Snap Back to the Past AKA the Infinity Stones Decide to Adopt Tony Stark Chapter Five: 2 Be Loved (Am I Ready)
Story Summary: The Infinity Stones decide that they don’t appreciate being snapped to destruction and that it isn’t time for their favorite human to rest quite yet. An unlikely group of six is sent back in time to fix the universe before Thanos gets a chance to break it.
Note: This is chapter five, but you should start with the prologue! Make sure you start with Snap Back to the Past AKA the Infinity Stones Adopt Tony Stark Prologue: The Infinity Stones Adopt Tony Stark. Happy Reading!
Chapter Summary: Plans are made. Whether or not they will succeed is another matter entirely.
You found me, I was fed up with the fantasy
What you wanna do? Think I’m ready, ooh
Think you like that, think you like that
When I clap back like that, let me know
Notes: I am Icarus, I flew too close to the sun! This chapter got so massive I had to split it up. Especially because the different parts just did not fit together as well as I had hoped. Luckily for y’all that means that the next chapter is already written, and I will release it soon! Aliens are gonna drop out of the sky eventually, I just need to get their backstories in order. Speaking of, check out the fic which is now the first fic in this series (for now) Meet Cute (let’s agree to disagree on who started the fight) which is all about how Carol and Gamora originally met!
Many thanks to everyone who had given kudos, subscribed, bookmarked, and commented on the story! ❤️ Thanks also to all of you passive lurkers who are just along for the ride. ❤️ On with the fic!
Chapter Five: 2 Be Loved (Am I Ready)
“Do you think he’s ready?”
Those words had haunted Frigga for years, and as they echoed in her ears once more she found herself at a loss. When had she lost her confidence? When had she stopped speaking her true mind? Because the fact of the matter was…
Even without turning to look behind her Frigga could feel the surprise rippling off of her husband. He had entered her chambers as she was preparing for bed, and she looked up to eye contact with him through the mirror where she had been gazing as she brushed her hair. This was not the first time he had asked her that question, and if memory served it would not have been the last.
Always beforehand she had couched her answers, told him what he wanted to hear, what he needed to hear, in order to guide him towards what she had thought was the best outcome.
Truthfully she had not considered Thor ready the first time around, but she had thought that Loki would be enough to contain him. She had believed that her youngest child was capable of reigning in her eldest, and perhaps that was her folly.
Loki was clever. Ze was one of the most brilliant and talented people she had ever met and it was a joy to raise zir. All the same, she should not have expected zir to contain Thor all by zirself. She should have stepped in sooner, Odin should have stepped in sooner. Thor had been spoiled for far too long. Loki had made her see that, far too late before. Hopefully it would not be too late now.
“No?” Odin pressed, and Frigga continued to avoid making eye contact with him directly as she braided her hair.
“No. I do not think he is ready. I see our son and I see that he concerns himself with nothing but battle and drink and women. He cares not for how to rule appropriately, for how to conduct himself. He is a sweet boy, but he is nevertheless a boy in the respect that he craves power but if it were given I have no doubt he would abuse it.” Frigga’s explanation was sharp and precise, and clearly left Odin shocked.
“You have clearly given this quite a bit of thought. Why have you not mentioned it before? Preparations have been in progress for years!” he was approaching anger now, and Frigga had to curb this. Yet her own anger, long stoked, was igniting as well. She had not always loved Odin. She could not say that she never had, but much of that love had cooled in his treatment of Loki, in discovering what he had done to Hela.
She was not Hela’s mother, and the woman’s power was in fact the majority of the reason that Vanaheim lost the war, and that Frigga became Odin’s bride. But Hela and Frigga had bonded and grown close in their own way, and despite their differences Frigga had mourned her. In many ways she had more in common with Hela than with Odin, in the beginning. Both of them were warriors for their kingdoms, powerful magic users, and Frigga had been crown princess before she gave up the throne to broker peace. They were also closer in age than Frigga was to Odin. The powerful geas that kept Hela’s name out of the mouths of those who remembered and allowed her to fade from their memories was typical of Odin and well within his power set. Freeing Hela was absolutely a priority.
She stood up from her chair and finally turned to look at him directly, eyes blazing. “Would you have honestly listened? Are you even listening to yourself now? Do you even care that you are entrusting Asgard to a man who is barely more than a child, and who would cast us into a war at the first opportunity, just so that he could lead the charge?” Odin bristled at the challenge in her words.
“Thor would never do such a thing!”
“Oh really? Well if you think you know him and his character so we’ll, why would you bother asking me?” Her tone was light but sharp enough that had Odin been a less composed being he might have winced. Instead he stood silently for a moment in contemplation before speaking again.
“I do value your opinion, but the coronation is only a few months away. There is yet time for Thor to prove himself.”
Frigga hummed. “And how do you expect him to do that? What challenge would you set for him to prove himself?”
“You say that wants nothing but to fight, that he would cast us into war?” Odin asked. She nodded in reply.
