A/N: Thank you BlueOwl, and Emerald2211 for beta'ing this chapter!
"How was the meeting thing?" I asked as soon as the doors to the elevator opened and I saw that both Bucky and Steve were chilling in the main room.
Sure, Jarvis told Bruce and me they were, but I might still be a little on edge. A lot happened today, and I'm still worried that something else is going to go wrong.
At least I don't feel tired. At all.
"Considering what happened today, Fury agreed to talk to the world council and try to get permission for the Avengers to go after the Hydra bases world wide. Agent Hill agrees we are ready to go after the ones here, and that's what we'll do tomorrow."
"Tomorrow?" I repeated in shock.
Yes, I want Hydra gone, but that was quick considering it sounded like today they were trying to figure out what parts of Shield are still Hydra free.
"You are not coming with," Bucky said, not even bothering to look away from whatever papers he was reading with Steve.
"I wasn't planning to," I said, and this time Bucky did look up at me with a cocked eyebrow.
"I'm being serious. I don't actually like all this fighting."
Well, the fighting part is fine. It's just that it's often life or death and since I don't want to die...
"Is this something that's going to need... uh... the other guy?" Bruce asked before Bucky could say anything more.
"We were talking about having you come with us, but stay on the quinjet in case we need Hulk to smash something," Steve said, handing a tablet over to Bruce to look at.
"Wait, are those papers from the base?" I asked trying to take a closer look, only to stop when Bucky picked me up and placed me on his lap like I was a little kid.
I know my body is only 7, but I've grown a lot since we escaped Hydra.
"Looks to be plans Hydra had for the future, written in the 70's," Bucky told me, giving me easy access to said papers he was reading over.
"You sure she should be reading this, Bucky?"
"It's not any worse than what she witnessed before we escaped," Bucky bluntly said, and I gave a shrug to Steve's sorrowful expression before turning my gaze back down.
"What language is this in?" I asked after trying to read for too long.
It looked familiar but...
"Oh, I don't know German."
I knew how to say a few things in German since my dad before spoke it, but I was nowhere close to being fluent in it. Especially enough to read a report like this.
"Die nächsten Schritte für Hydras Ziel sind es, weiterhin zu zeigen, dass der Menschheit ihre Freiheit nicht anvertraut werden kann," Bucky read out loud, pointing to each word he was speaking, "Which roughly translates to 'the next steps for Hydra's goal is to continue to show that humanity can not be trusted with their freedom.'"
Bucky continued to read to me what the report said, while also translating it.
At first I was trying my best to learn the language, but after Bucky got done with the first page I realized this wasn't just some Hydra propaganda, but the beginning of Project Insight. Or whatever it was called in Captain America: the Winter Soldier. I was kinda hoping that plan was something that happened after the battle for New York, and that by letting Fury know about Hydra in Shield, he would be warier about that idea. If only for the fact it wasn't them doing it. But this proves that Hydra had been planning this for decades.
Which is a scary thought.
"Romanoff already read this before giving it to you," Steve said once Bucky read through most of it, apparently stopping his own reading to listen.
"Probably. It's what I would have done."
"Where are the others? I figure Tony is working in his lab but..." Bruce asked, and I almost forgot he was still with us considering he was sitting on the couch instead of the table with us.
"Romanoff and Barton stayed behind with Fury and Agent Hill after Romanoff gave us these," Steve told us before going back to his set of documents.
"Pardon the interruption, but your dinner has arrived," Jarvis told us, and I didn't notice it got so late.
The sun had already set. Last time we eat pizza at Clint's place, and now we are having Indian food in the tower.
"Let's take a break. It might be good to regroup with everyone," Steve announced, and I took that as my cue to slip of Bucky's lap.
"Romanoff and Barton are both on their way up. Sir will be joining you shortly."
"Should we set the table or something?" I asked since that sounds like the right thing to do.
"We can just set out some plates," Bucky answered for me as he went to help me with that.
Not like the table was big enough if more than four people were eating at it, but I can't remember the last time I had something close to a family dinner. Eating with Bucky and Steve probably counts for something, but before my family was big. It doesn't really count as a "family dinner" unless you have 6 people.
