Of Stolen Hearts and Silver Tongues Chapter Two: My best friend got super powers and spent six years in space with amnesia and all I got was an extra helping of trauma
Story Summary: What if Loki was enamoured with Earth and had a secret life on Midgard, including an entire lineage of secret identities where everyone on the family tree was a version of themself? One alias in particular decides that MIT would be the perfect place for her to experiment with attending Midgardian college, and Columbia would be a fantastic choice for a PhD.
Note: This is chapter two. Make sure you don’t miss out on Chapter One: Loki has her Cher Horowitz moment. Happy reading!
Author’s note: Hey y’all!!! I am happy to see that there is a decent chunk of people interested in this weird little AU I’m building. I’m very #SorryNotSorry about how I ended the last chapter, as you will see based on how this chapter plays out. Fair warning to readers that this fic really isn’t my main priority right now as I am much more focused on Snap Back to the Past. Still, this is an AU after my own heart, so I’m going to keep working on it when the mood strikes!
By the by I know next to nothing about the army. I know nothing about planes. I know nothing about engineering. Like at all in the slightest. So there will undoubtedly be errors because I have no idea how any of it works and I am making absolutely everything up as I go along 😂
Also I absolutely updated the first version of this chapter to AO3 from my phone in a cafe because I have no chill lol. So I apologize that it went up to the website late. I don’t have a beta… partially because I haven’t found someone I work with well and partially because no one could handle being my betas. 😂
October 1st 1962: Carol Susan Jane Danvers is born
January 3rd 1963: Maria Rambeau is born.
February 12th 1969: James Rhodes is born
December 18th 1970: Robert Bruce Banner is born
May 29th 1974: Anthony Edward Stark is born
December 17th 1974: “Lois Fredrickson” is “born”
July 19th 1976: Stephen Vincent Strange is born
August 1987: James Rhodes begins at MIT at age 18
August 1988: Tony Stark begins at MIT at age 14
August 1988: Bruce Banner begins at Harvard at age 18
June 22nd 1989: Mar-Vell is assassinated and Carol gains powers from the energy core created by the tesseract. She then lives on Hala for six years believing that she is Kree.
August 1990: “Lois Fredrickson” begins at MIT at age 16
March 15th 1991: Howard and Maria Stark are assassinated by the Winter Soldier and it is covered up as a car accident.
June 1991: Tony Stark graduates summa cum laude from MIT at age 17 and Rhodey at 22
July 1991: Rhodey begins Air Force training in their engineering sector in New Jersey.
August 1991: Stephen Strange starts at Harvard University at age 15
June 1992: Bruce Banner graduates from Harvard at age 22 summa cum laude
August 1992: Bruce Banner starts at Culver University
June 1994: “Lois Fredrickson” graduates from MIT summa cum laude “at age 19”
June 1994: Stephen Strange graduates from Harvard at age 17
August 1994: “Lois” and Stephen start at Columbia at ages 19 and 18 respectively.
April 1995: Clueless is released*
May 1995: Tony Stark becomes CEO of Stark Industries
June 1995: Carol returns to Earth
Chapter Two: My best friend got super powers and spent six years in space with amnesia and all I got was an extra helping of trauma
Maria Rambeau was not an easy woman to shake. She kept herself composed and in control, because she had no other option. She knew that Carol struggled with being a woman in the Air Force, but Maria for Maria it was almost a whole other ball game. As a Black woman, and especially as a single mother almost every facet of her existence was questioned. And the fact that she wanted to be an Air Force pilot? To be a part of the military? It was so far afield from what anyone expected or wanted from her that it was almost laughable.
Yet what was happening now… this was almost too much, even for her.
Maria was incredibly proud of who she was and what she had accomplished. Yet she knew that she could not have gotten as far as she did without the support of those around her and the support of her community. There were many who did not wish for her to succeed, true, but there were also many people in her corner, people who were eager to see her thrive. Maria did not enjoy being dependent on others, but asking for help was not dependence, it was knowing her strengths and weaknesses, and leaning on others just as they leaned on her.
When Carol was taken — and Maria refused to believe that she was dead, not without a body, which means that someone had taken her best friend — part of Maria had wanted to fall apart. She did not, because Maria Rambeau was not the sort of woman who fell apart. She did not have that luxury, not when she had to be a mother, not when she had to be an example, not when she was constantly criticized for every emotion she dared show in a professional setting.
So no, Maria did not fall apart. Carol was going to come back, and when she did, she would need her, like she always did. The two of them always, always had each other’s backs, and that had never changed.
