This is your last warning, for heaven's sake, please don't let me be the one to spoil Infinity War for you.

Also I could have just rambled a fairly obvious theory in a tumblr post, but I thought it'd be more fun - and cathartic - to write it from his point of view.

More stories are still coming to the Codex. See you soon.

. . .

Let Me Tell You About The Time I…

. . .

I've been here before.

It's never pleasant.

It's never what I'd call simple.

But with a little forethought and hard work, really, it's not the worst thing that can happen to you.

I know all about what that can be.

. . .

My conscious spirit, for lack of a better term, is currently suspended in an interesting type of limbo. It's anchored to my body, which is currently not in the best of shape, and also abandoned in deep space for a jolly bonus. This particular state of affairs lets me feel rather like I'm hung upside down, of which there's probably some nonsense about that in the human mythologies, where they like to paint me as some sort of demon monkey that's the root of every one of the Gods' problems. When I can tell you quite personally they're very good at mucking it all up for themselves. They don't need me.

Of course, it can be fun to push a few extra buttons here and there…

Regardless. I'm rather glad I don't know more about it, I'm feeling fairly irritable enough about everything right now.

The nice thing is, while I'm anchored and intimately aware of my corpse, I don't have to look at it. Instead, I'm in a place we may call 'between.' Above, so to speak, is the physical plane. Hard-frozen, neck snapped, and my face not at its best. It's blue. I'm still not used to that. You know, for reasons. Cut me a little slack.

Anyway, I'm not missing the view.

Below, also so to speak, is the mystery.

I cannot explain it. I've never been quite that far. Beyond the glistening, almost moving veil that I cannot explain is death itself. It's not Helheim through there. Our sister made a good job of approximating the general homey warmth of Corpselandia, but it doesn't pass muster if you've been in sniffing distance of the real thing. It's nothing. It's everything. It's… a journey into a mystery that changes all. Death is too simplistic a word for this place. Transition is closer. But it's more than all of that, more than any research or language can name or shape.

I'm not ready to go there. Not yet.

I know, I know. What options do I have? Hold on, I'm getting there.

I barely remember the first time I hung here. I didn't tell anyone about it, not even my mother. I was much younger at the time, had the good sense to tether my soul-self because I knew a bad idea when I saw one, and unsurprisingly got my life kicked right out of my body by a demon general I'd pissed off with - well, it doesn't matter. It's a long story and not a very good one. I was young, I was foolish, I learned an excitingly useful lesson about prep time.

The funny thing about dying is that it really does get easier the more often you do it. Not easy, but the jolt is familiar enough to become acceptable.

Though if we're being honest, and, fair, not my best trait, that time I dropped off the bridge? Truly thought that was it. I hadn't anchored. No preparation. I was done. I thought. I wanted. The lowest point of my life. Then, anyway.

Which, funny enough, leads straight to now.

Thanos.

You'll excuse me if I don't feel like rehashing all of that again.

. . .

So, here I am, in the blink-space on the edge of total nonexistence, using my own corpse as a spiritual life-raft. And I'm talking to you - and by 'you' I mean myself, because there's no holovids, books, DVRs or concerts to keep the mind busy on the fringes of death and sometimes you're the only good conversationalist you're going to get for a while - as if I'm cheerfully taking all of this in stride.

I am.

Listen, any damned sorcerer worth their salt knows it's absolute hell to break a dead wizard's spell. I'm sure even that idiot, Strange, knows. I hope he does something smart with that knowledge, because a few portals and some shiny sparks aren't going to do much against that prune-shaped son of a bitch.

The catch to all of this is, naturally, you have to be dead.

. . .

So. Again. Here we are. Meandering towards a point. Knew it was coming, of course. Kind of dimly hoped it wouldn't, because dying's not a fun process, particularly when you're going to be awake and aware of it happening, and the brute physicality of this particular drop-kick trip through the spiritual void wasn't a high point of my, er, unlife. If he'd given me another shot, I had other ideas. Clearly he wasn't in a friendly frame of mind.

Still, though.

The amount of time I vamped for, you'd think Thanos would have suspected something.

He's not as bright as he thinks he is. He's terrifyingly intelligent, yes, but there's a blinding element to that much self-assured arrogance… not that I'd know.

The first trick, trying to game and keep the Space stone out of his hands, well, no, that didn't work. I'm… I suppose I'm not fully that person any longer. And in the end, if I do have any one unbreakable alliance, it's to Asgard. And my brother, whatever I've felt in the past, is now its grand locus. If he falls, the spirit of Asgard breaks at last.

And he's my brother.

…I'd prefer not to dwell on that right now. I'll have plenty of time later.

To the next, they lost track of me there for a little while. Not long. Just enough to pin a few spells into place, things I've known how to do for a long time. Almost instinctual, making a good backup plan. It's necessary when you have a reputation like mine.

But for them to work… well, as I said. And if you have to go out, make it look good.

The best way to make it look good is to be earnest, I suppose. I did my best.

Thor'd earned that much. Putting up with me. I should have warned him of what I did, keeping the stone, but… I thought there would be more time. I didn't know how fast this bastard would come. I wasn't thinking of that yet, because I didn't like to think about it. Years to feel free of him and Sanctuary and his beshitted, mad children…

I told Thor the truth. The sun will shine again.

I told Thanos the truth, too. He's no God. He will never be a God. There is no change in him, just hubris and determination. Gods flow. Gods shift with belief, and time, and space. Gods are tied to reality, and unreality.

He thinks himself above all that, and that will make him lesser.

He thinks he holds dominion over death itself, Thanos. He says to my corpse, where perhaps he suspects I can listen as I fade, no more resurrections.

Firstly, that's not up to him.

Secondly, worst case?

My body's not in the best shape. It may be difficult to reclaim.

Worst case is rebirth.

It's a setback. But I've dealt with those. The spells are in place, strong and untouched.

See, it's honestly better that if I die, I die now, with the situation controlled and the Soul stone not yet in his hands. It means my soul is yet under my own dominion and no one else's. So long as I don't fall below. So long as the anchor holds. So long as he forgets about me once he does find the thing, doesn't come back to mop the little remnants of me up into the depths of it.

I may not be much help if Thor and the mortals and whoever else is out there manages to pull it together and drive Thanos back from the cusp of everything he's tried to make of the universe. But I've not made it any easier for him, which is some small victory, and one way or another, I'm going to make him a liar.

I'm a God.

I'm here, myself, intact in all the ways that truly matter. I hold a self. I Am.

And even if I must change to survive, it still means I'm not going to finish dying here.

There's just too much story left to go. Another page to turn. Another sunrise to see.

I'll drift here, and wait to find out.

. . .

It's so quiet here. It's the first time I've been at peace in years.

Wish I at least had a book.

Drifting, I look above at the physical plane, and I see life, chaos, death, change. I see my brother, with a new eye. I see many things. I see… spells. Gleaming framework, strong as my own, glistening entangled in the matrix of time…

Not bad, Strange. Not bad at all.

I wonder if…

Well. No point in speculating yet.

. . .

Don't worry. I'll see all of you again soon.

~Fin

Time…

is on my side…

yes it is….

~The Rolling Stones

4/30/2018, all rights and blame to Marvel.