At some point Natasha and Clint walked in, both carrying bags of food. When I looked up after helping Bucky with the plates, Steve was talking to them. Not close enough to hear, but I think Bucky was listening in. Probably nothing too interesting considering they didn't even both go into the hall area.
"We can talk about this later. I'm hungry," Clint loudly announced before setting his bag of food down and wasting no time in getting it all out.
Tony showed up just as we started eating, and acted like everything was fine as he grabbed his own plate. I mostly listened to the others talk while I ate. I was tired in a way that wasn't physical. Maybe it was just the fact that I have to stay awake until tomorrow to really see if I changed things, but I just couldn't relax.
I just finished the last bit of naan on my plate when Tony broke off his conversation with Bruce to turn to me.
"Hey Kiddo, mind coming down to the lab with me? There is something I want to talk to you about."
I could feel Bucky's eyes on me, but I wasn't sure why. Not like he comes with me when I check out Tony's workshop/lab. Only difference is that Tony still felt betrayed by me so...
This is probably that type of talk. Which is fine. It's something that needs to be done, and sooner is better.
"Sure, let me rinse off my plate."
"Don't worry, I got it. Have fun with your nerd session," Clint said, obviously not reading the unusual tension between us.
"Thanks," I said with a forced smile.
Tony waited until we were in his lab before talking, not even bothering with small talk or rambles about his latest project. Even when we got into his lab, Tony just beelined to the computer and started typing away. I just couldn't take it.
"If this is about earlier then-"
"I wanted to show you this video from earlier today," Tony interrupted, and if he really wanted to just talk about the Hydra attack, that was fine by me.
Only, when the video feed filled the monitor, I quickly recognized myself and Bucky were the stars. It was... right after I reseted.
"I... I thought Jarvis deleted that?" I said in shock as my stomach dropped.
"It was. But I always have Jarvis make back ups for the day and keep it for at least a week," Tony talked over the feed, like this was a normal thing.
I followed Tony into the lab expecting a hard conversation and to try my best to explain myself, but not like this. I really thought that Jarvis would just delete the recording like we asked...though it sounds like he did do that. Not Jarvis' fault that there are backups, but he could have told us. Then again, maybe he couldn't. I have no idea what limits Jarvis' programming has in place.
"But you knew it was deleted; that I didn't want you to see that and you just completely ignored it for...what? Your own curiosity?"
This time Tony did react, turning to me with a plastered on smile, "Yep, do you know how it works? You mentioned before that your teleporting power might be from a wormhole, so are you doing the same thing to travel back in time?"
"What the hell, Tony. I was keeping this a secret for a reason!"
Why didn't incognito work? Or was there just too much evidence for Tony to work with?
"Barnes isn't my favorite person, but he's not going to get mad at your for me figuring this out, I just-"
"What? Bucky wasn't the one who wanted me to keep this a secret. I wanted to! Only reason I ended up telling Bucky was because Hydra tracked us down once and I was still shaken up when I came back."
This time Tony looked a little shocked, maybe finally getting how mad I was at this, but it didn't matter. I was done.
[ ] Quest log
[ ] Stats
[ ] Relationships
[ ] Runscript
[ ] Load Save
I'll just reload, and make sure to tell Bucky what's going to happen outside of the tower. And make sure no one follows us. And make sure that everything else happens exactly the same since things didn't go too badly and...
I wanted to bury my face in my hands and scream.
Even if I do everything right next time, there is no telling how long it will last. Tony somehow managed to logic pass my incognito well enough to figure out that I can go back in time, even if he thinks it's part of my apparition ability and not due to my gamer powers. It will happen again considering we live in the same building. Maybe I could reset and convince Bucky we should just leave, but Steve would try following and...
Shit. The Avengers knowing might not be the worst option.
I don't know how long it will take for them to realize I am not a normal 7-year old, and reliving days would account for my maturity. Maybe I could even come up with a way to tell them about the infinity stones. My plan of just waiting for Thor to come back is not much of a plan. More of a way of delaying my lack of plan.