As Maria continued on, she made new friends and acquaintances, new connections, though no one that she knew as well as Carol. Women were still not allowed on the front lines of the air force, though as someone who had grown to know every plane like the back of her hand — she had learned a lot from Dr. Lawson, and she also had an engineering degree of her own even before joining the air force — she often worked with the men who were new recruits.
By pure chance, Maria was assigned to work with a young recruit, fresh out of MIT with an engineering degree he had achieved with honors, to show him the ropes on repairing some of the older planes in their possession. James Rhodes was one of the few people who did not seem to treat her any differently due to her gender, and they became fast friends. Much to her surprise, she found herself inviting him over for dinner, and that was when it all started.
“So you went over to her house for dinner, huh?”
“Tones, it’s not like that,” Rhodey rolled his eyes at his friend, not that Tony could see, given the fact that he was talking to him over the phone.
“Not like what?” Tony asked innocently.
“Maria is just a friend.” Rhodey replied firmly. “I don’t see her that way. And I’m pretty sure she doesn’t see me that way either.” He paused before continuing. “I think she might not actually like men at all, to be honest. I have never heard her mention anyone, past or present, and I seem to be the only man she can stand, including all the people we work with.”
“Honeybear, you’re really not helping your case, you’re making it stronger,” Tony replied in a pitying tone of voice. “Besides, that doesn’t mean she hates all men. It means the other men you work with are assholes, which you’ve told me yourself that you can’t stand any of them either.”
“Look, it’s none of your business, so I’m not going to go into detail but she has a ‘friend’ okay? Someone who she was very close to, and who went missing a couple years ago. Her daughter could hardly stop talking about her when I asked who was in the picture, since I saw the same woman in about half a dozen of them around the house. I got curious. And there are almost no pictures of anyone else around the house, barely any of the girl’s grandparents, and none having to do with her father. It’s like… a hole in her life. Her daughter doesn’t know any of the details, but she explained to me that higher ups appear to have covered up her friend’s disappearance and ruled her as dead, but there was no body. And argh, I don’t know why I’m even sharing all of this information I said I would keep private, you suck.”
“It’s because you love me and I’m irresistible,” Tony replied smugly. Rhodey thought he could hear the sound of laughter faintly in the background and realized Tony must be with Lois. Considering he supposedly lived in California and worked in New York he spent an awful lot of time in Massachusetts. Rhodes’s suspicions were confirmed by the fact that the next words Tony spoke were not directed at him. “I’m wounded. Actually wounded. I cannot believe you would say such things.” There was a pause and then. “You know you have an open invitation to my bed any time, the sheets are quite soft and I have incredibly fluffy pillows.” Another pause. “Well I suppose you’re right, three’s company and Jarvis isn’t always the best at keeping his cameras to himself.” Rhodey kneaded his forehead. The flirting between his two friends was egregious, how had they not figured out that they were in love with each other yet? It had been years at this point.
Done listening to one half of an increasingly flirtatious yet somehow still oblivious back and forth, Rhodey hung up the phone. He decided to call Maria and tell her about Tony and Lois being up to their bullshit again. While she had yet to meet them he had told her all about their nonsense and so she would hopefully be able to empathize. He would not be relating the fact that he and Tony had been talking about her.
Maria was not someone who felt out of sorts very often, but she did feel out of sorts when it came to James Rhodes. She was not someone who made friends easily, and yet he fit into her life easily, as though he had always been there.
He did not fill the void that Carol left, of course, but he also brought a sense of peace with him that she had not felt in a long time, not since before Carol left.
More than that, with Rhodey came two more friends in the form of Lois Frederickson, and Tony Stark. And wow was it wild to find out that the unassuming young recruit that got picked on by others in his cohort was secretly best friends with the billionaire who supplied them with the majority of their weapons and tech.
The wildest thing about the whole situation, however, was that because Rhodey was friends with Tony, that meant that she was now friends with Tony.
Sure, Tony and Lois lived in New York, but Tony the tech genius had a way to call them through a video, like something out of science fiction, and so she had actually seen their faces and interacted with them live.
Over the past few months they had grown closer, enough that when Tony decided to throw a Christmas fundraiser for Stark Industries he sent the Stark jet to pick up Rhodey, Maria, and Monica from the base in New Jersey so that the three of them could join him for the celebrations and hosted them in his Malibu mansion.
