Snap Back to the Past AKA the Infinity Stones Decide to Adopt Tony Stark Chapter Two: Strange Magic
Story Summary: The Infinity Stones decide that they don’t appreciate being snapped to destruction and that it isn’t time for their favorite human to rest quite yet. An unlikely group of six is sent back in time to fix the universe before Thanos gets a chance to break it.
Note: This is chapter two, but there is a prologue! Make sure you start with Snap Back to the Past AKA the Infinity Stones Adopt Tony Stark Prologue: The Infinity Stones Adopt Tony Stark. Happy Reading!
Author’s Note: Listen, I DO NOT HAVE WORDS AT THIS POINT. The way that you all have been responding to this story has got me so deep in my feeeeeeeeeeeeeels. It is causing an existential crisis. It is giving Bad Bitch energy but also crying in a corner. I feel honored that so many people are enjoying this work! I am sick and delighted all at once.
A big #SorryNotSorry from me about how I ended the last chapter. My man Tony is having a rough time at the moment but he will push through. First comes the angst, then comes the healing! Canon was not kind to him which means that I must also be a bit cruel before I can gift him with all the good things he deserves.
Speaking of good things, this is the chapter that brings us my main man Loki! Ayyyyyyyyyy we out here! We’re doing it babes! We’re fixing the timeline. THE TVA CAN’T TELL ME NOTHING! I DON’T MAKE THE RULES I BREAK THEM! SUCK ON THAT KANG! Remember this is a rewind of the Infinity Saga the Multiverse Saga is ✨irrelevant ✨ in this house and we pretend not to see it unless I find something shiny and so I use it as is my wont.
Loki’s the main reason I’m posting this chapter earlier than I planned. I just posted my chapter Thor: The Dark World (Loki’s Version) on my other fic and I made myself cry because I keep hurting myself when I hurt my man and so I needed him to have some nice things!!
Also!! when I say main man I mean that in the most genderfuckery sort of way, Loki is a fellow gender fluid bestie and there will be lots of fem!Loki and instances of Loki having a fluid presentation and me using a variety of pronouns because I’m too classy to be touched I pay them all in dust I’m stingy with my love Ooh, baby, I’m U-N-I-Q-U-E (unique)
This is all besides the point! This is a shorter chapter than the last one, but just as important. Let’s make some ✨ magic ✨ and see what Asgard has in store.
Chapter Two: Strange Magic
When Loki awoke it was to a scene very familiar to her.
She was in the palace gardens with her mother, and they were practicing magic. The two of them had done this often throughout the centuries, as she had been her primary teacher throughout her life. Even after nearly a millennial she still had so much to learn. It was part of why she had felt her loss to keely. She had lost her mother, her friend, her teacher. The only one who had truly understood her. When she sailed off into Valhalla part of her heart — a not insignificant part — had sailed with her.
So she was not surprised that the afterlife had led her to Frigga. It was a memory that she found himself in, she believed. It was soon before Thor’s coronation, by only a few cycles.
This was one of the few happy days leading up to it, as she and Frigga prepared an elaborate gift made out of pure seidr to give to her brother. It surprised her that she still considered Thor her brother, but she truly did. Loki had told Thor that the sun would shine on them again, and yet she did not even know what he meant by that. It was not as though she expected to escape death by Thanos’ hands at that point. It was something to give Thor hope in a dark time, but perhaps it was cruel of her to do so.
Still, if this was Hel, he did not think it so bad.
It was only a moment’s time after she started to acclimate to being inside the memory that she realized that something was off. Even though she was playing her part, there was something… strange. It was not just a memory that she found herself in. As she became more accustomed to the reality around her she realized that it truly felt like reality. Was this another trick by Thanos? But no, the man had not yet held the reality stone when he took the tesseract from them. And why would he encase Loki in such a pleasant dream, a time before everything had gone so wrong?
And yet Loki could feel it, could feel the solidity of reality around her, could feel the fact that she was in a body that felt younger, not just in years, but in spirit. It was though she was encroaching on her younger self, and yet she could feel another set of memories pressing on her mind, one that she had seemingly overwhelmed when he “landed” so to speak. She stilled in the magical working she was undertaking and she felt it fall. It was the oddest sensation, as she felt two kinds of seidr warring within her, as if there were two cores in one body, two ages, two Loki’s of differing levels of experience and knowledge.
