Author: Del Rion (delrion.mail (at) gmail.com)
Fandom: The Avengers (MCU)
Era: Post-Avengers movie
Genre: Action, drama
Rating: M / FRM
Characters: Bruce Banner (Hulk), Clint Barton (Hawkeye), Jane Foster, Nick Fury, Happy Hogan, J.A.R.V.I.S., Loki, Pepper Potts, James “Rhodey” Rhodes (War Machine), Steve Rogers (Captain America), Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow), Lady Sif and the Warriors Three (Fandral, Hogun and Volstagg), Tony Stark (Iron Man), Thor
(Brief/smaller appearances: Odin, Maria Hill, Darcy Lewis, The Other, Benjamin “Benny” Pollack, Erik Selvig, Jasper Sitwell, Claire Wise.)
Pairings: Happy/Pepper, Jane/Thor. Mentions of: Benny/Claire, Pepper/Tony
Summary: Iron Man never fell back through the portal. The Avengers must deal with the loss of their comrade and move on – until Earth once again comes under an attack from the Chitauri and their new-found weapons that decimate everything in their path with unmatched power and intellect. As cities and nations collapse around their decreasing resistance, the heroes of Earth must find a way to defeat their enemy before there is nothing left to avenge.
Work in progress.
Written for: Apocalypse Big Bang, Round One (apocalypsebang at LiveJournal)
Art: Imaan (insteadofdeath at dA/DW/LJ)
Warnings: Graphic description of torture, major character death, apocalypse & invasion themes (including but not limited to: mass destruction, terrorism, holocaust, death, violence and gore), brain-washing & mind-control, language (including some remarks that could be seen as racist). Serious spoilers for the ending of The Avengers (and other random spoilers for the rest of the movies in the Avengers cinematic universe).
It was that time of year again when he got restless, no matter where he was, and steadily made his way back to Malibu.
The proper in memoriam ceremony was held in New York City, to honor the fallen heroes and victims of the Tesseract Event, yet Bruce wanted no part in that. He had gone once, on the one-year anniversary, but making his way across country afterwards, to be where they all should have been, had taken him precious time; he couldn’t move on with his life before coming here, to the quiet corner of the cemetery where Tony’s grave was.
They were honoring him in New York, of course, with speeches and donations. Pepper Potts would be there, on behalf of Stark Industries, which meant the actual burial site would be quiet, at least for a day.
Bruce liked the solitude and the feeling that he might just avoid detection this time… yet that hope was crushed when he heard footsteps coming up the path. It had been a year since they’d seen each other but he knew it was Steve even without looking.
The footsteps stopped beside him on the well-maintained grass. Silence grew heavy between them, as always. Bruce knew what Steve had to be thinking – what most of them had thought during the four years after their first battle together.
“They say he died a hero,” Steve started after a while.
“He did,” Bruce agreed.
Silence, again, until Steve spoke up: “Do you ever think he died in vain?”
Bruce squared his jaw and traced the letters on the headstone. They haunted him in his dreams but it gave him comfort to see them in person – to be able to touch them. Comfort and regret… “We’ll never know,” he finally managed to force out in reply. What he remembered of the battle… it was nothing like the aftermath. Coming back from his transformation to the other guy and realizing Tony was gone.
It was nothing compared to what Steve felt; Bruce knew the man blamed himself, doubted his actions every single day. Steve kept asking himself if they should have waited a bit longer; if there had been another way to stop the nuclear missile; if he could have done himself what Tony did.
“We just stood by and watched,” Steve finally forced himself to go on, his eyes closing with a brief expression of pain. “All I knew of him was that he made me angrier than anyone ever had… but he threw his life on the line for all of us without being asked.”
“He didn’t do it because of what you said to him on the Helicarrier.” It wasn’t the first time they’d talked about this; not the first time people had tried to talk Steve out of his gnawing guilt. Bruce had assumed the pain would lessen with time but just as surely as Bruce migrated back to Tony’s grave each year, Steve found him there every time and the pain in his eyes remained.
Steve let out a small, pained chuckle. “I keep going over it in my head. Wondering…”
Bruce could tell him to just let it go, to accept that no matter what they would have said or done at the time, it wouldn’t have saved Tony. That the person Steve made himself remember was probably as far from Tony’s true being as his first impression had been. Neither of those things would help him to cope, to deal with the loss, so he let those final words hang between them as they stood there in the middle of the quiet cemetery, wondering if perhaps they could have done something differently.
That if they had waited just a bit longer…
“Are you leaving again?” Steve asked when clouds covered the sun, reminding them of the passing of time.
“Yes,” Bruce nodded. “I need to keep moving.” Away from S.H.I.E.L.D. and other interested parties. He had no illusion he was truly lost to all of them but he could try; to make it more difficult for them to track him.
“You could stay,” Steve reminded him. He did that every year – every time they met here.
“I cannot,” was Bruce’s never-changing reply.
“He would have made you stay,” Steve noted.
Bruce simply nodded, knowing it to be true.
Tony was gone, though, and there was no place for Bruce here.
to be continued…