Apparently Rhodey had his own room already, but Maria and Monica were each also given their own guest rooms to sleep in. It was nicer than any hotel she had ever stayed in. At first Maria wasn’t sure that she would go, but Lous had called her privately and explained that Tony was not expecting her to miss Christmas with her family in Louisiana, but that Tony’s parents had died less than two years ago, and so this would be only his third Christmas without them. He would be spending the day itself with Rhodey and Lois and Rhodey’s family, but support from friends in the days leading up to it, especially when he had to dead with stuffy functions, was much appreciated.
Almost as strange as the experience was the fact that it was not strange. Part of Maria felt like she had known Rhodey, Tony and Lois her whole life. Monica was now calling them uncles and aunt like it was second nature. She could not remember feeling so accepted by anyone since she had Carol in her life. For the first time in nearly six years she was slowly starting to heal.
There was also the fact that she felt incredibly pleased going to her supervisor with Rhodey and asking for permission to have Tony’s plane pick them up from base since Rhodey lived there and it was only a short drive for her and Monica. After the way that she and Rhodey had been treated by many of the others on base it was satisfying to see their reactions to the two of them boardingTony Stark’s private jet.
She never liked to trade on another person’s name — Maria had too much pride for that. But there was something about knowing that so many of the stuck up white men were dying to know Tony and she counted him among one of her best friends. And he was a genuine friend. Someone that she cared about and knew well. He could be frustrating at times, him and Rhodey both, and in a way she saw them as the younger brothers she never had. The first Christmas they had together was not nearly the last.
“Excuse me, I’m looking for Maria Rambeau?” Maria’s heart stilled as she heard a voice she thought she would never hear again. She had almost forgotten what Carol sounded like, and to be honest the voice barely sounded like Carol at all. She sounded unsure, and formal. The voice that Carol used when interacting with an unknown and in potential enemy territory. Not with Maria. Never with Maria. But when she looked up at who had spoken, it was at a face she knew better than she knew her own. A face that had hardly changed at all, as if the past six years had no happened, no wrinkles or lines or any signs of age. Just… Carol. In jeans and white t-shirt. She had a baseball cap with a logo on it that Maria could not quite make out from this distance and a motorcycle jacket. It was her best friend. She had come back, and she was looking at her like she would look at a stranger.
Maria snapped back into reality and realized that Monica was hugging Carol, because of course she had recognized her. Carol had basically raised her before she left. Maria had never taken down any of the pictures, a constant reminder of her loss, though she had lately been considering it.
“I’m not who you think I am.”
And what did that mean?
Behind Carol was a man Maria had never seen before who gave off the vibe of someone who had a lot to hide and was good at it. At the same time he was also cuddling a cat, the contrast of which was off putting. Though perhaps that was the point? Maria could not think too much on it however because Carol was here and she had no idea what to say. Maria had thought for years about what she would say to Carol if she ever saw her again. Now that she finally had the opportunity, the words escaped her.
Luckily Carol was more than ready to explain her perspective. And her perspective? Was breaking Maria’s brain.
As they sat in her kitchen Maria said the first thing that came to her mind, the swear slipping out as she uncharacteristically did not even notice that Monica was still in the room. “That is the craziest shit I have ever heard.”
She had known that Carol was not dead — she had felt it in her bones. But the fact that this… Vers person was here with Carol’s voice and Carol’s face and Carols mannerisms with a side of magical alien powers and only a small handful of Carol’s memories… Maria was not sure what to do. She had wanted Carol to come back for so long, and this was Carol, but at the same time she was not. And that made things that much easier and that much harder all at once.
When it was all over — when Carol (because she was calling herself Carol again) was gone, when Fury had vanished, after she had been to fucking space — Maria was filled with dread. She felt like she had run an absolute marathon.
She was absolutely overdue for a cry, and she had a few people to call. She had fought actual aliens, been to space, almost died, and her best friend had come and gone with no sign of a desire to stick around for her despite Maria putting her neck on the line. Not that Carol properly remembered being her best friend. That woman was not her Carol. And even if she were, she was not the same Maria.
She sighed and went to her room, grabbing the phone that Tony had sent her. It was much nicer and more sophisticated than any of the other mobile phones on the market, and she figured if they were all as nice as these, everyone would want one. It was much more convenient than having it be attached to the house. Though admittedly it did not work well if she were not near one of the places that Tony had set up as a reception tower. When she had settled here, however, he had made sure to have it installed because her friend was just that extra.
…and was going to be so pissed at her for going to space and fighting aliens without him.