The Avenging Angel and her crew landed safely back in Wakanda.
Tony was embarrassed by how relieved he was to have Steve back. He met them as they disembarked and hugged Steve tight as soon as he saw him.
Steve whispered to him, “Hey, it’s okay. I’m back. You know I wouldn’t leave without telling that I was going to do it.”
“How was space?”
“I got to fly the ship. That was fun.” Steve laughed, something very rare these days.
“Nebula never let me fly it!” Tony told him.
“She likes me.”
Tony laughed, knowing it was much truer than Steve knew. “Should I be jealous?”
“She does have a ship!”
They all returned to the compound to debrief and talk about the future.
Natasha and Thor returned with Barton and his children in tow. The queen mother met them as they arrived, immediately taking over the care of Clint’s children.
“You go plot with my daughter and your friends. We will find some snacks and go for a walk. There is a lovely park for children that we shall visit.” The queen mother turned to the children. “You can call me Nana Ramonda, if you like.”
Little Nathaniel said, “Nana!” as if he’d seen an angel and reached for her.
Ramonda smiled at Clint and Natasha reassuringly.
After they had left, Natasha laughed. “I’m amazed. This woman has barely cracked a smile since I met her. Yet she’s Nana Ramonda when three little ones show up.”
“We Bartons are charming.”
“You Bartons are full of shit, but I love you all. Let’s go find the grownups and find out how to kick Thanos’ purple ass!” Natasha said to him with a smile. His smiles still didn’t reach his eyes, but he did speak now, which he wasn’t doing much of when she and Thor arrived to help him.
They set off in search of Tony, Steve and the rest.
“You flew a spaceship?” Natasha asked Steve. “I’m amazed you’d go fast enough for it to fly!”
They all laughed and hugs went around, even Tony and Steve hugged Barton. Steve said into his ear, “I’m sorry, man.”
Barton nodded. He could never say so, but he was grateful to Cap. After the brainwashing by Loki, Cap had simply nodded when Natasha had said he was better and accepted him with only one question and that was to ask if he had a suit.
As they talked, Shuri and a tech came into the room.
“We have picked up a signal that something is coming into our solar system. We have sent out a message and expect to hear back soon. I thought I would give you all a head’s up.”
They all looked around and shrugged. No one had any idea what was going on. It was becoming the usual way of things in the post-snap world.
Carol Danvers was almost home!
She hadn’t been back in over twenty years. She looked almost the same as she had when she’d last been here, but she knew Fury would be older. She looked forward to seeing her old friend.
She received the signal from Earth as she closed in on Mars.
Wakanda? Well, she could follow the origin of the signal. She put her little ship on stealth mode and headed to her home planet. It appeared they needed help, too, and maybe this was a good time to go home.
She would land in three hours.
Shuri and Banner worked on ashes while Tony and Rocket talked weaponry.
“What do we need to kill Thanos?” Rocket asked. “Nothing had much impact on him here.”
“On Titan, we almost had the gauntlet off and Quill woke him from the trance that Mantis had him in and then he defeated all of us quite handily, too.”
“But Mantis did affect him? Her mind thing worked on him?”
“That makes sense. She could do that to Quill’s father and he was a god, sort of.”
“But we don’t have her,” Tony said.
“Maybe we just need a big enough bomb!” Rocket said. In his opinion, there was little that could not be fixed with the proper application of high explosives.
Tony couldn’t argue with that.
Rocket went back to his quarters to clean up for dinner. These humans were fanatical about being clean. They did smell nice. He’d give them that. It could get pretty gamey, living on a ship for months on end, with recycled air and water and a crew that wasn’t all that fond of bathing.
He didn’t notice when he walked by the table the first time, but something made him come back. Then he saw it.
A tiny twig of wood was sticking up out of the soil in the pot where he’d planted the splinter from Groot.
“Hello there,” he said, knowing that it probably was just a case of the original stick showing up after he’d watered it and the dust washed away.
He heard a very faint sound. It sounded like a baby saying “Groot.”
“Groot?” he leaned very close and asked.
“… Groot,” was the faint answer again.
He picked up the pot and kissed it, then danced happily around his quarters with the pot in his hands.
“Groot the third! I guess this means I have to put up with puberty again.” He sighed happily. He would never in a million years say the words aloud, but Groot was his family and he was ecstatic to have another chance.
His shower was forgotten as he sat down and told his little friend everything that had transpired since his predecessor had turned to dust.
It answered in a little stronger voice, “I am Groot.”
The little ship slipped into Wakanda unseen. Carol slipped into the compound unseen, too. To be fair, she had more powers than anyone presently on earth and it was not a surprise that she slipped by the best security on earth.
She wandered around until she found what looked like a control room of some sort. A handsome man and a blond woman were talking. She slipped up behind them.
“Where is Nick Fury?” she asked without preamble.
Both of them turned, startled and alarmed to see a pretty blond woman in some sort of suit.
“Who the hell are you?” Natasha asked, reaching for a weapon.
Carol put a hand on her arm. “I’m Carol Danvers. Fury paged me. Where is he?”