Shuri nodded at her general.
“Accept the call,” said Okoye warily as she looked around at the people in the room with her.
A bloody and worn out Tony came into view on the holographic display of the Wakandan Room, shocking all the people present.
Several shouts of his name rose from different people around the table but tony didn’t so much as react, he kept looking at them with a forlorn sense of loss, eyes filled with unshed tears and unshakable horror, his eyes drooped a little bit bringing everyone to a pause.
“Tony?” asked Steve disbelievingly.
Hearing his name Tony seemed to snap out of his trance-like state, as he looked at them with more sharpness than there was before, he looked at each one of them before his gaze settled on Rhodey.
“Hey buttercup, glad to see you weren’t a character in ‘Gone with the wind,’” Said Tony with a broken rough voice, joke falling flat.
Rhodey up to that point had been dead silent, eyes wide, hands tight over his mouth, eyes glassy.
“Tones” he said before he doubled over and started laughing hysterically closing his eyes in the process, a couple tears escaping and streamed over his dark cheeks.
“Sorry couldn’t resist getting into the FunVee. Again” added the genius with a wistful smile.
Rhodey stood up straight again and wiped the tears away as he chuckled.
“Yeah, well you were always a stubborn bastard,” said Rhodey smiling a full-blown smile, something he had not done since Thanos.
Tony shrugged “Trade mark, mon pain au chocolat”.
“Are you in our Spaceship?” asked Rocket finally noticing the background behind the beaten up human.
The Rodent looked so hopeful.
But it quickly disappeared at the man’s expression.
“Who?” asked Rocket, already dreading the answer.
Thor’s large hand came on the raccoons much smaller shoulder. “Rabbit” he said cautiously, But the latter only shrugged the hand and asked more forcefully “Who?”
Tony sighed and closed his eyes at the image of all of them disintegrating.
‘Mr. Stark I don’t feel so good’
He looked at Rocket directly, he deserve that much consideration at least.
“Quill, Drax, Mantis”
Rocket closed his eyes and brought his paws over his ears.
“No, no, no, no” he started mumbling.
“What about Gamora? You didn’t mention Gamora, is she still there?” he asked desperately.
Tony shook his head.
“According to Nebula, he sacrificed her to get the soul stone”
The other people in the room cursed, even though they had never met the woman or the other guardians, they had heard of them from Thor and Rocket, and they felt each of their deaths too.
“Nebula is there?”
Before Tony could reply, Shuri interrupted.
“Where is there, exactly. You are communicating with us so you shouldn’t be that far away from earth, but we can’t detect your ship anywhere near it,”
Tony looked at her.
“That’s because we’re not, princess shuri. We’re in an exoplanet in the Centaurus A galaxy”
Shuri did not address the princess comment, not wanting to dwell even further on the implications. “Centaur- that’s Billions of light-years away” she said wide eyes.
The others looked at each other confused trying to see the accuracy of the ‘billions of light years away’
“Tony, why?” asked a stricken Bruce. “What the hell are you doing so far away?”
Tony’s eyes became cold at that moment and smiled a terrifying smile full of teeth.
“Nebula and I went after Thanos,” he said and chaos followed.
“Tony are you crazy”
“That was foolish of you Stark”
“Of course you did”
“Enough” commanded Shuri looking every bit the queen that she had unfortunately had to become, before she looked at tony once again.
“Did you find him?” she asked voice dangerous.
“Yeah, Nebula is chopping his dead body into little pieces outside” he said nodding his head sideways as a vague direction to where Nebula was.
“Apparently it’s cathartic, daddy issues and all, but hey, who am I to judge”
Silence followed that statement.
Clint broke the silence this time.
“Are you telling us that you killed Thanos?” asked with a disbelieving hope.
“I made sure of it”
The others looked at each other with meaningful looks, it was over, and maybe now they could finally mourn their lost ones.
“That’s not all is it; you wouldn’t have called just to tell us that, not from that far away at least” Exclaimed Natasha.
Tony looked at her and tilted his head appreciatively “Always the perceptive little albino spider. What’s with the Tilda Swinton look anyways?”
Natasha only reaction was a fond little smile.
“I have a mission for you guys,” he said not waiting for an answer.
“What kind of mission?” asked Steve, finally getting the nerves to speak directly to Tony.
“A rescue mission, captain. I already sent you the coordinates, you’ll go and retrieve the guardians, doctor strange and Spiderman from Titan.”
“What are you talking about?” said Bruce “I thought you said they were dead”.
“Oh they are, but not for long” he retorted before raising his right hand that had been out of shot until now, and what they saw made all of them gasp.
Tony was wearing Thanos’s gauntlet.
The golden gauntlet that had the six stones all over it.
“Holly shit, you crazy son of a bitch.” whispered Rhodey.
“You know me Babe; it’s always go big or go home with me.”
“If-when this will work, people will start reappearing in roughly the same positions from where they had disappeared, it’s like a slingshot, they disappeared so abruptly and unnaturally that they left a trace in their wake. And now that they’ll be released from their premature deaths, they’ll snap back in the general vicinity of their disappearance, and since the team that I was with died on titan, I need you to go get them”.
Treacherous hope flooded the room.
Gasps and prayers travelled throughout the room.
“Tony, can you really do that”
Tony nodded confidently
“Yeah, I can. So do I have your word you’ll go get them?”
“You have my word Anthony, I’ll bring them to earth as soon as you will them to life again, and with Storm Breaker it will be an easy task” promised Thor solemnly.
Tony looked at the Asgardian, taking in the new state he was in, he no longer had a mane over his head and the weapon he was carrying was definitely not Mew-Mew.
