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I'm Gonna Carry You Home

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I Thanos was gone.

 

So was half of all life.

 

(It’s all my fault.)

 

***

 

In a small clearing in the forest, the remaining Avengers gather around Vision’s colorless corpse.

 

The air is heavy with shock, horror, and grief (or maybe that’s just the ashes).

 

Thor looks up to the cloudy sky, the heavens a reflection of his need to release all of the pent-up emotions. He must keep the rain at bay, though, for he does not want the water to wash away what remains of lost comrades, of lost family and friends.

 

After what seems like an eternity, his fellow compatriots, both known and unknown, begin to head across the sprawling field to what looks like a city.

 

“You coming, Thor?”

 

He turns his gaze to meet that of Natasha, who, he noticed, now sported platinum blonde locks. (Everyone has changed. every thing has changed.) He gave her a strained smile. “I think I’ll stay out here for a little while, but thank you.”

 

She nodded, flashing him a quick smile. “Ok. Once you enter the city, you can probably ask any of the female guards dressed in red to escort you to the palace. If you need to, just tell ‘em you’re an Avenger.”

 

With a final nod, Natasha turns and follows the others.

 

Now alone, Thor sighs, leaning back against a tree and sliding down until he is sitting on the uneven forest floor.

 

(You were destined to lose. You are destined to be alone.)

 

He inhales, his breath rattling in his throat.

 

(Why do you deserve to still breathe when billions of others do not? What makes you worthy of such a privilege?)

 

He tilts his head up against the tree trunk, focusing on the dense foliage above him.

 

He clenches his fists as he tries to keep the weather at bay, digging his fingernails into his skin.

 

The pain grounds him.

 

***

 

Thor remembers part of a nursery rhyme he had heard once on Midgard. He doesn’t remember how he heard it or where.

 

Ashes ashes

 

We all fall down

 

***

 

He doesn’t know how long he sits there, only that it’s sunset when he hears a soft whirring sound.

 

Turning his head, he sees Bruce riding what looks to be a hoverbike. He stops the bike a couple of feet away, turning it off and walking towards him.

 

“Hey, Thor.”

 

He looks up at Bruce, his chocolate brown eyes filled with sadness.

 

“It’s getting kinda late and I didn’t think you’d exactly want to spend the night out here… we’re all kinda worried about you, ya know?” He chuckles uneasily. It sounds forced. “I, uh, like the eye, by the way… but d’you wanna come back with me? We’re not trying to force you to or anything, but…”

 

Thor doesn’t want to cause his friends any more strife. He rises and nods, eliciting a half smile from Bruce. “Oh, good.” He says, looking somewhat relieved. Bruce begins walking back to the bike as Thor follows. “You’re gonna have to ride behind me, sorry.” Thor shrugs nonchalantly.

 

Bruce gets onto the bike, scooching forward so that Thor can fit behind him. As Bruce starts the bike, Thor wraps his arms around his middle. Bruce tenses momentarily at the unexpected contact before relaxing and driving across the war-torn landscape and into the city.

 

***

 

The towering silver spires of of this place (Wakanda, Bruce told him) remind him of Asgard.

 

It’s not the same, no, but it’s enough to render him unable to look up.

 

***

 

Thor remembers walking into the palace for the last time and seeing crumbled ruins on the floor.

 

(It seems our father’s solution to every problem is to cover it up)

 

His cracked face stares back at him.

 

(Or to cast it out)

 

He looks up and sees the picture that laid beneath.

 

(she wielded Mjolnir too)

 

(He told you you were worthy)

 

(He said the same thing to me)

 

He wonders if he was ever really worthy at all.

 

***

 

As he guides Thor to his room, Bruce fills the silence by telling Thor a bit about Wakanda.

 

Not only are they much more technologically advanced than the rest of Midgard (like Asgard), but they have an elite force of all-female warriors known as the Dora Milaje (like the Valkyries).

 

His losses seem to haunt him wherever he goes.

 

***

 

After taking him to his room and telling him a couple more things he should know, Bruce leaves Thor to his thoughts.

 

There’s a large window looking out at the battlefield.

 

Thor can see the large crater he had created upon his entry into the battle.

 

He yanks the heavy curtains shut.

 

***

 

Despite knowing where and how to receive sustenance, Thor does not do so.

 

Everything would probably taste like dust, anyway.

 

However, after around three days of sitting in seclusion in his room (He does a lot of pacing. No sleeping, though) , only coming out at night to train in the course that had been designed by the King’s (he’s gone now though. Guess why?) genius younger sister, Steve knocks on his door.

