It's a Start (Part One)
A/N: Okay, so – as you know, the Wyvern is on hiatus. Picture this series as a 'happily ever after', if you will. I'm not going to get into the details of who they fought and how, but essentially this one shot begins with the Avengers victorious. Whether you want to picture them having beaten Thanos at the end of Infinity War and brought Tony (and Peter) back from space, or picture it as a happy ending after Endgame, have at it. No Carol yet (I just saw the movie literally hours ago - it's amazing!). She might turn up later. Pretend she's busy somewhere else.
But key thing: everyone is alive! Everyone who got snapped or died, including my boys Vision and Loki. Also Clint and Scott are back in the game. I know it's vague, but the premise doesn't matter – what does is that they're together.
The title of this series comes from the Passenger song All The Little Lights. Give it a listen if you're interested.
15/09/19 ETA: The first 10 one shots were written post Infinity War, so Endgame details are not included (save for some minor edits). Post Endgame is after the 11th one shot.
When the fighting was over and the dust settled, they found themselves in Wakanda. Exhausted, contemplating the magnitude of all they'd done, they stood or sat in a tall-ceilinged, light-filled room in the royal palace. Each and every one of them was there: from Maggie and Tony to the fugitive Avengers, to Thor, to Doctor Strange, to the Wakandans, to the assemblage of odd-looking aliens who called themselves Guardians. Maggie was too tired to count, but she guessed there were at least twenty people – humans, androids, aliens – filling the beautiful glass, gold, and black metal chamber. No one said a word.
Maggie had spoken to about half of them and fought alongside all of them, and a part of her reflected that it was so strange to seem them all here together, this bloody and tired collection of people she'd known or read about. She kept an eye on her Avengers (Rhodey, Tony, Vision, and Peter) but there was one person she couldn't tear her eyes away from.
They'd reunited during the fighting, but it had all been so quick – a short, tearful exchange before they were thrown once more into violence. Since the end of the battle they hadn't let each other out of their sights. Now they stood side by side, but not so close as to be noticeable. Maggie smiled every time she looked at him, and when he caught her looking his own mouth curved into a grin as if it was infectious. He stood tall in his navy blue uniform jacket and combat pants, and as she looked at him his new black-and-gold arm came up to scratch his stubbled jaw. The sight of him there, in front of her with his long hair and crinkled eyes and warm skin set her heart pounding.
Out of the silence came a strong, startlingly light-humored voice: "Shall we have shawarma then?" Thor. He stood by the window, a smile crooking his mouth as he clapped a hand on Tony's shoulder.
And the Avengers laughed. Not all of them though, in fact… Maggie realized with a blink that it was the first Avengers, the ones who had been there for Loki and S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Battle of New York: Tony, Barton, Romanoff, Banner, and Steve. They laughed, tired and overwhelmed, and Maggie couldn't help the tears that sprang to her eyes at the sound.
The rest of them – all Avengers, she realized – looked on, and as Maggie watched, smiles lifted lips and crinkled eyes one by one across the room. Rhodey nudged Sam, and they grinned at each other. After all that had happened, all that they'd done, there was laughter.
Maggie met Bucky's grey-blue eyes. He smiled at her. Her heart skipped a beat and she remembered, in a flash of memories that thudded through her, the first time she'd laughed after HYDRA: she and Bucky had been stealing away on a container ship when he'd said something funny and she had just laughed, easy as breathing, and he'd looked at her like he'd never seen her before. Back then it had felt like proof that she wasn't a weapon, felt like the world truly had shifted on its axis.
Today felt the same. The corners of Bucky's eyes crinkled as he looked back at her, surrounded by their friends… and Maggie realized that they had won.
"I'm afraid we don't have shawarma," came another male voice, and Maggie turned to look at T'Challa, half out of his armor as his eyes twinkled in Thor's direction. His bodyguard – Okoye – hovered over him, and his sister sat on a stool to his left. "But we can throw a party worthy of Earth's saviours."
Maggie's gaze swept across the room, catching glances and smiles and sighs. She saw the careful gaps, the distances – Steve and Tony stood on opposite sides of the room. But everywhere she looked there were allies and friends smiling at one another: Dr Strange shook hands with Hope Van Dyne, Peter stood by the alien with alarmingly luminescent antennae, Wanda and Barton embraced.
"Ah, revels," Thor said with a knowing nod. "Well met, my old friends." He looked around, his eyes lighting on the Wakandans and other new faces. "I see the Avengers have grown ever mightier in my absence."