“Hey point break, Mantis told me what happened to Loki and your people, I am sorry buddy, if I can do it I’ll bring them back too. I can’t promise it will work, but I’ll try, so as soon as you bring the others, go back to the last place you saw your people, You know- just in case”.
Thor looked ready to cry from the sheer hope that is coursing through his hardened body.
The God of Thunder could not speak; he did not think words could ever convey the magnitude of the gesture and the faith that he gave him, so he nodded once and willed tony to see the gratefulness in his expression.
“But how? How could you know that this will work, that this will bring our lost ones back from death” asked Okoye, she had been silent throughout the exchange, but the notion that they could have their people back, their king back, was too great to not wanting to confirm its solidity.
“Because I can feel them,” Tony simply said drawing several sharp gasps from the avengers and the queen, but he only pushed on.
“Since the moment I put on the gauntlet, I could sort of feel them, it’s-it’s overwhelming. I think they can feel me too, because it feels like they are trying to reach to me but they cannot, it is as if they are stuck somewhere in a limbo state, between life and death, and I think- no I know that’ll be able to free them and bring them back to the living world”
Bruce frown had only increased as Tony barreled on his explanation.
“I-I don’t understand, the energy that’ll course through the gauntlet is unqualifiable, it would surely destroy you” and from the way Tony looked away Bruce finally dawned on him.
“But you already knew that, didn’t you?”
“Tony what is he talking about?” asked Rhodey dread painting his deep voice.
“What I meant Colonel is that Tony over here knows that wielding that gauntlet and using it will literally destroy him out of existence completely, what he’s doing is a suicide mission” he finished voice cold and eyes hard.
“Tony?” jumped in Steve, face horror stricken.
“I am sorry guys, it’s the only way, believe me if there was any other way I would’ve taken it, contrary to popular belief I don’t have a death wish, certainly not when I have-had a wedding to get to.” Tony’s voice cracked at the last bit.
“There has to be another way” jumped In Clint, he and Tony hadn’t parted in the best of terms, and after cooling down and a lot of ass-kicking he got from Laura, he knew that It was majorly his fault, he didn’t get a chance to make amends with his friend, and it looked like he won’t get a chance. Ever.
“There isn’t, not for something this huge, and it’s my life I am putting at risk, it’s my decision, and I’ve already made it” all but yelled Tony.
“Damnit tony, it is not a decision you make on your own, because your death doesn’t happen just to you, what about the people you leave behind, me, happy, Pepper for god sakes. We are the ones who are going to mourn you, we are the ones that are going to be fighting to keep living after you, and we are the ones who we will have to spend the rest of their lives without you. So don’t come in here and bullshit me about it being your decision on your own, it not, it’s mine too and happy’s too, and Pepper too.” Yelled Rhodey, face red from anger and fear.
Silence reigned in the room.
Tony looked away trying to hide his tears but did not quite managed to succeed.
“I’m sorry,” he simply said.
“Tony no, No” pleaded Rhodey “I just got you back, please. Don’t do it”
Not caring anymore who saw him cry, Tony was looking at the screen-at Rhodey, with tears streaming down his face, but expression still determined.
“Contrary to another popular belief my ego is not so out of control as to endanger or jeopardize the lives of others,” Tony said, words cutting and direct.
They seemed to hit their aim, as Rogers and Romanoff flinched slightly.
“My life is not more important than anyone else, let alone billions if not trillions of other alive beings throughout the universe” he continued speaking to Rhodey.
Anger faded, only to be replaced by pure grief.
“Why does it always have to be you, why are you always sacrificing yourself for the sake of others, why?”
Tony did not know how to answer that.
“Goodbye Rhodey” he whispered, “I love you”
Tony raised his hand in front of his face, full on display to the other to see.
And snapped his fingers.
The video cut out.
A shockwave and a loud boom coursed through the whole universe, felt by everyone.
The silence was deafening.
A yell here.
A scream there.
Voices rose from all around them.
Steve, Bruce, Thor, Clint, Okoye, Shuri, Natasha and Rhodey all ran towards the floor to ceiling windows and what they saw brought some of them to their knees.
People were appearing all around the castle.
They seemed to reappear out of thin air; one moment there was nothing the next there was a person.
“Brother?” whispered Shuri as she saw a familiar shape coming out unsteadily from the canopy of the forest in the distance.
Okoye cursed and ran from the room to get to her king.
Rogers followed quickly, the name of Barnes falling from him as he ran away.
Clint and Natasha looked at each other before they ran out of the room, no doubt trying to make contact with Clint’s wife and kids.
Bruce got out giving a hand in wherever he is needed.
Only Rhodey and Thor stayed in the room, staring at the blackened screen.
A big hand came over Rhodey’s shoulder, and that simple gesture broke the man as sobs shook his body.
“He was an honorable and brave man, perhaps the bravest of us all, one of the finest warriors I have ever had the pleasure to fight alongside with. We all will forever be in his dept.” Thor’s deep voice said with sadness and grief painting his voice.
Rhodey nodded. Not able to say anything.
After getting himself together, he faced his teammate.
“You have a promise to keep Thor. Bring the others back here and then go check on your people. And come back here, Asgard may be gone, but you have a home here, Tony would’ve wanted you and your people here amongst friends. So you get your people and you come back you hear me”.
Thor looked at Rhodey with surprised Gratefulness before he shook himself and straightened.
He promised before he went outside to teleport to titan using Storm Breaker.
Rhodey could not feel anything but grief and utter sadness.
They had won, yes.
But at what price.