“Very well then. I shall send him and Loki on an emissary mission to Vanaheim. I had thought to send you, but I think that sending Thor with his brother will be a nice challenge. The Vanir have been restless lately, resulting in the numerous uprisings. This test shall evaluate whether Thor truly will attempt to solve the issue with more fighting, or with brokering peace.”
Frigga’s eyebrow raised. This was not how things had gone the last time. She remembered this visit to Vanaheim. The situation had been tumultuous and even she had hardly been able to appease her brother, who did not consider their people rebelling against the Einherjar that were forced upon them in so much the negative. She knew that Freyr did not approve of her marriage to Odin, and thought that she had become far too Asgardian. He resented the way that Vanaheim had become secondary to Asgard, and itched for war almost as much as Laufey. Sending Thor into such a volatile situation would be a disaster, especially when he had rarely traveled the realms except to battle. Loki’s influence would hopefully soften things, but she was still filled with anxiety. While she had wanted to challenge Odin on appointing Thor to the throne, she did not think it would result in this.
“If that is what you think is best.” She acquiesced. This definitely merited a conversation with her youngest child.
“Have more faith in Thor, my Queen. He will succeed in this, especially with Loki’s support. We have raised a worthy son.” Odin cupped her cheek and Frigga smiled, though there was an edge of bitterness to it.
“Well I sincerely hope that is the case.”
As Odin left Frigga’s look soured completely. She could have carried out that conversation better. She and Loki had failed to fully discuss whether to allow Thor’s coronation to go forward. Yet when Odin asked her, she could not bring herself to lie about something so serious. All the same, she had been through this conflict with Vanaheim before, and this all promised to be a disaster. Loki needed to be warned as soon as possible. They had a lot to get done.
The fact of the matter was that Gamora and Carol could not immediately race towards Terra. As much as the duo wanted to, they would need to carry out certain actions to make sure that their covers were intact. It was still six years before when Gamora had originally broken off from Thanos. (And didn’t that phrasing sound weird in her head?) and Gamora was hesitant to break off from him completely just yet. There was one simple reason why Gamora could not afford to simply abandon Thanos at this time.
Gamora had not done right by her sister. For all that both of them rejected Thanos as their father, the two of them were sisters in all but blood. Gamora remembered how Thanos had tortured Nebula simply so that he could force Gamora to yield the location of the soul stone. If Gamora had her way, that would never happen again. Would never happen in the future? The contemplation of tenses was making her dizzy, no matter which of the many languages she was familiar with she attempted to parse it with.
Still, Gamora refused to abandon Nebula to Thanos. And she knew that were she to break away from Thanos now Nebula would see it as abandonment. Already Thanos and the Black Order had done their best to drive a wedge between the two sisters. Gamora would not let it stand any longer.
“I told you, in order to figure this out, we need to go to Terra. Whether or not this actually has to do with Tony Stark, that is where the final battle was, and going there is our best shot and finding out what happened.” Carol’s tone was steady, because her tone was almost always steady, but Gamora could tell that there was frustration underneath the surface.
“Look, all I’m saying is that we have responsibilities here and in this time. We cannot afford to go rushing off based on a hunch. ” Gamora’s tone was also steady but she could feel her own frustration rising. Carol looked like she was going to speak again. “I can accept that Thanos is the biggest threat. If we don’t stop him he will destroy the universe. That means that we cannot clue him in about our future knowledge. You said that when Thanos got his hands on time travel and discovered how badly his plan went before he changed from wanting to destroy half the universe to destroying the entire universe. That means that he cannot ever know about our travel back, ever.”
“And that’s exactly why you should not be anywhere near him! If he gets just a whisper of information from you—” Carol argued back but Gamora simply shook her head.
“I was loyal to him back now, remember? It is why were no longer seeing each other. He will know something is wrong if I suddenly drop off, he will assume someone has captured me—”
“You were never truly loyal to him, just afraid. And I heard about how you broke away from him in the future. About how you traveled with the Guardians of the Galaxy.” Carol scoffed.
“Maybe I was afraid! Maybe I’m still afraid now!” Gamora bit out. “At least traveling back has given you another chance! You can see the people that you loved again on Terra. My family doesn’t even remember me except for Nebula and I refuse to abandon her when I know that we can be on the same side, the right side!”
“I hardly remember the life I had on Terra!” Carol exploded. “I have friends there, people I half remember, but the only person I loved is standing in front of me, and you were dead where I came from!”
Gamora stood in shocked silence at Carol’s admission. She watched Carol take a deep breath to calm herself down before speaking again. “I am sorry that your family is gone. I hope that you can someday find them again. But we don’t know what’s happening here, or how we traveled back. We don’t know if we are the only ones, or if there will be others who remember as well. It’s why we need to go to Terra, it’s our only lead.” She eyed Gamora carefully, waiting for her reaction.