Steve grinned at his old friend, and then a second later realized that Thor was asking for introductions. "Right, uh…" he took a breath. "We're in a country called Wakanda, this is their King T'Challa… and the Princess Shuri." Out of the corner of her eye Maggie saw Tony tense at every word Steve spoke.
T'Challa nodded. "You are very welcome in our home, Thor Odinson."
Thor bowed his head in reply, and Steve got started on introducing all the people Thor hadn't met yet. When he got to Maggie and Bucky, who stood at a strategic point by the door, he hesitated. They stood close to one another but not close enough to stand out, and their faces were neutral as everyone in the room turned to look at them. "Uh, you actually have heard about these two…" Steve's eyes flickered to Tony, who was busy brushing a speck of dust off his shoulder.
Thor's warm eyes assessed Bucky and Maggie curiously, then widened. "Your fallen shield-brother, and Tony's infant sister!"
Maggie frowned and thought about protesting the infant thing, but she was too tired. She settled for waving, her mouth curving into a smile. "Hi, it's nice to meet you."
Thor crossed the room to shake her hand (or rather, grasp her wrist in some Asgardian type of greeting). "Likewise. You flew bravely today, fair Wyvern, and I am lucky to call you shield-sister."
"Back at you," she replied with a grin. Thor seemed warm and jovial enough, but she could see the weight of years and grief in his eyes. She wondered that he had the strength to speak at all, let alone greet all his new allies.
When Thor turned to Bucky, Bucky held out his hand for a shake and got his wrist gripped instead. Thor had kicked ass on the battlefield, so this new, friendly side to the god was a nice surprise.
"It is an honor to meet a fellow warrior. And may I congratulate you on your robot arm," Thor said gravely.
"Thanks," Bucky said, the corner of his mouth quirked up. "I hear you've got a pretty swell robot eye."
Thor laughed, and a little more of the tension in the room seemed to ease. Bucky thought he should maybe be alarmed about meeting a god, but after all the weirdness that had been his life lately he could only accept it with a shrug.
The others started talking again and Bucky half paid attention as T'Challa offered them all rooms in the palace for the night. To be honest he hadn't thought of much once the fighting ended other than Meg.
He'd seen countless footage and photographs and news clippings about her over the past few months, and exchanged daily Kimoyo messages, but nothing compared to having her real and standing tall beside her. Her face was neutral and her arms crossed as she eyed the proceedings, but she couldn't seem to stop herself from stealing glances at him. He could watch the corners of her mouth twitch up and her eyes gleam all day.
But maybe not all day. He was dead on his feet, here.
At the prospect of showers and food everyone began to break off. After a quick glance he and Meg turned for the door, but then she hesitated. Bucky glanced over his shoulder as he followed the others out.
Steve and Tony hadn't moved. Stark leaned back against the tall windows overlooking the city, his arms crossed over his chest, and Steve pretended to be inspecting the carvings in the metal wall. Their faces were taut, and though they didn't look at each other Bucky could practically see the tension crackling between them. He made to turn around but Meg had already moved again and allowed herself to be swept into the corridor with the tide of superheroes.
And then she stopped just outside the door. Bucky, who'd been trying to follow everyone else down the corridor, shot her a questioning look. Meg uncrossed her arms and seemed to take him in once more: her eyes tracked from his arm, to his uniform, to his face, and her face softened. She looked so different now - not in a bad way, but something about her face was a little more open, a little easier to laugh. He'd seen time and time again that when Meg took control of her own life, she became more herself with every passing day.
She crossed the shining corridor floor between them in three quick strides and leaned up to kiss him on the cheek. The warmth of her touch nearly cracked his tired heart, but then she stepped back. The corridor was clear now, everyone having headed up to their rooms.
"Go on, rest," she murmured. "I'm going to stay for a bit."
His eyes darted toward the door. "Keep an eye on things?"
Bucky closed his eyes and sighed. He wanted to stay, to be with her and to make sure Steve and Tony didn't kill each other, but he knew that he'd probably just make things worse.
He opened his eyes. "I love you," he murmured, and almost unconsciously his metal hand rose to hover beside her face, curved in the shape of her cheek. Her warm brown eyes watched him steadily. He could still hardly believe that she was finally in front of him, especially after... He swallowed. "I was so worried–"
Maggie tilted her head into his palm and reached up to cover the metal hand with her own. "I love you too. And so was I." She grinned and pulled his hand away to kiss the palm. This hand was more sensitive than the last one, picking up so much more than pressure. He nearly shivered. "We've got the rest of our lives to worry about each other, now."
