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Avenger’s Tower, 2033
Morning

Clint Barton ran a hand over his bearded face, staring at the machine. It had taken them years to get to this point, but they were ready.

It had started off as a crude comment Sam had made a few years back. He and the new Captain America had met for coffee while Sam was in town. Sam had made an off handed comment about how he wished that they could’ve have beaten some sense into Tony and Steve before The Accords situation and stopped Thanos a lot sooner. He’d only meant it as wishful thinking, but Sam’s comment had gotten Clint thinking.

The next day, he had called Scott and gotten in contact with the smartest person in the world after Bruce: Hank Pym. After Clint had told him his idea, Pym had told him that it was possible, but he’d need the best engineer in the world. So Clint had then reached out to Fury, who had put him in contact with a SHIELD agent named Leopold Fitz. Although Fitz had been reluctant to help, after some encouragement from his wife Jemma, Fitz had agreed.

Now that he had the mechanical part of the equation down, Clint still needed the magical part. So he had tracked down Stephen Strange and told him his plan. Strange had been very reluctant to help, but Clint would not give up without a fight. Clint had spent months persuading Strange to help with little success. Clint had just about given up when Strange looked into the future and suddenly decided to help. When Clint had asked what changed his mind, Strange had only given him one vague answer.

Nevertheless, Clint was grateful. Too many lives had been lost, Natasha and Tony’s among them. Some, like Steve and Thor, had lost their way and run to something familiar. If there was a chance, no matter how small, it could be undone; Clint would fight like hell to make it happen.

“Are you ready?” Strange asked as he walked up behind the former Hawkeye.

“I don’t know, but I need to try,” Clint said, looking over at Strange. “You know, you never did tell me why you changed your mind.”

“I saw a glimpse into the future. What I saw…made this necessary,” Strange said cryptically and Clint nodded, accepting that he would not get any more out of Strange.

“Are you ready?” Fitz asked as he walked in and Clint nodded.

“As ready as I’ll ever be,” Clint said before turning to Strange. “Do it.”

Avengers Tower, 2016
Morning

Tony Stark was in his lab, going over some schematics when he stopped, staring at a picture of Pepper Potts. As he became lost in a sea of regret, he glanced down as he heard a hissing noise. An orange circle opened up and he fell through it.

Avengers Compound

Wanda Maximoff was in her room, lightly playing her guitar when the same orange circle opened up and swallowed her.

Natasha Romanoff was training in the training room when another one swallowed her.

Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson were in Steve’s room, discussing a new lead on Bucky Barnes when they to were swallowed by the glowing circle.

Vision and James Rhodes, better known as Rhodey, were in the kitchen when they were swallowed as well.

Barton Farm

Clint Barton was practicing some archery in the barn, which had become his own personal space once he’d retired, when he was swallowed by a circle as well.

San Francisco

Scott Lang whistled as he walked towards his car, on his way to pick up his daughter when, with a yelp, he saw swallowed by the orange circle.

Queens

Peter Parker was walking through his apartment, on his way to the bus when was swallowed by the orange circle.

Wakanda

T’Challa, the Black Panther and future king of Wakanda, was walking through the halls, on his way to training when he too was swallowed by the orange circle.

Distant planet, far from earth

Thor Odinson was about to leave the planet he’d been on after accomplishing his recent mission when he fell through the orange circle.

Avengers Tower, 2033

As one, the orange circles opened up and all them fell to the floor, all of them landing painfully.

“Ugg, what happened?” Tony asked as he pulled himself up.

“Tony?” Steve asked surprised.

“Cap?” Tony asked as he looked around, seeing all his teammates there.

“My friends!” Thor greeted. “I’m so glad to see you all!”

“Hey Thor,” Natasha greeted as she looked around. “Where are we?”

“I think we’re in the tower,” Clint said after a moment.

“Tick Tack?” Sam asked as he spotted Scott.

“Hey,” Scott waved awkwardly. “I hear you’ve been looking for me.”

At this point, Scott spotted Steve and walked over, in awe.

“Wow, you’re Captain America!” Scott exclaimed as he went fell fanboy.

“Mr. Lang,” Steve said politely, holding his hand out to Scott and Scott shook it.

“Wow, it’s an honor to meet you. And I’m shaking your hand really long,” Scott said, dropping his hand as he realized this as everyone else watched amused.

While this was going on, Peter was in awe of, well, everyone. He was a kid, in a room full of gods and legends. Forgive him for being a little overwhelmed.

“Hey, why is there a kid here?” Rhodey asked as he spotted Peter and Peter gulped as they all turned to him.

“Hi everyone. I’m Peter, Peter Parker. Huge fan,” Peter said awkwardly.

“What are you doing here son?” Steve inquired kindly.

“I don’t know, I was walking to the bus when some orange circle opened up and spit me out here,” Peter said a little intimidated by being addressed by Captain America.

“The same thing happened to me,” T’Challa spoke as he looked around at them. “I assume the same thing happened to all of you as well?”

“Yes your highness,” Natasha spoke up and T’Challa nodded.

“Someone brought us here,” Thor noted.

“But why?” Wanda wondered.

“To change the future.”

They all turned around and saw a man with dark, greying hair wearing a red cape with some sort of amulet around his neck walk in.

“Doctor Stephen Strange,” Strange said and Tony’s eyes widened.

“I remember you. You’re the surgeon who couldn’t do surgery anymore of a car accident,” Tony said and Strange nodded.

“Indeed I am. I found that I was meant for much more,” Strange said as, with a flick of his finger, they were all in a room, everyone but Strange sitting down.

Tony, Rhodey, and Vision were on a couch on the left of the room. Next to them, Thor and T’Challa sat on a loveseat and not far from them, Steve, Sam, and Natasha were on a couch. Finally, Clint, Wanda, and Peter were on a third couch on the other side of the room.

“So earth has wizards now,” Thor noted.

“The correct term is Sorcerer Supreme,” Strange corrected.

“So you’re the one who brought us here?” Natasha asked and Strange nodded.

“You’ve been brought seventeen years into the future,” Strange announced to their shock. “In two years’ time, a threat bigger than anything you have ever faced before will come to earth. You win, but just barely. Half the people in this room don’t survive. Others are broken by those events beyond repair. I brought you here to make sure you don’t make the same mistakes.”

Suddenly, a television set appeared behind Strange.

“You will witness the future. You all make mistakes, because you don’t trust each other. That is your downfall. You need to trust each other. I’m giving you the chance to learn from your mistakes. Don’t let me down.”

Strange then swept from the room, leaving them all stunned from a moment.

“So…do we believe him?” Scott asked after a moment.

“I do,” Steve said confidently.

“I do as well,” Thor said. “Wizards are not to be taken lightly. I say we do as the wizard says.”

“Okay,” Tony said, Steve and Thor’s words seeming to sway most of them. “So how do we…”

Tony stopped as a remote suddenly appeared in his hand.

“Okay. Well, here we go I guess,” Tony muttered as pressed a button and the TV started.

Chapter Text

In the lab, Barton stood, watching the security feed of the viewing room. He watched Natasha with a wounded look on his face as Fitz walked up behind him.

 

“You gonna be okay?” Fitz asked and Barton sighed.

 

“I don’t know. But I have to be,” Barton said gruffly.

 

“Think they’ll believe us?” Fitz inquired.

 

“There are too many details from their lives for them not to. Plus after all the crazy shit they’ve seen, why would time travel be out of the realm of possibility?” Barton pointed out.

 

Fitz nodded and they were silent as they watched the security feed.

 

“So, we’re sure that he’s telling the truth?” Rhodey asked in the viewing room.

 

“Do you doubt me Rhodes?” Thor asked with a raised eyebrow.

 

“No! Just…” Rhodey trailed off.

 

“I did not sense any deception from him,” Wanda spoke up.

 

“You’re in a room with a god and a super soldier from World War Two. Yet time travel is where you draw the line?” Sam asked incredulously.

 

“Okay, that’s a good point,” Rhodey said after a moment.

 

No one else said anything as Tony pressed a button, starting the recording.

 

In 1991, at a secret Hydra facility, a Hydra agent pulled a red book with a black star on the cover out of a secret compartment. Meanwhile, The Winter Soldier was being let out of cryo freeze.

 

Steve sat up straighter as he saw his best friend. Oh, he knew that this was the past and that nothing could be done about it. But still, it was new information and he would take whatever he could get.

 

Later, Bucky screamed in pain as he was strapped to a chair, machinery on his head that was obviously causing him pain. The machinery was removed and the Hydra agent opened the book, saying different words in Russian until Bucky stilled. But it was no longer Bucky Barnes, but The Winter Soldier, ready to comply with his master’s demands.

 

Steve looked physically pained at what his best friend had been forced to endure for almost seventy years. Natasha looked at him in concern and Sam placed a hand on Steve’s shoulder, trying to offer him comfort as he grimaced. That hadn’t exactly been easy to watch, for any of them.

 

Wanda felt great empathy for Bucky in that moment. She knew what it was like to be used by Hydra, to be manipulated and turned into their weapon.

 

Feeling a great deal of fear, she looked next to her and saw Peter staring at the screen in horror. He was just a kid, even younger than her, Wanda mused. And unlike her, he had probably never faced the harsh realities of the world, did not know just how cruel it could be.

 

Wanda placed a hand on the younger boy’s shoulder and he almost jumped, looking over at her. She gave him a kind smile and he blushed.

 

“It’s okay to be afraid. There are evil people in the world,” Wanda said gently and Peter winced.

 

“I know,” Peter said quietly as he remembered Uncle Ben’s death.

 

The scene changes to a road at night. A car passes and The Soldier, on a motorcycle, drives after it. With a single shot from a pistol, The Solider causes the car to crash. Parking, The Soldier walks up to the truck and opens it, revealing a silver brief case inside.

 

Tony paled considerably as he watched this. That road, that car…it couldn’t be, Tony tried to tell himself. It couldn’t.

 

Later, at the Hydra facility, The Soldier gave the briefcase to the Hydra agent, who opened it up to reveal three liquid packets.

 

Everyone stared at the screen, wondering what that was.

 

In present day Lagos, Wanda and Natasha are in a café, surveying the scene. Steve is in a hotel room overlooking the scene as Wanda updates him over the Comms. Some newspaper articles about Brock Rumlow are seen in the hotel room as Steve spots a bullet proof van on the streets.

 

“Rumlow,” Steve narrowed his eyes as Sam growled and Natasha smiled tightly.

 

“Friend of yours?” Scott questioned.

 

“He was Hydra. During the uprising, he was up caught in the destruction of The Triskelion. He managed to survive and escaped. He’s been causing havoc ever since,” Steve said grimly.

 

Natasha gently scolded Wanda about her lack of awareness, causing Sam to remark about Natasha’s paranoia.

 

“Something you wanna say Sam?” Natasha raised an eyebrow and Sam suddenly found the floor very interesting.

 

“Nope,” Sam said and Steve and Clint smirked as everyone else snickered in amusement.           

 

Steve mentions they’ve been looking for Rumlow for six months before spotting a suspicious garbage truck. Steve orders Sam to tag it and Sam fires Redwing from his pack.

 

“Cool,” Peter said in awe and Sam smirked in pride.

 

Redwing scans the truck, showing it’s filled to the max and the driver is armed. Steve realizes the target isn’t the police on the street as the driver jumps out of the truck. The truck flips over and takes out a security checkpoint. A utility truck then pulls up, opening up to reveal armed men dressed in tactical gear.

 

“Son of a bitch,” Tony said in shock.

 

“Cap, Tony said a bad word,” Clint cracked and Steve rolled his eyes as the original Avengers snickered.

 

“One time,” Steve grumbled annoyed. “One time and you just can’t let it go.”

 

As they began gassing the building, Steve humped down, engaging them. He throws his shield, taking out one of the men as the shield returns to him. Steve then rushes up the side of an AFV and onto the roof, sending a kick to one of the armed men. The man is sent flying into the wall, hitting hard it and getting knocked out.

 

Meanwhile, Sam flies onto a bridge, where two of the armed men are. Sam uses his wings to shield himself from the bullets before taking out one and kicking the other. The man falls and lands on a truck, smashing the top of it and getting knocked out. Another opened fire on the ground but Wanda flew in, using her powers to shield herself from the bullets before sending the man flying into the air. Sam flies down and punches the man, sending him flying down to the ground and knocking him out.

 

“Atta girl,” Clint complimented and Wanda flushed at the praise.

 

“Impressive,” Thor said as he looked between at Wanda and Sam. “You have come far since we last met little witch.”

 

“Thank you,” Wanda said uncertainly, not sure about the ‘witch’ comment.

 

The trio met up and Sam used Redwing to locate Rumlow on the third floor of the building. Wanda used her powers to hurl Steve into the air and through the window on the third floor. As Steve began engaging Rumlow’s men, Rumlow walked into the lab and found the biological weapon.

 

“We can’t let him get his hands on that,” Tony said pale.

 

“We won’t Tony,” Steve quickly assured him. “We know where he’ll be and we know what he’s after.”

 

“Just…can’t you imagine what he’d do with that?” Tony said shakily and a shutter ran through everyone in the room.

 

“I imagine it would be...catastrophic,” T’Challa said grimly.

 

“You said it you’re Highness,” Sam muttered.

 

As Steve continues to fight off Rumlow’s men, Wanda uses her powers to pull the gas out of the building. As she sends it into the area, Sam covers her, engaging Rumlow’s men. Sam whirls around, his wings forming a shield and two missile like projectiles shoot out of his pack, taking out Rumlow’s men.

 

“Nice,” Rhodey said and Sam smirked.

 

Outside, Rumlow and his men emerge from the building. Seeing the gas, Rumlow knows The Avengers have come. Inside, Steve finds the fridge holding the now empty container and warns the others. Natasha drives up on a motorcycle and jumps off, beginning to engage Rumlow’s men. For the most part, she defeats them pretty easily until Rumlow shows up. Far more skilled than his men, Rumlow holds his own against Natasha as they fight. Natasha tried to use her Taser disk on him by bringing it to his neck. However, to her shock, it doesn’t even affect him.

 

“What the hell?” Sam asked as they all stared at the screen in shock.

 

“The building came down on him,” Natasha remembered. “He either trained himself to endure the pain or he really doesn’t feel it.”

 

Rumlow throws Natasha into the AFV, where two of his men are waiting. Rumlow then tossed in a grenade before closing the hatch.

 

Everyone tensed; Strange’s warning flashing through their minds if they wondered if this was the end of Natasha.

 

Natasha kicks the grenade away as the two mercenaries rush her. After a brief fight, Natasha gets to the door as the grenade goes off. The blast sent Natasha flying out the door, dazed but otherwise unhurt.

 

Everyone, Natasha, lets out the breath they didn’t know they were holding. But still, they know it’s not over yet.

 

“Two of his guys were in there though,” Peter said shocked.

 

“Rumlow won’t care about that son,” Steve told the teenager kindly.

 

“Some men have no sense of morality or purpose Mr. Parker. Some men just want to watch the world burn,” Vision spoke up for the first time. “Brock Rumlow is one such man.”

 

In another AFV, Rumlow is firing at Steve at the building. Steve used his shield to deflect the first two blasts but misses the third. The blast sends Steve flying out of the window and onto the ground. Groaning, Steve alerts Sam of Rumlow’s location.

 

In the AFV, Rumlow gives the Bioweapon to one of his men and orders them to ditch the AFV and head for the airstrip. The AFV crashes into a stand, causing panic as people back away. Rumlow and his men get out, Rumlow telling his men he won’t be meeting up with them.

 

Steve frowned as he narrowed his eyes. A pit of dread began to form in his stomach. Rumlow was planning something. What, Steve could only guess, but Steve knew it was nothing good.

 

Using facial recognition, Sam is able to spot Rumlow’s men going left and right, two each. Natasha arrives on scene on a motorcycle, which she then uses as a booster to climb onto the horde of vehicles as she goes after those on the left. As Sam pursues those on the right, Steve arrives on the scene, taking a moment to consider the civilians before heading in. He sees the abandoned gear on the groan before a small explosive lands on his shield. Acting quickly, Steve throws his shield into the air and the explosive detonates harmlessly as little more than light show.

 

Steve grimaced. That was too close for comfort; the civilians could have gotten hurt. Suddenly, he felt a burning hatred for Rumlow for making it come to this. Once they returned, he had to make sure Rumlow didn’t get this far.

 

Natasha glanced over at him, knowing what he was thinking. Steve wouldn’t let this go, not that she blamed him. But they needed to plan this carefully if this was going to work.

 

Rumlow suddenly emerged from the crowd, punched Steve in the back. Steve is sent flying through a stand, landing on the ground as Rumlow approaches, flexing his gauntlets as he boasts that he’s been waiting for this.

 

“Wow, he really hates you Cap,” Tony noted.

 

“I stopped Hydra’s plan. In a way, I guess I’m responsible for what happened to him,” Steve mused.

 

“Guy’s Hydra. Don’t lose any sleep over it Cap,” Rhodey said and Steve smiled tightly.

 

“I don’t,” Steve assured him.

 

Elsewhere, Sam spots the two men he’s trailing and flies down. He kicks one of them, knocking them out as the other one opens fire. Sam uses his wings as a shield and whirls around, sending a spinning kick to the man’s chest. He slams into the side of a small building that resembles a shack before falling to the ground out cold. Sam searches him and finds that he doesn’t have the bio-weapon.

 

Elsewhere, Natasha is running after one of Rumlow’s men. She jumps over a table and tackles him to the ground. They stand up and he pulls out a gun, casing people to panic. Natasha strikes him, stopping him from pulling the trigger before he staggers back after a blow to his throat. Rumlow’s other man rounds the corner, armed with a gun, and Natasha throws a woven basket at him, stopping him for pulling the trigger. She then strikes his knee capes, sending him to the ground before she jumps on the other, wrapping her legs around his neck and bringing him down, knocking the other one down as he gets back up. She punches the second one a few times before she sees a gun. She picks it up and she and the second one jump to their feet, aiming guns at each other. The first one then pulls out the Bio-Weapon, threatening to drop it if Natasha doesn’t drop her gun.

 

“But that would kill everyone, including him,” Peter said confused.

 

“They obviously aren’t the sharpest arrows in the quiver kid,” Clint said grimly. “Rumlow probably went for brawn, not brains. Too stupid to challenge him but smart enough to follow him. Sounds like Rumlow.”

 

Redwing flew in, unseen and fires. The bullet hits the first man and, as the other turns his head, Natasha fires, killing him. Natasha then drops the gun and makes a grab for the vial, grabbing it just before it hits the ground.

 

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief, happy that the weapon is now in safe hands.

 

“That was incredibly risky,” T’Challa noted as he looked over at Natasha and Sam.

 

‘It was the only play we had you’re highness,” Natasha said and, after a moment, T’Challa nodded.

 

“Perhaps,” T’Challa allowed.

 

Natasha thanks Sam but Sam insists she thank Redwing, to which Natasha refuses.

 

“You’ll hurt his feelings though,” Sam teased and Natasha rolled her eyes, not dignifying him with a response.

 

Back with Steve, he and Rumlow are exchanging blows, Rumlow’s Gauntlets giving him a clear edge. As he backs Steve up against a building, one of Rumlow’s gauntlets reveals a small blade. Steve moves his head, dodging the blade and Rumlow got the wall instead. Steve grabs Rumlow’s arm and elbows him in the face, making him lose the gauntlet. Rumlow uses the second blade but Steve dodges, kicking him and sending Rumlow flying. Rumlow lands on the ground, hard, and sits up, on his knees. Steve stalks over as Rumlow removes his helmet. Steve grabs him by the front and gets a look at Rumlow’s scarred and deformed face.

 

“That is quite unpleasant to look at,” Thor said with a grimace as everyone stared at the screen, most of them disturbed by the sight.

 

“To survive such pain, Rumlow must have great will power. It’s a shame he decided to use that will for evil,” T’Challa noted wistfully.

 

“You do evil, you pay the price,” Tony said unsympathetic.

 

Steve demands to know who the buyer is but Rumlow distracts Steve by bringing up Bucky, claiming he remembered Steve.

 

“He’s playing you Steve,” Natasha said gently, looking over at Steve. “He’s stalling.”

 

“I know,” Steve said with a scowl. “But for what?”

 

With Steve distracted by Rumlow’s lie, Rumlow is able to pull out a bomb. Steve tried to stop it but it was too late. As the bomb goes off, Wanda is able to use her powers to contain the blast. But it is visibly straining on her and she attempts to send it into the sky. However, her powers fail her and the bomb slams into the side of a building, taking out a good porton the south side. People panic and Steve radios Sam for help as Wanda sinks to her knees, horrified by what has just happened.

 

Wanda stared at the screen, horrified as Clint put a hand on her shoulder.

 

“Hey, this isn’t your fault, okay?” Clint told her gently.

 

“All those people,” Wanda said choked up.

 

“Many more would have died had you not intervened Ms. Maximoff,” T’Challa said kindly.1

 

“It’s not your fault Wanda, its Rumlow’s. And if not his, mine,” Steve said and she looked over at him. “I should have clocked that vest long before you had to deal with it. That’s not on you, it’s on me.”

 

“It’s both your faults, it’s none of your faults, does it really matter?” Natasha said and they all looked over at her. “Blaming ourselves isn’t going to bring them back. But we can go back and make sure this doesn’t happen.”

 

“Natasha is correct,” Thor spoke up. “The future is what we make of it. There are many paths available to us. We can control our future.”

 

“What the big guy is saying is don’t blame yourself for something that hasn’t happened yet,” Scott simplified and Thor shot him a look that was half annoyed, half amused.

 

“Mr. Lang is corrected,” Thor said and Wanda sighed, nodding slightly although it was clear she was still bothered.

 

“You okay to go on?” Tony asked gently and she nodded.             

 

“Yes. I need to see,” Wanda said and Tony nodded.

 

“Okay,” Tony said, unpausing the recording and it continued.

Chapter Text

The recording continues as a woman with greying blond hair was playing the piano, singing the lyrics to ‘Try to remember’.

 

Pain shot through Tony’s heart as he saw his mother, so alive and well. Although he wondered how he was seeing this.

 

She finished playing as Howard Stark walked in, rousing the person sleeping on the couch. The person got up, revealing a younger Tony Stark.

 

“Hey man, isn’t that you?” Rhodey asked as he looked over at Tony.

 

However, Tony did not answer and had gone a ghostly white. He realized what he was seeing. This was the last time he had seen his parents alive.

 

Steve eyed the version of Howard on screen. Try as he might, it was difficult for him to imagine this as his friend from1945.

 

Tony and Howard bicker as Maria tries to gently play peacemaker. Tony jokes about throwing a toga party before inquiring about where his parents are heading. Mario says Howard is taking her to the Bahamas and Howard says they will need to make a stop beforehand. Tony, angry at his father always putting work before family, makes a sarcastic comment. Howard responds in kind before walking out of the room to grab something.

 

Tony winced, filled with regret. He wished he could go back; make things right with his father before it was too late. Rhodey put a hand on his shoulder, knowing Tony well enough to sense where his thoughts were headed.

 

Steve looked back and forth between his friend and the screen sadly. Like him, it seemed Tony was also filled with regret over things he couldn’t change.

 

Maria stands up, telling Tony that Howard misses him when he’s not home and that Tony will miss them, as this will be the last time they’re all together.

 

Those not in the know (Everyone but Tony) wondered what that meant as Tony again flashed back to the first scene. He shook his head, told himself he was being paranoid.

 

Maria pointed out Tony would regret it if he didn’t say something as Howard reentered the room. Tony tells Howard he loves him and knows that Howard does the best he can. Howard and Maria walk out and young Tony stares after them as the current Tony is seen standing behind him.

 

“Wait, how are their two of you?” Rhodey asked confused as Tony understood.

 

“It’s a little something I’ve been working on. Binaurally Augmented Retro-framing. Helps people go back to moments they’d like to relive, clear traumatic memories,” Tony explained.

 

“I am not sure that is wise Stark,” Thor said with a frown.

 

“Helping people go back and fix things they regret? How is that a bad thing?” Tony asked, not seeing the obvious issue.

 

“Because people could lose perspective on reality. By opening the door to the past, you may decide to sacrifice the future in order to stay in the past. People may be unable to move forward as they become stuck in the past,” T’Challa pointed out and Tony frowned, considering the words of warning.1

 

Tony ends the hologram, talking about the project, BARF as he calls it. The crowd of MIT students cheered as Tony reveals that the September Grant Foundation has funded and approved all their projects. However, Tony pauses as the teleprompter tells him to introduce Pepper. Tony quickly gathers his bearings and tells them to ‘go break some eggs’ before walking back stage as the crowed broke into cheers. 

 

Tony winced, a wounded look on his face that Steve, Vision, and Rhodey noticed. However, they chose not to comment on it. Wanda felt a blast of turmoil and pain from him as well, causing her to give him a curious look.

 

The MIT liaison tried to talk Tony into giving him some of the funding but Tony ignored him, walking passed him and rebuffing the apology of the stage director who didn’t know Pepper had canceled. Tony walked off, into the back hall. As Tony took a moment to gather his bearings, a woman was by the elevator. As Tony walked up to the elevator, she strikes up what appears to be a casual conversation with him. As Tony presses the button, she reaches into her purse. Tony instinctively grabbed her hand, startling her.

 

Tony apologizes as he releases her. She tells him that she works for the State Department’s Human Resources Division and it allowed her to raise a son. She pulls a picture out of her purse and slams into Tony’s hands, explaining that her son, Charles Spencer, was one of the casualties of Sokovia. She blames Tony for his death and claims Tony only fights for himself before storming off.

 

The room was silent as Tony winced, his guilt over creating Ultron coming full surface.

 

“I’m sorry,” Wanda said so softly they almost didn’t hear it.

 

“What?” Tony said confused as they all looked over at her.

 

“It was my powers that made you create Ultron. I’m sorry,” Wanda said in shame.

 

“It’s not your fault kid. Knowing me, if it wasn’t you, it would have been something else that made me decide to bring Ultron out of retirement. It was a flawed program and I knew that but I still plugged it into Loki’s scepter,” Tony sighed tiredly. “I’ve got to own up to my own mistakes. Because whatever I did after you were done messing with head, well, that’s on me, not you.”

 

The scene changes to the Compound. Steve is watching a news report on the incident from Lagos, with the reporter revealing that eleven Wakandians were killed in the explosion.

 

T’Challa closed his eyes, a pang of grief hitting him as Wanda looked down.

 

“I’m sorry your highness,” Wanda said in shame, unable to look at him.

 

“As I told you before, many more would have died if you had not intervened,” T’Challa said after taking a few moments to compose himself. “My people are dead, which I cannot forgive. But I choose to blame the hand that activated the bomb rather than the hand that tried to save lives.”

 

Wanda looked away, guilt still eating at her. Clint placed a hand on her shoulder, hoping to offer her some measure of comfort and support.

 

Steve turns off the news report, unable to watch as T’Chaka calls The Avengers ‘indifferent’ to the lives lost. However, Steve hears another news report on the same incident. Steve stands up and follows the sound, finding Wanda in her room watching the news on the incident.

 

“You shouldn’t watch that. It’s not healthy,” Clint told Wanda softly.

 

Wanda simply shrugged and his concern grew. Clint glanced over at Steve and Natasha, both of who looked equally as frustrated and helpless as he felt.

 

“People are always gonna judge you,” Tony said and Wanda looked over at him. “You don’t even want to know about the bad press I got when I announced I wasn’t going to be making weapons anymore. The media, the politicians, they see something they can’t control and that bothers them. You can’t let what they say get to you.”

 

Wanda looked away, a thoughtful look on her face as Clint shot Tony a grateful look.

 

Steve turns off the TV as Wanda continues to blame herself. Steve sits down on her bed, pointing out she would never have been in that position if he hadn’t gotten distracted by Rumlow. It’s on him, he insists but she disagreed, saying it’s on both of them. Steve points out that people die in their job but if they aren’t able to live with it, the next time they might not be able to save anyone.

 

“How do you live with it?” Wanda inquired as she looked over at Steve.

 

“I surround myself with people I trust. You’ve got that to you know,” Steve said pointedly as Clint’s hand on her shoulder tightened ever so slightly.

 

Vision suddenly phases through the wall, surprising Steve and Wanda. Wanda chides him, reminding him they’ve ‘talked about this’.

 

“And how often have you talked about that?” Clint demanded.

 

“Too often,” Steve, Natasha, Rhodey, and Sam said.

 

“I see,” Clint said as he eyed Vision, wondering if his arrows could pierce Vision’s body.

 

Wanda, getting a blast of his thoughts, laughed and elbowed him. Clint let it go…for now.

 

“I’d watch your back buddy. Trust me, you do not want to piss Clint off,” Tony said with a wince, having flashbacks to bad experiences.

 

“I remember,” Vision said, remembering the incidents from his time as JARVIS.

 

Vision says Steve wanted to know when Tony arrived. Vision awkwardly goes to use the door but pauses, telling Steve Tony has brought a guest: the Secretary of State.

 

“Thaddeus Ross? They guy who chased Banner across the world? Why would you bring him to the Compound?” Clint asked incredulously as they all looked over at Tony.

 

“I don’t know,” Tony said, seemingly as confused by his actions as the others.

 

The scene changes to the conference room. All the Avengers are seated as Ross tells them a story about having a heart attack before getting down to business. He starts by sugarcoating them before he pointedly points out that, while most of the world consider them heroes, some consider The Avengers vigilantes. At Natasha’s question, Ross admits he sees them as dangerous, declaring they ‘routinely ignore sovereign borders, inflict their will, and, frankly, seem unconcerned about what they leave behind’.

 

“Oh sure, next time we’ll just let the terrorist steal the bio-weapon and kill hundreds of people. Can you believe this guy?” Sam asked disgusted.

 

“How he became Secretary of State, I’ll never know,” Natasha agreed with the sentiment.

 

Ross then shows them clips on a monitor of The Avengers past battles in New York, Washington, Sokovia, and Lagos. Specifically, the civilians caught in the crossfire.

 

“Were we not trying to save lives then?” Thor asked confused.

 

“People still died,” Steve said hollowly.

 

“Thor’s right though Cap. What exactly is Ross’ point, that we should have stood back and allowed Loki, Hydra, and Ultron to kill thousands of people?” Clint demand angrily.2

 

“A man like Ross seems only interested in power, if what you say about him is true,” T’Challa noted.

 

Ross turns off the clips and reveals the true reason for his visit. The governments of the world are no longer willing to allow The Avengers to operate on their terms. Ross then hands them a copy of The Sokovia Accords, explaining that they will sign and will them operate under the supervision of the UN panel. Only if and when they deem it necessary.

 

“Oh, I get it,” Tony said as he leaned back in his seat.

 

“Get what Mr. Stark?” Peter asked confused.

 

“Well, remember how I said politicians don’t like things they can’t control? Well, Ross can dress it up however he likes, but what this document is really about is controlling The Avengers. As if we’d ever allow that,” Tony said, laughing at the thought.3

 

“But shouldn’t we all abide by the government?” Peter said confused.

 

“Not like this kid,” Clint told him.

 

“If we have to wait around for a bunch of politicians to agree, we’ll never be able to do our job and people will die,” Sam explained.

 

“It’s not impossible son, but there would have to be safeguards,” Steve explained.

 

In the lab, Fitz and Barton exchanged a glance of amusement mixed with uncertainty.

 

“How do you think Stark will react to his decision?” Fitz inquired.

 

“He’ll probably be horrified. I don’t know who that guy who did all those things was, but it wasn’t my friend. The guy sitting in there, watching all this…that’s the real Tony Stark,” Barton said confidently.4

 

Steve argues that The Avengers were made to make the world safer. Ross demands to know if any of them know where Thor and Hulk are, which they admittedly do not. Ross then makes a comparison between the two absent Avengers and Nukes.

 

“Did this Ross just call me a weapon?” Thor asked a low voice that had everyone on edge.

 

“Yes,” Natasha said wearily.

 

“Where is my hammer?! I will find this Ross and show him I’m not a weapon to be wielded!” Thor exploded as he got to his feet.

 

“Easy Point Break! Remember, we’re In the future. Besides, I don’t think you going Terminator on the Secretary of State is going to help us right now,” Tony reasoned.

 

“We’re here to change this Thor. So calm down,” Steve added.

 

Thor took a few deep breaths before sitting back down, grumbling threats against Ross.

 

Ross again tries to play them, telling them The Accords are a compromise.

 

“Right,” Clint scoffed.

 

“Only a politician could say that with a straight face,” Natasha added disgusted.

 

Rhodey asks about contingencies but is ignored. Ross says The Accords will be signed in three days in Vienna.

 

“Three days? From the size of that book, we’d each need weeks, at least, to read it all and understand it,” Tony said stunned.

 

“They don’t want us to know what we’re signing,” Steve noted grimly. “Which means they know we won’t agree to it but they’re trying to back us into a corner.”

 

“So what do we do?” Rhodey asked but none of them were sure they had an answer.

 

Ross tells them to talk about I and Natasha inquires if he doesn’t like their decision. Ross tells them they’ll be retired before leaving.

 

“Retire? Try and make us!” Tony barked out a laugh.

 

“Indeed, what will they do if another Ultron appears, make us sit on the sidelines!” Thor laughed as well.

 

“Retirement might not be a bad idea,” everyone stopped and stared at Steve as though he had grown another head. “Temporarily at least.”

 

“What are you thinking Cap?” Sam asked.

 

“The UN is never going to change their minds about this. At the same time, if any of us sign, we’ll lose our leverage because we’ll no longer have a united front. The fact is they need us a lot more than we need them. More than that, as Tony said, they want us under their control. We can’t let that happen. But, if we retire, as Ross suggested, then it’ll send a message.”

 

“And buy us the time we need to get The Accords amended until it’s something we all agree with,” Cling caught on.

 

“Not a bad plan cap,” Tony said with a smirked.

 

“Well, I’m already retired, so let me show you the ropes,” Clint leaned back in his chair.

Chapter Text

The scene changes to a house in Cleveland. A man is sitting at a table, eating dinner when he hears a crash outside.

 

“Wait, who’s this guy?” Scott asked confused.

 

“I don’t know,” Tony said confused, looking at his fellow Avengers but they all shrugged cluelessly.

 

“I bet he’s a bad guy,” Scott said was met with several raised eyebrows. “Hey, he even looks like a bad guy!”

 

The man walks over to a window and lowers the blinds slightly. He sees a man on his front porch, looking freaked out by his car hitting the car in the driveway. The owner quickly steps away from the blinds as the man outside walks up to the door. He speaks in an American accent as he suggests they take care of the auto accident themselves. The owner eyes the gun he has on a table before letting the man in. He opens the door as Zemo lungs for him, striking him and knocking him out.

 

“I guess he’s a bad guy to,” Scott mused.

 

“We don’t know that yet,” Steve pointed out.

 

“Perhaps we should continue watching and we will find out,” T’Challa suggested.

 

A bit later, Zemo is taking a hammer to the wall, uncovering a box. The owner of the house is tied, upside down, his head inside a sink that was filling with water. Zemo empties the box of its contents, finding a familiar red book.

 

“Looks like you’re right Tick Tack, the guy is Hydra,” Sam noted.

 

“Yeah, but what about the other guy?” Peter questioned but no one had an answer.

 

Zemo goes through a file, finding a picture of the man in Russian Armed Forces uniform. The man demands to know who Zemo is and Zemo, now with a Sokovian accent, tells him to call him Zemo.

 

“I don’t suppose that rings a bell with anyone?” Rhodey asked but nearly everyone shook their heads.

 

“I’m afraid not,” Thor said.

 

“Well, hopefully this will give us some answers,” Steve noted as the recording continued.

 

Zemo demands to know what happened on December 16th, 1991. The man wants to know how Zemo found him and Zemo explains he went through the files Natasha dumped onto the internet during The Hydra uprising. Zemo’s only interest is finding out what happened on December 16th, 1991. When the man refuses to cooperate, Zemo walks over and, to the man’s surprise, turns off the water.

 

“Wasn’t expecting that,” Natasha admitted.

 

“Somehow, I doubt this guy just decided to give up,” Tony said doubtfully.

 

“He’s Sokovian,” Wanda said softly as they all looked over at her. “I didn’t recognize it at first but his dialect, the way he says things…he’s from Sokovia, just like me.”

 

 “So we got a guy going after old Hydra operatives that’s from Sokovia. Okay, that narrows it down a bit,” Tony noted, his mind working.

 

“Not by much though,” Rhodey pointed out.

 

“Enough, for now,” Steve agreed with Tony.

 

Zemo points out that killing the man is not something he wants and would be pointless in the end, giving him a chance to live if he talks. The man responds with ‘Hail Hydra’, so Zemo turns the water back on and walks away as the water consumes the man’s head.

 

“See, bad guy,” Scott said feeling vindicated.

 

“Mr. Lang is correct. I have seen many men like him, obsessed with one goal and will kill anyone who gets in their way,” Thor agreed.

 

Peter shivered, unnerved by Zemo’s cold-bloodedness. Sensing his uneasiness, Wanda decided to try something. Unseen by anyone, she waved her hands and red mist floated over to Peter. Peter suddenly felt a lot calmer, which he found strange. Wanda smiled, which was wiped off her face as the recording continued.

 

Back at the Compound, The Avengers are in the longue, talking about The Accords. Steve is sitting in a chair, reading The Accords as Sam and Rhodey argue behind him. Sam feels that The Avengers will be tagged like common criminals if they sign while Rhodey thinks, because The UN authorized The Accords, they should sign.

 

“Seriously?” Sam asked incredulously as nearly everyone who knew him looked at the stunned Rhodey. “Since when do you smile and nod when the government tells you to?”

 

“I don’t know. It’s almost like I’ve been replaced with someone who looks me but acts the opposite,” Rhodey mused.1

 

In the lab, Barton and Fitz were caught between snickering and wondering if Rhodey could see the future.

 

Rhodey and Sam’s argument is interrupted by Vision, who declares he has an equation. Since Tony announced that he was Iron Man, the number of powered individuals and world ending events has increased exponentially. Steve asks if Vision think it’s their fault and Vision clarifies that their strength invites conflict. Oversight is not something they can dismiss, Vision insists.

 

“We’re not dismissing oversight. I don’t think anyone here has a problem with oversight,” Steve said as he looked around at his fellow Avengers, who all appeared to share his feelings before he focused on Vision. “But these Accords, they don’t offer oversight. Don’t confuse control for oversight Vision. It’s a dangerous misconception.”

 

Vision frowned, considering Steve’s words. Perhaps he was not yet ready to make these kinds of decisions, he mused.2

 

Natasha notes that Tony is being uncharacteristically quiet and Steve said it’s because Tony has already made up his mind. Tony makes a sarcastic comment as he heads over to the kitchen to make some coffee. Tony complains about coffee grounds in the disposal before pulling out a holographic photo of Charles Spencer. Tony explains who Charles was and that he was one of the casualties of the battle of Sokovia.

 

Wanda winced, guilt eating at her in her part of the destruction of her home and all the lives lost. Clint put a hand on her shoulder as he shot Tony an incredulous look.

 

“’We dropped a building on him’? What is wrong with you?” Clint demanded.

 

“You make it sound like it is our fault Stark,” Thor said lowly and Tony unconsciously scooted towards the edge of his seat. “We had to stop Ultron. Would you have preferred we let humanity be destroyed?”

 

“I don’t what’s going on with me. He looks like me but…he’s not acting like me,” Tony said truly puzzled.

 

Tony declares The Avengers need to be put in check, that they need to accept limitations or they will be no better than the bad guys.

 

“Okay, seriously, who is this guy? He’s not acting anything like me,” Tony said, growing more and more perplexed by his behavior.

 

In the lab, Fitz handed Barton ten bucks.

 

“I told you that you shouldn’t have taken that bet,” Barton said smugly as he pocketed the money.

 

Steve and Tony argue about The Accords, which Steve sees as only shifting the blame, which Rhodey, still advocating for signing The Accords, says is dangerously arrogant. Steve argues that the UN is filled with people with agendas and that those agendas change. Tony says this is good, using his trip to Afghanistan and realizing the harm he was doing as an example. Steve argues that Tony chose to do that, something he could not do if he signed The Accords. Steve asks what if The Avengers are sent somewhere they don’t need to go or if they need to go somewhere but the UN won’t let them go.

 

“That’s a good point Cap,” Clint said with a frown as he looked at the others. “Is anyone here not prepared to save lives just because the UN tells them not to?”

 

Not a single person said anything, but the point was made. If people were in danger and they could stop it, none of them would think twice about intervening, Accords or no Accords.

 

Steve says the safest hands are still their own. Tony argues if they don’t do it now, it will be done to them later.

 

“So we should just go along with it?” Clint said, almost laughing at the thought. “I’ll be sure to tell the Founding Fathers they should have just gone along with King George and never founded America.”

 

“Clint,” Natasha said warningly.

 

“No, he’s right. I don’t know what is wrong with me but I’m being stupid, more so than usual. I apologize in advance, because I have a feeling I’m gonna owe you guys a lot of apologies,” Tony said, unnerved by the actions of his on screen self.

 

Wanda realizes that he means they will come for her. Vision immediately says they’ll protect her.

 

“How Vision, how are you gonna do that?” Clint demanded as Wanda paled. “How are you gonna stop Ross from coming after Wanda if you signed The Accords? Because if half the things I’ve heard about that man are true, he’ll come after her the first chance he gets!”

 

“A man like Ross is only interested in his own power, fearful of what he does not understand,” T’Challa noted as Vision frowned, considering the flaws in his logic.

 

“I think that before The Accords are presented, Wanda should go somewhere…off the grid,” Steve said with a pointed look at Clint.

 

Clint realized what Steve was saying and gave a subtle nod. Clint reached out and grasped Wanda’s hand and she gently squeezed back. He had failed her brother, but he wouldn’t fail Wanda.

 

Natasha suddenly speaks up, saying that Tony might have a point, to Sam’s surprise. Natasha points out they need to earn back the trust of the world.

 

“Seriously Nat?” Clint asked as those who knew her best (Clint, Steve, Tony and Sam) stared at her incredulously.

 

“I don’t trust the government. But when this goes south-and it will-you’ll probably need someone on the inside, since Tony and Rhodey are pretty dead set on signing,” Natasha pointed out and suddenly, her actions made sense.3

 

Tony and Natasha begin to joke when Steve gets a text.

 

‘She’s gone. In her sleep’ it reads.

 

Steve feels a wave of grief crash over him. Peggy had been getting worse in the last few months; her Alzheimer’s making it difficult for her to recall anything. She was one of the last relics of his old life, his first love and one of the few people left who had cared about him before he became Captain America. And she only had a few months left.

 

Seeing the state of their friend, Sam put a hand on his shoulder as Natasha reached over, taking his hand. Everyone else stared at him sadly, allowing him to grieve his loss. Even those who didn’t know the situation such as Thor, T’Challa, Scott, and Peter could understand and emphasize that Steve had lost someone.

 

“We can take a break for a bit if you want Cap,” Tony said gently and Steve took a shuttering breath, trying to control himself.

 

“No. We need to keep watching. I’ll-I’ll be okay,” Steve said, part of him wondering if he was trying to convince himself or them.

 

Tony eyed him, concerned for his friend for a minute before he unpaused the recording.

 

Steve abruptly says he needs to go before standing up and walking out, to his teammates’ confusion. Steve walks down the stair and puts his hand to the bridge of his nose.

 

The scene changes to London a few days later. The funeral for Peggy is taking place in a church; the choir is singing as the pall bearers bring in the casket. Steve is one of the pall bearers and tears are visible on his face.

 

Later, everyone is seated and the Priest allows Sharon Carter to give the eulogy. Sharon steps up to the podium and Sam elbows Steve, who had been lost in thoughts. Steve looks up at the podium and is shocked to see Sharon.

 

“You know her Cap?” Clint asked, seeing the look of surprise on his friend’s face.

 

“She was a SHIELD agent Fury assigned to watch me during The Hydra uprising,” Steve said surprised before looking over at Natasha. “Did you know she was related to Peggy?”

 

A sly grin was his only answer and Steve could only chuckle, a welcome sound to his friends.

 

Sharon begins the eulogy by revealing she was Peggy’s niece and that having Peggy as an aunt was a lot to live up to, which is why she never told anyone they were related. She remembers asking Peggy how she succeeded at Espionage and Diplomacy at a time when a woman was not wanted to succeed in either.

 

Peggy had told her ‘Compromise where you can and where you can’t, don’t. Even if everyone is telling you something wrong is right. Even if the whole world is telling you to move. It is your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye and say ‘no, you move’’.

 

“I think I would have would have liked her,” Tony said wistfully, wishing his father had not kept his work with SHIELD such a secret.4

 

“She probably wouldn’t have been too fond of you at first,” Steve said, a trace of his usual humor in his voce.

 

“Well, I’m not good at first impressions. But I’d wear her down,” Tony said confidently and Steve laughed.

 

“Probably,” Steve agreed good naturedly.

 

After the funeral, Steve is standing alone in the church, looking at a picture of Peggy as Natasha walks up to him. Steve remembers finding out Peggy was still alive after coming out of the ice. He says he was lucky to get her back and Natasha points out Peggy got him back to. Steve sighs, asking who’s signed The Accords. Natasha says Tony, Rhodey and Vision have. Clint says he’s retired and Wanda hasn’t made up her mind.

 

Wanda knew it was unlikely she would sign. Even if these Accords were something to consider, even if they stopped them from coming after her, she still wouldn’t sign. Ross reminded her too much of List to even consider it.

 

Natasha says they need to stay together but Steve won’t give up his free will to do it. Natasha knows this, making a confused Steve ask why she’s there. She says she didn’t want him to be alone before she hugged him, comforting him as he broke down.

 

Steve looked over at Natasha a grateful look on his face. Words failed him as he tried to express how grateful he was for her support. But he didn’t need to say anything; the look she shot him said she understood.

 

The scene changed to Vienna later that day. As reporters crowded around the building, T’Challa was watching from the window.

 

“Hey, it’s you Your Highness,” Scott exclaimed.

 

“So it would appear,” T’Challa noted, wondering if he would finally find out why he had been brought here.

 

T’Challa turns away from the window as he hears Natasha enter. T’Challa walks over and they bond over how neither of them really like the spotlight. T’Challa makes it clear his dislike of politics as T’Chaka walks over. Natasha apologizes for the deaths of the Wakandians in Nigeria, which T’Chaka gracefully accepts. They both regret Steve not being there as the session begins. Natasha takes her seat as T’Chaka notes T’Challa is getting good at diplomacy. The two share a close moment before T’Chaka takes the podium.

 

T’Chaka gives an impassioned speech, talking about Wakanda remaining in the shadows for too long. As his father gives his speech, T’Challa is by the window and notices something odd on the ground. Police surround a news van, looking tense. Suddenly, they run. Realizing what is happening; T’Challa rushed forward, telling everyone to get down. T’Challa tried to tackle his father out of the way but the explosive goes off, sending him flying as T’Chaka is caught up in the explosion.

 

“Son of a bitch!” Tony cried out and everyone was so shocked no one called him on swearing in front of Peter.

 

T’Challa crawled towards his father, who wasn’t moving. He desperately searched for a pulse but it was no use. T’Chaka was dead.

 

“No!” T’Challa cried out in despair.

 

T’Challa buried his head in his hands, his shoulders shaking with sobs. Thor placed a hand on the prince’s shoulder, sadly remembering his mother’s death. Peter, Wanda, Steve, and Tony all stared at T’Challa in sympathy as they remembered the deaths of their own parental figures. They knew nothing they said would help T’Challa now, so everyone simply remained quiet, letting T’Challa break down.

Chapter Text

For a few minutes, it was silent, save for T’Challa’s crying. Then, Thor placed a hand on his shoulder.

 

“I know your pain my friend,” Thor said gently. “I lost my mother a few years ago. But you must remember that your father is still alive where we come from. We can make sure none of this ever happens.”

 

For a few moments, it was still silent. Then, T’Challa seemed to pull himself together. He lifted his head, wiping his eyes of tears.

 

“You are correct,” T’Challa said his voice gruff from the crying. “I apologize.”

 

“You watched your father die your highness. You have nothing to apologize for,” Steve said kindly and T’Challa nodded.

 

“You sure you can continue?” Tony asked.

 

“I must Mr. Stark. I must find out who murdered my father,” T’Challa said with a dark look on his face.

 

Tony eyed him wearily before unpausing the recording.

 

At Peggy’s wake, Sam and Steve are toasting to what Sam calls ‘an honorable discharge’. They take a drink and Steve asks Sam if he’s okay with retirement. Sam assures him he is and that he’ll make a great civilian. Steve could to, Sam said as he pointedly looked over at Sharon.

 

“Are you trying to set him up at the wake of his first love?” Natasha asked as they all shot Sam strange looks.

 

“With her niece,” Steve sad lowly, that piece of information making his attraction to Sharon feel very awkward.

 

“Yeah, that was bad timing,” Sam admitted.

 

“It’s just plain weird,” Scott muttered and those that heard him couldn’t help but agree.1

 

Later, Steve and Sharon sat at a table, Steve asking her if Peggy knew Sharon had been assigned to watch him in DC. Sharon confirms Peggy didn’t know, as Sharon didn’t want there to be secrets between her and Steve. Steve asks if Sharon is stationed in London but she says she’s actually in Berlin, working for the Joint Terrorism Task Force. Sharon asks Steve about The Accords and Steve reveals he plans to ‘take some time off’.

 

“I really can’t see you just settling down Cap,” Clint admitted as he looked over at Steve.

 

“It’s either retire or sign. Don’t have much of a choice, do I?” Steve asked.

 

“Let’s all just agree Ross is a horrible person,” Tony said and there were mumbles of agreement.

 

Sharon asks when he didn’t have a uniform in his closet and the two have a coy exchange about Steve’s suit.

 

Steve shifted as he watched the exchange. The whole thing just felt awkward and weird to him now that he knew her relation to Peggy.

 

The scene changes to a hotel. Steve and Sharon are standing in front of an elevator after Peggy has pushed the button. Sharon thanks him for walking her back before Sam walks up, saying there’s something Steve needs to see.

 

The scene changes to Sharon’s room. Sharon is on the phone as Steve and Sam watch the report on the bombing in Vienna. Surveillance caught the suspect, someone who is seemingly James Buchanan Barnes.

 

Steve put his head in hands, wondering how Bucky could have fallen this far as Sam and Natasha look at him in concern. As T’Challa eyes the scene, thinking he finally has his father’s killer, Clint frowned.

 

“It doesn’t make sense,” Clint said and they all looked over at him.

 

“What doesn’t make sense?” Wanda asked.

 

“Barnes bombing The UN and getting caught. The guy was trained by Hydra to be a ghost, to disappear without leaving any evidence. The only time he was ever seen was when he shot Nat, which only happened because he didn’t expect her to survive, and when he shot Fury and you engaged him Cap. And why bomb The UN? It makes no sense unless…” Clint trailed off but Steve caught on to what Clint was thinking.

 

“Unless someone is setting him up,” Steve realized and Clint nodded.

 

“Either that or Barnes finally snapped. Which, given that little flashback sequence we saw, doesn’t seem impossible,” Clint noted.

 

“The mind can only take so much strain,” Natasha added and Steve frowned, wondering if Bucky was being set up or had just gone crazy.

 

Sharon tells Steve and Sam she needs to go to work.

 

The scene changes to Vienna. The Joint Terrorism Task Force is on the scene as T’Challa numbly sits on a bench, his father’s ring in his hand. Natasha approaches him, apologizing for his loss. T’Challa tells her about how death is viewed in his culture, which Natasha finds peaceful. His father agreed, T’Challa says, but he is not his father. Realizing what he is thinking, Natasha says Barnes is the Task Force’s priority but T’Challa says he will kill him himself.

 

T’Challa frowned thoughtfully as the others shot him doubtful looks. If what Clint said was true and Barnes was being framed, then his on screen self was going after an innocent man.

 

As T’Challa stalks off, Natasha’s phone rings. Natasha answers and it’s Steve, asking if she’s okay. She confirms she is before looking around, knowing Steve is there. She tries to get him to back off and Steve asks if she would arrest him if he didn’t.

 

“No, but someone else will,” Natasha told him softly and Steve nodded in agreement.

 

“It’s the situation the UN has created,” Steve grumbled.

 

“If they wanted to make sure the bad guys win, they’ve sure done a good job,” Tony grumbled.

 

Natasha said she wouldn’t arrest him, but someone else would. That was how things worked now.

 

“No need to repeat yourself,” Peter said in an attempt to break the solemn mood in the room.

 

It didn’t work.

 

Steve says if Bucky is this far gone, he should be the one to bring him in. He’s the one least likely to die trying, he says before hanging up from where he stood in a corner, wearing a cap and glasses.

 

“Well, you’ve gotten a lot better at blending in,” Natasha noted, remembering how panicked Steve was when they were on the run from SHIELD.

 

“Would you really bring your friend to justice Captain? Even kill him if necessary?” T’Challa asked, honestly curious.

 

“If he made me,” Steve said simply.

 

While his voice was even, his eyes showed the pain the thought brought him. He would not do it because he wanted to, but because Bucky would have left him no other alternative and the action would likely haunt him for the rest of his life.  Everyone felt their respect for Steve grow in that moment. Particularly Thor, who remembered Loki turning on him with a pang, knowing he would not have had the strength to do what needed to be done if Loki had truly left him no other choice.

 

Steve walks into a restaurant and up to Sam, also dressed in a cap and sunglasses, who was posing as a customer. Sam asks if Natasha told him to stay out of it and Steve answers with silence. Sam notes Natasha might have a point. Steve argues Bucky would do the same for him but Sam argues that Bucky was a different person in 1945. Sam wants to consider all their options before they get into a bad situation.

 

“A wise decision Mr. Wilson,” T’Challa said.

 

“Please, call me Sam. No one’s called me Mr. Wilson since high school,” Sam requested and T’Challa nodded.

 

Sharon walked up to them, a file in hand. Since the footage, tips have been pouring in, most of them dead ends. But there is one solid lead, she passes Steve a file. This is all the head start she can give him and she warns him that the police have a shoot on sight order.

 

Steve sighed, resigned to this, having known something of the like would happen when Bucky was named the prime suspect. It didn’t make it any easier to hear though.

 

At a hotel, Zemo is in a room, a news report on the bombing in the background. Zemo has the red book out, reading it, practicing the words to get the pronunciation just right. Zemo is interrupted by a knock on the door. He places the book in a drawer and walks over to the door to his room. He reaches for s gun in his pocket but room service spoke up on the other side of the door, causing him to relax. He opens the door slightly and prevents the woman from coming in as a bomb is seen in the closet.

 

“It was him. He bombed the UN,” Natasha said as it hit them.

 

“But why? And why frame Barnes for it?” Rhodey wondered.

 

“It has to do with whatever happened on December 16, 1991,” Clint noted and Natasha nodded in agree.

 

“It’s why he went after that Hydra officer. But what happened on that day that was so important?” Steve wondered.

 

“I do not know and I do not care. All I care is that this man gets justice,” T’Challa growled.

 

“Be careful. Do not let your need for vengeance cloud your judgement,” Thor said softly, remembering his actions when the Frost Giants had invaded Asgard and his father’s after Frigga’s death.

 

The scene changes to Bucharest. Bucky is at the market, buying fruit.

 

Steve’s eyes softened as he saw his best friend, truly, for the first time since 1945. Aside from the long hair, it was truly Bucky. Not The Winter Solider.

 

Hearing sirens, Bucky walks out of the stand, a nervous reflex from being on the run for so long. Bucky sees a vender at a news stand eying him, so he walks over. Picking up a newspaper, Bucky saw the headline about the bombing and knows he is a wanted man.

 

At Bucky’s home, a rather modest apartment, Steve was there, looking around. Sam radioed in, telling him German Special Forces were headed his way. Steve turns around to see Bucky standing behind him.

 

Steve tensed as everyone looked at him, wondering how this would go.

 

Steve asks if Bucky recognizes him, which Bucky claims to know him from the museum. Steve knows he’s lying and Bucky relents, telling him he wasn’t the bomber. Steve believes him, but warns him about the people coming for him. Bucky notes casually that it’s a good strategy to go for the kill.

 

“He is far too casual about his death,” Sam noted as Steve flinched.

 

Steve tries to talk Bucky out of a fight but Bucky tiredly says it always ends in a fight. The police come up the stairs, are at the door as Sam gives them five seconds. Steve demands to know why Bucky pulled him from the river, to which Bucky claims to not know as he pulls off the glove around his metal arm.

 

Sam shouts a warning as an explosive crashes through the window. Steve deflects it with his shield, the explosive shattering as it hit the wall before another crashes through and lands at Bucky’s feet. Bucky kicks it over to Steve, who quickly places his shield over it, containing the blast as it detonates harmlessly.

 

“Okay, I get the shoot on site order, but they’re throwing bombs into a civilian populated area?” Sam asked horrified.2

 

“Did they even bother to look to see if anyone else was in there?” Wanda asked disgusted.

 

“Since Captain Rogers was in there when they fired, most likely not,” Vision noted.

 

Bucky lifts his mattress up, using it as a shield from the shots coming through the window. The police begin trying to force the door to Bucky’s apartment open with a battering ram, so Bucky tossed the table over, blocking the entrance.

 

“Wow, he’s strong,” Peter said in awe.

 

“Metal arm kid,” Rhodey pointed out.

 

Two Task Force members burst in. Bucky engages one as Steve trips up the other, causing his rifle to fire aimlessly. Bucky throws the officer to the floor as another one burst in. Steve takes out his gun and pushes him out onto the balcony. Steve then stops Bucky when he tries to follow the officer, saying Bucky will kill someone if this keeps up. Bucky responds by throwing Steve to the floor and jumping on top of him, raising his hand as if to punch him.

 

Steve watched stonily as everyone else tensed, wondering if Bucky would prove to be a friend or foe.

 

Bucky says he doesn’t want to kill anyone before punching the floorboard next to where Steve’s head is at. Bucky pulls out a duffle bag and throws it out the window. It landed on the roof of a building nearby as more officers burst in through the windows. Steve used his shield to block the bullets as Bucky sees another officer at the window. He throws Steve through the window, knocking the operative down as he and Steve fall on the balcony.

 

“So, looks like Barnes used you as a weapon Cap,” Tony said, amused as Steve looked at him annoyed.

 

Bucky uses his metal hand to deflect the bullets one of the officers fires at him before grabbing the officer and slamming his head through a shelf, knocking him out. Bucky then takes a cinder block and used it to take out the second officer in the room.

 

“That was pretty badass,” Rhodey said as they all looked impressed.

 

As Steve deals with the officer on the balcony, the police, having grown impatient, have taken to shooting holes in the door. Bucky puts his metal arm through it, knocking one out and startling the rest. Bucky then kicks the door off its hinges and begins engaging the police. One bursts through the glass above but Bucky knocks him out and begins taking the battering ram, knocking them all out.

 

“Cool,” Peter said in awe.

 

“Say what you will about Barnes, he’s one of the best fighters in the world. There’s a reason no one who saw him lived until Nat and Cap,” Clint noted.

 

Bucky then uses the cop who had come through the glass to swing down the steps and begins engaging the cops down there. Steve emerges from the room as one of the officers begins calling on the radio for help. Steve crushes the radio before jumping after Bucky. They begin engaging the police together but Bucky knocks one over the railing. He almost falls to his death but Steve catches him.

 

“So much for not wanting to kill anyone,” Rhodey muttered.

 

“He’s someone who’s been fighting for as long as he can remember and people are coming to kill him. It’s easy to lose yourself to the heat of battle that way,” Natasha said, able to relate.

 

Steve scolds Bucky before yanking the officer back up, throwing him into the wall. Bucky rips off the railing, using it as a long, metal vine to swing down the stair case as Steve secures the officer. Bucky engages two more officers as Steve sees an officer about to shook at Bucky. Steve throws his shield, knocking the weapon out of their hand as the shield goes into the wall. Bucky looks back at Steve before jumping over the railing, falling two stories before catching himself on railing.

 

“Awesome,” Peter said, amazed at Bucky’s strength.

 

“Your friend is impressive Captain,” Thor noted.

 

Steve was silent, thinking of all the pain and suffering Bucky had been forced to endure in order to get that strong and this good.

 

As Steve pulls his shield out of the wall, Bucky pulls himself back onto the stairs. Bucky beaks down the door before rushing down a hall and onto a balcony. Bucky then jumps onto the building where he had tossed his bag, only to be tackled by the Black Panther.

 

“Who is that guy?” Peter wondered but none of them had an answer.

 

“I don’t know, but I think we’re about to find out,” Steve said grimly.

 

“Is he dressed like a cat?” Scott asked bewildered but everyone shrugged.

 

Unnoticed by everyone, T’Challa shifted uneasily. Now that he knew Bucky had not killed his father, it was clear that his on screen self was letting emotion drive his actions. And while he knew that it was Zemo, his on screen self believed it was Bucky. And thus, would focus all his grief and rage on him. T’Challa had a feeling it wouldn’t end well. He was beginning to understand why he had been brought here.

 

Bucky gets up and the two begin to trade punches and kicks. It becomes clear to Bucky that Black Panther is extremely skilled. Black Panther lands a hit and Bucky is sent down to the ground, his back against an air vent. Black Panther attempts to strike him with his claws but Bucky dodges by jumping up. They trade some more blows before Bucky is thrown on his back. Bucky picks up some iron and uses it to block Black Panther’s claws.

 

“This guy’s no amateur,” Sam noted, impressed by Black Panther’s moves.

 

“Indeed, he has been trained very well,” Thor agreed.

 

“But who is he?” Tony wondered and his friends all shrugged.

 

Wanda picked up a hint of pride andguilt and looked over at its source, T’Challa. She raised an eyebrow, wondering what that was about.

 

Steve comes out of the building and sees the scene. He calls Sam over and Sam flies in, seeing the scene. Steve jumps onto the other building as a police chopper rolls in. A snipper shoots at Black Panther, who turns away from Bucky. Impossibly, the bullets don’t pierce his suit.

 

“Okay, what is this suit made of if bullets don’t even phase it?” Sam asked as everyone but T’Challa stared at it in shock.

 

“I don’t know, but I’d like to get my hands on it, might be able to make you guys better suits for battle,” Tony mused.

 

Sam flies in and kicks the tail of the chopper, causing the pilot to fight for control. Bucky kicks Black Panther off him and flees, jumping down the side of the building. Black Panther follows, using his claws to slowly glide down the side of the building. As Bucky and Black Panther continue the chase on the ground, Steve jumps off the building as well, using his shield to cushion his fall. The chopper rounds the corner, firing at Bucky again.

 

“And now they’re not even pretending to worry about civilian casualties,” Rhodey said in disgust.

 

“Who are these cops, I want to keep an eye on them, make sure they can’t put anyone in danger,” Steve said with narrowed eyes.

 

“Let us ask the wizard when we see him next,” Thor suggested and The Avengers found it agreeable.

 

Bucky jumps off the ledge and into heavy traffic. He heads into a tunnel, with Black Panther and Steve following him.

 

“And he can keep up with a super solider. Just who is this guy?” Clint wondered, growing more and more interested.

 

A police cruiser rolls up behind them and Steve stops, tackling the wind shield with his shield. Steve then jumps off, opens the door and throws the driver out. He shatters the wind shield before taking the car, driving after Bucky and Black Panther.

 

“You and stealing cars,” Natasha cracked, remembering Steve stealing a car during the Hydra uprising and telling her he had done it before in 1945.

 

“it’s one of my special talents,” Steve joked.

 

“So you have a dark side after all,” Tony said with a grin towards Steve.

 

“Like I said, you just haven’t seen it yet,” Steve said, confusing those who hadn’t heard their conversation at the barn.

 

Steve drives passed Black Panther, but Black Panther jumps on the back of the cruiser. Seeing this in the rearview mirror, Steve tries to shake Panther off with no luck. Steve radios Sam as he becomes aware of the multiple police cruisers on his tail.

 

“And this is what making things worse looks like,” Natasha said pointedly and Steve sighed.

 

“I know, but what was I supposed to do, watch them kill him for something he didn’t do?” Steve argued.3

 

“I don’t know, but Ross is going to use this to make things difficult for us,” Natasha said.

 

“Ross is the worst,” Tony said simply and they all nodded.

 

“The absolute worst,” Thor agreed.

 

At the edge of the tunnel, Bucky is blocked by several cars. He jumps over several waste containers and continues running. Steve follows, driving through the containers and after Bucky. Outside the tunnel, Bucky takes a motorcycle from a man and drives into another section of the tunnel.

 

“Man, this guy is awesome,” Scott said growing more and more impressed with Bucky’s skills.

 

“Shame it had to come from so much suffering,” Wanda said sadly and Steve grimaced.

 

Steve follows Bucky through the tunnel and Black Panther climbs onto the roof. Black Panther jumps off to try and get Bucky, but Bucky grabbed him by the throat. Bucky tries to throw him down but Black Panther hangs on to the back, bringing the motorcycle on its side. Bucky it able to use his metal arm to stop it from falling and kicks Black Panther off. Bucky lifts the motorcycle back up and continues retreating as Sam grabs Black Panther. They scuffle in the air as Bucky throws a small explosive onto the edge of the tunnel. It goes off, bringing some rubble down.

 

Sam stops as Black Panther launches himself through the air. He lands on the motorcycle, cutting the back tire. The motorcycle falls and the pair roll on the ground as Steve jumps out of the car, which flips over.

 

“This guy just won’t give up,” Clint said incredulously.

 

“But why?” Steve wondered and Wanda felt a spike of guilt from T’Challa.

 

Steve rushed over, tackling Black Panther away from Bucky before he can do anything. They stand up as multiple policer cruisers roll in, surrounding them. Rhodey, in his War Machine armor, lands and aims at them, ordering them to stand down. Rhodey tells Steve he’s a criminal.

 

“How did we get to this?” Rhodey asked, all of them stunned by the turn of events.

 

“We didn’t talk,” Steve noted as they all looked at him. “Ross gave us a choice and, instead of facing it as a team, we let it tear us apart. We can’t do that when we go back.”

 

“Cap’s right. When we go back, we tell Ross what we think of his so called ‘compromise’ and make sure none of this happens,” Tony declared and the other Avengers looked at each other, nodding in unity. 

 

Steve stands down, seeing Sam has been caught as well. Bucky is cuffed as Black Panther, seeing he is outnumbered, stands down as well. He removes his helmet and reveals the face of T’Challa, to the surprise of everyone.

 

T’Challa sighed as everyone turned to stare at him, knowing now they would all like some answers.

Chapter Text

“So, you dress up like a cat? Do you like cats?” Sam deadpanned.

 

“What are you, Catman?” Tony added as T’Challa looked at them unamused.

 

“The Black Panther was the first king of Wakanda, its founder,” T’Challa said and they all listened, intrigued. “Since then, the royal family has been trained to bear the mantle, fathers training their sons to be the protector of Wakanda. The mantle has been passed from warrior to warrior, from father to son for centuries. Now it is mine to bear, as it was once my father’s and it will be my son’s one day.”

 

“Your suit, it’s Vibranium?” Steve asked and T’Challa remained silent.

 

“Whether you want it to or not, I believe your secrets will come out. You should tell us the truth before they do,” Thor advised and T’Challa sighed after a few moments of silence.

 

“Yes, it is Vibranium Captain,” T’Challa admitted.

 

“My old man thought he’d gotten a hold of the last of it,” Tony said astonished.

 

“Something tells me that’s not true,” Natasha said pointedly and T’Challa remained silent.

 

“Perhaps we should continue watching?” Vision suggested.

 

With a few glances towards T’Challa, knowing he was keeping a few more secrets, the other Avengers nodded before they turned back to the screen. However, T’Challa knew the subject was far from dropped.

 

At the Compound, Vision is attempting to make Paprikash in a gesture to make Wanda feel better. Wanda walks in and takes over, as Vision can’t taste anything and has never cooked.

 

“It’s the thought that counts,” Wanda said with a smile that Vision couldn’t help but return.

 

Vision and Wanda were oblivious to the look Clint was giving Vision. Natasha recognized it as the look he got when he was assessing a target and smirked. Oh Vision, he had no idea what he was getting into.

 

In the lab, Barton had his arms crossed and looked extremely displeased. Something Fitz took notice of.

 

“You really don’t like Vision, do you?” Fitz said amused.

 

“I don’t know him,” Barton corrected. “I left the team shortly after he joined and when I came by The Compound, we didn’t exactly stop to chat. I just don’t think he’s good for her.”

 

“So says every father ever about their daughter’s boyfriend,” Fitz said amused and Barton smirked.

 

“Well, I guess you’ll know about that in a few years when your daughter starts dating,” Barton joked and the smile left Fitz’s face. “My disapproval has nothing to do with his interest in Wanda. It has to do with…well, just watch.”  

 

Vision awkwardly tries to assure Wanda she is not hated but only ends up amusing her. Wanda reflects on how she has been changed by her powers. Vision briefly relates by talking about The Mind Stone in his head. Wanda moves to leave to head to the store but is stopped by Vision. Tony has asked Vision to keep Wanda there until The Accords are in place.

 

“You did what?” Clint said in a low, dangerous voice and Tony felt the temperature in the room drop as several pairs of eyes turned on him.

 

“I don’t know,” Tony said awkwardly, wishing he was anywhere else now. “This hasn’t happened yet.”

 

“This is internment Tony!” Steve snapped angrily.

 

“I know Cap!” Tony finally snapped back. “I don’t know why I’m acting this way, why I’m doing all these things! I’m sorry okay, I’m sorry for all of it!”

 

For a moment, it was silent, Steve and Tony staring at each other, the tension between them visible before someone else spoke up.

 

“And you’re just fine with keeping her there!?” Clint snapped as he turned his glare on Vision.

 

“People are afraid of Wanda, they cannot help it. And as I pointed out in the recording, the likelihood of another public incident is significantly decreased if Wanda remains at The Compound,” Vision said, finding no fault with this logic.

 

Clint almost leapt out of his seat to throttle Vision but Wanda placed a hand on his shoulder, pointedly telling him to remain in his seat, although it was clear that she was hurt by Vision’s words.  Nearly everyone else looked at Vision angrily as he wondered what the issue was. Even Tony was disturbed by Vision’s willingness to keep Wanda a prisoner.1

 

“You and me, we’re gonna have a talk when this is over,” Clint growled as he glared at Vision.

 

Wanda pointedly asks Vision what he wants and he simply says for everyone to see her as he does.

 

“And now you’re playing on her guilt and insecurity to convince her to stay,” Natasha said angrily, the tactic remaindering her of things the Red Room had done to her as a child.

 

Wanda flinched, the tactic clearly working as Clint placed an arm around her while flashing a glare at Vision. Vision was beginning to realize that perhaps his logic wasn’t as sound as he thought.

 

In Berlin, multiple police cruisers are escorting Bucky, who is in a container made to hold him, to base as Steve, Sam, and T’Challa are in the back of a car. Sam makes a comment about T’Challa’s suit, which he sees as ‘a cat suit’.

 

“It is not a cat suit,” T’Challa said annoyed.

 

“Looks like a cat suit, I’m gonna call it a cat suit,” Sam shrugged.

 

Tony, Thor, Scott, and Peter laughed at the exchange as Natasha and Clint smirked while Steve and Wanda smiled; the tension in the room momentarily broken.

 

Steve asks if T’Challa’s suit is made of Vibranium. T’Challa, without answering the question, tells them the history of the Black Panther before point blank asking Steve if he thinks he can protect Bucky from him.

 

And just like that, the tension was back as T’Challa flinched.

 

“I am sorry Captain,” T’Challa apologized but Steve shook his head.

 

“You think he killed your father. I don’t blame you, I would react the same if it was my mother,” Steve assured him.

 

They arrive at the base and get out of the back of the car. Steve sees Bucky in the container before walking up to Sharon, a man in a grey suit, and three armed members of the Task Force. Steve demands to know what will happen to Bucky and the man in the suits says he will be psychologically evaluated the extradited. Sharon introduces the man as Everett Ross, the Task Force Commander. Steve asks about a lawyer for Bucky, which Everett laughs at, finding it amusing.

 

Something that most of the viewers from earth were unnerved by.

 

“So The Accords mean you don’t get a lawyer?” Peter asked stunned.

 

“Apparently so kid,” Rhodey said grimly.

 

“A lawyer should be provided to Mr. Barnes regardless of his crimes, due to his status as a POW,” T’Challa noted.

 

“Apparently, The Accords disregard the Geneva Convention,” Natasha said disgusted.

 

“The what?” Thor asked confused.

 

“An agreement between countries to protect the rights of military personal and civilians alike during war. Apparently, The Accords rank higher on the governments list,” Steve said disgusted. 

 

Everett tells them they’ll get a recite for their gear. As Sam grumbled about this, Steve looks back, getting a look at Bucky before the doors close behind them.

 

Steve looked down, saddened that this was happening to Bucky; after all he’d been through.

 

Steve, Sam, and T’Challa are led into another part of the building, joined by Natasha, who scolds Steve. Tony is there, on the phone, doing an interview, mentioning consequences when he hangs up. T’Challa is led into an office as Steve asks about consequences. Ross wants them prosecuted, Tony tells them.

 

“Of course he does. Ross will do anything to get his hands on you Cap,” Clint said, looking over at the confused Steve. “He’s after that serum in you. He’ll take any advantage he can to get it.”

 

Steve nodded the grim reality of what a man like Ross would go after in order to get their hands on the serum that had made him not lost on him.

 

Steve notes he’s not getting that shield back and Natasha makes a quip about it and Sam’s wings belonging to the government.

 

“Damn, that’s cold,” Sam quipped.

 

“Warmer than jail,” Tony quipped back in an attempt to lighten the mood but it just brought the tension back.

 

At a power station, a man in a truck drives up, looking at a clipboard.

 

Back at the base, Natasha walks into the office T’Challa is being held in. She references there earlier conversation and he notes she isn’t used to the truth. Natasha brings up his Vibranium suit, which puts him under the jurisdiction of The Accords. T’Challa asks how long a psychological evaluation usually takes, eager to take Bucky back to Wakanda to face justice. Natasha warns him he’s being naïve before Everett walks in, clapping sarcastically. Bucky’s extradition has been granted.

 

“So much for due process,” Steve said, his hands clenching tightly on his pants legs.

 

“You’d be surprised how much the law gets thrown out the window when politics are involved,” Natasha said bitterly.

 

Steve is watching the security cam footage of Bucky when Tony walks over, carrying a case. He opens it to reveal two pens that once belonged to FDR, which he had used to sign the Lend-Lease Bill, providing support to The Allies when they needed it most. Steve notes some would say it brought them closer to war.

 

“I’m not saying I do,” Steve said as they glanced over at him. “But some of the guys I served with during the war felt that way.”

 

Tony claims he’s trying to extend an olive branch as Steve notes he hasn’t seen Pepper. Tony admits he and Pepper are taking a break.

 

Tony flinched at the reminder as his friends looked at him, thrown by this revelation.

 

“How long…” Rhodey trailed off, realizing he’d had no idea his friends were on break.

 

“A few weeks now,” Tony said quietly. “We just…she just couldn’t handle it, handle me anymore. She needed a break from me, from Iron Man.”

 

“I’m sorry Tony,” Steve said gently.

 

“Well, in her defense, I’m a handful,” Tony sighed. “Can we just keep watching, please?”

 

Tony tells Steve about trashing his suits after almost losing her, then Hydra and Ultron. Tony tells Steve he’s never gonna stop being Iron Man because he doesn’t want to and thought The Accords could split the difference.

 

“A document isn’t gonna make Pepper come back Tony,” Natasha said gently. “She fell in love with you, not Iron Man.”

 

“I am Iron Man,” Tony said and, for once, the words brought him no pride or joy.

 

Tony stands up, musing about how his father had always made things work with his mom. Steve remembers Howard during World War Two and Tony remembers Howard mentioning it a lot during his childhood, trying to inspire Tony but just ended up annoying him.  

 

“I’m sorry Tony, I don’t mean to make things difficult,” Steve apologized.

 

“I know Cap. And, looking back, I probably exaggerate my dad’s shortcomings. He mentioned you a lot but I can see how he was just trying to make me make the most of myself now,” Tony mused, regretting how he hadn’t listened more to Howard growing up.2

 

Steve apologizes for making things difficult and Tony responds with a sarcastic quip. Steve explains that he can’t just stand back and watch as something that he sees as wrong happens. Sometimes he wishes he could, Steve says but Tony knowingly says he doesn’t and Steve admits it. Tony admits sometimes he’d like to slug Steve but he doesn’t want to see him gone because the world needs him. Tony tries to bargain that if Steve signs, it will make it all legit, transfer Bucky to a psyche center instead of a prison in Wakanda.

 

“Wait, didn’t Ross, the other Ross, already give Barnes over to you?” Scott asked as he glanced over at T’Challa, who nodded.

 

“He did,” T’Challa confirmed.

 

“Maybe you didn’t know,” Rhodey suggested as he looked over at Tony.

 

“Maybe,” Tony said although he was doubtful, considering everything he’d done up to now had confused and disgusted him.

 

Steve picks up the pen, saying there would have to be safeguards if he agrees. Tony seemingly agrees, saying they can amend The Accords later.

 

“I’m lying to you Cap,” Tony said softly, shame filling him as Steve looked over at him. “If I’ve already signed, there’s nothing I can do to get The Accords amended or help Barnes. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m so sorry.”3

 

Steve didn’t know what to say and even Scott, who had heavily disliked Tony before meeting him, didn’t have the heart to say anything with how low Tony looked.

 

Tony mentions getting Steve and Wanda reinstated, causing Steve to ask about Wanda. Tony admits she is being held at the Compound, angering Steve. Tony defends it as protecting Wanda, to Steve’s disbelief and disgust.

 

“Those who sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither. One of your presidents said that I believe,” T’Challa mused.

 

“Benjamin Franklin actually,” Steve said as Tony grew more and more disgusted with his on screen self.

 

Steve accuses Tony of subjecting Wanda to internment but Tony defends it as Wanda is not a US citizen and the government doesn’t ‘grant VISAs to weapons of mass destruction’.

 

“Weapons of mass destruction? Are you serious Tony?” Clint finally snapped, glaring at Tony.

 

“You would know a lot about weapons of mass destruction, considering you fly around in one,” Wanda hissed, shuttering in anger and Tony flinched.

 

“I know, okay, I know. Like I said, I don’t know what’s going on with me. I’m sorry; I wish I could make him see that what he’s doing is wrong. But all I can do is not repeat his mistakes, okay? I’m sorry for what he said and did to you, but I can’t change that,” Tony said as he looked over at Wanda.

 

Wanda could feel his sincerity and, after a moment, nodded. She did not forgive, she had never truly gotten over the death of her parents and that it was his irresponsibility that allowed that. But, she would allow him to earn her forgiveness, provided he learned from past sins.

 

Steve and Tony continue to argue, Tony insisting he’s trying to protect them from something worse. Steve scoffs, giving the pen back before walking into the office Sam is being held at. 

 

“Often times, those who do wrong see themselves as the hero of the story,” T’Challa said gently and Tony flinched.

 

Steve watches the security cams as the ‘psychiatrist’ sits down with Bucky, who is still restrained by the container. Sharon walks into the office and gives Sam the recite for his wings. Sam is offended his suit is described as a ‘giant bird costume’.

 

“Giant bird costume!” Sam exclaimed offended and the tension broke as snickers and laughs broke out in the room.

 

Sharon turns the monitor in the office on so Steve can see and hear what’s going on in Bucky’s evaluation. Steve gives Sharon a grateful look as Natasha watches from outside. The ‘psychiatrist’ addresses Bucky by James but Bucky gruffly tells him he is Bucky.

 

Steve closed his eyes, the emotions hitting him hard. If there was any doubt left in him, it was gone. This was truly Bucky, not the Winter Solider. His best friend was back.

 

At the power station, the man in the truck honks the horn, making a man come out. The delivery man gets out of the truck and opens the back, revealing two crates. They take it, putting on the ground and the delivery man makes the other man sign for it.

 

Back at the base, Steve is looking at the photo of ‘Bucky’, asking why it would be released by the Task Force. Steve realizes that Bucky is being set up, to be flushed out. Sam argues that they had looked for him for two years with no success but Steve points out they hadn’t bombed the UN. Sharon points out that that just guarantees the Task Force would get Bucky and the realization hits them.

 

“Oh shit,” Scott said as it hit all of them as well.

 

“Zemo, he’s the psychiatrist. This whole thing has been about getting Barnes there,” Natasha realized.

 

“But why?” Steve asked his mind racing.

 

“I believe we are about to find out,” Thor noted.

 

“How did Zemo even get passed the security?” Peter asked.

 

“Either he’s that good or they are really bad at their job,” Tony noted.

 

With Bucky, Zemo is casually asking about Bucky’s past. Bucky refuses to talk about it but Zemo assures him they only have to talk about one as he gets a text, telling him ‘the package has been delivered’.

 

At the power plant, the worker has opened the crate to reveal the bomb, to his confusion. The EMP goes off, frying the plant.

 

“An EMP at a power plant, he wants to knock out the power so they can’t watch the integration,” Clint realized with dread.

 

At the base, the power goes out as everyone looks around in confusion. Steve looks at Sharon and she tells him where Bucky is at. He and Sam take off as T’Challa watches in confusion.

 

With Bucky and Zemo, Bucky demands to know what is happening. Zemo says he wants to discuss Bucky’s ‘home’ as he pulls out the red book. Zemo begins saying the words from the beginning of the recording as Bucky begs for him to stop before crying out in pain. Bucky used his strength to break his restraints, desperately pounding on the side of the container as Zemo continues to say the words. Zemo finished as the side of the container flies off, Bucky finally breaking free. But it no longer Bucky, but The Winter Soldier, ready to comply.

 

“Bucky,” Steve said softly, tormented by how his best friend was continuously used, first by Hydra, now by Zemo.

 

Zemo demands the mission report of December 16th, 1991.

 

“What is it about that date? What is so important about that day?” Rhodey wondered but no one had an answer.