Suddenly Frigga was there, at her side, and she looked into her eyes,
There was no speech between them, but they did not need it. Long ago they had perfected the art of speaking between the minds. It was not something they did often, because it took a strong toll on the magic one’s seidr and extracted a heavy price, making oneself weary. It was almost impossible to hold up other spells at the same time if they delved deep enough, farther than surface thoughts, and with the way that Loki’s mind was melting down it was clear that Frigga needed to delve to that deeper level in order to reach her fractured thoughts.
Loki, my daughter. Breathe with me. Breathe…
Loki took deep breaths. And when she looked at her, she suddenly knew that this, wherever this was, was not Hel. And it was not the present she had existed either. Her mother, who knew more magic and knew more about seidr than she ever could, however seemed to have a tighter grasp on the situation.
It appears that we have traveled to the past, from the moment of our deaths to approximately five cycles before your brother’s failed coronation. I know not how or why, but I sense the influence of the infinity stones.
Loki’s mind stuttered to a halt, to the extent that it was functioning in the first place. Traveling back in time? And yet with startling clarity she realized that it was the thing that made the most sense, to the extent that any of this made sense. How it had happened, why they had gotten this second chance… she knew that objectively it mattered, objectively they needed to find out why, find out who else might have also made the journey… At the same time she was filled with so much overwhelming joy and relief at the idea of a second chance that she was not sure that she could bring herself to care.
The two of them quickly finished the task of creating Thor’s gift — a simple endeavor considering this was not actually the first time they had done so — before retiring to take supper in Loki’s room. They did not dare speak of the future, or of Loki’s panic attack until they were safely ensconced in his room.
“What happened to you, my son?” Frigga asked softly. “What happened, after the Dark Elves came?”
Loki slowly began to recount all that had transpired. How he had been released from the dungeons, supposedly only temporarily, in order to aid Thor against the Dark Elves. How he had nearly died on Svartalfheim, and used the opportunity to fake his death. How he had assumed the form of an Einherjar once healed, how Odin had in a surprising turn of events given him the throne with the caveat that he pretend to be him while the Allfather spent his retirement on Midgard. Loki, in Odin’s form, had actually been a surprisingly good ruler, though he had hated the role.
Over time many throughout the realm caught on to the fact that he was not Odin — his mannerisms were simply far too different. Yet no one called him out, or tried to dethrone him, returning Odin to his rightful place. The truth of the matter was that many of the people of Asgard did not like Odin as Allfather. This new person wearing Odin’s face — who many suspected to be Loki — was much preferred.
Thor eventually came back and revealed Loki to be playing the role, but none of them were truly shocked. At that point, Thor and Heimdall were truly the only people upset about it. Sif and the Warrior’s Three were also not particularly pleased, but, like Heimdall, they had been stripped of their titles and accused of treason. Loki (as Odin) did not even need to make up an excuse to do so, with the four of them having provided such glorious examples and evidence for themselves.
No doubt, had Odin actually been himself the four of them would not have been treated thus, but since he had given up the throne and exiled himself to earth his opinion did not matter. Then Hela came, and everything went to shit. The carefully laid plans and alliances that Loki had been making with other realms — including reparations to Jotunheim, and soothing old wounds over the realms that Odin had ruled by force for centuries — went up in the flames of Ragnarok. New Asgard set sail for Midgard because any other realm would have no mercy on the Asgardians who had subjugated them for so long.
Loki took the tesseract, his fatal mistake, and gave it up to save Thor. Only to die with the hand of Thanos wrapped around his neck.
When he finished telling his tale, Loki’s voice was hoarse. He had been speaking for what felt like hours as it all came out. He registered the fact that at some point he had crawled into Frigga’s arms in the way that he had not since he was but only a few centuries old, and flushed with embarrassment.
Still, he did not leave her embrace. He was filled with tension and panic all through having told the story, grief overwhelming him, but also joy and shock at the fact that somehow none of it had happened yet. The panic began to rise within him as he once again started to doubt the reality he found himself in, and wondered whether he was being driven to madness in an impossible dream. The kind of torture where he was being offered something too perfect before having it taken away.
He registered a kiss from Frigga on his brow and the murmur soothing words into his ear, not quite able to discern their meaning. Almost involuntarily, Loki found himself relaxing again. She must have used a calming spell on him, and he could not find it in him to be upset about her not first asking for his consent.
His mind was completely fractured and she had been his primary healer and caretaker his whole life, someone he had previously given blanket permission to cast those sorts of spells on him in emergency situations. Being cast into the past and having an existential crisis certainly seemed to qualify.