His eyes burned.
"See you later," she whispered, then with obvious effort let go of his hand. For a few long moments they just stared at each other, wanting, until he reluctantly turned and strode up the corridor. Just before he turned the corner, he looked back. Their eyes met, dark brown and sea grey, just like so many silent glances they'd shared in their long and complicated past. And Bucky thought: This is it. Then he was gone.
Maggie waited in the corridor outside the large chamber for well over an hour, close enough to hear if things started breaking but far enough that she wasn't eavesdropping. Sometimes she heard raised voices, but that wasn't enough to stir her. She paced, stared out the window at the remarkable gleaming city, and sat on the sleek floor.
Eventually the door opened and an exhausted-looking Tony walked out. His clothes were ragged and stained, but his arc reactor glowed a soothing blue. He strode up the corridor, his brow knitted until he looked up and saw her standing at the end.
He rolled his eyes. "Making sure we don't kill each other?"
"It'd be a shame, after we all just worked so hard to stay alive."
She fell into step beside him as they headed for the futuristic elevators that would take them up to their rooms. When the doors slid shut behind them, Maggie turned and raised her eyebrows at Tony.
He sighed and reached up to rub at the furrow between his brows. "It's a start." He ran the hand through his hair. "It's a start."
Maggie wrapped her arms around him. She didn't know what to say, but it seemed just that action was enough. Tony let her support him, the tension leeching out of his limbs, until they arrived at their level of the palace.
After giving him one more squeeze Maggie strode toward her assigned room as her heart pounded. It's a start.
That night, T'Challa and the Wakandans did indeed throw a party 'worthy of Earth's saviours'. What seemed like the entire city gathered in the Golden City's main square, a wide space ablaze with lights and music. The city's tall, gleaming towers stretched into the sky around the square and a wide river flowed by one side as Maggie arrived at the bustling square. She'd been to a few parties since emerging from HYDRA's grip, but nothing like this – nothing where the music flowed so freely, the laughter and conversation was so honest, where strangers danced and old friends partied together like they'd never fought at all. And she knew the reason: every single person here was celebrating the fact that they were still alive.
Clean, fed, and rested, Maggie approached the party and reveled in the feeling of music thudding in her veins. She'd been provided with a light, gauzy shirt and a flowing patterned skirt, and Wakanda's warm breeze drifted against her skin as she walked.
The party drew her in like a magnet and she found herself in the thick of it – she shared drinks with Thor and the crowd of aliens, laughing as she realized they were just as funny and foolhardy as any humans. She chatted with Barton and Scott Lang, teased Sam, asked Dr Strange impertinent questions about his cloak, dared Peter (still wearing his mask, the paranoid boy) to try the new and unusual foods. T'Challa threw a great party: tables and tables of food surrounding the square, a fire blazing in the center, as music lilted and weaved over the crowd.
Steve and Tony orbited each other, not exactly friendly but not at all hostile, and the others drank and laughed as if they'd never exchanged harsh words or blows. As if they'd all forgiven and made up. And maybe they have, thought Maggie. She'd seen hints of more than enough private conversations taking place in corridors and corners. People with years of history between them were finally, finally talking.
Speaking of years of history… Bucky made his way through the party. He was more often by Steve's side than not, looking devastating in tight-fitting brown trousers and a soft green shirt. He'd twisted half his hair into a messy bun at the back of his head as if he was trying to make her go insane.
But they didn't approach each other. When Bucky first arrived by Steve's side Maggie was standing with Tony, Rhodey, Natasha, and the alien called Nebula, her head tipped back as she laughed. When she looked back she met Bucky's eyes, blazing blue, but then… his eyes slid to Tony, softened, and he'd walked over to Quill and Vision on the other side of the fire. Maggie sighed.
So they circled. We've got all the time in the world, Maggie told herself as she cast another glance across the square to see Bucky watching her. For now, though… everyone had just fought and almost died. It was best to avoid upsetting anyone.
She was standing by the food tables, half-paying attention to a conversation with some Wakandans as she watched Bucky laugh at one of Thor's jokes across the square, when Tony slipped beside her.
"Stop staring at him, Maggie. Just go talk to him."
She looked up sharply, her heart rate doubling.