 

Not long after, Steve and Sam walk in, seeing the guards on the floor, out cold. Zemo is on the ground, playing the part of the psychiatrist. Steve walks up and picks up by the collar, slamming him against the wall as he demands to know what Zemo wants. Zemo simply says to see an empire fall.

 

“An empire fall? What does that mean?” Sam asked confused but, once again, no had an answer.

 

Steve’s interrogation is interrupted as The Soldier jumps out, lunging for Sam. Sam barely dodges the robotic arm, which hits the wall instead. They exchange a few blows before The Soldier grabs Sam by the neck and throws him into the container, dazing him.

 

“I’m gonna be feeling that in the morning,” Sam said dryly.

 

The Soldier then goes after Steve, swinging at him with his robotic arm. Steve dodges but The Soldier backs him up against an elevator. Despite Steve’s efforts to stop him, The Soldier sends Steve through the doors and down the shaft, landing on the elevator a few stories down.

 

“Wow, he’s good,” Peter said in awe.

 

“Now you see why he was Hydra’s best assassin,” Natasha said and Steve flinched.

 

Sam is awakened by someone talking on the PA. He sees Zemo standing by the elevator and calls out to him, getting up and running after him when Zemo flees.

 

As Everett is barking orders, Natasha asks if Tony brought a suit. Tony points out he’s an active non-combatant before Sharon rushes over, telling them to follow her.

 

Meanwhile, Steve is climbing up the elevator shaft as Sam is pursuing Zemo.

 

The Soldier is engaging some members of the Task Force as Tony is watching from behind the corner. Tony transforms his watch into a low powered gauntlet before he rushes out to engage The Soldier.

 

“You don’t have a suit but you’re going out to engage the most infamous assassin in the word with a gauntlet? And not even a fully operational gauntlet? Do you have a death wish?” Rhodey said as he looked at his friend as though he was crazy.

 

“Apparently,” Tony said, seeing how that was stupid.

 

He blasts The Soldier with a sonic wave, dazing him before blasting him with a flash, stopping him before rushing over. The Soldier tries to shoot him but Tony blocks it with his gauntlet, absorbing the bullet. Unfortunately, this left Tony defenseless and The Soldier yanks the gun in half and strikes Tony with the half in his hand.

 

“Uh-oh,” Tony said as they all tensed.

 

As Tony is tossed into some tables, Sharon rushes over and began engaging The Soldier. Natasha joins her but The Soldier takes Sharon out by throwing her into a table. Natasha jumps on The Soldier’s back, wrapping her legs around his neck as she frantically beats on his head. The Soldier backs up and yanks her off him, slamming her down onto a table with his robotic arm wrapped around her neck, choking her. She gasps out he could at least recognize her.

 

As everyone tensed, worried for her, Natasha flinched. While Steve and Clint would no doubt think she was referring to DC, only she knew that she was talking about long before that, before she’d been recruited by SHIELD. Back when she was Natalia and he was just a handsome, dangerous man she was sleeping with.4

 

T’Challa rushes in, kicking The Soldier off Natasha.

 

“Thank you your highness,” Natasha said gratefully and T’Challa nodded.

 

The Soldier and T’Challa exchange a few blows before The Soldier landed a solid hit with his robotic arm. T’Challa was sent flying back but landed safety on the floor. Looking up, T’Challa saw that The Solider was climbing up some stairs. With a growl, T’Challa rushed over and climbed up the other side of the stairs. He pulled himself of the ledge and jumped, landing at the top of the stairs, blocking The Soldier’s path. They exchange a few blows before T’Challa grabs The Soldier’s robotic arm, holding it down and restraining him, to The Soldier’s surprise.

 

“Wow, you’re strong even without the suit,” Scott said, impressed.

 

T’Challa tensed, knowing that The Avengers would have more questions. He just hoped he could leave here with all his country’s secrets intact.

 

With a twist, The Soldier and T’Challa were sent tumbling down a flight of stairs. They picked themselves up and continued their fight before T’Challa sent a powerful kick to The Soldier’s chest. The Soldier is sent flying into a wall before falling into an opening down to the first floor. T’Challa jumps off the stairs down to the floor, but The Soldier is gone.

 

Steve, Natasha, and Clint were eying T’Challa, knowing that those feats shouldn’t be possible. Unless T’Challa had been enhanced like Steve. But that was impossible, wasn’t it?

 

Outside, Sam has followed Zemo outside but lost him in the crowd of panicking people, finding only Zemo’s jacket, abandoned on the ground.

 

“Damn it!” Sam swore.

 

It showed how tensed things in the room were that no one joked about Sam swearing or scolded him for doing it in front of Peter.

 

On the roof, The Soldier has gotten into a helicopter, preparing to take off when Steve bursts through the door to the roof. Steve rumps onto the landing pad as the chopper begins to lift in the air. Steve grabs onto it, trying to stop it from taking off. As it begins taking off with him hanging, Steve grabs onto the ledge of the landing pad, pulling the chopper back with his other arm.

 

“Wow Cap, nice,” Tony said as they all stared in awe.

 

“You can do that?” Peter said excited.

 

“Apparently, I’ve never tried it before,” Steve said, as surprised as any of them.

 

“Bet all the girls would love this,” Natasha teased him and Steve rolled his eyes.

 

“What is your obsession with my love life?” Steve grumbled but Natasha just grinned cheekily.

 

 The Solider turns the chopper on its side and Steve lets go, taking cover on the pad as the chopper’s blades tear it up. Miraculously, Steve manages to avoid the blade. However, Steve ends up next to the wind shield and The Soldier reaches through with his robotic hand, grabbing Steve by the throat.

 

“This guy just won’t give up!” Scott exclaimed.

 

“I know the type,” Sam said as he glanced over at Steve.

 

Desperately, Steve pushes the chopper off the pad. They fall below, landing in a river. Steve pulls the unconscious Bucky out and swims away.

 

“Looks like you two have come full circle,” Natasha joked and Steve nodded.

 

“Yeah, but now what?” Rhodey asked.

 

“Only one way to find out,” Steve said as the recording continued.

Chapter Text

At an airport, Zemo is listening to a voice message from his wife. He is clearly affected by it, as pain shows on his face.

 

“A wife, a son. Something happened to them,” Steve noted.

 

“A lot of people died when Ultron attacked Sokovia,” Natasha pointed out and Tony and Wanda flinched. “It’s possible his wife and son were casualties.”

 

“But why is he doing this?” Peter wondered.

 

“Revenge is a powerful motivation,” Wanda said softly, remembering how she had gone after The Avengers in order to avenge the deaths of her parents.

 

“You think Zemo blames us for whatever happened to his family?” Steve inquired.

 

“It’s possible, if his family were among the dead, that he blames us for not saving them,” Thor pointed out. “And, as the Little Witch said, revenge is a powerful motivation.”

 

He ends the message and hears a news report on Bucky’s escape and Steve and Sam being reported as ‘missing’ before getting up.

 

In a warehouse, Bucky awakens from his trance, his metal arm pinned under some machinery. Seeing he was awake, Sam called over Steve, who had been watching the search choppers outside the warehouse. Steve walks over and demands to know which Bucky he’s speaking to. Bucky remembers that Steve’s mother’s name had been Sarah and he used to wear newspapers in his shoes.

 

“You put newspapers in your shoes?” Tony said amused.

 

Steve didn’t answer, a lump in his throat. There was no doubt now, Bucky was truly back. Seeing that Steve was overwhelmed with emotion, Tony decided to table it for a later date. And when it came, Tony couldn’t wait. 

 

Steve believes it is Bucky but Sam is a skeptical. Bucky asks what he did and Steve says ‘enough’. Bucky is tormented over the fact that Hydra still has a hold on him but Steve doesn’t have time to treat him with kid gloves. Steve wants to know who Zemo is but Bucky doesn’t know. Steve demands answers about why Zemo would go to all this trouble just for ten minutes with Bucky. Bucky concentrates and remembers that Zemo wanted to know exactly where Bucky had been kept while frozen. When Steve asks why, Bucky reveals he wasn’t the only Winter Soldier.

 

“I’m sorry, please tell me I misheard that,” Rhodey pleaded as everyone tensed.

 

“If you heard him say there’s more than one Winter Soldier, you didn’t,” Clint said grimly.

 

“Good god, one was bad enough,” Sam muttered, remembering how dangerous Bucky had been.

                                                                                                                        

The recording shows the scene at the beginning again of The Winter Soldier attacking the car and taking the case full of liquid packets. The scene then changes back to Siberia, where five people are injected with the contents of the packets. One of them, a man, screams in agony as he is thrown in a cell. The door is closed behind him and the Hydra operative, the man Zemo had killed earlier in the recording, sits down, ignoring the man’s screams until he stops. He gets up and opens the door, revealing the man now sitting on his bed calmly.

 

“Okay, what is in those things?” Rhodey wondered, disturbed by what they were seeing but no one had an answer.

 

“Whatever it is, they certainly went to great lengths to acquire it,” T’Challa noted.

 

“And Hydra doesn’t go to all this trouble for nothing. Whatever it is, it was worth sending Barnes after,” Clint noted uneasily.

 

The scene changes to the man engaging The Winter Soldier in training. The man is able to grab The Soldier’s metal arm, restraining him and throw him across the room with ease.

 

The Avengers, especially those who had faced Bucky in DC, were horrified. If these other Winter Soldiers could beat Bucky like that, then things were really bad. And if Zemo could get his hands on these people…horrified didn’t even begin to cover how they were feeling.

 

 However, Hydra is ultimately unable to control them, causing a rampage in the room and The Soldier is forced to get the Hydra operative out of there.

 

“Well, I guess you learned why Dr. Frankenstein feared his monster,” Clint muttered.

 

“Who?” Thor asked confused.

 

“A character in a book. A scientist creates a monster, is terrified by it, and the monster escapes before murdering his brother and fiancée. The scientist dies trying to kill the monster and the monster decides to kill itself once he dies,” Natasha explained and Thor nodded in understanding.

 

In the present, Bucky explains that those five were Hydra’s most elite death squad with more kills than anyone in Hydra history, even him, and that was before they were injected. Steve wants to know if Zemo could control them and Bucky confirms he can. Steve remembers Zemo’s words about seeing an empire fall and Bucky says these five could make it happen, able to take down an entire country in a single night.

 

“This just keeps getting worse and worse,” Sam muttered.

 

“If Zemo gets his hands on those five, the loss of life could be...unimaginable,” Steve said as they all shivered at the thought.

 

“Then once we get back, we find him and stop him before he can get to Barnes,” Tony said and it was a plan everyone seemed to agree with.

 

Sam walks over to Steve and they quietly note that even if Tony believed them, The Accords would not let him help.

 

Tony flinched, cursing himself for his stupid decisions while Steve cursed himself for not stopping to tell Tony when it would have helped.1

 

Steve notes they’re on their own but Sam disagrees, claiming he ‘knows a guy’.

 

Sam smirked, figuring out what he was planning as everyone else wondered who Sam is talking about.

 

At the base, Tony and Natasha are in a meeting with Ross. Tony is tracking Steve but Ross is forbidding Tony and Natasha from handling it, claiming they cannot be objective. Ross is assigning Special Ops the case. Natasha demands to know if they plan to kill Steve and Ross says ‘if provoked’.

 

“Meaning they’ll be ordered to kill you,” Natasha said and Steve nodded.

 

“Ross has been after the serum for too long. And I imagine if I die, it won’t be long before my body somehow disappears so Ross can run his experiments, try to extract the secret of the serum from my body,” Steve said grimly as everyone shivered at the image.

 

“Are we sure Ross isn’t Hydra?” Sam wondered.

 

“Wouldn’t surprise me, but it’s not something we can prove,” Clint grumbled.

 

“How did a man like Ross end up in such a position of power?” T’Challa wondered.

 

“He knows the right people who owe him favors,” Rhodey said grimly.

 

Ross points out if Steve had not interfered, Bucky would have been killed and no one else would have died.

 

Steve flinched, acknowledging that was true as Sam put a hand on his shoulder for support.

 

“If they would’ve done their jobs and properly vetted Zemo, he wouldn’t have gotten inside and no one would have died,” Natasha said angrily.

 

“It’s Ross, what do you expect?” Clint asked grimly.

 

“Secretary Ross does seem to blame others for his own mistakes,” Vision noted.

 

Tony argues that the Special Ops team won’t be able to handle it, almost begging to let him and Natasha handle Steve. Ross is skeptical until Tony makes it clear he’s not going to talk to Steve this time. Ross gives Tony thirty six hours to bring them all in before walking off.

 

“Thirty-six hours. God, Zemo really planned this out. As far as supervillain plans go, it’s pretty good,” Tony sighed as the situation hit them all.

 

“He must have a contact involved with The Accords, he timed it perfectly. He won’t be easy to stop, that’s for sure,” Clint noted.

 

Natasha notes they are understaffed, with Tony wishing Bruce were there.

 

“And you really think Banner would be on your side with Ross involved?” Clint said, almost laughing as Toy winced.

 

“No, I’d imagine Hulk would probably come out at that point and it wouldn’t be pretty,” Tony said, shivering as he imagined what Hulk would think of that.

 

Natasha doubts Bruce would be on their side. Tony and Natasha both have an idea, Natasha’s being T’Challa. She asks what Tony’s idea is.

 

The scene changes to Queens. In an apartment, Peter walks out of the elevator, a DVD player in his hands.

 

“Hey kid, it’s you,” Sam noted.

 

Peter tensed, something Wanda and Clint noticed. As Wanda picked up some anxiety from him, Peter prayed to whatever god that was out there that his secret wasn’t going to come out.

 

Peter walks into his apartment, calling out to his Aunt May. However, Peter is thrown when he sees Tony Stark on the couch, talking with his Aunt. 

 

“What are you doing there man?” Rhodey asked confused as they all looked over at Tony.

 

“I don’t know,” Tony said, confused as he wondered what his idea was.2

 

Unseen to everyone, Pete had dropped his head into his hands, thinking he was exposed as Wanda and Clint eyed him concerned.

 

“Are you okay kid?” Clint asked but Peter just grumbled something that sounded like ‘leave me alone’.

 

Tony mentions that Peter applied for a Grant with the September Foundation. It is clear Peter has no clue what he is talking about but plays along. Peter becomes uncomfortable when May mentions Peter keeping secrets from her.

 

“Okay, seriously, what are you doing there? I mean, you said you had an idea and now you’re spinning a web of lies about this kid,” Rhodey said, confused as thy looked back and force between Peter and Tony.

 

“Like I said, I don’t know,” Tony said annoyed. “When I find out, you’ll be the first to know and I’ll send you a postcard.”

 

Tony charms May into letting him have five minutes alone with Peter. Once in Peter’s room, Tony spits the walnut meatloaf he had praised moments before into a trashcan. Tony then takes a look around the room, noting the out of date computers. Peter says he looks through trash for it and Tony calls him a dumpster diver.

 

“I’m not a dumpster diver,” Peter said as he flushed.

 

“You go through trash kid; you’re a dumpster diver,” Sam said and Peter sighed.

 

Annoyed, Peter wants to know why Tony is here. Tony pulls out his phone and plays a holographic video of Spider-Man swinging across New York on webs, asking if that is Peter.

 

Everyone turned to stare at Peter, who wasn’t looking at any of them. His behavior was proof enough that it was true.

 

“You’re the Spider-ling?” Tony asked stunned.

 

“Spider-Man,” Peter mumbled but they all heard him loud and clear.

 

“How does a kid end up fighting crime?” Natasha asked, her mind whirling as she wondered how someone who seemed to have a pretty normal life ended up a vigilante.

 

“I went a field trip with my class to Oscorp,” Peter sighed as he lifted his head, not looking at them. “They were working on these genetically modified spiders. One got out and bit me. The next day, I woke up without needing glasses and able to bench press my desk.”

 

“Why are you doing this kid? I mean, I’m guessing you didn’t wake up and decide to become a superhero,” Sam noted and Peter flinched.

 

“No,” Peter admitted. “If the bad things happen and you can do something about it, but you don’t…then they happen because of you.”

 

Without meaning to, Wanda got a flash of Peter crying as he held a man’s hand, the man staring up at Peter before the light left his eyes. Wanda blocked it out, not wanting to invade Peter’s head like that.

 

“You lost someone?” Steve asked, noticing the look in Peter’s eyes.

 

Peter nodded but didn’t say anything. Realizing it was a sensitive subject; The Avengers exchanged a glance, silently deciding to drop the subject. For now.

 

Peter stammers a denial, unconvincingly as Tony continues showing the footage of Spider-Man saving lives, noting Peter has ‘mad skills’. Peter continues to stammer denials as Tony unveils the hiding spot in his ceiling and Peter’s suit comes down, hanging from rope.

 

Peter stills as he realizes he’s been caught. Tony lists all the names Peter is known as on the internet, ‘Spider-ling, Crime fighting Spider, and Spider-Boy’ before Peter corrects him, saying to call him Spider-Man. Tony makes fun of Peter’s suit, calling it a ‘onesie’.

 

“It’s not a onesie,” Peter said, annoyed and embarrassed.

 

“Not everyone can afford their own armor Tony,” Clint said sharply as he looked at Tony sharply.

 

“Really Tony, you start off by making fun of him?” Steve said angrily as Tony winced, realizing that it was true.

 

“Sorry?” Tony said lamely.

 

Peter bemoans the fact that he’s been caught as Tony asks if anyone else knows. Peters says no one, not even May because ‘she’d freak’. Tony compliments Peter’s web shooters, tossing one to Peter. Tony asks about the webbing and Peter admits he made it.

 

“Really, you made it?” Tony asked, impressed and Peter nodded.

 

“The science lab at my school is full of the chemicals I can use to make it,” Peter said and everyone was impressed.

 

“Wow kid, you’re good,” Scott said impressed and Peter flushed at the praise.

 

Peter starts to explain about how he got his powers but Tony cuts him off, uninterested, as he observes Peter’s suit, specifically the goggles. He makes fun of them before an annoyed and embarrassed Peter yanks it out of Tony’s hands.

 

“And there you go with making fun of him again,” Wanda said angrily and Peter flushed, embarrassed.

 

As Tony looked away, acknowledging that it wasn’t okay, Barton mused from the lab that Tony seemed like a completely different person with Morgan than with Peter.3

 

Peter explains, since he got his abilities, his senses have been kicked into overdrive and the goggles help him focus. Tony says Peter needs an upgrade.

 

“My god Tony,” Steve said, shocked and disgusted as they all put it together why Tony was really there.

 

“You’re gonna drag a kid into this?!” Clint demanded, furious at the thought of Tony involving someone who wasn’t much older than Cooper was.

 

“What is wrong with you man?” Scott, likewise, was angry that a child would be involved.

 

Natasha glared daggers at Tony, memories of the Red Room and all she had endured there surfacing.  T’Challa likewise was angry that Tony would make Peter a child soldier, something he had seen far too much of as Sam and Rhodey stared at Tony, disgusted.

 

“Have you sunken so low Stark you would involve a child?” Thor asked angrily, wishing he had his hammer right now.

 

Tony was simply too stunned to reach, shocked he would involve someone so young in this kind of conflict. How low had he sunk, he wondered disgusted with himself.4

 

Peter sits on his bed and Tony asks why he’s doing this. Peter explains that he’s had his powers for six months and, while he’d love to use his powers for selfish reasons like football, people would notice if he could suddenly score a touchdown when he couldn’t before. If you can do these things, but you don’t, and bad things happen, they happen because of you, Peter says.

 

Steve looked over at Peter silently, reminded of his desire to help his country in the war. Peter reminded him a lot of himself when he was younger, he mused.

 

Wanda, likewise, remembered her desire to stop the invasions in Sokovia and Hydra’s lies that they would help her and Pietro stop the invasions.

 

Tony calls this ‘looking out for the little guy’.

 

In the lab, Fitz and Barton exchange a glance.

 

“Well, the recordings certainly don’t show that,” Fitz mused.

 

“Yeah, kid let being an Avenger go to his head,” Barton agreed.5

 

Tony sits down next to Peter, putting a hand on Peter’s shoulder before randomly asking if Peter has a passport or been to Germany.

 

“I’m sorry,” Tony said softly, unable to look at Peter. “I shouldn’t have involved you in this. This wasn’t your fight and you had no business being involved in it.”

 

“It’s okay,” Peter said, trying to make him feel better but Tony shook his head.

 

“No, it’s not. This is so far from okay,” Tony sighed in guilt but no one could say anything because, well, Tony was right.

 

Peter does not want to go but Tony is not taking no for an answer. Tony gets up, walking to the door, claiming he’s going to tell May when Peter shoots some webbing out, pinning Tony’s hand to the door. Peter demands Tony not tell May and Tony agrees.

 

“And now you’re manipulating him,” Natasha grumbled, once again drawing parallels between Tony’s actions and the Red Room.

 

“He couldn’t tell your aunt kid, she’d have to give consent for you to go as your legal guardian,” Clint told Peter, who nodded, relieved.

 

The scene changes to the Compound at night. Vision is standing in his room when there is an explosion from outside.

 

Everyone tensed, wondering what else could go wrong.

 

“Great, as if we didn’t have enough going on, someone’s attacking us,” Rhodey grumbled.

 

Vision phases through the floor up to the kitchen, where Wanda is. Wanda asks what it is and Vision says to stay there as he phases outside to investigate. Sensing someone else in the room, Wanda uses her powers to throw the knife off the cutting board towards the intruder. However, when she sees who it is, she stops it inches from Clint’s face.

 

“Oh my god, I’m so sorry,” Wanda said horrified but was surprised by the proud smile that crossed Clint’s face.

 

“Don’t be. If I was the enemy, you would’ve stopped me before I could do anything to hurt you or Vision. You did good,” Clint said and Wanda blinked, surprised but pleased at the praise.

 

Clint quips he should’ve knocked as the knife drops to the floor and Wanda asks what he is doing there. Disappointing his kids, Clint mused as he fired two arrows into the walls. He was supposed to be taking them waterskiing.

 

Clint tensed as those in the know (the original Avengers and Wanda) shot him concerned looks.

 

“You have kids?” Sam asked surprised.

 

“Yes,” Clint said after a moment, deciding there was no point hiding it. “I have two boys and a girl. Fury helped me keep them a secret so no one could ever get to me through them. Look, if anyone ever found out, all the people I’ve made enemies of would come after them.”

 

“We get it Clint,” Rhodey said as Sam nodded.

 

“We won’t tell,” Sam promised.

 

“Your secret is safe with me Agent Barton,” T’Challa vowed.

 

“I won’t tell anyone,” Scott vowed, Cassie’s face flashing through his mind.

 

“Who’s gonna believe a kid anyway?” Peter joked.

 

“Thank you,” Clint said relieved as he relaxed.

 

Clint grabs Wanda by the hand and begins to lead her out when Vision returns, saying Clint should not be there.

 

“This should be good,” Natasha smirked.

 

“The protective dad figure versus the controlling would be suitor,” Tony said as he looked from Vision to Clint. “The worst thing you can do is underestimate this guy.”

 

“I do not believe Agent Barton will underestimate me,” Vision noted.

 

“I was talking to you,” Tony said simply as Clint smirked.

 

In the lab, Fitz looked over at Barton.

 

“You do know you would’ve lost if Wanda hadn’t stepped in, right?” Fitz said and Barton nodded.

 

“I know, but it was never my intention to beat him,” Barton said with a smirk.

 

Clint makes a barbed remark about ‘retiring for five minutes and it all goes to shit’. Vision pleads with Clint to ‘consider the consequences of your action’. But Clint does not yield and Vision is electrocuted by the arrow Clint shot into the counter.

 

“Told ya,” Tony said as Clint smirked. “I still have nightmares about the incident with the peanut butter.”

 

“What incident?” Peter asked as the original Avengers and Rhodey began laughing.

 

“I’d rather not say,” Tony said sheepishly.

 

“I’ll tell you,” Natasha said as Tony looked at her sharply.

 

“You promised!” Tony pleaded.

 

“You begged us not to say anything,” Steve said with a grin.

 

“We promised no such thing,” Thor said cheekily.

 

“So, Clint had brought an apple pie to the tower after coming back from visiting his family,” Natasha said as Wanda, Sam, Peter, T’Challa, and Scott began listening intently. “He told us it was a gift from someone special, therefore to wait so we could share it as a post mission celebration.”

 

“Only Tony is not known for listening, so he ate it while the rest of us were asleep,” Steve said, his grin widening.

 

“Clint doesn’t do anything for three weeks, so Tony is completely shocked one morning when he goes to take a shower and sets off a ringed peanut butter bomb that covers him head to toe in it while he’s butt naked,” Rhodey said with a grin.

 

“And Barton had set up a webcam in the room and sent the footage to every news station in New York,” Thor said and everyone laughed at Tony’s expense.

 

“I had to make so many deals to make sure that didn’t go viral,” Tony said embarrassed.

 

“And you never crossed me again,” Clint said with a grin.

 

Clint tries to make a break for it but Wanda hesitates due to her guilt. Clint sighs before walking back over to her, telling her he needs her help. You wanna mope, go high school, he tells her. You wanna make amends, get off your ass.

 

Clint placed a hand on Wanda’s shoulder as her face clouded with guilt.

 

“You can’t let one mistake cause you to throw in the towel kid,” Clint told her gently. “Sometimes you fail; sometimes people die on your watch. You’re never gonna get universal approval, so you gotta take what you can get.”

 

Wanda doesn’t say anything, but Clint knew it would take a while for it to sink in.

 

Vision breaks free of Clint’s trap and Clint fired at him. However, Vision phases so it goes right through him. Vision pushes Clint back and Clint lands on his feet, making a sarcastic comment about wishing he’d stretched. Clint pulled out a baton and rushed Vision.

 

“You are aware that you cannot defeat me,” Vision pointed out and Clint nodded.

 

“I know,” Clint said and they were all confused by the smirk that crossed his face.

 

Clint attempted to strike him but Vision phased through before hardening himself. The baton broke when Clint struck him with it and Vision put Clint in a choke hold, telling Clint he couldn’t defeat him as Wanda watched. Clint agreed, but noted Wanda could. Vision looked up and saw Wanda’s hands glowing with red mist as she demanded he release Clint.

 

“I can’t beat you, but she can,” Clint said as he looked over at Wanda. “And somehow, I don’t think she likes the fact that you kept her prisoner.”

 

The stonily look Wanda flashed Vision spoke volumes.

 

Wanda declares she is leaving but Vision refuses to let her. Wanda uses her powers to affect the stone, making him release Clint as Vision fell to his knees, Wanda increasing his weight. Vision told Wanda they would never stop fearing her but she notes she cannot control their fear, only her own. Wanda then sends Vision down through the floor as he falls through the Compound’s many levels.

 

“I’m gonna take a shot in the dark here and say she’s not asking for your permission,” Scott said as they all looked over at Wanda.

 

Wanda felt partially guilty for this but Vision had left her no choice. She was sorry that it had come to that but she found she wasn’t sorry she had done it.

 

Clint and Wanda stare at the hole for a moment before Clint tells her they have another stop to make.

 

Everyone looked at Clint but he shrugged, having no clue.

 

At the Task Force base, T’Challa and his guard are moving towards a car but find Natasha blocking their way. The guard demands Natasha move or she will ‘be moved’. Natasha refuses but T’Challa calls off his guard.

 

“Who do you think would’ve won?” Tony asked T’Challa eagerly.

 

The other Avengers rolled their eyes at Tony’s antics but listened with Scott and Peter for T’Challa’s answer, curious despite themselves.

 

“It is difficult to say,” T’Challa said after a moment. “Agent Romanoff is a skilled warrior, I can see that. But the King’s guard is trained in the warrior ways of Wakanda, some since childhood. I honestly am unsure.”

 

 Natasha asks if T’Challa thinks he can find Barnes and he points out he has considerable resources. Natasha points out that Bucky is famous for disappearing and T’Challa asks if she knows where they are. Natasha admits she knows someone who does.

 

Everyone looks at Natasha but she shrugs, unsure.

 

Elsewhere, Steve met with Sharon as Sam and Bucky watched from a car. Steve says its low profile, which Sharon notes as a good thing as she opens truck of her car to reveal Sam and Steve’s gear.

 

“Wow, she is awesome,” Scott said as the others found themselves agreeing.

 

“Don’t let that one get away Cap,” Tony joked.

 

“She’s my first love’s niece. I think I’m gonna need some time to process that,” Steve deadpanned.

 

Inside the car, Bucky is in the back as Sam is in the passenger seat. Bucky asks Sam to move his seat up but Sam blankly refuses.

 

“What are you twelve?” Rhodey asked amused.

 

Sam flushed, admitting he was acting a little childish, perhaps a little possessive to.6

 

Steve thanks Sharon as she says she’s keeping a list. Sharon looks over at the car as Bucky moves to the middle seat, pointing out Bucky tried to kill her. Steve apologizes, saying he’s keeping a list to. He warns her they’ll be looking for her know, which Sharon already knows. Steve thanks her and they stare at each other for a moment before Steve walks over and they kiss.

 

Steve shifted a little, uncomfortable. Sharon seemed great and he found her attractive. There was something there, but it just felt too soon after Peggy’s death to start something.

 

They pull back, both agreeing the kiss was late. Sharon walks off and Steve looks over at the car as Sam and Bucky smirk at him.

 

Steve stared at Sam with an incredulous look but Sam just smirked at him. Steve rolled his eyes with an amused smile as everyone snickered.

 

They drive to an airport and Steve parks by a van. They get out and Clint and Wanda exit the van. Clint greets Steve and Steve apologizes, saying he wouldn’t have called if there was another choice. Clint brushes the apology off, saying he owes a debt as he looks over at Wanda.

 

“You don’t owe me anything,” Wanda said as she looked over at Clint.

 

“He has a habit of picking up stray, just go with it,” Natasha said with a smirk as Clint rolled his eyes. “We first met when he was sent to kill me, he brought me home instead.”

 

As Clint rolled his eyes, Peter looked around, noting how weird it all was. He’d always thought of them as gods, but he was starting to realize they were flawed and made mistakes, just like him.

 

Steve thanks Wanda for having his back and Wanda shrugs, saying it was time to get off her ass with a look over at Clint.

 

Clint smirked at her as Wanda shrugged.

 

Steve asks about the other recruit and Clint walks over to the van, saying he had to put coffee in him but he was ‘rearin’ to go’. He opened the back door to reveal Scott Lang, dozing.

 

“Hey, it’s me,” Scott exclaimed.

 

“So now we find out why you’re here Tic-Tac,” Sam noted.

 

Scott blinks at the light, asking about the time zone as he gets out. Scott spots Steve and begins fanboying over him, shaking his hand far too long. He drops it and looks back a Wanda, complimenting her by calling her ‘great’.

 

Wanda smiled at Scott as Clint shot him a grateful look. Throughout this whole recording, all Wanda had heard was how everyone feared and hated her. It was about time she heard something positive.

 

Scott places his hands on Steve’s shoulder, as if to reassure himself this is happening as Steve stands still, fighting amusement as Scott stammers ‘thinks for thanking of me’.

 

“Is this as embarrassing as it looks?” Scott asked flushing.

 

“Much worse,” Clint said with a smirk and Scott groaned as everyone else laughed at his expense.

 

Steve asks what he’s been told and Scott notes it was about some ‘psycho assassins’. Steve warns him they’ll be outside the law on this mission, which is nothing new to Scott. Bucky says they should get moving and Clint says he has a chopper for them. However, alarms blare as the PA system goes off, a man saying something in German. Bucky translates, saying the airport is being evacuated.

 

“Looks like you found us,” Steve said as he looked over at Tony, who winced.

 

“Which just made your job a lot harder,” Tony muttered.

 

“I must have tracked Sharon, which led us to you,” Natasha realized in guilt.

 

Sam realizes Tony has found them, confusing Scott as they look to Steve for orders. Steve orders them to ‘suit up’.

Chapter Text

Steve, in uniform, stepped out of the parking garage and onto the airfield. He moves towards the chopper Clint had mentioned but a device hits the chopper, making it useless. Tony and Rhodey fly down, blocking Steve’s way by landing in front of the chopper.

 

“You knew that we were coming. Why would you try and go for the chopper?” Rhodey asked confused.

 

“It’s probably a distraction, especially since he went there alone,” Natasha said as she looked over at Steve, who was simply watching the recording stonily.

 

Steve tries to tell Tony about Zemo but is interrupted when T’Challa, dressed in his suit, jumps down, landing a few feet from Steve. Steve and T’Challa greet each other as Tony gives Steve the opportunity to surrender.

 

“You know I can’t do that Tony, not with what’s at stake,” Steve said slowly and Tony sighed.

 

“I know that…but he doesn’t,” Tony said as he gestured towards the screen.

 

Steve tries to reason with Tony as Tony accuses Steve’s judgement of being askew.

 

Neither Steve nor Tony looked at each other, neither able to say out loud what both knew: That perhaps both their judgements were compromised.

 

Steve tries once more to warn Tony about Zemo’s plan as Natasha appears, asking Steve, almost pleadingly, not to ‘punch his way out of this’.

 

“Seriously, none of you are questioning that Steve just warned you about five more Winter Soldiers?” Sam asked incredulously and Tony, Rhodey, Natasha, and T’Challa exchanged awkward glances, wondering why that information had gone over their heads.

 

“It does seem odd that Colonel Rhodes and Agent Romanoff would not question that,” Vision noted.1

 

Steve answers Natasha with silence and Tony runs out of patience. He calls out and Steve’s shield is yanked from his hands, his hands bound by webbing as Peter, in a new suit, landed on the chopper.

 

Peter stares in awe of the suit his on screen self is wearing. It looks much cooler than his, he thought.

 

Peter talks excitedly about the suit Tony had given him before Tony shut him down saying they ‘didn’t need to start a conversation’. Peter, embarrassed, shyly greeted Steve. Steve calmly notes Tony has been busy and Tony exploded on Steve, accusing him of dragging in Clint and rescuing Wanda from ‘a place she didn’t want to leave, a safe place’.

 

Tony looked awkward as several pairs of eyes turn to him incredulously.

 

“Safe? You call being at the mercy of Ross, who can take her out of the Compound and ship her off to some off the books facility at his whim safe?” Clint asked incredulously, unsure whether to be angry or concerned for Tony’s mental state.

 

“The only reason I would not have left is because Vision kept me there against my will. Do not confuse avoiding conflict for being happy with the situation,” Wanda hissed and Tony winced.

 

Tony claims to be trying to stop The Avengers from being torn apart but Steve says Tony already tore them apart when he signed The Accords.

 

Tony and Steve both winced at this. While it wasn’t necessary wrong, as Tony signing did tear them apart, it was ultimately Steve and Tony’s inability to come to any sort of understanding on The Accords that had torn them apart, they silently acknowledged.  

 

Tony becomes even more enraged at this, shouting that Steve he needs to turn Bucky over and surrender, almost beginning him to give up by the end. Sam radios in, telling Steve Red Wing has found the Quinjet. Steve raised his hand and Clint fires, cutting Steve free. Steve signals Scott, who enlarges himself on Steve’s shield. Scott kicks Peter in the head and takes the shield.

 

“Good god, I’m so sorry,” Scott exclaimed, horrified that he’d just hit a kid.

 

“It’s okay, I’ve had worse,” Peter said and everyone stared at him. “You don’t fight crime without getting a few bumps and scraps.”

 

Scott returns Steve’s shield to him as Tony and Rhodey marvel at this turn of events. Tony’s scanners pick up Wanda and Clint on the parking deck. As Tony goes off to handle them, Rhodey picks up Bucky and Sam in the terminal. T’Challa races towards it, eager to kill Bucky as Steve throws his shield at Rhodey. It hits the front of Rhodey’s armor, forcing him back as Peter asks Tony for instructions. Tony orders Peter to stay back and ‘web them up’.

 

“Well, at least you had the sense to tell him to keep his distance,” Steve said grudgingly.

 

“Still doesn’t make you involving a kid okay,” Rhodey said sharply and Tony winced.

 

“I know,” Tony admitted ashamed.

 

Steve throws his shield at T’Challa, hitting him in the back and knocking him down.

 

“Sorry you’re highness,” Steve said but T’Challa waved him off.

 

“I was going after the wrong man, you were right to try and stop me,” T’Challa assured him.

 

T’Challa quickly gets back to his feet as the shield returns to Steve and Steve grabs T’Challa, throwing him back. T’Challa demands for Steve to move but Steve stands his ground, so T’Challa tries to strike him but blocks with his shield.

 

Elsewhere, Scott tells Natasha he doesn’t want to hurt her but she is unconcerned, kneeing him in the groin.

 

All the males in the room winced, eying Natasha wearily as she flashed a wicked smile.

 

Natasha grabs Scott’s arm and tries to flip him but Scott shrinks himself and, to Natasha’s shock, flips her on her back.

 

“Wow, you’re strong,” Peter said in awe and Scott shrugged.

 

“Only when I shrink. An Ant can lift up to fifty times its body weight, so Hank designed the suit to be even better than that,” Scott said, pride in his mentor clear in his voice.

 

“Who?” Tony said confused.

 

“Hank Pym? He worked with your dad? Come on man,” Scott said offended as he saw Tony had no clue what he was talking about.

 

“Hey, my old man didn’t share a lot of things with me,” Tony held up his hands defensively.

 

Scott begins dragging her hand behind her back before Natasha uses her Widow’s Bite to send Scott flying.

 

“You don’t play around,” Scott winced as Natasha smirked.

 

In the Terminal, Bucky asks what ‘that’ is as he spots Peter outside the windows. Sam mutters about everyone having a gimmick.

 

“I am not a gimmick!” Peter exclaimed defensively.

 

“Sorry kid,” Sam apologized in order to calm the kid, figuring that Peter had had too much negative reinforcement from Tony.

 

Peter uses his webbing to crash through the windows and delivers a flying kick to Sam, sending him sliding across the floor.Bucky tries to punch Peter with his robotic arm but Peter catches his fist, to Bucky's surprise. Peter fanboys over Bucky’s arm before Sam flies in, grabbing Peter and flying him away from Bucky. They struggle before Peter kicks Sam, forcing him to let Peter go.

 

“You have the right to remain silent? What are you kid, a cop?” Clint asked amused as Peter flushed.

 

“It sounded cool in my head,” Peter said embarrassed.

 

Outside, Wanda and Clint are dodging missiles Tony is shooting at them, destroying everything they could be using to take cover.

 

“Are you-are you shooting missiles at us?” Clint asked as everyone looked toward Tony, who looked shocked at his own actions.

 

“So you’re gonna shoot missiles at us if we disagree with you?” Sam demanded and Tony was so shocked he didn’t even register it, horrified he would endanger his teammates that way.2

 

Steve and T’Challa were still fighting, T’Challa’s claws making a scratch on the shield. T’Challa attempts to strike Steve but Steve is able to dodge the strikes. Rhodey pulls out a Stun Staff, warning Steve this wouldn’t kill him but ‘wouldn’t tickle either’.  Rhodey tries to strike Steve but Steve blocks with his shield.

 

As he reaches Clint and Wanda, Tony tells Wanda she hurt Vision’s feelings.

 

Vision did not respond as Clint shoot him a dirty look and Wanda pointedly avoided looking at him. He had his work cut out for him, as Tony would say, Vision mused.

 

Wanda accuses Tony of locking her in her room Tony claims that is an exaggeration and he did it to protect her, causing Wanda to look at him incredulously.

 

“An exag-I think it’s a damn simplification!” Clint exclaimed angrily.

 

“That’s enough,” Steve said as they looked over at him. “This hasn’t happened yet, none of this has. Tony hasn’t done any of this yet, so let’s not blame him for things he hasn’t done.”

 

“The Captain is right. I do not believe were brought here so we could fight among ourselves,” Thor agreed.

 

Clint still looked at Tony angrily and the rage was still clear in Wanda’s eye but they both decided to table this for now, acknowledging the point. However, it was clear that everyone was far from pleased with Tony’s actions, including the man in question.

 

Tony greets Clint, noting retirement doesn’t suit him. Clint notes he played golf, getting a hole in one every time. He can’t seem to miss, Clint noted before firing at Tony. Tony easily destroys the arrow but Clint, with a smirk, says ‘made ya look’. Wanda then uses her powers to bring down the cars from the parking garage onto Tony, burying him.

 

“Did you really have to bury me?” Tony whined.

 

“Did you have to make me a prisoner in my own home?” Wanda asked coolly and Tony winced.

 

She felt a twinge of regret as she saw Steve’s look of disapproval but stonily looked back at the screen.

 

Back in the terminal, Peter was dodging Sam’s tricks when Bucky threw something at him. Peter dodged before throwing it back at Bucky, who took cover behind a pillar.

 

“You’re pretty strong kid,” Steve said, impressed and Peter flushed at the praise from CAPTAIN AMERICA of all people.

 

“T-thanks,” Peter said, trying not to have a meltdown.

 

Sam kicked Peter from behind, trying to force Peter to the floor, but Peter shot off some webbing to swing away. Peter then shot some webbing into Sam’s jet pack, throwing him off balance and forcing a crashing landing. As Sam stood up, Peter shoot off some webbing that hit his hands and stuck him to a railing.

 

“I can’t believe it. I’ve been beaten by a kid,” Sam said in complete disbelief.

 

“Maybe he should take your place on the team,” Natasha joked.

 

“You guys aren’t letting me live this down anytime soon, are you?” Sam deadpanned.

 

The only answer he got were the smirks on Natasha, Clint and Rhodey’s faces and the amused smile Steve flashed. Sam groaned, already knowing this wasn’t going away anytime soon.

 

Peter lands on the side of a pillar and starts fanboying over Sam’s wings. An annoyed Sam says their usually isn’t this much talking in a fight and Peter apologized, swinging down. Bucky tackles him and Peter kicks him into Sam. They go through the glass and fall, Peter webbing Sam in a web body wrap and pinning Bucky’s metal arm to the floor. Peter apologizes but says he needs to impress Tony before Sam calls Red Wing. Red Wing tackles Peter and sends him flying out the window.

 

“God, I’m sorry kid,” Sam said in horror.

 

“It’s okay, really. The bully’s at school rough me up more than you guys,” Peter assured them.

 

Bucky jokingly asks if Sam couldn’t have done that earlier, causing an exasperated Sam to say he hates Bucky.

 

“I like this guy,” Clint said with a laugh, causing Steve to smile slightly. “I think he and I will get along great.”

 

Outside, Rhodey goes to strike Steve but Steve jumps into the air and delivers a flying kick to Rhodey, sending him down to the ground and cutting his stun staff in half. Rhodey gets up as Steve sends a flying kick to T’Challa, sending him back. Rhodey angrily tosses aside his damaged weapon as Scott runs up to Steve, handing him what looks like a Hot Wheels truck. Scott pulls out a Pym Partial Disk, instructing Steve to throw the truck at it.

 

“You want to throw a Hot Wheels at them?” Sam asked incredulously as they all turned to stare at Scott incredulously.

 

“It won’t be one for long,” Scott said cheerfully.

 

Scott tossed the Disk into the air and Steve tossed the truck at it. As they made contact, the truck enlarged into a regular sized gas truck. Rhodey, T’Challa, and Natasha got out of the way as it hit the ground, exploding in a blast of flames.

 

“Oh god, I must have thought that was a water truck! My bad,” Scott said apologetically as everyone turned to give him an angry look.

 

“You’re bad? You could’ve killed them!” Clint snapped, worried for Natasha.

 

“Hey, I’m okay, we’re all okay,” Natasha pointed out as she gestured to herself, T’Challa, and Rhodey. “Besides, like Steve said, let’s not blame each other for things that haven’t happened yet.”

 

Clint shot Scott a glare that had Scott shivering but backed down, conceding Natasha’s point.

 

Natasha and T’Challa are knocked back by the blast as Rhodey is protected by his armor. Scott exclaims he thought it was a water truck as Steve gives him an annoyed look.

 

“Sorry,” Scott said sheepishly.

 

Steve and Scott rush off as Tony helps Natasha up, Natasha asking if this was part of the plan. Tony says he was going easy on them.

 

“You call shooting missiles at us going easy?” Sam asked incredulously as Tony squirmed.

 

“Apparently he does,” Tony muttered.

 

Steve and Scott meet up with Wanda and Clint, who points out the Quinjet in the hanger. Bucky and Sam join them as they rushed towards it but they are forced to stop as a beam cuts a line in the ground, signaling the arrival of Vision.

 

“And here we go,” Clint muttered, knowing the real fight was going to start now.

 

Vision demands Steve surrender, for the collective good.

 

“Except the collective good id served by Captain Rogers not surrendering,” Thor pointed out.

 

“I am aware of that, but, as Mr. Stark said earlier, the Vision in these recordings is not,” Vision said simply.

 

Tony and Natasha assemble behind Vision, followed by Rhodey, T’Challa, and finally Peter. There is a moment of silence as Sam asks Steve what to do and Steve says they fight.

 

“We don’t have any other choice,” Steve noted sadly as the tension in the room was back.

 

The two sides rush each other, Wanda, Sam, Rhodey, Vision, and Tony taking off into the air. Tony goes for Steve as Steve blocks with his shield as T’Challa tackles Bucky. Clint fires arrows into the air while Wanda uses her powers to throws objects into the air. Natasha throws Scott to the ground as Steve hits Tony in the head with his helmet. Tony is then hit in the Arc Reactor with an arrow, which goes off, throwing him back. Natasha and Clint engage, Clint throwing her to the ground and putting bow at her chest.

 

For this, The Avengers could only watch, the tension mounting with each second, horror flooding through them that this conflict had spread so far, gotten to the point where they were forced to fight each other. It was a sobering thought for all of them.

 

Natasha quickly asks if they’re still friends and Clint, his voice supposed to sound sarcastic but just sounds strained, says it depends how hard she hits him.

 

Clint and Natasha winced as they glanced over at each other, the pain on their faces at being forced to fight family clear to all of them Steve placed a hand on Natasha’s shoulder as Wanda took Clint’s hand, each hoping to comfort their friend.

 

Using her legs, Natasha frees herself and they stand up. Natasha goes to kick Clint but Wanda intervenes, using her powers to freeze Natasha’s kick before throwing her, gently, into the side of a jet bridge. Wanda scolds Clint for throwing his punches and he nods at her.

 

“Sorry,” Wanda said sheepishly but, to her surprise, Natasha smiled.

 

“Don’t be. You did exactly as I taught you, looking over your shoulder and assisting your teammates. Very impressive,” Natasha said a hint of pride in her voice.

 

As Bucky and T’Challa fight, Bucky says he didn’t kill T’Chaka. T’Challa demands to know why he ran then.

 

“Maybe because people were shooting at him and trying to kill him,” Clint said dryly and T’Challa winced.

 

“In hindsight, that is rather clear but in these recordings, I am blinded by grief and not listening to reason,” T’Challa admitted.

 

T’Challa, with surprising strength, forces Bucky’s robotic hand back, flipping him. Bucky gets up but T’Challa kicks him against some crates. T’Challa attempts to slit his throat with his claws but Wanda uses her powers to send T’Challa flying into a jet bridge.

 

Steve shot Wanda a grateful look as Natasha led out a breath she didn’t realize she was holding. She might not love him, but Barnes had been one of the few good things in her life before she met Clint. She didn’t want him dead.

 

Clint and Steve both noticed Natasha’s reaction and were curious, wondering why she seemed to care so much about Bucky.

 

Steve throws his shield; cutting Peter’s webbing and causing Peter to fall.

 

Steve winced, horrified that he was fighting a child as Tony was ashamed that he’d dragged a child into this situation.

 

Peter landed on some equipment as the shield returned to Steve. Peter gets up; noting Steve’s shield doesn’t obey the laws of physics.

 

“You really know how to handle that thing Cap,” Rhodey noted and Steve shrugged.

 

“I’ve had a lot of practice,” Steve said simply.

 

Steve attempts to reason with Peter but Tony has told Peter not to listen to Steve.

 

“Great,” Tony sighed, looking over at Peter. “In the future kid, don’t blindly listen to someone’s orders, especially when they come from me.”

 

Peter used his webbing and grabs Steve’s legs, yanking hismforward. Steve drops his shield as Peter yanks Steve forward and kicks Steve in the chest, causing Steve to fly into some machinery.

 

“Wow, I hit Captain America,” Peter said in awe.

 

“Just be careful kid, he probably hits a lot harder,” Sam said and Steve winced.

 

Steve’s shield drops to the ground, a few feet from him as Steve lands on the ground. Peter tells him Tony told him to go for the legs.

 

“Not bad advice,” Steve said as he looked over at Tony. “At least you gave him some useful advice.”

 

Tony smiled weakly, appreciating that Steve was trying to make him feel less horrible about the situation but it wasn’t working.

 

Steve goes for his shield but Peter grabs his hands with his webbing, attempting to pull Steve back. However, not to be deterred, Steve pulled, hard, and sent Peter flying.

 

Steve winced, the thought he could potentially hurt a kid an unpleasant one. However, Peter thought very differently.

 

“That was awesome! You just pulled and I went whoosh!” Peter exclaimed excitedly and his boundless energy cut through the tension as the adults smiled.

 

Sam is avoiding Tony’s blasts, asking Clint if he can get him off his back. Clint, on the ground, aimed an arrow with Scott, shrunken down, on the arrowhead.

 

“What are you two doing?” Tony asked as he eyed the pair, who both shrugged.

 

Clint asks if Scott is good to go, which Scott is. Clint fires and the arrowhead exploded into fragments. As Tony blasts them, destroying the fragments, he is unaware of Scott crawling inside his suit.

 

“Get out of my suit!” Tony exclaimed.

 

“Sorry, no can do. The biggest threat is the one you never see coming,” Scott said cheekily and Tony groaned.

 

Steve pulls on the webbing, binging Peter close to him so he can strike him in the face with his shield.

 

Steve flinched, shame filling him as Tony is shot glares by Clint and Scott and Tony could honestly say he deserved it.

 

Peter swings himself upon a platform and Steve asks what else Tony told him. Steve’s wrong, he thinks he’s right, which makes him dangerous Peter says.

 

“He’s got a point,” Steve acknowledged.

 

“Captain Rogers is right. To think you are so right and not listen to others makes one incredibly dangerous,” Thor noted and Tony winced. “I’ve seen it happen many times in my lifetime. It never ends well.”

 

Steve notes Tony has a point as Peter comes at him again. Steve kicks Peter under the platform and throws the shield, knocking out the pillar supporting it. The platform comes down and Peter is forced to catch it.

 

“You really are strong kid,” Clint said impressed.

 

“How strong are you exactly?” Scott asked curiously and Peter shrugged.

 

“I don’t know, I’ve never tried to test my limits,” Peter admitted.

 

Steve asks Peter where he’s from and Peter grunts Queens as he struggles under the weight of the platform. Steve grins, saying Brooklyn before he wants off.

 

“You’re from Brooklyn?” Peter asked surprised and Steve smiled slightly.

 

“I’m just a kid from Brooklyn that wanted to serve my country,” Steve said simply.

 

“And ended up becoming Captain America,” Tony noted and Steve shrugged.

 

“Life is weird that way,” Steve said simply.

 

Clint is firing at Tony, who blasts his arrows before suddenly, his gantlet stops firing. Tony is confused as FRIDAY tells him the weapons system is malfunctioning. Scott, in the process of disabling his suit, alerts Tony to his presence by taunting Tony about apparently having o conscience.

 

“Really Scott? You had to let him know you were in his suit?” Steve asked incredulously.

 

Scott winced as Clint, Wanda, and Sam groaned.

 

“Yeah, not one of my better ideas,” Scott admitted.

 

Tony expunges Scott from his suit by activating the fire suppression system.

 

“So much for that idea,” Sam sighed as Scott winced.

 

Natasha climbs up onto a platform, watching in horror as Rhodey fires missiles at Steve, which destroy everything they come into contact with.

 

Rhodey, likewise, is horrified by his own actions, wondering what happened that made him disregard the safety of his friends that way.

 

 Steve is knocked down; dropping his shield and Bucky grabs it, throwing it at Rhodey. The shield hits Rhodey’s chest plate and stuns him as Sam flies in, grabbing the shield and tossing it back to Steve. Steve catches it, thanking Bucky, who quips he needs to get one of those.

 

“Don’t we all,” Tony said jokingly.

 

 Steve and Bucky take cover behind a plane as Bucky notes Zemo is probably in Siberia by now. Steve orders Bucky to get to the Quinjet while he handles Vision but Sam radios in, telling them both to get to the jet. Sam flies over Clint, Rhodey following him and Clint is forced to jump to avoid a blast from Rhodey. Clint adds that in order to win this fight, some of them might have to lose. Sam points out this ‘isn’t the real fight’ and Steve sighs before asking what Sam’s plan is.

 

“A sacrifice play,” Tony noted, looking over at Steve who nodded.

 

“A sacrifice play,” Steve agreed.

 

Sam requests a distraction, something big he says as he dodges Rhodey attacks.

 

“Something big? That’s my cue,” Scott said cheerfully, to the confusion of everyone.

 

Scott says he as something big as he runs up the side of some machinery, telling them to ‘run like hell’ on his signal and not to come back for him if he tears himself in half, to the confusion of teammates.

 

“Tear yourself in half?” Clint repeats as they looked at Scott in confusion and a hint of worry.

 

“Well, Hank and I are still working out the kinks. But I’m sure I’ll be fine!” Scott said cheerfully, although they weren’t sure if he was trying to convince them or himself.

 

Steve asks Scott if he’s sure about this, to which Scott says yes, babbling about how he did this ‘once. In a lab. And I passed out right afterwards’.

 

“Not instilling much confidence Scott,” Natasha said as they all looked over at him, concerned.

 

Scott jumps on the passing Rhodey’s armor and activates a panel on his wrist. Scott let go of Rhodey and, to the shock of everyone, grew to gigantic size, towering over the airport as he grabbed Rhodey.

 

“Son of a bitch,” Tony said and it said how shocked they were no one made a point to tease Steve.

 

“Whoa,” Peter breathed.

 

“Not bad Tic-Tac,” Sam said with an impressed smirk.

 

“I’m just glad it worked! Last time it didn’t go so well,” Scott said with a wince.

 

“Well, we’ll be happy to have you on the team Scott,” Steve said and Scott froze for a moment.

 

“On the-on the team? Like on The Avengers? That team?” Scott stammered.

 

“Well, we were brought here for a reason. Stands to reason we’re supposed to work together,” Rhodey pointed out.

 

“No one’s forcing you to join the team if you don’t want to,” Steve told him.

 

“No, it’s an honor, of course I’ll join, wow!” Scott exclaimed.

 

“Calm down Tic-Tac,” Sam said, all of them amused by Scott.

 

Taking Scot’s signal, his teammates sprang into action. Sam slammed into Tony before he could try and help Rhodey, who Scott threw. As Rhodey tried to gain control of his flight, Peter tries to help. He shoots webbing, grabbing onto Rhodey to stop him. Peter is pulled by the flying Rhodey but crashes into a truck, flipping it on its side. Peter pulls, yanking and stops Rhodey from crashing into a plane. 

 

“Thanks kid, although part of me wished you’d let me be taken out of the fight,” Rhodey said wearily.

 

Scott kicks a bus and sends it crashing into a few trucks, causing a stampede of rolling vehicles. T’Challa is nearly crushed by them but Vision steps in front of him, hardening his body so the bus is cut in half when it reaches him.

 

“Oh god, I am so sorry you’re Highness! I wasn’t trying to hurt anyone,” Scott said full of regret.

 

“It is alright Mr. Lang, I remained unharmed, thanks to the Vision,” T’Challa said, nodding at Vision gratefully.

 

T’Challa sees Steve and Bucky running for the Quinjet and takes off after them as Scott pulls the wing off a plane. Tony is flying after Sam, firing blasts at him before Scott brings the wing down. Tony is forced to dodge as the wing crashes onto the ground, exploding.

 

“Wow, you don’t make things easy,” Tony muttered.

 

“I was supposed to be a distraction,” Scott shrugged.

 

“Well, you’re doing a good job,” Rhodey assured him.

 

“Nothing’s more distracting than a sixty foot man causing chaos,” Clint said with a smirk.

 

Tony asks if any of the others have ‘shocking and fantastic abilities’ as Sam dis engaged his wings and launched Red Wing. Red Wing hits Tony’s face plate, dazing him as Sam reactivated his wings, flying off.

 

“You don’t fight fair,” Tony complained.

 

“And you do Tones?” Rhodey asked with a smirk. 

 

“Seriously Tony, you’re the dirtiest fighter I’ve even seen. And that’s coming from me,” Natasha pointed out.

 

Tony crossed his arms, grumbling under his breath as the others laughed at his behavior.

 

T’Challa climbed up some crates in his pursuit of Steve and Bucky, finding Scott standing in his path. Scott declares T’Challa would have to go through him first before kicking the crates, destroying them and knocking T’Challa on his back.

 

“Thanks Scott,” Steve said and Scott shrugged.

 

“Anytime Cap,” Scott said cheerfully.

 

Scott goes to grab T’Challa but Rhodey flies in, Peter hanging on to him by the webbing from earlier, and fires at Scott. Scott is unaffected but distracted enough that Peter swung some webbing on Scott’s wrist, allowing Peter to swing a kick into Scott’s face.

 

“Did you have to go for the face?” Scott complained and Peter shrugged.

 

“Not a lot of places to hit when you’re that size,” Peter pointed out.

 

On the ground, Clint fired arrow after Arrow at T’Challa. T’Challa jumps out of the way before catching tow arrows, that explode but T’Challa is unaffected. Clint introduces himself as he turns his bow into a Bo staff but T’Challa is uninterested.

 

“Yeah, no one cares about old Hawkeye. I feel the love,” Clint said dryly and the original Avenges rolled their eyes.

 

“Oh stop it you big baby,” Tony said.

 

“We all know you don’t care about the attention,” Natasha said, amused at the show he was putting on.

 

“Of course you’d say that, you’re the Black Widow. Everyone knows who you are,” Clint said dryly.

 

“Don’t make me come over there,” Natasha threatened.

 

“Come on, I dare you,” Clint egged on as everyone laughed.

 

“Is this normal behavior?” T’Challa asked curiously.

 

“More than I’d like to admit,” Steve admitted.

 

As Clint and T’Challa begin engaging on the ground, Rhodey uses his Sonic Cannon on Scott, to no affect. Scott knocks Rhodey to the ground before he grabs a truck and attempts to hit Rhodey with it but Rhodey fired his weapons at it to destroy it before it could reach him. In frustration, Scott tried to kick him but Rhodey took off into the air in order to avoid it.

 

“I’m not a bug!” Rhodey exclaimed and Scott winced.

 

“Sorry?”

 

Spotting Steve and Bucky heading for the hanger, Rhodey tried to go after them but Wanda stopped him by a crate at him before throwing a car at him, forcing him to dodge.

 

Peter distracted Scott by climbing onto his mask and Scott threw him off, Peter dangling by his webbing as Vision bonked into him, making Scott crash into a plane. This allows Vision to spot Steve and Bucky as they are almost at the hanger.

 

“Uh oh,” Scott said as they all tensed.

 

“Something tells me we’re not gonna let you guys go without a fight,” Rhodey noted sadly.

 

“I wouldn’t expect anything less,” Steve said with a smile, showing he held no ill will to them for it.

 

T’Challa, restrained by Clint, spots this as well, breaking Clint’s bow and rushing after them.

 

“You owe me a new bow,” Clint said with a glare at T’Challa.

 

“He’s very territorial about his bows,” Natasha explained and T’Challa smirked, amused.

 

“I see,” T’Challa said before looking over at Clint. “Do not worry; I will supply you with one.”

 

Clint nodded, leaning back in his seat, accepting T’Challa’s answer.

 

Vision phases through Scott, freaking the man out as Vision appears on the other side.

 

“Okay, yeah, you don’t do that man! That’s just wrong,” Scott said with a shudder.

 

Vision uses a beam to cut down a tower, causing it to collapsed and land in front of the hanger. It would’ve stopped Steve and Bucky, but Wanda uses her powers to create a safe passage for them. However, Rhodey uses his sonic canon on her, causing her to scream as she loses her concentration. The rubble comes down on Steve and Bucky, who are just able to make it to the other side before it collapses on them.

 

“What the hell Rhodey!? Are you trying to kill them?” Clint demanded as they all whirled on the stunned Rhodey.

 

“I-I don’t know what to say. God Cap, I’m sorry,” Rhodey said, once again stunned by his indifference to the safety of his friends.

 

“Your and Stark’s actions throughout the battle have been…disturbing,” Thor echoed Rhodey and Tony’s own thoughts.

 

“You don’t have to tell us,” Tony muttered.

 

They find Natasha on the other side, who notes Steve’s not going to stop.

 

“I’ll never stop trying to do what’s right Nat,” Steve said calmly as he looked over at her.

 

“I know,” Natasha said as she looked back at him and there was a certain intensity to their gaze that made Clint look back and forth between them with an odd look.

 

Steve says he can’t and Natasha raises her arm, noting she’s going to regret this. She fires a Taser Disk and it hits T’Challa, to the shock of Steve and Bucky.

 

“I told you I wouldn’t arrest you,” Natasha said, causing Steve to smile slightly.

 

She tells them to go and Steve nods at her as he and Bucky move towards the Quinjet as she fires another Taser Disk at T’Challa.

 

“Sorry you’re highness,” Natasha apologized but he waved her off.

 

“You have stopped me from killing the wrong man. You do not owe me anything, I owe you a debt of gratitude,” T’Challa said humbly.

 

Outside the hanger, Scott is causing chaos as Peter asks on the Comms if they’ve ever ‘seen that really old movie, Empire strikes back’. This causes Rhodey to ask how old Peter is, to which Tony responds he ‘didn’t carbon date’ Peter.

 

Tony flinched as Clint, Scott, and T’Challa bristled. However, none of them said anything, taking Steve’s words about not blaming him for things he hasn’t done yet to heart.

 

Peter brings up the scene with the Imperial Walkers and Tony and Rhodey catch on. As Peter wraps Scott’s legs together with webbing, Rhodey and Tony punch him, causing Scott to fall while in avertedly hitting Peter, sending him to the ground.

 

“It’s okay Mr. Lang,” Peter said as he saw the horrified Scott open his moth. “Besides, this hasn’t happened yet.”

 

Peter crashed into some crates as Scott shrikes back down to his normal size, removing his mask as he asks for some orange slices.

 

“I like oranges,” Scott said simply as he was shot some odd looks.

 

Tony lands by Peter removing his face plate as he frantically checks on Peter. Peter, his mask half pulled off, wildly goes for him but calms down as he sees its Tony.

 

Scott let out the breath he had been holding; relieved he hadn’t harmed a child as Tony relaxed, happy he hadn’t gotten Peter killed or seriously hurt. Every else released a breath like Scott, happy a child hadn’t been hurt in their conflict.

 

Tony tells Peter he’s done and tells him to go home, even threatening to call May. Tony flies off and Peter protests, pulling on his mask and trying to get up but the exhaustion takes hold and he falls down, agreeing he’s done.

 

“I like you kid. You remind me a lot of my son,” Clint said with a warm smile.

 

“Thanks Mr. Hawkeye. Sir,” Peter said awkwardly and Clint chuckled.

 

“Just call me Clint,” Clint told him.

 

Rhodey is clearing the rubble as Steve is at the controls of the Quinjet, set to take off. T’Challa is hit by Natasha’s Taser Disks every time he tries to go for the Quinjet. Once the rubble is cleared enough, Steve takes off. T’Challa tries to grab onto the wheel but falls off as it goes into flight mode. The Quinjet flies into the air, Rhodey taking off after it as T’Challa angrily picks himself up. Natasha tells him she promised to help him find Bucky, not catch him.

 

“I doubt Ross will see it that way,” Tony noted and Natasha shrugged.

 

“Screw Ross,” Natasha said.

 

“An excellent idea Natasha,” Thor said darkly, imagining the things he’d like to do to Ross once he got out of there.

 

Outside, Vision flies down to Wanda, apologizing for keeping her prisoner. Wanda apologizes in turn for what she did to him.

 

“I’m sorry that I hurt you, but I’m not sorry I did it,” Wanda said stiffly and Vision nodded.

 

“And I am sorry that I kept you prisoner. My intentions may have been good, but I should not have done that,” Vision acknowledged. “I see that now. I am sorry Wanda.”

 

Wanda nodded, not accepting his apology or refusing it. He supposed that was best he could expect from her right now.

 

Vision points out he accurately predicted it would lead to catastrophe.

 

“Really, an ‘I told you so’ right now?” Clint asked angrily.

 

“And your equation is wrong Vision. There is only chaos because of Ross and The Accords. Because the governments of the world desire to control us,” Thor pointed out and Vision frowned.

 

“Perhaps you are right,” Vision allowed.

 

In the Quinjet, Steve sees Rhodey and Tony are on his tail, so he increases power to the thrusters. Seeing Sam on his tail, Rhodey calls Vision for back up as Sam shot off some weapons aimed only to distract Rhodey. When he gets no answer, Rhodey calls him again, telling Vision to target Sam’s thrusters to ‘turn him into a glider’. Vision glances up and shoots a beam from the stone. Sam sees it and dodged, so the beam hits Rhodey instead.

 

“Sorry man,” Sam said but Rhodey waved him off.

 

“You just avoided taking a hit, I’d have done the same thing,” Rhodey assured him.

 

The blast completely destroys his Arc reactor and Rhodey falls. Sam and Tony see this and fly after him, trying to save him as Rhodey alerts Tony that his suit is useless. However, they are unable to reach him in time and Rhodey crash lands, creating a creator as Tony lands next to him. He yanks off Rhodey’s mask, seeing his friend unconscious and with a bloody nose.

 

The mood plummeted as everyone stared at the screen in horror, worried for Rhodey.

 

Tony asks FRIDAY for vitals and she tells him Rhodey has a heartbeat and that help is on the way.

 

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief, relieved that Rhodey was not dead.

 

“I’m sorry man,” Sam said shakily.

 

“It’s not your fault. I’d rather it be me than you,” Rhodey said as he looked over at Vision. “What the hell man? I told you to slow him down, not kill him! If that had been him, Sam would have died!”3

 

“We don’t kill our friends Vision,” Steve said firmly, anger shining in his eyes.

 

“I apologize Mr. Wilson. It appears I still have much to learn,” Vision said, assessing his actions.

 

Sam lands nearby, saying he’s sorry. Tony angrily blasts him, knocking him out as Vision lands next to Sam’s unconscious body.

 

Tony flinched, knowing that was uncalled for. He opened his mouth to apologize but Sam waved him off.

 

“Don’t worry about it man. I get it, I get it,” Sam said as he thought of Riley.

Chapter Text

The mood in the room was solemn as the recording continued. Each of them was handling the events of the recording as best as they could.

 

In the lab, Fitz looked over at Barton.

 

“Should we have a break after this? It’s probably a lot for them to deal with,” Fitz pointed out and Barton nodded.

 

“Yeah, they’ll probably need some time to process this,” Barton muttered before tapping the Comms piece in his ear. “Strange, it’s time.”

 

In a bar in Russia, Zemo was on the phone, talking to the maid from his hotel in Berlin. He requests his breakfast be brought up to his room.

 

“What is he up to now?” Rhodey asked with narrowed eyes.

 

“Nothing good,” Sam muttered.

 

The maid knocks on the door to his room before opening it. She walks in, carrying his tray, confused upon finding no one there. She puts it down and, to her horror, finds a body in the shower.

 

“Shit,” Tony said as everyone was stunned.

 

“I thought he liked the maid,” Clint muttered.

 

“Apparently not,” Natasha muttered.

 

Peter shivered at the brutality and ruthlessness of Zemo, remembering Uncle Ben’s death.

 

In a Quinjet, Bucky asks Steve what will happen to the others. Steve sighs, worried about them but promises he’ll deal with whatever happens. Bucky expresses doubt that he’s worth ‘all this’.

 

“Except it’s not about Barnes, it’s about stopping Zemo,” Scott pointed out.

 

“Guilt can make it difficult to see beyond yourself to the situation,” Thor noted as Steve sighed, knowing Bucky would be dealing with a lot of guilt for all his years as The Winter Soldier.

 

Steve points out Bucky didn’t have a choice when he was The Winter Soldier but Bucky points out that, lack of choice or not, he still did all those things.

 

Steve grimaced as Clint felt a kinship with Bucky in that moment. If anyone understood what it was like to feel guilt over things you did while having no control, to take lives even, it was Clint.1

 

The door to the room suddenly opened and everyone looked over to see Strange enter the room.

 

“It was decided that it would be best if I joined you for the remainder of this recording, for everyone’s safety,” Strange said, his eyes going from Clint to Steve to Tony. “I know what you’ve seen so far has been difficult for some of you. But what you’re about to see…you’ll see betrayal and anger like you’ve never seen. Prepare yourselves.”

 

Strange then leaned against the wall as everyone glanced at each other, silently wondering what could be worse that what they had seen already.

 

At a hospital, Rhodey is getting an X-Ray as Tony and Vision watch.

 

Sam and Tony winced while Vision felt guilt hit him, realizing, for the first time perhaps, what his actions had done.

 

“Hey, I’m okay, right?” Rhodey said, seeing the looks on their faces. “This hasn’t happened yet, so don’t feel guilty, any of you.”

 

Tony demands to know what happened and Vision admits he became distracted.

 

“So you became distracted and your first instinct was to send a blast powerful enough to kill me?” Sam muttered as he glanced over at Vision.

 

“I apologize. I am inexperienced in the way of battle. I made a miscalculation,” Vision said.

 

“You didn’t make a miscalculation, you made a choice that it was worth using a blast power enough to destroy an Arc Reactor on Sam,” Rhodey pointed out as they all eyed Vision, this knowledge making them all see with new eyes, and not in a good way.

 

“That’s enough,” Steve said and they looked over at him. “We table this for now and keep watching. But Vision, we will have a lengthy conversation about this. It might get loud.”

 

“And I owe you that Captain,” Vision acknowledged as the recording continued.

 

Tony walks down the hall and sees Natasha.

 

“Something tells me I’m not going to take you letting Cap go well,” Tony noted as he saw the look on his on screen self’s face.

 

“And I would have known that when I did it,” Natasha said evenly as Steve looked guilty. “I knew my consequences Steve. I made a choice and I don’t regret it. If presented with the same choice now, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”

 

Later, at the Compound, Tony gives Natasha Rhodey’s status, saying its likely he will suffer from some sort of paralysis.

 

Rhodey swallowed the lump in his throat, this being a bitter pile for him to swallow. As he saw the others grim faces, he smiled weakly.

 

“138. I38 combat missions. That’s how many I’ve flown. Every one of them could have been my last, but I flew them. Because the fight needed to be fought. It’s the job; it’s the risk we all take. And this hasn’t changed my mind about being an Avenger,” Rhodey told them and it was silent in the room.

 

“Very admirable Colonel,” T’Challa acknowledged, causing Rhodey to smile weakly.

 

“Thank you you’re highness,” Rhodey said humbly.

 

Natasha points out Steve isn’t going to stop, telling Tony he needs to in order to prevent another Rhodey. Tony angrily says that she let them go and Natasha says they ‘played this wrong’. Feeling betrayed; Tony makes a crack about Natasha being a double agent, hurting Natasha.

 

Tony winced in guilt as Natasha, for one brief moment, allowed the hurt she felt to show before her face hardened and her eyes showed no emotion. Tony squirmed as Clint shot Tony a look.

 

“Well, if that’s what you think of me, maybe we were never really friends Tony,” Natasha said in a clipped voice as Tony winced.

 

Natasha incredulously asked if Tony was incapable of seeing beyond his ego for one second.

 

“You’re the one who said I was ‘textbook narcissism’,” Tony tried for a joke but it just fell flat.

 

Tony warns her T’Challa told Ross she let Steve go, so they’ll be coming for her now.

 

“I am sorry Ms. Romanoff,” T’Challa apologized remorsefully but she waved him off.

 

“If it hadn’t been you, Ross would have found out another way. Don’t blame yourself you’re highness,” Natasha assured him.

 

Natasha warns Tony he’ll need to watch his back before walking off.

 

Tony winced, knowing she was right. Working with Ross, what was he thinking, Tony scolded himself.

 

After Natasha is gone, Tony’s watch beeps and he activates it, a holographic photo of a corpse appearing. Tony asks about it and FRIDAY explains it’s from Berlin police.

 

“That’s what he was up to, he wanted you to know,” Sam realized.

 

“But why would he expose himself?” Thor wondered. “It makes no sense.”

 

“It’s all part of the plan,” Strange said ominously but did not offer anything else.

 

Later, Tony is flying in a chopper as FRIDAY explains to him that the psychiatrist who was supposed to examine Bucky, Theo Broussard, was met at the airport by Zemo. Tony asks if she ran facial recognition, which causes FRIDAY to make a sarcastic comment and Tony admits he’s thinking of a red head when he talks to her.

 

“Wow, she’s as snarky as JARVIS,” Rhodey noted and Tony chuckled,

 

“Mr. Stark programed us that way,” Vision noted and Tony shrugged.

 

“I like to give you guys a little personality,” Tony admitted. “It’s boring just having the same thing said over and over again.”

 

FRIDAY identifies Zemo as Helmut Zemo, former leader of Echo Scorpion, a Sokovian covert kill squad.

 

“Finally, a name,” Steve muttered.

 

“I don’t suppose you know anything about Echo Scorpion?” Clint asked, looking over at Wanda and she frowned.

 

“List might have motioned it once or twice in a conversation Pietro and I overheard while he was doing his experiments on us but we were told to only speak when spoken to, so we never asked,” Wanda said, a grim look on her face as she remembered the experiments.

 

FRIDAY also reveals the real Theo Broussard was found dead in a Berlin hotel, along with a wig and facial prosthesis that would give someone the appearance of James Buchanan Barnes. Dismayed, Tony orders FRIDAY to send all of it to Ross as he realizes Steve was right.

 

“It still makes no sense,” Clint muttered. “Why make the call? Zemo knew it would blow the lid off his entire operation. So why do it?”

 

The only one who had an answer was Strange, who grimaced as they all turned to him.

 

“Somethings…are best left unsaid,” Strange said ominously.

 

In Siberia, Zemo arrives at the Hydra facility in a snow plower. Getting out, he walks up to the front door, where he uses a tool to cut away the ice on the panel and opens it. Punching in the code, he opens the door and enters as he turns on a flashlight.

 

“Shit, we’re too late,” Scott said as they all paled.

 

“You have no idea,” Strange said, confusing them even more.

 

Entering a filing room, Zemo finds a drawer for December 1991 and opens it before walking up to a higher level, where he finds the five Winter Soldiers in cryo sleep.

 

“Shit,” Tony summed up what they were all feeling.

 

Tony is in his chopper, getting clearance to land as The Raft rises out of the ocean.

 

“What the hell is that?” Thor asked as they stared at the screen in confusion

 

“That is The Raft, Ross’ prison for enhanced/powered individuals or really anyone who breaks The Accords,” Strange said grimly.

 

“The guy has his own prison for people who break The Accords? This can’t be legal,” Sam said horrified.

 

“I will make it legal,” Pewter joked weakly and they all turned to stare at him. “Sorry, trying to lighten the mood.”

 

In the Lab, Barton gripped his hands tightly as he stared at the prison, Fitz looking at him in concern. He remembered the place well, the guards goading him, Ross interrogating him about his family, listening to Wanda being shocked by the sadistic guards for so much as breathing wrong.

 

“You okay?” Fitz asked gently.

 

“No,” Barton said shortly as he glared at the screen and Fitz didn’t press him.

 

Tony lands the chopper and meets Ross as gets out. Tony wants to use the satellites to find Zemo but Ross is no longer listening to him and has half a mind to put him in one of the cells in The Raft.

 

“And of course Secretary Jackass doesn’t care about Zemo. Why would he when he’s got all the power,” Clint sneered as he glared at the screen.

 

Tony gulped as he stared, realizing, perhaps for the first time, the depths of the truly messy situation his on screen self had gotten into by aligning himself with Ross.

 

As Tony is led by Ross into the prison, they enter the security room. Tony pauses as he sees footage of Wanda in a cell, in a strait jacket, a collar around her neck with a look in her eye that said she was far from alright.

 

Wanda flinched at the sight, having another flashback to Strucker and List’s experiments. Clint wrapped an arm around her as the other Avengers looked over at her in concern.

 

“Don’t worry kid, we won’t let him put you in there,” Clint assured her.

 

“You cannot stop him,” Wanda muttered.

 

“Watch me,” Clint said with a smirk that made Wanda feel a little better, if only for a moment.

 

Tony moves on, entering a room with cells, Clint, Sam, and Scott each occupying one. Seeing him enter, Clint sarcastically claps, calling Tony ‘the Futurist’, deciding he knows best for everyone else.

 

Tony flinched but no one said anything, either because they didn’t know what to say or because they thought they’d say something they’d regret later.

 

Strange readied himself, knowing what was about to happen next. And he was not looking forward to it.

 

Tony walks up to Clint’s cell, claiming he didn’t know they’d be put here but Clint angrily points out he knew they’d be put somewhere.

 

Tony avoided looking at Clint, Wanda, Scott, and Sam, knowing that was true. Seeing the remorse on his face, none of them had the heart to criticize him.

 

Tony argues he didn’t know they’d be put here, saying it was a place for maniacs but trails off before he can finish. Clint finishes for him, knowing he was about to say criminals. Clint points out that ‘criminals’ didn’t used to mean him, Sam, or Wanda but that was where they were now.

 

It was silent in the room, the atmosphere suffocating for them all. The situation was hitting them all hard, what Zemo and Ross and The UN was doing to them, what they were doing to each other…and according to Strange, they hadn’t even seen the worst of it yet.

 

Tony gets defensive, saying that Clint broke the law. Clint, done with the conversation, turns around, saying ‘la la la’ to block out Tony’s voice as Tony accuses Clint of not thinking of his wife and kids before choosing ‘the wrong side’.

 

Strange sprang into action, conjuring two red ropes of energy and wrapping them around Clint as he jumped from his seat and attempted to lung for the stunned Tony.

 

“I trusted you!” Clint roared, snarling in rage as he glared at Tony, attempting to fight his way out of the energy ropes and get to Tony. “I brought you into my home and shared the one thing I worked my fucking ass off to keep secret! You just put my family in Ross’ crosshairs you son of a bitch!”2

 

Tony was stunned as the implications of what he had done sunk in. He didn’t need to look up to picture everyone’s expressions. Steve would be shocked and look at Tony with disappointment. Natasha would shoot him a murderous glare, as he knew that the Bartons considered her part of their family and she them. Thor, likewise, would be enraged at this betrayal. Rhodey, like Tony himself, would be shocked at Tony’s actions. Wanda would simply glare at her, her eyes flashing red as she resisted the urge to show him exactly what she thought of this betrayal. 

 

“I’m sorry,” Tony said his voice little more than a whisper.

 

“You’re sorry. My family is in the crosshairs of a psychopath and you’re sorry! Let me go you damn Wizard!” Clint snarled as he whirled on Strange.

 

“Not until you calm down,” Strange said calmly. “I understand your anger, but you will need Tony for what’s to come. We brought you here so you don’t repeat the same mistakes. Calm down Mr. Barton.”

 

“I’m sorry,” Tony repeated, looking at Clint with remorse on his face. “I know that doesn’t mean much to you right now, but I am sorry.”

 

“You’re right. Right now, that doesn’t mean a damn thing to me,” Clint said with a nasty smile, looking over at Strange after taking a breath. “I’m not gonna kill him, so you can let me go.”

 

Strange eyed him, wondering if he was being truthful but nodded, letting him go. The energy ropes faded and Clint glared at Tony.

 

“You know, by nature, I don’t trust people easily. I trusted you with the thing I care about most and you used it to stab me in the back. I will never forgive you for that Stark,” Clint said in a deathly calm voice before he sat back down.

 

Tony winced, seeing that Natasha was glaring at him murderously and Thor was giving him a look like he was picturing how to use Mjolnir on Tony’s face. Scott and Sam both looked disgusted and furious while T’Challa and Vision both had an unreadable look on their faces. Steve looked at Tony, disappointed while Rhodey and Peter looked shocked. Wanda had a hand on Clint’s shoulder, whether to comfort him or to stop him from getting up and trying to attack Tony again, he wasn’t sure. She glared at him and her eyes glowed red with her power as she resisted the temptation to attack Tony for his betrayal of Clint.

 

Strange watched all this, thankful Barton had had the foresight to send him in before this had gotten ugly.

 

Clint angrily gets to his feet as Tony walks off, slamming his hands against the cell as he warns the guards on the raft to watch their backs with Tony because there was ‘a chance he’s gonna break it’.

 

“Too late for that,” Clint said gruffly and Tony winced.

 

Tony walks passed Scott’s cell and Scott remembers Hank telling him to never trust a Stark. Tony doesn’t even know who he is, to Scott’s dismay. As he reaches Sam’s cell, Sam asks about Rhodey.

 

“Thanks man,” Rhodey said as he looked over at Sam, who smiled weakly.

 

“Don’t mention it. Us military guys gotta stick together, right?” Sam joked.

 

Tony says Rhodey is being transferred to Columbia Medical before inquiring about Sam’s treatment. Sam incredulously asks if Tony is playing bad cop. Tony claims he just wants to find out where Steve is. Sam angrily states he’ll never give them anything as Tony knocks out the audio on the security cameras. Tony warns him they have thirty seconds before they realize it’s him as Ross barks at his men to fix it.

 

“So now you cut the audio. Couldn’t do it while you were running your mouth about my family?” Clint sneered and Tony winced.

 

Steve looked over at him and Clint sighed. Rationally, he knew Tony hadn’t betrayed him, at least this Tony hadn’t. But the fact that he would have, still could, was something Clint couldn’t see passed at the moment.

 

Tony shows Sam the picture of Theo Brossard and admits he made a mistake.

 

“Well the world must be ending. You admit you were wrong,” Natasha said dryly, her quip having more bite to it than usual.

 

“It happens on occasion,” Tony said quietly.

 

Tony points out Steve is going to need all the help he can get and Sam tells Tony he needs to go alone and as a friend if he tells him, which Tony agrees to.

