhodey thinks you enable me, you know. This is why.”
“The Colonel may think as he wishes; you are my guide and I will support you in your endeavours.”
“So if I decided to become a supervillain?”
“I will practice my menacing laugh.”
There was a chuckle, the silence but for the rustle of paper. Steve continued to play dead, thinking.
All the conversations he’d overheard, the snippets of chatter beyond the — far too thin to block a sentinel — walls; the last moments he remembered before the brutal cold —
How long had it been?
Steve didn’t know how long he was lost in thought — minutes? an hour? — when he heard a huff. “Seriously, how long is he going to sleep.”
“What? I’m being patient. You could write odes to my epic patience.”
“Darling, if I were to write poetry, your patience would not be the inspiration.”
“Are you saying I’m gorgeous and amazing in countless ways, or that I’m lacking epic stoicism?”
“There is no or, Antonia.”
“You really are never going to drop my full name, are you?”
“I thought you were supposed to cater to my every whim. I’m sure I put that in the small print.”
“I cater to your every need — you pay others to see to your whims.”
“I need Capsicle to wake up. Chop, chop, Lokes.”
There was a low chuckle. “Darling, he’s been awake since you began taking Agent Spinelli to task.”
“ . . . I knew that.”
Busted. He gave into the inevitable and opened his eyes. The sentinel smiling indulgently at his guide was tall and lean with pale skin and long dark hair. His clothes seemed expensive; dark slacks and a fitted shirt with sharp lines and creases.
But the guide . . .
She was dark haired as well, a tumble of curls that was at once wild and orderly, with a warm golden complexion. Her bold red shirt was expensive — Steve recognized silk when he saw it — but her denim pants were old, faded white and torn in places and tight. She was pouting at her smiling sentinel.
And she had Howard’s eyes.
“Aha! Sleeping beauty awakes — and you didn’t even need a kiss from a handsome prince.” The guide poked her sentinel as she spoke.
“Howard doesn’t have a sister.”
Her smile faded into something solemn and gentle. Steve swallowed against the emotions rising in his throat. “No, he didn’t.”
He didn’t bother asking about cousins; his senses told him everything he needed about how closely related they were. “You’re his daughter. Unless it has been a hundred years — do I need to check for rose briars?”
“No overgrown topiary here, captain. And this is hardly a castle tower.” She flicked a glance at her sentinel then rose to offer her hand. Careful, aware as always of his strength, Steve sat up and clasped her narrow, calloused hand. “Antonia — for science’s sake, call me Tony. I’m Stark 2.0.”
“I . . . have no idea what that means.”
Tony grinned while her sentinel chuckled. “Don’t worry, people say that around me all the time; we’ll get you up to speed. In the meantime, it means I’m the second edition — updated, revised, and improved.”
“Yes, she’s the daughter of Howard Stark,” the sentinel translated. Steve had a feeling he did that a lot.
“And this is Loki — don’t worry, he doesn’t bite.”
“Unless provoked,” he clarified, smiling toothily.
Under the churning grief and fear and loss rolling in his belly, Steve felt a little spark of humour. He wasn’t sure what it said about him — but he liked them.
“What year is it?”
“Okay, before I answer that, you need to take a deep breath and gird your supersoldier loins. Also, there is no fainting, crying, or tantrums in my presence — I’m allergic to the first two, and I get to throw the fits around here. And —”
“The year is 2010, Captain.”
He knew, but still felt the suckerpunch to the gut. His ears rang and his vision went grey — something that hadn’t happened since his last asthma attack.
Strong hands hauled him to the edge of the bed, pressing his head down between his knees; the tangled storm of emotions and shock and disbelief abruptly eased.
He could smell flowers and engine grease, spice and snow and apples; the light touch of a guide’s empathy pressing against his mind like a kiss.
“Well, that went well.”
“Fuck, Loki, what were you thinking?”
“That you were worrying him with your build up and that he’s a soldier who would rather have the truth, however painful. And also that you were reluctant to tell him something that you knew would hurt him.”
“Bite me; I shove blunt, painful words in people’s faces all the time.”