Tony sighed and waved a hand. He'd managed to find a suit somewhere. "Remember when I said that this whole situation was a moral minefield and I'm tired of treading through it?" She nodded warily, and Tony waved a hand toward Bucky. His eyes flickered. "Don't let me stop you."
Maggie didn't move. She watched her brother closely, taking in every minute shift of his muscles and every fleeting emotion in his eyes. He was… uncertain, she could see, and she just knew he was thinking of that time in the frozen Siberian bunker, of an awful video on a dark screen, of a metal hand clawing at his arc reactor. And yet… he met her eyes, and those memories cleared. He meant what he'd said, with no bitterness or resentment. Something had shifted these months since the Siberian bunker, and she suspected it had everything to do with her and how she'd shared her memories and feelings about Bucky, and not the Winter Soldier.
Her breath hitched in her throat. "Thank you, Tony." Not for any kind of 'permission', because she'd never needed his permission, but for… for wanting her to be happy. Before he could reply she leaned in, kissed him on the cheek, and then darted through the press of dancing bodies.
The only sign of surprise Bucky gave was the sudden tension in his shoulders before he slowly, slowly turned around. He took in the sight of her only feet away, his eyes roving from her sandals, over her bright Wakandan clothes, up to her face and her warm, steady eyes. For a moment he looked… overwhelmed, was the only way she could describe it, and she knew how he felt. They'd been apart so long.
But then he took a breath and those grey-blue eyes that had been so often sad, confused, afraid, became warm. He smiled, and it took Maggie's breath away.
"Fancy seeing you here," he murmured, and the sound of his voice curled up in her chest like a lick of flame.
"Hey, Maggie!" Steve's voice: surprised and pleased.
"Hey Steve," she replied, never taking her eyes away from Bucky's face.
There was a beat of silence. Then someone cleared their throat – Sam – and the others moved away.
Bucky's grin remained, mischievous and knowing and dangerous.
Maggie straightened her shoulders. "I've come to teach you how to dance."
He cocked his head. "That's very generous of you. Think you know something I don't?"
"I think I know a lot of things you don't," she shot back, and took a step toward him. By the fire, dozens and dozens of Wakandans twisted around each other in time with the music.
Bucky matched her step. "You must have had a good teacher then."
She shrugged one shoulder, not even bothering to hide her grin now. "Eh. He fudged the steps."
Bucky swooped, his metal hand sliding around her waist and his flesh hand taking hers, surprisingly gentle. She laughed at his hands on her and his laughter in her ear, and reeled him towards the rest of the dancers with her head spinning with the knowledge that they could finally do this, finally be free. Forever.
Because the universe had a sense of humor, Tony ended up by Steve's side once more that night. The two of them stood by the river at the edge of the square, but they didn't look out at the cold, glittering water. Instead they looked in at the people: dancing and drinking and laughing, all alive because they had won.
Steve and Tony had patched up the worst wounds that morning in the palace but they had so much more left to discuss – and yet even Tony knew how important it was that they were finally talking. That day in Germany, when Steve had set down Roosevelt's set of pens, had been the last time they'd really talked. And now they were both in a place to listen.
So they talked again by the river, unheard by the raucous party. And as they talked Tony found himself watching Maggie – and Barnes. They'd been dancing the better part of the night, trying to copy the Wakandan steps but not looking very dignified doing it. They didn't seem to care. Right now the two of them were almost doubled over laughing, their faces flushed and the people around them laughing too as if they were infectious. Tony glanced at Steve and saw the super soldier looking just as astonished as Tony felt, as if he'd never seen his friend seem so happy.
Tony looked back to the laughing, dancing pair and understood: Maggie was her own person, whole and happy. She'd made that more than clear to him and to the world. But that was love, right there, and when it's right it makes both halves better. Tony knew this.
He also realized that they'd never stopped loving each other. Not for a second during those many months they were apart, though they'd stayed apart because the world had no place for them.
But they'd saved the universe – them, and Tony, and Steve, and all the rest of the unusual, remarkable people here. And now, Tony realized, they had to figure out how to live together. Because living apart…
As he watched his sister dance with the man she loved, he knew that living apart wasn't an option any longer.
That night Maggie stole into Bucky's room and they wrapped themselves up in each other, clinging to each other and to life. And Maggie felt at home.
Part 2 will come in a few days, depending on interest! To be honest a lot of these one shots have turned into two or three shots because I literally cannot help myself.