 

Later, Tony is heading towards his chopper as Ross questions him about hat Sam told him. Tony lies, claiming Sam told him to go to Hell. Tony claims he’s going back to the Compound as he boards his chopper, giving Ross a cheeky remark about putting him on hold before closing the door.

 

“First time in this whole thing that it actually seems like me,” Tony muttered and Rhodey nodded in agreement.

 

Ross watches angrily as Tony’s chopper lifts off. Once in the air, Tony takes his arm out of the sling and activates his suit, exiting the remote piloted chopper fully decked in his suit, on his way to Siberia.

 

Unseen to Tony, T’Challa, in a Wakanda ship, was following closely behind.

 

“Well, this should be interesting,” Clint said as he looked over at T’Challa.

 

“Indeed Mr. Barton,” T’Challa said with a frown, hoping he wouldn’t murder an innocent man.

Chapter Text

The scene changes to Siberia. Steve lands the Quinjet next to Zemo’s Snowplow. Bucky grabs a rifle as Steve lowers the ramp. Steve and Bucky reminisce about having to ride home from Rockaway Beach in a freezer truck because Bucky had blown his money trying to win a bear for a redhead. Bucky struggles to recall her name and Steve reminds him it was Dolores, who Bucky had called ‘Dot’.

 

Steve smiled sadly, remembering simpler times, back when it had just been him and his best friend against the world. Even when he had nothing, he had Bucky.

 

Bucky muses she’s probably a hundred and Steve jokingly points out so are they as he clasps Bucky on the shoulder.

 

For a moment, the tension broke, everyone smiling at the banter between the two. Thor remembered Loki with a pang, remembering before his own arrogance and pride had caused Loki to learn the truth. Caused his brother to irrevocably change until Thor barely recognized him. 

 

Steve and Bucky exit the Quinjet and head towards the door to the base, Steve pointing out that Zemo had already been there for a few hours. Bucky grimly notes this was enough time to activate the other Winter Soldiers.

 

And just like that, the tension was back as everyone was reminded of the situation, what was at stake.

 

Steve and Bucky enter the base and ride the elevator. Once it stops, Steve lifts the door up and he and Bucky began to make their way through the base, looking for any sign of Zemo or the Soldiers. Suddenly, they hear a loud thud. Steve whirls around as a door starts creaking, warning Bucky to be ready. He begins making his way towards the door as it opens, revealing Tony.

 

The Avengers sighed, relieved.

 

“I’m gonna have a heart attack if this keeps up,” Scott said, none of them noticing Strange’s grim expression.

 

But Wanda felt enough that she looked at him curiously. Remembering his warnings from earlier, Wanda wondered what was about to happen.

 

Upon seeing Steve, Tony retracts his helmet as he begins walking towards Steve, jokingly saying Steve looks defensive. Steve wearily says it’s been a long day, not lowering his guard.

 

“You didn’t lower your guard, that’s smart,” Rhodey said as Tony winced.

 

“I learned from the best,” Steve joked and Natasha smirked.

 

“I remember when you were a sweet, naïve superhero who trusted everyone. Now look at you. I’m so proud,” Natasha said in a fake motherly voice and Steve rolled his eyes.

 

“You know what Romanoff!” Steve said mock threateningly as everyone chuckled at their antics.

 

Tony tells Bucky to be at ease because he’s not after him, causing Steve to demand to know why that is. Tony admits Steve’s story might not be so crazy, which Steve simply acknowledged with ‘maybe not’.

 

“Thanks Cap,” Tony said, causing Steve to look at him confused.

 

“For what?” Steve asked in confusion.

 

“Not saying ‘I told you so’,” Tony sighed.

 

“Tony, there’s more going on here than whatever happens between us,” Steve said not unkindly and, after a moment, Tony nodded in agreement.

 

Tony says Ross doesn’t know he’s there, which Tony would like to keep secret, jokingly saying he’d have to arrest himself. Sounds like a lot of paperwork, Steve noted dryly. Steve lowers his shield as both of them acknowledge it was good to see each other.

 

“Please don’t you two start staring into each other’s eyes again,” Natasha teased and the pair rolled their eyes.

 

“You’d know all about that, right Romanoff?” Tony cracked.

 

Clint and Steve both shot Tony a look as Tony realized the line he’d crossed. It was an unspoken rule between the three of them that no one would mention Bruce in front of Natasha. But Natasha simply shrugged.

 

“Fair point,” Natasha acknowledged.

 

Seeing Bucky still had a rifle on him, Tony points out there was a truce and Steve gestured at Bucky that Tony was okay. Bucky nods, finally lowering his gun.

 

“Can you really blame him Tony?” Rhodey pointed out.

 

“No,” Tony admitted with a sigh.

 

The now united trio begins to move through the base, looking for Zemo or the Soldiers, unaware of T’Challa trailing them.

 

“You’re good at stealth,” Natasha told T’Challa, impressed.

 

“And when Nat tells you that, it’s a compliment of the highest order,” Clint cracked and Natasha rolled her eyes.

 

“Thank you Ms. Romanoff,” T’Challa said graciously.

 

Tony picks up some heat signatures. Steve asks how many and Tony says only one.

 

“That doesn’t make sense. He should’ve had more than enough time to wake them up,” Sam said confused.

 

“I fear there is more going on here than we realize,” Thor said grimly as everyone tensed.

 

The trio enters the chamber with the Soldiers, all of them seemingly still in Cryo sleep. Zemo’s voice comes over a speaker, assuring them that the Soldiers died in their sleep. As the trio walks further into the chamber, they see that each Soldier had been killed execution style with a single shot through the glass into the head.

 

“Holy crap,” Peter said shocked as they all stared in stunned disbelief.

 

“If he didn’t want the Soldiers, what was he after?” Scott asked stunned.

 

Strange readied himself once more as he eyed Tony, knowing it was about to get ugly. Something Wanda noticed, wondering what Tony had to do with anything.

 

Zemo asks the shocked Bucky if he thought he wanted more of him. But Zemo is grateful, because it brought the three of them here.

 

“That makes no sense though,” Clint said as he narrowed his eyed. “Zemo…he would’ve had to have known that, right after finding out about him, Tony would’ve gone straight to The Raft.”

 

“And that I would’ve trusted him enough to tell him where Steve was going,” Sam added confused.

 

“There’s just no way he could’ve known that,” Steve agreed with narrowed eyes.

 

“Either this guy is the luckiest man alive or there’s some cosmic force out there making sure everything goes according to plan,” Tony added.1

 

A light comes on, revealing Zemo in a sealed room. The trio turn their weapons on him and Steve throws his shield. The shield harmlessly bounces off the wall and back into Steve’s hand as Zemo points that the Soviets built the chamber to withstand the blast of UR-100 rockets.

 

“Bet I can beat that,” Tony said confidently.

 

Tony confidently says he can beat that.

 

“No need to repeat yourself Tones,” Rhodey joked and, for a moment, the tension broke again as everyone gave a slight laugh.

 

Zemo agrees, if Tony was given the time. But then, he’d never know why he came here, Zemo taunts him.

 

The tension returned as everyone leaned forward in their seats, curiously to see what this was all about. Strange continued to eye Tony, watching his reaction.

 

Steve angrily approaches the chamber, saying Zemo had killed innocent people in Vienna. This stuns to T’Challa, who had entered the chamber unseen to everyone else. Zemo says he’d thought about nothing else for over a year. 

 

“So this is about Sokovia,” Clint said as Wanda and Tony flinched guiltily.

 

“Not exactly,” Strange said as they all looked at him curiously. “Just keep watching.”

 

He’d studied them, followed them, Zemo says. And now that they’re here, he sees Steve has a bit of green in his eyes, laughing at finding a flaw.

 

“Okay, this guy’s a few cards short of a full deck,” Scott said uneasily.

 

“No kidding Tic-Tac,” Sam muttered.

 

Steve notes that Zemo is Sokovian, asking if that’s what this has been about. Zemo says Sokovia had been a failed state long before Ultron blew it to hell.

 

Wanda flinched, painful memories of living in orphanages, poverty, staving for scraps of food flashed through her mind. Zemo wasn’t wrong, she mused sadly.

 

Clint, seeing her eyes full of remembered pain, wrapped an arm around her.

 

He’s here, Zemo says, because he made a promise. Steve asks if he lost someone and Zemo says he lost everything. And so will they, Zemo taunts as he presses a button. Steve turns around as a video begins to play on the TV set Zemo had set up.

 

“He brought you there to watch a video?” Peter asked confused as everyone but Strange, who looks even grimmer now, looks as confused as Peter.

 

An empire that is defeated by its enemies can rise again, Zemo says, but one that crumbles from within is dead, forever. Steve and Tony walk over to the TV set, seeing it was a video of a road at night. A disbelieving Tony says he knows that road.

 

Everyone looked at Tony, who had turned several shades of pale and was staring at the screen with a growing sense of shock and horror.

 

“No…it can’t be…it’s not,” Tony stammered.

 

“Tony?” Steve called out concerned but Tony doesn’t respond, simply continued to watch.

 

Tony looks at the date and demands to know what this is but Zemo only smirks. The car crash from the beginning of the recording happens and The Winter Soldier rides up on his motorcycle. Steve looks at Bucky, who has shame on his face as Tony continues to watch the recording in stunned disbelief.

 

In the recording, Howard Stark has fallen out of the car on his knees, begging The Soldier to help Maria.

 

The room is completely silent as they see this. The know what this means, they know the implications of it. More than that, they know what they are about to see. Everyone glanced over at Tony, who simply at the screen, pale, not seeming to be aware of anything around him.

 

While everyone else was looking over at Tony, Natasha glanced at Steve to see he had a shocked, sad look on his face. She remembered Zola’s taunt about Hydra having something to do with Howard and Maria Stark’s deaths, but she had never believed them until now. Steve had never brought it up, so she had assumed he hadn’t either. It looks like they were both wrong, she mused.

 

The Soldier walks up to Howard and grabs him by the hair, lifting him up onto his knees. Howard is shocked to see Bucky before The Soldier punches him with his robotic arm.

 

Steve had a pained look on his face as Tony let out a shaky breath, this being difficult for them both to watch. Rhodey placed a hand on Tony’s shoulder, silently letting his best friend know he was here as everyone silently watched the recording.

 

Tony seems in shock as he hears his mother call for his father. Tony looked over at Bucky, who met his gaze with a look of shock and shame. Tony turns back to the video as The Soldier punches Howard one last time before letting go. Howard’s lifeless body falls to the ground as Maria continues to cry out for him. Tony has a gutted look on his face as he sees this.

 

Tony is completely silent, a single tear trailing down his face as Steve put a hand to his face, letting out a pained breath.

 

The Soldier drags Howard’s body over to the car and places him in the driver’s seat; positioning him as though he’d been killed in the crash as Maria watches in horror. Tony then watches in horror as The Soldier walks over to the other side of the car. In the flashback, The Soldier reaches in and grabs Maria by the throat.

 

Tony clenches his pants legs with his fists, his entire body trembling with grief and horror as the room is completely silent. However much they may have been angry for his actions in these recordings, no one deserved to see their parents murdered in cold blood. Strange eyed Tony and Steve, knowing what was about to happen.

 

The Soldier then walks over and shoots the Traffic Cam, covering up the crime. Steve stares at Tony, shock on his face as Tony stares at the now blank screen, shock, horror, and grief on his face. Tony moves to head towards Bucky but Steve grabs his arm, stopping him. Tony turns back to Steve, quietly asking him if he knew. Steve tries to explain he didn’t know it was Bucky but Tony snarls for Steve not to bullshit him, asking again if he knew. After a moment, Steve remorsefully says yes.

 

“You knew?” Tony asked in shock, turning to Steve, pain and betrayal on his face.

 

“I didn’t know it was him,” Steve tried to explain as everyone looked shocked by this revelation.

 

“You knew?!” Tony exploded as he got to feet.

 

Suddenly, magical roped of energy wrapped around Tony, pulling him down and back into his seat. Everyone turned to strange in shock as he walked over.

 

“Tony, I know you’re upset. You have every right to be,” Strange said, an understanding look on his face. “But you need to listen.”

 

“Why should I listen to anything this liar has to say!?” Tony snarled as he glared at Steve, who had a look of shame on his face.

 

“Because it’s not that black and white. I will let you go if you agree to listen. Otherwise, we’ll stay here all day. I can wait,” Strange said and Tony glared at Strange for several moments.

 

“Fine,” Tony spat out after a few moments. “I’ll listen.”

 

Strange nodded, waving his hands and the energy roped vanished from Tony’s body.

 

“Tell him the truth Captain, right from the beginning,” Strange told Steve as he stepped back.

 

“Well? I’m all ears,” Tony said sarcastically, his voice filled with venom that made Steve wince.

 

“During the Hydra uprising, Nat and I found a secret bunker in an old SHIELD base. We found a supercomputer that had been uploaded with the mind of Arnim Zola, a Hydra scientist I captured in World War Two. He told us about Hydra and implied Hydra also had something to do with your parents’ death,” Steve explained gently.

 

“You both knew?” Tony asked as he turned to look at Natasha in pain.

 

“Zola admitted he was stalling us because Rumlow and other Hydra operatives were on their way, along with a missile. Steve and I barely survived. I thought he was just messing with our heads Tony,” Natasha told him and Tony nodded, an unreadable look on his face.

 

“And you?” Tony asked as he looked over at Steve. “What did you think?”

 

“I don’t know,” Steve admitted with a sigh. “I never looked into it more. I didn’t want another friend’s death on my conscious.”

 

“Why would it be your fault Steve?” Rhodey asked speaking up for the first time since Zemo had started the video.

 

“I thought I’d defeated Hydra when I defeated the Red Skull. Everything they did since, it’s on me because I couldn’t stop them,” Steve sighed before looking back at Tony. “I told myself I was sparing you by not telling you, but I see now I was really sparing myself. I’m sorry Tony.”2

 

“So what happens now?” Tony asked after a moment, the anger leaving him.

 

Because Steve hadn’t known the truth, he just hadn’t confirmed it was true. It didn’t make it make it any better, Tony mused, but Tony could understand why Steve had done what he did. But without that anger at Steve…Tony just felt sad and empty.

 

“That’s up to you,” Steve told him gently.

 

Tony nodded after a moment, realizing Steve was right. Only he had the power to determine whether he could forgive Steve and get passed this. He wasn’t ready for that yet though, so for now, he just turned and looked towards the TV, continuing to watch. Sensing the conversation was over for now, Strange waved his hand and the recording unpaused.

 

Tony lets Steve go, stepping back as if he’d been burned, devastated. Then, Tony punches Steve, sending him flying back.

 

Tony winced as everyone looked over at him. While he could understand why Steve had done what he had, his on screen self wouldn’t. He would still feel the need to punish, to make Steve hurt as much as he was hurting.

 

“I’m sorry Cap,” Tony said after a moment but Steve shook his head.

 

“I should’ve told you the truth a long time ago,” Steve said. “And this hasn’t happened. Hopefully, it never will.”

 

Bucky raises his rifle but Tony blasts it out of his hand. Bucky tries to punch him with his robotic arm but Tony stops him with his gauntlet. Zemo smirks, leaving through a door as Tony flies Bucky across the room, slamming him onto the ground. Stepping on Bucky’s robotic hand, Tony prepares to blast Bucky execution style when Steve’s throws his shield. It hits Tony’s helmet, distracting him and causing his blast to miss Bucky’s head by mere inches.

 

Tony was a mix of emotions. On one hand, he still felt a deal of anger towards Barnes. On the other hand, he’d just tried to murder someone. He’d killed people before, but he’d never murdered someone in cold blood. And without the rage tinted glasses of his on screen self, Tony was able to see that murder was what he was trying to do. He’d done a lot of morally ambiguous things in his life, but murder was a line he was sure he’d never cross.3

 

Seeing the look of dawning horror on his friend’s face, Steve was once again hit with the guilt of not telling Tony the truth.

 

The others simply watched the two Avengers sadly. It was impossible to take a side in this, because neither of them were completely right or wrong. Both of them had messed up.

 

The shield returns to Steve as he rushes Tony, tackling him and forcing him off Bucky. Tony flies back at Steve, punching the shield. The force of it sends Steve flying back and Tony then fires off some electric clamps, which clap around Steve’s ankles, restraining him. Bucky sends a punch to Tony’s helmet but this doesn’t faze Tony. Tony then grabs Bucky and flies him into the wall. Bucky quickly grabs Tony’s gauntlet, grabbing it and crushing the repulsor beam focuser. Angrily, Tony tries to fire a missile point blank but Bucky moves his hand, causing the missile to wildly hit the wall. Steve breaks free of Tony’s clamps as the chamber begins to come down around them.

 

“Damn,” Sam muttered as they all watched this, all of them growing even more horrified.

 

This was worse than the airport. The airport had been about a misunderstanding, it hadn’t been personal. But this, this was personal. And it was painful for everyone to watch.

 

In the resulting chaos, Steve rolls out of the way of the debris as Bucky and Tony are both knocked down. Tony ends up pinned under some debris, Steve shouted at Bucky to get out of there. Bucky starts to run for the exit as Tony frees himself. Tony tries to head after Bucky, shooting at him as Steve jumped in his path, standing in his way. Outside the chamber, Bucky activated a hatch, which lifted as inside, Steve attempted to reason with Tony. However, Tony is passed listening to reason at this point, ordering Steve to move as he lifts into the air.

 

Tony flinched, the scene at the beginning of Bucky being tortured by Hydra flashed through his mind. He understood now why he had bought here, the true reason. So he could understand. Hydra was the killer, not Barnes. Barnes had just been the weapon. Didn’t make him feel much better, as Hydra was all but extinct. There was no one to take out his anger on, nothing. Which just made it worse.

 

 Tony attempted to fly passed Steve only for Steve to grab onto his leg. Steve damages the thruster in Tony’s boots with his shield before letting go and Tony lands outside the chamber. Tony then uses a laser to cut out some rocks, locking Steve in the chamber as the rocks block the exit. Tony tries to fly after Bucky as he sees the soldier running up towards the hatch but the damage to his thrusters has compromised his flying ability, FRIDAY alerts him. Frustrated, Tony flies up as quickly as he can and kicks Bucky down. Tony attempts to fire a blast at Bucky but Steve jumps down to Bucky, deflecting the blast back at Tony with his shield.

 

Steve flinched, guilty at harming Tony filling his heart. Seeing the look on his face, Sam placed a hand on Steve’s shoulder, trying to let him know he was there.

 

Tony is knocked down to a lower level as Steve warns Bucky to leave, as Tony wasn’t going to stop. Bucky begins climbing onto a higher level as Steve pulls out a wire. As Tony flew up towards Bucky, Steve jumped; wrapping the wire around Tony’s neck and the two fell below.

 

Steve and Tony flinched at this, avoiding looking at each other. The longer this went on, the more they just wished it would end. They both silently hoped it would end soon.

 

They landed on separate levels and Tony prepares to shoot at the hatch as Bucky nears it. Steve throws his shield at Tony but Tony blasts it, sending the shield falling down below. Tony resumed trying to blast the hatch but his targeting system had been damaged during the fight. Tony retracts his helmet, relying on his own aim. Tony fires a missile, which hits the lever, forcing the hatch closed. Bucky barely manages to avoid getting squashed as the hatch slams closed when Tony flies up to him. Bucky grabs a metal pipe and strikes Tony’s helmet but Tony knocks the pipe out of his hands before putting Bucky in a choke hold, trying to crush his neck.

 

Tony flinched, the murderous lengths he was going to disturbing him as Steve clenched his pants legs until his fists turned white. Natasha stiffened, something which only Clint noticed, as fear for Bucky entered her heart.

 

Thor stared at the screen silently, memories of Loki’s death flashing through his mind as he swallowed thickly. He could understand Stark’s rage but this...this was too far. Something even he seemed to know, judging by the horrified look on his face.

 

Tony angrily asks him if he remembers them, to which Bucky grunts out that he remembers all of his victims.

 

Clint flinched, memories of all the lives he had taken for Loki flashing through his mind. While he had handled what happened better than Selvig, he still carried the guilt for what he did while under Loki’s control. He probably would for the rest of his life.

 

Tony begins flying him down and Steve jumps, tackling Tony. Tony is forced to let Bucky go and all three of them fall, Bucky landing on a level as Tony and Steve both land on the ground. They stand up as Bucky looks down. Steve tells Tony this won’t change anything, trying to reason with him once more, but Tony coldly tell him he doesn’t care, as Bucky killed his mom.

 

Tony shivered. He sounded so…cold blooded, like a murderer. The callousness of his actions and in his voice chilled Tony to the bone.

 

Tony then lunged for Steve, the two of them engaging in hand to hand. Steve managed to get behind Tony and put him in a choke hold but Tony fired a repulsor beam, knocking himself and Steve back. Steve is knocked off and Tony attempts to bash Steve’s face in but Steve dodges.

 

Tony flinched, becoming more horrified that he was even willing to kill his friend in order to kill Barnes. How the mighty have fallen, Tony thought in self-loathing.

 

Bucky sees Steve’s shield and picks it up. Tony is still not managing to get Steve as Bucky jumps down with a cry, striking him with the shield in the back, knocking him off Steve.

 

Tony let out the breath he hadn’t known he was holding, relieved that Barnes had stopped his on screen self from killing Steve.

 

Tony sends a blast at Bucky but Bucky uses the shield to block it. Bucky throws the shield to Steve and it becomes a two on one brawl as Tony attempts to fight them off. Tony sends a blast towards Steve, which sends Steve flying into the wall. Tony and Bucky continue to fight, Bucky grabs Tony’s hand as he send a repulsor blast, which now harmlessly shoots into the stone ceiling. Bucky punches him, sending him into the wall before attempting to claw out Tony’s Arc reactor. Tony then unleashes a Unibeam, which completely destroys Bucky’s robot arm from the shoulder down.

 

Clint flinched, glancing down at his own arm. As an archer, losing his arm was his worst fear, second only to losing his family.

 

Bucky falls to his knees in pain before Tony fires a blast, which hits him. Steve then rushed forward, using his shield to deflect a repulsor blast.

 

Outside, Zemo is listening to the message on his phone as T’Challa approaches from behind. T’Challa removes his helmet, setting it on the ground as he announces his presence, declaring he almost killed the wrong man. Zemo notes Bucky is hardly innocent and T’Challa demands if this is what he wanted, to see The Avengers tear each other apart. Zemo explains he took his wife and son to his father’s when Ultron attacked Sokovia, assuring his wife they’d be safe as they were miles from the city. But he had been wrong, as his father, wife, and son had all been killed during the battle of Sokovia. It took him two days to find their bodies.

 

Wanda and Tony flinched at this, shame filling both of them.

 

“It’s not your fault, either of you,” Steve said as he looked at them.

 

“I helped him,” Wanda said hollowly.

 

“And I created him. What was I thinking, plugging alien tech into an interface?” Tony said in self-loathing.

 

“Okay, that’s enough with the martyr crap,” Clint said, at his wit’s end. “Yeah, you both messed up. Yeah, it had consequences. But you know what? So do all of us. None of us are perfect, so stop feeling sorry for yourselves and get off your asses or go home!”

 

For a moment, it was completely silent in the room, he only sound Clint’s heavy breathing. Then, the silence was broken by a laugh.

 

“Well said Barton,” Thor said before looking over at Wanda and then Tony. “My friends, I know guilt. Wallowing in self-pity will give you no peace. If you wish for redemption, you must earn it through action.”

 

Zemo knew he couldn’t kill the Avengers, so he instead opted to have them kill each other.

 

Tony flinched, remorse filling him as Steve looked guilty. Tactfully, no one said anything.

 

Zemo apologizes for T’Chaka’s death, causing T’Challa to realize Zemo has been consumed by vengeance, as Tony and Steve are becoming. T’Challa declares he is done letting it consume him, retracting his claws.

 

“A wise choice You’re Highness,” Thor said and T’Challa nodded. “Revenge never brings any peace. Only more pain.”

 

Zemo grimly tells him to tell that to the dead as he pulls out a gun, putting it under his chin and pulling the trigger. However, T’Challa places his hand over the barrel, the suit taking the bullet. T'Challa tackles him and they land on the ground. The living are not done with him yet, T’Challa tells Zemo as he holds him in a chokehold.

 

“Yeah, you’re not getting off that easy you bastard,” Clint sneered.

 

Back in the facility, Steve and Tony are continuing their fight. Steve is winning as FRIDAY tells Tony he can’t win hand to hand. Tony orders her to analyze Steve’s fight patterns. Tony takes a few more hits from Steve’s shield as FRIDAY analyzes Steve. When she finishes, Tony grabs Steve’s shield, stopping it as he says ‘let’s kick his ass’.

 

Under normal circumstances, Tony knew, he would be teased for having to rely on FRIDAY to beat Steve. But everyone remained silent this time, painfully so. And the hollow feeling in his chest grew worse.

 

Tony blasted the shield away and exchanged a few more blows, striking Steve in the face before sending a repulsor blast to Steve’s abdomen. Steve fell to his knees, overwhelmed before looking up at Tony, pleading that Bucky is his fried. So was I, Tony says coldly.

 

Tony and Steve both flinched at this, guilt and regret swelling in both of them at having it come to this.

 

Tony slugged Steve twice, making Steve double over before Tony grabbed him and threw him aside. Tony orders Steve to stay down but Steve crawls back to his feet, ready to continue as he claims he can ‘do this all day’.

 

“Can’t you just stay down?” Tony almost begged, not wanting to see himself kill Steve.

 

“No more than if it were Bucky who was trying to kill you,” Steve said solemnly.

 

Tony raises his hand to blast him again when Bucky grabs his foot. Tony kicks Bucky and Steve pushes him. Picking Tony up, he throws Tony down and jumps on top of him. He punches Tony before picking up his shield and slamming it down on Tony’s helmet. Steve knocks Tony’s helmet off and raised the shield, as it to take off Tony’s head. Tony raised his hands to shield himself and Steve smashes the shield into Tony’s Arc reactor, completely destroying it.

 

Tony had tensed; half convinced Steve was going to kill him. But then he mused that was ridiculous. Steve was not someone who would kill someone he considered a friend, no matter how angry he was at them.4

 

Everyone now let out a breath, happy it was over.

 

Tony stares in shock as Steve gets off him, falling to his knees, exhausted before he removes the shield from Tony’s suit. He climbs to his feet and walked over to Bucky, helping him up. They are about to leave, Steve supporting Bucky when Tony says the shield doesn’t belong to Steve. He doesn’t deserve it, Tony sneers, his father made it. For a moment, it is silent. Then, to the shock of Tony and Bucky, Steve drops the shield to the floor.

 

The room was completely silent, shock on the faces of almost everyone in the room. The stole exception was Steve, who seemed completely indifferent.

 

“You know I-he didn’t mean that. He was just trying to hurt you,” Tony told Steve gently.

 

“Doesn’t mean he was wrong. I kept this from everyone Tony, even myself,” Steve said with a sigh. “I became Captain America not because I wanted to, but because it’s what I needed to be. My country needed a Captain American. Maybe now, it needs me to be something different.”

 

“You thinking about retiring for good?” Sam asked in surprise.

 

“No. But, what this has shown me is that Captain America can only do so much. Maybe I need to be something else for a while,” Steve mused.

 

“But you’re Captain America!” Peter couldn’t help but add and Steve smiled tightly.

 

“I became what I needed to be. Captain America, that’s just a title kid. In order to help people, I’ll be whatever I have to,” Steve said kindly.

 

Tony then watches as Steve and Bucky walk out.

 

The scene changes to a cell at the Joint Terrorism Task Force base. Zemo, held in a container similar to the one Bucky had been held in, is greeted by Everett Ross. Everett tells him he has toilet privileges twice a day and will get meals at five and eight. Everett mocks Zemo, daring him to step out of line and asks how it feels to know after all his planning, his plan failed. With a smirk, Zemo asks did it really fail.

 

The Avengers all looked at each other solemnly, knowing Zemo had a point. While no one was dead, The Avengers as a whole had been broken. And even here, there were wounds that needed to be dressed before they became life threatening.

 

At the Compound, Tony drives up and gets out of his car, his wounds from Siberia still fresh. Tony stares at the Avengers symbol before taking off his glasses and walking inside. Vision is in the longue, staring solemnly at the chessboard, playing with a piece absently as Tony is walking with Rhodey, who is sporting a brace on his leg.

 

Nearly everyone relaxed that Rhodey was doing alright, some injuries aside. Paralyzed was better than dead after all.

 

“It could be worse,” Rhodey noted.

 

Tony and Rhodey joke about upgrades for the brace, Rhodey cracking about adding some AC before he falls.

 

The brief good mood plummeted as they say this, the reality of the situation hitting them again. But Rhodey was undeterred.

 

“You gotta learn to crawl before you learn to walk. Yeah, this sucks, but I’ll be alright,” Rhodey assured them.

 

“Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves back up again,” Strange agreed, thinking of his accident.

 

Tony kneels down to help him but Rhodey waves him off. Rhodey notes he flew 138 combat missions, all of which could have been his last, but he still flew them because the fight had needed to be fought. Rhodey likens them to signing The Accords, saying he signed because it was the right thing to do, and his injury hasn’t changed his mind.

 

“Okay, seriously, who is this guy?” Rhodey wondered, not understanding why he was acting so weird as Strange put a hand to his mouth to hide the smirk on his face.

 

Their conversation is interrupted by a knock on the door. Tony and Rhodey look over to see an old man with glasses in a FedEx suit, asking for ‘Tony Stank’.

 

“Tony Stank!?” Scott said, laughing in amusement.

 

“Oh my god, that is never going away!” Rhodey said in amusement as everyone snickered at Tony’s expense.

 

Except Clint, who was studying the old man with a frown.

 

“Isn’t he one of the people who was at our party at the tower before Ultron crashed it?” Clint asked and the all stopped, examining the man.

 

“Indeed, I believe it is Barton,” Thor said shocked, remembering the man.

 

“I think he’s the janitor from the Smithsonian Museum actually,” Steve said with a frown.

 

“He might have been at the Stark Expo, now that I think about it,” Tony said confused, all of them growing more and more bewildered.

 

“Yes, we’ve noticed that,” Strange said as they looked over at him. “For some reason, he just shows up in all these recordings. We’ve yet to figure out why.”

 

“So he’s stalking us. Well, that’s creepy,” Tony muttered.

 

Rhodey is greatly amused, walking off as he declares he’s never dropping that as Tony laughs.

 

“Never,” Rhodey said cheekily as Tony laughed for the first time in a while.

                                                                                            

Later in his office, Tony opens the package, finding a letter from Steve. Tony reads it and Steve’s voice is head.

 

“Dear Tony, I’m glad you’re back at The Compound. I don’t like the idea of you rattling around a mansion all by yourself. We all need family. The Avengers are yours. Maybe even more than mine,” Steve says as the scene changes to The Raft, showing Wanda, Scott, Clint, and Sam n their cells. “I’ve been on my own since I was eighteen. I never really fit in anywhere, even the army. My faith’s in people I guess. I’m happy to say, for the most part, they haven’t let me down. So I can’t let them down either.”

 

The security at The Raft is shown to all be knocked out.

 

“Well, looks like there’s gonna be a prison break,” Sam said cheekily.

 

“Now all we need is Lincoln and Michael,” Scott joked and they all snickered, except Steve and Thor who looked confused.

 

“Who?” Thor asked.

 

“We gotta get you out more Point Break,” Tony said with a snicker.

 

“Locks can be replaced but, maybe they shouldn’t,” Steve’s letter continues as the scene flashes back to Tony reading it. “I know I hurt you Tony. I guess I thought by not telling you about your parents, I was sparing you but I can see now that I was really sparing myself. And I’m sorry. Hopefully one day you can understand.”

 

“You could’ve told me the truth there. Why didn’t you?” Tony asked curiously.

 

“Would you have taken that as anything but me trying to justify myself?” Steve asked pointedly and Tony nodded after a moment.

 

“Probably not,” Tony admitted.

 

“I wish we agreed on The Accords. I really do,” Steve’s letter continued as Tony is shown pulling a flip phone out of the package. “I know you’re doing what you believe in, and that’s all any of us can do. All any of us should do.”

 

FRIDAY alerts Tony to a call from Ross, telling him there was a breach in The Raft. Tony has FRIDAY patch him through but hangs up on Ross when he does.

 

“So no matter what, If you ever need us, if you need me…I’ll be there,” Steve’s voice finishes as, at the Raft, Sam smirks as Steve walks up to his cell.

 

“You broke into The Raft and took out all the security by yourself. Cool,” Peter said in awe.

 

“Thanks for coming back for us Steve,” Sam said gratefully.

 

“You would never have been in that situation if it weren’t for me,” Steve said guiltily.

 

“We were there because it was our choice,” Wanda pointed out.

 

“Just like it was our choice to make a sacrifice play. It was Zemo, not you Cap,” Clint assured him.

 

The scene then changes to Wakanda. Bucky is being seen by some doctors as he eyes a Cryo chamber. Steve walks over once the doctor is done, asking if Bucky is sure about this. Bucky points out he can’t trust his own mind, so it’s best for everyone he go back under until they can get Hydra’s programing out of his head.

 

Steve stares at the screen sadly, devastated. He can understand why Bucky would make that choice, but that didn’t make it any harder for him to bear. Sam put a hand on Steve’s shoulder, knowing how hard it was as Natasha looked at him in concern.

 

Thor looked at the screen sadly, his respect for Barnes growing. To willingly put himself into a prison to protect others, Bucky was clearly a man of honor.

 

T’Challa, however, was tense. He recognized where Steve and Bucky were and knew the secret of his country would likely come out all too soon.

 

Steve then watches silently as Bucky is put in the chamber, Bucky closing his eyes as it freezes.

 

Steve flinched. As, to the surprise of those who noticed, does Natasha. Clint shot her another curious look, wondering why she seemed to care so much about someone who almost killed her. Twice.

 

Steve is then seen staring out a window as T’Challa walks up to him. Steve thanks T’Challa, who says Bucky and T’Chaka were both victims. If he can help one of them find peace, T’Challa says. Steve points out if they find out Bucky’s here, they’ll come for him. T’Challa fearlessly says let them try as a statue of a Black Panther is seen out the window.

 

“Wakanda? How does a third world country have that kind of tech?” Clint asked as they all turned to the tense T’Challa.

 

“You will soon find that all you know about Wakanda is not the truth,” Strange said but didn’t elaborate as T’Challa tensed even more.

 

The scene then changes to the Parker apartment. Peter, sporting a black eye, is toying with a new gadget Tony gave him.

 

Steve winced, knowing he is the one who gave Peter that black eye. Peter, meanwhile, was simply looking at the device in wonder.

 

May is outside his room, asking who gave him the black eye. Peter says a guy named Steve from Brooklyn as he activates the device.

 

“Not bad kid. Not exactly a lie but not the whole truth either,” Sam said amused.

 

Hearing May come in, Peter covers the device and holds his black eye as if in pain. May says she hopes Peter got in a few good licks, which he says he did but his friend was ‘huge’.

 

“Hell yeah I was!” Scott cheered and they all chuckled at his antics.

 

May gives Peter ice wrapped in a towel and he puts it on his eyes as she leaves. He asks her to close the door and she does. Peter then takes the ice off and activates the device, seeing a beacon with his new mask shining on the ceiling.

 

“Cool,” Peter says in awe as the screen goes black.

 

“I know that was a lot to take in,” Strange said as he walked over to them. “So, we’re going to take a break so you have some time to process what you’ve seen, eat something. And, the man in charge wants to meet you all.”

Chapter Text

Strange led them all down the hall, each of them lost in their own thoughts, most of them overwhelmed by everything they had seen or learned. The only one who wasn’t was Thor, who was curious about who the ‘man in charge’ Strange had mentioned was.

They entered the sitting room, where a table of food was placed in front of the couches with plates. A Caucasian man with light brown hair was setting some utensils down on the table when he saw them.

“Hey,” Fitz said as he saw them. “We figured you’d we hungry, so we brought some of your favorites.”

Natasha and Clint glanced at the food on the table and saw he was right. The table had all the favorites of the original Avengers, plus Rhodey, Sam, and Wanda.

“You must know us pretty well then, to know that,” Natasha said wearily.

“We don’t, but he does,” Fitz said as Barton entered the room.

Complete silence washed over the room as the time travelers all stared in shock at Barton. If Natasha hadn’t been so shocked, she would have noticed the flash of pain that entered Barton’s eyes before he masked it. Barton was grateful for the time he’d been able to mentally prepare himself over the last two hours for seeing her. He probably would have blown his cover if he’d seen Nat as soon as she’d arrived.

“You guys look like you’ve seen a ghost,” Barton quipped.

“But you’re...this is…how…” Clint stammered in shock, at a loss for words for once.

“Do we still look this good after seventeen years?” Barton quipped, amused by his younger self’s reaction.

“Seventeen years. That’s where you brought us, seventeen years into the future?” Thor asked with a glance over at Strange, who nodded.

“Wait, doesn’t this break one of the fundamental rules of time travel?” Scott realized as Strange and Barton rolled their eyes. “No interacting with our past selves, right?

“This isn’t Back to the Future Mr. Lang,” Strange said exasperated.

“Yeah, that’s not how this works Scott,” Barton said as he glanced over at Fitz. “Mind breaking this down for them?”

Fitz nodded and tapped what seemed to be a watch on his wrist. Immediately, a 3D hologram of what appears to be a roadway tunnel similar to the one Steve, Sam, Bucky, and T’Challa had gone on their car chase in the recording.

“Okay, imagine this tunnel is the timeline. The past is the entrance, the future is the exit, and the present is that turn off right there,” Fitz explained.

“I’m sorry, who are you?” Tony interrupted.

“Tony,” Rhodey grumbled as Fitz sighed.

“I’m Leo Fitz, I work for SHIELD,” Fitz explained and almost all of them started.

“I thought SHIELD fell during the Hydra uprising,” Steve said confused.

“It did, but a group of Agents reformed it and Fury made someone he trusted Director,” Barton explained.

“Fury doesn’t trust anyone, not completely,” Natasha noted and saw Barton and Fitz exchange a glance. “What aren’t you telling us?”

“It’s complicated Nat. I’ll explain everything if you’ll let Fitz do his thing and save your questions for after,” Barton promised.

After a moment, Natasha nodded. Barton looked at the others and they also nodded. Barton gave Fitz a look and Fitz pressed his watch again and they saw a car enter the simulation from the exit.

“That car is all of you,” Fitz explained as the car went in reverse towards the turn off. “We brought you from your present to the future, which is our present. But when we send you back, it won’t change our present,” Fitz pressed a button and the car turned onto the turn off, set on a new path. “It will instead create an alternate timeline, separate from ours, depending on what you do with what we give you.”

“So Back to the future is basically a bunch of bullshit?” Scott asked stunned as Fitz ended the simulation.

“Then why do this at all? What do you gain out of this?” Wanda inquired, confused on what exactly Barton was hoping to accomplish.

At this, Barton gave a look to Fitz and Strange. Both nodded, turning and walking out the door, leaving the others alone.

“Sit down,” Barton gestured to the seats. “I’ll explain everything, but it’s not going to be easy for you guys to hear. So let’s sit down.”

After an uncertain glance, they nodded, taking seats that were the same as the ones they had in the viewing room. Barton sat on a couch from all of them, trying to put his thoughts together.

“I imagined this moment thousands of times as we worked on this, but...it’s a lot harder than I thought,” Barton said as he looked at them all. “In New York, when Loki attacked…he wasn’t the big bad. Someone else was pulling his strings.”

“Someone was controlling my brother?” Thor asked shocked but Barton shook his head.

“Loki was in control, but he wasn’t the brains, he was the brawns. The real mastermind was a genocidal maniac named Thanos. You saw his ship Tony when you went through the worm hole,” Barton said as he looked over at Tony, who paled.

“What does Thanos want…” Clint trailed off. “I’m not sure what to call you.”

“Just call me Barton,” Barton said before he continued. “In order to know what he wants, you have to know his story.

“Thanos is the only survivor of a planet called Titan. He is the result of a genetic mutation, which made him horribly disfigured but also made him super smart and gave him super strength. Thanos worked with his father when he came to a realization about his planet: at the rate they were going, they would deplete Titan’s resources. They would all die of starvation. So he came with a plan to stop it: Selective genocide.”

“How is genocide selective?” Sam asked confused and Barton smiled thinly.

“He created a poison that would induce a painlessly and quick death and suggested that half the population be put down. Naturally, his people were horrified and cast him out, banished him.”

“Thanos was proven right, wasn’t he?” Thor noted as they turned to him. “I’ve heard of Titan, it is a wasteland, uninhabitable.”

“Yeah, Thanos was right. About the problem, at least,” Barton sighed. “His people died and Thanos took that as proof that his plan had been the only way for them to survive. Thanos thinks the flaw in his way of thinking was that he asked for permission. He now goes to planets and wipes out half the population out of a crazy belief that he’s saving them from Titan’s fate.”

“That’s…that’s…” Tony was at a loss for words as they were all horrified.

“Insane? Yeah, because Thanos is a genocidal lunatic with a god complex,” Barton sighed. “And that’s not even the worst of it.”

“Thanos is after the Infinity Stones, he’s the one my vision warned me about,” Thor realized and Barton nodded.

“He’s after all six of the stones. Reality, Power, Soul, Space, Time…and Mind,” Barton said with a pointed look at Vision. “With all six of them, he can wipe out half of all life in the universe with a snap of his fingers.”

“Did we stop him?” Steve demanded as they all waited with baited breath for Barton’s answer.

“Yes,” Barton said but the grim look on his face stopped any feelings of joy or relief. “But we all paid a high price Steve. Some of us died. Others were left completely broken. Even though we won, in some ways it still feels like we lost.”

“That is why you brought us here, so that we could prepare for Thanos’ arrival,” Vision noted and Barton nodded.

“Yeah, and to make sure you don’t repeat the same mistakes,” Barton said before his eyes went from Steve to Tony. “Thanos, he only got as far as he did because we were divided when he showed his ugly purple head.”

“And we were divided because of The Accords,” Steve noted with a look at Tony. “Among other things.”

“Yeah. You both screwed up. Cap, you didn’t try hard enough to reach Tony, to make him understand the problems with the way he was going about it. And Tony, you weren’t listening to anyone or anything except your own damn ego. And we all paid for your mistakes guys,” Barton said and the two flinched. “You have a chance to make things right, to learn from your mistakes. You need to work together in order to stop Thanos. You guys put aside your shit to stop Loki. You need to do the same with Thanos. You need to trust each other again. Find a way to do that, for everyone’s sake. Because the team needs both of you to stop Thanos and survive.”

“Barton,” everyone looked up as Strange reentered the room. “You have a call.”

Barton sighed before nodding.

“I need to take this. Just…eat something, talk. Whatever,” Barton said awkwardly before getting up and walking out of the room.

For a moment, it was completely silent as The Avengers absorbed what they had heard.

“This would be so cool if it wasn’t real,” Peter mumbled.

“I miss the days when our biggest problem was Hydra,” Clint sighed tiredly.

“My friends, Thanos will be the biggest threat we have ever faced before. We must work together,” Thor urged them.

It was silent as everyone looked at Steve, Tony, and Clint, knowing those three would have the most issues with working together.

“I’ll work with you, but I’ll be keeping an eye on you,” Clint told Tony. “Because this is more important than whatever went down in what we just saw.”

Tony nodded in understanding before looking over at Steve. It was silent in the room as Tony tried to gather his thoughts.

“I don’t know if I can get passed this Steve,” Tony said with a sigh and Steve nodded.

“I understand. I’m not asking you to forgive me Tony. I’m asking you to put however you feel about me aside so we can stop Thanos,” Steve said and Tony sighed tiredly.

“All I can tell you is I can try,” Tony said and Steve nodded in understanding, knowing that was the best he could get from Tony.

“Hey, where’s Nat?” Clint asked and they finally noticed Natasha had left the room.

“Okay, how does she do that?” Rhodey asked in shock.

“She’s Nat,” Steve said simply.

Barton walked into his office and sat down at his desk. He pressed a button and a holographic screen appeared in front of his desk, a dark haired woman in her twenties on it.

“Hey Hawkeye,” Barton said fondly and she smirked.

“Hey old man,” Lila said and Barton chuckled.

“Have some respect for your old dad, would you kid?” Barton said warmly. “What’s going on?”

“Could you come by in a few days, Sam wants your opinion on something, a plan for a mission we’re going on in a few days,” Lila said and Barton frowned.

“We’ll be pretty swamped over here. I think I can make it there tonight though,” Barton said and Lila nodded.

“Good, I’ll tell Sam,” Lila said and it was quiet in the room for a minute. “Is she…”

“Yeah, she’s here,” Barton said the warm, casual atmosphere evaporating and Lila nodded, the room quiet for a minute.

“Can I see her?” Lila asked after a moment.

“I’m not sure that’s a good idea. I think this is gonna be hard enough for her to deal with without adding on that she’s…can you honestly say you would be able to keep in together in front of her?” Barton asked gently.

“No,” Lila said with a sad sigh. “I just…”

“I know,” Barton said gently and it was quiet for a minute. “Anything else?”

“Yeah. Wanda wants to know if you’re still coming this weekend,” Lila said, appearing as eager for the change in subject as he was.

“Wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Barton said and Lila nodded.

“Okay, I’ll tell her. See you tonight,” Lila said before the screen vanished.

“So, she’s all grown up now.”

A lesser man would have jumped at the sound of Natasha’s voice, but Barton simply looked over at her as she entered the room.

“How much of that did you hear?” Barton asked wearily.

“Everything after ‘I’ll tell Sam’,” Natasha said as she walked in, looking around the office.

It was a rather simple office, she mused. Only a desk with a wall behind him, a shelf. As she walked up to him, she got a look at several pictures on the shelf.

One was of the original Avengers, taken just after the battle of New York. One she instantly recognized as being taken after she had been recruited by SHIELD of the two of them. Clint had his arm around her and she shot him a death glare as he laughed it off when someone, Coulson she thinks, took it.

There was another of his family. Must have been taken a few years down the line, Nate looks to be a few years older, maybe three or four, she mused. There was also one of Clint and Wanda that she knows wasn’t taken from her time. A big give away is the fact that Wanda’s hair is now dyed red and Clint seems to be sporting a Mohawk. They smile, but both of them also look sad, Natasha noted.

There was also a photo of Barton, as he looked now, with a young boy Natasha didn’t recognize. He had dark hair and bright eyes, looked like he was maybe four or five. They looked like they were going fishing, Natasha mused.

“Who’s the kid?” Natasha asked as Barton followed her gaze.

“That’s Stevie, Wanda’s son,” Barton explained, taking her back.

“Wanda’s a mom?” Natasha asked surprised and Barton chuckled.

“For about five years now. He turned five a few months ago,” Barton said with affection.

“And the dad?” Natasha inquired.

“In the picture. He’s a good man, treats Wanda and Stevie right,” Barton said simply and Natasha nodded, knowing she wasn’t going to be getting any more out of him

“I’m one of the people who die, aren’t I?” Natasha said and Barton stiffened. “When you were telling us about Thanos, you never looked at me, not once. I know you well enough to see your tells.”

“Yeah, you’re one of the ones we lost,” Barton said thickly, swallowing the lump in his throat.

“It wasn’t your fault,” Natasha said and he looked at her sharply. “I see the look on your face. Whatever happened, it wasn’t your fault.”

“Wait until you see what happens,” Barton said with a tight smile.

“I don’t need to. I know I make my own decisions. Whatever happened, it was my decision,” Natasha said firmly and Barton smiled tightly.

“I’ve missed you Nat, more than you’ll ever know,” Barton said his voice raw with emotion.

“I think I do,” Natasha said in understanding as she placed a hand over his. “That was Lila?”

“Yeah. She’s all grown up, followed in our footsteps, became an Avenger,” Barton said, his voice filled with pride.

“So you two work together?” Natasha asked but Barton shook his head.

“No, I retired from active duty after Thanos. But I still help out; I help train the new recruits and I consult on mission plans. And I get this nice office for my troubles,” Barton added jokingly and Natasha shook her head at him in amusement.

“I’d like to see her to,” Natasha said and Barton stiffened. “I heard she wants to see me, I want to see her to. Please.”

“Okay, I’ll see what I can do,” Barton agreed after a moment as he stood up. “In the meantime, let’s g eat. You must be hungry.”

Chapter Text

After eating lunch, the viewers were led back to the viewing room by Strange. None of them said anything as they all retook their seats, their minds whirling with what Barton had told them. Before he left them to continue watching, Strange looked over at T’Challa.

 

“Prince T’Challa, the next recording will reveal the secrets of Wakanda,” Strange said and T’Challa tensed as everyone else looked interested. “There is no point trying to hide it. It’s best that you just tell the truth. Also, some of what you see will be…difficult for you to see. Brace yourself.”

 

Strange then turned and walked out, leaving them all alone. T’Challa sighed, knowing that he would have a lot of explaining to do. Seeing the others looking at him, waiting for his approval, T’Challa nodded. Tony then picked up the remote and started the recording.

 

Unseen to the viewers, a son asks his father to tell him a story. The story of home, he tells his father when asked which one. With a laugh, the father begins to tell the story.

 

T’Challa sighed as he heard this. Remembering Strange’s warning, he just hoped he could convince the Avengers to keep the secret of Wakanda to themselves.

 

With black sand forming shapes to act out the story, the father explains that a meteorite of Vibranium had struck Africa millions of years ago, affecting the plant life. Five tribes would later settle on it, founding the country of Wakanda. The tribes would be in near constant war until a warrior shaman received a vision from the panther goddess Bast and found a heart shaped herb, which granted him superhuman strength, speed, and instincts.

 

“So that’s how you were able to keep up with Bucky and I,” Steve said as he looked over at T’Challa, who nodded reluctantly.

 

“Yes Captain. The herb gives the Black Panther power beyond an ordinary man, similar to the serum that made you,” T’Challa admitted reluctantly, seeing there was little point in denying it.

 

The shaman became the king of Wakanda, and the first Black Panther. Four of the five tribes decided to live in the mountains, but the fifth, the Jabari tribe, settled in the mountains, away from the other tribes. Using the Vibranium, Wakanda would develop technology far beyond any other country.

 

T’Challa grimaces as everyone turns to him in shock.

 

“Just how advanced are we talking her? Back to the future or Star Wars?” Tony demanded as T’Challa sighed.

 

“Your suits Mr. Stark would not be a very impressive achievement by today’s standards of Wakandian technology,” T’Challa said and Tony gapped at him.

 

As did most of the others.

 

“Son of a bitch,” Clint muttered in shock.

 

“Why keep it a secret?” Scott asked in confusion.

 

“We feared that if the outside world knew what we possessed, they would come for it. Many who knew the truth have tried over the years,” T’Challa explained and Thor nodded.

 

“Those who lust for power will always go after what they see as hat they deserve,” Thor said, remembering Loki. 

 

“I beg of you, do not tell anyone of what you know,” T’Challa pleaded as he looked at all of them. “If the world found what we really are, Wakanda would be a target.”

 

“Nat and I used to be spies, it’s kind of what we do for a living,” Clint said after a moment, looking over at Natasha who nodded in agreement.

 

“Your secret is safe with us Your Highness, you have our word,” Steve promised and T’Challa nearly collapsed in relief.

 

“Thank you,” T’Challa said gratefully.

 

As the outside world descended into chaos, the Wakandians, fearful of the Vibranium falling into the wrong hands, hid in plain sight. The son asks his father if they still hide, which the father confirms. The son then asks why they hid.

 

The scene changes to California, Oakland in 1992. At night, a group of kids are shown playing basketball outside an apartment as, inside, two black men are planning a raid, going over plans as rifles are seen on the table.

 

“Why are we seeing a couple of would be crime lords from fourteen years ago?” Tony asked confused.

 

“It might be important to what’s going on later, like Zemo was,” Rhodey pointed out and Tony nodded in understanding.

 

T’Challa frowned as he saw the two men. They both looked familiar, he just wasn’t sure why.1

 

Suddenly, they hear a faint rustling sound. One man, obviously the leader, orders the other to ‘hide the straps’. He takes the guns and hides them behind a poster as the leader checks out the window, only seeing the kids playing. The other man asks him if it was the feds and the leader says no. There is a knock at the door and the other man goes and looks through the peak hole. He says it is two ‘Grace Jones looking chicks’ who have spears.

 

“The Dora Milaje,” T’Challa realized.

 

“It appears Colonel Rhodes is right, this will have importance to the rest of the recording,” Vision noted.

 

The leader says to let them in, simply saying they won’t knock again. The other man opens the door and two members of the Dora Milaje walk in. One of them demands to know who the leader is in Wakandian and, in English, he say he is N’Jobu, son of Azzuri.

 

T’Challa started, something the rest of them noticed.

 

“You know that guy?” Sam asked.

 

“Only by name. He is my uncle, my father’s brother. He left on an assignment when I was young. I was told he disappeared at around this time,” T’Challa explained with a frown, wondering if he would finally find out the truth to his uncle’s disappearance.

 

The guard demands he prove he is one of them and N’Jobu lowered his lower lip, revealing his gums. Part of it was glowing a blue/purple hue.

 

“Okay, what’s with the magic gums?” Tony asked and T’Challa chuckled.

 

“All Wakandians have it,” T’Challa said, briefly pulling down his lower lip to show them he did as well. “We believe that it has something to do with being born from the land where the meteorite struck Africa.”

 

Suddenly, the lights flicked, shrouding the room in darkness. When the lights came back on, The Black Panther stood in the room.

 

T’Challa smiled sadly, remembering all the times he had seen his father in that suit. It brought him pain to see him now, knowing his father was dead in these recordings.

 

“You Wakandians sure like mystique,” Clint noted and T’Challa managed a smile.

 

“Theatricality and deception can be powerful tools,” T’Challa said simply.

 

N’Jobu bowed and, after a hit in the legs, the other man followed suit. T’Chaka ordered the other man to leave but N’Jobu, introducing the other man as James, respectfully insists. T’Chaka agrees before removing his helmet.

 

T’Challa let out a shuttering breath as he saw his father. Something everyone heard.

 

“Are you sure you can handle this?” Sam asked and he nodded.

 

“Yes. It is...more difficult than I imaged. But I will be fine,” T’Challa assured them.

 

T’Chaka and N’Jobu hug, greeting each other warmly before T’Chaka looks around. N’Jobu asks how home is and T’Chaka informs him that it is not well.

 

T’Challa’s eyes widened in realization as he remembered what had happened that year. And he also remembered his father’s silence in the days that had passed after he returned home shortly after. A pit of dread began to form in his stomach.

 

T’Chaka shows a hologram of Ulysses Klaue, who stole a quarter ton of Vibranium from Wakanda and set off a bomb at the border, which took many lives.

 

“Of course he would,” Clint said disgusted.

 

“You know Klaue?” T’Challa asked surprised.

 

“Ultron took his Vibranium before he attacked Sokovia,” Natasha explained.

 

“And back during my less…heroic days, I had the displeasure of running into him at a few galas. Not that I knew who he was, he used a cover,” Tony said and T’Challa nodded.

 

T’Chaka casually notes that Claue had inside help, as he knew where to look and how to strike. Nervous, N’Jobu asks why T’Chaka is there. T’Chaka demands his brother looks him in the eye and tell him why he betrayed Wakanda.

 

“Okay, I did not see that coming,” Rhodey said as they all stared at the screen in shock.

 

T’Challa was stunned, his mind whirling at the fact that his uncle had been the one to help Klaue. And he also wondered why this had never been revealed in any of the reports about the bombing.

 

Thor remembered Loki’s betrayal and his sympathies went out to T’Chaka. It was never easy to deal with betrayal, especially when that betrayal came from your own family. 

 

N’Jobu denies this, so T’Chaka, in Wakandian, tells ‘James’ to tell his brother who he really is. ‘James declares himself to be Zuri, son of Badu. N’Jobu is shocked as Zuri lowers his lips to reveal the same glowing gums.

 

“Zuri,” T’Challa realized.

 

“A friend of yours?” Steve asked and T’Challa nodded.

 

“He is my father’s royal advisor, and a dear friend to my family,” T’Challa said.

 

N’Jobu is enraged at this deception, grabbing Zuri as he demands to know how Zuri could deceive him while Zuri sneers that N’Jobu betrayed Wakanda. Before it could escalate, T’Chaka intervenes, grabbing his brother’s shoulder and coolly telling him to stand down.

 

“Bet betrayal doesn’t feel so good on the other foot, huh?” Scott said, disgusted by N’Jobu.

 

Steve and Tony flinched, both of them looking at each other. An understanding passed between them. They weren’t towards forgiveness yet…but maybe one day, they would be. 

 

N’Jobu wisely releases Zuri as T’Chaka asks him if he really thought he was the only the spy Wakanda sent.

 

T’Challa shifted uncomfortably as everyone looked over at him.

 

“Spy?” Peter asked confused.

 

“My father…had spies in the outside world. War Dogs, they are called. They are our version of SHIELD, I suppose. They are meant to gather intelligence to assess threats to Wakanda,” T’Challa admitted.

 

The Avengers exchanged a glance, all of them more than a little disturbed. It was unnerving just how advance Wakanda was, in terms of organization and technology, than ehat they had thought.

 

Zuri hands T’Chaka the stolen Vibranium as the king declares that N’Jobu will return to Wakanda and face the judgement of the council.

 

T’Challa frowned. As far as he knew, that had never happened. His father had told both him and Shuri when they were young that his brother had disappeared. Clearly, there was more to the story, he mused, trying to ignore the pit in his stomach.  

 

Outside, the kids are still playing when one looks up into the sky. Shocked, he drops his ball and the others look up to see a Wakandian ship fly off, back to Wakanda.

 

“Is that a Wakandian plane?” Tony asked in awe and a little jealousy.

 

“It is the Royal Talon Fighter, the personal aircraft of the Black Panther,” T’Challa said, amused at Tony’s reaction.

 

The next day, a young T’Challa and Nakia are running through the catacombs of the City of the Dead when they spot T’Chaka, seemingly in deep thought.

 

T’Challa frowned, deep in thought. He remembered that day and knew something had happened. He just hadn’t understood it then.

 

Sensing someone is there, T’Chaka demands they show themselves. T’Challa sends Nakia back as he steps into his father’s line of sight. T’Chaka scolds his son, telling him that he and Nakia should not play there.

 

“You played in the catacombs as a kid?” Wanda asked, everyone shooting T’Challa bewildered looks.

 

“They fascinated us as children,” T’Challa said with a sheepish smile. 

 

Noting his father seems distressed, T’Challa asks what is wrong and T’Chaka confides in his son that he was forced to make a difficult choice. T’Challa reminds him that he told him that every choice a king makes is difficult.

 

T’Challa smiled slightly, remembering all the lessons his father had given him, both on being kin and on being the Panther. While it had been for education, his father had always made sure he had enjoyed the lessons.

 

T’Chaka acknowledges this but says some choices are harder than others. T’Challa is sure his father did the right thing.

 

The pit of dread in T’Challa’s stomach grew heaver as he wondered what his father had done to cause him such distress.

 

He always does, T’Challa says, which is why he will always reign.

 

T’Challa flinched at this, his father’s death flashing through his mind.

 

T’Chaka is amused by this, laughing as he asks about when he gets old and Bast comes for him. T’Challa declares that when that happens, he will be Panther and will fight off Bast so his father may live forever. T’Chaka laughs, bringing his son in for a hug.

 

In the present, T’Challa is standing in the City of the Dead, staring down sadly at his father’s body.

 

T’Challa sighed, feeling like a weight was being pressed down on his chest. Everyone, especially Steve, Tony, Wanda, Peter, and Thor, emphasized with him. The loss of a parent was never something that was easily and it could be crippling.

 

The scene then changes to the Royal Talon Fighter in Nigeria. T’Challa is watching a news report, talking about the attack at the UN a week earlier. It mentions T’Chaka’s death and how T’Challa is expected to inherit the throne.

 

T’Challa dimly noted he knew one day he would have to bear the mantle of King. He just never imagined it would be this soon or that it would be because his father had been murdered.

 

Piloting the ship, Okoye alerts T’Challa they are coming up on their destination as the ship decloaks.

 

Upon seeing their true first look at the royal vessel, everyone stared in awe. While for Thor, this ship was not the most impressive, it was beyond anything he had seen on earth. Tony and Peter were practically drooling over it. If Pepper had walked in through the door and told Tony she was pregnant at that moment, he would not have noticed.

 

T’Challa walks over to a display of the forest below, four vehicles on the ground. T’Challa picks one up and slides his hand over the top, revealing the inside. Several people are inside, one of which glows gold.

 

“All this is Vibranium based technology?” Tony asked in awe.

 

“Your father did not realize what he had in his possession Mr. Stark.  If he had, he could have given the Allies much more than just a shield,” T’Challa said with a glance at Steve. “I mean you no disrespect Captain Rogers.”

 

“It’s okay Your Highness. I would much rather have few lives have been lost than have a weapon,” Steve said simply.

 

Okoye picks up her spear and T’Challa tells her he can handle this himself. Okoye is clearly skeptical as she puts her spear back.

 

T’Challa rolled his eyes as everyone else smirked, sniggered, or outright laughed, already liking Okoye.

 

T’Challa says he will get Nakia out as quickly as possible as Okoye hands him some small, black orbs.

 

“What are those?” Peter asked eagerly and T’Challa chuckled at his enthusiasm.

 

“Just watch Mr. Parker,” T’Challa told him simply.

 

Okoye warns him not to freeze as T’Challa claims he never freezes.

 

“So, you’ve got a thing for this Nakia?” Clint smirked as T’Challa flushed. “Ten bucks says he freezes.”

 

“No one’s stupid enough to take that bet,” Natasha said and T’Challa rolled his eyes.

 

“Are you finished?” T’Challa grumbled as they all laughed at his expense.

 

T’Challa falls through a hole that opens up underneath him. He exits the fighter and throws the orbs. Each one turns into a disk that lands on a vehicle, which then all seem to have mechanical failure. The vehicles stop, crashing into each other. Men with guns get out, all of them confused on why their cars suddenly lost power.

 

“What are those?” Steve asked intrigued.

 

“EMB beads, designed by my sister. As the name suggests, they emit a small, electromagnetic pulse, disabling all electrical devices within range,” T’Challa explained.

 

“Isn’t your sister like seventeen?” Clint inquired.

 

“Fifteen,” T’Challa corrects, stunning them all.

 

“She’s barely older than me!” Peter exclaimed.

 

“She might be smarter than you Tones,” Rhode said as he looked over at Tony.

 

“I would not she is smarter than Mr. Stark, she simply has more advanced technology,” T’Challa mused.2

 

“Thanks…I think,” Tony said, not sure whether than a compliment or not.

 

The leader sees one of the disks and tries to pull it off, but it is stuck.

 

“They also cannot be removed by ordinary hands,” T’Challa added.

 

He orders defense positions and his men all take their position. One of them taps on the truck, which had various women in the back, who look afraid as they are told no ‘funny business’.

 

“Human traffickers,” Sam said disgusted as everyone glared at the screen.

 

“The lowest scum on the face of the earth,” Clint sneered and no one disagreed.

 

Hearing a dog bark up into the trees, one of them shines a flash light and spot T’Challa, in his suit, up in the trees.

 

“And they are so screwed now,” Rhodey said as T’Challa smirked.

 

Nakia climbs her way to the front of the truck, peaking her head out as the man who spotted T’Challa is thrown into a jeep. They men fire into the air blindly before he lands behind them on one of the jeeps. T’Challa knocks one back as the others turn and open fired on him. T’Challa’s Vibranium suit protects him as he jumps down, beginning to engage them.

 

“Won’t work dickheads,” Rhodey said smugly.

 

As the others are distracted by T’Challa, Nakia grabs a gun and walks up behind one of the men. She whacks him in the back of the head with the butt of the rifle, knocking him out.

 

“I like her,” Natasha said as they all cheered for Nakia.

 

T’Challa continues to engage the men, the bullets harmlessly bouncing off the suit as they continued shooting at him. T’Challa used his claws to cut one of the doors off before throwing it at one of the men. It hits him, knocking him out.

 

“That was awesome!” Peter cheered as T’Challa smirked.

 

He approaches the one shooting at him out of fear. He grabs the barrel of the gun but, before he can do anything, Nakia stops him, explaining the ‘man’ was just a boy who had been kidnapped as well.

 

“Then maybe he shouldn’t have been shooting at you,” Scott argued.

 

“Fear can make people do crazy things. Plus, living with a bunch of human traffickers probably made him a little jumpy,” Clint pointed out.

 

T’Challa is completely transfixed by Nakia, nearly unable to speak when one of the men shouts, having a gun aimed at the man. Before T’Challa can even think, Okoye is there, stabbing the man with the chest with her spear. He falls to the ground, dead, as Okoye notes T’Challa froze.

 

“He can’t help it. The guy’s in love,” Tony teased and they all snickered as T’Challa flushed.

 

T’Challa removes his helmet as Nakia asks why he is there, angry that he ruined he mission. 

 

“He also just completed it. Um, maybe be a little grateful,” Rhodey said miffed at her attitude.

 

“Nakia is not one to like assistance in her missions,” T’Challa said with a fond smile.

 

T’Challa reveals his father is dead, to her shock. He wishes for her to be there when he is crowned king. After a moment, Nakia nods.

 

“Well, clearly she likes you,” Natasha noted and T’Challa nodded.

 

“And I her. Our feelings for each other have never been what kept us apart,” T’Challa said with a weary sigh.

 

The Avengers looked at him in concern, wondering why T’Challa and Nakia weren’t together if there was no confusion on their feelings.

 

Nakia walks over to the women, who thank her. Nakia tells them to head home and to take the boy home as well. They agree and Nakia walks off as Okoye approaches them. She tells them to never speak of this day and they agree. With a smile at them, Okoye walks off after Nakia. T’Challa, Okoye, and Nakia board the ship and the women watch in awe as the ship rises into the air before cloaking itself and fling off.

 

“You showed up, saved the day, and now you take off. You’re a hero alright,” Tony joked.

 

“I am no hero Mr. Stark. I will leave that to all of you,” T’Challa said humbly.

 

The next day, as Okoye pilots the ship, Nakia holds T’Challa’s hand, the sun rising over Wakanda.

 

“And now you’re holding hands,” Tony teased and T’Challa simply rolled his eyes, his lips twitching in amusement.

 

Okoye announces they are home and the pair joins her at the helm. They pass over some herders and two people riding on horses as T’Challa notes this ‘never gets old’. The ship passes through a mountain and enters the city of Wakanda.

 

T’Challa tensed; worry flooding him as The Avengers and Peter all gapped as they got their first look at the real Wakanda.

 

“Holy shit,” Peter breathed.

 

“That’s what you’ve been hiding? No wonder you’re afraid,” Scott said shocked.

 

“Impressive,” Vision said.

 

“Wow,” was all Wanda could manage.

 

“Son of a bitch,” Tony muttered.

 

Steve, Natasha, Clint, Sam, and Rhodey were simply too stunned to say anything. So this was what Vibranium technology looked like, Steve mused.

 

The ship lands at the palace and the trio walk off, where they are met by the Dora Milaje, as well as T’Challa’s mother and sister, Ramonda and Shuri. Nakia greets Ramonda and Shuri respectfully, offering her condolences as Ramonda greets her warmly. Okoye orders one of the guards to help Nakia prepare for the ceremony. The guard bows and walks off with Nakia. Nakia glances back at T’Challa, who is watching her go.

 

“So close but so far apart,” Natasha noted as T’Challa sighed.

 

“I guess you’d know,” Tony quipped, once again without thinking.

 

Clint, Steve, and Thor glared at him again as he realized his mistake. However, once again, Natasha was unaffected.

 

“Guess so,” Natasha said with a glance at Steve that he missed.

 

But Clint didn’t, causing him to frown as he looked between them. He had a lot to ask Nat when this was over, he mused. 

 

Shuri asks Okoye if T’Challa froze and Okoye confirms he did, to T’Challa’s embarrassment and exasperation as Shuri laughs.

 

T’Challa rolled his eyes with fondness as everyone chuckled at Shuri.

 

T’Challa asks if they are finished and Okoye taps her spear on the ground, an action that the rest of the Dora Milaje mimics. Okoye walks off with the rest of the guard as T’Challa teases Shuri about seeing him off on their big day. But Shuri is there for the EMP beads, as she has an idea for an upgrade. T’Challa insists that they worked perfectly but Shuri exasperatedly asks if she has to teach him again that even something that works can be improved.

 

“A girl after my own heart,” Tony quipped.

 

T’Challa hands her the beads, asking her what she knew. More than him, she counters as she started walking off. T’Challa calls out he can’t wait to see her in her ceremonial outfit. Shuri flips him the bird and T’Challa makes a face. Without turning around, Ramonda scolds Shuri and Shuri lowers her hand as she apologized.

 

“I like her,” Clint laughed.

 

T’Challa asks how Ramonda is and she assures him she is proud. She reminisces that she and T’Chaka would talk of this day often. She knows he is with them now, as it is T’Challa’s time to be king.

 

T’Challa sighed wearily at the reminder. He had always known he would one day become king. But still, it was a responsibility he did not feel ready for, not yet.

 

The scene changes to a museum in London. A man is staring at African artifacts in a glass casing as the director walks up to him. The man tells her he’s interested in the artifacts and heard she was the expert.

 

“Okay, why are we seeing this now?” Scott asked confused.

 

“I guess it must be important Tic-Tac,” Sam noted.

 

The man asks about several of the objects and she is able to tell him where each one came from. He asks about an axe, which she claims id from Benin. He corrects her, explaining that it was actually from Wakanda and is made of Vibranium.

 

“Wait, what?” Clint asked confused.

 

“How could he have known that?” Natasha asked confused as they turned to T’Challa, hoping he had some answers.

 

“I do not know,” T’Challa said, equally stunned as he wondered who this man was. 

 

He then tells her he is going to take it. She tells him that the objects aren’t for sale but he snarls that her ancestors didn’t get these artifacts by paying for them.

 

“Great, another one of those guys. Whatever happened to ‘the sins of the father will not be the sins of the son’?” Tony wondered.

 

“Some say love is the most powerful emotion. But they’re wrong. Hatred is, and it can be passed to another person much more easily than love,” Clint noted and Tony briefly wondered whether Clint was talking about him and his betrayal in these recordings.

 

She tells him to leave but seems to have trouble speaking. The man smugly tells her he’s been watched since coming in here, but she didn’t think about what she put in her body. She glances down at her cup of coffee, realizing it had been poisoned.

 

“Shit,” Rhodey swore as they all tensed.

 

Security arrives to take the man away as the director collapses, her cup spilling on the floor as the man, acting concerned, calls out for help.

 

“Ironic, since you poisoned her,” Vision said disgusted,

 

At the snack stand, a barista sees two medics rushing over to where the calls were coming from. With a smirk, she announces she was taking a break before walking off.

 

“That’s how he poisoned her coffee, he had someone on the inside,” Steve said grimly.

 

The ‘medics’ rush over but the director sees one of them is Klaue.

 

“Klaue,” T’Challa said stiffly as they all stared at him.

 

“So he’s gone from illegal arms dealing to robbery. How the mighty have fallen,” Clint said vindictively.

 

“Well, he lost a lot when Ultron attacked him and we fought his men,” Steve pointed out and Clint nodded, conceding to his point.

 

Klaue and the other ‘medic’ open fired, executing the director and two of the security guards, leaving one alive.

 

Peter jumped, unnerved by the coldblooded executions. Even the adults, having witnessed those scenes often, were horrified by the callousness. No matter how many times you saw that kind of thing, it never got any easier.

 

Klaue then, to the guard’s great relief, tells the guard he’s letting him go. The guard ran and Klaue then fired, killing the guard.

 

“Sick bastard,” Tony snarled as they glared, disgusted by Klaue’s actions.

 

Erik asks why Klaue didn’t just shoot him and Klaue explains to leave the crime scene more spread out, make them look like amateurs.

 

“Well, say what you will, he’s not stupid,” Clint said, looking like he’d swallowed a lemon.

 

The security cameras are on a loop, hiding what actually happened as Klaue walks up to the display Erik had been looking at. He holds up his prosthetic hand, which vibrates as a line flashes blue and the glass shatters.

 

“Covering all their bases to hide what they’re really doing. These guys aren’t amateurs, that’s for sure,” Natasha noted grimly.

 

“And I guess Klaue replaced the hand Ultron took off with a weapon,” Wanda noted, remembering Ultron tearing off Klaue’s arm in a violent rage.

 

Klaue picks up the axe and puts his prosthetic hand on it. It vibrates and the dirt and rust are shaken off, revealing the Vibranium.

 

T’Challa stared at the screen, wondering how this man could have possibly known what they hadn’t.

 

Klaue laughs, gleefully telling Erik he’ll be rich. Erik tells him to sell it quick, and Klaue tells him it’s already sold, bringing the handle down on his knee to break the metal off. Erik points out the Wakandians will follow him wherever he travels but Klaue sees this as killing two birds with one stone.

 

T’Challa growls low in his throat, glaring at the screen. Killing two bird, huh? Well, T’Challa would make sure Klaue never got that far, he vowed in his mind.

 

Seeing Erik eying an African mask, Klaue asks if that’s Vibranium to. Erik said no, he just liked it as he took it.

 

Wheeling Erik out on a stretcher with the appearance of being two medics transporting a patent to an ambulance. They got in, Erik getting up as he and the woman began making out while Klaue laughed as he closed the door and the ambulance began driving off.

 

“They’re all insane,” Clint declared as they all stared, disturbed by what they had seen.

 

“A crew of complete psychos,” Tony agreed. “I think we found our next target.”

 

“No,” T’Challa almost barked and they looked over at him. “Klaue wronged my people. He and his new friends are mine to deal with.”

 

While they disagreed with him, it was clear that T’Challa would not hear any arguments at this time. So, after exchanging a glance, The Avengers silently decided to talk to him after the recording was over. For now, they would wait to see how this one turned out.

Chapter Text

The scene changes to Wakanda. By a waterfall, Ramonda and Shuri, in her ceremonial dress, are dancing with the tribe, along with Nakia before Okoye and the Dora Milaje tap their weapons on the boat they were on. This sent a shock wave down the river, where a drain is activated.

 

“Even your mountains are high tech,” Clint whistled, impressed as T’Challa chuckled.

 

The Royal Talon Fighter flies over to the waterfall, hovering over the ground as the ramp lowers. T’Challa exits, wielding a spear and shield and wearing only a pair of shorts, his chest and face coated in paint as his people sing.

 

“Nice paint job,” Tony said and T’Challa smiled.

 

“It is formal wear a prince wears to his coronation, similar to your business suits,” T’Challa explained.

 

Zuri formally introduces T’Challa, who kneels in the traditional Wakandian warrior pose while the crowd also takes a pose.

 

“What, did you guys rehears that?” Scott joked and T’Challa rolled his eyes good naturedly.

 

Zuri then explains that T’Challa will have the power of the Black Panther stripped away from him before giving T’Challa a liquid, which he drinks.

 

“Can that drink really take away your powers?” Rhodey inquired and T’Challa nodded.

 

“It is derived from an herb that counters the effect of the Heart Shaped Herb, leaving me the same as an ordinary man,” T’Challa explained.

 

“But why?” Peter asked confused.

 

“It’s challenge day,” T’Challa said simply.

 

T’Challa seems to gag as his veins turn black while drums are beat and his people dance. T’Challa is weakened before getting to his feet, his strength returning to him.

 

“That looks painful,” Wanda noted and T’Challa winced.

 

“It is,” T’Challa admitted and Steve winced, remembering getting the Super Soldier Serum.

 

“I can relate,” Steve said dryly.

 

Zuri yells to ‘praise the ancestors’, which the rest of the attendees repeat. Zuri explains the rules of ritual combat before asking if anyone wants to challenge T’Challa for the throne.

 

“Anyone can challenge you for the throne?” Natasha asked and T’Challa nodded.

 

“Anyone, but they must defeat me in ritual combat. I must prove my worth, that I can protect my people. If I cannot, I am unworthy of being king,” T’Challa said firmly.

 

One by one, the Merchant, Border, River, and Mining Tribes all decline to challenge T’Challa. Zuri then asks if anyone of royal blood wishes to challenge T’Challa and Shuri raises her hand.

 

“She wants to fight you?” Peter asked surprised and T’Challa chuckled.

 

“Unlikely. Shuri has said more than once she has no desire to rule, preferring her place in the lab. More likely she just wants to get back at me for earlier,” T’Challa said with an amused smile on his face.

 

But Shuri only wished to complain about her ceremonial outfit, to T’Challa’s amusement and everyone else’s exasperation.

 

“Looks like you were right Your Highness,” Sam said amused as they all laughed at Shuri’s antics.

 

“I like her,” Rhodey said between laughs.

 

Suddenly, there is chanting as everyone turns to see the source of it. Men wearing war paint exit the caverns, followed by a man wearing a monkey mask.

 

“M’Baku,” T’Challa said, his smile disappearing to be replaced by a scowl.

 

“Who’s this guy?” Rhodey inquired.

 

“Leader of the Jabari Tribe,” T’Challa said simply.

 

“The Tribe that isolated themselves in the mountains,” Vision noted and T’Challa nodded.

 

“If they isolated themselves, why are they at your coronation?” Natasha inquired and T’Challa shrugged.

 

“I doubt it is to wish you good luck,” Thor noted.

 

Everyone is shocked to see the Jabari Tribe as M’Baku exits. M’Baku removes his mask once he reaches Zuri, who asks him why he is there. Its challenge day, M’Baku says simply before he turns to address the crowd. He then proceeds to express his disgust that their technological advancements are overseen by Shuri, a child who scoffs at their traditions. And now, they are handing over the throne to T’Challa, a ‘boy who could not keep his own father safe’.

 

T’Challa glared at the screen, as did most of the viewers.

 

“I already don’t like monkey boy,” Tony said and none of them disagreed.1

 

M’Baku declares that the Jabari Tribe will not stand for this and T’Challa accepts his challenge before he can even formally give it. M’Baku mocks him before they each dawn their masks. The Jabari go to guard M’Baku while the Dora Milaje move to guard T’Challa at T’Challa and M’Baku’s orders.

 

“What are the guards for?” Wanda asked curiously.

 

“To make sure neither side breaks the rules of combat or runs away until the challenge is finished,” T’Challa explained.

 

Zuri starts the challenge and the two rush each other. M’Baku parries with his spear but T’Challa blocked with his shield. However, with a powerful swing of his spear, the blow sent T’Challa falling onto his back, to the concern of Nakia and Shuri.

 

“Shit, he’s strong,” Clint noted as T’Challa frowned.

 

“Strength is not everything my friend,” Thor pointed out as he looked at T’Challa. “This challenge has just begun.”

 

T’Challa then stood back up and tried to strike M’Baku, who dodged. T’Challa then sent a kick to his chest, sending M’Baku falling on his back, to Zuri and W’Kabi’s satisfaction.

 

“Strength is not everything,” T’Challa echoed with a smirk.

 

M’Baku stood back up and T’Challa rushes him. However, M’Baku dodges and sent a powerful blow to T’Challa’s shield. This knocks T’Challa off his feet and causes him to lose his weapons. His mask flew from his face as he landed on his back in the water.

 

The smirk was wiped from T’Challa’s face, replaced with a frown. Now that he had lost his weapons, the challenge would be that much harder.

 

“Damn, this guy’s not playing around,” Rhodey noted.

 

“M’Baku is not someone you would wish to fight,” T’Challa agreed.

 

M’Baku laughed as T’Challa pulls himself to his feet, finding the Jabari pointing their weapons at him. Returning to the fight, T’Challa grabs onto M’Baku’s spear and delivers a spinning kick to his face, causing the crowd to cheer. T’Challa punches M’Baku three times and M’Baku fell to his knees.

 

“Nice moves,” Clint complimented.

 

“Thank you Mr. Barton. I would be happy to show you some,” T’Challa offered.

 

“You already owe me a bow. Let’s not fill up your tab,” Clint joked and T’Challa chuckled.

 

“Very well,” T’Challa agreed.

 

Angrily, M’Baku got back to his feet and manages to restrain T’Challa in a bear hug. Trying to crush T’Challa with his strength, M’Baku head-butts T’Challa, taunting him that he is ‘a boy not fit to lead’.

 

T’Challa winced, his mind plagued with doubts. It had been something he had doubted his entire life, whether he would ever be able to live up to his father as king. He just hoped he could make his father proud and be a good king to his people.

 

Dazed, T’Challa hears his mother tell him to ‘show him who you are’. Determination filling him, T’Challa head-butts M’Baku in return before punching him, breaking his mask. Angrily, M’Baku tries to stab T’Challa but T’Challa grabs the spear, the tip of the head getting him below his shoulder.

 

“Damn, this fight keep going back and forth,” Sam muttered as they all watched, hoping T’Challa wouldn’t meet a tragic end.

 

With determination, T’Challa declares he is Prince T’Challa, son of King T’Chaka. T’Challa pushes back, getting the spear away from him. T’Challa then grabs the spear when M’Baku tries again and kicks him in the chest, disarming him.

 

“Now who’s unfit to lead, huh?” Tony said cheekily as they all cheered.

 

T’Challa then tackles M’Baku, the pair landing at the edge of the waterfall. T’Challa pins him while using his legs to put M’Baku in a choke hold, pleading with M’Baku to yield. M’Baku declares he would rather die.

 

“Stubborn fool,” T’Challa growled, hoping he would not be forced to kill M’Baku.

 

As the crowd chants T’Challa’s name, T’Challa pleads with M’Baku, reasoning that his people need him. It is this that reaches M’Baku, as he taps T’Challa’s knee in a sign of surrender.

 

T’Challa releases the breath he hadn’t known he was holding; glad he would not have to kill M’Baku.

 

“You did not kill him when you had multiple chances. You are an honorable man Your Highness,” Thor said and T’Challa smiled.

 

“Thank you,” T’Challa said gratefully.

