My Next Life as a Supervillain: All Routes Lead to Doctor Doom! (Hamefura/MCU) (2024)

Ever since the incident a year ago, Katarina has become an entirely different woman.

Before, Katarina von Doom was an ambitious, imperious, and demanding scientist. She worked long hours, expected nothing but perfection from herself and others, and scared tenured professors into submission. Some part of Reed thinks it came from trauma: from what little he's been able to gather, he knows that Katarina had a painful childhood in Latveria, to say the least.

"Reeses Puffs, Reeses Puffs…"

But now, that woman doesn't exist anymore. The Katarina bounding around in his father's New York estate is bubbly, optimistic, and clumsy. No more spirited debates, no more contempt. The doctors said it might be brain damage, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Ben thinks such a colossal failure might have broken her down, that he's seen it in some other football players.

"Eat 'em up, eat 'em up, eat 'em up, eat 'em up…"

At first, Reed was happy that his peer didn't die. Now, he mourns the death of a personality. How much of this is his fault? Of course, Katarina didn't listen to him and didn't make the corrections necessary to prevent the explosion, but if he'd just tried harder, maybe even physically stopped her from even making the attempt…

"Morning, Reed! Want me to pour you some cereal, too?"

It was the only thing he could do, offering to house her indefinitely. Ben said it was a bad idea, but Reed wouldn't be able to live with himself if someone as brilliant as her got shipped back to Europe with nothing to her name. Nothing, except a permanent black mark on her academic record.

At first, Katarina hadn't even heard his offer, on account of her migraine – Reed feels even more useless, knowing that he asked such a big question while she was still recovering. But once they were able to hash out the details, she accepted wholeheartedly, with a big grin on her bisected face. Another reminder of the stark contrast between the Katarina then and the Katarina now.

"Reed? Earth to Reed?" Katarina von Doom snaps her fingers in front of his face. "Do you want some Reeses Puffs or not?"

Reed is extruded from his thoughts by his roommate, now face-to-face with a brunette in pajamas.

"Ah, sorry, Kat," he says, rubbing his eyes with his fingers, "no thanks, I'm not hungry. Got a lot on my mind."

"Well, at least eat a banana or something. Can't start your day with an empty tank." The words still sound so foreign, coming from Doom's mouth. "Is your thesis defense still giving you trouble? I looked it over, and if nothing's changed, it should still be perfect."

Another reason why Reed doesn't believe the brain damage explanation: Katarina's genius is alive and well, able to keep up with his research, and even correct his own mistakes. She's still an intellectual equal to him. It's a small blessing, at least.

"No, it's…" Reed starts thinking up a lie on the spot, before deflating. "...I'm sorry, Katarina."

"Huh?" She garbles, through a mouthful of peanut butter-chocolate puffs, "where'd this come from?"

"I almost have my doctorate. God, I almost have that spaceship I always dreamed of as a kid, if these grants go through. But for you…" Something hitches in Reed's throat, remembering the brilliant young woman with the world at her fingertips. "...sorry. You probably don't want my pity."

"Oh. Oh! You still feel bad about that." The twenty-three year old Latverian says, more to herself than to him. "I've told you a million times, don't sweat it. That explosion was my fault, clear as day. I was being an asshole about it and paid the price. Even Ben agrees!"

"Ben shouldn't be calling you an asshole," Reed snipes back, "but still, you had so much ahead of you…"

"Hm… If that's what you're upset about…" Katarina's eyes trail downwards, as if she's internally debating something. "...I've got a super secret project going, if you wanna help me with that! Maybe it'll take your mind off the whole 'ughh, it's my fault Katarina got hurt, even though it's really not' thing you've got going on."

At that, Reed's eyebrows raise. A secret project? That more sounds like the Katarina of old. Is she…?

Before he can put any more thought into it, Katarina throws a banana at his chest, and he almost fumbles it before catching it.

"C'mon, I'll show you!"

Reed never felt the urge to stick his nose around his absentee father's property, and he's starting to regret that.

As they descend the stairs, Katarina blatantly ignores the rusted DO NOT ENTER sign on the basem*nt entrance that Reed has always respected, swinging open the once-locked door, which leads into a narrow hallway. Reed does a double-take as he sees a factory-condition vault door at the end of it, likely installed recently. It's one of the Stark Industries designs.

Katarina opens her eye for a retina scan while chewing on her Reese's Puffs. It blinks green in confirmation, and there's a pneumatic hiss as the vault opens. Reed's suspicions are confirmed: Katarina installed it herself. But why?

He's greeted by blueprints upon blueprints on various tables, and a tangled mess of wires on the ceilings, on the walls, and on the floors. The wires all lead to a glass tube, which contains… an unfinished suit of armor, far too similar to the one plastered on every news headline.

"Kat," Reed ventures cautiously, pressing a hand gently against the glass, "is that an Iron Man suit in my basem*nt?"

"I mean, kinda-sorta? This is more of a proof of concept. It's pretty similar, but I wanted to use a different power source and make some quality-of-life changes. We don't all have an Arc Reactor in our chest holes, after all."