Stephen was sitting in a cozy cafe with Christine when it happened. She was breaking up with him, again. Not that he was surprised. He would never win boyfriend of the year award. He was not even really listening to her as she explained the reasons why, as he already knew them all. Electric light orchestra was playing over the radio.
And he had been here before.
Dr. Stephen Strange had never been what one would call ordinary, but throughout his life he had gone through trials and tribulations that were almost impossible for many to contemplate. Losing the use of his hands was a small matter compared to his battle with Dormammu. That was when he learned the true meaning of pain, the true meaning of what it was to lose oneself and to continue despite that loss. Stephen had no idea how many times he had died, for in that battle he had lost the thread of what it meant to experience time.
He and the time stone learned together, became one with each other, as he spent every death expanding his knowledge of magic, learning from the stone that knew so much and that kept him in the loop of life and death. His desperation to save the earth is what drove him to create the bargain with Dormammu, but in the process Stephen had lost some of himself, and gained a connection that few others, perhaps only Agamotto themself,, had ever had.
This power was what enabled him to look forward into the over fourteen billion futures wherein he experienced what it would be to win against Thanos. He had lied of course when he said there was only one future in which they had “won” against the Titan. There were many versions of what it might have been like, and in the many futures he had seen there were several where things could have gone any which way. The fact of the matter was that the best futures were the ones where the avengers thought that their chances were slim, that the stakes were impossibly high.
He knew that in every timeline that he gave up the time stone he was judged harshly for it. And yet Thanos almost always acquired it whether or not Stephen gave it voluntarily, and if he controlled the circumstances he ensured that Tony and the other heroes would be alive to stop Thanos later. As with everything Stephen did, this was a calculated risk.
Stephen’s mind had trouble contemplating all the lives he had lived at this point, the futures he had seen. Some he rejected outright, not bothering to look too closely once he determined that they were unfavorable. Others… others he lingered in, wistful. Because while he knew that he was still on Titan, that things were still held in the balance, there was much that occurred in those futures that held an allure for Stephen. Other times the allure was so strong that Stephen left those futures with nothing but pain in his heart at what could not be.
When he returned to Titan, returned to battle, it was a pain hard to swallow. As was the devastation and betrayal in the eyes of Tony. Someone who he considered a friend, a lover, an enemy, and who knew him as only a stranger.
“Stephen, are you even listening to me?”
Suddenly he was snapped back to the present, and to Christine. He could sense the residual energy of the time stone around him, familiar enough with its energy, though he could tell it was not on his person. Extensive experience with the mystic arts and with having assimilated billions of lifetimes allowed him to isolate the fact that he was in a younger body, and that he was in a solid plane of reality.
Most likely he had been transplanted into an alternative reality and was assimilated with a younger self. A quick evaluation of his memories showed that they aligned perfectly with his home universe and so it stood to reason that he was in a closely affiliated timeline strand in the multiverse.
“No, I wasn’t.” Stephen replied truthfully. “I’ve never listened to you Christine. Not properly, not like you deserved. I’ve been a terrible partner and a terrible friend, almost the entire time we’ve known each other.” He smiled ruefully.
“Goodness knows why you’ve ever put up with me.” He sighed and ran his hands through his hair. “It’s clear that our relationship was doomed from the start. But I’d like to be a better friend to you. I know I’ve done nothing to deserve you giving me another chance at being your friend. I have the feeling that if they awarded asshole of the year awards I’d be taking home the gold trophy.” He sighed.
“But I want to be better. I want to stop being so dependent on you as my only friend, and I definitely don’t want to lose you as my only friend.” He stopped, realizing that he was rambling, and if there was one thing that Stephen Strange did not do it was ramble.
Christine stared at him open-mouthed for a few moments before speaking. “Who are you and what did you do with Stephen Strange?”
Oh, I’m never gonna be the same again,
now I’ve seen the way it’s got to end,
sweet dream, sweet dream.
oh, what a strange magic,
oh, it’s a strange magic.
Got a strange magic,
got a strange magic.
Next Chapter: If heaven’s grief brings hell’s rain, I’ll trade all of my tomorrows for just one yesterday. We meet the final two of infinity’s chosen! More angst for Tony. Stephen encounters an old friend.
My goal is to upload on Tuesday or Wednesday but I am unpredictable at the best of times. Might end up being Monday or Friday instead. Or maybe Thursday. Who knows!
“People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually — from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint — it’s more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly… timey-wimey… stuff.”