Okay. If I was to go through with this...what then? Do I also tell them I can only go back a day? But then how would I know about the stones? Or Thanos coming in 20...18 was it? Though, since Avengers stuff happened a year sooner than I thought, does that mean Thanos might come in 2017?
Should I tell them about my past life?
That thought was almost enough for me to click the load save button. There was a reason I haven't even told Bucky about who I was before Lani. That was too personal. Too complex of a topic for me to explain in the midst of everything else.
And if I talked about who I was, I would have to think about what I lost and...
Nope. Now is not the time. I can just tell them about the time travel and keep it at that.
But that still doesn't change the fact that Thanos is collecting all the stones and will wipe out 50% of all life someday. It would be better to at the very least tell the Avengers, and since Tony is already on his way to believing I can time travel, it can't be too hard to tell the others.
Maybe I could half lie? Just say the first time around I escaped Hydra alone, lived a normal life and all the movies I watched were events I saw on the news. Then... maybe I could say that Dr. Strange used the time stone on me to send me back further than my normal 'day' limit?
That could work. Gives me a good reason for not knowing what happens in all the movies, and explaining why I don't act like a normal 7 year old. I'll just have to be vague and keep it as close to the truth as I can.
"Fine," I said out loud, automatically closing my menu and bring everything back to normal speed, "If you really want to know, let's just tell everyone."
Even if doing this is the least bad option, I'm still pissed as hell at Tony for not giving me the option to come out on my own.
"You really want to involve everyone in this? I guess this is better than you and Terminator doing things on your own... JARVIS? Let the team know we are having an emergency meeting with the kiddo."
Which, considering we've only been in the lab for 15 minutes, they're probably still hanging out. I almost wonder if I should just wait till tomorrow, but not like I would be able to sleep.
"What went wrong this time?" Clint asked as we walked in, everyone else already there.
"Nothing yet. I just have something to tell all of you."
"...And last time you told us something we found out that Hydra has been in Shield since its founding," Clint continued with a sigh, the only one not taking this seriously.
Or maybe this is how he takes things seriously. I feel like Tony makes jokes to cover up his own worries, though they are a little more mean spirited.
"Yeah, well, it's related to that. I haven't exactly been honest with how I knew all that," I started off, unable to help myself from looking at Bucky.
He looked surprised for a moment, but didn't say anything as he lowered his eyebrows and frowned. For a second I thought about resetting just to tell Bucky about my fake past life, but that would just be delaying it.
"What changed to make you want to tell us this now?" Natasha asked, face not giving much away, but I swore her eyes darted to Tony for a moment.
Not too surprising Natasha managed to figure out that Tony is the reason. Or at least the catalyst for me to bring this up. And as much as I want to complain about Tony's complete disregard for privacy, I knew that would just cause more of a mess right now.
"Does it matter?" I asked, crossing my arms defensively.
"No it doesn't," Steve said, giving Natasha a look before turning to me and giving a weary smile, "What do you want to tell us, Lani?"
Where to start?
"I can time travel," I just blurted out before I lost what little momentive I had.
"What the fuck?"
"Legolas, you should know better than to swear in front of a kid. I am very disappointed in you-"
"Stark, shut up," Natasha said, but was looking right at me, waiting for me to continue.
Having Natasha's full attention is a little scary. Well, if this goes terribly I can always reload.
"That's how I knew Hydra was going to attack the tower today. They didn't succeed in getting Bucky that time, but I'm guessing Zola came up the idea to tell the whole world about the winter soldier in order for the avenger to give him up and... I couldn't let that happened, so I went back to this morning and we came up with the plan to get Hydra get us to figure out where they were operating from."
There was more I needed to say, but I waited to see how everyone would take it. Natasha's expression didn't change, but Bruce looked confused and Clint...
"Nat, don't tell me you're believing this? Aliens, Hydra, and brainwashing is one thing, but time travel?"
"Lani, is this how you knew Pierce was part of Hydra as well?" Natasha asked instead of answering Clint's question, still with an unreadable expression on her face.
