“What do you think of her?” Steve asked Tony as they lay in their darkened bedroom.
“She’s like a house on fire. She never said what her powers are. Thor was impressed with her, though. That has to mean something. He’s a god.”
“Thor is impressed with Rocket.”
“He is a talking raccoon. Don’t tell me there isn’t a tiny bit of you that wants to pet him and talk baby talk to him,” Tony said, snuggling up to Steve.
Steve laughed and rolled over to kiss Tony.
Carol stood at a window and looked out at Wakanda at night.
She was sure they could defeat Thanos. Defeat wasn’t a word she used very often, never had been. She was less sure they could bring back all the ones who disappeared. It might not be as simple as they thought.
She wondered if Goose was still around. She wondered if Maria and Monica were still out there. She’d loved Maria and Monica more than anyone – they were like a family to her. She suspected that Fury understood this. It had been several years since she’d popped in to see them. She hoped it wasn’t too late.
She’d find out tomorrow.
Clint Barton had just put his motherless children to bed. They were stoic about the whole thing and that scared him more than anything. He, on the other hand was anything but. He was furious, at God, or fate, and certainly at Thanos for taking Laura instead of him. Laura deserved life; his children deserved their mother.
Thanos would pay.
Rocket sat at the table in his room, talking to his tiny new friend.
“It’s good to have you back, buddy.”
The tiny plant said, “I am Groot.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know you’re grandson of my original friend, but you’re still Groot. I’m so glad to have you here. Maybe you’ll get to meet the others today. There’s a new girl, Carol is her name, and I think she is going to be a lot of help. Thor likes her, too.”
“I am Groot?”
“Yeah, she’s human, but there’s way more to her than that. I think she has powers. I hope she has lots of them.”
“I am Groot.”
“You’re right! I forgot that! Groot did give a piece of himself to make the handle to Thor’s new axe. He’ll be glad to meet you, too. I think he’s the only one who speaks your language.”
“I am Groot.”
“Well, except me. I guess I need some shut eye. Do you like music? Of course you do. I’m going to play some of Peter Quill’s Mix Tape so we can sleep well.”
Rocket turned the music on. Come and Get Your Love was the first song on the mix. He turned the volume on low and turned out the lights.
“I am Groot.”
Once Rocket closed his eyes, the tiny plant began to dance to the music.
Thor watched Natasha brush her hair. She was so much like the Valkyrie warriors of his own people. She was fierce and dedicated to those around her. He knew that what they had was a temporary diversion, but that was all right with him.
“Do you think we can defeat Thanos?” he asked her as she he looked at her reflection in the mirror.
“I think we have no choice. We might just have a chance with Carol Danvers.”
“She is impressive. I know we must defeat Thanos, but there is more here than just a mad Titan. I can’t help but think that Thanos might have been manipulated as much as we all were.”
“By whom?” Natasha stopped brushing and turned from the mirror to look at him.
“The stones themselves maybe. Maybe all of them or one of them used this to achieve its own goals.”
“Have you said anything about this to Steve or Tony? If not, maybe you should. It could be a game changer. What if we defeat Thanos only to find he is not our worst enemy after all?” Natasha looked scared, something Thor had never seen. In truth, not many people at all had seen her scared.
“We will tell them all come morning. Come to bed, Natasha. Let me make you forget this all for a few hours.” Thor opened his arms and she went to them, happy to let go of it all for a few more hours.
Tomorrow would come soon enough for them all.
Little Groot danced for a long time. He was happy but he carried the memory of all his predecessors and he knew that bad things had happened to people he cared about: Quill, Gamora, Drax, Mantis.
He looked around and hopped out of his pot. He tried his legs and found they worked quite well. He danced across the table top. “I am Groot,” he sang happily to himself.
Thor would have known he said, “I am coming to save you, my friends.”
He knew. Suddenly he knew what the price was. He had been right all along.
A lone tear ran down the face of Stephen Strange in his prison inside the Soul Stone.
The Stone winked a little brighter. Soon, very soon.