“Not when that face is a childhood hero — and not a sentinel. I love your independence and refusal to be reduced to a guide and nothing else — but you are a guide and that means you would not wish to cause a sentinel pain.”
“Lokes, it isn’t your job to do the hard things for me.”
“It’s not about duty,” Steve murmured. “When you find something beautiful and perfect, you want to keep it safe.”
He felt blood rush to his face — and not from having his head between his knees. There was a little moment of silence, then a soft laugh. “I think you’re pretty, too, Captain, but I think you’re a little high on empathic feedback. I’m going to pull back now, alright?”
That was probably best but . . . “You feel nice.” And blushed again.
Stark laughed and gently withdrew her empathic buffer. Steve breathed steadily through the surge of his own emotions, focusing on the hands resting on his back.
“Antonia, perhaps some water.”
“I will do him no harm, darling, but he may prefer not to show emotional weakness before a guide and a woman.”
“Male sentinel macho pre-war bullshit,” she muttered. “First on the list for integration — feminism, civil rights, sentinel-guide equality. Also, therapy and getting in touch with your emotions.”
“Darling, your idea of getting in touch with your feelings is to blow something up.”
“And yours is to set it on fire — see how in sync we are?” She moved away. “Ten minutes, sentinel — and I’ll kick both your asses if you do anything stupid.”
The door closed quietly and Steve sat up. “Thank you.”
The other sentinel looked amused. “I am not unfamiliar with the mentality you were raised with. A word of warning, however — Antonia is possessive. You are hers now, and she shows affection by being interested in your business.”
“Did you just call your guide nosy?”
“Captain, my guide is a meddlesome, interfering, beautiful genius. Nosy is a profound understatement.”
Steve laughed abruptly and rubbed his hands over his face. He was unsurprised to find it damp. “How long have you —?”
“Really?” They seemed like such a unit that Steve had assumed they’d been bonded far longer. “Is it usual to take so long to find a match? Or did you come online late?”
Loki gave him a look, like he was indulging Steve’s distraction. “Matching pairs has become more efficient, if that is what you are asking. We both came online in our adolescence, but we were separated by a substantial distance.”
He certainly didn’t have an American accent. “So you meet by coincidence?”
“Fate, Captain. We met by fate.” The sentinel smiled faintly. “Sometimes, our fate is far different than we expect.”
Something like rage and despair rose up. “You think being frozen for seventy years is fate? That I was, what? Destined to lose everything I knew and loved and outlive everyone?”
“I think that, when you cannot change what has happened, you make the most of it.” Loki tilted his head. “You think me a hypocrite? That because I have my guide, all must be right with my world?”
Some dark and bitter part of Steve did think that and it shamed him. “I know better.”
“Knowing and feeling are two different things. I was adopted,” the sentinel added, “a fact I did not know until quite recently. Moreover, I was born to a people that was long demonized by those I was raised amongst, as well as being an old enemy. I am still — angry,” he decided, “but am learning to accept it. The one person who least deserves my ire is my brother, who did not know the truth until I did — but sometimes, when he unhesitatingly call me brother and seems to forget entirely that I am adopted, I want to punch him in the face.”
“But you don’t,” Steve sighed, “because he isn’t the reason for your anger.”
“He gives me any number of reasons to throw something at his head, the great lummox,” he said wryly.
In other words, be angry but don’t take it out on others. Especially people who are trying to help. “I’m not great at expressing myself in reasonable ways — mostly I get in fights with bullies and blow up Nazis.”
He got a fierce, bloodthirsty grin. “I assure you, Captain, that you will have no shortage of reasonable targets to redirect your issues upon. Antonia collects enemies like it is her hobby in life.”
“She’s a guide — people usually get along with guides.”
“This guide is one of the wealthiest, most intelligent people on Earth, runs an multinational corporation and routinely tells everyone from state leaders to random civilians what she thinks about their opinions, beliefs, decisions, life choices, and fashion decisions.”
“Pro tip,” Stark added, sauntering back into the room, “I usually think rude things about all of the above.” Then she dropped a chilled bottle of water in his hand. “Hydrate, Rodgers, and let’s blow this popsicle stand. Close proximity to public servants gives me hives.”