 

(Steve has changed a lot, too. He’s… more guarded. Sadder, too.)

 

“Thor? It’s Steve. You there?” Thor walks over and opens the door.

 

Steve, whose fist is raised in a way that suggests he was going to knock again, looks slightly taken aback that Thor answered so quickly. However, he quickly regathers himself. “Thor… I haven’t seen you since…” He swallows, eyes flickering down for second before he continues, his voice tinged with sadness. “Well, since. Have you… eaten, at all?”

 

Thor shrugs. He doesn’t actually remember the last time he had a substantial meal. He had some bland soup on the Guardian’s ship after… (No don’t go there Thor) but he hasn’t eaten since then, despite stealing some of their food. He didn’t eat on the The Statesman; food was scarce and he needed it less than others. (But it doesn’t matter, now, does it?)

 

(No, stop it no don’t—)

 

“...Thor?” Steve’s voice halts his spiraling thoughts. He looks up to see the man staring at him with some concern. “Do you… wanna talk about anything? I’m here, you know, if you need a listening ear.” He offers Thor a half-smile.

 

(Yes No)

 

Thor shakes head. While he tries to hide it, Thor can sense that Steve’s worry has increased.

 

(He shouldn’t worry about me he has enough going on say something you oaf)

 

The words seem to die in his throat.

 

He instead opts for a smile (which he is 90% sure looks more like a grimace), and, after bowing away from the door, slowly shuts it.

 

He suddenly feels very nauseated.

 

Back against the door, Thor sits on the ground and curls into himself, one arm wrapped around his middle while his other hand clutches his head.

 

(What is happening to me?)

 

***

 

They leave Wakanda after five days, taking a plane to the New Avengers Compound.

 

(Thor could’ve taken them there in seconds via the Bifrost, but he can’t bring himself to pick Stormbreaker back up… he trusts that it’ll be there when he needs it)

 

Being back at the compound brings back memories of… simpler times. Of times when his ears did not echo with the screams of the dead and dying, of times when he could close his eyes without seeing flashes of death and blood and ashes and—

 

He forces himself back.

 

(Get a grip, Thor!)

 

They all disperse to their rooms.

 

When Thor reaches his, he cannot help but notice how dusty everything is. It’s just how he left it all those years ago.

 

He almost doesn’t want to walk in for fear of ruining the stillness that permeates the room.

 

It’s like a window to his past.

 

He goes to training room. He’ll deal with this later.

 

***

 

When he is feeling antsy, Thor will sometimes walk around the compound.

 

(But if you put the hammer in an elevator…)

 

(It would still go up)

 

(Elevator’s not worthy)

 

(How could you be worthy?)

 

Thor shakes his head. (Stop it brain shut up)

 

As he passes by one of the common rooms, he sees the Rabbit tinkering with some scraps while Rhodes sits on the couch, watching the TV.

 

“...General Thaddeus ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross has just been sworn in as President of the United States after what many are calling ‘The Decimation.’ Despite everything that has occurred, the now-President Ross…”

 

Rhodes spots Thor and gives him a wave. “Hey, Thor,” he says, stumbling to his feet. He wears metal braces around his legs, now. Thor doesn’t know why and can’t bring himself to ask.

 

He’s about to leave when he hears Rhodes’ voice again. “Oh, can you meet me in the conference room two doors down? I want to brief you and Bruce on… well, everything that’s gone on.”

 

Thor nods and heads to the conference room.

 

***

 

After about five minutes of waiting, Rhodes comes into the room, Bruce in tow. Bruce offers Thor a small smile and a wave, which Thor returns in kind. Rhodes sits down at the head of the table.

 

“Ok,” he begins. “I don’t know how much you guys know about what went these past years, but… a lot has changed.”

 

To Thor’s surprise, Bruce responded. “I know Cap and Tony had a falling-out and that Avengers split up… but that’s it.”

 

The Avengers split up? Sure, they weren’t the perfect team; they had their disagreements and squabbles, but they got along. So what the Hel happened?

 

Rhodes begins to explain what went down, starting the the incident in Lagos. After he starts to cover the Sokovia Accords (why does this matter now?) and a man named “Ross,” Bruce interrupts.

 

“Ross? As in… Thaddeus Ross?”