Katarina kicks a wooden crate with her bunny slipper, snapping Reed's attention to it. It's been long since pried open, and Reed spots various machine parts inside as he approaches it.

"Your dad has the craziest stuff lying around here, so that helped immensely! I know he's a physicist from what you told me, but I'm not entirely sure what his lore is. It must be some pretty niche physics that he was into," Katarina rambles, picking up what was definitely a gun and making 'pew pew' sounds.

"I know he worked with the government for a long time," Reed can only offer, trying his hardest to recall details of his father's job while he wraps his head around all of this, "maybe this is leftover military gear."

"Neat! In any case, some of that stuff includes steel-titanium doodads, prototype arc reaction gizmos, and all sorts of army gadgets," Katarina says, throwing the gun over her shoulder and into the crate, "I slapped it all together to make this bad boy."

"...Kat. How functional is it?" Reed asks, uncertain if he wants to know the answer.

"I mean, it'll stop a home invader, but it's just a flashy cosplay with finger guns right now," she shrugs, "so, like, ten percent? It'll go real fast once I get all the good stuff I need, though."

"Finger guns," Reed repeats, mouth dry, "Katarina, did you think I'd be perfectly fine with weapon development occurring on my property?"

"...Yessss?" She ventures, blatantly lying. Unbelievable.

"I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to put a stop to this," Reed says firmly, gathering himself and looking for a circuit breaker to pull, "an Iron Man suit in active development, under my feet! I can't believe this!"

"Wait, Reed, c'mon, please!" the shortsighted scientist yelps, throwing herself into his path, "look, just, calm down –"

"I'm very calm, you're the one who decided to replicate the shiny new Stark toy –" He counters, trying to sidestep her.

"...And that's the problem, Richards!" Katarina snaps, glowering imperiously at him.

She's in his face now, and he'd almost forgotten how tall she is. How the light catches in her eyes, whenever she's angry. Reed sees a fire in her glare that hasn't been lit in a year, the same flame that made her both entrancing and infuriating to work with.

"How many millennia of warfare technology, and the latest development in modern history is the Iron Man. An air-and-land infantry unit recorded at fighter jet speeds that can survive an Arc Reactor explosion. All this, followed by the biggest arms dealer in the world advocating for peace, love, rainbows – what does that mean?" Katarina rants, gesturing an arm wildly at her armor. Reed can feel its eye-slits staring into his soul.

"Military privatization," he answers honestly, his mind racing through military history, global socioeconomics, and technological theory, "a departure from bullets as a projectile, the renaissance of the infantry unit as the premiere killing machine."

"It'll replace everything in time. The police, the army, the air force…" Katarina posits, but Reed continues.

"But that's besides the point. Do you plan on starting your own arms manufacturing company, now that Stark's out of the running? Starting a PMC, or selling the design to someone else? You're a woman of science, Doom, not…!"

"I just don't want to die, okay?!" Katarina blurts, her voice crackling a bit. Reed's lips set into a thin line, silenced.

"If I can make this, if we can keep ahead of the timeline – I-I mean, ahead of the curve, then I can help people. Keep myself safe. Keep you safe." She admits softly, her shoulders slouching. "I don't want to be some supervillain – even though that's what it'll look like. I just… the world is changing, and I just want to help."

And now, Reed sees the whole picture. Katarina was ruined by her own ambition, her need to be something greater. That need is still there – why else would anyone work secretly to replicate the latest technological marvel? – but is backed by a trauma-induced fear of death, and a prophetic flash of genius.

He should still stop this. It can't be healthy to focus your efforts on creating a weapon, and bettering it at that. And the talk of villainy is concerning, if not somewhat cartoonish. Not to mention, she's a genuine idiot for thinking any of this would be fine. Forget his own moral objections: there was the matter of the government, and any company like Stark Industries who'd want this technology under lock and key.

But Reed is nothing if not a bleeding heart, and right now, all he sees is his only equal trying to regain her former glory. Or rather, rebuild a new body to replace the old. An armor, to hide away her scars and her hurt.

Damn it all, he shouldn't do this.

"...sh*t. Alright, fine, but we're playing by my rules," he says quickly, trying to tamper down her rising excitement, "no patenting this, no selling the design to anyone, I am going to look through every design change –"

"Awww, yeah! I got Dr. Reed Richards himself to greenlight the Doom suit! Let's gooooo!" Katarina cheers and cackles, bouncing on the secret laboratory walls.

"– Katarina, listen when I'm setting down rules! And I'm not a doctor yet! Look, I'm going to give you a list of acceptable energy sources – please, listen...!"

Later that night, while staring down a whiteboard scribbled with insane literature references and materials that Katarina said were essential, Reed downs a shot of whiskey and makes a phone call.

"Ben? Once I'm done with this thesis, we're going on that so-called 'rager' you offered," Reed sighs, "Doom's at it again."

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My Next Life as a Supervillain: All Routes Lead to Doctor Doom! (Hamefura/MCU) (2024)
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