 

T’Challa released M’Baku as he let out a breath. The crowd cheered as T’Challa got to his feet, raising his arm in victory. Zuri crowns him King T’Challa as he places Bashenga’s necklace around his neck. T’Challa and Zuri hug before T’Challa greets his people. Holding his arms in a Wakandian pose, T’Challa cries ‘Wakanda Forever’, a cry that is echoed by his people.

 

“The crowd sure loves you Your Highness,” Steve noted and T’Challa simply smiled.  

 

The scene then changes to a cave. T’Challa was lying on a circle of red sand as, around him; the Heart Shaped Herb is prepared, turned into a liquid by some healers.

 

“So that’s the special herb,” Clint said as they all saw it. “It’s smaller than I thought it would be.”

 

“I thought so as well the first time I saw it,” T’Challa said with a smile.

 

Once it is ready, Zuri gives it to him, telling him to let it return his powers and take him to the Ancestral Plane. Once he consumed the liquid, T’Challa groans as his veins begin to glow purple. As Zuri calls upon the spirit of T’Chaka, T’Challa remembers memories of his father.

 

T’Challa stared at the screen sadly, thinking of his father. It was still a hard pill for him to swallow that his father was dead. But he could change this, he reminded himself.

 

As T’Challa loses consciousness, Zuri says to ‘praise the ancestors’. This seems to be a signal, as the healers each pick up a shovel and begin to bury T’Challa in the red sand.

 

“So this is their excuse to bury you in the sand?” Tony joked.

 

If T’Challa heard him, he did not react. He simply stared at the screen silently.

 

As he is buried, T’Challa remembers the events of Zemo’s attack on the UN, failing to save his father and putting on his father’s ring. T’Challa then awakens in the ancestral plane.

 

Everyone, even Thor, was in awe as they took it all in. The ancestral plane looked beautiful; there was no other word for it.

 

“Baba was right,” T’Challa said softly.

 

“What are those panthers in the trees?” Peter asked curiously as they saw some panthers watching T’Challa from the trees.

 

“Past kings, past Black Panthers,” T’Challa explained. “When we die, we leave our human bodies behind, take on the form of Bast, the panther goddess.”

 

“Cool,” Peter said in awe.

 

Standing to his feet in a white suit, T’Challa watched as one of the panthers in the trees jumped down. It landed in front of him before the panther turned into T’Chaka.

 

T’Challa’s throat tightened as he saw his father. At the same time, a weight lifted from his shoulders that his father, should he fail, would at least be at peace. Thor placed a hand on the shoulder of his fellow royal; knowing how T’Challa must be feeling as he remembered his mother’s funeral.

 

T’Challa and T’Chaka share an emotional hug before T’Challa grabs his father’s hand and gets down on his knees, apologizing.

 

“Why are you apologizing?” Peter asked confused and T’Challa didn’t answer.

 

“He feels guilty for not saving his father,” Sam noted and T’Challa did not deny it. “What you’re feeling, it’s normal. It’s called Survivor’s Guilt. I saw it in a lot of the guys I served with; I dealt with it myself after I got back. It’s wasn’t your fault Your Highness. It was Zemo’s.”

 

T’Challa did not respond. While logically he knew Sam was right, in his heart, he had not yet accepted that.

 

T’Chaka commands T’Challa to get up, reminding him that he is now king. T’Challa gets to his feet and T’Chaka asks what is wrong. T’Challa says that he is not ready and T’Chaka points out that T’Challa has been prepared to be king his entire life. T’Challa clarifies that he meant he was not ready to be without T’Chaka.

 

“No one ever is,” Steve said, remembering his mother’s death.

 

“I am over 1,500 years old and yet I still was not ready for my mother’s death a few years ago,” Thor told T’Challa thickly. “You are never ready to lose a parent. Never.”

 

“A man who had not prepared his children for his own death has failed as a father,” T’Chaka tells T’Challa. “Have I ever failed you?”

 

“Never Baba,” T’Challa said thickly, trying not to break down.

 

Never, T’Challa says immediately. T’Challa then asks his father how to best protect Wakanda. He wants to be a great king, just like T’Chaka, T’Challa says.

 

In the lab, Barton and Fitz exchange a glance, wondering if T’Challa will still feel that way once the truth about T‘Chaka comes out.

 

“You’re going to struggle. So you’ll need to surround yourself with people you trust. You’re a good man with a good heart. And it’s hard for a good man to be king,” T’Chaka tells him.

 

“Wise words,” Thor noted.

 

“Is anyone else getting a ‘Lion King’ vibe from this?” Scott asked and Steve, Tony, Clint, Natasha, Sam, Rhodey, Vision, Peter, and Wanda all raised their hands. “Good, I thought it was just me.”

 

“There is a Lion King?” Thor asked confused and his friends covered their mouths, attempting to stifle their snickers.

 

“We gotta show you more Earth culture Point Break,” Tony laughed.

 

T’Challa awakens back in the real world. His head bursts from the red sand, where he is greeted by Zuri. Out of breath, T’Challa tells Zuri his father was there.

 

Later, after the healers have left, T’Challa sits and talks with Zuri. T’Challa reminisces about seeing T’Chaka in the Black Panther suit and how his father had passed the mantle onto him to simply be king. Zuri says T’Chaka had told him in confidence he was too fat to fit the suit anymore, causing them both to laugh.

 

T’Challa managed a weak smile as Tony, Rhodey, Sam and Peter laughed. That sounded like his father.

 

“Your father sounds like a good man,” Steve told T’Challa, who smiled.

 

“He is,” T’Challa said simply.

 

T’Challa remembers telling his father not to speak at the UN, as well as T’Chaka’s teachings that the outside world could not be trusted.

 

“He’s not exactly wrong,” Natasha noted with several of her teammates nodding in agreement.

 

“For everyone who has power, there will only be those who covet that power for themselves,” Thor noted.

 

T’Challa asks why his father changed his views, and Zuri says simply time has a way of making you look back at what you have done.

 

Clint frowned, a suspicion forming in his mind. He remembered the scene at the beginning, wondering if whatever had happened with N’Jobu had played a role in T’Chaka changing his views. Seeing the look in Natasha’s eyes, he knew she shared his suspicions.

 

T’Challa asks if Zuri looks back at his time as a War Dog, which Zuri denies. The outside world is too unpredictable for an old man, Zuri says.

 

“Guy’s got a point,” Tony noted thoughtfully.

 

The scene then changes to T’Challa and Nakia walking the streets of Wakanda.

 

As they saw the streets of Wakanda, the viewers were once again impressed by the nation. It could almost be anywhere else. Almost. It was jarring for them to see how different Wakanda was than what they had thought it was.

 

T’Challa asks her to come home and she regretfully says she can’t. While she had come home to support him, she had found her calling out in the outside world, unable to turn a blind eye to suffering.

 

As T’Challa sighed, Steve felt a kinship with Nakia. Being unable to stand by while others suffered was something he could relate to.

 

T’Challa asks what she would ask him to do about it. She says Wakanda could offer aid, technological advancement and offer refuge like other countries. T’Challa regretfully points out they are not like other counties. If the world found out the truth about them, they could lose their way of life.

 

“Not an easy decision, is it?” Natasha noted and T’Challa smiled weakly.

 

“My father feared that if the outside found out what we really are, our people would never be safe because those who covet our Vibranium would constantly attack Wakanda,” T’Challa said wearily.

 

“He is not entirely wrong,” Thor noted.

 

“What do you believe Your Highness?” Steve inquired and T’Challa did not answer for a few moments.

 

“I do not know,” T’Challa said after a moment. “I wish I could help the outside world, but I will not do so at the expense of my people’s safety.”

 

“Perhaps these recordings will help you find a solution,” Vision offered and T’Challa smiled weakly.

 

“Perhaps,” T’Challa agreed. 

 

Nakia argues that they could protect their way of life and help the outside world. T’Challa jokingly says she would make a great queen if she wasn’t so stubborn. Nakia counters that she would make a great queen because she is stubborn. If that was what she wanted, she quickly added.

 

T’Challa let out a sound that was a mix of a laugh and a sigh. Two steps forward, three steps back, like always, T’Challa mused sadly. The other viewers had the tact not to say anything, feeling uncomfortable that they were viewing this private moment between T’Challa and Nakia.

 

The scene then changes to the area of the Border Tribe. T’Challa is talking to W’Kabi as his friend feeds the White Rhinoceros on the land. W’Kabi asks about Nakia, which T’Challa doesn’t answer. W’Kabi, picking up that something is off, asks what is wrong. T’Challa tells him what Nakia suggested and W’Kabi points out that if they brought refugees to Wakanda, they would bring their problems there.

 

Another good point, T’Challa silently noted. But there had to be a middle ground. Some way he could help the outside world without endangering Wakanda.

 

W’Kabi does add if T’Challa ordered the Border Tribe to clean up the world, they would do it. T’Challa then points out wagging war has never been Wakanda’s way.

 

“Careful Your Highness. I thought I was protecting the world when I created Ultron. Look how that turned out,” Tony sighed. “Playing god, with technology or soldiers, doesn’t go the way you think.”

 

T’Challa and W’Kabi’s Kimoyo Beads go off, signaling they both have a message. W’Kabi jokes they’re in trouble as they put the beads together and a hologram of Okoye appears.

 

“So Star Wars,” Tony said in reference to his earlier question about Wakanda’s technology.

 

“I suppose so,” T’Challa said with a slight smile.

 

She greets them, calling W’Kabi ‘my love’ before telling them someone has appeared on their radar.

 

“Wait, those two are…” Rhodey trailed off as T’Challa nodded.

 

“Married. For a few years now,” T’Challa said.2

 

The scene changes to the palace. A meeting is held of Wakanda’s council. Okoye informs the council that Klaue intends to sell the Vibranium artifact he stole form the Museum to an American in South Korea the following night.

 

“An American buyer?” Wanda said surprised.

 

“Must be someone who’s pretty connected to the black market if they knew about the Vibranium,” Tony noted.

 

“Or a spy,” Natasha argued and Tony shrugged, conceding to her point.

 

T’Challa notes his father’s greatest regret was that he was unable to capture Klaue before T’Challa expresses his desire to bring Klaue to Wakanda to stand trial for his crimes. The Merchant Tribe representative argues that Wakanda needs a king, not a warrior. W’Kabi points out his parents were killed when Klaue attacked them, something which haunts him even now.

 

“Klaue hurt many people that day,” T’Challa said grimly as The Avengers began to understand his desire to bring Klaue in.

 

Okoye adds that it is too great an opportunity to waste. W’Kabi pleads with T’Challa to take him along so they can kill Klaue together. T’Challa denies this, saying he needs W’Kabi in Wakanda. W’Kabi relents, but asks that T’Challa either kill Klaue or bring him back to Wakanda. T’Challa promises to do so.

 

“You should not have done that,” Thor noted and T’Challa looked at him confused.

 

“Why?” T’Challa asked confused.

 

“What you may see as a promise to your friend, he will likely see as a vow of the king. Your word as king is binding; a king is only as good as his word. If you are unable to keep that promise, for any reason, he will likely see it as his king failing to uphold his duty. And that may cause him to doubt your ability to lead,” Thor explained and T’Challa frowned, seeing how W’Kabi could take that badly.

Chapter Text

The scene changes to Shuri’s lab. T’Challa walks in as the Dora Milaje standby. T’Challa makes a Wakandian pose, which his guards mimic before he walks over to Shuri. Shuri bowed, mockingly greeting him as ‘My king’.

 

T’Challa rolled his eyes at his sister’s antics with Tony, Clint, and Natasha snickered. She would never change, T’Challa thought with a mix of exasperation and fondness.

                                                                                                 

T’Challa, amused, tells her to stop and the pair do a handshake followed by a Wakandian pose. As T’Challa is led into the lab, Shuri explains a car had been set ahead to Busan. She asks who is taking with him on his mission and T’Challa says Okoye and Nakia. Shuri expresses doubts that it is a good idea to bring his ex on a mission.

 

“I’m gonna have to go with Shuri on this one. Bringing an ex on a mission…bad idea,” Clint said with a wince.

 

“Speaking from experience?” Natasha said cheekily and he glared at her.

 

“You promised,” Clint hissed and she laughed.

 

“I made no such promises,” Natasha joked.

 

“Oh I have to hear this,” Rhodey said eagerly as Clint noticed the others were looking all too eager to listen.

 

“It was one of my earlier missions with SHIELD, Clint and I were still together pretty constantly because Fury didn’t trust me that much. We were assigned to a mission with agent Bobbi Morse, who turned out to be Clint’s ex,” Natasha said gleefully.1

 

“Worst mission ever,” Clint sighed.

 

“Because you two spent half of it arguing,” Natasha pointed out.

                                                              

“She argued, I disagreed!” Clint protested.

 

“Sure you did Hawkeye,” Natasha said sarcastically and Clint rolled his eyes.

 

T’Challa assures her they will be fine and, if they need back up, she will be on call, to Shuri’s excitement. Shuri then shows him his communication devices, updated with surveillance, and Remote Access Kimoyo Beads.

 

Tony practically drooled over all the tech there, something the others noticed and were amused by. They only wished they had a camera.

 

T’Challa walks over to some equipment, asking about it but Shuri is briefly distracted by T’Challa wearing sandals. Shuri makes fun of him but T’Challa but T’Challa simply says he decided to go ‘old school’ for his first day. Shuri then shows him what seem to be two ordinary flip-flops. T’Challa puts them on and flip-flops turn into shows, covering his feet.

 

“O…kay,” Rhodey said as they all stared, bewildered.

 

“That can’t be it, right?” Sam asked.

 

“Knowing my sister, doubtful,” T’Challa noted. 

 

Shuri says they are fully automated, like the ‘old American movie’ T’Chaka had watched.

 

“So your dad is a Back to the future fan, huh? Well, he has good taste,” Scott said and T’Challa shrugged, never having gotten an appreciation for the films.

 

Shuri also explains they are sound absorbent, which T’Challa tests by tapping his feet but nothing happens.

 

“Whoa,” Peter said impressed.

 

“Those would make stealth missions a whole lot easier,” Clint noted.

 

“And risk fewer lives,” Natasha agreed.

 

T’Challa is impressed by this and Shuri tells him they’re called ‘Sneakers’.

 

“How original,” Rhodey said dryly as Tony, Natasha, and Clint snickered.

 

T’Challa simply raised an eyebrow and an exasperated Shuri simply leads him over to three suit displays. One holds T’Challa’s suit while two others hold two white suits, one with a silver necklace and one with a gold necklace. T’Challa becomes offended when Shuri calls his suit ‘old tech’.

 

“Old,” T’Challa grumbled.

 

“No respect, that one,” Thor noted.

 

“No more than any other teenager,” Natasha noted.

 

“Spending a lot of time around teenagers?” Tony joked.

 

“Only when she joins us for one of my son’s soccer games,” Clint said and Natasha shrugged.

 

Shuri placates him by calling it ‘functional but old’. She begins mocking him about having to put on his helmet when being shot at and an exasperated T’Challa tells her to stop. She tells him to pick one of the new suits, gesturing to the one with the golden necklace. T’Challa likes it but, given he does not want to be noticed while on a mission, T’Challa goes with the one with the silver necklace. Shuri holds the Kimoyo Beads up to her brother’s head and they glow. She tells him to ‘tell it to go on’. After a moment, the white on the model is replaced by the Black Panther suit.

 

“Son of a bitch,” Tony said in awe.

 

“Cool,” Peter breathed.

 

“Wow,” Clint whistled impressed.

 

“Think she could work something like that up for us?” Rhodey asked as he looked over at T’Challa, who was staring at the screen.

 

“I will see,” T’Challa promised.

 

In the lab, Barton and Fitz exchange a glance, wondering how they will react to Tony’s Mark L Armor.2

 

The entire suit fits within the necklace, Shuri explains. She then orders him to strike it.

 

“She wants you to hit it?” Sam asked incredulously and T’Challa shrugged, as confused as them.

 

T’Challa kicks the model in the abdomen, sending it flying across the room. Shuri yells at him as she goes to retrieve it. They bicker as Shuri brings the model back over before T’Challa notices the area he had struck is now glowing a purple hue.

 

Everyone stared at the screen, intrigued by this.

 

“What is that?” Scott asked curiously as they looked to T’Challa for answers.

 

“I do not know. But knowing my sister, it will be impressive,” T’Challa noted.

 

Shuri explains that the Nanites absorb the kinetic energy and use it for redistribution, impressing T’Challa.

 

“So basically, they’ll just be attacking themselves,” Rhodey said as they were all impressed by this.

 

“Wow. She is good,” Tony admitted.

 

Shuri then orders him to strike it again. A suspicious T’Challa notices she is recording it.

 

“She’s up to something,” Clint said immediately.

 

“Sounds like somebody else we know,” Steve said with a glance at Natasha, who smiled innocently.

 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Natasha said in a sweet voice that fooled no one.

 

“Sure,” Sam said sarcastically. “And Ross isn’t a power hungry jackass.”

 

She claims it is for research purposes. A cautious T’Challa kicks the model in the same spot and it thrown back by a purple energy wave, landing on his back as Shuri laughs.

 

Several laughs broke out as T’Challa sighed. Some things don’t change, it seems.

 

“I really like her,” Clint chuckled.

 

A disgruntled T’Challa orders her to delete that footage.

 

“Doesn’t look like that happened!” Tony laughed.

 

“How are we seeing this anyway?” Scott asked, the thought occurring to him.

 

“We should ask the wizard when we see him next,” Thor decided.

 

The scene then changes to Busan, South Korea. T’Challa, Nakia, and Okoye (In a dress and wig) get out of a car.

 

T’Challa suddenly laughed, causing everyone to look at him.

 

“Something funny Your Highness?” Steve inquired.

 

“I am sorry. I just cannot imagine that Okoye will be very happy about wearing a wig,” T’Challa said as he gained control of his laughter. “The Dora Milaje consider their shaved heads a sign of great honor. This will be…amusing, to say the least.”

 

Okoye complains about being forced to wear a wig as Nakia teasingly tells her to ‘whip it back and forth’. A disgruntled Okoye calls it a disgrace as they reach a woman at a food stand.

 

“Well, looks like you were right,” Sam said amused as they all laughed at her reaction.

 

Nakia greets the woman in Korean, calling her Sophia. Sophia asks about T’Challa and Okoye, who Nakia claims are rich friends from Kenya. They’re good, Nakia insists and Sophia asks if that means good for trouble, like her.

 

T’Challa raised an eyebrow, wondering what kind of trouble Nakia had gotten into.

 

“Looks like your girlfriend has a past Your Highness,” Rhodey noted.

 

“So it would appear,” T’Challa muttered.

 

T’Challa and Okoye exchange a look as Nakia frowned. However, Sophia let them in regardless. The trio enters through a secret door, passing through metal detectors before two guards open the doors for them and they enter a casino.

 

“Wow,” Peter said in amazement.

 

“Welcome to the world of underground casinos kid,” Clint told him.

 

“Spent a lot of time in places like these,” Tony mused. “Back during my less…savory days.”

 

“Yeah um we don’t need to hear about that,” Rhodey quickly said and Tony pouted.

 

T’Challa orders them to spread out in an effort to locate the buyer, who likely had already arrived. As Okoye walks over to the balcony, Nakia takes T’Challa’s arm as they walk down the stairs.

 

“Looking for some private one on one time, eh?” Tony teased and T’Challa rolled his eyes in exasperation.

 

“Is he always like this?” T’Challa asked.

 

“He’s an acquired taste,” Rhodey said and Tony sputtered in indignation.

 

“My condolences,” T’Challa chuckled and they snickered at the look on Tony’s face.

 

T’Challa inquires about what Sophia had said outside and Nakia admits she got into some trouble with some ivory traders. T’Challa coyly asks if there will be trouble tonight and Nakia says it depends on how quickly they finish the mission.

 

T’Challa did his best to ignore the looks Tony, Clint, and Natasha gave him as he felt his face burn red.

 

Okoye tells them to focus over the Comms and T’Challa and Nakia walk off. Nakia walks up to the bar, ordering a whisky. Nakia spots three Americans and alerts T’Challa and Okoye. From the balcony, Okoye spots two more while T’Challa spots Everett Ross by the tables.

 

“Everett Ross. He must be the buyer,” Wanda realized.

 

“I can’t think of any other reason a member of the Joint Terrorism Task Force would be in South Korea in an underground casino,” Steve noted.

 

“Things just got a little more complicated,” T’Challa repeated what he had said in the recoding.

 

T’Challa walks up to Everett and they greet each other politely. T’Challa notes Everett is the buyer as he places some chips on the table. Everett says whatever he is doing is none of T’Challa’s business.

 

“It is when you are interfering in my mission,” T’Challa scowled.

 

“Technically, you’re interfering in his. You’re in Korea, not Wakanda,” Steve noted and T’Challa, seeing his point, nodded but he was far from happy.

 

T’Challa points out he gave him Zemo and Everett argues that him keeping T’Challa’s secret makes them even. Everett tells him to leave but T’Challa tells him that he won’t leave without Klaue before walking off. The next roll, T’Challa wins but he has walked off by now. An elderly man with black glasses walks over and takes T’Challa’s chips.

 

“And now he’s stalking you Your Highness,” Rhodey noted as they all frowned.

 

“Seriously, who is this guy and why is he so obsessed with us?” Tony wondered but no one had an answer.

 

Everett follows after T’Challa and alerts his team to T’Challa’s presence. Once he catches up with him, Everett explains Vibranium from the Battle of Sokovia links back to someone he’s not at liberty to say.

 

“Klaue,” Wanda said with a grimace, remembering how she had helped Ultron get his Vibranium.

 

 Everett offers to cut a deal with T’Challa afterward but T’Challa says he isn’t here to make a deal.

 

Outside, three cars pull up to the entrance. Klaue and several mercenaries get out.

 

T’Challa tensed, clenching his hands into fists as he narrowed his eyes. After all these years, Klaue would face justice for his crimes against Wakanda.

 

Klaue walks over to the entrance, greeting Sophia with a kiss on the cheek. He walks through the metal detector and the alarms go off but the guards don’t even move.

 

“How are they not even reacting to their alarms going off?” Scott asked stunned.

 

“They probably know him. From the way he greeted Sophia, he’s a regular there,” Natasha noted.

 

Spotting Klaue and his crew, Nakia alerts T’Challa and Okoye. T’Challa checks in with Okoye and she confirms she is in position. She doesn’t see the Vibranium and confirms Klaue and his crew are armed, despite the casino supposedly having a no weapons policy.

 

“Or they doesn’t care,” Sam added.

 

“With enough money and influence, you can buy anyone’s favor,” Tony noted.

 

Klaue meets Everett down on the ground floor. Everett notes Klaue has a lot of people with him, jokingly asking if Klaue has a mix tape coming out. Klaue confirms he does, offering to get him a sample and even telling one of his men to give Everett a sample before Everett turns him down.

 

“Wow, he’s…crazy,” Rhodey said after a moment.

 

“What happened with Ultron must have damaged his mind. He was not this…” Wanda trailed off, looking for the word.

 

“Psychotic?” Clint supplied and Wanda nodded.

 

“Psychotic when I saw him last,” Wanda finished.

 

Everett points out Klaue has a lot of people with him. Klaue laughs, assuring Everett they aren’t for him, placing a hand on Everett’s shoulder. Okoye sees six more men enter the casino and alerts T’Challa and Nakia that it was a set up.

 

“Of course it is. Klaue’s a war monger with no honor, probably plans to kill Agent Ross and taking the money,” Clint noted.

 

“Wouldn’t surprise me,” Tony said simply and no one disagreed.

 

Klaue asks if Everett has the diamonds and Everett removes Klaue’s hand from his shoulder. Okoye says they need to move on Klaue as Klaue’s men begin moving into position but T’Challa does not want to get into a shootout.

 

“You might not have a choice,” Sam pointed out and T’Challa sighed.

 

“You may be right Mr. Wilson,” T’Challa acknowledged.

 

Everett asks about the Vibranium and Klaue pulls it out, slamming it onto the table wrapped in brown paper with the word ‘fragile’ written on it.

 

“Huh. Was expecting some fancy briefcase or something,” Scott admitted.

 

Klaue joked about saving money on a fancy briefcase. Nakia intends to move on Klaue but Okoye ordered her to stand down in Wakandian. Unfortunately, this was heard by one of Klaue’s men.

 

T’Challa swore in Wakandian as they all tensed.

 

“You’ve been had,” Clint said grimly.

 

The man walked towards her and Okoye, realizing her cover was blown, pulled out her spear and whirled her weapon. She struck one in the neck before stabbing the second one in the foot. She then ripped off her wig and threw it in the first man’s face before pushing him off the balcony with her spear. The man lands on one of the tables, causing panic. Realizing the Wakandians are there, Klaue pulls out a gun and tries to shoot Everett but Everett blocks with a steel briefcase.

 

“Looks like you were right,” Sam said and Clint nodded grimly.

 

“He usually is about these kind of things,” Natasha noted.

 

 A shootout breaks out and T’Challa pushes a table on its side as he and Everett take cover behind it. Klaue orders his men to get the diamonds from Everett but T’Challa engages them, kicking one in the chest, sending the man flying. T’Challa kicks another in the knees and engages another as Everett made his escape. Meanwhile, Nakia engages some of Klaue’s men, slamming one down onto a table before picking off one of her heels and throwing it at another, all while pinning the first man to the table. She then tosses the first man onto the floor, still holding his arm, and took his gun, which she then fired up at the balcony.

 

“You Wakandians don’t do things half assed, do ya?” Tony asked as they all stared at the screen, impressed.

 

“We have all been trained since birth in the ways of the warrior. Some of us since we could walk,” T’Challa explained with a slight smirk.

 

Nakia’s shots got two of the men Okoye was fighting. Okoye uses her spear to flip a man over before she strikes one in the face with it, knocking him out. She then whirls around, engaging a third man. She tries to strike him but he grabbed the spear with surprising strength. Okoye kicked him in the abdomen and he went through the railing, falling to the ground floor. Okoye jumped down and then struck him in the face with her spear, knocking him out. 

 

“She’s a badass,” Scott said what they were all thinking.

 

“She is the best warrior in Wakanda. She did not get that title by sitting around,” T’Challa said with a smirk.

 

T’Challa punches a man, knocking him out and saw Klaue rushing up the stairs. Determined not to let Klaue get away, T’Challa jumps onto the table, using it as a stepping stool as he jumps onto the balcony, holding onto the railing and pulling himself up as Klaue reaches the top.

 

“You must like climbing stair cases,” Clint said cheekily.

 

“Seriously, you have no patience. Don’t you see everyone else using the stairs?” Tony teased and T’Challa rolled his eyes, his lips twitching in amusement despite the situation.

 

T’Challa calls out and Klaue turns to him. Seeing T’Challa, Klaue tries to shoot him but his gun is empty. Klaue mocks T’Challa about looking like his father before his hand split as he activated the sonic cannon. T’Challa grabbed a nearby table, using it as a shield as Klaue fired. The table was destroyed by the blast as T’Challa was thrown back, going through the railing and landing hard on a table below.

 

“That looks like it hurt,” Peter said as T’Challa narrowed his eyes.

 

“A sonic canon,” he said and they looked over at him. “It is an older Wakandian weapon. Likely left over from when Klaue attacked Wakanda.”

 

“Just as dangerous as anything else though,” Steve noted and T’Challa nodded.

 

As money fell to the ground floor, Klaue laughed at how he had ‘made it rain’ before one of his men grabbed him and pulled him out. Klaue rants about how ‘awesome’ that was as he and his men exit the casino before getting in their cars and driving off.

 

“He really is crazy,” Sam muttered.

 

Nakia and Okoye then rush out, Nakia asking about T’Challa. Okoye says he’ll have to catch up as she drops an EMP bead on a car.

 

“Um, why’d she put the bead on there? It’s already stopped,” Rhodey asked and T’Challa smirked.

 

“An EMP Bead has more than one use,” T’Challa said, sparking their interest.

 

Nakia and Okoye get in the car they arrived in and take off after Klaue. T’Challa then runs out, calling Shuri.

 

In Wakanda, an excited Shuri rushes over as the EMP Bead does a scan of the car and creates a holographic version of the car.

 

“So you can take control of a car with one?” Peter asked in awe and T’Challa chuckled.

 

“Yes Mr. Parker,” T’Challa said.

 

“We gotta get one of those,” Sam said impressed.

 

Getting inside, Shuri asks which side of the road it’s on before an annoyed T’Challa shouts at her to just drive. Shuri begins to drive the car as T’Challa changes into his suit, jumping onto the roof of the car.

 

Klaue tells his driver to put on some music and the driver turns on some rap music.

 

“Rap music in a car chase. We’re in an eighties movie now,” Tony joked.

 

Klaue orders his men to split up to confused them. Nakia and Okoye take the two heading right as T’Challa and Shuri take the other two, Shuri saying she knows a shortcut. T’Challa and Shuri pursue their two cars, who weave into open traffic, causing four cars to crash into each other, creating a traffic jam. Shuri says they aren’t going to make it but T’Challa orders her to keep going. Using his claws, T’Challa sticks them into the ground, lifting the car slightly, allowing them to pass through the jam without hitting any of the cars.

 

“Whoa,” Peter said impressed.

 

“You’re strong Your Highness,” Steve noted.

 

“Thank you, but not as strong as you,” T’Challa said graciously.

 

“Still pretty damn strong,” Scott muttered.

 

T’Challa lowers the car back to the ground and jumps onto the hood. One of Klaue’s men in the car in front of them opened fire out the back window but the bullets bounced harmlessly off T’Challa’s suit. T’Challa jumps from the hood onto the back window. Climbing up, he uses his claws to open the roof.

 

“Wow, those claws of yours really are sharp,” Clint noted.

 

“You did not figure that out when they scratched Captain Rogers’ shield?” Vision asked and Clint shot him an annoyed look but didn’t say anything as he was shot several amused looks.

 

T’Challa sees Klaue is not there and, out of terror, the driver jumps from the car. He lands in the path of Shuri’s car and she runs over him.

 

The good mood plummets as T’Challa started, horror filling him. That was not supposed to happen. Shuri was only supposed to drive, not kill someone. T’Challa internally cursed Klaue for this, his sister’s innocence being another casualty of Klaue’s madness.3

 

Shuri asks what that was and T’Challa tells her not to worry about it before jumping back onto her car as the van crashes while they pursued the other car.

 

“You’re not gonna tell her?” Natasha asked as T’Challa sighed.

 

“She needs to focus. And some things…are best left unsaid,” T’Challa said tiredly.

 

“I thought that to. It didn’t turn out so well for me,” Steve said with a glance at Tony. “You should tell her before she finds out another way.”

 

T’Challa frowned, considering Steve’s words as the recording continued.

 

With Nakia and Okoye, one of Klaue’s men was firing at their car but the bullets bounces off harmlessly. Okoye dismisses guns as ‘primitive’.

 

“Well excuse us, not all of us grew up with the most advanced weapons on the planet,” Sam said angrily.

 

“Some of us have to make sue with what is available to us,” Natasha said stiffly as T’Challa winced.

 

“I apologize if her remarks offended you,” T’Challa said.

 

“You’re not the one who offended us,” Rhodey said and T’Challa nodded.

 

Klaue yells over the radio that bullets won’t penetrate Vibranium as Okoye climbs up onto the roof of the car, to Nakia’s confusion. 

 

“What’s she doing?” Scott asked confused.

 

“If I know Okoye, something good,” T’Challa said, his lips twitching into the beginning of a smirk.

 

Okoye stabs her spear through the roof of the car, to Nakia’s surprise. Nakia continues to weave through traffic as Okoye waits before pulling the spear out and throwing it. It goes through the windshield of  the car and lands in front of it. The car slams into it and crashed like it was another car.

 

“Holy crap!” Peter exclaimed shocked.

 

“Shit,” Clint said as they all stared, stunned.

 

“Son of a bitch,” Tony breathed.

 

“Those spears are quiet strong,” Thor said, impressed as T’Challa chuckled at their reactions.

 

“Indeed,” T’Challa agreed.

 

Back with T’Challa and Shuri, they are pursuing their car as one of Klaue’s men continues firing at them. They head onto a bridge as Shuri points out T’Challa’s suit has been charged with kinetic energy with all the bullet and T’Challa orders her to go around the truck near them. Shuri complies as she swerves around the truck, disappearing from view. When she came around the truck, T’Challa was gone.

 

The smirk on T’Challa’s face quelled any reaction The Avengers had, wondering what he was up to.

 

Klaue’s men wondered where he went before T’Challa jumped onto the hood of their car. T’Challa slammed his hands down and the kinetic energy activated, sending out a wave. He jumped as the energy flipped the car into the air. The car came down behind them as T’Challa jumped back onto Shuri’s car. Shuri chuckled as she called him a show-off.

 

“That was awesome!” Peter exclaimed as all of them, including T’Challa, stared at the screen, impressed.

 

“Shuri never ceases to impress,” T’Challa noted.

 

“If she wasn’t already busy, I’d offer her a job at Stark Industries,” Tony said in awe of what Shuri had done.

 

With three of the four cars taken down, Nakia and Okoye realize they had Klaue in their sights. Nakia tells Okoye to hold on before she speeds up. As they drove after him, Klaue decided to ‘have some fun’. As they went down a hill, Klaue pokes his head out the window and aimed his Sonic Canon at Nakia and Okoye’s car. He fires and the blast hit the car full force.

 

T’Challa sat up sharply, worry for his friend and ex-girlfriend coursing through him.

 

The car was completely destroyed and Okoye went flying. Seeing a sheet of metal, Okoye whirled her spear and stabbed it, coming down on the ground. The sheet skidded to a stop in front of Nakia, who had stayed in the seat and was thankfully unharmed.

 

T’Challa sighed in relief, happy they were both unharmed.

 

“They got lucky,” Natasha noted.

 

“Lucky? I’d say that’s an understatement,” Clint muttered.

 

Everett then rolled up in a car, telling them to get in but awkwardly told Okoye to put her spear in the trunk.

 

Everyone couldn’t help but laugh at the way Everett said that, the tension in the room momentarily broken.

 

“Why couldn’t he have been more like this in the last recording?” Tony asked with a laugh.

 

Shuri drives onto the road Klaue is on, in hot pursuit. T’Challa barks at her to go faster but she shoots back at him she’s already going as fast as she can. Klaue orders his man to take a right and, when Shuri does as well to keep up with them, Klaue fires his sonic canon. Shuri is unable to avoid the blast and the car is destroyed as, in Wakanda, the hologram fades and Shuri falls to the floor.

 

“Shit,” Scott swore as the tension returned.

 

T’Challa is sent flying but lands on his feet on the side of the building. Rushing down, T’Challa jumps and lands on the roof of Klaue’s car. Using his claws, T’Challa yanks one of the wheels off before jumping off. Klaue’s car flips and slides across the road.

 

“Looks like your past finally caught up with you,” Clint said gleefully as T’Challa smirked.

 

Finally, Klaue would pay, he thought vindictively.

 

T’Challa stalks over as Klaue limply gets out of the car. T’Challa angrily calls Klaue’s name, asking if he thought they’d forget what he did as he deploys his claws. Klaue fires at him but the suit simply absorbs it.

 

“Yeah, that’s not gonna work this time,” Scott said smugly.

 

T’Challa takes advantage of Klaue’s confusion and yanks the sonic cannon off his stump of an arm. T’Challa then kicks him, sending him head first into the car, where he bashes his head. Klaue crumples to the ground as T’Challa demands to know where he got the sonic cannon and Klaue sneers that ‘you savages’ didn’t deserve it.

 

“Savages?!” T’Challa snarled angrily.

 

“If anyone is a savage, it is him,” Wanda said coolly.

 

T’Challa angrily grabs him by the throat and Klaue mockingly begs for mercy.

 

“Every breath he takes is mercy from me,” T’Challa sneered.

 

“Every breath you take is mercy from me,” T’Challa sneers as he prepares to end it.

 

“No need to repeat yourself,” Tony cracked but T’Challa was too focused on the screen to even hear Tony.

 

However, he is interrupted by the arrival of Okoye and Nakia. Okoye points out that the world is watching, bringing T’Challa’s attention to the fact that a crowd has dawn and is filming this. Everett tells them they need to go and Klaue smiles smugly as T’Challa realizes he can’t kill Klaue yet.

 

“Yeah, I doubt the leaders of the world will take it well if the first thing they see you do is kill someone, even someone like Klaue,” Rhodey noted.

 

“First impressions are everything,” Thor added.

 

T’Challa growled, realizing that his vengeance would have to be put on hold, at least temporarily.  But either way, when he returned to the past, Klaue would pay, now that he knew where Klaue would be.

Chapter Text

At the CIA South Korean Black Site, a restrained Klaue laughed and muttered how he could see his own reflection and made kissing noises.

 

The viewers were all unnerved by Klaue’s insanity.

 

“Ultron really did a number on him,” Clint muttered.

 

“That’s an understatement if there ever was one,” Tony said.

 

Everett suggested to play 'good cop, bad cop' but Okoye said in Xhosa they couldn't let him speak to Klaue alone while T'Challa responded in Xhosa that they should instead of making a scene. He told Everett they would take him back to Wakanda after questioning but he refused, playfully tapping T'Challa's shoulder as Okoye glared and said in Xhosa she'd impale him to the desk if he touched T'Challa again. Everett asked if she spoke English and she said only when she wanted to.

 

“She does not like him,” Clint noticed.

 

“She does not trust him. Since Klaue, most Wakandians are distrustful of outsiders,” T’Challa explained and they nodded in understanding.

 

T'Challa said he appreciated Everett's help in Busan and he told Okoye that was diplomacy as he walked inside while T'Challa told her to play nice and she muttered 'Americans.'

 

All the Americans in the room raised an eyebrow but, remembering T’Challa’s words, they chose to it slide. For now.

 

Everett sat in front of Klaue who was singing 'What is Love.'

 

“Yeah, I think we can hurt you if we want,” Clint said grimly.

 

Klaue told him not to trust Wakandians as Everett said he didn't trust anyone and inquired about the arm cannon. Klaue explained and said he could get him one and Everett asked the supplier's name, with Klaue stating he was right outside, with a shocked Everett realizing the weapon was from Wakanda.

 

“Uh oh,” Rhodey said as T’Challa tensed.

 

“Looks like your secret isn’t going to remain secret for much longer Your Highness,” Natasha noted.

 

“So it would appear,” T’Challa muttered.

 

Klaue said what Everett knew about Wakanda was just a front and it was El Dorado, the Golden City, which existed in Africa the entire time. T’Challa and Okoye listen in displeasure from the bug T’Challa had placed on Everett.

 

“So you tagged him, nice,” Clint said impressed.

 

“You would’ve made a good spy Your Highness,” Natasha said and T’Challa smiled weakly.

 

“Thank you Ms. Romanoff,” T’Challa said graciously.

 

 Klaue said it was all built on a mound of Vibranium and they made his sonic cannon look like a leaf blower. Everett scoffed, asserting Wakanda was a third world country and he had stolen all their Vibranium and Klaue laughed hysterically before acting like he would break his restraints, saying he had taken a tiny piece while they had a mountain due to mining it for thousands of years. He was the only outsider who had seen it and gotten out alive, telling him to ask T'Challa what his suit was made off.

 

“Uh oh,” Scott said as T’Challa tensed further.

 

“At this rate, Wakanda will go down in history as the world’s worst kept secret,” Tony said.

 

Everett picked up a latte and walked out as the scene shifts to a van, where Kllmonger’s crew is tracking the sonic canon.

 

“Shit,” Tony said as they all tensed.

 

“Looks like things aren’t going to go that easy,” Steve noted.

 

Nakia noticed the van Killmonger’s crew were using as Everett told T'Challa that according to T'Chaka, Klaue had stolen their Vibranium while T'Challa said he was believing an arms dealer strapped to a chair. Nakia walked over to the security footage, seeing an alley. She asked where that was and a man revealed it was the back alley behind the base. Outside, Killmonger walked out of the van and put a device on the wall before wearing an African mask.

 

“Shit,” Tony repeated.

 

“This guy, he’s something else,” Sam noted and Rhodey and Steve nodded in agreement.

 

“First at the museum and now to be able to find Klaue and know exactly where inside the building they were holding him…he’s good,” Steve agreed.

 

“Shame he decided to use those talents for dishonorable pursuits,” Thor noted and there were several nods of agreement.

 

Everett asked what more was T'Challa hiding when Nakia burst in to warn them but the wall exploded.  Killmonger and the others started firing, the bullets breaking the glass wall and making everyone take cover as Klaue laughed. Everett pushed Nakia out of the way as some of the men took a laughing Klaue away. T’Challa summoned his suit as Killmonger threw a grenade and T'Challa leapt on it, absorbing the kinetic energy.

 

“Nice save,” Clint told T’Challa but, if T’Challa heard him, he did not respond, too absorbed in the recording.

 

He looked up to see Klaue was gone and rushed out as the truck sped away. He leapt up only for Killmonger to fire a grenade launcher, making him fall down. He looked up to see a Wakandian Royal Ring around Killmonger's neck and hesitated, allowing them to get away.

 

T’Challa straightened, shock crossing his face as everyone looked over at him.

 

“What is it that caused you to hesitate Your Highness?” Vision inquired.

 

“That ring around his neck…it is the same as my father’s,” T’Challa said to their shock.

 

“I take it it’s not something everyone in Wakanda wears?” Steve asked and T’Challa nodded.

 

“There are only two. One belongs to my father, which I wear in this recording. The other…belonged to my uncle,” T’Challa said and it was silent in the room.

 

“I guess the question is how did this guy get it?” Clint noted and no one had an answer.

 

Okoye ran up next to him and they ran back inside to check on Nakia. They found Everett on the ground as Nakia said he had jumped in front of her.

 

“I guess he’s not so bad,” Wanda mused as they felt their respect for Everett grow a little.

 

The bullet had hit his spine and Nakia said he wouldn't make it there. T'Challa took a Kimoyo Bead from her and used it to stabilize Everett for the moment.

 

“Wow, they can do that?” Peter asked in awe as they all stared, impressed.

 

“Wakandian technology can do a great man things,” T’Challa said distractedly, still wondering how Killmonger had his grandfather’s ring.

 

T'Challa asked the agents to give Everett to them as they could save him as they all considered.

 

“You are doing the right thing,” Thor said as he saw the look of uncertainty cross T’Challa’s face.

 

“Perhaps for the moment. But for the future? That is uncertain,” T’Challa said doubtfully.

 

The scene changed to T’Challa’s Royal Talon Fighter. As Everett lay unmoving on a stretcher, Okoye said they had failed in their mission and were now bringing a foreign intelligence operative into their borders. Nakia said he had taken a bullet for her but Okoye said that was his choice. Okoye said it was his duty to report back to his country and T'Challa's to protect theirs. T'Challa said he was aware of his duties but couldn't let him die.

 

“After what he did for Nakia, no, I cannot,” T’Challa agreed with his on screen self with a sigh.

 

“The hardest choices are usually the right ones,” Steve told him.

 

“They also usually come with consequences,” Clint said with a grimace and Steve didn’t disagree.

 

Okoye demands to know where they were taking Everett.

 

Later, Everett was wheeled into Shuri's lab who excitedly said they had another white boy to fix.

 

Steve straightened instinctively at this news of Bucky. As, he noticed out of the corner of his eye, did Natasha. He would have to ask her about that later.

 

Later, Everett was on the bed as Shuri said he'd live. The Beads trilled and she said W'Kabi was here. T'Challa walked up to stop W'Kabi from coming in and he asked about Klaue. T'Challa regretfully said he had slipped past their hands, angering W'Kabi who said T'Chaka had done nothing when he was in power and he had though it would be different with T'Challa, but it was the same. He walked off, leaving T'Challa behind.

 

T’Challa sighed sadly as everyone looked at him sympathetically.

 

“It appears you were correct,” T’Challa said as he glanced over at Thor.

 

“As king, you must be careful of the promises you make,” Thor advised him and T’Challa nodded.

 

“Thank you for the lesson,” T’Challa said humbly.

 

At an airfield, Killmonger, Klaue and the others got out of their van, parked near a plane as Klaue assured them he'd lay low and they would be paid in time. Killmonger asked him to drop him in Wakanda, shocking Klaue. He then suddenly brandished his gun and shot down one man.

 

“What the hell?!” Sam exclaimed as they all stared at the screen, shocked at Killmonger’s brutality.

 

Klaue put Erik's lover in the way as she apologized and he shot her as well while Klaue ran off.

 

“But why?” Peter asked confused and horrified.

 

“I guess he has another plan,” Natasha muttered. “One that doesn’t involve her.”

 

Klaue took cover behind wreckage as he and Erik exchanged fire but he was hit on the shoulder and fell down.  As Killmonger approached, Klaue said Wakandians were savages and showing his brand, said this was what they did to people like them.

 

“We did that to you because you stole from us and killed our people,” T’Challa said angrily.  

 

Erik said he wasn't worried as he showed his own scars, saying each was for a kill. Klaue said he was still an outsider when Erik revealed his glowing gums, shocking him.

 

“I was not expecting that,” Rhodey said after a moment as they stared.

 

“What…how…” T’Challa was in complete shock.

 

“Perhaps we will learn more if we continue to watch,” Vision suggested.

 

Klaue laughed and said he had just thought of him as a crazy American but was shot dead.

 

Peter flinched as everyone else was uncomfortable watching the scene. Klaue was a monster who deserved that, no doubt. But still, Killmonger’s brutality unnerved them.

 

T'Challa walked to Zuri in the gardens and ordered the others to leave them. Once they were alone, Zuri asked about T’Challa’s mission but T’Challa asked about N'Jobu, saying his father had told him he disappeared. He then said he had seen a man wearing a ring identical to his own. Zuri said it wasn't possible as T'Challa said the man had helped Klaue escape and was wearing his grandfather's ring, demanding the truth. Zuri said some truths were too much to bear as he picked up a bowl and started walking out but T'Challa was undeterred. He said he had promised the king to keep it a secret.

 

“He knows what happened,” Tony said and was met with several nods.

 

“Considering he was there during that scene in the beginning, I’d say so,” Natasha agreed.

 

“I am your king now!” T’Challa roared.

 

“That’s some fire you got in you,” Tony noted but T’Challa simply shrugged absently, his attention on the recording.

 

Reluctantly, Zuri put the bowl down and said N'Jobu had taken a War Dog assignment in America and he had been assigned to watch, unbeknownst to N'Jobu. N'Jobu had fallen in love with an American woman and had a child with her but the hardships he had seen had radicalized him.

 

T’Challa listened with shock as The Avengers listened with interest, all of them sensing that things were about to take a turn.

 

The scene from the beginning was shown again as N'Jobu justified his actions to T'Chaka, saying the people could overthrow governments with Vibranium weapons and Wakanda could rule the right way.

 

“And who decides what the right way is?” Sam asked wearily. “You?”

 

“He may have good intentions, but the road to hell is often paved with it,” Rhodey said grimly. “The answer to oppression is never more oppression.”

 

Thor was silently observing the scene. N’Jobu reminded him much of Loki, seeking what he felt was rightfully his and willing to step on all those he saw as his enemies. And he had a feeling that, like Loki, N’Jobu had paid a high price for it.

 

Zuri said in the present T'Chaka wouldn't support him which is why N'Jobu had betrayed them. The flashback showed T'Chaka telling N'Jobu he'd pay for his crimes when he drew a gun to fire at Zuri but T'Chaka blocked and killed N'Jobu with his claws.

 

“Son of a bitch,” Tony whispered as they all stared at the screen in shock and horror.

 

“He killed his own brother,” Thor said horrified, thinking of Loki again.

 

“It doesn’t look like he had much choice,” Rhodey noted.

 

“There is always a choice!” Thor thundered in a voice that left no room for argument.

 

“Okay Thor, calm down,” Steve said, trying to calm his friend.

 

T’Challa was oblivious to this as he stared at the screen, his mind whirling. All these years, his father had lied to him. Had lied to all of Wakanda. T’Challa felt a mix of anger and betrayal rise up in him.

 

Zuri said T'Chaka had killed his own brother to save him as T'Chaka told Zuri in the flashback to keep this a secret. T'Challa asked about the child and Zuri said they had left him to maintain the lie as the flashback showed one of the children, who was none other than Erik, looking up in shock.

 

“He just…left him there?” T’Challa said in complete disbelief as they all stared at the screen, stunned.

 

“Hasn’t he ever opened a history book? History is full of things like that backfiring!” Scott exclaimed.

 

“Not to mention that it would be smarter to take the kid back to Wakanda,” Natasha noted.1

 

Thor, once more, thought of Loki and how his father had taken Loki from Jotunheim. He remembered how angry Loki had been when he found out the truth. Things could have been worse, Thor mused.

 

Clint clenched his pants legs into fists as he fought the rage that swelled up within him. He remembered how T’Chaka had called The Avengers indifferent, how it had made Wanda feel. And yet, here was the proof that T’Chaka was the indifferent one. If he had his arrow right now, it would be very difficult to resist the temptation to put one in T’Chaka’s chest in that moment. 2

 

T’Challa put his head in his hands, causing all them to turn to him. Their hearts went out to him in that moment, knowing how difficult this must be for him.

 

“Are you okay?” Steve asked gently and T’Challa laughed humorlessly.

 

“No Captain, I am not,” T’Challa said as he lifted his head. “My father…he killed his brother and left the boy. What kind of man…what kind of man does that?”

 

“People are complicated, including your father,” Natasha said with surprising gentleness.

 

“We have all done things that there should be no forgiveness for,” Thor said as he remembered restarting the war with Jotunheim. “You are not defined by your father my friend. Only you can decide the man you want to be.”

 

T’Challa frowned, considering Thor’s words as the recording continued.

 

At Wakanda's borders, Erik dragged Klaue's corpse in a body bag as W'Kabi and some others arrived. He said this was just a little gift as he opened the bag to show Klaue's corpse while W'Kabi asked in Xhosa who he was.

 

“Well, this can’t be good,” Scott said as they all wondered what Killmonger wanted.

 

Everett woke up in the lab and realized his back was fine now.

 

“Wow, you guys are good. Remind me to never get on your bad side,” Tony joked but it few over everyone’s heads, as the room was still filled with tension.

 

He asked where he was and a startled Shuri told him not to scare her like that, calling him 'colonizer.'

 

“Okay, that's racist as hell,” Clint said as most of the room, with the exception of Thor, who did not understand, and T’Challa gave the screen unimpressed looks.3

 

“I apologize on behalf of my sister. I will have a talk with her when we return,” T’Challa promised, disappointed in his sister.

 

“See that you do,” Steve said in a short voice.

 

Everett introduced himself and she said she knew, surprising him when she mentioned his work with the Air Force and CIA. He asked if this was Wakanda. She joked it was Kansas as he asked how long ago was Korea. She said it was yesterday to Everett's disbelief as bullet wounds didn't heal overnight. Shuri said they did here by technology. Everett looked around, awed by the technology, realizing the trains moved by magnetic levitation and was told the light panels were sonic stabilizers as Vibranium was too dangerous to be transported at that speed and that was her way to deactivate it. Vibranium was all around him, Shuri told the stunned Everett.

 

“She really is good,” Tony said continuously impressed by Shuri.

 

“If she’d been born in America, Fury probably would have made her a SHIELD agent,” Natasha noted.

 

Okoye then contacted Shuri through Kimoyo Beads, saying T'Challa's were deactivated and a man was at the border, claiming to have killed Klaue. W'Kabi was transporting him to the palace so they needed to find T'Challa. A hologram of the man appeared and Okoye said he was a Wakandian but Everett said he was one of theirs.

 

“No, he’s both,” Wanda noted quietly as they all felt the tension rising.

 

T'Challa sat with Nakia overlooking a valley, telling her his father had killed his brother and left a child behind.

 

“What kind of king…what kind of man does that?” T’Challa asked tormented.

 

T’Challa flinched and Tony felt the quip die on his lips. Now was not the time, Tony mused.

 

Nakia said no man was perfect as T'Challa said he hadn't even given him a proper burial and created something worse than N'Jobu.

 

“He’s your Zemo,” Rhodey mused and T’Challa nodded grimly.

 

“So it would appear,” T’Challa said gravely.

 

Nakia told T'Challa to look at her and when he did, she said, "You can't let your father's mistakes define who you are. You get to decide what kind of king you are going to be."

 

“Your friend speaks wise words,” Thor said and T’Challa nodded.

 

“You said almost the exact same thing just now,” Rhodey pointed out but Thor only shrugged.

 

As T'Challa considered, his Beads suddenly activated and Shuri told him to get there.

 

T'Challa, Shuri and Nakia stood together In Shuri’s lab as Everett told them the man was Erik Stevens who had graduated Annapolis at 19. It was MIT for grad school. He had gone to Afghanistan, wrapped up confirmed kills like video games. He was called Killmonger and after joining JSOC, he could drop off the grid to commit assassinations and take down governments.

 

“Son of a bitch,” Tony said as they all paled.

 

“That skill set with a hatred for you Your Highness…he’ll prove to be quite the enemy,” Steve said and T’Challa nodded mutely.

 

T’Challa asked if Killmonger had revealed anything about his identity and Shuri said he had a War Dog tattoo but they had no record of him.

 

“His way of revealing his heritage probably,” Rhodey noted.

 

Later, all of them were at court as W'Kabi led Erik in. T’Challa ordered him to speak and he said he had served justice to the man who had killed their people and stolen their Vibranium when their king hadn't.

 

“Only because you broke him out,” Vision noted.

 

“It will not matter. I made a promise as king I could not fulfil. The council witnessed it and will now doubt my ability to lead,” T’Challa sighed.

 

T'Challa got up and walked over to Killmonger, saying the only reason he wasn't dead was because he knew who he was and asked what he wanted. Killmonger said he wanted the throne.

 

“Of course he does,” Clint said, unsurprised as they tensed.

 

“A killer who already killed his own crew. I don’t think he’s who you want on the throne,” Tony noted.

 

“Indeed Mr. Stark,” T’Challa muttered, shuttering at the thought of a man like Killmonger in possession of the Wakandian armory and military.

 

“Man, the Lion King vibes just keep getting stronger,” Scott muttered.

 

The Elders laughed as he said they were comfortable while 2 billion people in the world had harder lives and Wakanda's weapons could liberate them all. T'Challa said their weapons won't be used for war. Erik said life started on this continent so all people were his people. He said he was King of Wakanda, not all people and he wouldn't let its weapons fall into his hands.

 

A collective shutter went through the room as they all imagined Killmonger in possession of all of Wakanda’s weapons.

 

“We need to stop him when we get back,” Steve said and there were nods of agreement.

 

“Killmonger is a monster of Wakanda’s making. I wish to help stop him,” T’Challa said and Steve nodded in agreement.

 

Ramonda asked T'Challa to reject Erik's request as Killmonger said he wasn’t requesting anything, daring them to ask who he was. Shuri said he was Erik Stevens, an American black operative and a mercenary. Erik asked them to ask again as T'Challa asked the guards to take him away but a member of the council asked who he was. He announced in Xhosa he was N'Jadaka, son of Prince N'Jobu, shocking everyone as he said T'Challa was the son of a murderer, finding Panther claws in his father’s corpse. Ramonda said he was a liar when W'Kabi revealed the necklace, shocking them all to silence. Erik said he was exercising his blood right to challenge for the mantle of king and Black Panther. An Elder said it was within his rights as Ramonda protested. T’Challa sat back down, staring at Killmonger’s necklace before accepting the challenge.

 

“I don’t think you should have done that,” Thor said and T’Challa sighed.

 

“I had little choice. Being unable to apprehend Klaue has already lost me favor with the council, but by refusing the challenge, they would doubt my ability to lead them,” T’Challa said and, after a moment, Thor nodded.

 

“Perhaps,” Thor acknowledged.

 

Later, T'Challa was prepared for the challenge again as the tribal dance was done. Shuri was confident T'Challa would win. T'Challa's power was stripped away as Nakia arrived and told Okoye she had locked Everett in the office. T'Challa offered Erik one last chance and he threw down his weapons, only to take off his vest and shirt, revealing his scars, "I lived my entire life waitin' for this moment. I trained, I lied, I killed...just to get here. I killed in America, Afghanistan...Iraq. I took life from my own brothers and sisters right here on this continent. And all this death...just so I could kill you."

 

“So full of hatred,” T’Challa said sadly.

 

“It’s as you said Your Highness, he’s been consumed by vengeance, just like Zemo was,” Steve noted.

 

They fought as T'Challa wielded spear and shield and Erik wielded sword and spear. They were evenly matched, though T'Challa was taken aback by his skill and speed. They were in a deadlock before they continued fighting, T'Challa blocking Erik's blows before tripping him. T'Challa asked Erik to yield but he got up and they continued as T'Challa grazed his cheek a bit. As the fight continued, T'Challa was kicked down. He got back up but was grazed on the thigh and then on the wrist, disarming him to everyone's shock. He tried to attack but was stabbed on the side of the abdomen while everyone gasped.

 

“Shit,” Tony swore as they all felt the tension rise.

 

Erik ripped the sword out and punched T'Challa down, about to kill him for his father when Zuri stopped him, saying he was the reason for N’Jobu’s death and to kill him instead.

 

“Zuri no,” T’Challa said in horror as he paled and everyone realized what was about to happen.

 

Erik said he'd kill them both and stabbed Zuri, to everyone's horror. He died as T'Challa screamed in agony.

 

“No!” T’Challa roared in agony as Thor placed a hand on his shoulder, having to restrain himself as he remembered witnesses Phil Coulson’s death at his brother’s hands.

 

“Calm yourself my friend. This has not happened, we can change it,” Thor reasoned as T’Challa tried to calm himself.

 

“Yes, you are right. We can change this,” T’Challa said as his eyes gave way to steely determination. “I will not allow Zuri to die for my father’s sins.”

 

T'Challa attacked in a rage but was beaten down again as Erik said their king and Black Panther was nothing. He attacked again but Erik lifted him up before carrying him to the waterfall and throwing him down as Ramonda, Shuri, Nakia and Okoye all watched in horror and the former screamed.

 

There was complete silence in the room as they stared, shocked and horrified at T’Challa’s apparent death. They glanced over at the man in question only to see steely determination in his eyes.

 

“I am fine,” T’Challa said, already seeing thee question in their eyes. “But as Thor said, this has not happened yet. So let us continue to watch so we may change this.”

 

After eying him for a moment, the Avengers decided to honor his request and turned back to the recording.

 

Nakia led Ramonda and Shuri away as a conflicted Okoye watched. Erik said he was king now as one Elder put a necklace around him. Everyone then saluted to him.

 

Another shutter ran through The Avengers. A man like Killmonger, filled with hate, was now king of the most technologically advanced nation on earth. This could not end well. Not well at all.

Chapter Text

After the battle, in a room overlooking Wakanda, Nakia and Okoye hugged as the former confirmed Ramonda and Shuri were safe. Nakia wanted Okoye to come with them but she said while her heart was with them, she could not go with them.

 

“She’d rather serve that maniac?” Rhodey asked in disbelief as T’Challa sighed.

 

“Okoye is not loyal to any one king; she is loyal to Wakanda as a whole. The moment Erik steps out of line and reveals he does not care about Wakanda or its people, she will turn on him,” T’Challa said confidently, holding no ill will towards Okoye.

 

Nakia argued they could not turnover the throne to a man who had appeared only hours ago but Okoye pointed out Erik was of royal blood. Nakia argued that he killed T’Challa but argued it was in ritual combat, infuriating Nakia.

 

“Is-is she serious?” Tony asked incredulously.

 

“She is only saying the truth,” T’Challa said begrudgingly. “He killed me, but it was in the rules of the challenge. It is a defeat, not a murder.”

 

“Still,” Scott muttered.

 

Nakia said Okoye was Wakanda's greatest warrior and asked for her help in overthrowing Erik but Okoye said she wasn't a spy and was loyal to the throne, no matter who sat upon it. Okoye demanded to know what Nakia was loyal to. Nakia said emotionally that she had loved T’Challa, but she loved her country to.

 

T’Challa sighed sadly as everyone looked at him sympathetically. The constant battle between heart and duty. It was something most of them could relate to.

 

Okoye said that she should then serve her country but Nakia adamantly said she'd save her country and walked away.

 

Later, dressed in shawl, Nakia walked into T’Challa’s office, where Everett was waiting. He asked what was going on and she told him T'Challa was dead before tossing him a shawl, warning him to come with her unless he wished to be as well. Although shocked, he put on the shawl and they walked out of the office.

 

“Yeah, Killmonger will probably kill him,” Clint noted.

 

“Indeed Barton,” Thor agreed. “A man like Erik Killmonger will not want any witness to stop his plan.”

 

In the City of the Dead, Erik was lying in the red sand as the Heart-Shaped Herb was prepared.

 

Ramonda and Shuri were in the forest as the latter burst into tears, missing T'Chaka and T'Challa.

 

“Shuri,” T’Challa said pained as everyone felt sympathy for Shuri.

 

Ramonda heard a sound and drew her dagger but saw it was Nakia with Everett. Nakia said Everett was T'Challa's friend and had saved her life so Ramonda lowered her dagger and was told Okoye and the Dora Milaje would serve the new king of Wakanda, to her and Shuri's shock. Nakia asked them to wait and ran further while Ramonda mused what had happened to Wakanda.

 

T’Challa clenched his pants legs tightly as his eyes narrowed. It was his father’s sins that had happened, T’Challa thought grimly. His father’s actions had come back to haunt Wakanda. He would make sure that this never happened when he returned, T’Challa vowed in his head.

 

In the City of the Dead, The Shaman gave Erik the Heart-Shaped Herb to give him the Black Panther's powers and to send him to the ancestral plane as he was buried in the red sand. He closed his eyes, remembering the Wakandian jet flying off. He had run into the apartment, only to see his father dead. He remembered sobbing and cradling his dead body.

 

Everyone felt some sympathy for Erik, at least the young boy who had found his father dead. While he may have grown up to be a monster, at one point he had only been a boy who had found his father murdered.

 

Erik then found himself in front of the same apartment and walked inside, seeing Wakanda’s skies in the distance out the windows.

 

T’Challa was surprised by this. He didn’t know that the Ancestral plane could look like that. But he supposed that it could look different to everyone.

 

He stared at the spot where he had found his father’s body before walking over and removing part of a wall, revealing a hidden closet.  Finding a book, he turned the pages to see words written in Xhosa as well as English until he found the ring necklace and put it around his neck. N'Jobu was then on the table, asking him what he had told him about going through his things. Erik was suddenly a little child again.

 

“So now he’s a kid?” Tony asked confused.

 

“The ancestral plane is a place of many wonders,” T’Challa said distractedly, captivated by the scene.

 

N’Jobu then smiled, asking what he had found. Erik said he'd found N'Jobu's home and N'Jobu said he'd given him the key, hoping he'd find it. Erik showed his gums as N'Jobu said the sunsets there were beautiful but he feared Erik wouldn't be welcome there as they'd consider him lost, causing the confused Erik to say he was right here. N'Jobu asked if there'd be no tears for him and Erik said everybody died and that was life in Oakland.

 

Everyone began to understand how Erik had become the monster he was today. It didn’t excuse what he had done, what he was going to do, but they understood.

 

And then Erik was an adult again, the king of Wakanda. Realizing what his actions had caused, N'Jobu said he should have taken him back long ago but they were abandoned now. Erik said that maybe Wakanda was the one that was lost which is why they couldn't find them.

 

“He might have a point,” Steve noted but T’Challa shook his head.

 

“Wakanda has lost its way, but Erik has never left that apartment. He has never moved on from his father’s death. He is just as lost as he thinks Wakanda is,” T’Challa said firmly.

 

Erik then awoke with gasps and got out of the sand as the Shaman told him to calm down. As Nakia snuck in through the catacombs, Erik was told the Heart-Shaped Herb did all of that and that it was being prepared so it'd be ready when the time for another king came.

 

“I don’t think he’ll like that,” Natasha noted as they all felt uneasy.

 

Erik told her to burn it all and when she protested, he lifted her by the throat, telling her when he told her to do something, he meant it. Nakia watched from a tunnel in the corner before sneaking towards the garden. She took one Heart-Shaped Herb while it was burnt as Erik watched.

 

T’Challa stared in horror as the herbs, one of the cores of Wakandian tradition, were burned to ash.

 

“He doesn’t want anyone to rise up against him,” Natasha noted.

 

“He is eliminating potential rivals,” Thor agreed.

 

“He’d fit right in with Hydra,” Sam said, glancing over at Steve, ho nodded silently.

 

“Good thing Nakia got one before they burned it,” Peter said, trying to remain optimistic.

 

“But who’s she planning on giving it to?” Scott wondered and no one had an answer.

 

Later, Erik walked into the throne room and sat down on the throne as the council stood assembled. Erik noted black folk never had fire power to fight oppression where he was from and asked where Wakanda was. That ends today, Erik declared as he got to his feet. He would use the own strategizes of colonizers against them. They'd give Vibranium weapons to the War Dogs who would arm the people against those in power, kill them and their children and anyone else who takes their side. Everyone would know the truth about them and the world would start over with them on top. The sun would never set on Wakanda, Erik declared.

 

“Son of a bitch,” Tony whispered as they all stared at the screen in horror.

 

“He truly is a monster,” T’Challa said grimly.

 

“That’s an understatement,” Sam muttered disgusted.

 

“A black supremacist who wants to kill all people of a different race and now has the power to do it. Well, things got a whole lot worse,” Clint noted grimly.

 

“Indeed Barton. This Killmonger reminds me of Loki in New York,” Thor said, remembering how insane his brother had been under the influence of the Mind Stone.

 

“We have to stop him,” Scott said, shuttering at the thought of Cassie being targeted by this madman.

 

“We will,” Steve promised with determination.

 

Okoye protested, saying Wakanda had survived by fighting only when necessary.

W'Kabi agreed but, to Okoye’s shock, said the world was changing and catching up and soon, they'd be conquerors or conquered. He'd rather be the former. Erik then told the others to get to it.

 

“Every time someone tries to win a war before it starts, innocent people die,” Tony said, glancing over at Steve. “Looks like you were right Cap.”

 

“Not completely. That’s not the case for every time. But here, it is,” Steve acknowledged.

 

In the mountains, Nakia, Ramonda, Shuri and Everett walked together as the former said they were taking the Heart-Shaped Herb to Jabariland.

 

“They’re taking it to M’Baku?” T’Challa asked shocked.

 

“Desperate times, desperate measures Your Highness,” Natasha pointed out.

 

T’Challa nodded after a moment, acknowledging that they had no other alternative. Still, it did not mean he had to like it.

 

Nakia explained the Herb's properties to Everett as Ramonda said they'd create a bigger monster by giving the Herb to M'Baku. 

 

“Slay your demons today, fight the devil tomorrow,” Wanda said softly and they glanced at her. “Something my mother used to tell me. Seems appropriate here.”

 

“You are not wrong Ms. Maximoff,” T’Challa said with a sigh.

 

Ramonda pleaded with Nakia to take the herb but she pointed out she was a spy without an army so she'd be no use. That was when several of the Jabbari arrived. Ramonda told Shuri to look down and she did as the Jabari surrounded the four of them.

 

T’Challa tensed, as did everyone else, worried for the group.

 

“Talk about walking into the lion’s den,” Scott muttered.

 

The four were brought before M'Baku in his own palace. Ramonda told him T'Challa was murdered in ritual combat. M'Baku asked if it was a fair fight, which Nakia admits it was and he said it was a defeat instead of a murder. Shuri told him not rub their noses but M'Baku silenced her.

 

“She really needs to learn when to keep quiet. And that’s coming from me,” This came, from all people, Tony.

 

“And when he says it, you know you gotta learn some self-control,” Rhodey said and Tony shot him a betrayed look. “Sorry, but you know it’s true.”

 

Everett tried to explain about Erik but was silenced to by the entire tribe as they chanted and M'Baku said he'd be fed to his children if he said another word.

 

“Really?” Steve asked as The Avengers all looked at the screen in disgust.

 

“No one in Wakanda practices cannibalism, not even the Jabari,” T’Challa assured them.

 

M'Baku said he was kidding and they were vegetarians before laughing at their expressions.

 

“He’s…I don’t even know. I don’t know what he is,” Scott said bewildered.

 

Nakia kneeled and presented him the Heart-Shaped Herb, surprising M’Baku. Nakia said only he could stop the outsider who sat on the throne. Ramonda kneeled too followed by Everett and Shuri. M'Baku then stood up and told them to come with him as he walked past them.

 

The viewers were all curious about this, wondering where M’Baku was taking them.

 

He led them to a tent outside where to their shock, T'Challa lay in the snow.

 

“You’re alive!” Peter exclaimed shocked.

 

“So it would seem,” T’Challa said, surprised that M’Baku had saved him.

 

“I guess monkey boy isn’t all bad after all,” Tony noted absently.

 

“Guess not,” Clint mused.

 

They kneeled close to him as M'Baku said he was in a coma, clinging to life. He explained how a fisherman of theirs had found him and brought him here. Shuri demanded why her brother was in the snow and M’Baku explained that it was the only thing keeping him alive. Shuri suggested taking him to her lab but M’Baku said he'd be dead in seconds if taken out.

 

“And somehow, I don’t think the new king is going to let her take you up to her lab,” Clint noted dryly.

 

“If she can even get passed security,” Natasha added.

 

“Most likely not,” T’Challa agreed.

 

Nakia handed the Heart-Shaped Herb to Ramonda who managed to grind it and calling upon the ancestors, fed it to him as M'Baku looked at Everett who looked away nervously.

 

Everyone chuckled at that.

 

They buried him in the snow and chanted 'Praise the ancestors' in Xhosa. Nakia whispered for T’Challa to wake up and T'Challa suddenly found himself in the ancestral plane again, wearing a white kingly robe with black stripes on it. T'Chaka arrived and said it was time for them to be reunited. The other ancestors were there too.

 

“Well, this should be good,” Sam muttered and Steve and Natasha nodded.

 

T’Challa glanced around at the ancestors before asking T’Chaka why he hadn’t brought Erik back to Wakanda. T’Chaka said Erik had been ‘the truth I chose to omit’. T'Challa said T'Chaka was wrong to abandon Erik. T'Chaka said he had chosen his people.

 

Clint barely repressed the scoff that formed in his mouth. T’Chaka could dress it up all he wanted, but he had done what he did not for Wakanda, but himself. Nothing would convince Clint otherwise.

 

And he saw that he wasn’t the only one thinking that, if the looks of disgust on Steve, Sam, Thor, and Wanda’s faces were anything to go by.

 

He was about to defend himself more when T'Challa exploded.

 

"YOU WERE WRONG! ALL OF YOU WERE WRONG! To turn your backs on the rest of the world! We let the fear of our discovery stop us from doing what is right! No more! I cannot stay here with you. I cannot rest while he sits on the throne. He is a monster of our own making. I must take the mantle back. I must! I must right these wrongs."

 

Everyone glanced at T’Challa, who had a look on his face that showed he agreed with every word his on screen self had just said.

 

“That took guts Your Highness,” Rhodey said impressed.

 

“I-he is right. I cannot stand by as Wakanda flourishes at the expense of the rest of the world. Things…things must change,” T’Challa said passionately.  

 

“Well said my friend,” Thor said, his respect for his fellow prince growing.

 

T'Challa awoke with gasps as Ramonda, Shuri and Nakia gasped in joy and hugged him while M'Baku nodded with head lowered. T'Challa asked for a blanket and they went off to get it happily.

 

Everyone sighed in relief, relieved that T’Challa would be alright. But now was not the time to celebrate. Killmonger was still a threat. And the recording was not over, not just yet anyway. So they watched as it continued.

Chapter Text

In M’Baku’s palace, Ramonda, Shuri, Nakia and Everett explained the situation with Killmonger to T'Challa as he sat, wrapped in a blanket. Everett explained how Killmonger’s unit had worked with the CIA in the past to do exactly what he was doing now, to get control of government, military, and resources. Shuri points out he has all of her designs and T’Challa realizes he will send their weapons all over the world.

 

A shutter ran through everyone as they imagined the horror Erik was planning to wreak. It was not a nice thought.

 

T’Challa told Everett and Nakia to get Ramonda and Shuri out of Wakanda while he will continue the challenge. Ramonda said they wouldn't leave Wakanda. T’Challa said it was his duty to see that they were safe but Shuri said no one will be safe if Killmonger gets his hands on their technology.

 

“She’s got a point,” Scott said and T’Challa sighed.

 

“Indeed she does,” T’Challa said reluctantly.

 

“She is your sibling and you wish to protect her,” Thor said lowly, remembering how he had often felt that way about Loki. “But you cannot protect her from this my friend.”

 

After a moment, T’Challa nodded, conceding to his point.

 

She then took out the silver necklace and put it around his neck.

 

"The Black Panther lives. And when he fights for the fate of Wakanda...I will be right there beside him." Shuri said. "As will I." Nakia said. "I'm in, too." Everett said as they turned to him, "What? You're gonna need all the help you can get." M'Baku yawned loudly and asked if they were done.

 

Tony, Natasha, Clint, Scott, Peter and Sam all laughed at this and even T’Challa couldn’t help the smile of amusement that crossed his face at M’Baku’s antics.

 

T’Challa asked for a moment with M’Baku. The others walked out as T'Challa thanked M'Baku who said he owed T'Challa a debt for sparing him, which was now paid. T'Challa requested him to let Ramonda stay and he agreed but refused to give his army when T'Challa asked.

 

“What?” Rhodey asked in disbelief as T’Challa sighed.

 

“There has been bad blood between Jabari and my family for centuries. You cannot expect it to go away so soon. And I imagine that M’Baku’s pride is wounded from his defeat,” T’Challa noted.

 

“Still, there’s a time and place for petty grudges,” Steve said.

 

“I do not disagree Captain, but…in his position, I am not certain I would help me either,” T’Challa acknowledged.

 

T'Challa said it was for all of them but M'Baku pointed out he was the first king to come there in centuries. T'Challa said he wouldn't speak for past kings but an enemy was on the throne and if Killmonger got the Vibranium, he'd come for Jabariland next. M'Baku still refused and T'Challa, disappointed, walked away.

 

T’Challa sighed. It appeared that it would take more than a common enemy for M’Baku to put aside the past.

 

In Wakanda, the weapons were put into jets as W'Kabi told Erik the War Dogs in Hong Kong, London and New York were ready, although resistant to their orders. Erik said they'll strike there first, believing they would come around before he commented on the handheld sonic cannon that could stop a tank and was untraceable by metal detectors. They had many of those and the world would find out who they were soon. W’Kabi nodded as a jet flew off but soon, exploded and fell on the ground in pieces as they all looked on in shock.

 

“Yeah, that’s not gonna happen, you psychopath,” Rhodey said smugly as T’Challa narrowed his eyes, knowing the battle was about to begin.

 

Everyone raced to the edge of the palace as, from the wreckage; T'Challa climbed out in his Panther Habit and retracted the mask, overjoying Okoye. He called out to Erik, calling him N'Jadaka. Erik greeted him calmly and T’Challa declared, "I never yielded! And as you can see, I am not dead!"

 

“We can see that, you’re sitting right here,” Tony joked and everyone chuckled at Tony’s antics.

 

Erik said the challenge was over and he was king now, ordering the others to get the jets in the air. They did as commanded as T’Challa gave Shuri the signal. She, Nakia and Everett snuck into the lab, passing Wakandian soldiers in disguise. Erik ordered W’Kabi to kill T’Challa. Okoye pointed out the challenge wasn't complete but W'Kabi ordered the Border Tribe to charge at T'Challa and they did.

 

“W’Kabi,” T’Challa said, shocked by his friend’s actions.

 

“Just like Zemo and Killmonger, vengeance has consumed him,” Thor noted. “He could not get vengeance on Klaue, so now he will take vengeance on you and the world.”

 

“By teaming up with the son of a traitor who helped Klaue escape,” Steve noted.

 

“What a hypocrite,” Scott declared disgusted.1

 

Okoye told Erik his heart was full of hatred and he was unworthy to be king.

 

“Looks like you were right about her,” Natasha noted and T’Challa nodded.

 

“We have known each other a long time, fought side by side for almost as long. I have come to know her very well,” T’Challa explained.

 

Erik pulled out two Vibranium swords as his own Black Panther suit with the golden necklace appeared around him.

 

“Okay, the suit is awesome,” Tony said as they all saw it. “Killmonger is a genocidal maniac, but the suit is awesome.”

 

Okoye told Ayo to help T'Challa and she and some other Dora Milaje charged as the rest engaged Erik who managed to hold his own with his Panther Habit and Vibranium swords. The jet fired at T'Challa, hitting him but only charging up the kinetic energy. The Border Tribe activated their shields in an attempt to trap him but T'Challa leapt into the air. He landed on the ground behind them, punching hard, with the kinetic energy taking everyone down. T’Challa then grabbed a spear and threw it at the jet, taking it down too.

 

“Holy crap!” Peter exclaimed in awe. “You just took out that plane with a spear!”

 

“Yeah, that was badass,” Scott said as they all stared, impressed.

 

“I can allow those weapons to make it out of Wakanda,” T’Challa’s answer was simple but firm.

 

Steve glanced over at Natasha to see she was looking at him with the same look on her face he was sure was on his own. He didn’t need to be a mind reader to know she was thinking the same thing as him: if T’Challa wasn’t so bound by his duties to Wakanda, he would make a good Avenger.

 

As W’Kabi and the Border Tribe rushed T’Challa, The Dora Milaje arrived, assisting their king against the Border Tribe. T'Challa disarmed W'Kabi and kicked him away, begging him to stop. But he climbed a rock and blew a horn, despite T’Challa’s pleas. And then White Rhinoceros arrived and charged them.

 

“Shit, here come the big guns,” Tony said grimly.

 

“W’Kabi,” T’Challa said pained as everyone looked at him sympathetically.

 

“This hasn’t happened yet Your Highness,” Steve reminded him.

 

“But you might want to keep an eye on him when you go back,” Natasha said and he glanced over at her. “W’Kabi wasn’t brainwashed, he’s actively choosing to help Killmonger. And part of it is anger at you for letting him down, but most of it seems to be his own personality. You can’t change who someone is.”

 

After a moment, T’Challa nodded. It was a difficult pill to swallow, but he knew that Natasha was right.

 

T'Challa avoided a charging Rhino as W'Kabi jumped on it while the others threw Dora Milaje around. Nakia, Shuri and Everett reached the lab, gathering Shuri and Nakia’s gear before Shuri handed Everett the Kimoyo Beads to control the Royal Talon, telling him to fly it, to his shock. She gave him comms, telling him she'd guide him and said it was like riding a hoverbike.

 

“You have hoverbikes?” Peter asked in awe and T’Challa managed a smile.

 

“Indeed we do Mr. Parker. Perhaps when we return, I will show you,” T’Challa said and Peter had stars in his eyes.

 

“That would be so awesome,” Peter said dreamily.

 

As Everett marveled that they had hoverbikes, Shuri made Nakia wear Dora Milaje armor, in spite of her protests. They then ran out, wishing Everett luck.

 

“Him against a few planes from the most technologically advanced nation on the planet in a fighter he’s never used? I think he’ll need it,” Clint noted.

 

“Indeed,” Thor nodded in agreement.

 

“Agent Ross will need all the help he can get,” Vision agreed.

 

“That’s an understatement,” Sam muttered.

 

The Dora Milaje continued fighting Erik until he grabbed one and held his sword to her throat, causing Okoye and the others to pause. She said 'Wakanda Forever' and he sliced her throat, killing her.

 

T’Challa growled in grief and rage over the senseless death of a member of his guards as Peter winced and the others simply stared sadly.

 

“He will pay for that,” T’Challa growled.

 

Okoye roared in grief and rage as Erik summoned his helmet. They continued fighting Erik as Shuri and Nakia, now dressed in Dora Milaje armor, ran out and Shuri used her Vibranium gauntlets to send two men flying. She then threw a Remote Access Kimoyo Bead at the Royal Talon and it activated, creating a holographic simulation in the lab.  Everett took his auto-pilot seat, being told it was made American style for him. He started the Royal Talon and it took off, knocking two men off as Nakia and Shuri cheered.

 

“Yes!” Peter cheered.

 

“It’s up to him no,w” Steve said grimly.

 

“Let us hope your trust in him was not misplaced,” Thor told T’Challa, who merely nodded absently.

 

Shuri told him not to let those weapons get beyond Wakanda and Everett said he was on it as he flew after the jets.

 

On the ground, T'Challa grabbed a Rhino's horn and managed to flip it down. It slid into some debris and T’Challa let go, reentering the fight as the Dora Milaje trapped Erik between their spears and electrocuted him, sending him to his knees. They tried to get the necklace off, but he used his kinetic energy output to send them all flying and they fell into the battlefield.

 

“Damn it,” Clint said as T’Challa swore in Wakandian, all of them dismayed by this development.

 

“A battle is not over until it is over Barton,” Thor told him.

 

Nakia then declared 'Wakanda Forever' and charged Erik, who smirked before summoning his helmet. She tried to strike him with her chakrams though he avoided and then Shuri fired her gauntlets, sending him back. Everett told Shuri over the comms he had the jets and asked for instructions. She snapped at him to shoot them down and he fired.

 

“How else would he do it, politely ask them to turn back?” Tony asked, almost laughing.

 

“And this guy was in the Air Force?” Rhodey deadpanned. 

 

“It’s obviously been a while since he was in a fight,” Natasha noted.

 

Everett took one jet down but the others turned towards him and started firing at him. On the ground, T'Challa took more men down but a charging Rhino sent him flying off. He landed on his back, hard, and rolled into a large rock.

 

“Well that had to hurt,” Sam said with a glance towards T’Challa.

 

“I imagine it did,” T’Challa said distractedly, his attention on the fight.

 

 Nakia hit Erik with her chakams and disarmed him of one sword but he hit her thigh with his claws.

 

T’Challa tensed, fear for Nakia coursing through his veins.

 

Erik tossed her into the battlefield as Shuri fired a powerful blast at him, sending him to his knees but he picked up a broken spear and hit her gauntlets, damaging them and threw her down.

 

“Shuri!” T’Challa exclaimed in worry as Thor put a hand on his shoulder, hoping to offer him comfort.

