Title: Sometime This Century Author: daenabenjen42 Fandom: MCU Timeline: Post-CACW Characters: Tony Stark and Rebecca Barnes Proctor Disclaimer: **points at Disney and Marvel** A/N: I'm still working on a long one that's an AU-diversion with Rebecca, but until then, I give you this one, because I got plot bunny-ambushed by a 92-year-old who simply wants to see her brother at some point. (Seriously... doing age-math leads to things like this. Who knew?) ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ The elderly woman was sitting at Steve's desk in the administration office of the Avengers Compound, muttering to herself in what Tony was pretty sure sounded like Romanian when he entered the room looking for something. It gave him pause, seeing her sitting there, reading through a file he remembered Steve showing him on Barnes. Her hair was gray, up in a loose bun, and she was wearing a dark blue scrub top that had light blue, purple, and green peace symbols on it. "Um..." She glanced up at him with surprisingly clear blue eyes, and he was taken aback by the anger being reflected back at him. "What?" "Who are you?" Tony was pretty sure he'd never seen this lady before, so why was she mad at him? She glared at him. "Someone whose brother deserved your consideration before you tried to kill him for something horrific that was not his fault, Stark." Tony blinked, surprised. "Ma'am?" She looked down at the file in her hands, at the pictures on the inside cover. "I waited seventy years, and didn't even know I was waiting for anything. And then Steve was found and I finally heard the story from him about how my brother died. Not the Army's white-washed version of 'he died on a mission,' but the truth of how it happened. I was proud of him, you know? Protecting people was what he did. Who he was. Even in the face of seeing a man who terrified him again, he still got on that train and did his job." Tony slowly sank down in the chair opposite the desk and stared at her. "Who are you?" "Me? Rebecca Barnes Proctor. Not that my name is actually important to you." He blinked again. Now it made sense. "Oh." "Imagine that. The infamous Anthony Stark. Speechless." Tony rolled his eyes at her animosity. "If you're here to plead Barnes's case with me, I don't want to hear it." Rebecca's eyes flashed at the challenge. "I wouldn't stoop that low, Mr. Stark. I simply wanted to tell you about him, because... well. I'd really like to see him at some point, and that means making him safe to be around others. Is it pleading? Not hardly." Tony frowned at her. "What?" She gazed at him for a long, long moment. "I have a grandchild who goes to M.I.T., who couldn't shut up about that pricey therapy tool you developed and showed off, while also showing off your own pain. Thinking about this whole mess, I can't help but wonder if that thing can be used to get post-hypnotic compliance triggers neutralized, so what happened to your parents at HYDRA's orders can never happen to anyone else again." His eyes narrowed and he frowned at her. Of all the things he'd thought she'd say... "Old woman, I can and will kick you out-" "No. You won't," she said as she rolled her eyes at him and turned the file so he could see it. "Does this look like someone who was doing things of his own will?" Tony leaned closer to look at the file, at the picture of a very obviously on ice Winter Soldier in what had to be a cryo tank, and then at the smaller picture paperclipped to it... of a near-to-smiling Barnes in his uniform. He frowned and pulled the picture free to get a better look, and then read the back of it... 'June 1943. World Exposition of Tomorrow. Flushing Meadows, Queens, NY' He blinked at that in confusion for a moment, then looked at the picture again. "This isn't just any picture. This... this is from the '43 Expo. How'd they get this? And what would your brother have been doing at the Expo in uniform?" The difference between the man in this photo, the other photo in the file, and Barnes himself both at the Bundestag in Berlin and in that Siberian bunker... "Oh." Rebecca sighed. "He was at the Expo with Steve on a double date and was shipping out the next day to England, Stark. And I'm simply providing you with another point of view on the matter, because, seriously, he should not have had to put himself on ice again. That's where he is right now, by the way. Cryofreeze. And if I ever found out how they got a candid picture of him like that, heads will roll." Tony carefully clipped the photo back to the other one and looked at her again. "You've heard from Steve?" "Of course. It was a very long, very intense letter from Yahweh only knows where, that made me want to slap you. I still might." "He didn't tell me." Rebecca sighed. "About?" "My parents. HYDRA." "Oh. On second thought..." She reached over and struck him hard on the arm. "Of course he didn't. His world got blown to smithereens in the middle of SHIELD falling down around his ears and nearly getting killed multiple times in the same week. Doesn't make it right, him not telling you anything, but... would you have believed a story about tragic and possible but unsubstantiated truth that started with 'an evil computer in a bunker at an abandoned military training facility in New Jersey told me?' I heard that story actually from Steve and Natasha and I nearly spit out the coffee I was drinking in disbelief." Tony paused, rubbed his arm where she'd hit him. "Natasha knew?" "What? Did you think Steve found out in a vacuum by himself? They were on the run and fact-finding together. So yes, Stark, Natasha knew. Knows. She actually knows the history of the Winter Soldier a little better than this file would state. He trained her, with her, during