 

“Yeah, I know, he’s kind of a piece of shit, but—”

 

Kind of? He’s a total piece of shit! He’s part of the reason I had to go off the grid! He hunted me! He tried to experiment on me! Are you seriously going to sit here and tell me that you guys worked with him? I know Tony knew about what he did, because I told him! Why the hell—”

 

Thor places a hand on Bruce’s shoulder, causing Bruce to stop in his tracks. He looks at Thor, his eyes a radioactive green. Bruce closes his eyes and takes a couple of deep breaths. Opening them up again, he sighs, looking at Thor. His eyes have returned to their natural chocolate brown. “Thanks,” he says. Thor nods in return, removing his hand from Bruce’s shoulder.

 

“Sorry,” Bruce says sheepishly, looking at Rhodes.

 

Rhodes dismisses it with a wave of his hand. “It’s okay, dude. I get it. To be honest, I’m not on such great terms with the guy at the moment, either. The whole thing was less about who was in charge and more about the principle of accountability. And honestly, looking back, while the Accords may have been a good idea, they were implemented poorly. I just wanted to let you guys know so that you weren’t caught off by anything that might go down, you know?” They both nodded, and Rhodes continued, explaining everything from the bombing at the UN meeting to the battle at the airport (Well that explains the leg braces) .

 

Thor wanted to scream.

 

(The fought over a couple pieces of paper?!)

 

(So what if Steve’s friend killed Tony’s parents?! He didn’t do it of his own accord!)

 

(You think you’ve had a shitty year? I had to blow up my home to defeat the evil sister I never knew I had! I lost… I lost…)

 

“So, what happened with you guys?” He hears Rhodes ask.

 

(NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE)

 

He bolts out of his chair and walks out, making a beeline for the punching bags.

 

***

 

“Thor, when was the last time you slept?”

 

(I don’t know Natasha why does it matter)

 

“Hey Thor I made pancakes. Want some?”

 

(No thank you Steve please don’t make me eat)

 

“No offense Sparky, but ya look like crap.”

 

(Jeez even the Rabbit’s hounding me why can’t I catch a break)

 

(I’m so tired)

 

(Then go to sleep)

 

(No no not like that)

 

He wishes he could disappear.

 

***

 

One of his old helmets sits on a shelf in his room. He can’t help but think back to his botched coronation and his subsequent exile to Midgard.

 

(You are unworthy of this Realm)

 

(Asgard is gone)

 

(Unworthy of your title)

 

(Thor, King of Nothing)

 

(Unworthy of the loved ones you’ve betrayed)

 

(You let them die)

 

(You are alone)

 

***

 

He refuses to touch anything in his room besides his wardrobe and the window seat. After Ultron, but before he had left to search for—them (blasted colored rocks) —he had spent about a week or so at the compound.

 

One night, after another foreboding nightmare, he had taken some extra pillows and blankets (which there had been a surprising abundance of) and made himself a little nest on the window seat.

 

He’s always liked looking out the window.

 

But other than that, he wants to preserve the memories.

 

He also can’t bring himself to get into bed.

 

Wrapping himself in a fluffy blanket, he looks outside. He likes his window. It’s big and allows him to see more of the sprawling compound, as well as the forest beyond.

 

The green foliage of the trees suddenly blurs together. He blinks rapidly, trying to snap out of it.

 

(Hm that pillow looks ni—NO STAY AWAKE)

 

His exhaustion and utter lack of sleep eventually overcome him.

 

***

 

(Purple permeates every fiber of his being as the Mad Titan pushes the pulsing stone against his skin)

 

(Fire and heat and light)

 

(Have to keep it open they need me)

 

(For Asgard and for Heimdall and for Loki)

 

(I assure you brother, the sun will shine on us again)

 

(Liesmith until the very end, Loki)

 

(I can still save you)

 

(You should’ve gone for the head)

 

(You really are the worst, brother is that really the last thing I said to him)

 

(He died thinking I hated him he doesn’t didn’t know I love loved him)

 

(I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry)

 

(We are all dead)

 

(Heimdall why did you go)

 

(Bodies of Asgardians and Sakaaran refugees, both young and old but died fighting nonetheless)

 

(Mother and Father and Mjolnir and Hogun and Fandral and Volstagg and Sif [she never returned from Alfheim, Loki said] and Asgard [Asgard is not a place it’s a people but the people are all gone] and Heimdall and Loki and)

 

(He can’t move he can’t scream Loki stop don’t BROTHER NO)

 

(Let me die oh gods please just let me die)

 

(You're a destroyer, Odinson)

 

(Asgard exploding into thousands and thousands of pieces)

 

(The Statesman slowly succumbing to the Power Stone’s flames)

 

(See where your power leads)

 

(SNAP )

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

His eyes snap open as he gasps for breath, chest heaving.

 

 

 

Thunder crashes outside as the the torrential downpour thrashes his window.