 

T'Challa sat up, taking a moment to breathe before W’Kabi and some of his men rushed him. They began hitting his suit, charging it up as T’Challa spotted Shuri down with Erik standing over her. T’Challa then used his kinetic energy to send them all down before rushing to save his sister. As Erik stood over her, Shuri told him he would never be a true king. Erik prepared to kill her but, before he could, T'Challa leapt at him, sending them both into the mines as they landed down while exchanging blows.

 

T’Challa sighed in relief, happy that his sister was away from that madman. But still, now the real fight would now begin, he knew.

 

They fought as Erik threw T'Challa away but he clung on with his claws on the sonic stabilizer to save himself, slowing his descent and managed to leap back down slightly. Erik was hit by a stabilizer and T’Challa fell onto the tracks. T’Challa stood back up as Erik landed on the tracks as well. The two punched each other, Erik throwing T’Challa but he grabbed onto a sonic stabilizer. Swinging around, T’Challa leapt at Erik and they each threw a punch, their firsts meeting. They each unleashed their kinetic energy and both were sent flying back, landing on opposite sides of the tracks. Seeing the stabilizers, T'Challa got an idea and told Shuri to call the train. Shuri said the stabilizer would deactivate his suit but T'Challa said it would deactivate Erik's too.

 

“Smart, even up the playing field,” Steve noted and T’Challa nodded.

 

“At this point, our suits will only prolog the fight. You saw what happened, the kinetic energy collided. The only way to end this is without the suit,” T’Challa noted grimly.

 

Shuri called the train as T'Challa kicked Erik to the other side. The train passed between them and Erik looked down at his hands as the suits deactivated. Erik said he didn't need a suit to kill T'Challa and his reign was over, as T’Challa had sat in Wakanda, safe and protected unlike Erik. T'Challa said he wanted them to become like the people he hated so much and divide and conquer. Erik said he learnt from his enemies as T'Challa said he had become them and was going to destroy the world, Wakanda included. Erik ranted about how the world had taken everything from him, so he was going to get even, he would track down anyone loyal to T'Challa and put them in the dirt next to Zuri.

 

“He really is a monster,” Wanda noted as they all stared, disturbed by Killmonger’s hatred.

 

“Seriously, the guy needs to stop playing the victim,” Rhodey said and they looked at him. “What happened to him was horrible, but it doesn’t justify this.”

 

“I faced racism all my life,” Sam spoke up and they turned to him. “In school, on the streets, even in the army. Didn’t turn me into a monster.”

 

“Or me,” Rhodey said with a nod as everyone looked at them with a mix of sadness, sympathy, and respect.

 

“I’m sorry you two have had to go through that,” Steve said but Sam waved him off.

 

“Not your fault Steve. Just the way things are unfortunately,” Sam said with a sigh.

 

T’Challa and Erik roared as the train passed and rushed each other.

 

Up above, Shuri ran to Nakia. Both were still able to fight, so they rejoined the battle. Meanwhile, Everett was fleeing from two jets when the simulation rocked, to his confusion.

 

“Uh oh,” Scott said as they all tensed. “That can’t be good.”

 

Everett was told the lab was under attack and the hologram faded to reveal a jet firing at the glass. Shuri told him to get out of there and Everett asked how long he had. He was told glass integrity was just 50%. Everett asked to be put back in in spite of Shuri's protests and continued fighting the jets.

 

“Whoa,” Peter said impressed as all of them felt their respect for Everett grow. “He’s brave.”

 

“He’s a soldier. Risking his life to save others isn’t anything new to him,” Rhode said, able to understand Everett, as were Steve and Sam.

 

Nakia and Shuri joined the fight, taking down some of the Border Tribe but then they were all surrounded along with Okoye and the Dora Milaje between the Border Tribe's energy shields. W'Kabi gave them three seconds to stand down but was cut off by howling in the distance.

 

“Is that…” Natasha trailed off as everyone, especially T’Challa, was surprised by this development.

 

Suddenly, M’Baku was there, lifting W'Kabi off his Rhino.  

 

“He came,” T’Challa said stunned.

 

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend I guess,” Clint noted.

 

T’Challa frowned as he considered this development. Perhaps it was time to make peace with the Jabari, he mused.

 

"Witness the might of the Jabari, first hand!" M’Baku announced before he threw W'Kabi away as the Jabbari Tribe attacked, fighting alongside Shuri, Nakia, and the Dora Milaje.

 

“I never thought I would live to see the day the Jabari fought alongside the Dora Milaje,” T’Challa said, in a state of disbelief.  

 

“Last six years have brought a lot of things we never thought were possible,” Tony pointed out and T’Challa nodded after a moment.

 

“Indeed Mr. Stark,” T’Challa agreed.

 

T'Challa and Erik fought, Erik kicked T’Challa ad sending him flying back. T’Challa used his claws to stop his fall and they rushed each other.  As another train arrived, T’Challa was kicked to the other side as their suits deactivated again momentarily. As the train passed, Erik picked the broken spear and the two charged again.

 

In the lab, Everett was still fighting the jets. Glass integrity was at just 15% now. Two jets attached grapple hooks to the Royal Talon to stop Everett. He alerted Shuri that the last cargo ship was almost at the border and, on her instructions; he made an 'X' with his arms and broke it, causing an explosion that destroyed the two jets.

 

“That was awesome!” Peter cheered as everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

 

“Yeah, but it’s not over yet kid,” Clint said grimly.

 

The system managed to reboot just before the Royal Talon fell and Everett rammed it into the last jet, destroying both the aircrafts. The hologram faded and he fell to the floor, taking a moment to celebrate before he ran off, moments before the glass was destroyed.

 

“Now it appears to be over,” Vision noted as T’Challa could finally breathe easily.

 

“Not yet,” Thor said with a glance over at T’Challa.

 

M'Baku was beating down his foes as W'Kabi charged him on a Rhino but Okoye stepped in the way and recognizing her, it stopped and licked her face.

 

Everyone chuckled at that.

 

“Pets are very loyal. My daughter has a pet ant,” Scott said and was shot several weird looks. “You need to see it to understand.”

 

M’Baku ran off to continue the fight before W'Kabi got down and Okoye asked him to drop his weapon. He asked if she'd kill him.

 

"For Wakanda?" She asked and then pointed her spear at him. "Without question."

 

“She is not only a great warrior for her skill, but for her ability to put aside her own feelings to do what she thinks is right,” Thor said as all of them were impressed with Okoye. “If fate had chosen differently, she would have been a great ruler.”

 

“Indeed she would have been,” T’Challa agreed.

 

W'Kabi looked around at all the fighting and, realizing how far he had fallen, dropped his weapon and got on his knees. Seeing that, his army surrendered.

 

“Now that just leaves Killmonger,” Steve noted as T’Challa sighed in relief.

 

T'Challa and Erik continued to exchange blows as another train arrived. T'Challa grabbed Erik's hand and they struggled for the spear. T'Challa was almost pushed to the edge but just as the train passed, he pushed Erik back and, as they flipped, the spear flew into the air. As it came down, T'Challa managed to catch it and just before Erik's suit could reactivate, he stabbed him near the heart and he gasped.

 

“Nice move Your Highness,” Natasha said, impressed.

 

T’Challa nodded absently, his attention completely on the fight.

 

They retracted their masks as Erik said it was one hell of a move. Erik remembers how his father had told him Wakanda was the most beautiful things he had ever seen and had promised to show him one day, which Erik calls ‘a kid from Oakland believing fairytales’. T'Challa helped him up and took him out of the cave. T’Challa helped him outside on a hill overlooking Wakanda. He set Erik down as they saw a sunset. "It's beautiful." Erik said.

 

“It really is,” Wanda said softly as they stared at the screen.

 

“I have seen many things on Earth, but this is perhaps the most beautiful,” Thor said in awe.

 

T'Challa said they could heal him but Erik didn't want to live only to spend the rest of his life as a prisoner. He wanted to be buried in the ocean like his ancestors who had jumped from ships, because they knew death was better than bondage. With that, Erik removed the spear from his chest, breathed his last breath and died. T'Challa kneeled close to him and put his body in the position of a dead warrior.

 

“You are a man of honor. To honor the wish of your dying enemy, after all he has done, not many would have,” Thor said as they all looked to T’Challa, impressed.

 

“Thank you,” T’Challa said humbly.

 

Soon, everything was back to normal. Farmers worked in their farms. Villagers worked near their homes. T'Challa walked into his court and everyone stood up on seeing him, including M'Baku, while the Dora Milaje did their salute, which T’Challa mimicked.

 

T’Challa was surprised at seeing M’Baku on the council. Maybe things could change between them after all, he mused.

 

Later, T'Challa and Nakia were in a village later as he thanked her for saving everyone but she said it was her duty to fight for what she loved. T'Challa then kissed her, surprising her as he pulled back. T’Challa joked that she couldn’t blame him, as he had almost died before she kissed him back. He asked her to stay, that he knew a way she could still fulfil her calling and they kissed again passionately.

 

“You dog,” Tony said teasingly and T’Challa flushed as they all smirked at him but he couldn’t help the smile that crossed his face.

 

Later, near the same apartment where N'Jobu and Erik used to live, some others kids played basketball as T’Challa and Shuri looked at the apartment. Shuri said she'd thought T'Challa would take her to Coachella or Disneyland. Shuri asked why he had brought her here and T'Challa said this was where T'Chaka had killed N'Jobu. Shuri noticed a sign on the building that said they were tearing it down but T'Challa said he had bought it and other buildings in the vicinity, to her confusion.

 

“What are you up to?” Natasha asked curiously and T’Challa shrugged, although he did have an idea.

 

T'Challa said this was to be the first Wakandian International Outreach Center. Nakia would oversee the social outreach and Shuri would spearhead the science and information exchange, overjoying her as she thought he was joking but he wasn't. T'Challa pressed the Kimoyo Beads and the Wakandian jet appeared, awing the kids who wondered what to do with it.

 

“Well, looks like the cat is out of the bag now,” Tony mused as T’Challa narrowed his eyes.

 

“Not yet,” T’Challa said vaguely.

 

T'Challa and Shuri did the salute as the latter walked towards the jet, telling the kids about it as one kid who resembled a young Erik asked T'Challa if it was his. He nodded and the kid was awed before asking who he was. T'Challa simply smirked.

 

In the United Nations, Vienna, Austria, T'Challa, Okoye, Nakia and Ayo walked together to give a speech. Later, T’Challa stood at the podium, addressing the United Nations as Everett watched from behind as T’Challa started his speech.

 

"My name is King T'Challa, son of King T'Chaka. I am the sovereign ruler of the nation of Wakanda. And for the first time in our history, we will be sharing our knowledge and resources with the outside world. Wakanda will no longer watch from the shadows. We cannot. We must not. We will work to be an example of how we, as brothers and sisters on this earth should treat each other. Now, more than ever, the illusions of division threaten our very existence. We all know the truth. More connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis, the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another...as if we were one, single tribe.”

 

“Nice speech. He could give you a run for your money in the speech department Cap,” Clint said as he glanced over at Steve.

 

Steve and T’Challa glanced over at each other before shrugging and turning back to the screen.

 

One world leader asked what a nation of farmers could offer the rest of the world. The others all discussed in murmurs as the four Wakandians and Everett smirked while pictures were clicked. The screen went black.

 

“Now you’re out in the open,” Steve said and T’Challa nodded, not surprised.

 

“You know, once the world finds out the truth about Wakanda, people like Klaue will come for your weapons,” Tony pointed out.

 

“Let them. They will have to answer to all of Wakanda,” T’Challa said confidently.

 

Three children with painted faces looked down on someone as he slept. As he stirred, they ran out of the hut and into Shuri who asked if they were playing with that man again. They denied it and she told them not to tease him as he must rest and sent them somewhere else as the man, who was none other than the one-armed Bucky Barnes, walked out.

 

Steve’s heart leapt into his throat as he saw Bucky, alive and well and seemingly no longer tormented by Hydra. Natasha, although she hid it better, was similarly affected to see the man she had once cared very deeply for so free of pain.

 

“It appears we were able to help him after all,” T’Challa mused.

 

“Thank you,” Steve said thickly and T’Challa nodded.

 

The kids ran off, calling Bucky ‘white Wolf’ as he walked up to Shuri. "Good morning, Sergeant Barnes." She said as they looked at the water. "Bucky." He said politely. "How are you feeling?" She asked. "Good." He said, "Thank you." She chuckled softly and said, "Come. Much more for you to learn." She walked past him as he continued looking at the water before following after her. The screen went black.

 

“Looks like that’s the end of that one,” Tony said.

 

The doors suddenly opened and they all looked over to see Strange enter the room.

 

“Would you like to take a break or would you like to continue?” Strange asked bluntly.

 

The Avengers, T’Challa, and Peter exchanged glances. After a moment, seeing no one had a desire to take a break just yet, Steve glanced over at strange.

 

“We would like to continue,” Steve said politely and Strange nodded.

 

“Very well. In that case, we’ll watch one more today and then we’ll have dinner. After that, we’ll show you to your rooms and pick up tomorrow,” Strange said before he glanced over at Thor. “Thor, this next one, it’s about you. And it won’t be easy for you at times. Brace yourself.”

 

Thor blinked as Strange exited the room.

 

“You okay Point Break?” Tony asked and Thor nodded.

 

“I am. Let us continue,” Thor said eager to find out what was going on.

 

Tony nodded and pressed play, beginning the next recording.

Chapter Text

In a fiery cave, Thor was chained up in a cage as he said, "Now, I know what you're thinking.  "Oh, no! Thor's in a cage. How did this happen?" Well, sometimes you have to get captured just to get a straight answer out of somebody."

 

“No kidding Point Break,” Tony said, remembering being captured by Killian as Natasha and Clint nodded, having been captured many times as SHIELD agents in order to get information.

 

“Why are you in a cave?” Scott asked confused and Thor shrugged.

 

“I do not know,” Thor admitted.

 

Thor said, "It's a long story, but basically, I'm a bit of a hero. See, I spent some time on Earth...Fought some robots, saved the planet a couple of times. Then I went searching through the Cosmos for some magic, colorful Infinity Stone things. Didn't find any. That's when I came across a path of death and destruction, which led me all the way here into this cage, where I met you." In front of him was a skeleton. Its lower jaw broke at that part.

 

“I guess your story was too much for him,” Rhodey joked.

 

“Why are you talking to a skeleton?” Peter asked and Thor, once again, shrugged.

 

There was a rumbling as Thor asked the skeleton how long they'd be here. The cage then opened underneath and he fell down, still chained up. He was hanging now from the cage now. He heard laughter and saw Surtur sitting there, looking at him.

 

“What the hell is that?” Scott exclaimed as they all stared at the screen, although Thor did so for a different reason.

 

“Surtur. He’s a fire demon. I thought my father had killed him half a million years ago,” Thor said stunned.

 

“Apparently not,” Steve noted.  

 

“Thor, son of Odin." Surtur greeted with a laugh. Thor greeted back, "Surtur, son of…a bitch."

 

“Steve, Thor said a bad word,” Natasha said and Steve rolled his eyes as everyone else laughed.

 

“Can’t you let it go already?” Steve grumbled.

 

“Never,” the original Avengers said in sync and Steve sighed.

 

Thor was shocked Surtur was still alive as Odin had killed him half a million years ago. Surtur said he couldn't die until he fulfilled his destiny of destroying Asgard. Thor said that was funny as he had been having terrible dreams lately of Asgard being destroyed and Surtur being at the center of it.

 

Thor tensed, remembering his vision that Wanda had shown him while she was working with Ultron. But he hadn’t had any visions since, so this couldn’t be her. What was it, Thor wondered.

 

"Then you have seen Ragnarok, the fall of Asgard." Surtur said, "The great prophecy…." Thor cut him off, asking him to tell about Ragnarok. Surtur said his time had come and when his crown will be reunited with the Eternal Flame, he shall be restored to his full might, tower over mountains and bury his sword deep into Asgard. Thor told him to stop as the chains were rotating too much and said this was happening on its own.

 

“Why couldn’t you have been more like this before Point Break?” Tony asked as they all laughed.

 

“Would you have taken me seriously if I had?” Thor asked.

 

“Probably not,” Clint admitted.

 

“We don’t take Tony seriously, so good call,” Rhodey said, chuckling at Tony’s indignant sputtering.

 

Thor then asked if he'd put his crown in the Eternal Flame and grow as big as a house. Surtur corrected him with 'mountain.' Thor asked if he meant the Eternal Flame locked away by Odin on Asgard. Surtur said Odin was not on Asgard and Thor's absence had left it defenseless.

 

“What?!” Thor asked wildly, shocked.

 

“You’re dad’s not on Asgard?” Scott asked bewildered.

 

“It would seem not,” Thor said his mind racing as he thought of where his father might be.

 

Thor asked where the crown was and Surtur pointed it was on his head. Thor said he thought it was a big eyebrow and Surtur angrily said it was a crown.

 

Everyone laughed at this.

 

“To be fair, it does appear to be attached to his head,” Vision acknowledged.

 

Thor said all he needed to stop Ragnarok was to rip the crown off Surtur's head. Surtur got up with his Twilight Sword and said Ragnarok had already begun. Thor couldn't stop it. He was Asgard's doom and so was Thor. All will suffer and burn.

 

“We shall see about that,” Thor almost growled.

 

"That's intense. To be honest, seeing you grow really big and set fire to a planet would be quite the spectacle." Thor said as he opened his hand, "But it looks like I'm gonna have to choose option B, where I bust out of these chains, knock that tiara off your head, and stash it away in Asgard's vault." Surtur asked, "You cannot stop Ragnarok. Why fight it?" Thor said, "Because that's what heroes do." But nothing happened as Thor said, "Wait, I'm sorry. I didn't time that right." Thor paused. "And now!" Mjolnir burst through a wall and Thor grabbed it before breaking free, facing Surtur.

 

“And now he’s in trouble,” Wanda said as Thor smirked.

 

“Indeed little witch,” Thor agreed.

 

Surtur said he had made a grave mistake and Thor said he made those all the time but things worked out pretty well.

 

“It’s the hero gig,” Tony said and his teammates nodded in agreement.

 

He saw a dragon in the shadows.

 

“Is that a dragon?” Peter asked excitedly.

 

“It appears so. Haven’t seen one of those in a while,” Thor said wistfully.

 

“Wait, there are dragons in space?” Sam asked shocked and Thor nodded.

 

“Oh yes. The nine realms are filled with strange things beyond your imagination,” Thor said to their surprise. 

 

Fire Demons attacked Thor as he smashed them away and they covered him but he pushed them off before smashing more with a twirling Mjolnir and then threw it. It hit all Fire Demons in a circle as Thor fought and beat some before calling it back. It killed more Fire Demons as it returned to Thor's hand and he destroyed another.

 

“You’ve been holding out on us Point Break,” Tony said as the Avengers watched with jaws dropped at Thor’s power.

 

“If I had used all my power, I risked hurting innocents. I had to hold back,” Thor said simply and they nodded in understanding.1

 

The dragon roared, trying to break its chain. Thor leapt into the air with a roar as lightning emanated from Mjolnir. He hit the ground with it, causing a shockwave that killed the Fire Demons and staggered Surtur back. Surtur fired a fire blast from his Twilight Sword which Thor blocked by twirling Mjolnir. He then leapt into the air and hit Surtur, staggering him back. He hit him with Mjolnir throws before hitting his crown, staggering him back. He hit him with more Mjolnir throws before dodging his Twilight Sword by leaping onto a rock. He then leapt at him and hit his crown. It fell down and all his flames were sucked into it.

 

“That was awesome!” Peter cheered as they all looked in awe.

 

“Yeah man, that was badass,” Scott said and Thor shrugged.

 

Thor chained up the crown to him and called out to Heimdall, saying he knew it had been a while but he could use a fast exit. He raised Mjolnir but nothing happened, confusing him.

 

“I know I’m not an expert on the…Bifrost? But isn’t something supposed to be happening?” Clint asked as Thor was stumped.

 

 At Asgard, a new gatekeeper called Skurge was talking to two ladies, saying Heimdall was an idiot.

 

“Who’s that?” Steve asked as Thor narrowed his eyes.

 

“Not Heimdall,” Vision noted.

 

“He looks vaguely familiar, but from where I don’t recall,” Thor muttered.

 

Skurge said the job should have made him rich and wasn't easy but offered benefits, showing them his stuff, which included a scooter. Skurge then showed them a pair of M-16 Rifles which he called Des and Troy because they destroyed when they came together.

 

“How original,” Rhodey said dryly.

 

“Give the man a prize. He’s clearly a genius,” Clint said sarcastically.

 

Thor beat some Fire Demons as the dragon freed itself. Thor raised Mjolnir and flew into the sky, crashing through the ground. He put out his slightly sparkling cape and raised Mjolnir again but nothing happened, annoying him. The ground shook and the dragon crashed. It tried to bite Thor but he stopped it with a hand before putting Mjolnir its mouth, making it fall down.

 

“Smart,” Natasha noted and Thor simply nodded at the praise.

 

The ladies heard Thor's voice through the mechanism as Skurge played with a shake weight. They informed him and he brandished Hofund, saying the girls were in for a treat. He inserted and twisted it. In Muspelheim, Thor summoned Mjolnir and flew off at Mach 1 as the dragon flew after him. Just before it could catch up, the Bifrost took him up while the symbol was formed on the ground.

 

“Still no regard for lawns,” Tony joked and Steve smiled slightly.

 

Thor arrived in Asgard as the dragon's head fell too, splattering green blood on Skurge and the ladies. Its tongue fell out and eyes rolled back. The ladies screamed and ran off in terror.

 

“Gross,” Natasha said as they all stared at the scene in disgust.

 

Skurge sarcastically thanked Thor for scaring his company away and drenching his workplace with blood as Thor didn't recognize him. Skurge introduced himself and said they had fought together on Vanaheim, which Thor remembered and asked where Heimdall was. Skurge said he was a traitor and Odin had charged him with negligence but he had fled before the trial. It was impossible to find a guy who could see everything.

 

“What?” Thor asked shocked. “Father would never do such a thing!”

 

“Well, according to Surtur, he wasn’t on Asgard,” Scott pointed out, stumping Thor.

 

Skruge said he was supposed to announce Thor's arrival but he flew off by twirling Mjolnir. He arrived and was shocked by the sight in front of him. It was a giant statue of Loki.

 

“You have a statue of Loki?” Clint asked angrily, remembering everything Loki had done to him.

 

“Oh god!” Thor exclaimed as it all fell into place. “I am an idiot!”

 

“What is it?” Steve asked but Thor just sighed.

 

“Just watch,” Thor said wearily.

 

Thor saw a play was going on. There were actors playing Thor and Loki. Loki was dying after being stabbed by Kurse. Thor asked Sif to get help and she ran off as Loki apologized for everything he had had done while Odin watched from where he was sitting, eating grapes.

 

“What. The. Hell?” Natasha said as they all stared at the screen, torn between laughing and being horrified. 

 

Loki apologized for turning Thor into a frog as Thor said it was a wonderful joke while Odin muttered it was hilarious.

 

“He turned you into a frog?” Tony asked gleefully and Thor grimaced.

 

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Thor said uncomfortably as his friends snickered.

 

Loki asked Thor to tell his story, build a statue of him with his horned helmet. Thor said he would tell father what Loki had done. Odin muttered, "I didn't do it for him." Loki said, "I didn't do it for him." He then died as the choir sang a sad but beautiful tune while some women cried.

 

“They’re actually crying at this abomination?” Clint said, almost laughing.

 

“Clearly it’s so bad it made them sad,” Tony joked.

 

“I’ve seen some comedy since waking up from the ice, but this was just…” Steve trailed off.

 

“Over the top? Scott supplied and Steve nodded.

 

“Yeah,” Steve agreed.

 

The actor playing Odin narrated Loki had brought peace to the Realms. A child playing young Loki arrived as the actor said he'd never thought Loki would be Asgard's savior when he was merely a baby icicle who had melted the old fool's heart. The play ended and all clapped.

 

“I have failed Asgard,” Thor said embarrassed. “I must correct this abomination at once.”

 

“Please do. No one should have to witness this,” T’Challa said grimly.

 

Thor then greeted Odin who muttered 'Oh shit' before greeting him like he normally would. The play was called 'The Tragedy of Loki of Asgard' as the people wanted to commemorate Loki. Thor said he liked the statue as it looked a lot better than Loki when he was alive. Odin made a face.

 

“Oh my god, is that…” Clint trailed off and Thor nodded as it hit them, at least those who had met Loki.

 

“It is,” Thor confirmed.

 

Thor showed him the crown and told a guard to lock it away in the vault so it didn’t destroy the planet. Odin got up and nervously asked if Thor would go back to Midgard but he said no. Thor talked about his dream of Asgard's destruction while throwing Mjolnir up and catching it on return. Odin said it was a silly dream due to overactive imagination. Thor said he had investigated and found the Nine Realms in chaos, enemies assembling and plotting their demise while he was sitting in his bathrobe eating grapes.

 

“Seriously, could he make it any more obvious?” Natasha said amused as everyone except the original Avengers looked confused.

 

“Um, care to fill us in?” Rhodey asked as the five of them exchanged a glance.

 

“No, I don’t think we will,” Steve said as they fought the urge to snicker.

 

“You’re gonna love this part,” Clint promised with a smirk.

 

Odin said he was respecting neighbors' freedom while Thor said it was freedom of massacre as he threw Mjolnir passed Odin before it returned to him, startling the Asgardians. Odin said he had been busy with board meeting and Security Council meetings.

 

“Is that really a thing on Asgard?” Scott wondered.

 

“No,” Thor said.

 

Thor asked if Odin was really going to make him do it and Odin played dumb. Thor then threw Mjolnir and walked behind Odin, telling him nothing would stop it as it returned to him, not even his face as he put his hand behind Odin’s head.

 

“Okay, what is going on?” Sam asked as the original Avengers all laughed.

 

“Just sit back and enjoy the show,” Tony said gleefully.

 

Odin said he'd gone crazy and would be executed. "Then I'll see you on the other side, brother." Thor said as Mjolnir straightened while returning and Odin moved out of the way, transforming back into Loki and confessing he yielded while the people screamed in horror.

 

“Is that Loki?” Scott exclaimed shocked as Thor nodded.

 

“Yes. I thought he died a few years ago. Obviously, I was tricked,” Thor said, an undertone of anger clear in his voice.

 

Skurge then arrived to announce Thor's arrival and Loki scolded him, saying he had one job. Thor asked where Odin was and he said how Thor couldn't stay away. Asgard was prospering without him but he had ruined everything.

 

“Yeah, too bad the rest of the nine realms weren’t so lucky,” Clint said dryly, still holding a grudge against Loki.

 

Thor asked where Odin was again. Loki said Thor finally had the independence he wanted and Thor angrily pinned him to his seat with Mjolnir while people screamed. Loki said he knew exactly where Odin was and they were sent to Earth with the Bifrost.

 

The old-age care home where Loki had left Odin was demolished now. Thor and Loki stood in regular clothes as the latter said he had left Odin right here and Thor sarcastically asked if he meant on the sidewalk or where the building was being demolished.

 

“Unbelievable,” Thor said as he pinched the bridge of his nose. “What am I going to do with him?”

 

“Family’s tough,” Scott said simply as Thor sighed.

 

“Not like mine,” Thor said tiredly.

 

Thor sarcastically said his plan was great as Loki said he couldn't see the future and wasn't a witch. Thor asked why he dressed like one and said he couldn't believe Loki was alive. "I mourned you, I cried for you," Thor said. "I'm honored," Loki said sarcastically.

 

“Oh I live to honor you,” Thor said sarcastically.

 

Two girls arrived and asked Thor for a picture. He agreed, asking Loki to figure it out as the girls took a selfie and apologized for Jane dumping him. Thor told Loki she hadn't dumped him, he had dumped her, and it was a mutual dumping.

 

Thor sighed wearily. His search for the stones had caused a great strain on his relationship with Jane and during their last meeting, she had told him not to come back.

 

“Sorry Thor,” Tony said sympathetically and Thor shrugged.

 

“I always knew that my relationship with Jane was not built to last. Better it happens now than years from now, when Jane has wasted her life with me. It was selfish of me to get involved with her, I see that now,” Thor said with a sigh.

 

Suddenly, a sparkling circle appeared underneath Loki. Thor was shocked as Loki said he wasn't doing this and fell into it.

 

“Hey, doesn’t that look like…” Scott trailed off.

 

“The circle that brought us here, yes,” Vision nodded.

 

There was a note there which Thor tapped with his umbrella, wondering if it was Loki.

 

“Really, you thought he was the note?” Sam asked amused and Thor flushed as they all laughed at him.

 

“He’s transformed into many things over the years,” Thor said defensively.

 

Thor picked up the note and it said, '177A Bleecker Street.' He walked to the address and knocked but was suddenly inside. "Thor Odinson." He turned around to see a man in a cape flying towards him, revealing himself to be Stephen Strange, "God of Thunder." Thor raised the umbrella but Strange told him to put it down.

 

“So he’s the one who brought us here,” Tony muttered.

 

“Yes, and it seems this is how I met the wizard,” Thor mused.

 

“Looks like it,” Wanda muttered.

 

They were teleported further into the Sanctum as Thor put the umbrella in a coat stand and picked up an artefact, noting Earth had Wizards now before accidentally breaking the artefact. Strange said the term was 'Master of the Mystic Arts.' Thor asked who he was and he introduced himself as Doctor Stephen Strange, asking him to take a seat and then teleported them to have seats.

 

“Okay, now he’s just showing off,” Rhodey said.

 

"Tea?" Strange asked Thor. "I don't drink tea," Thor said as he held up the cup he had. "What do you drink?" Strange asked. "Not tea," Thor said and beer appeared.

 

“So he can make beer appear out of thin air? We gotta invite him to the next party,” Tony said gleefully.

 

“Let’s focus on stopping Thanos first Tony,” Steve said. “Then we can talk about parties.”

 

"So, I keep a watchlist of individuals and beings from other realms that may be a threat to this world," Strange said, "Your adopted brother, Loki, is one of those beings." Thor drank and saw his beer had refilled. "A worthy inclusion," Thor noted. "Yeah." Strange said, "So, why bring him here to New York?" Thor said, "That's a long story. A family drama, that kind of thing, but... we're looking for my father." "Oh, okay. So, if you've found Odin, you all will return to Asgard, promptly?" Strange asked. "Oh, yes. Promptly," Thor said. "Alright," Strange got up. "Let me help you."

 

“Well, that was easy,” Wanda noted.

 

“And somewhat unnecessary,” Thor said. “He could’ve just called.”

 

Thor asked why Strange had not called him if he knew and Strange said Odin was adamant not to be disturbed plus Thor didn't have a cell phone. Thor said Strange could have sent the electronic letter called e-mail and Strange asked if he had a computer. Thor said he didn't, asking the reason.

 

“Maybe when we need help? Or you do?” Scott pointed out and Thor shrugged, not seeing the issue.

 

Thor asked if he could take him home and Strange said he was in Norway as they were teleported away and some beer dropped. Strange read a book and said no modifications were required for Asgardians before teleporting them again. Thor accidentally knocked some books off a shelf and put his beer down, asking him to stop that. Strange asked for a strand of hair. Thor said his hair was not to be meddled with but Strange appeared behind him and took a strand, teleporting them away again as Thor rolled down the stairs.

 

“Do not touch my hair,” Thor grumbled.

 

Strange used the strand to open a portal and told Thor Odin was waiting. He told him not to forget his umbrella. Thor raised his hand and smashing sounds were heard as he apologized. The umbrella stopped in his hand as Thor said he'd need his brother back and Strange opened another portal above, making Loki fall down. "I have been falling….for 30 minutes!" Loki said indignantly.

 

Everyone, who had been struggling to contain their laughter, lost it at this. They all laughed for several moments before gaining control of themselves.

 

“I wish I had that recorded!” Clint said as he wiped the tears of laughter from his eyes.

 

“Apparently we do,” Rhodey said with a chuckle.

 

Strange told Thor to handle him as Loki angrily brandished his daggers, calling Strange a second-rate magician as he charged but Strange pushed the portal on them, making Loki fall down as Thor looked around at the grassy area.

 

“Loki, never mess with a wizard,” Thor chuckled.

 

The two saw Odin standing with his back to them. They walked to him as Thor called out to him. Odin looked at the sea and said this place was beautiful before recognizing them. Thor said they'd come to take him home. "Home, yes." Odin said, "Your mother, she calls me." Thor asked Loki to lift his spell but Loki shook his head, confused as well.

 

“Father,” Thor sad, confused and concerned as the mood plummeted, everyone sensing that something big was about to happen.

 

Odin laughed, saying it had taken him some time to break Loki’s spell, telling Loki Frigga would have been proud. Odin told them to sit with him, saying he didn't have much time. The three of them sat on a rock and Thor said they'd failed him but would make it right. "I failed you," Odin insisted. "It is upon us. Ragnarok." Thor said he'd stopped Ragnarok but Odin said it had already begun and she was coming.

 

“Who’s she?” Wanda asked as they looked at Thor, who only shook his head.

 

“I don’t know,” Thor said, a pit of dread forming in his stomach.

 

His life was all that had held her back but his time had come and she couldn't be kept back any longer. Thor asked who Odin was referring to and he said, "Goddess of Death. Hela. My firstborn. Your sister." Thor and Loki were both shocked.

 

“W-what?” Thor said, having gone deathly pale.

 

Everyone else was silent, all of them exchanging glances. This was private, something for Thor to deal with. But it also appeared to be important, otherwise they wouldn’t be shown this.

 

“It appears that your father kept secrets as well,” T’Challa said gently.

 

Thor did not respond, too stunned for words.

 

Odin said her violent appetites had grown beyond his control so he had imprisoned her. She drew her strength from Asgard and when she reached there, her powers would be limitless. Thor said they could face and stop her together but Odin said they couldn't as he was on a different path now and they must face this alone.

 

“Father?” Thor said, a heartbreaking realization setting in.

 

"I love you, my sons." Odin said as Loki looked at him. "Look at that." Odin said, pointing at the sky, "Remember this place." He then faded into yellow energy which flowed away as Thor and Loki stood up, watching with devastated expressions.

 

“No. Father no,” Thor said brokenly.

 

Thor put his head in his hands and began to sob. The other Avengers, T’Challa, and Peter exchanged a glance. This was different than T’Chaka had been killed, they knew. T’Chaka was something that could be prevented, something that could be changed. Odin had not been murdered; he had died of old age. Even if Thor brought him back to Asgard when they returned, it still meant Odin would only have a couple years left. This was not something that could be changed.

 

“Do not weep because he is gone,” T’Challa said gently, placing his hand on Thor’s shoulder. “Treasure the time you had with him. And make the most of the time you have left when we return.”

 

After a moment, Thor gained control of himself, nodding as he lifted his head. It was not easy, but he would carry on in these recordings. He would have to make sure his father did not die in vain. 

Chapter Text

Clouds gathered in the sky as lightning cracked due to Thor's emotions. Lightning cracked in Thor's hands too.

 

“And Point Break’s pissed,” Tony muttered.

 

Loki called out to him as Thor angrily looked at him, "This was your doing!" Before they could fight, a green portal started opening up. Loki removed the illusion and was back in his Asgardian robes as lightning cracked and Thor was back in his Asgardian armor with Mjolnir. Out of the portal walked a woman in black robes with long hair and a pale face.

 

“Hela I presume,” Vision muttered.

 

"So he's gone," She said. "That's a shame. I'd have liked to see that. "You must be Hela,” Thor said. Thor introduced himself and Hela commented he didn't look like Odin. Loki said they could come to an arrangement as Hela said he sounded like Odin. "Kneel." She then ordered. "Beg your pardon?" Loki asked.

 

“I guess now he knows how it feels,” Clint said bitterly.

 

“Kneel. Before your Queen." Hela said, summoning her Necrosword. "I don't think so." Thor said and threw Mjolnir but to his horror, she caught it.

 

“She’s worthy?” Clint said in disbelief as they all stared in shock.

 

“No, she can’t be. It’s not possible,” Thor said stunned, remembering how he had been able to lift Mjolnir after his father had enchanted it. “It’s can’t be.”

 

He tried to summon it back but she didn't let go as he said, "It's not possible." Hela smirked, "Darling, you have no idea what's possible." With that, she shattered Mjolnir in her grasp as there was an explosion of lightning which sent Thor and Loki flying back.

 

“Son of a bitch,” Tony said stunned.

 

“She destroyed it,” Peter whispered in horrified awe.

 

“It’s not possible,” Thor repeated his mind whirling. “My hammer is made of the strongest metal in the universe. It is unbreakable!”

 

“Apparently not,” Clint muttered.

 

Hela then summoned a horned helmet and two Necroswords as Loki shouted, "Bring us back!" Thor protested but the Bifrost took them up.

 

“He probably just saved your life,” Natasha pointed out and Thor did not respond, knowing she was right.

 

Thor called out to Loki and he looked down to see Hela flying up. He threw his dagger but she threw it back and he crashed out into the space.

 

“Loki!” Thor cried out, worried for his brother.

 

“Don’t worry about Reindeer Games. He’s a cockroach, he’ll outlive us all,” Tony joked in an attempt to reassure Thor.

 

Thor tried to fight her off but she grabbed his neck. She summoned her sword but Thor kicked her back, falling into space too.

 

“She beat you both back like you were nothing,” Scott said lowly as they stared, in awe and horror at Hela’s power.

 

Volstagg took Hofund out of the device on Asgard as Hela arrived while he, Fandrall and Skurge, who was sweeping the floor, looked in shock.

 

“She’s on Asgard,” Thor said horrified.

 

“And according to Odin, she’ll become even more powerful now,” Steve noted and Thor paled.

 

Hela's power seemed to increase as she arrived in Asgard as Volstagg asked who she was and what she had done with Thor. She threw a small Necrosword at him, making him fall down. Fandrall charged her but was taken down the same way. "I'm Hela." She said and killed them by throwing one more Necrosword for each.

 

“No!” Thor cried out in horror and grief.

 

T’Challa placed a hand on Thor’s shoulder as everyone else looked at him in sympathy. While they didn’t know these two Asgardians, it was clear Thor did and was close to them.

 

“I am sorry,” T’Challa said gently. “But this can still be changed. Our future is not yet set in stone.”

 

After a moment, Thor nodded. Hela was not free yet. And when she was free, he would make sure to protect his friends from her wrath.

 

Skurge kneeled and said he was a janitor as Hela said, "You look like a smart boy with good survival instincts. How would you like a job?" She walked past him and looked at Asgard with a smile while Skurge stood next to her with Hofund stuck behind them.

 

“She’s going to try and conquer the whole universe,” Rhodey realized with horror.

 

“Of course she is, it’s what people like her do,” Natasha said grimly as she thought of Loki, and Killmonger.

 

“Those who have been corrupted by power will always want more than they deserve,” Steve noted.

 

In a world beyond the Nine Realms, Thor crashed through a portal. The place was full of heaps of trash.

 

“That is a lot of trash,” Scott said randomly.

 

“You don’t say,” Clint said sarcastically.

 

Thor threw debris off of him and looked around at the portal and the falling objects. He looked up to see something about to fall on him and quickly moved out of the way.

 

“Where am I?” Thor wondered but no one had an answer.

 

Thor looked around and saw a huge city in the distance. Then Thor saw some kind of ship landing in front of him and out walked strange looking aliens, asking if he was a fighter or food.

 

“What kind of place is this?!” Scott exclaimed horrified.

 

“Clearly a place to be avoided at all costs,” Thor said grimly.

 

Thor said he was just passing by and they said he was food. Thor tried to summon Mjolnir but then remembered it was gone.

 

Thor grimaced, feeling the loss of his weapon even though it hadn’t happened yet. He had had Mjolnir for so long; the weapon was almost an extension of himself. Losing it was almost like losing a limb.

 

Thor then raised his hands and as one Sakaarian came close, he threw him off. Another tore off half of his cape but was punched down along with another. Then the lead Sakaarian fired a net and it threw Thor down, electrocuting him as the others started hitting him.

 

“You’re the god of thunder, how can you be electrocuted?” Sam asked incredulously.

 

“Being thrown through the Bifrost must have weakened me,” Thor mused.

 

Then another ship flew down and they looked up in shock. It landed and a pathway was formed. Out walked a dark-skinned woman with markings on her face, drinking a beer. "He's mine." She said.

 

“Oh great, more trouble,” Natasha said as Thor’s eyes widened.

 

‘She’s Asgardian!” he exclaimed and they turned to him. “Those markings on her face, they are of Asgardian culture!”

 

“If she’s Asgardian, how did she end up…wherever that is?” Wanda inquired.

 

“I do not know,” Thor admitted.

 

She walked towards them but due to her drunken state; fell down into trash so the Sakaarians started hitting Thor again.

 

“Is this as embarrassing as it looks?” Thor asked with a blush.

 

“Oh much worse Point Break,” Tony said with a laugh and Thor groaned.

 

She got back up, saying Thor was his so they'd have to go through her to get him. One Sakaarian pointed out they already had him and she said she’s go through them. The Sakaarians decided she was food to as she then struggled to activate her gauntlets by tapping her fists together. The Sakaarians moved closer but she managed to do it. Her ship's guns were activated and she used them to slaughter all the Sakaarians.

 

“Holy crap!” Peter exclaimed as they all stared at the screen, torn between being impressed with her tech and horrified at her brutality.

 

“Wow,” was all Wanda could manage.

 

“Such brutality,” Vision muttered. “This must be a dangerous world.”

 

Now only one was left and he rushed her but she ducked to avoid a blow before punching him and throwing him off. Thor ripped out the net and thanked her but she threw a disk that attached to the side of his neck and activated it, sending a toxin through Thor's body as he was knocked out.

 

“I did not see that coming,” Scott said after a moment.

 

“This is going to get worse before it gets better, isn’t it?” Thor deadpanned.

 

“Most likely,” Steve agreed and Thor groaned.

 

She dragged Thor by the cape to her ship and later, he woke up as she said to someone on Comms that she had something special. Thor banged the glass between them, introducing himself as Thor, Son of Odin, saying he needed to get back to Asgard. She sarcastically apologized and pressed the button, spreading the toxin through him again as he was knocked out.

 

“But you’re the prince! Shouldn’t she be trying to help you now that she knows who you?” Peter asked confused as Thor narrowed his eyes.

 

“Normally, that would be the case, Boy of Spiders. But it seems that this one is not on my side,” Thor noted.

 

“Whatever that is, it must be powerful to knock you out,” Steve noted.

 

“Most likely some form of toxin,” Thor agreed.

 

On Asgard, Hela stood, without her helmet, addressing the Asgardians.

 

"It's come to my attention that you don't know who I am. I am Hela, Odin's firstborn, the commander of the Legions of Asgard, the rightful heir to the throne, and the Goddess of Death," The army pointed their weapons at her. "My father is dead. As are the princes. You're welcome," Hogun glared at her. "We were once the seat of absolute power in the Cosmos. Our supremacy was unchallenged. Yet Odin stopped at Nine Realms. Our destiny is to rule over all others. And I am here to restore that power. Kneel before me and rise into the ranks of my great conquest."

 

“Reminds me of the speech Loki gave in Germany,” Natasha noted.

 

“Well, they do look like they could be father and daughter instead of siblings,” Tony joked.1

 

“Asgard will never submit to her,” Thor said as he tensed, knowing what was about to happen.

 

Hogun said whoever she was, she must stand down or they'd show no mercy. Hela was annoyed they hadn't listened to a word she had said and was told this was her last warning. Hela angrily put her helmet back on; sadly saying she'd thought they'd be happy to see her as Hogun's mace protruded spikes.

 

“No,” Thor whispered, wanting to look away but unable to.

 

Hela threw small Necroswords at Hogun who deflected with his mace and hit her but she was unaffected as she kicked him into a wall, smashing it down. The army attacked as Hela leapt into their midst with her Necroswords. They weren't even a match for her as she sliced them down with her Necroswords or threw the Necroswords at them, taking them down. She threw one at a warship and it was destroyed too. They attacked but she was unaffected by all of their blows, taking them down with swift Necrosword throws. The warships fired at her but she was unaffected as threw her Necroswords, destroying them all. She continued slaughtering the army. One of them stabbed her from behind and the blade protruded from her abdomen but she was still unaffected and killed him with a Necrosword throw. Soon, the entire army was slaughtered as Skurge looked around in horror.

 

Throughout the scene, everyone had watched, horrified at both Hela’s power and the needless slaughter of good men and women. Thor’s entire body trembled in grief and rage as he saw his people mercilessly killed. Rage was bubbling under the surface and it was only a matter of time until it blew. 

 

Hela looked around, saying she had missed this but it was still sad as they were good soldiers dying for nothing. Hogun then staggered back up and she asked if he had a change of heart. Hogun told her to crawl back to whatever cave she had come from, calling her 'demoness.' She threw a large Necrosword at him and it killed him as Skurge looked away in horror.

 

That did it. Thor’s eyes glowed and he roared, jumping to his feet. Everyone jumped as a flash of lightning came through the roof, striking the television set. Wanda quickly used her powers to shield everyone from the following blast.

 

When it was over, the television was completely destroyed, a scorch mark around it. The only sound in the room was Thor’s heavy breathing as the door opened and Strange walked in.

 

“Feel any better?” Strange asked calmly.

 

“No,” Thor said gruffly.

 

Strange nodded before walking over to the television set. He waved his hand, a green circle appearing. To everyone’s shock, time seemed to move backwards. The scorch mark faded as the pieces of the television melded back together, the screen repaired, along with the rest of it, as it was before the lightning struck it.

 

“Awesome,” Peter said in awe.

 

“I understand this is upsetting for you, but please, try not to break it again,” Strange said before he walked out of the room.

 

“I am sorry my friends,” Thor said after taking a moment to calm himself. “I allowed my emotions to get the better of me. It will not happen again.”

 

“It’s okay Thor. I can’t say I would have reacted any differently,” Clint assured him, knowing he would have lost it if he’d seen his family murdered the way Thor had seen his people slaughtered.

 

“It’s been a long day; we’ve all seen a lot of things that have upset us. We can pick this up tomorrow if you want Thor,” Steve offered but Thor shook his head.

                                                                                             

“No. we must continue. I must know what happens next,” Thor said, steely determination filling his voice.

 

Thor retook his seat and, after eying him to make sure he was calm now, Tony resumed the recording.

 

"Let's go see my palace." Hela then said as the two walked towards it.

 

Thor growled at this but otherwise did not react. Remembering what had happened lost time he had lost his temper, he fought to control his emotions as his friends eyed him wearily.

 

Someone climbed up to the Observatory from the side of the mountain and stole Hofund.

 

“Who’s that?” Scott asked curiously.

 

“I have an idea,” Thor said, a smirk crossing his face but he offered nothing else.

 

Thor woke up, restrained to a moving chair as a voice said he was found and was at home from where there was no going back.

 

“Sounds like a cult,” Tony said.

 

“From what we’ve seen, I’m gonna have to agree,” Rhodey agreed.

 

A presentation of the Cosmos was given as the voice said this was Sakaar on the edge of known and unknown and was the collection point of lost and unloved things like he was. He was significant here and loved. The voice said no one loved him more than the Grandmaster as his projection was shown.

 

“Really sounds like a cult,” Clint agreed.

 

 He was the original, the first lost and found and creator of Sakaar as well as Father of Contest of Champions. A projection of the Contest was shown as well as the voice said he was now property of Grandmaster and would meet him in 5 seconds while he passed through a planet's projection. He was told to prepare himself as the presentation sped up to an absurd degree. He was told to prepare himself again as he'd meet the Grandmaster. Unable to cope with his situation and the presentation, Thor screamed awkwardly like a girl and was suddenly in a room as the presentation disappeared.

 

Tony, Natasha, Clint, Peter, Rhodey, Scott, and Sam burst out laughing as Steve and Wanda chuckled. Even Vision struggled to keep a straight face as Thor blushed.

 

“That voice!” Clint laughed.

 

“Sounded like a little girl right?!” Tony said between laughs.

 

“This is not going away anytime soon, is it?” Thor deadpanned.

 

“Nope,” was said in sync and he groaned.

 

Thor looked around and in front of him was the Grandmaster. There were soldiers behind him and in front sat Grandmaster with the drunk woman on his left and another woman on his right. He found Thor wonderful as the woman confirmed it was a 'he.'

 

“Of course I’m a he!” Thor exclaimed offended.

 

Grandmaster said he loved when the woman, who was called Scraper 142, came to visit, saying she was something that started with a 'B.'

 

“So, somehow, Sakaar has the exact same language as us?” Rhodey said confused.

 

“Weird, I know,” Thor agreed.2

 

The other woman, Topaz, called her trash and Grandmaster said that didn't start with a 'B' so she said booze hag but Grandmaster said he meant best because that's what she was as she had brought him his beloved champion, which Topaz sulkily said he brought that up every time she showed up. He asked what she had brought today and she said it was a contender.

 

“So wait, this is an alien traffic ring?” Scott said horrified as they all stared at the screen, disgusted.

 

“When I get out of here, the first thing I’m going to do is head over there and take him down,” Thor growled.

 

“We’ll help,” Steve offered and Thor nodded in thanks.  

 

Grandmaster wanted a closer look and Topaz pushed his chair to get one as Thor said he wasn't for sale and broke his restraints but 142 pressed the button and toxin spread through his body again. Grandmaster said he was a fighter as 142 asked for 1 million units. Topaz said she was dreaming but, at Grandmaster’s insistence, reluctantly paid her. She walked off as Thor said she'd pay for this but she corrected she had been paid for this.

 

Everyone glared at the screen, disgust for this woman spreading through them.

 

Grandmaster pressed a button and the restraints restrained Thor again as Grandmaster asked who he was. Thor broke his restraints again and announced he was the God of Thunder as little lightning crackled in his hands but Grandmaster laughed, saying he hadn't seen thunder but sparkles.

 

Thor was shocked at this. Whatever toxin was in those disks, it must be strong to affect an Asgardian, Thor mused.

 

Topaz told Grandmaster they'd found his cousin as he walked to his room and Thor's chair was moved there too and there another man was restrained to another chair. Thor greeted him as he begged Grandmaster for forgiveness. Grandmaster said he was pardoned. He thanked him but Grandmaster pointed a stick at him and said he had been pardoned of his life as it melted Grandmaster's cousin into slime while Thor looked in horror and disgust.

 

“Oh my god!” Thor exclaimed horrified.

 

“He killed his own cousin,” Steve said disgusted.

 

“Point Break, kick his ass when we get back home,” Tony said and Thor narrowed his eyes.

 

“It will be my pleasure Stark,” Thor said grimly.

 

 Grandmaster joked he was stepping on it and asked Topaz what it smelt like, to which she said burnt toast.

 

“He’s a freaking sociopath,” Scott said disgusted.

 

Grandmaster then sarcastically apologized for his bad manners and introduced himself before taking Thor to another room and putting on music, said he presided over the Contest of Champions. People came from far and wide to unwillingly participate in it and Thor was part of the new cast. Thor said he didn't give a shit and needed to go back to Asgard. Grandmaster mispronounced it as ‘Ass-Guard’ and increased the music's volume when Thor noticed Loki there talking to some other people.

 

“Loki!” Thor said, shocked but happy to see his brother was alive.

 

“Told you, he’s a cockroach. Just when you think he’s gone, he comes back with a vengeance,” Tony joked.

 

Thor was shocked and beckoned Loki to him. Loki was shocked too as he played cool before making his way over and shushing Thor. Thor asked where Loki's chair was and he said he didn't have one. Thor asked him to get him out but Loki said he couldn't as he had made friends with Grandmaster and gained his favor. The Bifrost had brought him here, weeks ago, shocking Thor who had just arrived.

 

“How is that possible?” Tony asked surprised.

 

“Perhaps it has something to do with being thrown out of the Bifrost. To my knowledge, no one has ever been thrown out and survived to tell about it,” Thor mused.

 

Grandmaster asked what they were whispering about, startling them both, and said time worked differently in Sakaar. He said on any other world, he'd be about a million years old, and then said, "But here on Sakaar….." He blinked and smiled like a little child who was fancying something, confusing both Thor and Loki.

 

“He’s insane,” Natasha deadpanned.

 

“What was your first clue Nat?” Clint said sarcastically.

 

Thor asked Loki to tell Grandmaster of their relationship and he said he didn't know Thor.

 

“I’m his brother!” Thor said angrily.

 

Thor said they were brothers and Loki added 'adopted.' Grandmaster asked if Thor was any kind of fighter and he said once the Obedience Disk was out of his neck, he'd show him. Grandmaster mocked how Thor was threatening him and said if he wanted to get back to the 'Ass place', he'd have to defeat his champion. "Fine. Then point me in the direction of whoever's ass I have to kick!" Thor said and Grandmaster was satisfied.

 

“Something tells me it won’t be that easy Thor,” Steve said wearily.

 

“Nothing ever is, unfortunately,” Thor said with a sigh.

 

Thor's chair was moved away and he was thrown into a cell as the door closed. He banged at the door as another prisoner who was made of rocks told him to take it easy. Thor looked at him as he said he was a pile of rocks waving at him and introduced himself as Korg. He said he was the leader here and was made of rocks but there was no need to be intimidated. He didn't need to be afraid as long as he wasn't made of scissors. The alien next to him who had knives for hands formed scissors with them for a second.

 

“A Kronan,” Thor said surprised.

 

“A what?” Clint asked.

 

“Kronan, they’re a species of rock like creatures. Usually fairly violent, but this one seems oddly friendly,” Thor noted.

 

Korg said this was a rock-paper-scissors joke for him and introduced his friend Miek who had knives for hands. Thor recognized Korg as a Kronan and asked how he had ended up here. Korg said he had tried to start a revolution but hadn't printed enough pamphlets. Nobody had turned up except his mum and her boyfriend whom he hated so he was forced here as punishment to be a gladiator. This was a promotional disaster.

 

“I like this guy,” Tony laughed.

 

“I think he’ll fit in great if we ever meet,” Rhodey said with a laugh.

 

Korg said he was organizing another revolution and asked a running Thor if he'd be interested. Thor managed to return to where he had started, to his own shock.

 

“What the hell?” Thor said shocked.

 

Korg said the whole place was a circle. Not a real circle but a freaky circle. Thor said this didn't make sense ad Korg said the only thing that made sense was that nothing made sense.

 

“That’s the first thing about this planet that does make sense,” Wanda said.

 

“Indeed little witch,” Thor agreed with a sigh.

 

Thor asked if anyone else had fought the Grandmaster's champion and Korg said Doug had before calling out to him but no one answered and Korg remembered Doug was dead, saying all who faced the Grandmaster's champion perished.

 

“This champion must be very strong,” T’Challa.

 

“Whoever he is, I will defeat them,” Thor said confidently.

 

Thor asked about Korg, noting he was made of rocks but he reminded it was perishable rock who just did the smaller fights for warmup of the crowd. Korg asked if he was gonna face him. Thor said he was gonna win and get out as he walked off. Korg said that was what Doug used to say and called Thor 'new Doug.'

 

“Most definitely not like most Kronans,” Thor said as they all laughed at Korg’s antics.

 

Back on Asgard, Hela and Skurge walked into the palace, having killed more soldiers. She wondered if no one remembered her or been taught their history. She then looked up at the murals which showed people worshipping the Asgardians and offering them goblets and garden parties. Odin and Laufey were also in one mural, having signed a peace treaty. Hela was furious saying Odin was proud to have it but ashamed of how he had got it. She then threw Necroswords into the wall and it shattered as Skurge backed to avoid getting hit by debris. Another, older mural was revealed. Which had Odin standing in between blood as he and Hela led their people to war. Hela sat on a giant wolf and wielded Mjolnir.

 

Thor stared, shocked. His entire life, he had looked up to his father, seeing him as this great man. ‘A wise king never seeks out war’, he’d told him often.

 

Now it all just felt like a bunch of lies.

 

“Thor, you okay?” Steve as they looked at him in concern.

 

“My entire life, my father told me that I must never seek out war. He banished me for reigniting war with the Frost Giants. And this…” Thor trailed off.

 

“It seems both our fathers were not the men we thought they were,” T’Challa said gently.

 

“I don’t know your father, but maybe he was trying to make sure you didn’t repeat his mistakes,” Steve told him.

 

“Perhaps,” Thor said with a sigh.

 

Hela said they used to be unstoppable and she was Odin's weapon in the conquest of the Nine Realms. Then her ambition had outgrown his and he had banished and caged her like an animal.

 

It seemed that his father’s solution to every problem was to either cast it out or cover it up, Thor thought bitterly as he thought of Odin keeping Loki’s true parentage a secret.3

 

Before that, Asgard's warriors were honored and buried as heroes beneath the palace. The two then made their way to the vault. Skurge noted these items were Odin's treasures. Hela threw an Infinity Gauntlet away, calling the Stones in it fake.

 

In the lab, Fitz narrowed his eyes. It seems Thanos wasn’t the first person to want to harness the power of the Infinity Stones.

 

She then called the Casket of Ancient Winters weak. She saw Surtur's crown and commented how it was smaller than she had thought. She then saw the Teserract and said it wasn't bad before noticing the Eternal Flame and put it in her hand, asking Skurge if he wanted to see what real power looked like. She summoned a bloodaxe and struck the ground thrice, shattering it before leaping inside as Skurge watched. Landing, she found the old warriors of Asgard, buried in their caskets, along with the corpse of her wolf Fenris.

 

“Her army,” Steve realized.

 

“The army my father used to conquer,” Thor said quietly.

 

Hela was saddened by what had been done to Fenris. "With the Eternal Flame, you are reborn." She said and smashed it on the ground as a green shockwave shot out. Skurge watched as the dead soldiers woke up in the form of skeletons and so did Fenris. "I've missed you. I've missed you all." Hela said.

 

“An undead army of one of the strongest species in the universe. Okay, we need to be prepared for her,” Tony said as they all paled.

 

“Indeed we do Stark. Indeed we do,” Thor said quietly.

Chapter Text

On Sakaar, Thor prayed for Odin's soul to take his place in the halls of Valhalla and Loki finished the last verse with him. Thor turned around to see Loki standing behind him. Loki commented how it hurt to have been lied to his whole life.

 

Thor grimaced, finally understanding Loki’s rage at Odin’s betrayal. It didn’t make Loki’s actions afterwards any better, but Thor could now understand his brother in a new light.

 

Thor threw a stone and it passed through Loki, who smirked and asked if Thor had really thought he'd come visit him in here, as this place was disgusting.

 

“Never hurts to check though,” Thor muttered.

 

Loki said he couldn't jeopardize his position with the Grandmaster as it had taken time to win his trust. He said Grandmaster was a lunatic but amenable and Thor could join their side. He said an accident would befall the Grandmaster in time and doing gestures, said how they'd be rulers of Sakaar after that.

 

“As much as I hate to say it, Loki would probably be a better ruler than that lunatic,” Clint said begrudgingly, looking like he’d swallowed a lemon.

 

“My brother may be the god of mischief, but he would likely do well on a place like Sakaar,” Thor mused. “And, at the very least, he appears to be a good ruler.”

 

“We didn’t see enough to make a judgement, I feel,” T’Challa said and Thor shrugged, conceding his point.

 

Thor was looking into the distance and still throwing stones through Loki as Loki asked if he was thinking of returning to Asgard. He reminded how Hela had destroyed his hammer like a piece of glass and was stronger than them both. He wouldn't stand a chance Loki asked if Thor understood what he was saying but Thor ignored him. A frustrated Loki said he'd have to do it alone like always.

 

Thor sighed wearily. His brother always felt like he had been alone, even before he found out the truth. What his brother had always failed to understand was that it was his own actions that drove people away.

 

Thor still didn't say a thing and Loki asked him to. Thor asked what he’d like him to say, pointing out how  Loki had faked his own death, stolen the throne, stripped Odin of his power and left him on Earth to die which was why the Goddess of Death had been released. He then asked if Loki would like him to go passed the past two days or if that was enough.

 

Everyone looked awkward as they witnessed this fed between the brothers. None of them felt any lost love for Loki and Thor’s anger was more than justified, but they felt like they interrupting a private moment.

 

Loki said he had not seen the champion but heard he was astonishingly savage which was why he had placed a large wager against Thor. He asked Thor not to let him down and the illusion disappeared as Korg arrived and kicked the spot where he had stood, calling him 'ghost' and telling him to piss off as Miek arrived too.

 

The tension broke momentarily as they all laughed at Korg’s antics.

 

Later, as Thor was preparing himself for the contest, they saw a beaten up contestant being dragged away as Korg touched a weapon and said someone's blood and hair were all over it and asked everyone to clean up their weapons after the fight.

 

“Man, I already love this guy!” Clint said with a laugh.

 

“I want this guy around all the time!” Tony agreed with a chuckle.

 

He lifted up a giant fork and asked Thor if he'd like to use it. Thor refused and Korg said it was only useful while fighting against three vampires.

 

“Wait, Vampires are real?” Peter asked shocked.

 

“Yes. Like Asgardians being worshiped as gods, many of your folklore was derived from alien life appearing on your planet,” Thor said, stunning them all.

 

Thor wished he had his hammer, saying it was a unique one forged from the heart of a dying star and when he spun it really, really fast it gave him the ability to fly. Korg asked if he rode it and then asked if he rode it on his back. Thor explained how when he spun it he was pulled off. Korg interrupted, disgusted at the innuendo.

 

“Did it ever pull you off Point Break?” Tony teased and Thor pulled his eyes in exasperation.

 

 Thor explained it would pull him off the ground and it would return whenever he threw it. Korg said Thor had a special relationship with his hammer and equated losing it to losing a loved one, to which Thor agreed.

 

“He is wise,” Thor said softly. “My hammer…I’m not sure how to explain it.”

 

“It feels like an extension of yourself. Losing it is like losing a limb,” Steve supplied and Thor nodded.

 

“Yes, that sounds like the only way to put it,” Thor mused.

 

Thor then noticed 142 there at a bar, buying a beverage and opening it. Thor pointed her out to Korg, who said she was Asgardian, shocking Thor.

 

“You’re just noticing this?” Natasha asked and Thor flushed.

 

“Well I didn’t have time to look at her markings before she captured me and filled my body with toxins!” Thor cried and they all laughed at the offended note in his voice.

 

The beverage was fiery but she started drinking as Thor called out to her. She showed him the remote but he begged her not to zap him, saying he just wanted to talk. He then said Asgard was in danger and she started drinking her beverage, causing Thor to notice the mark on her arm, which made him realize she was a Valkyrie.

 

“A Valkyrie! I thought they were all extinct!” Thor said excitedly.

 

“What’s a Valkyrie?” Scott asked curiously as they all turned to Thor.

 

“Asgard’s elite force of women warriors. They’re legendary; I wanted to be one as a child. You know, before I found out they were all women,” Thor added quickly.

 

“And they’re extinct?” Wanda asked curiously and Thor nodded his excitement fading.

 

“Yes, it was said that they all perished fighting one of Asgard’s enemies. It was never said who. Another of my father’s secrets, I suppose,” Thor said, a hint of bitterness entering his voice towards the end.

 

Thor said excitedly how he wanted to be one when he was younger before finding out they were all women. There was nothing wrong with women of course as he loved them, sometimes too much, not in a creepy way though, just a respectful appreciation and that it was great there was an elite force of women, Thor rambled.

 

Thor flushed as they all snickered at his rambling.

 

“Why couldn’t you have been like this before?” Clint asked with a laugh.

 

“Would have made the parties a lot more fun,” Natasha added and Clint nodded.

 

Valkyrie asked if he was done. Soldiers arrived to take Thor away as he asked for her help but she walked away. Thor said she was a traitor or a coward as she was sworn to protect the throne. Valkyrie angrily walked to him and said this was Sakaar not Asgard and she was a scrapper not a Valkyrie. Thor punched a soldier down but someone activated his Obedience Disk and he was down as two of them started dragging him away. Valkyrie said no one escaped this place and he was gonna die either way.

 

“We shall see about that,” Thor said grimly as he narrowed his eyes.

 

Sam studied Valkyrie, noting the signs of PTSD and someone who was drinking to avoid dealing with the pain, as he’d seen a lot of people he’d served with do. Whatever happened to her had done a number on her, Sam mused.

 

Thor was restrained to a chair as an old man arrived and said, "Now, don't you move. My hands aren't as steady as they used to be."

 

“So now he’s following us into space? This is just getting creepy now,” Clint muttered.

 

 Thor glared at him as he said, "By Odin's beard, you shall not cut my hair, lest you feel the wrath of the mighty Thor." The elderly man activated his cutting device, which looked like it could cut anything. He laughed as Thor now begged, "Please. Please, kind sir, do not cut my hair. Please! No! NOOOOOOO!"

 

“Not my hair!” Thor shouted, clutching his hair like a child’s stuff animal and everyone laughed at his antics.

 

“I guess he’s getting back at you for the party,” Steve joked and the original Avengers plus Rhodey laughed even harder

 

Later, The Contest of Champions was held as everyone arrived to see it. A hologram of Grandmaster appeared, saying how they all looked very good and he was their host before asking for a round of applause for their contestants who had died. They applauded as Korg, Miek and other champions watched from their prison while Valkyrie watched from her ship in the air. Loki arrived at a higher seat for privileged ones and took a drink from a serving girl as Grandmaster announced, "Making his first appearance, though he looks quite promising, got a couple of tricks up his sleeve. I'll say no more, see what you think. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...Lord of Thunder." And then the door went down as Thor arrived, dressed in Sakaarian armor along with a Sakaarian helmet and two retractable swords strapped on his back as well as a Sakaarian hammer and shield in his hands. He had a red mark on running up his eye as some cheered while others booed at him.

 

“You look good,” Natasha said as they all saw Thor with his new haircut.

 

“Yeah, you pull it off nicely,” Wanda agreed thoughtfully, causing Clint and Vision to shoot her looks that had her blushing.

 

“Thank you,” Thor said gratefully.

 

Grandmaster said to watch out for the sparks from Thor's fingers. Thor then put on his helmet as Grandmaster announced to everyone's cheers, "Okay, this is it. Let's get ready to welcome this guy." Green smoke crackers were burst as Grandmaster announced, "Here he comes. He is a creature. What can we say about him? Well, he's unique. There's none like him. I feel a special connection with him. He's undefeated. He's the reigning. He's the defending. Ladies and gentlemen...I give you...Your Incredible..." And then a huge green monster in a Gladiator armor with the helmet as well as a hammer and ax in his hands. He announced himself with a roar, "HULK!"

 

“It’s the Hulk!” Peter exclaimed excitedly as the Avengers all stared in shock.

 

“Son of a bitch. I didn’t know a Quinjet could get that far,” Tony said in stunned disbelief.

 

Steve and Clint, once they got over their shock, glanced over at Natasha. Natasha had a blank look on her face as she stared at the screen, which concerned them.

 

“Nat, you okay?” Steve said gently.

 

“Fine,” Natasha said in a voice that said it was anything but.

 

For while on the outside Natasha was calm, cool, and collected, on the inside all the anger she had felt at Bruce for his departure had come back to the surface. Maybe it as unfair of her to be angry, considering she made him turn back into Hulk when he wanted to run away, but she couldn’t help but feel like he had abandoned her. She thought maybe Bruce could be good for her, but when the going got tough he ran. She needed someone she could rely on in her life and it obviously wasn’t Bruce.1

 

Steve and Clint stared at her for a moment, exchanging a glance before they nodded, deciding to let it go…for now.

 

Loki, who had been laughing, was now horrified as Thor happily cheered, "YES!"

 

"I have to get off this planet." A traumatized Loki said as he turned around but Grandmaster was in his way as he told him they were just getting started.

 

“Looks like he’s still not over being thrown around like a ragdoll,” Tony laughed as Thor smirked in amusement.

 

“Indeed Stark,” Thor agreed as Clint smirked.

 

Hulk roared as the crowd chanted his name. Thor waved to Loki and Grandmaster and said, "We know each other. He's a friend from work." Loki looked nervous.

 

“You are enjoying this far too much,” Wanda noted as Clint watched gleefully.

 

“Loki made me his flying monkey. Karma’s a bitch kid,” Clint said gleefully.

 

"Where have you been?" Thor asked. "Everybody thought you were dead. But so much has happened since I last saw you. I lost my hammer. Like, yesterday, so that's still pretty fresh. Loki. Loki's alive. Can you believe it? He's up there." He pointed up with his hammer and said, "Loki! Look who it is!" Loki was pale at this point.

 

Everyone laughed along with Clint at Loki’s reaction.

 

“Oh thank god this was recorded!” Tony chuckled.

 

"Banner, I never thought I would say this, but I'm happy to see you," Thor said to him. Everyone cheered for Hulk with balloons and other stuff in the shape of Hulk's face.

 

“They seem to like the Hulk very much,” Vision noted.

 

“He must have been quite the spectacle,” T’Challa said.

 

"Banner. Hey, Banner!" Thor called out. "No Banner. Only Hulk." Hulk said.

 

“Uh oh. You brought up puny Banner, big mistake,” Tony said and Thor sighed.

 

“Of course, because things can never be easy,” Thor snapped.

 

Thor was shocked by Hulk's behavior as Hulk leapt at him with weapons raised but Thor rolled away as they hit the ground and smashed it instead. Hulk then hit him with his hammer in a rotatory motion and Thor was sent flying off.

 

“That had to hurt,” Clint noted.

 

“I have been through much worse Barton. I will defeat Hulk,” Thor said as he narrowed his eyes.

 

He used a knife to stick himself to the ground, slowing himself down as the ground was broken by his strength. Getting up, Thor brandished the retractable swords while Hulk roared in challenge. The Grandmaster clapped while a tense Loki watched. Thor said this was crazy as they were friends.

 

“I don’t think Hulk sees it that way,” Scott said as Thor sighed.

 

Hulk charged again and attacked Thor who blocked or dodged before being kicked into a wall as it smashed as Grandmaster watched gleefully.

 

“You’re gonna be feeling that in the morning Point Break,” Tony said as they winced.

 

“I can feel it now,” Thor muttered.

 

Hulk threw his hammer at Thor who jumped out of the way and it hit the wall, where it was now stuck. Hulk charged at him but Thor managed to free the hammer and hit Hulk who was sent flying off, smashing through the walls. Everyone cheered while Grandmaster was shocked and Valkyrie simply watched.

 

“Wow, you sent the Hulk flying! Why did I bother making Veronica when I had you?” Tony asked as they all stared stunned and Thor smirked.

 

Thor walked towards a dazed Hulk and holding out his hand said, "Sun's getting real low." Everyone watched in confusion as Thor repeated the words gently and said he won't hurt Hulk anymore while Hulk was puzzled too.

 

“Seriously?” Clint asked as the originals Avengers laughed, even Natasha cracked an amused smile.

 

“You’re trying lullaby?” Natasha said amused.

 

“I had to try something! I don’t wanna fight him!” Thor exclaimed.

 

For a while, it looked like Hulk would stand down. Then he grabbed Thor's hand and smashed him around as all cheered while Hulk threw him away.

 

Everyone else burst out laughing as Thor flushed.

 

“That’s what I call an epic fail!” Scott laughed.

 

"YES!" Loki cheered as he stood up, "THAT'S HOW IT FEELS!" Grandmaster looked at him in confusion and he said he was a huge fan of the sport as the two laughed. Thor got up, now pissed. He avoided Hulk's ax and hit him in the knee with the hammer, staggering him down before upper-cutting him with it. He then leapt to avoid Hulk's ax and hit his face with the hammer, staggering him away as everyone cheered. He then broke the handle of the ax with his hammer, making Hulk stagger back again while all cheered.

 

“Nice moves. Why haven’t you used any of those before?” Natasha asked and Thor shrugged.

 

Thor said he'd get Banner out as he hit Hulk hard with the hammer, making him fly back. Hulk got up and they fought as Hulk managed to disarm Thor of the hammer. "What's the matter with you? You're embarrassing me! I told them we were friends!" Thor said angrily as he avoided Hulk's blows and punched him a few times, making him stagger around. Thor leapt at Hulk and held him in a chokehold but Hulk jumped into the air before slamming on his back, crushing Thor and making him let go. They both then rolled away as Thor picked up the hammer and leapt at Hulk but he stopped it with his hand this time as everyone tensed and Loki and Grandmaster leaned forward to watch.

 

“Uh oh,” Rhodey said as Thor tensed.

 

Hulk snarled angrily as Thor laughed nervously but was punched away as everyone cringed. Hulk leapt on top of Thor and started pummeling him angrily, throwing his helmet off. Loki cringed while Grandmaster laughed.

 

Thor grimaced, as did Tony. He remembered fighting Hulk when he was under Wanda’s spell. It was not a pleasant experience.

 

Thor suddenly saw a vision of Odin standing in the grassy field in Norway.

 

“What’s that?” Peter asked as Thor frowned.

 

“I am not sure. A vision of some kind. I’ve never had one wile awake. At least not one that wasn’t caused by someone else,” Thor said and Wanda winced.

 

Suddenly, lightning emanated from Thor's body and he punched Hulk away as his helmet fell off and he fell down while everyone watched in shock, including Loki and Grandmaster, who got to his feet in shock.

 

“I can use lightning without my hammer?” Thor asked shocked.

 

“You already did,” Steve pointed out. “When you destroyed the TV.”

 

“I assumed that was a response to my emotions. And in these recordings, my hammer has been destroyed,” Thor said, in awe of the fact that he could have that much power even without Mjolnir.

 

Hulk roared and the two charged at each other, leaping to attack. Thor punched Hulk in the chest and a shockwave of lightning went around, destroying the ground as Hulk fell down. Everyone was chanting 'Thunder!' repeatedly now including Korg and the other champions.

 

“It appears there is a new favorite,” Vision noted.

 

“And a new strongest Avenger,” Tony said as Thor smirked.2

 

Hulk groaned and shook his head as Thor walked towards him. Then, Grandmaster pressed the button and the Obedience Disk activated as the toxin passed through Thor's body, sending him to the ground.

 

“Oh come on!” Thor exclaimed in exasperation.

 

“Don’t feel too bad, the fight was rigged from the start man,” Sam assured him.

 

Loki sighed as Valkyrie finished her beverage and sat in her ship. Hulk leapt high right to the top of the arena near the roof. Korg muttered, "Another day. Another Doug." Thor watched with wide eyes as Hulk leapt down. Thor put his hand in the way but was knocked out cold.

 

“That’s gonna hurt,” Clint muttered as Thor sighed.

 

“And with my defeat, I will be unable to return and help my people,” Thor grumbled.

 

“Don’t worry Thor, you’ll find a way out, you always do. And whatever happens this time, we’ll be here to help you,” Steve promised and the other Avengers nodded.

 

“Thank you my friends,” Thor said with a slight smile.

Chapter Text

Back on Asgard, Hela sat on the throne in her palace as a loud banging is heard from outside. She asks about the noise as Skurge said a resistance was trying to knock down the front gates.

 

Thor smirked with pride in his people for refusing to bow down to Hela. However, there was a hint of fear in his heart at what Hela would do to ensure their compliance.

 

“Somehow, I have a feeling that won’t work out too well for them,” Sam muttered, unknowingly voicing Thor’s thoughts.

 

“People like Hela will always try to control those who don’t obey through fear,” Steve said in a surprisingly gruff voice, thinking of Red Skull and Hydra.

She gestured to her undead Berserkers and they ran out to deal with them. Hela asked Skurge to tell her about himself. He started explaining his family history but she said she was asking about his ambition. He only wanted a chance to prove himself, recognition Hela noted.

 

“He just wants to do his part,” Steve noted, feeling empathy for Skurge as he remembered his own desire to serve his country prior to becoming Captain America.

 

Thor frowned, considering Skurge. Skurge wanted a chance to prove himself, as he himself had before Odin had banished him. And like Thor, he was making the wrong choice. Perhaps there was something he could do about that when he returned, Thor mused.

 

Hela told him when she was young all great Kings had an executioner not just to execute people but to execute their vision, but mainly to execute people. It was a great honor though.

 

“Yeah, being the executioner of a homicidal maniac must have been a huge honor,” Tony said sarcastically.

 

Tony realized his tactlessness as Natasha and Clint glared at him and everyone else shot him a look as Thor flinched.

 

“Sorry,” Tony said immediately but Thor waved him off with a sigh.

 

“It’s not as if you’re wrong,” Thor said wearily.

 

Hela got up and said she was Odin's executioner and now Skurge would be hers as she summoned a Bloodaxe and handed it to him. They were now going to begin their conquest. Hela, Skurge and the undead army arrived at the Observatory but found that Hofund was missing. Hela said that sword was the key to opening the Bifrost to other realms.

 

“That’s not gonna make her happy,” Scott noted uneasily.

 

“And how she reacts will likely not be pleasant,” Vision noted and Thor tensed.

 

Hela asked him to round up the people who weren't falling in line.

 

Thor clenched his pants legs tightly at this, worry for his people shooting through him. Sensing his concern, T’Challa placed a hand on his shoulder, hoping to comfort him.

 

In the forest of Asgard, some children and adults ran as the undead army chased after them. They bumped into someone and the man took off his hood, revealing himself to be Heimdall.

 

“Heimdall,” Thor said, smiling with relief.

 

“So that’s the famous Heimdall. He’s…thinner than I expected,” Tony said.

 

He brandished his sword and swiftly took down 5 of the undead Berserkers before telling them to follow him.

 

“That was awesome!” Peter cheered as Thor smirked.

 

“Heimdall is more than just a gatekeeper,” Thor said simply.

 

He led them to an ancient Asgardian stronghold, pressing his hand on runes to open it. Several Asgardian refugees were in there, safe. He told them they'd be safe too and led them in there as they reunited with loved ones.

 

Thor was relieved that at least some of his people were safe. But as long as Hela was on Asgard, no one’s safety was guaranteed, Thor thought grimly.

 

On Sakaar, Thor was being washed up and bandaged by nurses when he woke up with a roar and they all ran off. He got up and looked around, shirtless. Thor then found his Sakaarian armor and put it back on before hearing a sound in the water and turned to see Hulk there. He asked if they were cool and Hulk nodded as Thor gave him a thumbs up and joked how Hulk was in a hot tub.

 

“Well, that’s something I thought I’d never hear,” Clint said amused as they all laughed.

 

Thor asked how long Hulk had been big, green and stupid and Hulk said he was always Hulk.

 

“So since Sokovia then,” Natasha whispered.

                                                                                                                                

“And now he can speak in full sentences,” Tony said.

 

“I guess the longer he stays as The Hulk, the more intelligent he becomes,” Vision noted.

 

Thor asked how he had gotten here and Hulk said by winning as Thor said it was cheating, pointing out the Obedience Disk.

 

Thor crossed his arms, muttering about handicaps and cheating grandmasters as everyone laughed at him.

 

Thor asked how Hulk had gotten here and he did a swirling motion with his hand into the water, saying it was a Quinjet. Thor eagerly asked where it was now and Hulk got out of the bath, making Thor close his eyes due to the nakedness. He walked past Thor who said it was in his brain.

 

“And now it’s in my brain,” Tony said with a grimace.

 

“It’s in all of our brains,” Scott said as they all grimaced.

 

“I did not need to see that,” Clint said disgusted.

 

“Seriously,” Peter agreed, looking a little green.

 

“Why’d they make us see that?” Wanda asked, looking nauseous.

 

Suddenly, a post it note appeared on Tony’s head. He pulled it off and looked at it.

 

“If we had to suffer through it making this, so do you guys watching it,” Tony read.

 

“Oh that’s fair,” Sam grumbled.

 

“Wizards are never fair,” Thor deadpanned.

 

Hulk pointed at the Quinjet outside the window and Thor noticed, feeling happy.

 

“There it is. Now I just need to get to it,” Thor said eagerly.

 

“I have a feeling it won’t be that easy Thor,” Steve pointed out.

 

Hulk wore a towel and sat down, eating as Thor said he was getting them out of this awful place and that Hulk was gonna love Asgard. Hulk said he'd stay but Thor said his people needed him as he put on his gauntlets, telling him they must prevent Ragnarok which was the prophesized death of his home world but Hulk interrupted him by yawning loudly.

 

“It doesn’t look like Hulk wants to leave,” Peter noted.

 

Thor said if Hulk helped him in getting back to Asgard, he'd help Hulk in getting back to Earth. Hulk said Earth hated him.

 

“Because of me,” Wanda said guiltily.

 

“Not just because of you kid,” Clint said as he placed a hand on her shoulder.

 

“Clint’s right. What you did may have worsened the issue, but even before that, for everyone that loved the Hulk, there were just as many people who were terrified of him and wanted him captured or contained,” Natasha told her.1

 

“And blaming yourself won’t help in any case,” Steve pointed out.

 

After a moment, Wanda nodded. She wasn’t sure she believed them, but Steve was right that blaming herself was not going to change what she had done. She couldn’t take back what she did, no matter how much she wanted to. All she could do was move forward.

 

Thor said Earth loved him as he was one of the Avengers and one of his friends. Friends supported one another. Hulk said Thor was Banner's friend but Thor said he preferred Hulk to him and that he didn't even like Banner who was into numbers and science.

 

“So that’s why we don’t get along,” Tony joked.

 

“I’m desperate and trying to convince him to help me get home!” Thor exclaimed.

 

Hulk said Thor would go and he'd stay and Thor angrily turned around, saying the place was hideous due to red and white and they should just pick a color. Hulk said he had smashed Thor but Thor said he hadn't smashed anything and he had won their fight.

 

“I would have if that lunatic hadn’t interfered,” Thor grumbled, his pride still sore.

 

Hulk said Thor had baby arms and Thor called him a moron as Hulk threw his fruit and Thor avoided, calling Hulk a big child. Hulk told Thor to go and he said he was before a red barrier stopped him, dazing him and he fell down while Hulk laughed and told Thor to go again.

 

Thor groaned as everyone else laughed at his expense.

 

“Oh laugh it up, go ahead,” Thor grumbled.

 

Hulk said this was 'Thor home' as Thor got up, staring out the window at the Quinjet. Hulk put on his armor and picked his hammer, saying he'd train as Valkyrie arrived. The two walked off, with her calling him big guy and him calling her angry girl. She asked what he was up to and he said winning and she laughed.