"Yeah, we had a few close calls with Hydra and I would have to...go back. I'm not physically going back in time, like I do when I teleport. As far as I can tell it's just my memories being sent back and I don't know how exactly..."
"I figured it's tied to her localized wormhole," Tony added smugly, like now is the time to figure it out.
"Bucky, you knew about this?" Steve asked, and I realized he was being uncharacteristically quiet.
"Yes. Lani told me almost a year after we escaped Hydra. When she found out about the trigger words."
Right. I guess I did imply that was how I knew about the words when I told Bucky about reloading.
"I usually can only go back to the last time I was asleep or unconscious, but-"
"Usually? What do you mean by that?" Natasha demanded to know, raising an eyebrow.
"I'm getting to that," I said a little too harshly, but it seems my time in high school drama class was paying off.
"I probably should have told you guys this sooner, but I wasn't sure how and I planned on just waiting till Thor was back. Anyways, it doesn't really matter why I waited. There was this... sorcerer wizard dude named Doctor Strange who was able to enhance my time travel powers so that I could go back from 2019 to when I first became aware of my powers in 2008 since 50% of all life in the universe was destroyed."
There was a moment of silence where I had the distinct thought that, maybe I should have explained that better, before people erupted.
"There's wizards now?"
"Did you say 2019?"
"What do you mean 50% of all life was destroyed?"
"Did you say the guys name was Doctor Strange?"
"Everyone calm down!" Steve yelled before I could even attempt to answer everyone's questions.
Steve then turned to me, face completely in Captain America mode, but he still tried to smile at me before asking, "Lani can you explain that a little more? What happened before you were sent back?"
I took a deep breath, hoping that semi-lying to everyone wasn't going to bite me in the butt later. I just need to keep it close enough to the truth.
"I don't know everything since I wasn't actually there, but saw it on tv and from what I understand the scepter that Loki used and the... tesseract?... The Blue cube space portal thing is part of a set of magical space rocks called the infinity stone. And there is this alien named Thanos who collected them all and used their power to kill off exactly half of all life."
"Are you kidding me? There are more brainwashing staves out there?" Clint complained, dramatically flopping on the nearby couch.
"They're not staves, and I believe they all have their unique ability," I said, trying to remember them all, and if it was even a good idea to tell them right now.
"Dr. Strange had the time stone, which might be why he was able to help me," I added on in hopes it made my story more believable.
Pretty sure Dr. Strange is a normal doctor right now, but he does exist. Or should exist. For all I know he could be another difference between this universe and the movie one.
"For now I'll just assume everything you're saying is true, but does this mean Loki was working with this Thanos guy?" Tony asked, and just then I noticed how stressed he looked.
Not that I've seen what a well rested Tony looked like, but since being in the lab alone with him, it was like it was cranked up to 11.
"I think so? I definitely remember reading something about how the Chitauri were part of Thanos' army."
"Hang on, you're telling me that this guy already has thousands of war space ships?" Tony yelled as he paced, only to pivot and turn to me, "Why didn't you tell us this before?!"
I knew someone was going to ask me that, but also...
"Sorry, do you have a spaceship that can go thousands of light years in less than ten years? Not to mention I have no idea where in fucking space he is, and the only person who might be able to find him and go to him is Thor, who isn't on this planet right now!"
This was why I was ignoring the Thanos issue. There isn't much that can be done right now.
"I think it might be best to stop for the night. This is a lot to think about," Bruce suddenly said, almost sounding like he was whispering with all the yelling that was going on.
"It's not that late-" Tony tried to argue but then Natasha stood up.
"I need to take a bath."
"We also need to get ready to take another Hydra base tomorrow morning. Going to bed early and continuing this talk after we get back would be in everyone's best interest," Steve said, even though Natasha looked like she was going to walk out no matter what.
"Fine. I'll be in my workshop if anyone needs me."
Then it was just me, Steve, and Bucky left in the room. Maybe it would be a good idea to talk to Bucky alone, but I was tired.
"I'm going to bed," I lied, and walked to my room since I was still dangerously low on SP.
There I changed into my pajamas and turned on the news to see if I really did change enough to keep Hydra from publicly outing the Winter soldier.