her time in the Red Room." Tony frowned, filing that piece of information and wondering how this woman got that story out of the one of the most secretive women he knows. "Right. You're not helping his case, really, seeing as she ended up doing awful things for hire-" Rebecca hit him on the arm again. "Hey! Stop hitting me!" She looked at him wryly. "You sold and manufactured and designed weapons for money, Stark. Glass houses." "Old woman..." He took in just how angry she really was, and blinked. "Right." "Also, I'm a nurse. I can do far worse than hit you on the arm. Like, say... restrain you six different ways using your tie and your shoe laces." Tony frowned again, noting the present tense and not the past tense he would have otherwise expected. "You're still working? At your age?" What was she... ninety-something? Did they even allow medical people to work into old age like that? Rebecca smiled at him, not unkindly. "Three days a week. Still driving, too. And you never ask a lady her age. Do that, and I'll lie and say I've been thirty-four since the seventies. Didn't see much point to retiring when I didn't feel old and didn't want to loaf around the house doing projects. Tried that once, the projects thing with nothing else to do because I took the month off. Didn't like it." "So... you came here all the way from Brooklyn on your day off just to ask me a favor?" "No. To see if you were worth the effort of inviting to family get-togethers. Favor-asking is extra, and I'm not doing that either." "Family get-togethers? I'm not your family!" Now Rebecca rolled her eyes at him and set a bundle of tied-together, yellowed envelopes on the desk in front of him. "My brother kept mentioning your father in his letters home. 'Howard Stark's here with the 107th!' Howard this, Howard that, 'Steve somehow got Howard Stark to fly him into Austria and save us,' and on and on. For two years. The parts that weren't redacted by the Army censors were interesting. So... yes. You kind of are. By association." "What?" "My brother liked science, Stark." "He did?" "Probably still does. Won't know for sure until no one wants to kill him for simply existing." Tony winced. "I deserved that." "Yes." "You don't have to agree with me, you know." Rebecca smiled again. "Consider yourself adopted. You'll fit right in." "Mrs. Proctor?" "Yes?" "I'm in my forties. It's a bit late for adoption." "Says who? I can adopt whomever I please into my family, no matter how screwed up they are." She handed him a paper with contact information on it that caused him to look at her funny. "And after all this... stuff I've heard about you, I took the liberty of researching some good psychiatrists who don't mind signing non-disclosure agreements. Those were the top five." Tony continued to look at her funny. "You're giving me referrals to see a shrink?" "Of course. The stuff I kept hearing, every time Steve or Natasha or Wanda called me, and then this mess with my brother that I haven't even gotten to talk to yet... it's good to have someone to jaw at that can help you put the pieces together, you know?" Tony nodded slowly. He didn't like it, but she had a good point. Wait. Wanda? "Just how many Avengers do you know on a first name basis, Mrs. Proctor?" She smiled again. "All but Thor and Vision, actually. And Mr. Fury says hello and to stop doing stupid things, including trusting idiot generals with dubious reputations." Tony groaned under his breath. If she'd met everybody but Thor and Vision, why exactly was it the first time he was meeting her? For that matter, how was she in any kind of contact with Fury? It made no sense. He glanced down at the still-open KGB file, considered the man in the small photo... "As to your question about the B.A.R.F. system? It's possible. The system was designed to treat without being invasive. I'll look into it." "Thank you. Also, you're invited to our Forth of July Picnic and Birthday Celebration." "Huh?" Rebecca shrugged. "Granted, the birthday part of it will be in absentia this year due to Steve being forced to go on the run for dumb reasons, but it's the principal of the thing." She motioned to the file. "Can I take this?" Tony nodded and pulled a flashdrive out of his pocket, handed it to her. "Yes, and this is all the information on Barnes and what happened to him that I could find at the base in Siberia. It makes for very disturbing and upsetting reading. What do you want it for?" "Because one of my grandchildren is a paralegal and another is a lawyer, and they both want to see their uncle sometime this century. That means a pardon, which means opening a knowledgeable dialogue with the President, which Steve was going to do, but he got waylaid. A lot." "You... want to get him a pardon?" "Yes. Also for you and your friend the Air Force Colonel to come to the picnic." "And if I'm busy?" She chuckled. "No excuses. And bring Miss Potts, too." "We are on a break, Mrs. Proctor." "What does being on a break have to do with attending a picnic together, hmmm?" Tony sighed. "All right. Fine. I'll bring Rhodey and Pepper to your picnic. Should we be bringing anything?" "Just yourselves." He eyed her scrub top. "So do you wear peace symbols a lot?" Rebecca glanced down at her outfit for a moment. "This? This was a gift from one of my grandchildren. Seemed appropriate to wear today." She nudged the bundle of letters toward him. "I want those back eventually." "Why do you want me to read them?" "Perspective is important, Mr. Stark." Which was how Tony, Rhodey, Pepper, and Happy ended up at the Barnes-Proctor Forth of July Family Picnic (and Birthday Party in Absentia, it even said it on the banner), enjoying themselves thoroughly as they met various members of the clan.