 

“”They seem to get along well,” Natasha noted.

 

“She’s angry, he’s angry. Makes sense,” Tony said and she nodded

 

Later, Thor looked down at the Quinjet again before closing his eyes and asking Heimdall to help him see. Heimdall saw and heard him and as Thor opened his eyes, they had the same color as Heimdall's and he was standing in Asgard.

 

“Wait, he can do that?” Rhodey asked all of them shocked as Thor nodded.

 

“To members of the royal family, yes, he can give them his sight for brief moments. Although it takes a lot of practice,” Thor explained.

 

Heimdall said he saw Thor but he was far away. Thor asked what was going on and Heimdall told Thor to see for himself. Thor walked forward and saw the people hidden and Asgard was on fire. Heimdall said he was providing refuge in a stronghold built by their ancestors but would have to escape via Bifrost if the garrison failed. Thor realized Heimdall wanted to evacuate Asgard.

 

“Evacuation,” Thor said in shock.

 

“I don’t think Hela is giving them much choice,” Clint and Thor sighed.

 

“I just never thought it would come to this,” Thor said sadly.

 

Hearing the sound of a growl, the pair and the refugees sprang to the corners as some of Hela’s Berserkers passed, thankfully not seeing them. Heimdall said they wouldn't last long if they stayed because Hela's power grew the longer she was on Asgard.

 

“If she’s not stopped soon, she’ll be unstoppable,” Natasha noted and Thor paled.

 

Heimdall led the refugees to safety and said Hela would consume the Nine Realms and Cosmos if they let her leave. They needed Thor. Thor said he was working on it but didn't even know where he was. Heimdall said he was on a planet surrounded by gateways and needed to walk through one. Thor asked which one and Heimdall said the big one before brandishing his sword and killing a Berserker through Thor who disappeared and was back at Sakaar.

 

“This is bad. Like really, really bad,” Scott said uneasily as tension filled the room.

 

“No kidding Tic-Tac,” Sam muttered.

 

At night, Thor tried to rip the Obedience Disk out but it didn't come off. Hulk was awakened by the noise and sat up in bed. Thor was sitting sadly as Hulk said 'Thor sad' but Thor said he wasn't. Hulk walked over to him and again said 'Thor sad'. Hulk pushed him off before Thor angrily got up and said he wasn't sad but pissed off. He angrily said he had lost him father and hammer as he kicked a piece of Hulk’s armor. Hulk said he whined and cried like baby while Thor angrily kicked stuff at him, saying he wasn't listening. Hulk threw stuff back as Thor said he was being a bad friend but Hulk called him bad friend. Thor then angrily said everyone called him ' the stupid Avenger' while Hulk called him 'tiny Avenger' and threw a shield which Thor barely avoided. It could have seriously injured him.

 

“Hey, that could have killed me!” Thor shouted.

 

“Well, you’re both acting like one of my daughter’s friends when they thaw a temper tantrum,” Scott said and shrugged when Thor shot a look. “Hey, I’m just saying!”

 

“He’s not wrong,” Clint said and Thor sighed in defeat.

 

Thor angrily asked if Hulk was crazy, which Hulk said he was as he picked up a large mace. Thor angrily said Earth did hate Hulk, which seemed to hurt his feelings as he put down his mace and turned away angrily, throwing his arms in the air.

 

“Looks like you hurt his feelings,” Rhodey said as Thor sighed guiltily.

 

He then sat angrily as Thor sighed before he walked towards him regretfully but Hulk shook his head and turned away.

 

“He’s kind of like a big toddler,” Clint noted and Scott and Natasha, the only other people in the room who had been around young children as adults, nodded in agreement.

 

Thor apologized for saying those stupid things and said nobody called him the stupid Avenger. Hulk said it was okay as Thor said he couldn't throw shields at people as it could have killed him. Hulk apologized and said he was just angry all the time. Thor said they were the same, a couple of hotheaded fools.

 

“You two do have a lot in common,” Natasha noted and Thor nodded.

 

“Perhaps,” Thor agreed.

 

Hulk disagreed, saying he was like fire while Thor was like water. Thor said both were like fire but then Hulk said he was like raging fire while Thor liked smoldering fire and Thor laughed before asking Hulk to do something for him.

 

“Looks like you have a plan,” Wanda noted and Thor nodded.

 

“Indeed little witch,” Thor said with a smirk, already having an idea about what it was.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Valkyrie arrived in the chamber, kicking a guard's weapon for fun. Hulk raised his hammer as he greeted her. She rushed over to him, avoiding his hammer and kicked him on the back, making him fall down.

 

“The Hulk’s acting like a big kid,” Peter noted with surprise.

 

“I guess in a lot of ways, he is one,” Steve mused.

 

She laughed, asking what was going on until Thor revealed himself. She angrily said he was really thick-headed if he didn't get how someone who was hiding across the other side of the Universe wanted to be left alone. Thor said they needed to talk but she wasn’t interested and started to walk out. Thor told Hulk wanted her to stay so Hulk ripped off a piece of his bed and threw it in her way, telling her to stay and adding 'please' as Thor said 'please' too.

 

“Well that was a little extreme,” Scott said.

 

“That’s Hulk for you,” Tony shrugged.

 

Valkyrie picked up a drink and said she'd listen to him until this was finished. She started drinking as Thor tried explaining Asgard was in danger and they needed her help but she finished her drink and dropped it, walking off, to Thor's shock.

 

“Whoa,” Thor said as they all stared in shock.

 

“Even I couldn’t do that back when I was partying,” Tony said.

 

“She puts a Russian to shame,” Natasha noted.

 

Thor said Odin was dead and she stopped as he said Hela the Goddess of Death had invaded Asgard. Valkyrie said if Hela had invaded Asgard it was already lost but Thor said he was going to stop her. She asked if it was just him and Thor said, "Nope. I'm putting together a team. It's me, you, and the big guy." Hulk was playing with a huge ball and said, "No. No team. Only Hulk." Thor said, "It's me and you." Valkyrie said, "I think it's only you."

 

“You are really bad at this Thor,” Rhodey said.

 

Thor shrugged, seeming unconcerned and everyone eyed him, sensing that they were missing something.

 

She walked away but Thor stepped in her way, begging her to listen and said Valkyrie were Elite legendary warriors of Asgard and was sworn to defend the throne. Valkyrie said she wasn't going to be part of any more family squabbles as Hela's power came from Asgard. When she had grown beyond Odin's control, she had massacred everyone in the palace for the throne. Odin banished her and, when she tried to escape, Odin had sent the Valkyrie to fight her back. She had survived but is clearly holding something back.

 

Natasha narrowed her eyes at this. Being someone who was haunted by traumatic experiences in her past, she was able to recognize that Valkyrie was cut from the same cloth as her.

 

That had been when Valkyrie had believed in the throne and it had cost her everything. And that was what was wrong with Asgard, she said as she tried to walk out.

 

“She’s not wrong,” Thor said with a grimace. “It’s why I turned down the throne.”

 

“When we return, you can change that,” T’Challa said as he placed a hand on Thor’s shoulder. “We cannot be defined by our father’s mistakes. We must not.”

 

“Aye,” Thor said after a moment, a fire entering his eyes. “I will. For the sake of all people in all realms, I will.”

 

Thor tried to stop her but she put her knives on his throat, telling him not to get familiar. Thor put them down and said he agreed with her. It was why he had turned down the throne but this was about the people who were dying and they were her people too. She pushed him off and told him to forget it like she had. Thor agreed before thanking her. She asked for what and he lifted the remote of the Obedience Disk, saying for this and that she hadn't seen that coming.

 

“You never expected her to help you, you wanted the remote,” Natasha realized as they all turned to Thor, impressed.

 

“Not bad,” Clint said impressed.

 

“I have picked up a few tricks from you two over the years,” Thor said with a smirk.

 

Thor then pressed the remote and the Obedience Disk came off.

 

“And now that that infernal device is off me, it is well past time for me to, what do you say on this planet, make a break for it,” Thor said.

 

Thor said she could stay here enslave more people for the lunatic and drink and hide but he chose to run towards his problems and not away from them. Hulk threw him the ball and he threw it at the window, "Because that's what he-" He was cut off when the ball bounced back and hit his head, making him fall down.

 

“Oh come on!” Thor cried, embarrassed as everyone else laughed at him.

 

“Another epic fail!” Scott laughed as Thor sighed.

 

Thor got back up and said, "Because that's what heroes do."

 

“Damn right,” Clint said, all of agreeing with that.

 

He then leapt out of the window, shattering it and then leapt down via buildings before landing in the city as Hulk roared, "Friend stay!"

 

“Aw, he doesn’t want you to go,” Scott said sadly.

 

“I have to save my people,” Thor said even as he felt a little regretful.

 

“He must be lonely there though,” Peter noted and it as silent as they all considered Hulk.

 

“Once we return, I will bring him back,” Thor promised.

 

Thor ran through Sakaar, eventually finding the Quinjet. He opened the hatch and jumped inside. He walked up to the front, finding all systems were still working and put his hand on a pad. The automation asked him for voice recognition and he said 'Thor', only for access to be denied. He then said 'Thor, son of Odin’ but was told access denied. He tried ‘God of Thunder' and access was denied again so he said 'Strongest Avenger' twice in different ways but access was denied both times. “Damn you Stark,” Thor said in frustration.

 

“Come on, did you really think I’d make it that easy? What if Loki came back and impersonated you?” Tony pointed out at Thor’s look. “Had to be something personal that only you would know.”

 

Thor then said 'Point Break' and access was granted.

 

“Why am I not surprised?” Thor asked in exasperation.

 

“Because Tony has the maturity of a twelve year old,” Rhodey said and Tony shot him a betrayed look. “Hey, you know it’s true.”

 

Then Hulk arrived, ripping open the back of the Quinjet and asking Thor to stay as he entered the Quinjet, breaking more of the Quinjet with Thor telling him to stop.

 

“Damn it!” Thor swore as they all tensed.

 

“You cannot seem to catch a break in this movie,” Scott noted.

 

“Tell me about it,” Thor grumbled.

 

Thor pressed some buttons in an attempt to start the Quinjet and then Natasha's face appeared. It was the recording of when she had asked Hulk to turn the Quinjet around after Ultron's defeat. Seeing that, Hulk started slapping himself and contorted violently, his skin color alternating between green and normal as Hulk and Banner fought for control. His body kept shrinking or enlarging until he shrunk down finally and was of human size again.

 

Natasha appeared emotionless as everyone shot her concerned looks. However, they wisely chose to let sleeping dogs lie. Whatever was happening with her right now was her business.

 

Thor went towards Banner who was startled but Thor calmed him down, saying 'sun was getting real low' and he wouldn't hurt him anymore. Bruce finally recognized Thor and asked what had happened to his hair, to which he said a creepy old guy had cut it off. Bruce said he liked it and Thor thanked him.

 

“You should cut it like that, it looks good,” Natasha said as he glanced over at Thor.

 

“Thank you,” Thor said.

 

Bruce asked where they were and if the others were okay, asking about Sokovia and if they had saved it. Thor then gently told him that it was 3 years ago, shocking him as he realized he had been Hulk for 3 years.

 

“So then this is two years into the future,” Wanda mused.

 

“It seems so,” Vision agreed.

 

Bruce took off the huge garlands Hulk used to wear and touched the pad and accessed via voice recognition, with the automation calling him 'Strongest Avenger' to Thor's annoyance.

 

“You did that just to annoy me, didn’t you?” Thor deadpanned as Tony laughed.

 

“No but it worked out great!” Tony said as he laughed.

 

Thor and Bruce then saw footage of Hulk being sucked out of the Quinjet. Bruce asked Thor where they were when a hologram of Grandmaster appeared on the streets, saying his beloved Champion had gone missing and everyone must take to the streets to celebrate him. Thor told Bruce he ran the place and that Bruce had lived in his house for a while, shocking him again as Thor said a lot had happened to them. They had had a fight and Thor had won easily though Bruce didn't think it sounded right.

 

“I would have won if the fight wasn’t rigged!” Thor snapped.

 

“We know Thor,” Steve assured him.

 

“I imagine you’ll get your chance in a fair fight soon,” T’Challa said and Thor smirked.

 

“Indeed,” Thor agreed.

 

Grandmaster said the seductive Lord of Thunder had stolen away his champion and Thor angrily said it was seductive God of Thunder as he moved to the bags in the ship as Bruce looked on the verge of a panic attack. Bruce then said he was freaking out and Thor told him not to, giving him Tony's clothes and saying Tony wasn't here when Bruce asked. He then massaged Bruce's shoulders as he led him out, constantly saying 'sun's getting real low.'

 

“If you keep doing that, you’re just gonna annoy him,” Rhodey pointed out and Thor grimaced.

 

“Which would be bad,” Thor acknowledged.

 

At the palace, Loki and Valkyrie were brought before Grandmaster who was upset his champion was gone. Loki interrupted him and Grandmaster called him out on it as Topaz handed him the melt stick but he said interrupting wasn't a capital violation.

Grandmaster said his champion was missing because of the Lord of Thunder, blaming them because he was Loki’s brother and Valkyrie had brought him Thor. Loki said he could bring them both back alive within 12 hours. Valkyrie said she could do it in 2 and Loki said he could do it in 1.

 

“Are they seriously competing for this guy’s favor?” Sam asked in disbelief.

 

“On a world such as this, it is probably wise to be in favor of the person in charge,” Vision noted.

 

Grandmaster said he had woken up in the morning dreaming of public execution but was gonna settle for 'who's gonna get him first', moving weirdly.

 

“This guy really is a creep,” Scott said as they all eyed the screen disturbed.

 

Grandmaster dismissed them and the two walked out as Loki asked what Valkyrie had done. She said she didn't answer to him and called him lackey.

 

“Lackey?!” Tony exclaimed as they all laughed.

 

“Oh god, that is never going away!” Rhodey said with a laugh.

 

He grabbed her wrist and said it was Loki and she would answer to Grandmaster. She freed her wrist, smirking as Loki pulled out a knife, asking why she had helped them escape and she said she didn't help anyone as she pulled out her own knife.

 

“No kidding,” Thor grumbled.

 

The two ended up fighting for a bit and she staggered him back. She smirked before they fought again as Loki noticed the mark on her arm and realized she was a Valkyrie. She kicked him down and he hit the wall, saying he'd thought they had all died gruesome deaths. She angrily placed her foot on his chest, slamming his back against the wall as she told him to choose his next words wisely. He sarcastically apologized, saying it must be a painful memory as he touched her forehead and her mind flashed back to the fight against Hela. She and several other Valkyries flew on flying horses to attack Hela but she threw Necroswords and killed them all. Valkyrie continued to fight on but Hela threw a large Necrosword at Valkyrie but another one stepped in the way and died instead.

 

Everyone was silent as they considered what Valkyrie had been through. To lose friends, family even, was obviously an incredibly traumatic experience. They all felt their sympathy go out to Valkyrie. Steve especially, having lost everyone he had grown up knowing, felt sympathy for Valkyrie.

 

Coming back to the present, Valkyrie angrily knocked Loki away and punched him.

 

Thor and Bruce were wandering the streets, with the latter in Tony's clothes as the former kept saying 'sun's getting real low' until Bruce told him to stop saying that.

 

“Told ya,” Rhodey said pointedly and Thor sighed.

 

They sat down as Thor said he wanted Bruce to stay calm but he was on an alien planet and had only been on one planet before. Thor said now it was 2 and it was a new experience as Bruce said his neurons were firing faster than his brain could handle. Till now, it was like he and Hulk each had a hand on a wheel but now it was like Hulk had taken the keys and locked him in the trunk.

 

“Seems pretty accurate,” Scott noted.

 

Bruce said if he turned into Hulk again, he may not come back and now they were stranded on a planet designed to stress him out. Thor said they weren't and he'd find a way home so Bruce thanked him. Then Thor said his home Asgard, not Earth, shocking Bruce. Thor said his people were in great danger and the two had to fight a powerful being who also happened to be his sister. Bruce said that was gross and he doesn't want to get involved in a family issue.

 

“A family issue that will involve the entire cosmos if she is not stopped,” Vision noted as they all tensed.

 

“I am not explaining it well,” Thor sighed.

 

Thor again said she was an evil being but Bruce said he didn't care and didn't want to fight any more being as he was sick of it.

 

“It’s understandable. He’s spent the better part of the last ten years fighting to control the Hulk and failing. Now he’d just like to live in peace,” Steve said as they all felt sympathy for Bruce.

 

“We don’t always get what we want though,” Clint noted.

 

Bruce again said he'd never come back if he turned into Hulk again but Thor said he was putting together a team and Hulk was the fire. Bruce turned away, saying Thor was using him to get to Hulk and wasn't his friend.

 

“You are being a jerk. And coming from me, that’s saying something,” Tony said.

 

“Well excuse me, but I’m desperate to stop my evil sister from slaughtering my people and ruling the cosmos!” Thor snapped.

 

Thor said he didn't even like Hulk who was all 'smash' but actually preferred Bruce.

 

“You realize he’s heard that one before, right?” Natasha asked amused as Thor flushed.

 

“Hulk has, Banner hasn’t,” Clint pointed out.

 

Thor then said that to fight evil beings though, Hulk was more powerful and useful. Bruce said he was powerful as Hulk had zero PhDs while he had 7.

 

“He has seven PHDs? Awesome,” Peter said in awe.

 

“Yes yes, it’s very impressive but not what my people need right now,” Thor grumbled.

 

Thor gave in, saying Bruce didn't have to fight anyone but were in danger so they needed to move. Thor then put on a shawl, saying he was a fugitive and needed a disguise.

 

“It’s not a very good one,” Wanda noted.

 

“Well it’s all I have right now,” Thor said with a sigh.

 

Bruce said he needed a disguise but Thor said he was the disguise. Bruce then put on Tony's glasses and said he'd be Tony Stark and they'd be like Tony and the Gypsy.

 

“Sounds like a sitcom from the eighties,” Rhodey said as they all laughed.

 

“He can’t be me. There can only be one of me. If there were two of me, the universe would explode from my awesomeness,” Tony joked as the Avengers all gave a long suffering sigh at his antics.

 

“More like it couldn’t handle more than one Tony Stark,” Clint muttered.

 

Thor said he wasn't Tony but Bruce Banner so Bruce asked why he'd dressed him up like Tony and Thor pointed out he was naked.

 

“And thank you for that,” Rhodey told Thor as they all looked a little green.

 

Bruce started tightening the pants and Thor tried to stop him as Bruce said Tony wore his pants really tight.

 

“I do not!” Tony protested as they all laughed. “I don’t!”

 

“Sure Tony, we believe you,” Rhodey said without an ounce of sincerity.

 

Thor asked why he was being so weird and Bruce said he'd been trapped inside of Hulk was 3 years so that had made him a little weird, his skin slowly turning green as he said that and his voice becoming guttural.

 

“You need to keep him calm,” Vision noted.

 

“I hadn’t noticed,” Thor said sarcastically.

 

Thor calmed him down and said they'd go to Asgard and he'd never have to worry about Hulk ever again. Then a green powder hit Bruce in the face, making him cough as there was an entire procession for Hulk on the streets, with balloons and signs. Thor covered his face with the shawl as he spotted a guard and said this was bad before seeing Bruce was missing and started looking for him, calling out his name.

 

“That’s what you call ironic,” Scott said as Thor groaned.

 

“Just great,” Thor grumbled.

 

Thor tried to look for Bruce and eventually found him but Bruce bumped into an alien who looked at him menacingly as it snarled at him.

 

“Shit,” Clint said and Natasha swore in Russian as they all tensed.

 

Thor stepped protectively in front of Bruce when an Obedience Disk activated on the alien, knocking it out to reveal Valkyrie standing there.

 

“So now she’s helping you?” Wanda asked confused.

 

“It would seem so,” Thor said, looking as confused as her.

 

The two greeted each other as Thor said he was gonna do that and she said she did it first. She asked why he was still here and he said he got side-tracked. She asked about the shawl and he said it was his disguise. She said she could see his face and he covered it, saying now she couldn't.

 

“And I’m sure no one will notice the guy covering his face as they’re searching for someone. Great job at blending in,” Clint said sarcastically as Thor flushed.

 

Thor said her hair looked nice and asked if she'd changed or washed it. With an amused smile, she gestured them to follow her and led them to her apartment as Bruce asked what were those things on her eyes and said she was beautiful, courageous and strong.

 

“It appears that Dr. Banner has a crush,” T’Challa noted.

 

The original Avengers looked over at Natasha, wondering if she’d react to that, but she didn’t seem affected in the slightest. They weren’t sure whether that was good or bad.

 

Valkyrie asked who he was and Thor said he was a friend. She said she felt like she knew him and he said he felt that too.

 

“Because they do,” Scott said as several snickers broke out.

 

Valkyrie said she'd been trying to forget her past and Sakaar felt like the perfect place to drink, forget and die one day. Thor said she drank too much and that could probably kill her. She said she was still gonna drink but not forget and if she was gonna die, she might as well be driving her sword through that murderous hag.

 

“Well, looks like you finally got your team,” Sam noted.

 

She said she wanted to be on the team and asked if it had a name. "Yeah, it's called the Revengers," Thor said. "Because I'm getting revenge. You're getting revenge."

 

“So original Point Break,” Tony said sarcastically.

 

“Well I’m sorry that I’ve been more concerned with escaping than coming up with a team name,” Thor said sarcastically as well.

 

Thor asked Bruce if he wanted revenge but he was undecided. Valkyrie said she had a peace offering and opened her apartment door. "Surprise," A chained Loki said.

 

“Ah revenge is sweet,” Clint said gleefully as he smirked and Wanda and Natasha glanced at him amused.

 

Thor threw something at him and it hit his head, with Thor saying he needed to make sure as the three of them entered the room.

 

“A wise precaution,” T’Challa noted and Thor shrugged.

 

“He’s pulled that trick far too many times,” Thor said simply.

 

“Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” Steve said and Thor nodded.

 

Loki greeted Bruce and Bruce said Loki was trying to kill everybody last time he had seen him and asked where he was at the moment, to which Loki said it varied moment to moment. Thor found a Dragonfang, the famed sword of the Valkyries, awing him.

 

“The Dragonfang,” Thor said in awe. “I’ve always wanted to see it with my own eyes.”

 

“Did I look that bad when we saw Wakanda?” Tony asked Rhodey in a whisper.

 

“Worse. At least he’s not drooling,” Rhodey said, laughing at the look on Tony’s face.

 

Valkyrie said they could go out through a wormhole, refuel in Xandar and reach Asgard in 18 months but Thor said they were going through the big one, gesturing to the worm hole visible in the distance. Valkyrie said it was called the Devil's Anus.

 

“The Devil’s Anus!” Tony exclaimed as they all laughed.

 

“Who the hell named it that?!” Scott asked as he laughed, almost rolling on the floor.

 

“Probably that idiot,” Sam said as they all laughed even harder.

 

They laughed for several moments before managing to gain control of themselves. Once they did, Tony resumed the recording.

 

Thor said he didn't know it when he had picked that and Bruce said it looked like a collapsing neutron star on an Einstein-Rosen Bridge as he ate something. Valkyrie said they'd need another ship as this would tear hers to pieces and Thor said they needed one that could withstand the geodetic strain from the singularity. Bruce said it also needed an offline power steering system that could function without on board computers.

 

“Did you just hold a scientific conversation with Bruce?” Tony asked, looking shocked as Thor shrugged.

 

“Asgard is centuries beyond Earth. I may not be as fluent in the science as Banner, but I know more than you think,” Thor said.

 

Valkyrie said they'd need one with cup holders because if they were gonna die, it better be while drinking. Bruce again said he felt like he knew her and she said she felt that too. Thor and Bruce fist-bumped, excited for the adventure. Loki tried to speak but Valkyrie threw a bottle near him and it shattered.

 

“She needs to rein in her excitement,” Steve noted.

 

Loki said Grandmaster had many ships and he had stolen the access codes to his security system. Valkyrie joked how he was overcome with the urge to do the right thing but he said he had run out of favor with the Grandmaster and in exchange for codes and access to a ship, he was asking for safe passage through the Anus.

 

“How can he say that with a straight face?” Tony wondered.

 

“Knowing Loki, he’s laughing on the inside,” Thor noted.

 

Thor asked if he could get them inside without triggering the alarms and he said he could. Bruce takes Thor and Valkyrie aside and said Loki was ready to kill them a few minutes ago and Valkyrie said he had tried to kill her. Thor said he had tried to kill him too multiple times and told of one such story.

 

"There was one time when we were children, he transformed himself into a snake, and he knows that I love snakes. So, I went to pick up the snake to admire it, and he transformed back into himself and he was like, "Yeah, it's me!" And he stabbed me. We were eight at the time," Loki smirked.

 

“Did that really happen?” Peter asked and Thor nodded.

 

“So even as a kid he was a lunatic,” Clint muttered.

 

They said they needed to draw out the palace guards as Loki suggested unleashing the beast but Thor and Bruce shut him up and quelled Valkyrie’s questions. Thor said they were going to start a revolution instead, to the confusion of Bruce and Valkyrie.

 

“I think I get where you’re going with this. I like your style Point Break,” Tony said as Thor smirked.

 

“Thank you Stark,” Thor said simply.

 

In Grandmaster’s prison, Korg and Miek sat together as the former inquired about the latter's secretions, asking if it was protoplasm or eggs and went with eggs.

 

“Ew!” Wanda exclaimed as they all looked disgusted.

 

“That’s gross,” Natasha said looking green.

 

“That’s an understatement,” Sam muttered.

 

Then the wall exploded and all the Obedience Disks deactivated as Valkyrie walked in holding a big gun, saying she was looking for Korg. Korg asked who was asking, asking if anyone else was asking. "The Lord of Thunder sends his best," She said as she tossed him the gun. "The revolution has begun," Korg said as he cocked the gun.

 

“Well, that’s one way to draw them out,” Steve said with a smirk.

 

“Things are about to get pretty difficult for the Grandmaster,” Thor said with his own smirk.

Chapter Text

As his guards went out to deal with the unrest, Grandmaster asked Topaz how the revolution had happened and she said the area's mainframe for Obedience Disks was deactivated and the slaves had armed themselves. Grandmaster said he didn't like that word and she asked which one, to which he said the 'S' word. She corrected herself that the prisoners with jobs had armed themselves and he found that better.

 

“Yeah, because that makes it so much better,” Clint said sarcastically.

 

“Changing the word doesn’t make it any less true,” Steve said disgusted, a feeling they all shared.

 

Elsewhere, Loki started accessing the codes as Thor said they should talk but Loki said open communication wasn't their family's forte.

 

Thor sighed, knowing that was true. Him, Loki, their father, the whole family was just one dysfunctional mess. Was it truly any wonder Loki and Hela had gone down the paths they had, Thor mused.

 

Thor agreed, saying there had been quite a revelation since they last spoke. Then the doors opened to reveal several of Grandmaster’s guards. The two greeted them before opening fire, killing several guards before taking cover as Loki said Odin had brought them together and it was almost poetic his death had split them apart.

 

“Yeah, talk about irony,” Scott noted as Thor winced.

 

The two then jumped out and killed more guards with Loki saying they might as well be strangers now. Two sons of the crown set adrift, Loki said as he opened another doorway.

 

Seeing the wounded expression on Thor’s face, everyone felt sympathy as T’Challa placed a hand on his shoulder. Loki may be self-serving, treacherous, and, at times, a murderous psycho, but he was also Thor’s brother for thousands of years. Steve and Wanda in particular could understand how Thor must be feeling as they thought of Bucky and Pietro respectively.  

 

Loki was about to go through it when a guard with a gun stopped him. He was about to fire when Thor struck the gun, lowering it and the impact set off the gun and sent the alien flying up.

 

“Nice one Point Break,” Tony said and Thor shrugged.

 

Thor said Loki didn't want to talk about it as the two walked off.

 

They were later going down in an elevator as Loki said he'd be better off in Sakaar and Thor agreed with him, to Loki’s surprise. Thor said this place was chaotic, lawless, savage and perfect for him so he'd do great here. Loki asked if Thor really thought so little of him.

 

“No Loki, I thought the world of you,” Thor said softly but everyone heard him.

 

Thor said he had thought the world of him, thinking they were gonna fight side by side forever. "But at the end of the day, you're you and I'm me," Thor finished.

 

“Thing change, that’s just part of life,” Steve said gently. “It’s how we respond to those changes that makes us who we are.”

 

“Wise words Captain,” T’Challa said as Thor looked thoughtful.

 

Thor said there might still be good in Loki but their paths diverged a long time ago and Loki, seeming sad, agreed, saying it's better they never see each other again. What Loki had always wanted, Thor noted with a pat on the back. And then they stood silently for a few moments.

 

"Hey, let's do ‘Get Help’," Thor suddenly said. " What?" "‘Get Help’," Thor reminded. "No." “Come on, you love it," Thor said. "I hate it," Loki snorted. "It's great. It works every time," Thor said. "It's humiliating," Loki said. "Do you have a better plan?" Thor asked. "No." "We're doing it," Thor said. "We are not doing ‘Get Help’," Loki said.

 

“I love ‘Get Help’,” Thor said with a smile as he brightened.

 

“What is ‘Get Help’?” Natasha asked as they all looked at Thor curiously.

 

“Just watch, you’ll love it,” Thor assured her.

 

Thor ran out of the lift, supporting Loki who appeared to be dying as some guards saw them. "Get help! Please! My brother, he's dying. Get help! Help him!" And then Thor threw him into the guards, knocking them all out.

 

“Classic,” Thor said as they all laughed. Even Vision let out a chuckle at this.

 

“Oh my god!” Rhodey said as he laughed.

 

“You just threw him!” Scott said, almost collapsing to the floor in laughter.

 

“This is the greatest day of my life!” Clint said as he laughed. “You think they’ll let me take this home?”

 

“It’s you, so chances are pretty good,” Natasha said as they gained control of their laughter.

 

"Classic," Thor said with a laugh. "Still hate it," Loki said as he got up. "It's humiliating." "Not for me, it's not," Thor said.

 

“You’re not the one thrown into the air,” Wanda noted.

 

“Which is what makes it fun,” Thor chuckled.

 

Thor asked which ship it was and Loki pointed at one called the 'Commodore.' They walked towards it but Loki formed and illusion and the real one walked towards the ship as he said it wouldn't make much of a difference. Thor stopped as illusion Loki next to him disappeared and the real one pressed the alarm, saying it was nothing personal but the reward for his capture was gonna set him up forever.

 

“That son of a bitch,” Tony snarled as they all glared at the screen.

 

“He’s becoming rather predictable at this point,” Thor noted, not surprised.

 

“You have a plan then?” Sam asked and Thor shrugged.

 

“I have my suspicions,” Thor said vaguely.

 

Thor said Loki never was one for sentiment and Loki said it was easier to let it burn. Thor agreed to Loki's shock and revealed a remote in his hand. A shocked Loki searched for the Obedience Disk which was on his back when Thor pressed the remote, sending the toxin through him as he fell down.

 

“Payback’s a bitch,” Clint said gleefully as Thor chuckled.

 

“Nice job Thor,” Natasha said and he shrugged.

 

“He’s becoming predictable at this point. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me thrice, well, then it’s just getting ridiculous,” Thor said as they all nodded in agreement.

 

Thor walked over, noting it looked painful before he kneeled close to Loki.

 

"Dear brother, you're becoming predictable. I trust you, you betray me. Round and round in circles we go. See, Loki, life is about... It's about growth. It's about change. But you seem to just wanna stay the same. I guess what I'm trying to say is that you'll always be the God of Mischief, but you could be more."

 

Thor sighed sadly. His brother could be so much more, he thought in irritation, if he wasn’t so self-serving.

 

Thor threw the remote off, saying he was gonna put this over there for him and wished him luck before walking to the ship as Loki continued spasming.

 

Everyone got a laugh out of that as Thor managed a smirk.

 

“Poetic justice,” Rhodey chuckled.

 

Thor entered the ship and sat in the pilot’s chair, trying to figure it out. He managed to finally start it, taking off into the sky. Grandmaster's hologram appeared and said the Lord of Thunder had stolen his ship and favorite champion so everyone must stop him from leaving the planet.

 

“In the last two recordings we got a car chase, now we’re getting a space ship chase,” Peter noted.

 

“I guess we do have a thing for chases,” Steve noted s the Avengers exchanged a glance, each remembering a chase of some kind.

 

An attack ship fired at Thor but Valkyrie destroyed it with hers as Bruce complimented her shot and she told Thor to open the doors. Thor did and she told Bruce she hoped he was tougher than he looked. He asked why and his seat shot up, sending him into Thor's ship as he groaned, clinging to the floor while Thor laughed.

 

“It’s a flying Hulk,” Tony joked and everyone shook their heads in exasperation.

 

Topaz and others fired at them as Bruce asked if they should be shooting back. Thor agreed, asking Valkyrie where the guns were. Valkyrie said there were no weapons on this ship as it was a leisure vessel, being used for orgies and stuff.

 

“I know I was asleep for sixty years, but do orgies still mean…” Steve trailed off.

 

“Yes,” Natasha said as everyone looked disgusted.

 

“Ew,” Wanda said, crinkling her nose in disgust.

 

“At least you don’t have to touch anything,” Thor said disgusted.

 

Bruce and Thor were both disgusted as the latter told the former not to touch anything.

 

Topaz fired at Valkyrie's ship, destroying an engine. As Topaz continued firing at her ship, Valkyrie climbed up with Dragonfang. Topaz destroyed her ship as Thor and Bruce screamed in horror but Valkyrie leapt on their ship, grabbing on.

 

“It will take more than that to kill an Asgardian,” Thor said with a smirk.

 

Thor told her to get inside and she said it'd take a minute. Valkyrie leapt at a ship and destroyed it with a slice of Dragonfang before leaping away.

 

“She’s a badass!” Scott said as they all watched, impressed.

 

“She’s a Valkyrie,” Thor said as if that explained everything.

 

Thor told Bruce to fly but he said he didn't know how as Thor got up and made Bruce take the wheel. Thor told him to use a PhD. Bruce said he didn't have one for flying an alien spaceship as Thor leapt out.

 

“Considering how often you have been invaded, I find this surprising,” Thor said and all the earth based heroes laughed.

 

“He does have a point,” Tony mused and they only laughed harder.

 

Thor leapt at a ship and ripped out its engine, taking it down while Valkyrie pointed another ship's gun at another, taking it down.

 

“You two make a good team,” Clint noted.

 

“So we do,” Thor noted thoughtfully.

 

Thor destroyed another ship with punches as Topaz tried to fire at Commodore. Bruce tried to look for weapons, pressing a random button. Instead, Grandmaster singing 'It's my birthday' started playing with a hologram of him dancing as fireworks burst from the back of the ship, blinding Topaz who crashed her ship into a building and Bruce cheered.

 

“Well that’s one way to take out a ship,” Tony joked as they all laughed.

 

Thor ripped a hatch to a ship open and threw the pilot as Valkyrie arrived. They exchanged a smirk as Valkyrie flew it under the Commodore. They leapt back inside as the doors closed and stood in front of each other as Bruce said they coming up on the Devil’s Anus.

 

“That will never not be hilarious,” Rhodey said as they all laughed.

 

Back in the hanger, Korg, Miek and the other walked to a ship when Korg picked up the remote and pressed the button, with Loki groaning and getting up, thanking him.

 

“Well, I guess that’s over,” Clint said disappointed.

 

“You’re enjoying this too much,” Wanda noted amused.

 

“He turned me into his fly monkey kid,” Clint pointed out.

 

Korg said they were hopping on a spaceship to get out and if he wanted to come. Loki said they looked like they were in desperate need of leadership and Korg thanked him.

 

Valkyrie took over the pilot seat from Bruce and started flying the ship up. She hit the debris as all three of them seemed to be affected as they finally flew into the Devil’s Anus.

 

“And now you’re on your way back to Asgard,” Natasha noted and Thor nodded.

 

“And to Hela,” Thor said grimly.

Chapter Text

At Asgard, Skurge announced to all Asgardians that some misguided soul had stolen the Bifrost sword so they should inform him where the person was or face consequences. He glanced behind him, where Hela stood with Fenris. Bad ones, he added.

 

“That is a big dog,” Scott said randomly.

 

Normally, everyone would comment on that, but everyone was too tense to comment, worried about what Hela would do to the Asgardians.

 

Hela randomly pointed at a woman and she was dragged to the ground by two Berserkers as Skurge stood over her with a conflicted expression.

 

“He is conflicted,” T’Challa noted.

 

“He wanted glory, not this,” Thor said grimly.

 

Hela called him 'Executioner' and reluctantly, Skurge raised his ax, only for a man to stop them as he said he knew where the sword was.

 

Everyone let out a breath they didn’t know they had been holding. Still-

 

“I understand why he did it, but now all of Asgard is in danger,” Steve noted.

 

“Heimdall would have seen this coming,” Thor said confidently. “He will protect the sword.”

 

Thor, Bruce and Valkyrie flew out of the wormhole and were knocked out for some time before waking up finally. They arrived at Asgard as Valkyrie said she'd never thought she'd be back here.

 

“Wow,” Wanda said as they all got their first proper look at Asgard.

 

“It’s looks awesome. Minus the fire,” Peter said in awe and Thor smiled weakly.

 

“It is usually much nicer,” Thor assured him.

 

Bruce got out of his seat and took a better look, saying he'd thought it'd be nicer. Not that it wasn't nice but it was on fire.

 

“Well maybe that’s because a homicidal maniac is on a rampage,” Clint said sarcastically.

 

Valkyrie said there were heat signatures in the mountains and people were clustered together so Hela would go for them.

 

“Not on my watch,” Thor almost growled.

 

Thor asked her to drop him at the palace to draw her away. Valkyrie said Hela would murder him but he said the people trapped there were what mattered.

 

Everyone looked at Thor, his face set in resolve, their respect for him growing. To selflessly put aside his own wellbeing in order to protect his people, Asgard was blessed to have him as its protector.

 

He'd deal with Hela and they would help everyone get off Asgard with the help of his man on the ground.

 

At the refuge, Heimdall told everyone Hela was here a, outside, Hela and Skurge arrived at the entrance.

 

“No,” Thor said as he paled, fear for his people shooting through his heart.

 

T’Challa placed a hand on his shoulder, all of them wishing they could offer Thor some form of comfort. But as it was, all they could do was watch.

 

Thor handed a gun from Sakaar to Valkyrie, saying the ship had a gun now. He then gave her the old Valkyrie armor, saying he'd found it in the armory. Thor wished her luck before he jumped down from the ship. Valkyrie wished him luck and said, "Your Majesty…..Don't die. You know what I mean." Thor looked at her and walked off.

 

“Aw, she cares,” Natasha teased and Thor rolled his eyes good naturedly.

 

Thor arrived at the palace, seeing the broken walls and the hidden murals which showed Odin as a warlord with Hela holding Mjolnir.

 

Thor stared at the screen solemnly as everyone looked at him in concern.

 

“Thor, you okay?” Tony asked concerned and Thor was silent for a moment.

 

“I guess I never truly knew him,” Thot sighed sadly.

 

“I’m sorry Thor,” Steve said and Thor waved him off.

 

“It’s not your fault Cap,” Thor said tiredly. “Just the way it is.”

 

Hela destroyed the door with her Necroswords, forming a bridge. With Skurge, she walked inside, only to see the refugees were all gone. Heimdall had sensed her coming and led them all away from a secret exit, telling them to get to the Bifrost.

 

“Nice one Heimdall,” Rhodey said as they all relaxed slightly.

 

“It’s not over yet,” Thor said grimly.

 

In the Commodore, Valkyrie suited up, wearing her old suit and equipping herself with Dragonfang as she pushed the gun and Bruce watched.

 

Back at the palace, Hela and Skurge heard a thumping. Returning to the throne room, Hela saw Thor sitting on the throne, tapping Gungnir on the ground.

 

“You’ve got some stones man, sitting on the throne and calling her like that,” Sam told Thor, who merely smirked.

 

Hela walked towards him as her horned crown disappeared and Thor greeted her. Hela noted he was alive as he said sarcastically he loved what she had done with the place, redecorating it like that. Hela said their father's solution to every problem was covering it up.

 

“Or to cast it out,” Thor noted.

 

Thor added that it was to cast it out as well.

 

“Don’t repeat yourself Point Break,” Tony cracked and Thor gave a long suffering sigh of exasperation.

 

Thor said Odin had told him he was worthy and said the same thing to Hela. Hela said Thor had never known Odin at his best as she had drowned entire civilizations in blood and tears with him and that is where all this gold had come from.

 

“And she’s actually proud of that,” Steve said disgusted.

 

“She’s a real piece of work,” Sam said disgusted as well.

 

Hela said one day Odin had decided to become a benevolent King, to foster peace and protect all life and to have Thor.

 

“Odin decided to move with the times, to be better. She couldn’t,” Tony noted.

 

“Or wouldn’t,” Thor noted.

 

Thor said he understood why she was angry and she had a claim to the throne technically. He'd love for anyone else to rule but not her because she was the worst.

 

“She’s stuck in the same mindset that I was when father first cast me out. Except she’s a lot more violent,” Thor noted.

 

“And crazy, don’t forget crazy,” Scott added and Thor nodded absently.

 

Hela reformed her horns and told Thor to get up as he was in her chair. "You know, Father once told me that a wise king never seeks out war," Thor said as he got up. "But must always be ready for it," Hela finished as the two charged at each other with their weapons.

 

“The clash of the titans has started,” Natasha noted as Thor gripped his pants legs tightly.

 

Heimdall led the people to the Bifrost when Fenris blocked their way.

 

“Damn it,” Tony swore as they all watched with baited breath.

 

Heimdall quickly tried to lead them back as Fenris charged them with a roar when gunfire hit its face. The Commodore arrived, piloted by Bruce as Valkyrie fired her gun. Heimdall and the refugees stopped when they saw Skurge with the Berserkers. The two women Skurge had propositioned in the beginning of the recording raised their blades in defiance.

 

“Man, they just can’t catch a break,” Peter said as Thor groaned.

 

At the palace, Thor fought Hela, managing to stab her once and land a hit with Gungnir before she pushed him back. He tried to attack again but she dodged and said she had expected more before throwing him off as Gungnir fell out of his grip.

 

“She’s too powerful,” Thor realized. “I can’t beat her, not without my hammer. Even with it, I’m not sure I could.”

 

The Avengers exchanged horrified looks as this news sunk in. If even Thor didn’t think he could beat her, then what hope was there?

 

On the bridge, Skurge roared at Heimdall for the sword as the Bersekers charged.

 

“Heimdall will die before he gives the sword to Hela,” Thor said in a voice that was both sad and respectful.

 

Back inside, Hela lifted Thor by the throat. "Here's the difference between us. I'm Odin's firstborn, the rightful heir, the savior of Asgard. And you're nothing," She threw him back down.

 

“Savior? She really is insane,” Sam muttered.

 

Thor got back up as Hela formed a small Necrosword and tried to stab but he dodged and tried to elbow her but she freed herself. He tried to punch but she was unaffected and formed a gash in his abdomen, making him kneel down. Hela said even a blind man could have seen this strike before cutting off his eye with a slice of her sword. "Now you remind me of Dad," She said with a wince.

 

“Shit,” Tony said stunned as Thor held a finger over his eye, as if to reassure himself it was still there.

 

“She’s beating you back like you’re nothing,” Clint said stunned and horrified.

 

“I told you, I can’t beat her,” Thor said wearily.

 

“Except you did somehow, or we wouldn’t be sitting her watching this,” Steve pointed out.

 

“Captain Rogers is correct. If she had succeeded, then it is unlikely we would have been bought here,” Vision pointed out.

 

“But how?” Thor wondered, not seeing any way that he could have defeated Hela.

 

Outside, the refugees tried to fight the Berserkers off as Valkyrie fired at Fenris but he was unaffected and ran at the people. Heimdall threw off his coat and prepared to fight with Hofund. Valkyrie was annoyed that Fenris wasn't dying and Bruce flew the Commodore between Fenris and the people. "Everything’s gonna be all right now. I got this. You wanted to know who I am?" He asked, confusing her as she asked what he was talking about. "You'll see!" He said and jumped off the ship. As Fenris charged, Bruce fell in his way, out cold.

 

“I gotta say, I was expecting something to happen,” Scott said as there was an awkward pause.

 

Fenris stopped and sniffed Bruce before charging at the people again as Heimdall prepared to fight. Then something grabbed Fenris' tail and threw him back. It was Hulk, who announced his arrival with a roar as Valkyrie had a look of realization on her face.

 

“Now that’s more like it!” Clint said as they all cheered.

 

“That dog is so screwed now!” Scott exclaimed.

 

Valkyrie saw some Berserkers sticking to the Commodre and tried to shake them off as Hulk and Fenris fought and were thrown off the Bifrost. At the palace, while Hela pinned Thor to the balcony and made him look at the fight on the Bifrost saying, "You see? No one's going anywhere. I'll get that sword, even if I have to kill every single one of them to do it."

 

“And you call yourself a savior,” Steve scoffed as they all looked at the screen in disgust.

 

“She’s just a monster,” Clint said disgusted.

 

The refugees fought the Berserkers as the Commodre crash landed on the Bifrost. One of them sliced Heimdall's knee but he took that one and another down. A third kicked him down and was about to kill him when a gunshot from behind destroyed it and now Korg stood there.

 

“It’s Korg!” Peter exclaimed shocked.

 

“But how’d he get there?” Scott asked confused.

 

"Hey, man. I'm Korg. This is Miek," Korg said as Miek appeared. "We're gonna jump on that spaceship and get out of here. Wanna come?"

 

Heimdall looked back with the rest of the refugees and the Statesman appeared with Loki on it, "Your savior is here."

 

“He came back,” Thor said, laughing in disbelief and joy as everyone stared shocked at the screen.

 

“What you said to him must have gotten through to him,” Steve noted.

 

“Never thought I’d see the day where I was rooting for Loki,” Clint muttered, looking like he’d swallowed a lemon.

 

Thor laughed before Hela angrily stabbed him in the back with a small blade.

 

Thor winced as everyone glared at the screen.

 

Loki got off and asked everyone to get on the ship. Heimdall said he'd seen Loki coming and Loki knew he'd have. Loki, Heimdall, Korg, Miek and the other Champions then prepared to fight the Berserkers as one of the Champions who had 3 heads was taken down.

 

“Is it me, or did one of those heads look a lot like Thor?” Scott asked randomly.1

 

“Now that you mention it-” Tony started.

 

“No,” Thor said in a voice that promised unpleasantness if the subject was not dropped.

 

Hela yanked the sword out of Thor’s shoulder his shoulder and said, "It's a valiant effort, but you never stood a chance. You see... I'm not a queen or a monster. I'm the Goddess of Death. What were you the god of, again?" She asked Thor as she pinned his hand under a cross-shaped Necrosword while he had a vision of Odin in Norway.

 

“I bet you Odin is gonna Obi-Wan him,” Scott said as Thor confused.

 

“What?” Thor said and Scott and Tony looked horrified.

 

“You’ve never seen Star Wars?! Oh god, we gotta get you back to earth right away!” Scott said horrified.

 

“Scott’s right, it will change your life Point Break,” Tony said as Thor still looked confused.

 

“Just smile and nod Thor, smile and nod for the crazy people,” Clint joked as Scott and Tony glared at him.

 

Thor saw Odin in Norway and fell to his knees. "Even when you had two eyes, you'd see only half the picture," Odin said. "She's too strong," Thor said. "Without my hammer, I can't." Odin asked with a smile, "Are you Thor, the God of Hammers? That hammer was to help you control your power, to focus it. It was never your source of strength." Odin revealed.

 

“Wait, so the hammer was only ever training wheels?” Clint asked as they all stared at Thor, who looked as shocked as they felt.

 

“It appears so,” Thor said stunned.

 

“Son of a bitch,” Tony said shocked.

 

"It's too late. She's already taken Asgard," Thor said. "Asgard is not a place. Never was. This could be Asgard," Odin said as he gestured at the grassy land around them. "Asgard is where our people stand. Even now, right now, those people need your help." With that, he started walking off.

 

“Home isn’t a place. It’s wherever those you love are,” Natasha said softly as her eyes went to Steve and then to Clint.

 

"I'm not as strong as you," Thor said. Odin turned around with a smile and said, "No... You're stronger." He walked off as Thor closed his eye.

 

“We are all stronger than we think,” T’Challa told Thor, who nodded.

 

“Wise words,” Thor said.

 

Back at the palace, Hela asked again, "Tell me, brother. What were you the God of, again?" Suddenly, lightning formed in Thor's hands as Hela looked around in shock.

 

“I’m the God of Thunder,” Thor said with a smirk.

 

The sky darkened too as Thor’s eye flashed with power. And then Thor roared and the biggest lightning blast ever hit the palace, throwing Hela off while Loki and the others watched.

 

“Holy crap!” Peter exclaimed as they watched stunned.

 

“Nice one Point Break!” Tony cheered as Thor smirked.

 

“This is gonna be fun,” Rhodey laughed.

 

Loki smirked as Thor leapt into the air while hordes of Berserkers converged and jumped in their center as the lightning threw them all away.

 

“I feel like we should be hearing some theme music,” Wanda noted.

 

“Thank god it’s not just me,” Tony said in relief.

 

Thor looked up, his entire body emanating lightning.

 

“Now you look more badass than you ever have,” Scott told Thor, who could only watch, stunned at his own power.

 

As more charged at him, he flew at them in a rotatory motion and killed more. He punched many more of them away as lightning bolts emanated from his body and descended from the sky to kill more of the Berserkers. He then kicked another away as his lightning destroyed more before blocking another one's punch and hitting it and many behind it with lightning, killing them all.

 

“You know, it would have been nice if you’d had this kind of power before,” Tony said but Thor only nodded absently, absorbed in the recording.

 

Crackers burst from the Commodore as Valkyrie walked out, holding Dragonfang. She sliced one down before blocking the other's attack and cutting off his head.

 

“And she’s a badass to,” Scott said as Natasha and Wanda smirked.

 

Hulk struggled to hold back Fenris and punched him before flipping him over as Loki sliced a Bersekrer and rolled to avoid another before hitting him with his helmet and then stabbing him.

 

“So that thing can do more than make Loki look like stupid?” Tony joked and they all laughed.

 

Thor hit another one with lightning, sending it flying off telekinetically before grabbing another and flying up with it and then slamming it to the ground as lightning bolts killed more of the Berserkers. He then snatched swords from two of them and in a rotatory motion, sliced more of them down while his lightning killed more of the Berserkers. Skurge watched from a corner and threw his Bloodaxe away.

 

“So now he decided to turn around and run home,” Rhodey grumbled.

 

“He never wanted this; he followed Hela out of fear, not loyalty. He just sees an opportunity to escape,” Thor explained.

 

Korg, Heimdall, Valkyrie and Loki took down more Berserkers while Fenris bit Hulk, drawing green blood as it dragged him under the water.

 

“It drew Hulk’s blood,” Peter said as they all looked shocked.

 

“Has that ever happened before?” Scott wondered.

 

“Once,” Natasha said but didn’t elaborate.

 

Hulk managed to punch Fenris off, freeing himself as Fenris fell down the waterfall while Hulk held on to the edge to save himself.

 

“And now it’s going to Doggy Hell,” Tony joked.

 

The people started climbing the Statesman as Skurge hid himself in a hood and decided to go with them.

 

“You think they’ll accept him?” Sam asked and Thor shrugged.

 

“I don’t know. They accepted Loki, but Loki never tried to kill them, or work with anyone who did,” Thor noted.

 

Thor walked towards Loki and said, "You're late." Loki countered with, "You're missing an eye." Valkyrie walked past them, "This isn't over." And then they saw Hela coming at them.

 

“How the hell is she still alive?” Clint asked in disbelief.

 

“I told you, she’s too powerful,” Thor said grimly.

 

"I think we should disband the Revengers," Thor joked. "Hit her with a lightning blast," Loki said. "I just hit her with the biggest lightning blast in the history of lightning. It did nothing," Thor said.

 

“Seriously, nothing but the end of the world would stop her now,” Thor’s eyes widened in realization after Clint’s words.

 

“Of course, that’s it,” Thor breathed and they turned to him.

 

“Thor?” Steve said but Thor did not respond, simply continued watching the recording.

 

"We just need to hold her off until everyone's on board," Valkyrie said. "It won't end there. The longer Hela's on Asgard, the more powerful she grows," Thor said. "She'll hunt us down. We need to stop her here and now." "So what do we do?" Valkyrie asked. "I'm not doing ‘Get Help’," Loki said.

 

Despite the situation, everyone couldn’t help but laugh.

 

Thor looked between a marching Hela and the escaping people. "Asgard's not a place, it's a people," Thor said as he turned to Loki. "Loki, this was never about stopping Ragnarok. This was about causing Ragnarok. Surtur's crown, the vault. It's the only way."

 

“Your plan is to destroy you own planet?” Tony asked shocked as they all turned to the solemn Thor.

 

“It’s the only way. She draws her power from Asgard; she’ll only grow more powerful. The only solution is to destroy Asgard and her along with it,” Thor said with a sigh.

 

Everyone stared at Thor, too stunned for words. It was an inconceivable sacrifice, yet Thor had not hesitated to do it. If they had not known that Thor was worthy of being an Avenger before, there was no doubt now.

 

"Bold move, brother. Even for me," Loki said as he ran off to do what Thor asked.

 

“Even Loki thinks this is too much,” Clint said.

 

“Then it really must be,” Steve noted as Thor sighed.

 

"Shall we?" Thor asked Valkyrie. "After you," She said as both walked towards Hela. Thor activated his lightning and flew at Hela as she threw two Necroswords. His lightning shattered them as he landed in front of her. He managed to land a few hits with the two swords before she leaned back to avoid and threw him to the other side, only to be kicked by Valkyrie.

 

“Looks like she’s finally getting her revenge,” Scott noted.

 

Valkyrie tried to hit again but Hela blocked and threw her off as Thor charged again. He managed to throw her down with a lightning bolt and tried to stab her but she rolled away as the sword was embedded in the Bifrost instead. Hela threw a Necrosword at him, throwing him back.

 

“It’s unbelievable how powerful she is,” Tony said in shock.

 

“That’s why Asgard has to be destroyed,” Thor said sadly.

 

Loki was flying the Commodore towards Asgard's vault. "This is madness," He said.

 

“For once, Loki and I agree,” Clint muttered.

 

“If Clint and Loki agree about something, it must be insane,” Natasha pointed out.

 

The refugees ran into the ship while Skurge hid with them. Thor flipped Hela to the other side where Valkyrie tried to fight her but was beaten. Thor told Heimdall and the refuges to go and they tried to fly up as Hela threw a huge spear at Thor, sending him down before manifesting a huge blade that went through the Statesman, stopping it in the air.

 

“No!” Thor exclaimed in horror as everyone tensed.

 

Loki picked up the crown and ran to the Eternal Flame before looking at the Teserract.

 

“Oh tell me he’s not going to do what I think he is,” Clint pleaded as Thor sighed.

 

“Oh Loki,” Thor said in a long suffering voice.

 

The Berserkers climbed the Statesman via blade. A Champion tried to fight them back but was killed. Then the Berserkers were killed by bullets as the blade shattered. It was Skurge. He threw his hood off and fired with Des and Troy, killing more Berserkers as he leapt down and destroyed the remainder of the blade, killing more Berserkers as he said, "For Asgard!"

 

“Well, looks like he’ll finally get the recognition he always wanted,” Steve noted as Thor sighed in relief.

 

Skurge killed more Berserkers with Des and Troy and screamed, "HELA!" Hela turned to him as Des and Troy ran out so he simply kicked and head-butted the Berserkers away. Hela looked betrayed and threw a Necrosword at his chest, killing him.

 

There was a moment of silence as no one was quiet sure how to react. Skurge had done horrible things, yes, but he had done the right thing in the end. It would not be this way this time, Thor vowed.

 

The Statesman started flying off as Loki put the crown in the Eternal Flame, "With the Eternal Flame, you're reborn." He backed away as the crown shook.

 

“What have I unleashed?” Thor asked himself and no one was sure how to answer him.

 

Thor stopped Hela, saying she could have Asgard if she wanted it. Hela said whatever game he was playing won't work. "You can't defeat me," She said. Ominous fire was seen in the palace behind Thor as he pointed at it and said, "No, I know. But he can." Then the palace shattered into pieces as Surtur, now actually the size of a mountain emerged, holding his Twilight Sword. Hela was horrified.

 

“No turning back now,” Wanda muttered as they watched in stunned disbelief.

 

Valkyrie leapt at Hela from behind and stabbed her, pinning her to the Bifrost. Thor then shattered that portion of the Bifrost with his lightning, sending her into the water. Surtur destroyed buildings and said, "Tremble before me, Asgard! I am your reckoning!"

 

Thor winced. He knew why it had to be done, but it didn’t make it any easier to watch.

 

“The people are safe. That's all that matters," Valkyrie told Thor as Surtur continued destroying buildings. "We're fulfilling the prophecy," Thor said. "I hate this prophecy," Valkyrie said. "So do I, but we have no choice. Surtur destroys Asgard, he destroys Hela, so that our people may live. But we need to let him finish the job, otherwise..." Thor trailed off as Hulk leapt at Surtur, slightly moving his head and started hitting his crown. "No! Hulk, stop, you moron!" Thor yelled

 

“Hulk,” Thor growled in irritation.

 

Surtur was mostly annoyed and threw Hulk off effortlessly.

 

“Hulk was basically just a bug on the windshield,” Scott joked.

 

"Hulk, stop. Just for once in your life, don't smash," Thor said. "Big monster!" Hulk pointed out.

 

“Can’t blame him for being a little confused,” Wanda noted.

 

"Let's go!" Valkyrie said. "Fine," Hulk groaned as he

picked them up and leapt to the Statesman. A huge blade hit Surtur, staggering him slightly as Hela elevated herself on blades, hitting him with more. But he was unaffected and said ,"I am Asgard's doom!" He stabbed the core of Asgard with the Twilight Sword and drove it deeper, shattering Hela's blades as the fire started destroying all trees and buildings.

 

Thor looked devastated, even as T’Challa put a hand on his shoulder, hoping to offer him some kind of comfort.

 

On the Statesman, everyone is watching Asgard go up in flames through a window. "The damage is not too bad,” Korg said. "As long as the foundations are still strong, we can rebuild this place. It will become a haven for all peoples and aliens of the universe." Then Asgard shattered into countless pieces as Surtur and Hela were killed in the explosion. "Now those foundations are gone. Sorry," Korg said.

 

“What have I done?” Thor asked hoarsely.

 

“You saved the Asgardians. The price of victory is high, sometimes too high. But it’s a price we all have to pay at some point,” Steve told him gently. “You can find another home, but the people aren’t so easily replaced.”

 

Thor sighed, knowing Steve was right. Still, it did not make it any easier to bear.

 

"What have I done?" Thor asked as the people wept. "You saved us from extinction," Heimdall said as the two looked at each other. "Asgard is not a place... It's a people."

 

“Your people are safe Thor. That’s what matters,” Wanda said and Thor nodded after a moment.

 

“Indeed little witch,” Thor said lowly.

 

Sometime later, Thor put on an eyepatch and drank some beer.

 

“Not a bad look,” Natasha said.

 

“I look like father,” Thor noted wistfully.

 

Loki arrived behind him and said, "It suits you." Thor turned to him and said, "Maybe you're not so bad after all, brother." "Maybe not," Loki smirked.

 

“Maybe he’s not so bad,” Clint said grudgingly.

 

“I wish you could have known him before he found out the truth Barton. I think you two would have gotten along,” Thor said and Clint scoffed.

 

“Keeping dreaming,” Clint said dryly.

 

"Thank you," Thor said. "If you were here, I might even give you a hug." He threw the bottle's cork at Loki and he caught it. "I'm here," Loki said.

 

Thor cracked a smile. Maybe there was hope for Loki after all.

 

The people then bowed to Thor, parting for him as he walked among them and saw a throne on the side of the Statesman while Hulk, Valkyrie, Heimdall and Korg watched. "Your throne," Valkyrie smirked and Thor slowly sat on it as Loki arrived.

 

“King of Asgard,” Tony noted and Thor nodded, the burden already feeling upon him, even though he wasn’t technically king yet. “So do we have to bow in your presence now?”

 

Thor simply shook his head with a chuckle.

 

"So, King of Asgard. Where to?" Heimdall asked as Thor waved awkwardly at the people. "I'm not sure," Thor said. "Any suggestions?" He asked Miek where he was from but Korg who had Miek said he was dead. Korg had accidentally stomped on Miek on the bridge and felt so guilty he'd been carrying him around since. Miek suddenly groaned and Korg happily said he was alive as he told everyone and asked Thor what his question was again.

 

“This guy is great,” Rhodey said as he laughed along with everyone else.

 

"Earth it is," Thor said.

 

“So you’re gonna live on earth now?” Peter asked and Thor nodded.

 

“Yes. I was thinking…Norway,” Thor said.

 

“And Ross?” Steve questioned.

 

“He wants to challenge me, let him try,” Thor said in a voice full of confidence.

 

Later, Thor and Loki stood together as Loki asked, "Do you really think it's a good idea to go back to Earth?" Thor said, "Yes, of course. The people of Earth love me. I'm very popular." Loki said, "Let me rephrase that. Do you really think it's a good idea to bring me back to Earth?"

 

“Probably not. Especially with Ross around,” Tony mused and Thor had a thunderous look on his face.

 

“Let him try and come for my brother,” Thor almost growled.

 

Thor said, "Probably not, to be honest. I wouldn't worry, brother. I feel like everything's gonna work out fine."

 

“Famous last words Point Break,” Tony said unsure why a feeling of dread had suddenly washed over him.

 

Then a shadow appeared in front of the Statesman and in front of it was a giant warship. The screen went black.

 

“What the hell is that?” Clint asked as they all looked confused and a little panicked.

 

Tony got to his feet, causing everyone to look over at him. They were concerned by the look of shock on his face.

 

“I know that ship,” Tony said as they looked over at him. “I saw it when I went through the wormhole. That’s Thanos’ ship.”

 

“Thanos is attacking my people?!” Thor exclaimed as he got to his feet.

 

“Thor, calm down,” Steve started.

 

“Thanos is attacking my people and you wish for me to calm down!?” Thor exploded.

 

“There’s nothing you can do right now Thor,” Natasha argued as she got to her feet as well. “This hasn’t happened yet. You still have time to change things Thor. So calm down and sit back in your seat.”

 

After a moments of Natasha’s words hanging in the air, Thor nodded, sitting back down. But it was clear by his face that he was far from calm. Tony and Natasha retook their seats before Tony resumed the recording.

 

Back on Sakaar, Grandmaster staggered out of somewhere with his women and saw all of Sakaar standing against him.

 

“Well, this should be good,” Sam said with a smirk.

 

"Oh, boy," He muttered before announcing to them, "I just gotta say, I'm proud of you all. This revolution has been a huge success. Yay, us! Pat on the back. Pat on the back." He patted his own shoulder and said, "Come on. No? Me too. 'Cause I've been a big part of it. Can't have a revolution without somebody to overthrow. So, you're welcome. And it's a tie." The screen went black.

 

“Hope he gets what he deserves,” Rhodey said as the door opened.

 

“He was held prisoner before he was executed. The Sakaarians now run the planet themselves,” Strange said as he walked in. “Now, I now you’re all eager to continue, but it’s been a long day. I think he could all use a good night’s sleep. First, we’ll have dinner and we’ll show you to your rooms. Besides, there are some people who want to speak with you.”

Chapter Text

Avengers Tower
Night

Strange led the group down the hall silently, each of them lost in their own thoughts. As they walked down the hall, each of them realized how tired they felt. These recordings had taken more of a toll on them than they had thought, it seemed.

Strange led them into the kitchen, where five people were waiting for them. Barton and Fitz weren’t a surprise, but there were also two woman in their mid to late twenties and a man who appeared to be in his late twenties or early thirties.

Upon seeing them, the three of them got up as The Avengers eyed them curiously.

“Wow,” the man said as he eyed them, specifically Tony.

“I’m sorry, who are these people?” Tony asked what they were all thinking, although Clint, Scott, and Natasha had a nagging feeling of familiarity about the two women.

“What’s the matter, don’t recognize me without a onesie Mr. Stark?” the man joked with a glance towards Peter.

“No way,” Scott said as they all look from Peter to the man.

“Are you…” Peter trailed off as the man unbuttons his shirt, revealing a spider symbol underneath.

“I’m you Peter…give or take twelve years,” the older Peter said as he buttoned his shirt back up. “You can call me Parker.”

“Wow, this is so cool,” Peter said as he walked over to Parker. “You’re me? What about Ned? Do we ever ask out Liz? Where’s May?”

“Was I really this bad?” Parker asked as he looked over at Barton, who was struggling to contain his laughter.

“Much worse,” Barton said, laughing at the look on Parker’s face.

“Hey,” one of the women said as she walked over to Scott.

Scott studied her for a moment before his eyes widened as he noticed some facial similarities.

“Cassie?” Scott breathed and she nodded. “…You’re so big.”

Cassie laughed, remembering with a hint of sadness how he had said the same thing when he’d returned from the Quantum Realm. She pulled him into a huge as Scott, in a state of disbelief, returned the hug.

The other woman walked over to Clint, who studied her for a moment and his mouth went dry.

“Lila?” he asked lowly and she smiled.

“Hi Dad,” Lila said, happy to see him like this again.

Less weighed down by loss and guilt and a feeling of failure. In a lot of ways, it felt like part of her dad had jumped off that cliff with Natasha. And what happened to Wanda shortly after Thanos had certainly not helped, Lila mused.

“I-I don’t understand. What are you doing here? Not that I’m not happy to see you,” Clint said confused.

“Well, we retired,” Barton said as Clint looked over at him. “Someone had to carry on the Hawkeye mantle.”

“You’re…” Clint trailed off as Lila flashed a mischievous smile.

“You okay with that?” Lila asked after several moments of Clint standing there stunned.

“Well, I wish you’d chosen a career that involved a lot less of people shooting at you,” Clint admitted. “But, if this is what you want, yeah, I’m okay with it. Proud of you Hawkeye.”

“Thanks Hawkeye,” Lila smiled.

“So, what are you guys doing here?” Rhodey asked.

“We’re actually here to see him,” Parker said as he jerked his head at Barton. “We have a mission in a few days and Cap wants his opinion on the plan.”

“You-you’re an Avenger?” Scott asked stunned as he looked at Cassie.

“You retired a few years ago. Someone had to carry on the family tradition,” Cassie said with a smile.

“I’d be happy to help you out, but I think there’s someone even better suited to help you out,” Barton said with a glance at Natasha. “What do you say Nat? Feel like helping the kids out?”

“We’re not kids anymore,” Parker, Cassie, and Lila said in sync.

“You’ll always be kids to me,” Barton said, smiling as they groaned and he waited for Natasha’s answer.

“I’d be happy to help.” Natasha said, seeing the look on Lila’s face and wanting to spend some time with her.

“Good, we’ll show you the plan after dinner,” Parker said as they started to sit down as Barton moved to get the food.

“Who knew Clint could cook,” Tony said as Barton brought out the food.

“I can’t,” Clint said and Barton shrugged as his younger self shot him a look.

“I had time to improve my skills,” he said vaguely and Lila winced.

Something Steve, Nat, and Clint noticed. There was a story there, they realized. But now was not the time to push it.

“So Parker how’s the wife?” Fitz asked as they all sat down.

“Wife?” Peter asked taken back and Parker glared at Fitz.

“Yeah, I’ve been married for about two years,” Parker said and Peter looked awestruck. “She’s good. She’s helping Pepper with their newest project at Stark Industries.”

“So she works for Pep?” Tony asked interested and Parker nodded.

“Yeah, Pepper actually gave her a job once we graduated college,” Parker explained.

“Okay, I think that’s enough,” Strange interrupted. “We may be changing the future, but maybe they shouldn’t know everything.”

“Come on man,” Scott protested.

“No, Strange’s right,” Barton said after a moment. “We may be stopping Thanos, but we shouldn’t tell you too much outside that. Otherwise, what’s the point of living if you already know everything good that will happen in your life?”

“They’re right,” Steve agreed. “We were brought here to prevent Thanos and save the world, not to endlessly rewrite our futures.”

“Cap’s got a point,” Sam muttered and, eventually, they all agreed to drop the subject of the future.

After dinner, Strange offered to show everyone to their rooms as Parker, Lila, and Cassie all but dragged Natasha to the mission room, eager to show their plan to the best of the best. However, there was one surprise.

“Clint,” Barton called out as he remained seated, stopping his younger self as he was about to walk out. “I’d like a word.”

Clint glanced back to the others, shrugging before gesturing at them to go on without him. Although they didn’t look thrilled, they nodded and left the two alone.

“What’s going on?” Clint asked as he sat down across from Barton.

“I wanted to talk to you privately. I wanted to do it earlier but,” Barton stopped, knowing giving away what happened to Natasha was not going to help right now. “There’s something you need to know and I don’t want any of the others to know it. So you can’t tell them.”

“Why?” Clint asked wearily.

“Because it’s about Wanda,” Barton said and Clint gave him his full attention. “And the others, they’ll treat her differently if they knew. And that won’t help her; it’ll just make her feel isolated and alone. She doesn’t need that. You need to make sure she knows you are there for her.”

“She knows I’m there for her,” Clint said although a voice in the back of his head that sounded suspiciously like Loki said that he was lying to himself.

“That’s the lie I told myself for too long, because it made it easier for me to let Steve and Nat handle her,” Barton said with venom that surprised Clint. “I’m not gonna let you make my mistakes. I’ not gonna let you fail her the way I did.”

“What are you talking about? How did we fail her?” Clint demanded, fear filling his heart at the look on Barton’s face.

“Like I told you, even though we beat Thanos, it still felt like we lost. Wanda, she lost more than most of us,” Barton said as he thought of Vision, Nat, even Cap going back in time. “I…she seemed fine after it was all over. So I went back to retirement, to Laura and the kids. It wasn’t until it was too late that I realized my mistake.”

“What happened?” Clint demanded, his heart pounding with fear.

“Not long after Thanos, Wanda had a psychotic break,” Barton said and Clint froze. “When she did, her powers went out of control. She created an alternate reality, one where Pietro and her parents were still alive, where people she’d lost were still alive. Wanda convinced herself that it was all a horrible dream, that this new reality was real.”

Barton paused, putting a hand to his mouth. It was difficult for him to talk about clearly. Not that Clint could blame him, he felt sick to his stomach just hearing about it. And he had a feeling that this wasn’t even the worst of it.

“Strange eventually figured out what was happening,” Barton said after getting a handle on his emotions. “He found Wanda and tried to get through to her, to convince her that none of this was real and made her see the damage she was doing. When Wanda accepted it wasn’t real, she put things back to how they were…and I almost wished he’d let her stay in that fantasy world.”

“Why? What happened next?” Clint almost whispered, not wanting to know but at the same time, knowing he had to.

“After she put things back to how they were, Wanda went into a sort of catatonic state,” Barton said with eyes full of pain. “Medically, there wasn’t anything wrong with her, but she just…she didn’t seem to register anything happening around her. She didn’t eat, she didn’t talk to anyone, she didn’t move. She just…sat there and waited to die.”

“But she’s better now, right?” Clint asked desperately, almost shouting in victory when Barton nodded.

“Yeah. Strange called The New Avengers – the team that was formed after Thanos was beaten- and they brought Wanda to the new home base, where they could keep an eye on her. One of them sat by her side for months; he talked to her, about what was happening, about his past. It helped her I think. Bit by bit…Wanda came back to us. You have no idea how relieved I was when I walked into the kitchen one morning and saw Wanda talking to him as they ate breakfast,” Barton said, trying not to break down, his younger self in a similar state. “Wanda rejoined the team after a few months of therapy. Eventually, she stared a relationship with that member and they got married a few years later. Their son celebrated his fifth birthday a few months ago.”

“So she’s happy?” Clint asked and Barton nodded.

“Yeah, she’s happy, I see her a lot. Her son calls me Grandpa,” Barton said in a mix of amusement and affection before he frowned, the somber expression crossing his face again. “By the time I realized my mistakes, it was too late for me to help her. But it’s not too late for your Wanda. There’s still time for you to change things.”

“What do you want me to do?” Clint asked after a moment.

“Wanda had her psychotic break because she felt like everyone she loved had either died or abandoned her, including me,” Barton said and Clint winced. “You need to make sure that Wanda knows that, even if you can’t always be right there with her, you will always be there for her. I’m not sure she ever stopped to grieve what she lost: Her brother, her home, everything. She pushed it all aside to help The Avengers, to make up for her sins. And then everything with Lagos and The Accords, the media and politicians saying how she was a monster who should be locked up…looking back, Wanda’s breakdown was a long time coming.”

“So what am I supposed to do? I’m not her father,” Clint said feeling helpless.

“You say that, but I see a father’s love whenever you look at her. It’s the same look I get when I look at my Wanda,” Barton said and smiled at the look of shock that crossed Clint’s face. “It took me until her breakdown to accept how I felt about her to. Coming up, you’ll see the two worst events in your life, your two greatest loses…but seeing Wanda like that and unable to do anything, it comes as a close third,” Barton said and it was silent between them. “She’ll try and push you away at times, tell you she doesn’t deserve your love or forgiveness after what she’s done. That’s when she’ll need you the most. When she pushes you away, push back even harder. The more you do, bit by bit, she’ll let you in.”

Barton then looked at Clint with a look that made him look like he had aged a thousand years. Clint wondered just how much suffering his future self had endured.

“You have a chance here Clint, a real chance, to do right by right by her in a way I didn’t. I failed her. Don’t make my mistakes,” Barton warned him.

Barton then stood up and walked out of the kitchen, leaving Clint alone with his thoughts.

Later, in his room, Scott was lying down on his bed, looking at a picture of Cassie when someone knocked on his door. Scott pocketed the picture and sat up as Cassie walked in.

“Hey, am I interrupting?” She asked.

“No, god no,” Scott said as he threw his legs over the side, looking at her. “Sorry if I’m staring. I just can’t believe you’re you.”

“Must be a lot to take in,” Cassi smiled.

“So…You’re the new Ant-Man? Or I guess Ant-Woman?” Scott asked.

“The new Wasp,” Cassie added after a moment, smiling at his look of confusion. “You’ll understand tomorrow.”

“So, I retired?” Scott added.

“You and Hope decided it was time,” Cassie said and Scott perked up.

“So, me and Hope?” Scott asked hopefully.

With a smile, Cassie pulled out a picture and handed it to him. Scott took it and looked at it in amazement. It was of an older him and Hope, a boy that looked to be around his Cassie’s age between them.

“Is that…” Scott trailed off.

“Henry Pym Lang, my baby brother,” Cassie said with affection. “Don’t tell Strange I showed that to you.”

“You’re secret’s safe with me,” Scott promised as he handed it back to her. “So, Hope and I?”

“You worked it out, after a lot of mistakes and miscommunications. Just try not to screw it up when you get back,” Cassie said with a smile.

“I’ll try,” Scott promised before patting the spot on the bed next to him. “So, come, sit and tell your dad about your life.”

Cassie laughed but did as he asked, sitting down next to him as she began to tell him as much as she could.

In the briefing room, Natasha was going over the mission plan and looked back at Lila, who was looking at her like she expected her to disappear at any moment.

“Sorry, am I bothering you?” Lila asked as Natasha looked over at her.

“No,” Natasha said as she put down the plan. “Your dad, he told me. He didn’t tell me what happened, but I know I died.”

“Yeah, you did,” Lila nodded, looking like she was trying not to cry. “It really hit us all hard when dad told us. It was really hard for…a long time.”

“I’m sorry,” Natasha put the plan down and walked over to Lila, putting a hand on the younger woman’s shoulder.

“Dad said you did it for us, for everyone. But it didn’t make it any easier. I missed you so much Auntie Nat,” Lila said, some tears falling from her eyes.

Natasha silently wrapped Lila up in her arms, the way she used to when Lila was a child until hugs had become ‘uncool’. Lila returned the hug, burying her face in Natasha’s shoulder as she sobbed.

Missouri
Same time

In a rather modest looking house, Wanda poked her head in through her son’s door. Stevie was sleeping, out cold from when she and his father had put him to bed earlier. Wanda smiled before closing the door quietly.

Wanda then made her way down to the stairs and into the living room; where her husband was sitting in a chair. He was reading a book as she walked in, not seeming to notice her presence. But Wanda knew better, he had heard her coming before she even entered the room.

“How’s the book?” Wanda asked.

“Not bad,” he said as he lowered it, putting it on the table as he looked over at her. “Remind me to thank Laura for the recommendation. How’s Stevie?”

“Out like a light,” Wanda said with a smile.

“Well, he’s nothing like me as a kid,” her husband chuckled. “Clearly, he takes after you.”

“We sure that’s a good thing?” Wanda asked with a frown.

“Hey, don’t be like that,” he said as he stood up and walked over to her, wrapping his arms around her. “What’s going on, you haven’t talked like this in a while?”

“Clint called, he wants me to head over there tomorrow,” Wanda admitted and he nodded.

“What are you worried about?”

“I’ve worked so hard to pull myself out of the hole I found myself in after I lost Vision. I’m…worried that I’ll find myself right back there,” Wanda admitted and her husband was silent for a few moments.

“You are strong Wanda. You didn’t break because you’re weak, you broke because you have been through more hell than most people can even imagine. The fact that all the pain and loss you suffered didn’t turn you into a monster but made you a hero instead shows how strong you are. Seeing someone you used to love isn’t going to change that,” he said and Wanda smiled up at him. “If you want, I can come with you.”

“I know you would, and I love you for it, but…you’re right, I can do this. I guess the thought of seeing them again just brought out some old issues I thought I’d put to bed. But I have the New Avengers, I have Clint, and I have you and Stevie. I’ll be okay,” Wanda said as she stared up at him. “I love you James Barnes.”

“I love you Wanda Maximoff-Barnes,” Bucky said before he leaned down and captured her lips in a kiss.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Clint lay on the bed in the room he had been shown to, staring at a picture. It was of him and Wanda, taken a few months ago. The whole team had thrown a party for her twentieth birthday. Someone had snapped a picture with their phone, probably Natasha, as he looked at Wanda while she laughed at something; he thinks it was Sam making a joke. In that moment, all the troubles she faced seemed to be far away as Wanda looked happy, truly happy, for the first time since he’d known her.

Clint sat up, throwing his legs over the side of the bed as he stared down at the photo. He’s had a long night of uneasy sleep; his dreams filled with Wanda in pain and locked in an insane asylum. He had failed Pietro, but he wouldn’t fail Wanda. He swore that on his life.

After staring at the photograph for a few more minutes, Clint put it back in his wallet, where he kept it right next to the picture of his family, and put it in his back pocket. He went to the door and opened it, nearly walking right into Wanda as she rounded the corner.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to give you whiplash,” Clint joked as they stopped themselves from colliding.

“It’s okay,” Wanda said as she noticed he was looking at her oddly, like she was a piece of art he was trying to memorize. “What?”

“How are you doing? With…everything,” Clint said lamely.

“What, that the whole world hates me in the future?” Wanda deadpanned.

“The whole world does not hate you,” Clint said with passion that surprised her. “Corrupt politicians who want to control you and biased media want the world to fear you. Doesn’t mean everyone does.”

“Thanks,” Wanda said, looking at him oddly. “Are you okay? You seem on edge.”

“Yeah, I’m fine. Just…some stuff the other me said,” Clint said as he remembered Barton’s warning. “Just...if you ever wanna talk, if it ever gets to be too much…I’m here for you Wanda. Just call me, I’ll be there before you hand up the phone.”

Wanda looked at him, touched. It had been…a long time since someone besides Pietro had looked at her like that, had reached out with no alternative motive. It warmed her heart.

“Thank you,” Wanda said gratefully.

At the same time, Tony was walking into the kitchen, deep in thought. To be honest, his head was a mess with everything he’d learned about yesterday, especially about his parents. He knew that he needed to stand with The Avengers to stop Thanos, but could he stand with Steve and Barnes? Cap, maybe, but he wasn’t sure he could face his parents’ killer. Not yet.

He almost missed Parker in the room as he walked in, sitting at the table, on the phone.

“Yeah, everything’s fine…yeah, I’ll be home in a few days. Yeah. I’ll see you soon. I love you Gwen,” Parker said before he hung up.

“That the Misses?” Tony asked and Parker jumped. “Sorry.”

“No, it’s okay, just didn’t hear you come in,” Parker said as he pocketed his phone.

“So, her name’s Gwen,” Tony teased and Parker rolled her eyes.

“Yeah, her name’s Gwen, Gwen Stacy,” Parker gave in; knowing it was more trouble than it was worth trying to keep Tony from prying. “We met in my senior year of high school. Do me a favor, don’t tell Peter. It’s best that he makes his own mistakes.”

“Sure, you’re secret’s safe with me,” Tony shrugged and Parker nodded.

“Good. I’m actually glad you’re here,” Parker said and Tony raised an eyebrow. “We need to talk.”

“About what?” Tony asked confused.

“In a few months, one of your decisions is gonna come back to bite you,” Parker said, confusing Tony. “Sit down.”

“What are you talking about?” Tony asked as he sat down across from Parker.

“After New York, You bought Damage Control and used it to clean up the damage left behind from the Chitauri Invasion. When you did, you also put more than a few construction crews out of work,” Parker said and noticed the guilty look on Tony’s face. “I’m not telling you this to make you feel guilty Tony; I’m telling you this to warn you.”

“Warn me about what?” Tony asked.

“Adrian Toomes. He was one of the construction workers put of work because of a job he lost to Damage Control. He and his crew turned to a life of crime in order to support their families. They used some of the Chitauri tech they managed to get their hand on to create weapons they could use for themselves and also selling them on the black market to earn money. Toomes resented you for losing his job, he went after you and I barely stopped him,” Parker explained.

“You fought him?” Tony asked horrified and Parker nodded.

