Well. I have been working on this for almost a year now, and after hitting 40-some chapters I decided that I'd start to post and see if I can do even a fragment of justice to the Marvel fandom. Y'all are powerful and great, and I've had so much fun and laughter and tears and hair-pulling to try to make a meat-and-potatoes fanfiction focusing on character-development and also throw in some classic Girl-in-MCU and fix-it plotline. I'm just going to warn you now: I'm a character-driven writer, so I prefer focusing on character-development than world-building, but I have tried to do both in reasonable amounts. So: come for the laughs, stay for the tears! *evil grin* Please, enjoy. *bows self out*

I would be true, for there are those who trust me; I would be pure, for there are those who care. I would be strong, for there is much to suffer; I would be brave, for there is much to dare. I would be friend of all - the foe, the friendless; I would be giving, and forget the gift. I would be humble, for I know my weakness; I would look up, and laugh, and love, and lift.

- Howard A. Walter

"Man, what I wouldn't give to be able to go to the theatre and see the rerun," the sulking voice was followed by sly laughter.

"Should I rub the fact that I did into your face?" Willow teased her friend Anna, who rolled her eyes long-sufferingly.

"Oh be quiet, you," Anna huffed unconvincingly in reply, then cracked into a smile. "Anyways, did you enjoy your last day of school before summer break?" She grinned as Willow's face lit up.

"Sure did! I was certain that I'd die from that speech at assembly, and I pretty much botched it, but-"

"Well you didn't necessarily botch it, but you sure looked like you were about to cry," Anna said thoughtfully.

"Odin's beard, Anna, that was just so encouraging," Willow complained as Anna grinned unrepentantly.

"Aren't I the best? Anyways, Miss Painful Shyness, did you look up the stuff I asked?" Anna went on.

"Cool yourself sister from another mister, I did," Willow sighed. "So basically what I found out is that there are several timelines in the Multiverse that allow some of the movies to be swapped chronologically without completely skewing the storyline," she informed her friend.

"You have so memorized all of the movies, haven't you," Anna sounded resigned.

"Hey, I'm a fan okay? And not all, I don't remember much of Iron Man two and three except for the major details," Willow defended herself valiantly. Anna snorted, then looked out the window of the bus.

"Oh hey, here's our stop!" She grabbed Willow's hand and dragged her off the bus. "I've still got a bit of stuff left to do, catch you tomorrow?" she asked, and Willow nodded.

"Sure Anna, see ya then." Willow grinned and they parted ways. By the time Willow reached her bedroom after reading the note on the dining table informing her that her parents would be gone for a few hours, she threw her book bag on the desk and flopped across her bed. With a sigh, she looked up at the ceiling.

"Whelp, time to get moving for dinner," she told herself aloud, and stood up with a groan and walked to her door, reaching out for the handle and twisting it open.

The door slammed shut. Willow stared at it, wide-eyed, gulping heavily and trying to calm her panicked breathing. "Okay, okay girl, no need to worry, it's totally just your mind playing tricks," she panted, then took another deep breath and twisted the doorknob, cracking it open and peering through.

"Nope," she slammed the door shut again. "Nope nope nope, there is not a grey nothingness outside my door, absolutely not, everything is just totally okay," she told herself, then slumped against the door. "This is not okay," she whimpered, not even bothering to look out the window in her room. The room had gone dark a few moments ago.

Willow. Willow, child, come out.

"And that is totally not a voice from nowhere telling me to leave my room, absolutely not, nope, yep, I am not okay!" Willow burst into hysterical sobbing, utterly confused and scared witless. "I'm just sixteen, please don't hurt me!" It was a ridiculous thing to say and she knew it, but by Fury's eyepatch she was young and she was scared and there was nothing else to say.

There seemed to be a sigh from nowhere and everywhere. I knew this was not the best way to go about things. Willow, come child, do not be frightened. No harm shall befall you.

Willow sat for a moment, debating her choices. There wasn't much, really. Stay in her room for probably forever, or go out and face death. Neither was particularly appealing, but she knew which one she'd rather take. And besides, there was a niggling feeling in the back of her mind that told her that this being or whatever was out there would wait as long as it took for her to come out. So, sitting there for another ten minutes, she gathered courage from somewhere inside herself and stood, wiping the tears from her eyes and slowly cracking the door open. For another few minutes she just stared at the grayness, then with a sigh, opened the door all the way and stood just on the threshold.

Hello, child. Step out, there is no need to be afraid. I will hold you safe.

Willow's eyebrows furrowed in confusion for a moment, then deciding that she didn't really have a choice anyway, held one foot out tentatively and prodded with her toe. Something was solid, because her foot didn't drop. So with a deep breath, she squeezed her eyes shut and took the leap of faith quite literally, jumping out and being honestly surprised when her teeth jarred painfully from the swift landing.

There seemed to be a chuckle. Dear one, I have missed you and your antics.

"Wait, I knew you?" Willow's question was genuine and curious. She wasn't sure how to feel about the fact that the disembodied voice knew her, but the new revelation that she knew or had known it-him-her-whatever was frankly interesting.

Yes, my dear. You knew me as well. But that is of no importance - you will grow to know me again, in a different way than you knew me last. Now come, time is of essence and I have only a little in which to explain.

"Wait, wait, who are you? And where am I? My family, my friends? I don't understand!" Willow felt frustrated by this point, crying in anger and confusion and impatiently swiping away tears.

I know, dear one, fret not. You will know all in time. You were sent away for a time, to learn. To learn of things that you will need to know, and to learn what it is like to be mortal. Now, you are being sent back to your home. Fix things, sweet one. Do not let things come to pass that were not meant to be. Fix things. This one gift is all that I can give you... We shall meet again. Farewell, my dear child.

"No, wait, I don't understand! What do you mean, child? Sent away? I have family! Learn what? Fix what!?" Willow wanted to scream more, demand more, but suddenly a song began to come from everywhere and nowhere, and there was not a chance to ponder the faintly wistful tone in the last several sentences, because she was suddenly feeling unbearably sleepy. The lullaby went on, and she slumped, unable to keep her eyes open as things began to slowly fade away...

*pops in for a second* I apologize if there's any discrepancies from MCU canon, I started writing this before major movies like Infinity War came out, so some things I put in here might be based on the popular fan theories. Also I apologize for any timeline mistakes, please just bear with them and forgive me, I promise that I've tried to do my research! We'll just brush them off as taking advantage of the Multiverse, hmm? *wink*