"Never thought I would see the day where you're de-escalating a fight," Bucky commented as he watched Lani go to her room.
There was no way she was going to be sleeping tonight, even though the kid looked like she had been awake for a week.
"Never thought I would have to deal with time travel," Steve said with a weary smile, dropping the strong captain act for a moment.
This is why I didn't want you going to war, punk.
There was history behind that thought that Bucky didn't know yet, but he remembered enough to not tell Steve. Instead, he just reached over and clasped a hand on Steve's shoulder.
"Welcome to the future, punk."
"Ok, that was funny the first time. Now you're just milking it."
Bucky smiled even though he still didn't remember that trip to the Stark Expo completely. It made Steve happy, and annoyed which is even better.
"I'm going to check on Lani, but you should take your own advice and go to bed early."
"I will once I finish up the briefing," Steve said, finally shrugging off Bucky's hand, but he didn't step away before asking, "Is Lani okay? She looked a bit..."
"That's what I'm going to go find out."
Bucky is aware that Lani didn't tell him everything. He never asked since at first he didn't care, and later he realized that it would be better for Lani to tell him when she was ready. The fact that she lived a whole life until 2019 then went back wasn't what he was expecting, but it also made too much sense.
"Let me know if you need any support."
"Sure thing. See you in the morning."
Bucky made sure to knock on the door once before entering. The TV was on some news channel, but the volume was low. Lani was lying on her back staring at the ceiling before turning her head to him.
"Uh, just you?"
"I can leave if you were planning on sleeping."
"Not yet. I want to make sure this all turns out ok," Lani said, her eyes flickering to the tv and back a few times before deciding to say something.
"Sorry I didn't tell you everything beforehand. I just wanted to deal with Hydra first and... I guess I didn't really want to think about my own past."
Bucky made his way over to the bed and sat down on the corner of it before saying, "You don't need to apologize. There's nothing wrong with wanting to keep personal things to yourself, but I am proud of you for finally letting others help."
"Argh, I don't even know if telling everyone was a good idea," Lani complained as she covered her face with her hands.
Bucky did agree. Getting rid of Hydra seemed like an impossible goal, he can't even imagine dealing with an alien trying to destroy all of life. Or 50% of life. Not something they can really deal with. No bases they can take down or Hydra operatives in Shield that can be weeded out.
Not to mention that apparently, Lani knew about this before they even met.
"You said you came from 2019? So you would have been 15," Bucky realized suddenly.
Which is a weird thought. Lani doesn't really act like what little he remembers of his sisters, but she's always been a little kid to him. Not a teenager, or even young adult if he added the 3 years Lani relived.
"I guess. It's... like, I remember my past life, but no muscle memory is carried through which makes me wonder how much of me really comes back each time I reset. Is it just my memories? How much of what makes me 'me' is dependent on my brain chemicals vs. life experience?" Lani muttered, still not removing her hands from covering her face, but Bucky still heard what she said.
"I might be able to relate to some of that. At least the part about having an identity crisis about having memories is what makes you, you."
"Oh," Lani finally turned enough to look at him, "I didn't think of it like that. I mean, we have the opposite problem of you not having enough memories and me having too much but, yeah...sounds like a question philosophers would debate about."
"Maybe you can be a philosopher when you grow up this time around."
"I don't think so. I like it when you can test your answers, not just debate."
Bucky hummed in agreement as he watched the news channel talk about the clean up of New York.
A/N: Sorry this chapter took so long to get out. Real life has been chaotic, but in a better way than last year. I graduated, been doing an online internship, and moved back with my parents.
Thank you everyone who had followed/favorited/reviewed this story! I keep every review in my email until I get the newest chapter out so I can read it as motivation.
I did watch Loki, and I'm very sad that it's too late to get Lani involved that that stuff. I might to non-canon short were the TVA gets involved, but for how imagine that this story takes place after season 1.
Also, I'm pretty sure I will break this story in 2 parts, with a mini story between them. If I do that, then this fic will end when Iron man 2 events end and dark world begins.
Let me know your thoughts! Hope you all have a good morning/night!