“I stumbled onto his crew a few months after Zemo,” Parker said and Tony sighed.

“So not only did my mistake create another supervillain, I also put you in more danger,” Tony said in guilt.

“You’re not responsible for Toomes’ actions. Anne Marie Hoag gave him the chance to talk to you about it; he decided to turn to a life of crime instead,” Parker told him.

“If it weren’t for me, he would never have lost his job in the first place,” Tony said glumly and Peter didn’t argue. “Why didn’t we see this yesterday?”

“We chose not to show my recording because it didn’t show in the best light. You need to trust each other and mine wasn’t going to help the others trust you,” Parker said and Tony winced. “Tony, you’re a good man, but you’re a futurist. It’s not a bad thing, but you focus so much on the end result, on the future, you forget about the here and now, how your actions affect things in the present.”

“So what am I supposed to do then?” Tony asked in frustration.

“Trust your friends,” Parker said simply. “You seem to think the entire world needs you alone to protect it. You’re not alone in this Tony. You don’t have to go it alone.”

In another part of the Tower, in what had been designated the shower room, Steve stepped out, freshly showed and changed into clothes that had been provided for him last night when Strange had shown the to their rooms. He nearly ran into Natasha on the way out.

“Nat,” Steve said surprised.

“Hey. How are you doing?” Natasha asked and it was silent. “That bad huh?”

“I should have told Tony,” Steve said after a moment.

“Maybe, but you could say the same thing about me. I was there to, I never looked deeper into it either,” Natasha said before placing a hand on Steve’s shoulder. “We can’t change our past. The only thing we can do is learn from it and move forward.”

After a moment, Steve nodded. Natasha moved to head towards the shower when Steve called out to her.

“Nat,” she turned back to see him looking at her curiously. “The way you reacted to how Bucky was almost killed by T’Challa… there’s something you haven’t told me about your history with him.”

“You caught that huh?” Natasha said and Steve nodded.

“I think Clint did to. What aren’t you telling me Nat?” Steve asked and she was silent for a few moments.

“In the Red Room, where I was trained, where I was raised…he was there,” Nat said gently, stunning Steve. “He trained me, helped me become what I was. And, in secret, we were…more than a student and teacher. Much more.”

“Oh,” Steve said lamely after a few moments as the implications sunk in.

“Yeah, oh,” Natasha said with a weak smile before frowning. “But, eventually, our superiors found out. They came for him in the night, used tranquilizers to knock us both out. I was…punished for it. I never saw him again until he shot me. And even then, I never knew it was him until I saw his face on the bridge. Given how much they messed with his mind, I’m not sure he even remembers.”

“I’m sorry Nat,” Steve said gently and she nodded.

“Me to,” Natasha said.

“Did you love him?” Steve asked, part wanting to know and part dreading her answer.

“No, I didn’t love him,” Natasha said with certainty. “Back then, I couldn’t love him. I wasn’t capable of love. Not until Clint got me out. But, at one point, he was the closest thing to love I had in the lowest point of my life. For that, I will always care about him.”

Steve didn’t say anything else as she walked into the bathroom, not sure whether he was relieved or disappointed by this news.

“Is everything alright?” Thor asked as he came upon Steve a few moments later.

“Yeah…I think so,” Steve said before he glanced over at Thor. “How are you doing?”

“I am doing the best I can. Is not every day you find out everything you believed in was all founded upon lies,” Thor sighed.

“I’m sorry Thor,” Steve said kindly as he placed a hand on Thor’s shoulder and Thor smiled weakly.

“I know. I’ll be alright, thanks Cap,” Thor said gratefully.

A little later, they all met in the kitchen. Tony and Parker had begun eating some cereal as everyone else, both future and past, entered. However, Sam noticed a few absences.

“Where are Strange and Fitz?” he asked Barton.

“Fitz had to leave for personal business and Strange said something about heading to the New York Sanctum. They’ll be back, but for now, it’s just me,” Barton said before turning to Cassie, Parker, and Lila. “Shouldn’t you three be getting back?”

“Yeah, Cap’s expecting us,” Cassie said and Parker nodded.

“Actually…I think I’m gonna stick around for today,” Lila said and the two looked at her. “Oh don’t look at me like that. The mission isn’t for another few days, I have time. Besides…”

Lila trailed off but she didn’t need to finish. Everyone knew how close she had been to Natasha and how much she missed her. It was obvious she wanted to spend as much time with Natasha as she could.

“You know what, I think I’m gonna stick around to,” Parker said and Cassie looked at him incredulously.

“You can’t be serious,” she deadpanned.

“Sorry Cas, but I’m staying. Don’t worry, I’ll take the heat from Cap when we get back,” Parker promised and Cassie sighed.

“Why do you both have to be so stubborn?” Cassie grumbled as she walked over to Scott.
“Bye dad.”

“Bye Peanut. I’ll miss you,” Scott said as they hugged.

“You’ll see me when you get back,” Cassie pointed out.

“Yeah, but I won’t see you like this for another seventeen years,” Scott argued.

Cassie only laughed as she pulled back, kissing Scott on the cheek before she walked out.

“So, how many more of these recordings are we gonna have to watch?” Rhodey inquired as they all looked over at Barton.

“Three, but two of them will be the most important and hardest ones to watch,” Barton said with a look in his eyes that had most of them dreading those records. “I have one more person coming. I thought she should be here for this. She should be here once we finish eating. Then, we’ll all head to the viewing room and get started.”

Chapter Text

After breakfast, Barton and Lila did dishes. Clint watched the scene, a hint of nostalgia on his face as he saw Barton and Lila bantered back and forth while everyone else waited.

 

“Is this a regular thing?” Tony asked Parker as they watched in amusement.

 

“Yep. You should hear the mission briefings when Barton consults, it’s like a sarcasm rally,” Parker chuckled.

 

“It’s worse at the holidays.”

 

At the sound of the voice, everyone turned to the doorway and stared in shock. Standing in the doorway was Wanda…yet not Wanda. Her hair had been dyed red and cut down to her shoulders for one. Her face was several years older as well, her face having lost some of the youthfulness it currently possessed. Her eyes seemed…more mature and filled with sorrow as she gazed at them, a wistfulness on her face.

 

“Wanda?” Clint said as he looked from the Wanda in doorway to the one net to him staring dumbstruck at her doppelganger.

 

“Hey,” Future Wanda sad, smiling at him.

 

“About time you got here,” Barton tossed over his shoulder as he dried his hands on a dish towel. “I was worried you wouldn’t make it in time.”

 

“Things ran late at home,” Future Wanda said vaguely and he nodded in understanding.

 

“So, you’re this time’s Wanda?” Steve asked and she nodded.

 

“Yes,” Future Wanda said and Steve was surprised to see resentment in her eyes as she stared at him before she quickly masked it.

 

“I called her last night, I wanted her to be here for the rest of the recordings,” Barton said, shooting Future Wanda a look that was a mix between a warning and concern.

 

She returned t with a look that said ‘I can handle it’. Natasha and Clint watched this and exchanged a look, each wondering when he and Wanda learned how to have a silent conversation.

 

“Well, now that you’re here, we need four more seats,” Lila said quickly as she walked over and grabbed future Wanda by the arm, dragging her towards the viewing room.

 

“Is this as weird for you as it is for us?” Sam asked as he looked over at the shell shocked Wanda.

 

“Probably weirder,” Wanda muttered.

 

“Well, I guess we should all head for the viewing room,” Parker said.

 

“It seems the suitable thing to do,” Vision agreed.

 

Everyone stood up and began to follow Lila and the other Wanda. However, as everyone else left, Steve lingered and stopped Barton.

 

“Your Wanda, she doesn’t like me,” Steve said and Barton winced.

 

“You picked up on that huh?” Barton asked and Steve nodded. “It’s not that she doesn’t like you. She…she has some resentment built up against you.”

 

“Why?” Steve wanted to know, wondering what he could have done to make Wanda resent him so much.

 

“You’ll see at the end of the recordings. But, to make a long story short, she feels like you abandoned her,” Barton explained and Steve absorbed this for a few moments.

 

“Did I?” Steve finally asked.

 

“Yes,” Barton admitted.

 

Steve frowned, not pleased by this news. Seeing this, Barton placed a hand on Steve’s shoulder.

 

“She’ll forgive you Cap. You weren’t the only one who abandoned her,” Barton said with a haunted look in his eyes that made Steve curious.

 

They followed everyone else to the viewing room. They entered in time to see the past Avengers staring as Future Wanda seemed to conjure a couch and chair out of thin air and set them down next to the couch Steve, Nat, Sam and Scott had sat on yesterday.

 

“Since when could you do that?” Natasha asked as she looked back and forth between the two Wandas, the past version staring at her future self stunned.

 

“Since shortly after Thanos. Trust me, you don’t want this power, not the way I got it,” Future Wanda said, looking at her past self with a haunted look in her eyes.

 

“So…what do we call you?” Rhodey asked after a few moments of tense silence.

 

“Call me Scarlet,” she said with a slight smile.

 

Everyone nodded; still trying to process there was another Wanda there with them. They retook their seats as Scarlet, Barton, and Lila sat on the couch and Parker took the chair. Barton picked up the remote and started the next recording.

 

Voices were heard calling out, saying the Asgardian refugee vessel called the Statesman was under assault. They requested aid from any vessel in range. They were 22 jump points ahead of Asgard and their crew was made up of Asgardian families with very few soldiers.

 

“Thanos,” Thor snarled enraged, his hands emitting small sparks.

 

“Thor, calm down,” Steve told him.

 

“Thanos-” Thor started angrily.

 

“Is still two years away from attacking your people,” Barton interjected. “And if we send you back, hopefully he never will.”

 

“Calm down my friend,” T’Challa said as he placed a hand on Thor’s shoulder.

 

After a moment, Thor let out a breath, the electricity around his hands vanishing. Barton waited a moment before resuming the recording.

 

The black screen faded to show the Statesman as the Sanctuary II fired blue bolts at it.

 

Thor clenched his fists tightly, glaring at the screen. However, thankfully, he managed to keep control of his emotions.

 

In the burning wreckage of the Statesman, a wounded Heimdall lay on the ground as someone walked around, passing several dead Asgardians.

 

Thor had a wounded look on his face as he stared in horror at the lifeless bodies of his people. It was an image that would forever be burned into his brain, an image he vowed he would never allow to become a reality. Likewise, his friends all stared, horrified by the scene.

 

The figure walked around and said, "Hear me and rejoice. You have had the privilege of being saved by the Great Titan. You may think this is suffering. No. It is salvation."

 

“Salvation? He calls this salvation?” Rhodey asked angrily as they all glared at the screen.

 

“He’s been brainwashed by Thanos, they all were. Thanos takes them from their planet after he wipes out half the population and ‘adopts’ them, indoctrinates them to his way of thinking,” Barton said in disgust.

 

“Everything we hear about him makes Thanos sound even worse,” Scott said and Barton let out a bark of a laugh.

 

“Trust me, you haven’t seen anything yet,” Barton said grimly.

 

"Universal scales tip toward balance because of your sacrifice. Smile. For even in death, you have become Children of Thanos." The figure finished as his face was revealed. It was Ebony Maw.

 

“Squidwards’s ugly step brother?” Tony joked in an attempt to lighten the mood.

 

It didn’t work.

 

Loki was revealed to be standing there in fear. Proxima Midnight had her spear on him while Corvus Glaive and Cull Obsidian stood there too.

 

“Loki doesn’t look good,” Natasha noted.

 

“Thanos charged him with getting the Tesseract and bringing it to him when he came to earth all those years ago. He failed. Thanos doesn’t like being disappointed,” Lila explained and Thor paled.

 

Then a huge armored figure was shown looking the other way.

 

Everyone stilled as they finally got their first look at the purple skinned being.

 

“That’s him, isn’t it?” Tony asked and the future viewers nodded grimly.

 

“Thanos,” Parker said darkly.

 

“The mad Titan. The greatest enemy you will ever face,” Scarlet said in a matching tone as chills went down the spines of those from the past.

 

"I know what it's like to lose," Thanos said as he turned around to look at a wounded figure at his feet. "To feel so desperately that you're right... yet to fail, nonetheless."

 

“Holy crap, it’s Thor!” Peter exclaimed shocked as they all realized who the wounded figure was.

 

“You look even worse than Loki,” Clint noted uneasily as Thor looked shocked at his physical state.

 

Thanos lifted Thor up and walked towards Loki, "It's frightening. Turns the legs to jelly. But I ask you, to what end? Dread it; run from it... destiny arrives all the same. And now, it's here. Or should I say... I am." And then he revealed the Infinity Gauntlet in his left hand, the Power Stone glowing in its slot.

 

“What’s that?” Steve asked as they all eyed the stone, having a feeling they already knew.

 

“The Power Stone, one of the six Infinity Stones,” Barton said grimly.

 

“It had been left under the protection of The Nova Corps, an intergalactic police force. Thanos slaughtered every last one of them a week before this,” Scarlet explained and the past viewers paled.

 

Thor groaned how Thanos talked a lot as Thanos asked Loki for the Tesseract or he'd kill Thor, saying he would have a preference. Loki coldly told him to kill away.

 

“Are you kidding?! After all the two of you just went through, he would still let Thanos kill you?!” Sam exclaimed as the past viewers glared at the screen, disgusted.

 

“My brother is many things, but he is not stupid. I assume he knew of Thanos’ plan?” Thor asked as he looked over at Barton.

 

“If he didn’t, he had a pretty good idea,” Barton said and Thor nodded.

 

“My brother probably did not want Thanos to have the Tesseract,” Thor noted.

 

Thanos moved the Power Stone to Thor's head and it glowed, striking energy into his head as he screamed in pain.

 

Thor winced as everyone else watched, horrified to see their friend be tortured.

 

Loki was unable to watch and shouted at Thanos to stop, which he did.

 

“Guess he couldn’t do it,” Clint muttered feeling something close to respect and empathy blossom in his chest.

 

Thor said they didn't have the Tesseract as it had been destroyed on Asgard. Loki then guiltily lifted his hand and the Tesseract appeared in it as Thor groaned how Loki was the worst.

 

“He took it. Of course he did,” Thor said torn between exasperation and anger.

 

“Even if the Tesseract would have been destroyed, what’s inside wouldn’t have been,” Scarlet said as they looked over at her. “Best case scenario, it ends up on some planet near Asgard and Thanos gets it anyway. At least this way, you were warned.”

 

"I assure you brother….the sun will shine on us again," Loki assured Thor as he moved to Thanos. "Your optimism is misplaced, Asgardian," Thanos told him as he chuckled. "Well, for one thing, I'm not Asgardian," Loki said as he stopped near Thanos. "And for another... we have a Hulk." Then Hulk leapt out with a roar and tackled Thanos away as Loki dropped the Tesseract and pushed Thor out of the way.

 

“He used my line!” Tony shouted.

 

“That’s what you’re focusing on?” Rhodey asked incredulously.

 

None of them noticed the future Avengers were still tense, knowing what was about to happen.

 

Hulk bellowed angrily in challenge. Hulk punched Thanos, sending him back before punching him two more times and then elbowed him twice on the shoulders before slamming him into the wall. He then held Thanos in a chokehold.

 

“He’s doing it,” Peter breathed as they all watched, tense, none of them daring to hope.

 

Cull Obsidian moved to help Thanos but Ebony Maw raised his hand, "Let him have his fun."

 

“Fun?” Rhodey asked as they all stared in shock.

 

“Thanos is toying with Hulk,” Steve almost growled at the realization. “This is just a game to him.”

 

Thanos grabbed Hulk's hands and slowly pushed them back before striking his shoulder, staggering him back.

 

“Son of a bitch,” Tony said shocked as they all stared in horror.

 

“He’s even stronger than Hulk,” Thor said as a pit of dread formed in his stomach.

 

Thanos blocked Hulk's punch and struck him, staggering him again. He then dodged another and punched his back, throwing him off. Thanos kept blocking Hulk's punches and punched him back several times, smashing him into a pillar. He then kneed Hulk's face before lifting him up and throwing him down.

 

“He-He just beat Hulk back like he was nothing!” Clint exclaimed in stunned disbelief.

 

“Son of a bitch,” Tony repeated in a whisper.

 

“If he can do that to Hulk without even trying, how can we stop him?” Sam asked as the air seemed to become heavier, no one seeming to have an answer.

 

“Like Cap said a long time ago, together,” Barton said as they looked over at him. “We beat him because we stood together when it mattered most. You wanna beat him, you need to put aside your differences and work together. Otherwise, this whole thing has been a waste of time.”

 

As Hulk lay, Thor struck Thanos' helmet with a pipe but he was barely affected while the pipe shattered. Thor made to strike again but was kicked away. Ebony Maw telekinetically trapped Thor with several pieces of broken metal.

 

“Shit,” Clint said as Thor groaned.

 

Heimdall then looked at Thor and as his eyes changed color he said, "Allfathers... let the dark magic flow through me one last... time." The Bifrost appeared and lifted Hulk up, transporting him away somewhere else.

 

“That’s how we were warned. Heimdall sent the Hulk back to earth,” Vision realized and the future Avengers nodded.

 

“Thank you Heimdall,” Thor said, not noticing the grim looks on the future Avengers’ faces.

 

Thanos then moved menacingly towards Heimdall.

 

“No no no no,” Thor said, paling as they all realized what was about to happen.

 

Thanos glared at Heimdall and took Corvus Glaive's glaive. Heimdall looked sadly at Thor whose eye widened in fear. "That was a mistake," Thanos said and stabbed Heimdall with the glaive, killing him brutally. "NOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Thor screamed in agony.

 

“NOOOOOOOO!” Thor wailed in pain.

 

Thor put his head into his hands, his shoulders heaving as he sobbed. Everyone looked at Thor sadly, understanding how he felt. After a moment, T’Challa placed a hand on his shoulder.

 

“This past cannot be changed…but our future still can be. Our future is not yet written in stone,” T’Challa said gently.

 

After a moment, Thor pulled himself together, nodding at T’Challa as he sat up, although he did not seem entirely convinced.

 

"You're going to die, for that!" Thor yelled in grief but Ebony Maw gagged him with a piece of metal and shushed him.

 

Thor growled, glaring at the screen. Everyone eyed him wearily, worried he would strike the TV again but, thankfully, Thor was able to control his emotions this time.

 

Corvus took back his glaive as Ebony May picked up the Tesseract and bowed before Thanos, "My humble personage... bows before your grandeur, Thanos took off his helmet, revealing his bald head, and also took off his armor, revealing his huge black vest. “No other being has ever had the might... nay, the nobility... to wield not one, but two Infinity Stones," Thanos took the Tesseract from Maw who said, "The universe lies within your grasp." Thanos then shattered the Tesseract in his hands, revealing the Space Stone.

 

“The Space Stone,” Scarlet muttered as they all stared at it.

 

Thanos blew away the glass and slowly fit the Space Stone to the Infinity Gauntlet. There was a blue flash of light as power ran through him.

 

“And now he has two of them,” Wanda said looking pale.

 

Thanos told his children there were two more Infinity Stones on Earth and to find them and bring then to Titan.

 

“I know one is The Mind Stone, but what’s the other?” Natasha asked as they all looked confused.

 

“You’ll see,” Lila said vaguely.

 

“He will come for me now,” Vision realized as they all started.

 

“We’ll protect you,” Steve said and Scarlet winced.

 

They bowed and said they wouldn't fail him. Loki then arrived and said they might need a guide for Earth. He had some experience in that area. Thanos asked if he considered failure experience and he said he considered experience as experience.

 

“Are you kidding me? After what he just saw Thanos do, he’s going to go back to working with him?!” Clint exploded as they all glared at the screen.

 

“Loki,” Thor said hurt, none of them noticing the grim expressions on the future Avengers’ faces.

 

"Almighty Thanos... I, Loki, prince of Asgard..." Loki looked at Thor and said. "Odinson..." Loki continued, "The rightful king of Jotunheim... God of mischief... " A dagger materialized in Loki's hand suddenly, hidden from all while Thor watched in concern.

 

“He’s gonna make a move on Thanos,” Natasha realized as everyone looked shocked.

 

“Well now I’ve seen everything,” Clint muttered.

 

Loki continued, "Do hereby pledge to you... my undying fidelity." He kneeled and bowed before Thanos, taking a deep breath. Then, moving at quick speed with his Asgardian reflexes, he lunged with his dagger, only for Thanos to press his fist as the Space Stone glowed and the blue energy stopped Loki's hand.

 

“No,” Thor said paling as he worried for his brother.

 

“Just a couple inches short, damn it,” Tony swore as they all watched, tensed.

 

“Undying?" Thanos mocked before grabbing Loki's weapon hand and making him drop the dagger, "You should choose your words more carefully." He lifted Loki by the throat, slowly choking him as Thor watched.

 

“No!” Thor shouted, hating that he could not do anything but watch.

 

Everyone was silent, stunned. Even Clint took no joy in seeing this.

 

“You... will never be... a God!" Loki wheezed out as his skin color returned to blue. Thanos squeezed his neck and a crack was heard as Loki went limp, his eyes wide and mouth open, blood running down his nose and mouth. "NO!" Thor screamed but the gag muffled him.

 

Lightning shot out of Thor as Scarlet used her powers to contain it and Wanda quickly used her powers to get T’Challa away from Thor.

 

“Thor, calm down,” Steve said as he walked up to Thor.

 

“My brother was just killed!” Thor snarled his eyes bright with rage and grief.

 

“I know, I understand,” Steve said, remembering seeing Bucky falling, seemingly killed before his eyes. “But your Loki is still alive and well. We can go back and save him.”

 

For a few moments, it was silent. Then, Thor nodded and the electricity around his body vanished.

 

“I am sorry my friends,” Thor said after a moment.

 

“It’s okay man, we get it,” Sam said.

 

“We are all only human, for lack of a better word,” T’Challa said, remembering his own reaction to his father’s death. “It is nothing to be ashamed of.”

 

Thor nodded gratefully before Steve and T’Challa retook their seats and Barton restarted the recording.

 

Thanos dropped a dead Loki in front of Thor who stared heartbroken. "No resurrections this time," Thanos said.

 

Thor growled, glaring hatefully at Thanos. He would kill him, Thor vowed viciously in his head.

 

Thanos activated the Power Stone and the ship started breaking apart as purple flames, explosions and energy covered it. Thanos then activated the Space Stone and a portal appeared behind them as he walked into it with the Black Order, transporting them away instantly.

 

“Wait, he can open portals?” Tony asked shocked.

 

“He can with the Space Stone,” Parker said.

 

The metal restraints broke as Thor crawled towards Loki, not caring about the ship being destroyed around him. "No…Loki…" He said in grief as he put a hand on Loki's chest and bowed down, sobbing. The Statesman exploded in a purple energy of fire.

 

Thor watched the scene, too numb to care that he had seemingly died. The others were not so indifferent.

 

“Thor…” Steve trailed off as they all looked at Thor shocked and sad, but he didn’t react.

 

“He survived. With the help of some…new friends,” Barton assured them.

 

Far away, The Bifrost energy passed the sun and the moon and shot towards the Earth, reaching right above New York.

 

“Heimdall sent Hulk back to earth,” Thor realized.

 

“He’s the one who warned you,” Natasha realized and Scarlet nodded.

 

In the New York Sanctum, Strange asked Wong if he really didn't have any money and he said attachment to the physical was detachment from the spiritual.

 

“It’s Strange,” Steve noted.

 

“But who’s the guy with him?” Clint wondered.

 

“Wong. He’s a Sorcerer, just like Strange,” Lila explained.

 

Strange joked how they will make a metaphysical Ham on Rye when Wong said he had 200. Strange asked if it was dollar but Wong said it was rupees, which was a buck and a half.

 

Everyone chuckled, the banter between Strange and Wong providing some much needed levity after what they had just witnessed.

 

The two walked down the stairs as Wong said he would like a Tuna Melt. Then the roof crashed as the Bifrost energy shattered the stairs behind them. They turned as Strange called the Cloak of Levitation while his uniform appeared and Wong summoned Tao Mandalas. The two peered into the hole as Hulk was seen reverting back to Banner. "Thanos is coming. He's coming…." Bruce breathed out in terror. "Who?" Strange asked, to confirm what he had heard.

 

“And that’s how we found out,” Scarlet explained.

 

“Heimdall scarified himself to warn us. We can’t let him die in vain,” Steve said with a glance at Thor. “Him or Loki.”

 

“They won’t,” Thor promised with a growl as the recording continued.

Chapter Text

In Central Park, Tony and Pepper were walking together as she told him to slow down.

 

“Me and Pep are back together?” Tony asked hopefully.

 

“Not just that, engaged,” Parker said with a grimace, something Tony noticed.

 

“What, what’s with the face?” Tony asked.

 

“Let’s just say that when you asked her to marry you…not your best moment,” Parker said vaguely.1

 

Tony said how there were some dreams in which they got to pee but there were no bathrooms. Pepper finished, saying they woke up and actually had to pee.

 

Everyone laughed, the scene providing some much needed levity to the room after the opening. Even Thor had an amused smile on his face.

 

Tony said last night he dreamt they had a kid and it was real. They'd named the kid after Pepper's eccentric uncle. Pepper nodded as Tony remembered his name was Morgan.

 

The future Avengers subtly exchanged glances, wondering how Tony would react when he found out about Morgan.

 

Pepper realized Tony had woken up and thought they were actually expecting.

 

“That must have been a shock for me,” Tony noted a little wistfully.

 

He’d never really thought about having kids, mostly due to having a strained relationship with his own father. But now the idea was planted in his head and he found himself fantasizing about teaching a mini him how an Arc Reactor worked or holding hands with a girl with Pepper’s smile.

 

Tony said he had a dream about it which was so real. Pepper pointed at Tony's chest piece and said he wouldn't have done that if he wanted a kid. Tony said it was just a housing unit for nanoparticles.

 

“You do not appear to be helping your cause,” T’Challa noted.

 

"It's not helping your case, okay?" Pepper said.

 

“Looks like Pepper agrees with you You’re Highness,” Rhodey said amused as they all laughed.

 

Tony said it was just an attachment and he was trying to protect them, the future them, in case there was a monster in the closet. Pepper finished for him with 'shirts' and he said how she finished all his sentences.

 

“It’s like she can read my mind,” Tony joked.

 

“Or she’s had to put up with you longer than anyone else,” Rhodey joked and they all laughed, even Tony.

 

Tony said they would have a nice dinner and then there would be no more surprises. The two then kissed.

 

“Something tells me I won’t make that reservation,” Tony said with a wince as the atmosphere in the room plummeted.

 

Then a portal opened and Doctor Strange arrived, "Tony Stark, I'm Doctor Stephen Strange. I need you to come with me."

 

“Oh sure, because that doesn’t scream ‘bad guy’ at all,” Clint said sarcastically.

 

“Strange doesn’t really bother with pleasantries,” Lila shrugged.

 

“We noticed,” Sam said dryly.

 

Tony and Pepper looked nervous as Strange congratulated them on the wedding. Tony asked if he was selling tickets and Strange said they needed his help and it wasn't overselling to say the fate of the Universe was at stake. Tony asked who ‘they’ was and then Bruce appeared from behind Strange, greeting the shocked Tony and Pepper before he hugged Tony.

 

“Did no one notice a portal in the middle of Central Park?” Scott wondered.

 

“Where Tony Stark goes, strange things follows,” Natasha joked.

 

Later, Tony sat in the New York Sanctum as Wong explained, "At the dawn of the universe, there was nothing. Then... Boom." His magic showed the Big Bang happening and the projections of Infinity Stones appeared as he said, "The Big Bang sent six elemental crystals... hurtling across the virgin universe. These Infinity Stones each control an essential aspect of existence.” Space. Reality. Power. Soul. Mind," Each projection glowed as Strange said their names. "And Time." Strange moved his hands as the Eye of Agamotto opened to reveal the Time Stone inside.

 

“So Strange has the Time Stone,” Steve noted, his mind already mapping it out.

 

“The Masters of the Mystic Arts have been protecting the Time Stone for centuries,” Scarlet explained.

 

“They guard it even more carefully than Fury guards his secrets,” Barton joked and everyone who had met the man laughed.

 

"Tell me his name again," Tony said. "Thanos," Bruce told him. “He's a plague, Tony. He invades planets. He takes what he wants. He wipes out half the population. He sent Loki. The attack on New York, that's him."

 

“Thanos has been pulling the strings all this time; he’s the one my vision warned me about,” Thor said in a growl. “He made fools of us.”

 

“He won’t do it anymore,” Steve said in a voice that left no room for argument.

 

"This is it," Tony said and asked of their timeline. Bruce said Thanos already had the Power and Space Stones which made him the most powerful creature in the Universe and if he got all Six of them-

 

"He could destroy life on a scale hitherto undreamt of," Strange finished.

 

“Did he just say hitherto?” Tony asked.

 

“Really, that’s what you’re focusing on?” Sam asked incredulously and Tony just shrugged.

 

Tony leaned casually against a cauldron as he asked if Strange had seriously said hitherto and Strange asked if he was seriously leaning against the Cauldron of the Cosmos. The Cloak of Levitation smacked him, making him leave it.

 

“Did his cloak just hit me?” Tony asked outraged as everyone else laughed. “It’s not funny!”

 

“Whatever you say Tony,” Rhodey said without an ounce of sincerity.

 

Tony said they should throw the Time Stone into the garbage disposal but Wong said they had sworn an oath to protect the Time Stone with their lives. Tony said he had sworn off dairy but then Ben and Jerry’s had named a flavor after him. Strange said 'Stark Raving Hazelnuts' was a bit chalky.

 

“It is not!” Tony shouted as everyone laughed at his antics.

 

Wong said a 'Hunka-Hulka Burning Fudge' was their favorite, shocking Bruce.

 

“It is good,” Scott noted and everyone had looks of agreement on their faces as Tony crossed his arms, muttering under his breath.

 

Tony said things changed but Strange said their oath couldn't as it might be their best chance against Thanos but Tony said it might be his best chance against them too.

 

“You’re not wrong,” Steve noted as everyone felt the reality of the situation hit them once more.

 

Strange said that'd be if they didn't do their jobs. "What is your job exactly? Besides making balloon animals," Tony asked. "Protecting your reality, douchebag," Strange said and he shut up.

 

“It looks like you’ve finally met your match Tony,” Clint joked.

 

“We’ll see about that,” Tony sad as he narrowed his eyes. “I’m gonna roast him so bad when we get back.”

 

Bruce said they had a stone and needed to find Vision with the Mind Stone. Tony said Vision had shut off his transponder some time ago.

 

“Transponder?” Steve asked wearily as they all looked confused.

 

“You know when you said they were gonna Lo-Jack us Sam? Well, you were right. The Sokovia Accords allow the UN to put tags on all enhanced/powered people that can track them anywhere in the world,” Scarlet explained and everyone looked horrified.

 

“How-how is this legal? What person in their right mind would agree to this?” Scott asked angrily.

 

“Welcome to Nazi Germany,” Steve said disgusted. “Where you’re treated like you’re less than human for being different.”

 

“What was I thinking when I signed those?” Tony said as he put a hand to his head.

 

“You weren’t. Neither of us were,” Rhodey said gently, wondering how he could ever have supported something like that.

 

“Rhodey, there’s a reason you did,” Barton said and Rhodey looked at him confused. “We’ll tell you before we send you back but let’s just say weren’t exactly yourself.”

 

Bruce asked incredulously if Tony had lost another super-bot and Tony said he was evolving. Strange asked who could find Vision and Tony said Steve Rogers could.

 

“Well this should be interesting,” Sam muttered.

 

Steve and Tony glanced at each other wearily. They knew it would be hard for Tony to put the past behind him and reach out for help. The question was, would he do it?

 

Bruce asked Tony to call him but Tony said it wasn’t that easy. Tony said the Avengers had broken up, shocking Bruce. Bruce asked if it was like a band like the Beatles.

 

“Did he just compare The Avengers to a band?” Sam asked incredulously.

 

Tony said Cap and him had fallen out hard and weren't on speaking terms.

 

“Thanos is coming to wipe out half of all life. It does not matter what happened in the past, you must put it aside to defeat him,” T’Challa said gently and Tony sighed.

 

“I know that…but I’m not sure he does,” Tony said as he gestured towards the screen.

 

Bruce said Thor was gone so it didn't matter who he was talking to or not. Tony finally took out the flip phone, ready to call, when unusual sounds were heard.

 

“Something’s happening,” Peter said as the future Avengers looked grim.

 

Tony asked if Strange was moving his hair. Strange looked at his fluttering hair and said not at the moment. Tony looked up through the hole in the roof to see metal scraps flying everywhere.

 

“Uh oh,” Scott said as they all tensed.

 

“Looks like Thanos’ children found The Tine Stone,” Steve said grimly as Tony winced.

 

“Should have called right away,” Tony muttered.

 

“Can’t do anything about it now,” Steve said as they watched the recording.

 

Tony walked out of the Sanctum and saw terrified people running as dust and debris flew around. One woman fell and he helped her up as a car crashed on a pole behind him but Bruce and Wong helped the person. Tony put on his glasses and asked FRIDAY what he was looking at but she said she wasn't sure. Tony asked Strange to put the Time Stone in his back pocket but he said he might wanna use it.

 

“It would be smarter to take the stone away from the place where Thanos sent his children,” Sam pointed out.

 

“Well, Strange is a lot like Tony: very prideful and not always willing to listen to someone, even when he knows they’re right,” Barton said and Tony sighed.

 

“Great, just what the world needs, another me,” Tony said sarcastically.

 

Tony then saw a huge circular ship floating over Bleecker Street.

 

“Son of a bitch,” Tony said stunned.

 

“Holy crap!” Peter exclaimed as they all stared at the screen.

 

“That is a big space ship,” Scott said.

 

“No shit Tic-Tac,” Sam muttered.

 

In a school bus, the hair on Peter's arm stood up as he looked out of the window to see the ship.

 

“It’s me, I’m back,” Peter said surprised.

 

“Somehow, I have a feeling that’s not a good thing,” Tony muttered with a sinking feeling.

 

He told Ned to cause a distraction and Ned saw the spaceship. Ned shouted excitedly, saying there was a spaceship and everyone was going to die. The kids all looked out as Peter opened a window with webbing.

 

“Friend of yours?” Steve asked Peter, who nodded.

 

“Ned, my best friend,” Peter said.

 

"What's the matter with you kids? You never seen a spaceship before?" The elderly driver asked.

 

“Now he’s a bus driver? Seriously, who is this guy?” Scott exclaimed.

 

“I wish we knew, but he just shows up and we’ve never been able to figure out why,” Parker said.

 

Peter hung to the side and put on his mask before swinging away over the water to the ship.

 

Tony told FRIDAY to evac all beyond 43rd Street and to notify first responders. Strange used the Winds of Watoomb on Bleecker Street and all dust and debris cleared. He winked at Tony as Tony rolled his eyes.

 

“Show off,” Tony muttered.

 

“Look who’s talking,” Natasha said with a smirk and Tony glared at her as everyone else tried to cover their snickers.

 

Then a beam shot down and Ebony Maw and Cull Obsidian appeared.

 

And then the snickers were gone as they all tensed, watching the recording with a lot of intensity.

 

"Hear me and rejoice. You are about to die at the hands of the Children of Thanos. Be thankful... that your meaningless lives are now contributing..." Ebony Maw was cut off by Tony, "I'm sorry, Earth is closed today. You better pack it up and get outta here."

 

“Somehow, I don’t think they’ll head home,” Tony muttered.

 

"Stonekeeper. Does this chattering animal speak for you?" Maw asked Strange.

 

“Oh, I’m the chattering animal?” Tony asked insulted.

 

“High and mighty coming from Thanos’ lapdog,” Scott said and Tony looked at him gratefully.

 

"Certainly not. I speak for myself," Strange said as he and Wong summoned the Tao Mandalas. "You're trespassing in this city and on this planet." "He means get lost, Squidward," Tony added. “He exhausts me,” Maw said.

 

“He exhausts everyone,” Barton joked and Tony glared at him as everyone chuckled for a moment, the tension broken momentarily.

 

Maw told Cull to bring him the Stone and Tony asked Bruce if he wanted a piece. Bruce said he didn't but he never got what he wanted as he attempted to transform into Hulk but only his neck turned green. Tony sarcastically said it was good to have him as Bruce said he needed to concentrate and tried again but said they were having a thing.

 

“What?” Tony asked as they all looked shocked.

 

“Did Hulk get scared?” Peter asked confused.

 

“Well, yes, but that’s not the only reason,” Parker said as they looked over at him “He was also tired of being used by Bruce to solve his problems.”

 

“What?” Clint asked confused.

 

“Bruce used Hulk as a weapon, Hulk got tired of it,” Natasha realized, remembering her own time in the Red Room as Parker nodded.

 

“Hulk was a creature capable of desires, thoughts and feelings but, for a long time, Bruce just treated him like a disease he wanted to be rid of. You can only do that for so long,” Scarlet explained as the others looked thoughtful.

 

Tony pointed at the approaching Cull and said that was the thing. Bruce grunted but failed to release Hulk as Tony said he was embarrassing him in front of Wizards. Bruce apologized but Tony told him to stand down and told Wong to protect him.

 

“We could really use a Hulk right now,” Tony muttered.

 

As Cull charged, Tony pulled two strings attached to him and tapped his chestpiece twice as he walked forwards. The suit started forming around him slowly, the armor encasing him. Tony took off his glasses which assimilated into the suit and soon, he stood there in Iron Man Armor: Mark L.

 

“Whoa,” Peter said as they all stared at the suit in awe.

 

“I made that?” Tony asked, his jaw dropped.

 

“Yeah, with nanotech,” Parker explained.

 

“Wow, I’d been experimenting with it but it’s still far off,” Tony said still in shock. “I can’t believe it actually worked.”

 

“Well it did, and it’s your most impressive suit yet,” Rhodey said in awe.

 

Tony formed a shield and blocked Cull's hammer before uppercutting him back and then formed Cluster Cannons, blasting Cull back as Maw telekinetically threw him to a side to save himself.

 

“Awesome!” Peter cheered as Tony smirked.

 

“How do you like that?” Sam asked with a smirk.

 

Bruce asked where that was from and Tony said it was nanotech when Maw produced a spike from the Earth which threw him up.

 

“Yeah, maybe you shouldn’t stop to brag Tony,” Natasha said as Tony winced.

 

Maw attacked the rest with uprooted trees as Wong summoned the Shield of the Seraphim for defense while Strange opened a portal into which Bruce fell for his safety and half of a cab fell over him.

 

“Got him out just in time,” Steve noted.

 

Tony flew back and pushed a car Maw had thrown back at him which he split into two by raising his hand.

 

“Shit, he’s strong,” Rhodey said as they paled.

 

“Maw is the most powerful of Thanos’ ‘children’,” Scarlet explained.

 

“I think that is an oversimplification,” Vision noted.

 

Tony told Strange to get the Stone away but he said it stayed with him. Tony agreed, telling Strange to leave before he flew off, avoiding all of Maw's obstacles when Cull threw his chain hammer and it crashed Tony through a building into the park where Bruce was. Bruce asked if he was all right and Tony asked if he would help out but Bruce said Hulk wasn't coming when Cull arrived and threw his hammer again but Tony pushed Bruce away.

 

“These guys don’t play around,” Tony said as they all stared, terrified and a little in awe of their strength.

 

Tony then flew and fired a beam which deflected from Cull's shield, slicing down trees. Bruce barely evaded one and started slapping himself, telling Hulk to come out. His face transformed into Hulk and roared, "NOOOOOOO!" He transformed back to normal and asked, "What do you mean 'no’?"

 

“Hulk is acting like a kid throwing a temper tantrum,” Scott said as he remembered when Cassie would do things like this before he was sent to prison.

 

Tony was knocked down by Cull who was about to hit again when someone stopped his hammer. It was Spider-Man. "Hey man," He said before turning around. "What's up, Mr. Stark?"

 

“Oh nothing much, just fighting aliens working for an alien warlord,” Clint joked.

 

“The usual,” Tony added as everyone chuckled at their antics.

 

Tony asked where he had come from and he was about to tell about a field trip when Cull threw him off.

 

“Man I wish I had my Spider Sense back then,” Parker mused as the past Avengers looked over at him.

 

“Spider Sense? What’s that?” Peter asked excitedly.

 

“It’s basically a feeling I get whenever I’m in danger. It started not long after Thanos,” Parker said as Peter’s eyes went wide.2

 

“Cool,” Peter said in awe.

 

“Don’t make him even more of a fanboy,” Lila joked and Parker chuckled.

 

Tony and Peter fought Cull as Peter asked what his problem was and Tony said he was from space and was trying to steal a necklace from a wizard.

 

“You cover a plan spanning centuries and the entire galaxy in less than two sentences,” Natasha said amused as Tony shrugged.

 

Cull used his hammer and threw Peter again as Tony hit him with some repulse beams. This only seemed to annoy him and Cull threw a cab. Peter grabbed it with webbing and smashed it on him.

 

Maw lifted several bricks and turning them into sharp points fired at Strange and Wong. They opened portals to defend themselves and boomeranged them back at him. Maw defended himself with a car but his face was still hit by one.

 

“Ha, take that Squidward!” Tony cheered.

 

Angrily, he used a broken fire hydrant's stream to throw Wong back, knocking him out.

 

“And now Wong’s down for the count,” Steve noted as they all tensed.

 

Strange restrained Maw with a whip but Maw flew at him and pinned Strange to a building, trapping him with bricks, saying he must be popular with the children. He tried to take the Eye of Agamotto but his hand was burnt as Strange said it was a simple but unbreakable spell.

 

“He really thinks of everything, doesn’t he?” Scott said as they relaxed just a little.

 

“Usually,” Scarlet said.

 

Maw said he'd take it off his corpse and threw him down. Strange was about to use the Time Stone when utility cables restrained him and threw him down. Strange told him removing a dead man’s spell would be ‘troublesome’ but Maw said Strange would only wish he was dead as he wrapped a cable around Strange’s neck. The tightness knocked him out as Maw raised the pavement but the Cloak of Levitation flew him away.

 

“That is one seriously loyal piece of outerwear,” Tony joked.

 

Tony and Peter fought Cull when Strange flew by them and Tony told Peter to help him. Peter swung after them but Maw threw him back with a board. Peter quickly recovered and swung again as the Cloak was stopped by a pole which Maw had put in the way. Peter webbed Strange and tried to save him as he held onto a pole but Maw broke it with telekinesis and they were all beamed up to Peter's shock as he informed Stark.

 

“Shit,” Clint said as they tensed. “Now you’ve both been captured. Things can never go right for us, can they?”

 

“You have no idea,” Barton said grimly as he thought of what was to come.

 

Tony was restrained by the hammer which was now a claw. Cull leapt at him with a blade when a portal opened and he was thrown into snow. He tried to jump back up but Wong closed the portal, cutting off his hand.

 

“Ew,” Wanda said as they all looked disgusted except Thor, who was used to such things.

 

Bruce kicked it away in disgust as Tony broke the restraints. Tony said Wong was invited to his wedding before flying back up. Tony then flew towards the ship, increasing speed with FRIDAY's help as the foot thrusters transformed to a larger jet.

 

“Okay, this has to be the best suit you’ve ever made,” Rhodey told Tony as they all looked even more impressed.

 

“What can I say, I don’t do anything by halfs,” Tony joked.

 

“I think we’ve figured that out by now,” Natasha said dryly.

 

Maw walked to the ship controls which Strange's unconscious body floating behind him and prepared to take off. Tony asked to unlock 17: A and a suit flew out of the Compound.

 

“What’s that?” Scott asked and Tony shrugged.

 

“You’ll see,” Parker said with a smile.

 

Tony told Peter to let go but he said Tony had asked to save the Wizard.

 

“It won’t help anyone if you die trying to accomplish your mission,” Steve told Peter and Parker nodded in agreement as Peter flushed.

 

Peter pulled off his mask, saying he couldn’t breathe. Tony said he was running out of air and Peter said it made sense as he started falling but the suit wrapped around him and a red and black suit with the Spider symbol on it appeared. Peter stood up and said it smelled like a new car.

 

“Whoa,” Peter said looking in awe. “A suit for me?”

 

“Yeah, Tony made it for us as sort of a ‘welcome to the team’ gift. Of course, I only used it for a couple years,” Parker said as they looked over at him. “When I wore it, people always associated me with Iron Man. I needed to strike out on my own, so I gave it back and made one of my own.”

 

Tony said 'Happy trails' and asked FRIDAY to take him back as the parachute opened and sent him back.

 

“Oh come on!” Peter exclaimed as Tony shrugged.

 

“Sorry kid, but this isn’t something you should be involved in,” Tony said not sounding sorry at all. “I should never have brought you to Germany with me in the first place. I can’t change that, but I can keep you out of it now.”

 

Tony cut a hole into the ship and walked in as Pepper called and asked what was going on. Tony said they might need to push dinner as he wouldn't make it back. She asked if he was on the ship and he apologized. She asked him to come back but the call was cut due to poor signal.

 

Tony winced; guilt hitting him at what he was putting Pepper through. Seeing the look, Rhodey placed a hand on his shoulder.

 

Peter had shot a web to the ship and climbed back, foiling Tony's attempt. He clambered into the closing chamber and as he saw the receding planet, he said he should have stayed on the bus.

 

“Are you serious!?” Tony exclaimed as he whirled on Parker. “I specifically told you to head home!”

 

“You told me a lot of things,” Parker said coolly as Barton looked at him sharply. “Besides, I have a general disrespect for authority and a tendency not to listen. I learned it from you.”

 

Tony winced, knowing he had that coming and it was silent for a few moments.

 

“I know you tried to do right by me but if I see a situation headed south, I can’t ignore it,” Parker said after a moment, looking at Steve before looking at Tony. “I learned that from you to.”

 

“Well, guess my past is coming back to haunt me again,” Tony said with a sigh.

 

Maw started the mechanism and the ship was accelerated to hyperspace.

 

Back on earth, Bruce found the flip phone on the ground and picked it up as Wong walked into the portal. Wong said the New York Sanctum was unguarded and asked what Bruce would do now.

 

"I'm gonna make a call," Bruce said and Wong nodded before closing the portal. Bruce looked at Steve's name and made the call.

 

“Finally,” Scott said as they all looked over at Steve. “Looks like you’ll be coming in soon Cap.”

 

Steve nodded, watching the screen with an unreadable expression. After a moment, he looked over at Tony.

 

“This time, we face them together,” Steve said and Tony nodded.

 

“Together,” Tony agreed.

Chapter Text

In Space, the Benatar was flying as 'Rubberband Man' played. Inside, Peter Quill was chair-dancing and lip-syncing to the song with Gamora while Drax was sleeping and Rocket was yawning. Mantis just sat there as Teen Groot was playing a video game.

 

“Who the hell are these guys?” Thor asked as most of them stared at the screen, not sure what to think.

 

“Whoever they are, they have terrible taste in music,” Tony said as the future Avengers all chuckled.

 

“The blond haired guy is Peter Quill, although he prefers Star Lord. The girl with green skin is Gomora, the shirtless guy is Drax, and the girl with antennas is Mantis. The raccoon looking guy is Rocket and the guy that looks like a talking tree is Groot. They call themselves the Guardians of the Galaxy,” Barton explained.

 

“Well, that seems a little arrogant,” Scott noted.

 

“They more than back up the name, trust me,” Parker assured them.

 

“You worked with them?” Steve asked.

 

“Briefly,” Parker said but didn’t elaborate.

 

Rocket asked why they were doing this as Gamora said it was a distress signal and someone could be dying and Rocket asked why they were doing it again so Quill said because they were nice and the person would give them cheddar cheese for help. Gamora added it wasn't the point and Quill agreed. Drax said they would take his ship they would take his ship if he didn't pony up and Quill agreed.

 

“So he’s an idiot,” Rhodey said about Quill.

 

“Pretty much,” Parker admitted.

 

“Well, the galaxy is toast,” Tony deadpanned.

 

“Nice knowing you everyone,” Clint said sarcastically as everyone stared at the screen, hardly feeling optimistic about this strange group of misfits.

 

“Yeah, Gamora is the only rational one out of all of them,” Scarlet mused.

 

Thor narrowed his eyes at the screen. They must be responding to the distress signal they had heard at the beginning of the recording, he mused.

 

Gamora looked at Quill with a raised eyebrow but he gestured at her not to worry about it. Mantis said they were arriving and Quill told them this could be dangerous and to put on their mean faces, which Mantis did.

 

“Did she actually put on a mean face?” Rhodey asked incredulously.

 

“She was raised by a psychopath who left her alone most of the time. She doesn’t really have a lot of experience with people,” Parker explained.

 

“She’s a lot better now,” Lila added.

 

Groot was still playing his game and Quill told him to put it away. "I am Groot," Groot said and everyone was shocked, with Quill saying Groot had some ‘acorns’ on him.

 

“Whoa!” Thor exclaimed in shock as they looked at him.

 

“You understood that?” Natasha asked and Thor nodded.

 

“Asgardians have the ability of All-Speak, which allows us to communicate with any species in their own language,” Thor explained to everyone’s surprise.

 

“Cool,” Peter said with stars in their eyes.

 

“How come you never told us that before?” Tony asked and Thor shrugged.

 

“You never asked,” Thor said cheekily and everyone laughed at the look on Tony’s face.

 

“What’d he say?” Wanda asked curiously and Thor grimaced.

 

“You don’t want to know,” Thor said uncomfortably.

 

Rocket said Groot was a d-hole now and he'd smash the game to pieces if this was kept up. The Benatar decelerated into regular space and they saw Thanos' devastation in front of them. Bodies were seen floating around with pieces of the destroyed ship.

 

Thor looked to be in physical pain as he saw this as the atmosphere plummeted. Everyone shot Thor sympathetic looks as T’Challa placed a hand on his shoulder.

 

“We can stop if you want,” Scarlet offered but Thor shook his head.

 

“No. We have to keep going. Continue the recording,” Thor said with a voice that left no room for argument and Barton nodded as he resumed the recording.

 

Mantis asked what had happened and the horrified Quill did not answer. Rocket said they weren't getting paid as Gamora looked around and realized who had done this.

 

“Really, that’s all he cares about?” Sam asked disgusted as they all stared at the screen disgusted.

 

“Rocket is pretty rough around the edges,” Barton explained. “But, underneath it, he’s a decent guy.”

 

And then Thor's body hit the ship's hull with a thump, startling them all as Rocket asked to get it off with wipers but Thor's eye opened and they gasped.

 

“You’re alive!” Peter shouted.

 

“Of course he’s alive. We told you so, remember?” Barton said cheekily and Peter flushed.

 

The Guardians later put Thor on a table as Quill wondered how this 'dude' was still alive and Drax said he wasn't a dude but Quill was while Thor was a handsome, muscular man.

 

“Looks like Drax has a crush,” Natasha teased as Thor looked uncomfortable.

 

“No, Drax just has…interesting way of saying things,” Parker said lamely and Lila snorted.

 

“That’s one way of putting it,” Lila muttered.

 

Quill said he was muscular but Rocket said he was one sandwich away from fat and Drax said he had gained a little weight. Gamora moved around the table and looked at Thor as Mantis put a hand on his head and said he was anxious, angry and felt tremendous loss and guilt.

 

“What, she’s an empath?” Thor said shocked.

 

“She can feel emotions, but only if she’s touching someone,” Scarlet explained.

 

“Cool,” Peter muttered.

 

Drax said it was like a pirate had a baby with an angel.

 

Thor looked embarrassed as everyone burst out laughing.

 

“Oh, this is gold!” Tony laughed.

 

Quill said he was gonna commit and get some dumbbells. Rocket remarked one couldn't eat those as Gamora lifted Thor's bicep and remarked how they were made of Cotati Metal Fibres. Quill jealously told her to stop massaging his muscles and she dropped it.

 

“So I’m guessing those two are a thing?” Scott asked.

 

“Yep,” Barton said.

 

Quill asked Mantis to wake him and she did with her powers. Thor shot out of the table violently, disoriented as he got to his feet. He turned and seeing them asked, "Who the hell are you guys?"

 

“Don’t repeat yourself Point Break,” Tony joked and Thor rolled his eyes.

 

Later, Thor was eating soup with a towel wrapped around him as Gamora said, "The entire time I knew Thanos, he only ever had one goal. To bring balance to the universe by wiping out half of all life. He used to kill people planet by planet, massacre by massacre." Drax added, "Including my own." Gamora said, "If he gets all six Infinity Stones... he can do it with the snap of his fingers", she snapped her fingers to emphasize her point, "….like this."

 

Everyone shivered at this, either because the idea of it was simply too horrifying to imagine or, in Barton’s case, they were remembering those dark years where Thanos had carried out his plan.

 

“Gamora seems to know a lot about Thanos,” Steve noted after a moment.

 

“Gamora is Thanos’ daughter,” Lila revealed, to their shock.

 

“Adoptive daughter,” Barton corrected. “She was one of the children he took after he massacred her planet. But unlike the rest of them, Gamora never fell under his spell. She escaped the first chance she got and joined up with the Guardians.”

 

“Good for her,” Natasha said and the other past viewers made sounds of agreement.

 

However, the future Avengers exchanged glances, knowing how it ended for Gamora.

 

Thor noted Gamora knew a lot about Thanos and Drax revealed she was his daughter. Everyone was alarmed as Thor looked at her angrily.

 

“Uh oh,” Scott said as Thor winced.

 

“I doubt I am going to take that well,” Thor muttered.

 

Thor got up and growled her father had killed his brother as he stormed over to her. Quill said he was a stepfather and she hated him as much as him. Gamora looked nervous but Thor's gaze softened and he clapped her shoulder, saying families could be tough, saying his father had told him he had a half-sister in Hela before his death.

 

“I guess I really have matured,” Thor noted as everyone let out the breath they hadn’t realized they were holding.

 

Thor then said how she had returned and stabbed him in the eye so he had to kill her and this was life, going round and round and he felt her pain.

 

Thor winced as everyone looked at him in sympathy. Tactfully, no one said anything, which Thor was grateful for.

 

A jealous Quill moved between the two, saying it wasn't a competition but he had been through a lot too, with his father killing his mother and him having to kill his father which was harder than killing a sister and he came out with both eyes.

 

“Is he trying to make a completion out of our tragedies?” Thor asked, not sure whether he should be angry or amused.

 

“Quill is very insecure about his relationship with Gamora,” Parker said with a shrug.

 

Thor said he needed a hammer, not a spoon as he started fiddling with a console. He asked how to open this thing and when Quill asked he said he was taking their pod.

 

“Barging in, taking things, making people feel inferior to you. You’re like a less rich version of me,” Tony joked and they all rolled their eyes at him.

 

Quill deepened his voice and said he wouldn't be taking their pod.

 

“Is he trying to copy your voice?” Sam asked incredulously as Thor started to get annoyed.

 

“Like I said, insecure,” Parker said with a sigh.

 

Rocket asked if he was making his voice deeper. Quill denied but Drax said he was imitating the God-man. Quill denied and again and Mantis said with a gasp he did it again. Quill said this was his voice. Thor strode up to him and towered over him, being taller and stronger and asked if he was mocking him.

 

“And now Thor’s pulling a Septimus,”Clint joked and those who had seen Star Dust all laughed.

 

“What?” Thor asked looking confused, along with Steve and T’Challa.

 

“It’s from a movie. We’ll show it you sometime,” Natasha promised him.

 

Quill asked back if Thor was mocking him as the two started complaining.

 

“I’m losing more and more faith in their ability to protect the galaxy,” Scott said.

 

“You’re not the only one Tic-Tac,” Sam muttered.

 

Gamora told them to stop and said they needed to know where Thanos was going next. Thor said he was going to Knowhere and Mantis said he had to be going somewhere when Quill realized he was talking about Knowhere.

 

“What’s Knowhere?” Steve asked confused.

 

“A place where you never find a more retched hive of scum and villainy,” Parker joked and everyone except Thor laughed.

 

“Why are you laughing? It’s true,” Thor said and the confused look on his face only made them laugh harder.

 

“Man, we gotta catch you up Point Break,” Tony laughed.

 

“So, Knowhere?” Steve said getting them back on track.

 

“It’s a sort of safe haven for outlaws. If an intergalactic criminal needs a place to hideout, chances are he’s on Knowhere,” Parker explained.

 

“After the Aether was returned to its original form, it was sent there to a man called The Collector. It’s the last place anyone would ever think to look for it,” Thor explained with a sigh. “Or at least it was.”

 

Thor rummaged through their stores and took their food, annoying Quill as Gamora asked why Thanos would go to Knowhere and Thor said the Reality Stone had been stored safely with the Collector. Quill said only an idiot would leave it with him but Thor said a genius might too.

 

“Maybe both,” Barton mused.

 

Gamora asked how he knew Thanos wasn't going for the other Stones and Thor said Thanos had stolen the Power Stone last week after decimating Xandar and stolen the Space Stone from him after slaughtering half his people while the Time and Mind Stones were on Earth, safe with the Avengers.

 

“Except now the Time Stone isn’t safe,” Tony muttered and they looked at Vision.

 

“They will come for me,” Vision noted. “We must destroy the stone.”

 

“You can’t do that,” Strange said as he suddenly appeared in the room, startling them all.

 

“Where’d you come from?” Scott asked and Strange smirked.

 

“I’m not physically here, this is an astral projection,” strange said before looking over at Barton. “You wanted to know why I chose to help you in this? It’s because I saw the end.”

 

“The end of what?” Barton asked as they all looked confused.

 

“Everything. This timeline is breaking down, soon the entire universe will collapse,” Strange said to their horror. “Without the Infinity Stones, the universe is collapsing in on itself.”

 

“What?” Parker asked horrified and Strange nodded.

 

“Within twenty years, life will be unstainable on any planet. Not long after that, the planets will disintegrate. Then there will be only the vacuum of space before it too breaks down. The Infinity Stones are the cornerstone of all life, dangerous but needed. To remove even one is dangerous. And what happened to our stones…” Strange trailed off but everyone got it.

 

“The Stones were destroyed,” Steve said and the future Avengers nodded.

 

“You’ll see it,” Scarlet promised.

 

“This is why you helped me, to stop it,” Barton realized.

 

“I can’t save this timeline, but I can save another, make sure the future isn’t set,” Strange said before turning to the past Avengers. “I’m choosing to bet on you. Don’t make me regret it.”

 

Strange then vanished, leaving the room completely silent. Then, the past Avengers turned their attention to their future companions.

 

Barton had an emotionless look on his face that only Natasha knew was hiding his inner turmoil. Parker had a hand over his face, looking on the verge of a breakdown. Scarlet had a hand over her mouth, horror written all across her face and Lila looked to be in a state of shock.

 

“If you need it, we can take a break,” Steve offered.

 

“No,” Barton said softly. “You need to see this. But if you three need a break-”

 

“No,” Scarlet said, lowering her hand from her face although it was clear she was far from alright. “You wanted me here. I’m here.”

 

“Scarlet’s right,” Parker said as he took a deep breath, although he was also clearly bothered. “We can go on.”

 

Barton looked at Lila but his daughter raised an eyebrow in a way that reminded him so painfully of his best friend he had to take breath. Nodding, he resumed the recording.

 

Quill didn't know the Avengers and Thor explained they were the Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Mantis asked if Kevin Bacon was one and Thor said he might be but he had no idea as he hadn’t been to earth in a while.

 

“He’s an actor Thor,” Steve said and Thor nodded.

 

Thor said no one knew where the Soul Stone was so Thanos won't get it. Gamora made a face.

 

“She knows where it is,” Natasha realized as the future Avengers nodded.

 

“Yeah, she does,” Barton said, looking solemn as he remembered where that information had led Gamora.

 

Thor said Thanos would go to Knowhere to get the Reality Stone and Gamora decided to go there but Thor said they would go to Nidavellir. Drax said it was a made-up word and Thor said all words were made-up.

 

“You are not wrong,” T’Challa said as some chuckles broke out, the tense atmosphere that had fallen over the room since Strange had left lifting somewhat.

 

Rocket was awed that Nidavellir was real, remembering the legendary weapons and decided he wanted to go there. Thor said the rabbit was correct and clearly the smartest of them all, while Rocket was confused on being called 'Rabbit.'

 

“The sad thing is that’s probably true,” Barton mused.

 

Thor said only Eitri the Dwarf King could make the needed weapon and asked Rocket if he was captain. Rocket said he was perceptive as Thor said he was a noble leader and asked him to join his quest. Rocket sarcastically said he'd ask the captain before saying he was and moved with them.

 

“You do realize-” Natasha started.

 

“Yes, I know he’s not the captain,” Thor said, embarrassed.

 

Quill said he was captain but Thor shut him up and took his backpack too as Rocket told him to sit down. Quill asked what kind of weapon they were talking about. Thor said the 'Thanos-killing kind.' Quill said they should all have one but Thor said they lacked the strength to wield it and their bodies would crumble as their minds collapsed.

 

“Really?” Tony asked shocked and Thor nodded.

 

“Yes. The reason my father enchanted Mjolnir was because any unworthy human who picked it up would die trying to use it,” Thor said as they all stared at Thor wide eyed.

 

“Wow. Good thing I couldn’t pick it up, huh?” Tony joked but no one was laughing.

 

Rocket asked if it was weird he wanted to do it more and Thor said a little.

 

“Super weird,” Scott said.

 

Gamora said they needed to go to Knowhere to stop Thanos or he'd be too powerful. Thor said he already was and Rocket said they had 2 ships and a large assortment of morons so he and Groot would go with the pirate-angel while the morons would go to Knowhere. Rocket asked if that was cool and Thor said it was as he entered the pod. Quill said he knew Rocket was going to Nidavellir because Thanos wasn't there.

 

“So he’s a coward,” Thor said.

 

“Not exactly. You’ll see,” Barton said when they looked at him confused.

 

Rocket told Quill not to talk to his captain that way and told Groot to come with him and put the game away or it would rot his brain. They sat in the pod as Thor called them 'morons' and said good luck before bidding them farewell as the pod closed and flew off.

 

Everyone laughed, the atmosphere of the room lifting a bit.

 

In Scotland, Wanda and a human Vision were in a room together, hiding out as the Mind Stone glowed and Wanda asked if it was the Stone again.

 

Scarlet looked a little uncomfortable as she saw this. While she cared for Vision still, and she probably always would, looking back, especially now with the experience of an adult and seeing other relationships, she could see that her relationship with Vision hadn’t been the healthiest.

 

Judging by the look on her younger self’s face, she wasn’t exactly comfortable with it either.

 

“Well, I think we can figure out where Vision went,” Sam said as Wanda and Scarlet flushed.

 

“So it would appear,” Vision said, his face emotionless, giving no idea to his true feelings.

 

Clint narrowed his eyes as he looked between Wanda and Vision. Despite how he felt about Wanda, he was also aware that, for all intents and purposes, he wasn’t Wanda’s father. He couldn’t tell her what to do, if wanted to be with Vision, he would support her. Didn’t mean he had to like it.

 

Vision said it was speaking to him as she walked to him and asked what it said. He said he didn't know but felt something. Wanda used her powers but just felt him so they kissed.

 

“The stone is warning me about Thanos,” Vision noted as Wanda looked embarrassed.

 

Tony would have made a crack but the look Clint and Barton both shot him told him that it would be in his best interest to be quiet.

 

Later, the two were strolling down the streets as Wanda said he could have a 10 AM train so they could spend more time together.

 

“You can look human?” Sam asked surprised.

 

“It’s something we’ve been working on. It’s still in the experimental phase right now,” Tony explained as Vision nodded.

 

“To hopefully blend in more during missions or when we go out,” Vision explained.

 

“You know, I just realized, what happened to your accent?” Tony suddenly asked as he looked at Scarlet.

 

“Natasha helped me phase it out so that I could blend in a bit more,” Scarlet explained.1

 

Vision asked what if he missed it. She said there was one for 11 AM. He asked what if he missed all the trains and didn't go back. She reminded him he had given Stark his word but he said he'd rather give it to her.

 

“I appreciated the offer, but Stark and Rhodey needed you more,” Scarlet said uncomfortable.

 

Wanda said people were expecting her too and they'd made promises. Vision said for 2 years they had stolen these moments and insisted her to stay with him before realizing he was overstepping.

 

“So now you’re gonna try coaching her to ask you to stay?” Clint asked angrily, looking at Vision like he was deciding which arrow was going to use, wrapping an arm around Wanda who looked as uncomfortable as Clint felt. “You and me are gonna have a talk about how you treat your…whatever this is when we get back. It will definitely get loud.”2

 

“I think I’ll join in on this conversation,” Steve said with a stern look at Vision and Clint nodded.

 

Scarlet winced. While at the time, she had been too overwhelmed with what Vision was asking to really see what it was, she had to agree with Clint that the way Vision was asking was inappropriate, not to mention what he was asking. She was almost thankful for what came next. Almost.

 

Wanda and Vision then looked at the news on the TV at the kebab shop, with a picture of Tony Stark as the alien attacks were spoken of.

 

Every tensed as tension filled the room. Everyone looked at Tony, Peter, and Parker in concern.

 

Wanda asked what they were and Vision said what the Stone was warning him about. He decided he needed to go but Wanda said it wasn't the best idea.

 

“It really isn’t,” Parker said.

 

“I know, but my on screen self is not aware of the danger he is in,” Vision said.

 

Vision was about to respond when Corvus Glaive stabbed him from behind and lifted him up, making him scream in pain as his real form appeared while Wanda screamed, "Vision!"

 

“Shit!” Tony swore as they all either jumped or tensed.

 

“How did that thing cut you?” Clint asked stunned.

 

“I do not know,” Vision said surprised. “It shouldn’t be possible.”

 

“If it were any weapon on earth, it wouldn’t be. But you’re vulnerable to weapons from space, depending on what it’s made of,” Parker explained as Vision frowned at this new information.

 

Wanda was about to attack when Proxima Midnight blasted her away from behind, knocking her across the street and a window.

 

Scarlet grimaced at the memory as Clint tightened his grip on the pale Wanda, a look on his face that promised a painful death for Midnight. A look that was shared by almost all of the past Avengers.

 

Vision struggled to his feet as Glaive and Midnight pinned him down and the former dug his glaive into Vision's forehead, trying to rip out the Mind Stone. Vision yelled in agony.

 

No one made a sound as they all held their breath. Worry for Vision was clear on everyone’s faces. And, almost as important, the Time Stone.

 

Wanda got up and shot out two hex blasts, throwing them both back before grabbing Vision with telekinesis and propelling them both into the air, soaring over a building to another street. She landed on the ground as Vision tumbled and she used her powers to cushion his fall before swiftly bringing him to her.

 

“Atta girl,” Clint praised and Wanda flushed as they all breathed a sigh of relief.

 

“Nice job,” Natasha told Scarlet, who only smiled.

 

“I learned from the best,” she said and Natasha smirked.

 

Wanda got him out of sight and placed him on the ground. Vision said the blade had stopped him from phasing to her shock as his systems were failing, which shouldn’t be possible.

 

“Except if you have an alien weapon apparently,” Sam muttered.

 

Wanda knit his wound back together with magic as Vision joked they should have stayed in bed.

 

“Not the time man, not the time,” Scott said with a look at Vision.

 

“And if Scott is saying it’s not the time to joke, you know it’s bad,” Lila joked as they couldn’t help but laugh, some of the tension in the room lifting.

 

Glaive suddenly appeared and Vision pushed Wanda out of the way before he angrily grabbed him and flew them both up, slamming into several walls.

 

Clint looked at Vision gratefully. He still didn’t think Vision was good for Wanda, but he appreciated that Vision tried to protect her at least.

 

Midnight then attacked Wanda as Glaive pinned Vision against a wall and said they'd spare Wanda if he gave up the Stone. Growling angrily, Vision pushed off the wall and flew Glaive to the roof of a church, ricocheting off the church onto the roof.

 

Wanda and Midnight fight, evenly matched before Midnight blasts Wanda away with her spear. She leapt down, trying to slash Wanda but was held back by Wanda’s powers.

 

“Damn, this would be so cool if it wasn’t real,” Scott muttered.

 

Vision pinned Glaive against the tower and started pummeling him before throwing him across the roof. He then fired a beam from the Mind Stone but Glaive deflected and split it into several beams that hit the surrounding area. Wanda and Midnight were still fighting and narrowly avoided one.

 

“Son of a bitch,” Tony said as they all stared at the screen in shock.

 

“If it can deflect a beam from the Mind Stone, what is that thing made of?” Steve wondered but no one had an answer.

 

Glaive redirected all beams at Vision, sending him back. Wanda blocked another strike from Midnight and hearing Vision's cry, she threw Midnight over her into a burning lorry sliced in half by Vision's beam.

 

“Nice job,” Rhodey said and Wanda and Scarlet just smiled.

 

Wanda flew up as Glaive tried to rip out the Mind Stone from Vision. He turned around as Wanda told him to get his hands off and blasted him into the church with a hex blast before grabbing Vision and flying off. Midnight fired a blast and Wanda tried to deflect but the impact made them both crash into the roof of a station.

 

“Oh no,” Peter said as they all tensed.

 

Wanda crawled over to Vision who begged her to leave but she said she was staying and asked him to get up which he couldn't. Glaive and Midnight crashed through the roof and advanced on the two with their weapons. Wanda stood up and stood protectively over Vision as her hands glowed red with magic.

 

The past Avengers all tensed, worried for Wanda and Vision, especially Clint. None of them noticed the smirk flash across Barton’s face or the smile on Parker’s.

 

An express train passed behind Wanda and Midnight cocked her head to look at it. Wanda also looked over in confusion. As the train passed, a silhouette was seen on the far side of the platform.

 

“Great, more trouble,” Scott muttered.

 

“I am not so sure,” T’Challa said as he noticed the looks on the future Avengers’ faces.

 

Midnight threw her spear but the figure effortlessly caught it. Midnight glared as he then stepped out of the shadows, revealing himself to be a bearded, rugged and furious Steve Rogers. Wanda and Vision smiled in relief.

 

“That was awesome!” Peter cheered.

 

“Best entrance ever!” Scott agreed as everyone chuckled at their antics.

 

“Nice beard Cap,” Tony joked as Steve stared, subconsciously feeling his beardless chin. “Now we’re beard bros.”

 

“This isn’t going away anytime soon,” Steve just knew it as Tony smirked.

 

“It is a nice look for you,” Natasha said in a voice that raised a few eyebrows. “What?”

 

“Nothing Nat,” Clint said, deciding he would need to have a talk with her when this was all over.

 

Specifically, about her relationship with Steve.

 

Sam Wilson swooped in and kicked Midnight across the platform through the café's gate. He fired at Glaive with small projectiles which he deflected with his glaive when Steve tossed Midnight's three-pronged spear to Natasha Romanoff who jumped into the fray.

 

“What did you do to your hair?” Clint asked, almost laughing as he saw Nat’s blond, short hair.

 

“I’m too recognizable as a red head,” Natasha said simply.

 

“Still, it’s hideous!” Sam said with a laugh.

 

Scarlet chuckled, remembering how she and Sam had laughed for almost an hour after seeing it for the first time. From the look on Wanda’s face, she was struggling to hold it in right now.

 

“So what, should we call you the blond pixie now?” Tony joked and everyone laughed.

 

“Laugh it up while you can,” Natasha said with a predatory smile on her face that sent shivers down the spine of everyone there.

 

Natasha caught Glaive by surprise and ducking under his swing, stabbed him in the gut as he roared in pain and she knocked him away with a flying kick.

 

“Nice move,” Steve said and Natasha simply shrugged.

 

Midnight rushed into the fight and summoned her weapon back into her hand and attacked. Steve leapt forward and rolling, grabbed Glaive's glaive to hold her off. Natasha joined with her batons and as the three deflected each other's attacks, Sam swooped in and kicked Midnight away. She crawled to Glaive as Sam held out his two Steyr SPP Pistols.

 

“Not so tough now are you?” Scott said as the mood in the room shifted.

 

Midnight begged Glaive to get up but he couldn't.

 

“Good,” Thor said vindictively, remembering what they had done to his people.

 

“We don't want to kill you, but we will," Natasha sneered but Midnight said they wouldn't get the chance again as the two were beamed up with Midnight's spear while the glaive was snatched from Steve's hand and beamed up too. The Q ship flew away.

 

“Cowards,” Thor said angrily as the past Avengers watched dismayed.

 

“We’ll get them Thor, but we need to be careful,” Steve said and Thor nodded.

 

“Indeed,” Thor said grimly.

 

Sam helped Vision back to his feet and he thanked Steve who nodded and said they'd get him on the jet.

 

Later, the Quinjet took off as Natasha said they were supposed to stay close and check in with no chances. Wanda apologized, saying they wanted more time while Sam asked Steve where to. "Home," He said.

 

“Back to the compound,” Rhodey realized and Steve nodded.

 

“What’s happening is more important than whatever happened in the past. We need to work together,” Steve said, looking at Tony, who nodded in agreement.

 

“Together. And we will,” Tony promised.

Chapter Text

In a flashback, a little Gamora was shown crying as a sobbing woman held her while they hid in a hut. A massacre was going on outside. Gamora screamed as the door was kicked open.

 

“What is this?” Thor said confused.

 

“I believe it is a flashback,” T’Challa mused as he looked over at the future Avengers. “I assume that the young girl is Gamora?”

 

“That’s right,” Lila said with a nod and her next words made the past viewers stiffen. “This is the day she met Thanos. It’s not a pleasant memory.”

 

The Chitauri and Leviathans massacred people and caused chaos as a Chitauri dragged Gamora.

 

“Good god,” Sam said as they all stared in horror.

 

None of them had words, all of them rendered speechless by the scene. It was just…too horrible to put into words.

 

She cried for her mother before she hit it and it let go, moving onto someone else as an armored Thanos arrived and looked down on her, asking her what was wrong.

 

“Maybe it’s the fact that you’re invading her planet and massacring her people,” Clint sneered as they all felt their hatred for the mad Titan increase.

 

As Maw spoke in the background, Gamora fearlessly asked where her mother was and Thanos knelt down and asked her name. She said it was Gamora and Thanos said she was quite the fighter.

 

“Even as a kid she was fearless,” Parker noted.

 

“Reminds me of someone else I know,” Scarlet said with a tight smile as she glanced over at Peter, who was watching the screen in horror.

 

He then took her hand and led her over to a shrine of some kind. Thanos showed her a two sided knife, balancing it on his fingers, "Perfectly balanced, as all things should be. Too much to one side or the other... " He asked her to try as Maw said, "Now, go in peace to meet your maker." The Chitauri slaughtered the people and Gamora tried to look but Thanos returned her attention to the knife.

 

“Son of a bitch,” Tony said hoarsely as Peter jumped and everyone else stared in horror. “This is…”

 

“This is what would have happened if we’d failed in New York,” Steve said, swallowing thickly.

 

A shutter ran through the room as they imagined that. It just made them more determined not to let Thanos win.

 

The bodies lay as Gamora continued balancing the knife and Thanos said she was learning.

 

“Bastard thinks he’s helping her,” Clint said in disgust.

 

“He’s making her into a weapon,” Natasha seethed, reminded of her time in the Red Room.

 

In present day, Gamora was looking at the knife as Quill arrived and asked about some weapons he needed to hang from his belt. She said she had a favor to ask and he agreed. She said the path they were on led to Thanos on way or another. He tried to interrupt but apologized as she said, "If things go wrong... If Thanos gets me... I want you to promise me... you'll kill me."

 

“What the hell?! Scott couldn’t help but exclaim.

 

“But why?” Peter asked stunned.

 

“She knows where the Soul Stone is,” Natasha said, already having figured it out.

 

“She doesn’t want Thanos to know,” Steve said, having put it together as well.

 

“If he finds out, the whole universe is doomed,” Rhodey said and the future Avengers all flinched.

 

“You have no idea,” Barton muttered.

 

Quill was shocked as Gamora said she knew something Thanos didn't and if he found out, the entire Universe could be at risk. Quill said he should know too but Gamora said only if he wanted to die. Quill asked why somebody had to die in this scenario and she told him to trust her and possibly kill her. Quill joked he'd like to and, in exasperation, Gamora put a hand over his mouth and told him swear to her on his mother before lowering her hand. Quill agreed and the two kissed.

 

“He’d kill his own girlfriend?” Tony asked shocked.

 

“That remains to be seen,” T’Challa noted. “We do not know how we will react in this situation until we are forced into it.”

 

Then they heard crunching and turned to see Drax eating stuff. They asked how long he'd been there and he revealed an hour to their shock.

 

“So he just…stood there watching them?” Wanda asked not sure whether to laugh or be creeped out.

 

“That’s Drax for you,” Parker said with a grin.

 

Drax said, "I've mastered the ability of standing so incredibly still... that I become invisible to the eye. Watch."

 

“Is he serious?” Tony asked with a laugh.

 

“Drax’s species can’t see slow moving objects,” Barton explained. “He assumed it was the same way for everyone else.”

 

Quill said he was eating a zarg-nut and he said his movement was so slow it was imperceptible until Mantis greeted him while Quill and Gamora shook their heads. He walked off dejectedly.

 

“Poor Drax,” Wanda said as everyone else laughed.

 

Later, The Benatar arrived at Knowhere and flew over it as Quill said it looked deserted but Drax was reading movement. They stopped at the 3rd Quadrant and snuck into Collector's museum. As Thanos’ voice was heard, Quill raised his fist to stop the others but they walked past him.

 

“Well, they clearly respect him as a leader,” Tony said sarcastically.

 

“Quill’s not very…strict as a leader,” Parker said lamely.

 

“By that, he means that it’s a wonder Quill’s ship hasn’t been set on fire the way he runs his team,” Lila supplied.

 

“Thanos is there,” Steve said as they tensed.

 

“Well, looks like they got there too late then,” Rhodey muttered dismayed.

 

Thanos was seen standing over Tivan and said he knew Tivan had the Reality Stone. Giving it to him would spare him a great deal of suffering, Thanos said as he placed his foot over Tivans abdomen and pressed down. In pain, Tivan said he had sold it and asked why he would lie. Thanos said it was like breathing for him.

 

“He’s not wrong,” Thor muttered, remembering his few encounters with The Collector.

 

As Thanos continued interrogating Tivan, Drax brandished his knives and said Thanos would pay for the deaths of his wife and daughter while Quill tried to stop him.

 

“Drax is gonna mess it up, isn’t he?” Scott said as the future Avengers winced.

 

“Drax’s home was one of the planets Thanos had massacred. His wife and daughter were among the casualties,” Barton explained and everyone felt sympathy for Drax. “He’s lived his entire life since trying to get revenge. He’s a loose cannon, but he’s a decent person.”

 

Scarlet and Lila each took one of his hands, knowing Barton was talking about himself as much as Drax. Barton had never quite moved passed his actions as Ronin, despite everyone’s understanding and forgiveness.

 

Quill tried to stop Drax and reason with him but he muscled past him and was about to attack till Mantis put a hand on his head and made him sleep. He fell to the ground with a clang which Thanos heard.

 

“Shit,” Tony said what they were all thinking.

 

As Thanos threw Tivan into a glass display, Quill told Gamora and Mantis to go right but Gamora still charged and leapt at Thanos. She struck him with her blade but he grabbed and shattered it. She still managed to stab him in the neck with the broken and piece and taking out the dagger he had made her balance all those years ago, stabbed him in the heart.

 

“She got him,” Peter said in shock.

 

“Well that was…easy,” Scott said.

 

“Too easy,” Steve said with narrowed eyes. “We wouldn’t be here if he was beaten that easily.”

 

“Thanos is a lot of things. Easy to beat is not one of them,” Barton said grimly.

 

Blood poured out of Thanos' mouth as he collapsed and died, asking why Gamora as she sobbed. Quill noted that was quick as Drax got up and Tivan started clapping, saying it was magnificent.

 

“She still cares,” Tony noted shocked.

 

“Stockholm syndrome. Plus a lifetime of indoctrination,” Scarlet said sadly.

 

"Is that sadness I sense in you, daughter?" Thanos' voice suddenly spoke as Gamora looked up in shock.

 

“What?” Scott asked shocked as they all tensed.

 

“Too easy,” Steve repeated wearily.

 

"In my heart, I knew you still cared," The voice said as the dead Thanos and the surroundings faded with Tivan, revealing the entire place burning badly and destroyed.

 

“He already got there and took the stone. It was a trap,” Wanda realized in horror.

 

"But one never knows for sure. Reality is often disappointing," Thanos said as he finally appeared. "That is, it was. Now... reality can be whatever I want." He revealed the Reality Stone in the Infinity Gauntlet with the Power Stone and the Space Stone.

 

“Three Stones,” Clint breathed, a horrible feeling settling in his stomach.

 

“He’s picking them up one by one,” Tony said paling.

 

“He won’t this time. We’ll stop him,” Steve said firmly as he looked around at them. “Whatever it takes.”

 

Barton grimaced, remembering another time Steve had said that phase. And what had happened after.

 

Gamora realized he'd known she'd come and Thanos said he'd counted on it, saying they needed to discuss something as he disarmed and grabbed her. Drax roared at him but Thanos used the Reality Stone to turn him into pieces and a scared Mantis into strips.

 

“What the hell?” Sam asked shocked.

 

“Damn it, he’s already mastered the Reality Stone,” Thor swore.

 

“He’s been studying them for years, he knows exactly how they work,” Scarlet said lowly.

 

Quill arrived, pointing his blaster at Thanos, telling him to let her go and calling him 'grimace’. Thanos recognized him as the boyfriend but Quill joked he was the Titan killing long-term booty call and said he'd blow the nutsack off his face. Gamora reminded him of the promise and he lowered the blaster to her face reluctantly.

 

No one said a world, either because they knew what was about to happen or because they were overcome with horror and sympathy for Quill and Gamora. Everyone stilled, no one made a sound as they waited to see what would happen next.

 

Thanos said Gamora expected too much from him and pushed her into the blaster, telling Quill to do it. Quill angrily said how he had told her to go right. "I love you, more than anything," Gamora said tearfully. "I love you too," Quill said and pulled the trigger but only bubbles flew out as Thanos had used the Reality Stone and the blaster turned to bubbles as well.