 

 

 

(I can’t breathe)

 

 

 

He thinks he hears FRIDAY’s semi-concerned voice but he doesn’t care he needs to get out so he flips up the latch of the window shoves it open and launches himself through it.

 

 

 

He stumbles but sticks the landing, setting out at a sprint towards the woods.

 

 

 

***

 

The ground is slick. He slips quite a few times, but is able to keep his footing.

 

 

 

He half-wishes the rain would drown him.

 

 

 

(Where are you running to?)

 

 

 

(I don’t know leave me alone)

 

 

 

He barrels into the forest, uncaring of the scratches he sustains on his arms or the twigs that dig into his bare feet.

 

 

 

The branches look like mangled hands—fingers outstretched, but cries unanswered.

 

 

 

He can still hear the screams,

 

 

 

He keeps running.

 

 

 

(What are you running from?)

 

 

 

(You can’t run from yourself, you know)

 

 

 

(You can’t outrun fate)

 

 

 

(JUST LET ME GO)

 

 

 

He stumbles on a tree root and tumbles to the ground, catching himself on his hands and knees. He stays like that, panting.

 

 

 

(What are you, a child? Get up, keep running)

 

 

 

(I’m so tired)

 

 

 

He looks up as lightning illuminates the sky.

 

 

 

(You could summon your axe and transport yourself to the ruins of Asgard)

 

 

 

(You could go home)

 

 

 

Shakily, he rises to his feet, using the trunk of a nearby tree for support.

 

 

 

(I’m only alive because fate wants me alive)

 

 

 

(Fate wants you dead)

 

 

 

He feels the static in the air and the lightning racing through his veins.

 

 

 

Thor holds out his hand.

 

 

 

“Thor!”

 

 

 

He whips his head around to see Natasha and Steve cautiously approach from behind some trees.

 

 

 

(Oh no no no no they’re going to ruin everything)

 

 

 

(Why won’t they stop please leave me alone)

 

 

 

Steve takes a hesitant step forward. Thor stands his ground, right hand still outstretched.

 

 

 

“Thor, we’re really worried about you. We’re here for you. We want to help you.”

 

 

 

(You can’t help me)

 

 

 

(You don’t understand you can never understand what it’s like to lose everything)

 

 

 

“Thor, it’s raining and you’re wearing a t-shirt, sweatpants, and no shoes. You should come inside and dry off.”

 

 

 

She holds her hands up in a submissive sort of manner, despite the fact that he knows she is surely armed to the tooth.

 

 

 

It’s a pitiful attempt and she knows it. Thor doesn’t even justify it with a response.

 

 

 

“Thor, just put your hand down and come back with us,” Steve pleads, his tone bordering on desperate. “Please.”

 

 

 

Thor feels sparks race across the knuckles of his left hand and he clenches it into a fist.

 

 

 

Lightning strikes overhead.

 

 

 

(I’m lost)

 

 

 

(I’m lost and I wanna go home)

 

 

 

(Please let me go home)

 

 

 

He takes a step back.

 

 

 

An arrow lands in the trunk of a tree.

 

 

 

That tree would’ve been him.

 

 

 

(Clint is here)

 

 

 

(When did he get here?)

 

 

 

He has a split second to prepare himself before Natasha and Steve are coming right at him.

 

 

 

While Natasha comes right at him, Steve attempts to come around from the back and lock his arms. Pushing back against Steve, Thor kicks at Natasha and flips Steve over him.

 

 

 

(If they want a fight, they’re going to get a fight)

 

 

 

(Why are you fighting your friends?)

 

 

 

(Go home go home let me go)

 

 

 

The wind howls in pain as thunder explodes around them.

 

 

 

The world glows a bright bluish-white as he feels the familiar crackling of energy dancing across his skin.

 

 

 

Then everything shatters, and he knows no more.

 

 

 

(Finally)

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

Thor? Are you awake?

 

 

 

‘M now.

 

 

 

Can… can I sleep with you tonight?

 

 

 

Nightmare?

 

 

 

Mmhm.

 

 

 

Come ‘ere, Lokes.

 

 

 

Would you like to talk about it?

 

 

 

Mm-mm.

 

 

 

Okay.

 

 

 

Thor?

 

 

 

Yes, Loki?

 

 

 

If… if I were to be… hurt…  you would come and help me, right?

 

 

 

Nothing in all the Nine Realms could stop me.

 

 

 

Promise?

 

 

 

Promise.

 

 

 

 

 

(Your word means nothing, Odinson)

 

 

 

(Look where he is now)