 

“That bastard,” Thor growled as he glared at the screen. “He was just playing some sick game.”

 

“It’s how he gets his kicks,” Lila said disgusted.

 

“I’m gonna enjoy kicking his ass,” Tony said darkly.

 

"I like him," Thanos said before opening a portal with the Space Stone and disappearing with Gamora.

 

“He has Gamora,” Natasha said as she paled. “He’ll do anything to make her talk.”

 

It was silent in the room as everyone began to understand the gravity of the situation.

 

“Was he serious when he said he liked Quill?” Scott asked randomly and they all looked at him in exasperation. “What, I’m curious!?”

 

“Yeah, he was serious. Quill put aside his own feelings and was willing to kill the woman he loved for the greater good. Thanos respected that,” Barton explained with a sigh.

 

Quill looked around in stunned disbelief as Drax and Mantis reformed and got up while Quill picked up Gamora's broken blade as Knowhere burnt around him.

 

Back on earth, The Quinjet landed at the Compound as Rhodey was in a holographic meeting with Ross and other officials.

 

“Great, Secretary Jackass is back,” Tony muttered as they all groaned.

 

“On the bright side, so am I,” Rhodey joked.

 

Ross asked if there was no word on Vision and Rhodey said satellites had lost him over Edinburgh. Ross added he was with four criminals in a stolen Quinjet as Rhodey said they were criminals because he had chosen to call them that. An annoyed Ross said how Rhodey's talent for horseshit rivaled his own.

 

“No, nothing rival’s him,” Barton said gruffly.

 

Rhodey said Vision would have been here if not for the Accords and Ross pointed out how Rhodey had sighed The Accords. Rhodey pointedly said he’d paid for that and Ross asked if he was having second thoughts. "Not anymore," Rhodey said as Steve, Natasha, Sam, Wanda and Vision arrived. Ross said they had some nerve and Natasha said how he could use some of that. "The world's on fire and you think all is forgiven?" Ross asked.

 

“Aliens are invading, Thanos is trying to wipe out half the universe, and he’s worried about us,” Sam said disgusted as they all stared at the screen incredulously.

 

“He can say he cares all he wants, the only thing he really cares about is his own power,” Barton said gruffly.

 

"I'm not looking for forgiveness. And I'm way past asking permission. Earth just lost her best defender. So we're here to fight. And if you wanna stand in our way... we'll fight you too," Steve declared firmly as he held Ross' gaze.

 

“Nice one Cap,” Clint said, giving Steve a thumbs up.

 

“Yeah, that was badass,” Scott added.

 

“He deserved it,” Steve said simply.

 

“I’ve clearly rubbed off on you,” Natasha said with a smirk.

 

“Maybe you have,” Steve said with a matching smirk.

 

“You think I’m earth’s best defender?” Tony asked shocked.

 

“With Thor gone and The Avengers all but disbanded, you were earth’s best hope,” Steve said and Tony nodded. “We may not always agree, but I will always consider you a hero worthy to be called an Avenger and someone I’m honored to fight side by side with.”

 

“Thanks Cap,” Tony said feeling humbled.

 

Ross asked Rhodey to arrest them and he was all over it as he shut the meeting off and said this was a court-martial. Steve happily shook his hand as Natasha hugged him and he said they looked like crap. Sam joked the hotels weren't exactly five star.

 

“No they were not,” Scarlet muttered with a grimace.

 

“Well, glad to see I’m acting like me again,” Rhodey said relieved, not seeing the future Avengers exchanging uneasy glances.

 

Bruce arrived and said they looked great as they looked at him in shock and he said he was back. Natasha greeted him as Sam said this would be awkward.

 

Wisely, no one said anything and looked anywhere but at Natasha, who seemed completely unaffected.

 

Later, they stood together as Rhodey said they were coming back and Wanda added they could find them. Bruce asked where Clint was and Natasha answered, "After the whole Accords situation, he and Scott took a deal. It was too tough on their families. They're on house arrest."

 

“Wait, what?” Clint asked shocked as he glanced at Barton. “House Arrest? That’s it?”

 

“Yeah, shocked me to. I eventually found out Fury had a hand in…persuading Ross to go easy on us,” Barton said and understanding dawned on Clint.1

 

“Yeah, that makes more sense than Ross suddenly growing a conscience,” Clint muttered.

 

Bruce asked who Scott was and Steve said he was Ant-Man. "There's an Ant-Man and a Spider-Man?" Bruce asked.

 

“He really missed a lot,” Tony noted.

 

Bruce said Thanos had the biggest army in the Universe and wouldn't stop till he got Vision's Stone. Natasha said they had to protect it but Vision said they had to destroy it.

 

“And here we go again,” Natasha said.

 

"I've been giving a good deal of thought to this entity in my head. About its nature. But also its composition. I think if it were exposed to a sufficiently powerful energy source... something very similar to its own signature, perhaps... its molecular integrity could fail," Vision said as he looked at Wanda.

 

“You want me to kill you,” Wanda started as they all looked at Vision in shock.

 

“It stands to reason that you would be the only one capable of destroying the stone,” Vision said, having given the matter some thought.

 

And once again, he had made a decision about her life without consulting her, Scarlet thought before squashing the thought. This Vision had done nothing wrong, she reminded myself.

 

“In any case, now that I am more aware of the consequences of destroying the stone, our best bet is to protect it, not destroy it,” Vision said, breaking Scarlet out of her thoughts.

 

"Yeah, and you with it," Wanda said. "We're not having this conversation." "Eliminating the stone is the only way to be certain that Thanos can't get it," Vision said. "That's too high a price," Wanda said. "Only you have the power to pay it," he said as he put his hands around her but she walked away. "Thanos threatens half the universe. One life cannot stand in the way of defeating him."

 

“We don’t trade lives Vision,” Steve said firmly.

 

“If we start killing our teammates, we’re no better than the bad guys,” Tony added.

 

“And if those two agree, you know you’re being stupid Vision,” Clint said half joking.

 

"But it should," Steve said. "We don't trade lives, Vision."

 

“Don’t repeat yourself Cap,” Tony joked and Steve shook his head in exasperation.

 

"Captain, 70 years ago, you laid down your life... to save how many millions of people?" Vision said. “Tell me, why is this any different?" "Because you might have a choice," Bruce said as all looked at him. "Your mind is made up of a complex construct of overlays. Jarvis, Ultron, Tony, me, the stone. All of them mixed together, all of them learning from one another." "You're saying Vision isn't just the Stone?" Wanda asked.

 

“No, he’s an organism, just like any of us, made up of a lot of different parts,” Tony said.

 

“I’m saying that if we take out the stone... there's still a whole lot of Vision left. Perhaps the best parts," Bruce said. Natasha asked if they could do that but he said not here and Rhodey said Ross wouldn't let them have their old stuff back.

 

“Yeah, because why let the fate of the world get in the way of old scores,” Natasha said sarcastically.

 

Steve looked up and said, "I know somewhere."

 

“Wakanda,” T’Challa realized and Steve nodded.

 

“Wakanda,” Steve agreed.

 

In Wakanda, T'Challa and Okoye walked together and spoke in Xhosa, saying the Kingsguard and Dora Milaje had been alerted and they had to send word to the remaining Border Tribe as well as the Jabbari as M'Baku liked a good fight.

 

“The Border Tribe is gone?” T’Challa asked shocked.

 

“After W’Kabi’s betrayal, no one trusted them anymore. W’Kabi surrendered and cut a deal with you. He would be imprisoned for the rest of his life and, in exchange, the rest of the tribe would be spared. However, you had to exile those who had helped him. M’Baku took W’Kabi’s place on the council and the Jabari more or less helped you with the responsibilities that used to be the Border Tribes’,” Barton explained and T’Challa nodded with a sigh.

 

"And what of this one?" Okoye asked. "This one may be tired of war but the White Wolf has rested long enough," T'Challa said.

 

“Bucky,” Steve realized with a start.

 

Scarlet smiled, something Clint noticed and raised eyebrow, wondering what kind of relationship she had with Barnes.

 

Tony had stiffened, wondering if he was ready to see Barnes again. He wasn’t sure yet how he would feel once he saw his parents’ killer. Well, no time like the present to find out, Tony thought dryly.

 

“He’s okay then?” Steve asked hopeful and Natasha listened as well for the news.

 

“Shuri was able to more or less deprogram him after about six months. She couldn’t wipe out the programing, but she could eliminate the hold the trigger words had on his mind,” Scarlet explained and words could not describe the joy and relief in Steve’s eyes.

 

A one-armed Bucky was feeding goats before the Kingsguad placed a case down on some stacks of hay and opened it. Bucky walked over and looked at a Vibranium arm inside the case.

 

Tony was practically drooling as he saw the arm, to the amusement of everyone. Natasha even pulled out her phone and snap a picture.

 

“Blackmail material acquired,” Natasha smirked.

 

"Where's the fight?" Bucky asked. "On its way," T'Challa said.

 

“And coming fast,” Lila said as the mood in the room shifted once more.

 

In space, Strange was suspended in midair, a thousand needles pointed inches from his face as Maw said he'd never failed Thanos and there would be judgment if he reached Titan with the Time Stone still attached to Strange's mildly irritating being.

 

“Looks who’s talking, Squidward,” Tony said and they couldn’t help but laugh at his joke.

 

The needles moved towards Strange, one piercing his cheek as he struggled not to scream while the spell protected the Stone.

 

“Papa Thanos must be so proud,” Clint said grimly as the laughter evaporated.

 

Tony was hidden, watching the scene when the Cloak of Levitation tapped his shoulder, startling him as he called it a seriously loyal piece of outerwear.

 

“It’s more loyal than Aladdin’s flying carpet,” Tony joked to light the mood.

 

It didn’t work.

 

Then Peter hung upside down, startling Tony who was furious as Peter tried to explain and he said the suit was ridiculously intuitive so it was his fault.

 

“Did you seriously just try and blame me for your decision to not listen?” Tony asked incredulously as nearly all the past Avengers turned to stare at Parker in disbelief.

 

“Yeah, not the smartest thing I’ve ever said,” Parker said with a wince.

 

“If Tony of all people is scolding you for not listening, you know you messed up,” Rhodey said.

 

“I would take offense to that, but he’s right,” Tony said.

 

Tony was furious as he stepped towards Peter as he took that back and sputtered he was in space while Tony said this wasn't where he was supposed to be. It wasn't Coney Island or a field trip but a one-way ticket. They argued until Peter said, "You can't be a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man if there's no neighborhood." Tony stared at him.

 

“I’m sorry, what?” Scott said confused as Parker laughed.

 

“After Germany, Tony told me to just stay in New York and just be a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Took me a while to understand what he meant,” Parker said as he looked over at Peter. “I love being an Avenger, but the main thing I do is look out for the little guy. It’s what I was always meant to do. Never forget that Peter, because I did for a little while.”

 

Peter admitted that didn't make sense as Tony grudgingly told him they had a situation. Tony showed him Strange was in trouble and asked if he had a plan. Peter asked if he'd seen the really old movie called 'Aliens.'

 

“I think I know what you’ve got in mind. Not bad kid,” Sam said as he gave Parker an impressed look. “Not bad at all.”

 

“I watched a lot of movies as a kid. It came in handy,” Parker said modestly with a shrug.

 

Strange was screaming as multiple pins impaled him and Maw said they had been made for microsurgery originally.

 

Peter winced, looking a little green and Wanda placed a hand on his shoulder as everyone else eyed the screen grimly.

 

Before he could continue, there was a bang behind him and turned to see Tony pointing his repulsors at him. Maw said he could end his friend’s life in an instant and Tony said Strange wasn't really his friend but saving his life was a professional courtesy. Maw used his powers to lift up debris, saying Tony's powers were inconsequential compared to his.

 

“Spare us the ‘you don’t know the power of the dark side’ speech Squidward,” Tony said, yawning for effect and everyone laughed at his antics.

 

Tony retorted the kid had seen more movies and launched a missile from his shoulder, blowing a hole in the ship as Maw and the debris were sucked out. Strange was being sucked out too as the Cloak grabbed him but he slipped. Peter then grabbed him with a web and the suit produced four legs to help him hold Strange.

 

“Whoa, that is awesome!” Peter exclaimed looking star struck as they all looked shocked.

 

“It was awesome,” Parker said with a grin as he looked over at Tony. “That suit saved my life on more than one occasion. Thank you Tony.”

 

“Don’t mention it,” Tony said.

 

Peter used his legs to pull them both back while Tony fixed the hole with his suit's properties. Maw froze to death outside, the vacuum of space killing him.

 

“Exactly what he deserves,” Rhodey said and no one disagreed.

 

Peter held out his hand to the Cloak, saying they hadn't met but it drifted away.

 

“That is one rude cloak,” Tony said as Peter looked put out.

 

Tony’s suit retracted back into the chestpiece as Strange said they needed to turn around and Tony said he wanted to run but Strange said he wanted to protect the Stone. Tony wanted Strange to thank him and he asked for nearly blasting him into space. Tony said he had saved Strange's magical ass.

 

“I believe the words you’re looking for are ‘thank’ and ‘you’,” Tony said.

 

“Strange never was one to admit when he needed help,” Scarlet shrugged.

 

“You know him well?” Steve asked and she winced.

 

“He…helped me at a time where I needed it,” Scarlet said, the painful memories of when she had snapped mentally flashing through her mind.

 

As if sensing her dark thought, Barton reached out and grabbed her hand. She smiled at him gratefully as Wanda eyed them curiously, wondering what Scarlet wasn’t telling her. Clint simply eyed Wanda in concern, mentally vowing that he would not let her go down the same path.

 

Strange said he had no idea how Tony fitted his head into that helmet.

 

“We’ve been trying to figure that out for years,” Natasha joked and they all laughed as Tony sputtered indignantly.

 

Tony said Strange should have ducked out but he had refused. Strange said he didn’t work for him, unlike everyone else in Tony's life. Tony said now they were in a flying donut billions of miles from Earth with no backup and Peter said he was backup but Tony said he was a stowaway so he should zip it up while the adults were talking.

 

“Adults, you’re both acting like children arguing over who’s in charge,” Scott said as Tony looked embarrassed.

 

Strange asked if Peter was his ward but Peter said he wasn't.

 

"I'm Peter by the way," Peter said as he held out his hand. "Doctor Strange," Strange said. "Oh, you're using our made-up names," Peter said. "Um…I'm Spider-Man then."

 

“His name is Doctor Strange,” Sam said as Peter and Parker flushed.

 

“I didn’t know that,” Parker said embarrassed.

 

Tony said the ship was on auto-pilot and Strange asked if they could control it. When Tony didn’t answer, Strange asked if Tony could get them home but Tony said he wasn't sure he should.

 

“Please tell me you’re not,” Rhodey pleaded, having figured out what Tony was planning.

 

“Would you like the truth or a lie?” Tony asked and Rhodey groaned.

 

"Under no circumstances can we bring the Time Stone to Thanos," Strange said. "I don't think you quite understand what's at stake here." Tony asked, "What? No. It's you who doesn't understand...that Thanos has been inside my head for six years. Since he sent an army to New York and now he's back. And I don't know what to do."

 

Tony flinched, remembering the nightmares he’d had about New York, the nightmares that had inspired him to write the flawed Ultron program as everyone looked at him in sympathy. However, they had the tact not to say anything.

 

“So I'm not so sure if it's a better plan to fight him on our turf or his...but you saw what they did, what they can do," Tony said. "At least on his turf, he's not expecting it. So I say we take the fight to him." Strange actually agreed.

 

“So, let me get this straight Tony,” Natasha said after a moment. “Your plan is go fight Thanos, on his tuff no less, with only the kid and Strange, who was just tortured, as backup?”

 

“Knowing that he’s already beaten Hulk without even trying and has at least two of the six stones?” Clint added in the same tone and Tony winced as several pairs of eyes questioned his sanity.

 

“When you put it like that, it sounds pretty stupid,” Tony admitted.2

 

“Because it is stupid,” Lila said, her tone coming out sharper than she had intended.

 

Barton placed a hand on her shoulder, trying to calm her. He knew what she was thinking, it was the same thought he’d had when he found out from Strange that Tony had insisted on taking on Thanos without the aid of the others: that maybe, if Tony had turned the ship around, Nat would still be alive.

 

But that was all hypothetical at this point and there was nothing they could do about it. It was up to them now, Barton thought as he eyed the past Avengers.

 

Strange then said if it came to saving him, Peter or the Time Stone, he wouldn't hesitate to let either of them die as the fate of the Universe depended on it.

 

“Wow, great moral compass he has,” Tony said disgusted.

 

“Strange has had to juggle endless possible future to keep an eye on all threats. When you do that, you tend to stop seeing people as…well, people. He lost the part of him that cared about people. He rediscovered that part of him after Thanos,” Parker said, not looking at Tony deliberately.

 

Tony sarcastically said Strange had a good moral compass before walking to Peter and doing the knighting gesture like in medieval times. "Alright kid. You're an Avenger now," Tony said before he walked off as Peter looked shocked before looking satisfied.

 

“Wow,” Peter looked in awe as he absorbed this.

 

“Not that I mind but maybe this time, wait until I’m eighteen until I officially join,” Parker shrugged as Peter glanced at him with a pout. “I wasn’t ready to be an Avenger then, I still had some growing to do. You still have a long way to go until you’re ready.”

 

“Well, with the Accords, you won’t be joining anytime soon anyway son,” Steve said and Peter looked let down. “Like he said, come talk to us after you turn eighteen. If you still want to be part of the team, we’ll be happy to have you.”

Chapter Text

Gamora sat in the Sanctuary II as Thanos brought her a bowl, saying he'd thought she might be hungry. With an incredulous look, she took it from him and angrily threw it at his chair, shattering it, saying she always hated that chair. He said he'd hoped she'd sit on it one day.

 

“So he’s not just insane, he’s delusional,” Rhodey said.

 

“He has all he power, so he never comprehended that Gamora would reject him,” Natasha said softly, once again remembering the Red Room and how they’d turned her into a weapon.

 

Gamora said she'd hated the room, the ship, and her life with him and Thanos said she'd told him that every day for almost 20 years. Gamora said she'd been a child when Thanos had taken her. He said he had saved her but she said her people were happy before he came. Thanos said her people used to go to bed hungry and search for scraps. Her planet had been on the brink of collapse but he had stopped that and now children there knew full bellies and clear skies, calling it a paradise.

 

“A paradise? He killed half the population and he thinks it’s a paradise?” Scott asked angrily as they stared incredulously.

 

“Thanos thinks of himself as a god, inflicting his will on everyone else and expecting them to be grateful for it,” Barton said disgust in his voice.

 

Gamora said he'd murdered half the planet but Thanos said it was a small price to pay for salvation. "YOU'RE INSANE!" She screamed.

 

“That’s an understatement if I’ve ever heard one,” Sam muttered.

 

Thanos said life would cease if left unchecked and needed correction. Gamora screamed, "YOU DON'T KNOW THAT!" Thanos said, "I'm the only one who knows that. At least, I'm the only one with the will to act on it."

 

Tony was unnerved by this. Not just by the words, but because they sounded so familiar. They reminded him of his himself when he had tried to justify Ultron to The Avengers. Tony wasn’t insane by any means, he wasn’t going to go on a binge where he tried to wipe out half the population of earth, but still, the parallels were not lost on him.1

 

Thanos stood up and said she had the same will as him for a time, calling her daughter. "I'm not your daughter," She said. "Everything I hate about myself, you taught me." Thanos towered over her, "And in doing so, made you the fiercest woman in the galaxy."

 

Natasha tightened her hands, which were gripping the legs of her pants in a vice like grip. The parallels between Thanos and the Red Room were getting harder and harder to ignore. Steve and Clint shot her concerned looks as she tried to calm herself. Losing it wouldn’t help, she told herself.

 

Thanos said he had trusted her to find the Soul Stone and she apologized for disappointing him but he said he wasn't disappointed at her not finding it.

 

“Uh oh,” Scott said as they all tensed.

 

Thanos said she had found it and lied as a door opened behind them. Gamora walked into it and some metal bars opened to reveal two guards and in the center suspended in midair by a blue beam was…..Nebula!

 

“Who’s that? “Peter asked as he noticed a grim look on the faces of the future Avengers.

 

“Nebula, Gamora’s sister. Another one of the children Thanos abducted who turned against him,” Scarlet said grimly.

 

“He’s going to use Nebula against Gamora the same way he used me against Loki,” Thor realized with dread.

 

“It’s his MO; he did it all their lives. And that was before they were close,” Barton said disgusted, a feeling that was shared by everyone in the room.

 

“That son of a bitch,” Tony sneered.

 

"Nebula," Gamora whispered as she touched her and begged Thanos not to do this. Thanos said Nebula had snuck aboard the ship some time ago to kill him and almost succeeded so he had brought her here to talk.

 

“She must be good to almost get Thanos,” Rhodey said impressed.

 

“Good, but not good enough,” Wanda noted quietly.

 

Thanos activated the Power and Space Stones, pulling Nebula's metal parts as she screamed.

 

Everyone watched the scene, horrified. Clint and Scott especially were horrified by the fact that Thanos was so easily able to torture his daughter in order to make another talk. Peter looked like he was about to throw up as Scarlet flinched, imagining someone doing that to Stevie. Barton simply stared at the screen stonily, having known this was coming but it didn’t make this any easier to see.

 

“I’m going to kill him,” Thor growled, enraged.

 

Gamora begged Thanos to stop, grabbing the Gauntlet and pulling it down, swearing on her life she had never found the Soul Stone. Thanos nodded at a guard and he pressed a button, revealing holographic footage from Nebula's headpiece. Memory files were accessed. Nebula's voice said Thanos was going for all the Stones but Gamora said he could never get them all as she had found the map to the Soul Stone and burnt it to ash.

 

“Damn it,” Tony swore as they all tensed.

 

“So much for that idea,” Steve said grimly.

 

The video paused as Gamora looked down in defeat and Thanos said she was strong and generous because of him.

 

“He-he thinks he taught her how to be generous?” Clint asked seeming like he wanted to take one of those Vibranium arrows T’Challa promised him and fire it at Thanos’ head.

 

“Thanos has a twisted view on most things, like how to be generous,” Lila said darkly.

 

Thanos said he'd never taught her to lie so she was bad at it. He asked where the Soul Stone was and on getting no response, he used the Power and Space Stones to torture Nebula again. She screamed louder than before as Gamora struggled not to cry.

 

“He’s a monster,” Natasha said, more certain of that now than ever before.

 

“He’s a psychopath is what he is,” Tony said, all of them glaring at the screen in hatred.

 

“He’s even worse than the Red Skull and Hydra,” Steve seethed.

 

"Vormir!" Gamora relented finally. Thanos stopped as Gamora stroked Nebula's cheek and said the Stone was on Vormir. "Show me," Thanos said.

 

“Damn it,” Tony repeated as they all tensed. “Now he’s going for the Soul Stone.”

 

“Then we have to get it before he does,” Steve said and Barton, Lil, and Scarlet all winced.

 

“Before you make a plan, wait until after you see how you get it,” Barton said lowly with a haunted look in his eyes. “There’s a reason it’s the most powerful of the stones. It comes with a high price.”

 

The past Avengers exchanged looks, the haunted look in Barton’s eyes unnerving them as they wondered what price the Soul Stone demanded.

 

In the pod, Rocket and Groot were sitting as the former flew it while Thor was standing and looking the other way. Rocket and Groot were bickering when Thor interrupted, translating one of Groot's sentences and Rocket was shocked that he spoke Groot. Thor said they'd taught it on Asgard as an elective.

 

“Really?” Tony asked surprised.

 

“No,” Thor said with a smirk but didn’t elaborate.

 

Groot said his line again and Thor said they'd know when they were close, saying Nidavellir's forge harnessed the blazing power of a neutron star and was the birthplace of his hammer. It was truly awesome.

 

“It is,” Thor said wistfully as Tony practically began vibrating in his seat.

 

“I need to see it. Point Break, you have to take me there!” Tony pleaded.

 

“I think not,” Thor said wearily and Tony gapped at him. “I apologize Stark but after the scepter, you’ll understand my reluctance to take you to the forge of the most powerful weapons in the universe.”

 

“That’s…fair,” Tony said after a moment.

 

Rocket said it was time to be captain and walking up to Thor asked, "So, dead brother, huh? Yeah, that could be annoying." Thor said, "Well, he's been dead before. But, no, this time I think it really might be true."

 

Thor looked like someone had punched him in the gut as everyone looked at him sympathetically. However, wisely, no one said anything.

 

"And you said your sister and your dad?" Rocket asked. "Both dead," Thor said. "But still got a mom, though?" Rocket then asked. "Killed by a dark elf," Thor sighed. "A best friend?" Rocket asked. "Stabbed through the heart," Thor replied.

 

Thor looked more and more depressed as the scene continued.

 

“I’m sorry,” Steve said and Thor nodded in thanks.

 

“Thor…whatever happens, don’t deal with your pain alone,” Barton said as Thor looked over at him. “You did that in this timeline and it didn’t go well.”

 

Thor, although confused, nodded, wondering what had happened to him in this timeline.

 

"You sure you're up to this particular murder mission?" Rocket asked genuinely. "Absolutely," Thor said with fake enthusiasm. "Rage and vengeance, anger, loss, regret...they're all tremendous motivators. They really clear the mind. So I'm good to go."

 

"Yeah, but this Thanos we're talkin' about...he's the toughest there is," Rocket said. "Well, he's never fought me," Thor said confidently. "Yeah, he has," Rocket pointed out. "He's never fought me twice," Thor amended. "And I'm getting a new hammer, don't forget."

 

“Better be one hell of a hammer,” Scott muttered as they all eyed Thor in concern.

 

“It better be some hammer," Rocket said. "You know, I'm 1,500 years old. I've killed twice as many enemies as that. And every one of them would've rather killed me, but none succeeded. I'm only alive because fate wants me alive. Thanos is just the latest in a long line of bastards...and he'll be the latest to feel my vengeance. Fate wills it so," Thor said passionately.

 

“You’re wrong Thor,” Steve said and Thor looked over at him. “Fate doesn’t control our actions. We have to make our own choices. Whatever fate has in store for us, it’s because our own choices led us there.”

 

Thor looked thoughtful as the recording continued.

 

"Mmm-hmm,” Rocket said. "And what if you're wrong?" Thor said sadly, "If I'm wrong, then...what more could I lose?" He wiped a tear from his eye and walked off.

 

Barton looked grim, remembering what had happened because Thor was wrong. A lot, he thought grimly.

 

"I could lose a lot. Me, personally, I could lose a lot," Rocket muttered.

 

“He wasn’t scared of Thanos, he was trying to protect Groot,” Steve realized as Barton nodded.

 

“He’s rough around the edges, but he’s a decent person underneath,” Barton said.

 

Thor then walked to the front as Rocket said if fate wanted him to kill Thanos; he'd need more than one eyeball and gave him a prosthetic one, saying a jerk in Contraxia had lost it in a bet with him. Thor was shocked he'd given him his eye but Rocket said he'd given him 100 units but he'd snuck into his room and stolen the eye at night. Thor thanked him.

 

“He stole an eye?” Peter asked bewildered.

 

“Rocket has a strange fascination with prosthetics,” Lila said simply.

 

Thor put it on as Rocket said he'd have washed it, saying he had to sneak it off before being cut off by the computer beeping.

 

“Wait, he snuck it off in-” Scott trailed off as the future Avengers nodded.

 

“His ass, yeah,” Parker said in disgust as Thor looked like he was about to throw up.

 

“I wouldn’t want to be you right now Point Break,” Tony said disgusted.

 

Thor managed to get the eye to work as they reached Nidavellir but Thor said the eye didn't seem to work as all was dark. Rocket said it wasn't the eye. Thor stood up as he realized Nidavellir had gone dark. Thor said something was wrong as the star had gone out and the rings were frozen.

 

“Thanos, he’s already been there,” Thor realized in horror as the future Avengers exchanged glances, knowing Thor wasn’t going to take this well.

 

The three entered the Realm, Groot still playing his game as Rocket said he hoped they were better at forging than cleaning and had probably realized they lived in a junk pile in the middle of space. Thor said the forge hadn't gone dark in centuries. Rocket noticed something and asked Thor if Thanos had a gauntlet. He pointed at a model of an Infinity Gauntlet, unnerving all three.

 

“No,” Thor said in horror. “Eitri did it, he made the gauntlet.”

 

“Thanos didn’t give him much choice,” Scarlet told him gently.

 

Thor told them to get back to the pod but was knocked away by a huge figure along with Rocket and Groot. Thor stopped the figure before it could attack again. It was Eitri.

 

“That’s a dwarf?” Scott asked as the past Avengers all stared and Thor nodded. “I expected-”

 

“Something small?” Thor asked and Scott nodded. “When we told Midgard about the dwarfs thousands of years ago, there was a translation problem. We hadn’t yet developed the All-Speak abilities. We said they were larger than humans, but they thought we said humans were larger than Dwarfs.”

 

Eitri recognized Thor as he asked what had happened here and Eitri roared that Asgard was supposed to protect them. Thor said Asgard was destroyed and Eitri relented in that moment, looking shocked. Thor asked what he had done and Eitri collapsed, revealing the metal casings on his hands, "300 Dwarves lived on this ring. I thought if I did what he asked, they'd be safe. I made what he wanted. A device capable of harnessing the power of the stones. Then he killed everyone anyway. All except me. "Your life is yours," he said. "But your hands? Your hands are mine alone."" And then he revealed the metal casings.

 

“I failed him,” Thor said lowly. “I failed all of them.”

 

“Thanos had already attacked them while you were dealing with Hela. It wasn’t your fault Thor. It was Hela’s fault, it was Loki’s fault, it was Odin’s fault. You aren’t to blame,” Parker told him.

 

“It was my responsibility. I failed,” Thor said roughly in a voice that left no room for argument.

 

Thor gently said, "Eitri, this isn't about your hands. Every weapon you've ever designed, every axe, hammer, sword... it's all inside your head. Now, I know it feels like all hope is lost. Trust me, I know. But together, you and I, we can kill Thanos." Eitri looked at him.

 

“You can’t change the past…but you can make a better future than this,” Scarlet told Thor gently as he stared stonily at the screen.

 

At Sanctuary II, a guard was putting Nebula's pieces back together when she woke up and her headpiece loosened. He fixed it but then she snapped his neck.

 

“Wow, she’s ruthless,” Scott said taken back.

 

“In war, you don’t take prisoners,” Natasha said simply.

 

Nebula dragged her body to a console and contacting the Guardians, asked them to meet her on Titan.

 

“So that’s how we meet the Guardians,” Tony realized and the future Avengers nodded.

 

“We were lucky they showed up when they did, otherwise Thanos probably would have killed us,” Parker said and Tony had the decency to look sheepish.

 

In the Benatar, New York Groove was playing until it was shut off and Quill asked Drax to turn it back on but he refused. Quill got out of his seat and told Drax to turn it back on but Drax said it was the same song again and again. Quill said he needed to get back into New York Groove and asked Drax to give the Zune back which he refused.

 

“So, the fate of the universe is literally hanging in the balance…and they’re fighting over a song,” Clint said as they all stared at the screen incredulously.

 

“We’re doomed,” Tony said bluntly.

 

Quill made to charge at Drax across the table as he ran.

 

“Seriously, my daughter acts more mature than this. And she’s six!” Scott exclaimed.

 

Drax said this wasn't helping as they hadn’t even left Knowhere and Quill blamed him for mission's failure. Drax said Quill hadn’t let him seize the moment and had tried to kill Gamora. Quill said it'd have saved the Universe as Mantis said she'd kill them both if they didn't stop the blinking yellow light. They turned to see the coded message channel on and asked how long it had been that way.

 

“Are you kidding me?” Steve deadpanned.

 

“I really wish we were Cap,” Barton said with a sigh.

 

Quill was about to scold Mantis before they remembered it was Drax' job and scolded him. Drax tried to argue but Quill read the messages from Nebula which said Gamora was alive and Thanos was taking her to Titan, followed by several 'Why aren't you responding?' messages and then the coordinates. Quill quickly put them on.

 

Tony, Strange and Peter were near Titan as Tony realized the ship didn't have a self-park function and asked Peter to put his hand in a steering wheel while he put his in the other and his suit appeared too. They needed to move it at the same time. They did, trying to prevent it from crashing but it hit a building and started breaking as Strange used a huge barrier to protect them all. The broken ship crashed on Titan's surface.

 

“And now we’re on Titan,” Tony muttered.

 

Strange then helped Tony up as Peter hung upside down on a strand of web and said, "Let me just say, if aliens wind up implanting eggs in my chest or something... and I eat one of you, I'm sorry." Tony said, "I do not want another single pop culture reference out of you for the rest of the trip. You understand?"

 

“You sound like his dad,” Rhodey joked as the past Avengers all laughed.

 

Peter flinched, remembering Uncle Ben. He would only ever have one father, Peter thought passionately. And his name was Ben Parker.

 

Peter jerked his thumb backwards, "I'm trying to say that something is coming."

 

“And you couldn’t have just said that?” Rhodey asked incredulously as Peter flushed and Parker looked embarrassed.

 

A space grenade fell near them, sending them flying off with a blast. Quill, Drax and Mantis entered as Drax roared for Thanos. He threw daggers at Strange but he defended himself with his Tao Mandala before his Cloak of Levitation wrapped on Drax's face while Quill and Tony flew and fired at each other.

 

“You know, you have a history of fighting people who turn into your allies when you first meet them,” Rhodey pointed out and Tony looked thoughtful.

 

“Huh, I guess I do,” Tony mused.

 

Tony fired a missile at Quill which he dodged but the blast threw him back as Tony threw him down but Quill had attached a gravity mine to him which trapped him. Peter crawled back on seeing Mantis, asking her not to put her eggs in him before webbing her up.

 

Everyone laughed at this as Parker put a hand to his face.

 

“That’s not going away anytime soon,” Parker muttered.

 

Then Quill kicked him away and tried to fire but he jumped away. Quill then restrained him with a bola just as Tony freed himself and flew at Drax while the Cloak of Levitation left him. Quill had Peter on gunpoint, asking them to chill the eff out and said, "I'm gonna ask you this one time. Where is Gamora?" "Yeah. I'll do you one better," Tony said as his visor retracted. "Who's Gamora?" "I'll do you one better," Drax said. "Why is Gamora?"

 

Everyone burst out laughing at this, the tension lifting momentarily.

 

“Oh my god this guy is hilarious!” Rhodey exclaimed.

 

“Say what you will about Drax, he’s always there for a laugh,” Parker said with a chuckle.

 

Quill said to tell them where she was or he'd kill Peter.

 

“He wouldn’t actually do it,” Parker said quickly as he saw Peter pale.

 

‘Hopefully,” Lila muttered and shrugged when Parker glared at her as Peter paled. “Hey, he did think you with Thanos at the time.”

 

Tony said if he shot Peter, he'd shoot Drax and aimed the Cluster Cannon at him.

 

“Oh sure, because that’s gonna help the situation,” Clint muttered as Wanda put an arm around Peter.

 

“It’s gonna be okay,” Wanda assured him, hoping she wasn’t lying to him.

 

Drax said he could take it but Mantis said he couldn't. Strange agreed as Quill said if they wouldn’t tell him where Gamora was, he'd kill all 3 of them and beat it out of Thanos himself, shocking Strange who asked, "All right, let me ask you this one time. What master do you serve?" Quill asked. "What master do I serve? What am I supposed to say, "Jesus"?" "You're from Earth," Tony realized. "I'm not from Earth, I'm from Missouri," Quill said. "Yeah, that's on Earth, dipshit," Tony said.

 

“He doesn’t know what planet he’s from?” Wanda asked incredulously.

 

“People in space usually call earth Terra,” Thor noted.

 

“Plus, he was so young when he got taken so he forgot,” Barton explained.

 

“Taken,” Scott noted.

 

“It’s a long story,” Scarlet said simply.

 

Peter realized they weren't with Thanos as Quill said he was here to kill him. He asked who they were. "We're the Avengers, man," Peter said as his mask retracted and Mantis remembered Thor mentioning them. Tony was shocked she knew Thor as Quill said he was a tall guy, not that good looking and needed saving.

 

“He’s really threatened by you Point Break,” Tony said amused.

 

“Or he’s just that insecure,” Natasha said with a smirk.

 

Strange asked where Thor was as the scene changed to Nidavellir. Eitri led Thor, Rocket and Groot to a mold as Rocket joked if they were gonna hit Thanos with a brick.

 

“It’s a mold,” Thor realized.

 

“For the weapon you need,” Steve said and Thor nodded.

 

“Better be some weapon,” Tony muttered anxiously. “We need you Thor, more than ever.”

 

“And you shall have me,” Thor promised.

 

Eitri said it was a mold, a King's weapon and meant to be the greatest in Asgard, summoning even the Bifrost in theory.

 

“I can summon the Bifrost with this?” Thor asked shocked and Barton nodded.

 

“You won’t be able to see into other realms like Heimdall, but you can travel it and bring others with you,” Barton explained and Thor looked impressed.

 

“Did it have a name?" Thor asked. "Stormbreaker," Eitri revealed.

 

“Seems a little over the top if you ask me,” Tony said and saw them all shoot him incredulous looks. “What?”

 

They just laughed, his look of confusion making them laugh even harder.

 

Rocket said it was a bit much as Thor asked how they made it. Eitri said they'd have to restart the forge and awaken the heart of a dying star as Thor told Rocket to fire up the pod.

 

“Looks like you have a plan,” Steve noted and Thor nodded absently.

 

At Titan, Quill noted it was 8 degrees of its axis with bad gravitational pull as Mantis hopped high behind them. Tony said their plan was to draw him in, pin him down and get what they need. He noticed Drax yawning and was angered, asking if he had heard him. Drax said he'd stopped listening after Tony had said "We need a plan." Tony said Drax was on his own page as Quill said this was exactly what they did and Peter asked what they did. "Kick names. Take ass," Mantis said and Tony's expression looked like he was going to kill himself before facing Thanos.

 

“Just kill me now,” Tony said as he put a hand to his face. “Clint, take out your bow and take your best shot. Go right ahead.”

 

“Tempting, but no,” Clint joked before getting serious. “Seriously, how are they still alive?”

 

“Luck. Lots of luck,” Scarlet said simply.

 

Tony and Quill argued a bit as Quill told him not to call them plucky and said, "All right, we're optimistic, yes. I like your plan. Except it sucks, so let me do the plan... and that way it might be really good."

 

“So he’s an idiot,” Rhodey deadpanned as they all groaned. “A big idiot.”

 

“Pretty much,” Parker agreed.

 

Drax reminded Quill off the dance-off to save the Universe as Peter asked like Footloose and Quill said exactly like that before asking if it was still the greatest movie and Peter said it never was. Tony told him not to encourage this, saying they weren't getting help from Flash Gordon. Quill took that as a compliment and said he was half-human so the 50% of him that was stupid was a 100% of them. Tony said his math was blowing his mind.

 

Tony looked like he wanted to bang his head against the wall as everyone else groaned.

 

“Seriously, how are they still alive?” Scott wondered.

 

Mantis pointed at Strange and asked if he often did that. Strange was hovering in the air in a meditation pose with the Time Stone glowing in his hands as his head jerked wildly.

 

“What is he doing?” Rhodey asked as the past Avengers looked confused.

 

“He explains in a minute,” Parker assured them.

 

He then fell down as Tony caught him and they asked what he was doing. "I went forward in time to view alternate futures. To see all the possible outcomes of the coming conflict," Strange said. "How many did you see?" Quill asked. "14,000,605," Strange said to their shock.

 

“Whoa,” Peter said as the past Avengers looked completely shocked.

 

“He saw that many?” Steve asked stunned and the future Avengers nodded.

 

“We have to win at least a few,” Tony said, not noticing the grim look on the future Avengers’ faces.

 

"How many did we win?" Tony asked. After several moments of silence, Strange said, "One."

 

“One? Just one?” Steve asked in shock after a moment of silence.

 

“Before the Time Stone arrived on Titan, there were a lot of other alternatives. But once it arrived, there was only one road that led to Thanos being defeated,” Barton said gently and Tony winced.

 

“I shouldn’t have gone to Titan,” Tony said with a sigh.

 

‘You shouldn’t have,” Parker agreed. “But Strange shouldn’t have backed a plan he knew would lead to disaster. You’re both to blame.”

 

“And that’s why you’re here, so you don’t make the same mistakes,” Scarlet pointed out and, after a moment, Tony nodded.

 

“I guess,” Tony muttered.

 

A portal opened in Vormir as Gamora and Thanos stepped out and he said the Stone better be there on the mountain in the front for Nebula's sake. They hiked up the mountain as a cloaked flying figure appeared, "Welcome, Thanos, Son of A'Lars. Gamora, Daughter of Thanos."

 

“Who’s that?” Clint asked as the future Avengers exchanged a glance.

 

“A guide. A soul that has been condemned to an endless existence of guarding the stone,” Scarlet said carefully.

 

Steve narrowed his eyes, a nagging voice in the back of his head telling him he knew the voice from somewhere.

 

The figure said it was his curse to know all that journeyed there and Thanos asked where the Soul Stone was. The figure said it extracted a terrible price. "I am prepared." Thanos said confidently. "We all think that at first," The figure said as it flew out, revealing his red face. "We are all wrong."

 

“What the hell?!” Steve exclaimed as he stared in shock at the screen as they all turned to stare at him startled.

 

“Steve, what is it?” Natasha asked.

 

“That’s the Red Skull,” Steve said as they stared at him stunned.

 

“The Red Skull as in…” Tony trailed off as Steve nodded.

 

“How is he still alive?” Steve demanded as he turned to the future Avengers.

 

“The Tesseract didn’t kill him; it just dropped him in Vormir. He went insane at first, but then the Soul Stone turned him into its guardian,” Barton explained. “He’s not even the man you knew Cap. He’s just an empty shell, a shadow that guides others to the Soul Stone.”

 

“It’s pretty ironic. He’s forced to stand guard over the thing he wanted most, knowing he can never have it,” Scarlet said. “Poetic justice.”

 

“No more than he deserves,” Steve said, getting over his shock as he settled back into his seat.

 

The three walked to the top of the mountain where a rocky plateau with 3 stone pillars stood as Thanos asked how he knew the place so well and he said he had sought the Stones a lifetime ago but when he had held one it had banished him here and now he had to guide others to a treasure he couldn't possess.

 

“And now he’s guiding someone even worse to it,” Steve muttered as they all tensed.

 

They stopped in front of a cliff as Schmidt said what they sought lay in front of them along with what they feared. Gamora asked what this was and Schmidt said, "The price. Soul holds a special place among the Infinity Stones. You might say it has a certain wisdom."

 

“Earlier, you said the stone had a price,” Natasha remembered as she turned to Barton and he nodded.

 

“It’s a high one. One that almost no one can bear,” Barton said grimly and a shiver went down the spines of the past Avengers at his tone. “A price no one should have to pay. I’m showing you this so you don’t have to pay it. Don’t let me down.”

 

Thanos asked what it needed and Schmidt said it demanded a sacrifice so its bearer understood its power. "In order to take the stone, you must lose that which you love. A soul... for a soul."

 

“A life for the stone,” Natasha realized as it all hit them. “You need to kill someone to take it.”

 

“Not just someone, someone you love,” Barton said grimly, fighting not to look at her.

 

“Why would anyone demand you do that?” Wanda asked horrified.

 

“To stop those who are unworthy of its power from taking it. Only someone who is willing to pay that price is worthy of holding the Soul Stone,” Parker said sadly.

 

“That is such bullshit man!” Scott exclaimed.

 

“It is, but it’s the way things are,” Scarlet said as she and Lila looked at Barton in concern.

 

Gamora laughed, "All my life, I dreamed of a day... a moment... when you got what you deserved. And I was always so disappointed. But now... You kill and torture... and you call it mercy. The universe has judged you. You asked it for a prize, and it told you no. You failed. And do you wanna know why? Because you love nothing. No one." Thanos turned to her with tears in his eyes.

 

“He’s crying? Because he didn’t get the stone?” Scott asked disgusted.

 

“He’s not crying for him,” Lila said softly as it hit them.

 

“He’s gonna do it. He’s gonna kill his own daughter,” Tony said horrified.

 

“Really? Tears?" She asked. "They are not for him," Schmidt said and her smile faded and she backed off as Thanos approached. "No. This isn't love,” Gamora said.

 

“He doesn’t know the meaning of love,” Clint said, his entire body shaking with rage.

 

“If that were true…this wouldn’t work,” Parker said softly. “In his own twisted way, he does love Gamora.”

 

“He’s not like Ultron who wants to wipe out all of humanity because he’s thinks we’re a plague. Thanos is doing this not because he’s an unfeeling bastard. He’s doing this because he does feel love. Which makes him even more dangerous,” Barton said darkly.

 

"I ignored my destiny once. I cannot do it again. Even for you," Thanos said. Realization dawned on Gamora's face as she managed to take the old knife Thanos had given her from his belt and was about to stab herself when he used the Reality Stone to turn it into bubbles.

 

“Damn it,” Sam said as they all watched with a growing sense of dread.

 

“I'm sorry, little one," Thanos said as he grabbed her and dragged her to the cliff. She screamed and tried to hit him but to no avail. Thanos threw Gamora off the cliff and she screamed as she fell down. Thanos stood there sadly as her bloodied and broken body lay down there.

 

“He killed her…his daughter. HIS OWN DAUGHTER!” Clint exclaimed, jumping to his feet, his entire body shaking with rage.

 

“That monster,” Scott said his usually cheerful face twisted into a snarl of rage.

 

Natasha had a hand over her face, looking like she was about to be sick. Scarlet looked on the verge of tears, thinking of Stevie as Barton had wrapped his arms around both Scarlet and Lila, as it to remind himself they were still there. Everyone else simply looked to be in too much shock to even show emotion.

 

A light shone up as Thanos closed his eyes in grief. Sometime later, Thanos woke up in a pool and saw the Soul Stone in his other hand. He looked at it sorrowfully as well as in anticipation.

 

“I’m going to kill him,” Thor growled as he overcame his shock.

 

“Get in line pal,” Clint sneered as he finally sat back down, though he still looked enraged.

 

“Line starts behind me,” Tony said with a scowl.

 

“We can discuss who gets the right to kill Thanos once we finish these,” Steve said struggling to remain calm after what he had seen.

 

The future Avengers exchanged a glance, all thinking the same thing. If they reacted badly to this, there was no way they were going to take what happened at the end well.

Chapter Text

A Quinjet flew towards Wakanda as Steve walked towards Sam in the pilot seat, telling him the code. Sam joked that he hoped Steve was right before he put in the code and the Quinjet went through the holographic illusion of trees and entered Wakanda.

 

“Still so awesome,” Peter said dreamily as the adults all watched, amused as Peter practically drooled, the scene bringing some needed levity to the room after seeing what Thanos had done to Gamora.

 

“Please tell me I wasn’t that bad the first time I saw it,” Parker said as he turned to the other future Avengers.

 

“Would you like the truth or a lie?” Lila asked cheekily, laughing at the face Parker made.

 

At the palace, T'Challa walked with Okoye, the Dora Milaje and the Kingsguard, with Okoye saying she had not imagined this when he'd said he'd open Wakanda to the rest of the world. He asked what she had and she said Olympics or maybe a Starbucks.

 

“Starbucks in Wakanda. Sounds like a sitcom,” Tony joked.

 

The Quinjet landed at the palace and the ramp lowered as the Avengers walked out. Bruce asking if he should bow and Rhodey saying he should as T'Challa was a King.

 

“You’re terrible, messing with Bruce like that,” Tony joked and Rhodey shrugged. “Clearly I’ve rubbed off on you.”

 

“God help us,” Clint cracked and everyone laughed as Tony glared at him.

 

Steve shook hands with T'Challa, saying he was always thanking him for something when Bruce bowed and Rhodey asked what he was doing. T'Challa said, "We don't do that here." They walked off as Rhodey laughed at Bruce.

 

“That is gold,” Rhodey said as everyone laughed.

 

T'Challa asked how big of an assault they were expecting and Bruce said quite big as Natasha asked how many people they had. T'Challa said they had the Kingsguard, the Border Tribe and the Dora Milaje. He then pointed at someone and Bucky arrived, with his new arm attached while his hair was well-kempt and his beard was shaved. "And a semi-stable 100 year old man," Bucky joked as Steve hugged him and asked how he was doing. He said not bad for the end of the world.

 

Steve’s throat tightened as he saw Bucky seeming so…Bucky after all this time. When he’d read the file Natasha had given him, he’d thought Bucky would never be the person he’d known so long ago again. But here was proof that, even if Bucky would never be the same, he’d be able to live a normal, or as normal as he could possibly have, life again.

 

Later, Bruce and Shuri scanned Vision as she said the structure was polymorphic and Bruce said they had to attach each neuron non-sequentially. Shuri asked why they didn't reprogram the synpases as Bruce said they never thought of it while she condescendingly said they'd have done their best.

 

“Typical teenager,” Barton and Clint said in sync.

 

“Spooky,” Scott said as the two of them exchanged a look.

 

“Teenage years are bad?” Clint asked and Barton nodded.

 

“Nate just entered his. I just hope his aren’t as bad as Cooper and Lila’s,” Barton said with a grimace.

 

Wanda asked if she could remove the stone and Shuri said one misalignment could cause a cascade of circuit failures but she could do it in time. She said she needed as long as they could give her when Okoye's beads beeped and she activated them, saying something had entered the upper atmosphere. From the Q-ships above, some dropships flew out.

 

“They have arrived,” T’Challa said as the past Avengers paled.

 

“It’s too late,” Steve said sadly.

 

Bucky, Sam and Rhodey noticed outside as one dropship crashed on the barrier around Wakanda and Bucky groaned how he loved this place.

 

“I can see why,” Natasha noted impressed. “Good shields.”

 

“Thank you Ms. Romanoff. Although I am not sure what good they will do against Thanos,” T’Challa said with a sigh.

 

Several others fell outside the barrier as Vision got up and said they needed to destroy the Stone but Natasha told him to get his ass back on the table. T’Challa said they would hold the enemy off as Steve told Wanda to blow the stone to hell once it was extracted and she said she would.

 

“Cap said a bad word, it must be bad,” Tony joked and Steve rolled his eyes good naturedly.

 

“I do not believe that worked,” Vision noted. “Otherwise, we would not be here.”

 

“Things didn’t go to plan,” Scarlet agreed with a wince.

 

“Evacuate the city. Engage all defenses," T'Challa said before looking at Steve. "And get this man a shield."

 

“Thank you Your Highness,” Steve said and T’Challa simply nodded.

 

At Nidavellir, the pod flew to the rings as Rocket said they were gigantic and they needed something big to yank them lose. "Leave that to me," Thor said as he held the pod with a rope. Rocket was skeptical as Thor started spinning the pod and it gained speed as Rocket fired the engines at Thor's command and it gained more speed, with Thor digging his heels into the rings.

 

“So you’re using the pod as a giant rope,” Natasha noted.

 

“So it would seem,” Thor noted as he eyed the screen anxiously. “I hope this works.”

 

“We all do Thor,” Steve told him as they eyed the screen, as anxious as him for this to work.

 

Rocket pushed the pod to full power as the rings started moving and there was a burst of light as the star began glowing again. Eitri complimented Thor who jumped at pod's windshield and said, "That's Nidavellir."

 

“It’s beautiful,” Wanda said softly as they all eyed the screen in amazement.

 

“I’ve traveled all over the world and seen a lot of places…but nothing like this,” Tony said in awe.

 

“It’s by far one of the most beautiful things I have seen in all my travels across the universe,” Thor said.

 

Rocket watched it in amazement as the star shot out a beam of light to where Eitri stood but a part snapped off and the light shut off.

 

“Damn it! The mechanism is crippled,” Thor said in dismay.

 

“Thanos covered all his bases,” Steve noted sadly as they all felt their hearts drop into their stomachs.

 

“Of course, because why would anything be easy?” Clint muttered.

 

Eitri said the mechanism was crippled and he won't be able to heat the metal with the Iris closed. Thor asked how long it'd take to heat it and Eitri said a few minutes. "I'm gonna hold it open," Thor said.

 

“Thor, you’ll be taking the full force of a star! That’ll kill you!” Tony exclaimed as they all stared at Thor shocked.

 

“Only of I die,” Thor said simply.

 

“That’s what killing you means!” Clint snapped.

 

“If I don’t get that weapon, we’re all dead anyone,” Thor snapped back and no one had argument for that. “This is the only way.”

 

Eitri said that was suicide but Thor countered so was facing Thanos without the ax as he flew towards the star beam.

 

In Wakanda, the army was speeding to the front line on floating ships. Bruce was in the Iron Man Armor: Mark XLVIII, which was another Hulkbuster.

 

“Another Hulkbuster?” Steve asked and Tony shrugged.

 

“You never know when one might come in handy,” Tony said and Steve nodded, conceding his point.

 

Bruce happily said it was like being Hulk without being Hulk when he tripped on a rock and Okoye gave him a look.

 

Everyone chuckled, the scene bringing some levity to the room.

 

Bruce got back up as Rhodey said he had 2 heat signatures breaking through the tree line. Proxima Midnight and Cull Obsidian were those two.

 

“Oh great, they’re back,” Scott said as they all tensed.

 

The army all leapt off the ships and took positions while T'Challa walked to the front where M'Baku and the Jabbari tribe were chanting. T'Challa shook hands with him and thanked him for standing with them as he called him brother in Xhosa.

 

“It appears he truly has changed,” T’Challa said shocked. “I never thought I would fight side by side with the Jabari.”

 

“Never thought I’d fight side by side with Captain America. Things change,” Tony said and T’Challa nodded.

 

“Indeed they do,” T’Challa said softly.

 

Midnight touched the barrier with her blade as Steve, Natasha and T'Challa walked to it. "Where's your other friend?" Natasha asked cheekily. "You will pay for his life with yours," Midnight sneered. "Thanos will have that Stone."

 

“He’s dead?” Sam asked as Natasha narrowed her eyes, feeling something was off.

 

“Just watch,” Scarlet said simply.

 

“That's not gonna happen," Steve said. "You are in Wakanda now," T'Challa said. "Thanos will have nothing but dust and blood.”

 

Barton, Scarlet, Lila, and Parker winced, something Natasha, Steve, and Clint all noticed. The trio exchanged an uneasy glance, a hollow feeling settling in the stomachs. Something was going to happen, they just knew it.

 

“We have blood to spare," Midnight said as she raised her blade and dropships rumbled. Steve, Natasha and T'Challa returned as Steve and Bucky shared some talk and the dropships opened, with several four-armed white aliens running out.

 

“Thanos’ army?” Tony asked and Barton nodded.

 

“Outriders, basically Thanos’ version of the Iron Legion,” Parker explained.

 

“Shit,” Rhodey said as they all paled.

 

“This is gonna be good,” Natasha muttered.

 

T'Challa and the Wakandans started chanting 'Yibambe' as Midnight brought down her sword and Outriders rushed them through the trees. They rushed the barrier, trying to pass through but were killed or maimed but they didn't care, shocking everyone.

 

“What the hell?” Sam asked shocked as they all stared in horror.

 

“Don’t they feel pain?” Steve asked.

 

“Thanos trained them to ignore it. All they do is follow orders and kill,” Barton explained darkly.

 

Some entered as the Wakandans put on their barriers and fired from their spears, killing some as Bucky put some down with his rifle and Sam flew around, firing with his Steyr SPP pistols and took more down while firing his projectiles as Rhodey dropped bombs from his suit's back, killing many as they exploded while several more swarmed at the barrier.

 

“Take out one, two more seem to pop up,” Scott noted as he watched wide eyed.

 

“An endless sea of soldiers who don’t care about pain,” Thor said softly.

 

Bruce noticed them circling the barrier and said there would be nothing between them and Vision then. Steve said they needed their attention on them. Okoye asked how they did that and T’Challa said they needed to lower the barrier. T'Challa contacted a technician and ordered them to open North-West section seventeen of the barrier.

 

“I’m sorry Your Highness,” Steve said guiltily. “If I hadn’t involved Wakanda-”

 

“This affected the entire universe, including Wakanda,” T’Challa cut him off. “Knowing what I know now, I would still make the same choice. This is bigger than any one country.”

 

After a moment, Steve nodded, although it was clear that he did not feel any less guilt.

 

"This will be the end of Wakanda," M'Baku said. "Then it will be the noblest ending in history," Okoye said.

 

T’Challa gripped his pants legs tightly, although his face remained blank due to years of training.

 

Everyone put down their barriers as T'Challa stepped to the front and shouted, "WAKANDA FOREVER!" They charged at the enemy just as a small portion of the barrier opened and Outriders streamed in. Sam and Rhodey were flying up. Steve and T'Challa outran the others and leapt at the Outriders, Steve gutting them with his new shields as T'Challa killed them with his claws and the armies clashed.

 

“And so it begins,” Thor said grimly as they all tensed.

 

The battle continued as Steve killed more Outriders with his shield as T'Challa asked Shuri how much longer and she said she had barely begun as she worked on Vision's Stone. T'Challa said she might want to pick up the pace as the fighting continued.

 

“Yeah, pick up the pace a lot,” Scott said.

 

At Nidavellir, Thor in the beam of the forge, "Allfathers, give me strength."

 

“You’re gonna need all the strength you can get Point Break,” Tony noted uneasily as Thor nodded.

 

"You understand, boy? You're about to take the full force of a star. It'll kill you," Eitri said. "Only if I die," Thor said.

 

“I think that’s he meant,” Peter said.

 

"Yes, that's what killing you means," Eitri said confused.

 

“Kid’s right. You sure about this Thor?” Steve asked uneasily.

 

“It is the only way,” Thor repeated.

 

Thor held the parts and with all his might, pulled as the beam shot out through him and the mechanism started working.

 

“You’re doing it,” Wanda said softly as they all stared wide eyed.

 

“Now just don’t die,” Natasha said.

 

Thor roared as Eitri told him to hold it and saw the metal melting in fires. Thor roared as the energy burnt him.

 

“Holy crap,” Peter said softly as they all stared at the screen, wondering how much more of this Thor could take.

 

Eitri poured the metal into the mold and started forging as Thor passed out from the pain. Thor fell down with Rocket flying after him when he bounced off the pod. Thor landed on the ground as Groot looked up from his game, looking worried.

 

“So that’s what it takes to get him to look up from his game?” Tony joked weakly but everyone was too worried about Thor to notice.

 

The pod landed and Rocket rushed over to Thor. Rocket said he was dying as Eitri tore the forge open and asked Groot to help him find the handle, which was missing, because Thor needed the axe.

 

“Well find the damn handle!” Steve shouted as they watched with baited breath.

 

Groot reached out and, growing a hand, wrapped it around the two pieces of the ax, lifting them up and connecting them as the branches intertwined, straightening into a handle. With a roar, he cut off his arm as another started to grow, with the completed ax now falling to the ground.

 

“Alright Groot!” Peter cheered as they all stared at the screen in shock.

 

“He finished it,” Steve said in relief.

 

“Just in time,” Thor said grimly. “I doubt I would have lasted much longer without it.”

 

The ax started floating as lightning ran through it while Thor's hand twitched, lightning running through it.

 

At Wakanda, the battle was going on as Bucky was thrown down by an Outrider and tried to stab it.

 

Steve and Natasha tensed, worried for Bucky as Scarlet tensed as well. Oh she knew her husband was alright, but it didn’t make this any easier to watch.

 

Rhodey was firing at them all, killing many when Cull's hammer smashed him down while Cull and Midnight walked into the barrier.

 

“Damn it,” Rhodey said as Tony paled.

 

T'Challa was thrown around by several of them as they ganged up on him.

 

T’Challa tensed, wondering if this was the end.

 

Steve tried to hold one back when several ganged up on him, trying to bite while Bruce was knocked down too and yelled there were too many of them.

 

“Way too many,” Scott agreed as they all watched pale.

 

Then a beam of light shot down from the heavens, incinerating all the Outriders standing there.

 

“Is that…” Tony trailed off as Thor smirked and Barton nodded. “Oh, this is going to be sweet.”

 

Stormbreaker flew out of the Bifrost, flying and twirling in the air as lightning ran through it. It killed several scores of Outriders, including the ones that were upon Steve and Bruce. It flew back towards the Bifrost which dissipated as Thor caught it in his hand on return, with Rocket and Groot standing with him.

 

“That was awesome!” Peter exclaimed as Thor smirked.

 

“Thank you, boy of spiders,” Thor said humbly.

 

“Seriously man, the kid’s right. That was awesome,” Sam said and Thor just smirked.

 

“With you there, the tide will definitely turn,” Clint said and Thor nodded.

 

“They are so screwed now!” Scott exclaimed as they all chuckled at his antics.

 

Natasha, T'Challa and Steve watched in relief as Bruce retracted his helmet and laughed, "You guys are so screwed now!"

 

“Looks like Banner agrees Scott,” Clint cracked as Scott flushed.

 

“Great minds do think alike,” Tony mused.

 

“Thanks…I think,” Scott said.

 

"BRING ME THANOS!" Thor roared as lightning surged through him while Cull and Midnight watched in fear.

 

“Yeah, don’t look so confident now do you?” Scott said gleefully at their fear.

 

“Bully’s never do when faced with someone they can’t intimidate,” Steve noted.

 

Thor charged and leapt up, Stormbreaker raised as lightning emanated from him and the now darkened skies. He then brought Stormbreaker down on the ground, with the exploding lightning killing more than 100 Outriders as the ground they were on became a smoldering crater.

 

“That was badass man!” Scott exclaimed.

 

“Thank you, man of ants,” Thor told him humbly.

 

“The tide has turned,” T’Challa noted.

 

“Hopefully, that’s enough,” Steve said as the recording continued.

Chapter Text

A portal opened on Titan and Thanos walked out, seeing the remnants of the Q-ship when he saw he heard Strange. “Oh yeah,” Thanos looked over to see Strange sitting down a few feet from him. “You’re much more of a Thanos.”

 

The room was tense as they all watched the screen, none of them daring to move. This was it, the last chance to stop Thanos. They could only hope that Tony, Peter, Strange and the Guardians were successful at this point.

 

Thanos realized Maw was dead and said the day extracted a heavy toll before he saw the Eye of Agamotto, saying Maw had accomplished his mission. "You may regret that. He brought you face to face with a Master of the Mystic Arts," Strange said while Quill was hiding behind scrap metal and Peter was perched above him. Thanos asked Strange where he thought they were and Strange said Titan had been Thanos’ home planet. Thanos used the Reality Stone to conjure an illusion of Titan in its glory days, with people roaming too.

 

"It was. And it was beautiful. Titan was like most planets. Too many mouths, not enough to go around. And when we faced extinction, I offered a solution." "Genocide," Strange realized. "But random, dispassionate, fair to rich and poor alike," Thanos said.

 

“Still genocide, you monster,” Scott sneered as they all felt disgusted by Thanos.

 

"They called me a madman," Thanos said as the illusion faded. "And what I predicted came to pass." "Congratulations, you're a prophet," Strange said sarcastically. "I'm a survivor," Thanos said. "Who wants to murder trillions," Strange pointed out. "With all six Stones, I could simply snap my fingers. They would all cease to exist. I call that mercy," Thanos said, snapping his fingers to emphasis his point.

 

“Mercy. He wants to kill trillions and he calls that mercy,” Sam asked disgusted.

 

“He’s a monster, what do you expect?” Clint said, as disgusted as Sam.

 

"And then what?" Strange asked as he got to his feet. "I'd finally rest... and watch the sun rise on a grateful universe," Thanos said.

 

“After what he’s done, he expects us to be grateful and just let him rest?” Steve asked angrily as they all glared at the screen.

 

“God complex,” Parker said simply, although he couldn’t keep the look of disgust off his face.

 

"The hardest choices require the strongest wills," Thanos said. "I think you'll find our will equal to yours," Strange said as he summoned Tao Mandalas. "Our?" Thanos asked when Tony flew at him from above with a huge chunk of a building, smashing his face just as he activated the Power Stone.

 

“It didn’t even phase him,” Peter said shocked.

 

“Did you really expect it to kid?” Clint asked and Peter shook his head after a moment of thought.

 

“No,” Peter admitted.

 

Tony flew off with Quill, the two bantering as Thanos shattered the building with the Power Stone and turned them into bats with the Reality Stone as they chased Tony.

 

“Distracted by bats. Great,” Tony grumbled as he tightened his hands, which were already gripping his pants legs tightly, not even noticing his fingernails were digging into his legs.

 

Then webbing hit Thanos in the face as a swinging Peter hit him and Drax sliced at his leg, with Strange arriving in his front via portal. Strange made an Eldritch sword as the two dueled Thanos who then kicked Drax away and grabbed Strange's sword while removing the webbing. The sword dissipated as Thanos kicked Strange back but he used a Tao Mandala to protect himself.

 

“He’s actually giving Thanos a run for his money,” Rhodey said as they all stared, impressed by Strange.

 

“But how long can he keep that up when Thanos has four stones?” Steve asked uneasily.

 

Quill fired at Thanos from behind as Strange conjured platforms for him to jump on. He planted an explosive on Thanos' back and showed him the finger. "Boom!" He exclaimed and then jumped into an inter-dimensional portal Strange had conjured as the explosive exploded and Thanos was stunned.

 

“As far as plans go, that wasn’t terrible,” Natasha said, impressed despite herself.

 

“So maybe he’s not a total idiot,” Rhodey amended.

 

The Cloak of Levitation wrapped itself on Thanos' left hand on Strange's command to prevent him from closing his fist as Strange conjured portals from which Peter jumped to attack. "Magic!" He said as he jumped into a portal. "More magic!" He said as he jumped out and kneed Thanos before jumping into another. "Magic with a kick!" He said as he kicked Thanos and leapt into another. "Magic with a-" He was cut off as Thanos grabbed him in a chokehold and furiously slammed him to the ground. "Insect," Thanos sneered.

 

“Technically, a spider is an arachnid,” Parker quipped as they all tensed, Peter paling as everyone looked at him concerned. “Still here guys.”

 

“You should never have been there in the first place,” Tony said guiltily, self-loathing filling him at involving Peter.

 

“Nothing you can do about it now,” Parker told him and Tony nodded after a moment.

 

He threw Peter into Strange and ripped the Cloak off as Tony fired missiles at him but he absorbed the flames into the Infinity Gauntlet and fired back at Tony, sending him back as Peter webbed Thanos' hand and swung at him but was smacked down as Thanos ripped the web off.

 

“He’s too much,” Wanda said softly as they stared at the screen as everyone looked at Tony, Peter, and Parker worriedly.

 

“I’m in over my head,” Tony breathed and the fact that he admitted it openly had everyone worried. “I can’t stop him. Not alone.”

 

“When we face him this time, you won’t be,” Steve promised.

 

It wasn’t this time that concerned him, Tony thought grimly. It was the version of events that they were currently watching.

 

Then a Necrocraft rammed into Thanos from behind, sending him down as debris fell upon him. As he got up, Nebula leapt out and punched him.

 

“Nebula’s here,” Scott said.

 

“And she has an axe to grind,” Clint noted.

 

Thanos greeted her as she said, "You should have killed me." "Would have been a waste of parts!" Thanos snapped.

 

“Bastard,” Steve sneered as they all glared at the screen.

 

She furiously attacked Thanos with her electric baton, asking where Gamora was when she was kicked away just as Strange conjured dark red metallic bands to restrain Thanos' left fist while Drax kicked his knee, sending him down as Quill threw a gravity mine, restraining his other hand just as Peter webbed his chest and swung in the front. Tony flew down and grabbed his left fist, trying to pull the Infinity Gauntlet out as the binding spell disappeared. Thanos struggled and Peter had to use the legs while Strange opened a portal above Thanos and Mantis jumped down, using her powers to temporarily put him to sleep and told them to be quick as he was very strong. Peter ran up to Tony and both started pulling the Infinity Gauntlet out.

 

“Come on come on come on,” Tony prayed as the past Avengers watched, desperately hoping this would work.

 

None of them noticed Parker’s wince or the grim looks on the faces of the other future Avengers.

 

Quill stopped in front of Thanos and taunted him, saying this was his plan. Quill taunted Thanos before asking where Gamora was. Quill continued interrogating Thanos as Mantis said he was in anguish and he mourned. Drax asked what he had to mourn and Nebula said Gamora. Shocked Quill turned to her as Nebula said Thanos had gone to Vormir with Gamora and returned while she hadn't. Quill started getting angry as Tony begged him to cool it, "WE ALMOST GOT THIS OFF!"

 

“Shit,” Clint said as they all knew what was about to happen.

 

“Don’t do it Quill, please don’t do it,” Tony begged, turning to Parker. “Tell me he doesn’t do it.”

 

The blank look Parker shot him said all Tony needed to know.

                                                        

"Tell me she’s lying. Asshole! Tell me you didn't do it!" Quill roared as Thanos said, "I had to." Quill snapped, "No you didn't." And then he started hitting Thanos with his blaster, "NO YOU DIDN'T!" Mantis' hold was broken as Tony stopped Quill.

 

Natasha swore in Russian as Steve put a hand to his face.

 

“That idiot!” Sam exclaimed.

 

“He just couldn’t control himself,” Tony snapped. “Not even with the fate of the universe at stake.”

 

“It wouldn’t have mattered,” Parker said and they turned to him. “I asked Strange once why he didn’t stop Quill.”

 

“What did he say?” Clint asked.

 

“That if he had, Thanos still would have won. He would have gotten the gauntlet back, killed me and Quill to get it,” Parke said and Peter paled. “Then neither of us would have been there in the final battle and I was needed to do something there. There was only one future where we won; stopping Quill wasn’t one of them.”1

 

Peter almost had it off when Thanos woke up and head-butted Mantis, knocking her out before snatching it back and pushing Peter off.

 

Tony winced as Clint and Scott, being fathers, looked at Peter in concern as he watched this.

 

Thanos pulled Strange to him and pushed him off before throwing Mantis away as Peter grabbed her and saved her with his metal legs. Thanos then kicked Drax into Nebula and Quill before knocking the Guardians out with a blast from the Power Stone. Tony attacked with a blade he had conjured but was head-butted away as Thanos used the Power Stone to break the moon above and rain down huge chunks of it. Tony flew around to avoid as one hit him while Quill, Drax and Nebula were sent flying around.

 

“This is only getting worse,” Vision noted as they all watched, tense.

 

In Wakanda, Shuri continued the procedure as Wanda looked on. Cull killed some Wakandans when T'Challa leapt at him and punched him, the kinetic energy sending him down.

 

T’Challa had a thunderous glare on his face as he glared at the screen. Cull would pay for what he had done to his people, T’Challa vowed darkly. One way or another.

 

Rocket fired at approaching outriders and Bucky picked up him up to prevent him getting trampled. They then both fired at several Outriders, killing them. He put Rocket down as he asked, "How much for the gun?" "Not for sale." "Okay, how much for the arm?" Bucky looked at him and walked off as he said, "I'll get that arm."

 

“He is weirdly obsessed with prosthetics,” Scott noted as everyone else laughed.

 

Thor killed several Outriders with Stormbreaker as Steve asked, "New haircut?" "I noticed you've copied my beard," Thor said and Steve nodded with a smile.

 

“Now we’re all beard bros,” Tony joked and Steve and Thor sighed in exasperation.

 

Groot stabbed Outriders with his elongated hand and lifted them as Thor introduced him and he roared, "I am Groot!" Steve thought he was introducing himself and said, "I am Steve Rogers."

 

“And I am Iron Man,” Tony joked and everyone turned to look at him in exasperation. “What, I am!”

 

Wanda watched from above as the forests shook and five giant spiked wheels burst out from the ground.

 

“Holy crap!” Peter exclaimed.

 

“What are those?” Scott asked.

 

“Threshers,” Scarlet said grimly.

 

“No,” T’Challa said, worried for his country.

 

T'Challa ordered everyone to fall back while up above, the flame of decision formed in Wanda's eyes. Sam and Rhodey fired at the threshers to no avail as Natasha and Okoye killed Outriders when the threshers came at them. Then Wanda leapt between them and using her powers, stopped the threshers and crushed scores of Outriders with them.

 

“That’s my girl,” Clint said proudly as Wanda flushed and Steve and Natasha smiled at her.

 

“Nice,” Natasha said as she looked over at Scarlet.

 

“Good job,” Steve said and she smiled tightly.

 

“I was taught by the best,” she said simply.

 

Steve nodded, feeling a little put out at her reaction but understanding He simply wished he knew what he had done that caused Scarlet to resent him so much.

 

Wanda looked at the two as Okoye asked, "Why was she up there all this time?"

 

“To guard…” Scott trailed off as it hit them.

 

“Shit,” Rhodey swore.

 

Midnight told someone to take it and in Glaive snuck into the palace.

 

“Son of a bitch, he was alive the whole time,” Tony said in horror.

 

“They distracted us and used the Threshers to lure Wanda out,” Steve realized as Natasha swore in Russian.

 

“As far as strategies go, it’s not bad,” Lila said reluctantly.

 

Glaive fought the guards outside, beating them down as Ayo attacked. Shuri worked faster but Ayo was beaten down so she took out her blasters and fired, fighting Glaive as the table was shattered.

 

“Shuri!” T’Challa exclaimed worriedly as Thor put a hand on his shoulder, hoping it offered him comfort.

 

Ayo got back up but both were thrown down as Glaive saw the table empty. Then Vision leapt at him and threw them both out the window as it shattered.

 

“And now you’re out of the lab,” Rhodey said as they paled.

 

“Why didn’t you just blast him out?” Scott wondered.

 

“After the last time, I do not believe that was advisable,” Vision said as they all remembered how Glaive had deflected Vision’s blasts.

 

“Good point,” Scott said.

 

Sam noticed and told the others as Steve asked someone to get him. Bruce flew up as Wanda said she was on her way when Midnight punched her down and stood over her, "He will die alone and so will you.”

 

“I’m right here,” Scarlet pointed out as she saw Clint, Steve, and Natasha tense and Barton clench his pants legs.

 

“Doesn’t mean we don’t worry kid,” Clint said as he wrapped an arm around his Wanda.

 

“She's not alone," Midnight turned around to see Natasha and Okoye, ready to fight.

 

“Oh this is gonna be good,” Scott said as Scarlet smirked.

 

Midnight attacked with a roar as Natasha blocked with her baton and Okoye also helped with her spear.

 

Vision was kicked down by Glaive and smacked away by Cull when Bruce flew in the way. Cull grabbed him and they both flew to a distance. Bruce said Vision needed backup and tried to fight but his arm was chopped off while Hulk didn't come out in spite of his begging.

 

“Oh come on Hulk!” Tony shouted in exasperation as they all tensed, worried for Bruce.

 

Bruce begged Hulk but his face transformed and roared, "NOOOOOOOO!" Bruce returned to normal and said, "Screw you, you big green asshole! I'll do it myself!"

 

Bruce punched Cull several times before being thrown down. As Cull was about to land the finishing blow, Bruce grabbed the severed gauntlet and attached it to him. Bruce said, "See ya!" He activated it and Cull was sent into the air, with the barrier destroying him.

 

“Wait to go Dr. Banner!” Peter cheered as they all relaxed slightly.

 

Still, they knew the fight was far from over.

 

"Hulk, we got a lot to figure out, pal," Bruce said.

 

“They sure do,” Rhodey noted.

 

Natasha and Okoye continued battling Midnight as a thresher passed above. Midnight Kicked Natasha, sending her falling down before she grabbed Okoye and threw her to the ground.

 

“Damn, she’s good,” Scot said as T’Challa, Steve and Clint tensed, worried for Natasha and Okoye.

 

Glaive stabbed Vision, "I thought you were a formidable machine. But you'll die, like any man," He retracted glaive as Vision fell down.

 

No one dared to so much as breathe. They simply stared at the screen, wondering if this was the end.

 

Steve then pushed Glaive away and fought him, telling Vision to get out.

 

Everyone relaxed slight, but it did nothing to relieve the tension in the room. Too much was at stake for them to relax now.

 

Natasha split her baton into two and disarmed Midnight before being punched down. Midnight tried to stab with her blade as Natasha tried to push back. Then Wanda lifted Midnight with her magic and a thresher ran into her, killing her.

 

“Ew,” Scott said as they all looked disgusted.

 

“That’s gross,” Natasha said.

 

“But effective,” Tony added.

 

Natasha got up; Midnight's blue blood on her face as she said it was gross.

 

“Don’t repeat yourself Nat,” Clint joked and she rolled her eyes good naturedly.

 

Steve fought Glaive and disarmed him but was thrown down as Glaive started choking him.

 

Everyone tensed, worried for Steve. Even Scarlet, as angry as she was with him, worried for him, even knowing he had survived.

 

Suddenly, Glaive’s own glaive burst from his chest and Vision lifted him from behind, killing him.

 

“Nice job,” Steve told Vision as everyone relaxed slightly.

 

“Thank you Captain,” Vision said.

 

“I think I’m the one who should be thanking you,” Steve said with a slight smile.

 

Steve helped Vision and said he'd told him to go as Vision said, "We don't trade lives, Captain."

 

“No, we don’t,” Tony said as the future Avengers winced, unseen to him.

 

On Titan, Peter saved the Guardians with his webs as Strange flew down to battle Thanos. Strange summoned Tao Mandalas and fired bolts of Eldritch energy at Thanos which he leapt to avoid and fired a blast with the Power Stone. Strange countered by opening the Mirror Dimension in the middle to absorb the beam and pushed it back at him. Thanos destroyed it with the Power Stone's punch and transforming the remnants into a Black Hole, threw it back at Strange. Strange cast a spell and the Black Hole was transmuted into mystical butterflies.

 

“Two powerhouses going at it. This would make a great movie,” Scott mused as they all watched, tension building as the fight continued.

 

Strange then made an army of clones and all restrained Thanos with Eldritch whips. Then Thanos activated the Soul and Power Stones, destroying the clones as the real Strange was sent back and his astral form was seen for a second.

 

“What was that?” Peter asked curiously.

 

“His Asternal form. Basically, his ghost. When people talk about ghost, it’s really your spirit leaving your body to journey to the Asternal Plane. The Masters of the Mystic Arts know how to do it,” Scarlet explained as Peter looked fascinated as everyone else looked curious.

 

“Cool,” Peter said in awe.

 

Thanos activated the Space and Reality Stones, pulling Strange to him by changing the landscape and held him by the neck, "You're full of tricks, Wizard. Yet you never once used your greatest weapon." He ripped out the Eye of Agamotto and crushed it as nothing was inside, "A fake."

 

“Damn it,” Tony said as they all tensed.

 

He tossed Strange away, knocking him out, when a nanotech clamp stopped him from closing his fist and Tony flew down, "You throw another moon at me, and I'm gonna lose it!" "Stark," Thanos said. "You know me?" A shocked Tony asked. "I do," Thanos said. "You're not the only one cursed with knowledge."

 

“He knows me?” Tony asked shocked.

 

“When you destroyed his ship during the Chitauri invasion, he found out about you. Then, when he did research, he found out about the rest of you,” Parker explained as he looked at the original Avengers. “He would never admit it, but he feared you. All of you. No one else had stood up to him and stopped him the way you had. For the first time, Thanos was unnerved. He didn’t like it. That made him even more dangerous.”

 

“My only curse is you," Tony said and fired missiles which Thanos blocked with his Infinity Gauntlet. Tony flew at Thanos, transforming his feet into the huge jet as he kicked Thanos down before punching him back with conjured battering rams. Thanos ripped off his helmet but another appeared as Thanos punched him back and ripping off the clamp, fired from the Power Stone, with Tony using a shield to block. Thanos stopped and Tony kicked him and pinned the Gauntlet with a foot clamp before hitting him with battering rams, sending him down. The force was enough to make him bleed a little as he said, "All that for a drop of blood."

 

“All that for a papercut? Tony asked dismayed.

 

“You still made him bleed,” Steve said. “And if you can hurt him-”

 

“You can kill him together,” Barton said and Steve nodded.

 

“His days of playing god are over,” Thor said darkly.

 

Thanos threw him of and started pummeling him before blasting him away with the Power Stone. Tony fired with his reforming suit but Thanos used the Power Stone to block as they fought and Thanos blocked an attack of Tony. Tony formed a dagger and tried to stab but Thanos grabbed his hand and broke it off before stabbing him.

 

The entire room froze as they stared at the screen. No one dared to move, fear for Tony and, in the case of the man in question, his own life filled them as they waited to see what would happen next.

 

Thanos then backed Tony up as Tony gasped in pain and fell to his knees. “You have my respect Stark," Thanos said as he placed a hand on Tony’s head. "When I'm done half of humanity will still be alive." As Tony gasped, Thanos removed his head from Tony’s head and said, "I hope they remember you." He pointed the Infinity Gauntlet at Tony.

 

“No no no,” Rhodey said as they paled, worried about Tony.

 

Steve clenched his fists angrily while Natasha and Clint stared at Tony, who simply watched the scene numbly, wondering if this was how it would end.

 

"STOP!" Strange said as they turned to him. "Spare his life...and I will give you the stone."

 

“No,” Tony started, staring in horror. “If he gets that stone…”

 

“There was no other way,” Parker repeated what Strange had said all those years ago. “You were needed alive for the final battle, at all costs. You had to live Tony, for all our sakes.”

 

"No tricks," Thanos said and in spite of Tony's protests, Strange conjured the Time Stone from where it had been disguised as a star. Strange sent it over to Thanos, inserted it into the Gauntlet as power surged through him while Tony watched horrified. "One to go," Thanos said.

 

“No,” Steve said as they all watched horrified before turning to Vision.

 

“He will come for me now,” Vision said with a pit in his stomach. “I do not think we can stop him.”

 

Quill fired at Thanos angrily but he escaped via portal as Quill landed roughly. "Where is he?!” Quill asked as he retracted his mask and Tony used his Nanites to heal his wound. “Did we just lose?"

 

“We all lost,” Barton said with a haunted look in his eyes as the mood shifted from tense to dread.

 

"Why would you do that?" Tony asked Strange. Strange looked at him and said ominously, "We're in the endgame now."