Gamora took a deep breath of her own. She shoved aside her feelings over Carol admitting that she loved her and refocused on what was going on the the now, the past, wherever she was. “I know that the situation is uncertain. Until we know whether we are the only ones in this time who remember the future we must assume that the burden of making sure that Thanos never gets as far as he did in the future rests on our shoulders alone. We cannot afford to make mistakes. We have to protect as many people as possible, for the fate of the universe relies on it. We need allies, and I need my sister back.” Her voice was firm, and Carol seemed to have heard the resolve behind it because she made no further attempts to argue.
“I will go to Terra alone then. Hopefully some of the allies I had there—they called themselves the Avengers—will be able to help. Whether or not this had to do with Tony, Iron Man will be an asset to our cause. You can focus on convincing Nebula to our side, and we can regroup later.” Carol sighed deeply. “You are right that we have duties to attend to here as well. If memory serves me, there will be a large battle between the Kree and the Nova in just a few days. If I’m not there to turn the tide, it could cause huge ripples in the war. They might never sign the peace treaty.”
“Nice to see that your ego remains intact,” Gamora smirked. She was glad that they had settled the debate, and decided that returning to their regular teasing banter was the way to go.
“Am I wrong?” Carol asked with a raised eyebrow. Gamora laughed and shook her head.
“As much as I don’t think it needs any further inflation, I have to admit that you are not.” Gamora sighed. “I should go. You know that it gets noticed if I am away for too long. And I need to see Nebula.”
Gamora turned to leave and was stopped by Carol’s hand on her arm. “Please be careful. I don’t think I could handle losing you again.” Gamora felt the weight behind the words and knew that Carol was not speaking only of her death. They looked into each other’s eyes for a long moment. Gamora hesitated before gently kissing Carol on the cheek.
“I will take every measure of care I can. I couldn’t bear to lose you again either.” There was another moment of hesitation before Gamora murmured low enough that she was not sure if Carol even heard her. “I love you too.”
Gamora left the room swiftly before Carol had a chance to respond. She darted through the ship to where her own small craft was docked. It was a small pod, only meant for short distance travel, which is why it fit neatly in Carol’s larger ship. They were currently orbiting one of Hala’s sister planets, and it was easy for Gamora to make the trip back to her own safehouse on Hala despite the pod’s short range. It was dangerous for Carol, a known enemy of the Kree, to be so close to their capital planet. Yet Gamora knew that the other woman liked to skirt the edge of danger closer than many other people ever dared.
As she navigated the small craft towards the planet she spared some time to wonder how to approach Nebula. If she remembered correctly this was part of the period within which Gamora and Nebula were training with Ronan and his accusers. The only person that Gamora had truly connected with was Korath. He was in fact one of the reasons that she had been led to Carol. Gamora wondered whether she would be able to bring Korath to their side as well. He was deeply loyal to Ronan, but he was also practical. She was certain that with enough effort she could potentially bring him to their side, and he would be a great asset. Her priority, however, would be Nebula. They had a number of years before the two of them had broken off from Thanos, but neither sister held him in particular regard. Gamora hoped that she would be able to convince Nebula of the need to betray Thanos. Their lives, and the universe, depended on his defeat.
When her mother told Loki of the plan to take Thor to Vanaheim ahead of the coronation, and that she would once again be expected to keep her brother in check, Loki was dismayed but not entirely surprised. She had been babysitting her older brother since they were children, why would that change now? Of course, the crowned prince should ostensibly not need a babysitter, but she knew that Thor, while he objectively knew how to compose himself, was also prone to anger. If even one Vanir triggered his impulses Thor could start something that the whole of Asgard would pay the price for finishing.
Still, Loki prepared herself for the task ahead of her. It would not be easy, but she would manage. She always did, after all. Loki also had the benefit of knowing the future and how this envoy had gone in the past. Frigga had shown her memories of the negotiations last time, and she knew the Vanir court well. Not only were they her relations through Frigga, but she had spent a great deal of time in Vanaheim studying their magics, almost as much time as she spent in Alfheim. She would not be surprised if many people there thought of her even more fondly than they did of Frigga. Her mother had become the Queen of Asgard when she was supposed to be the Queen of Vanaheim. This was not something that many of the court took lightly.
Loki, on the other hand, was supposedly half Vanir herself, and was a mage, something that the Vanir valued much more than the Aesir. She was of royal blood and she was interested in and respectful of Vanir culture. She knew that many hoped that she would marry her cousin Yngvi and integrate back into the Vanir royal family. Loki was not the biggest fan of Yngi, and so needless to say that she disapproved of this plan. She also knew that conversely, some wished that she would marry her cousin Mardöll, and bring more Vanir blood into the Asgardian royal family. She was not nearly as opposed to Mari, who she enjoyed spending time with more than her brother, but she would still rather avoid marrying either of her cousins. Even knowing now that they were not related by blood, she still did not have an interest, and she knew that when she went to Vanaheim they would undoubtedly try to set her up with one of them.
Hopefully, armed with foreknowledge, Loki could avoid any kind of disaster. While she did not wish for Thor to be king just yet, she also did not wish for war among the realms. This will all go fine. She assured herself. You’ve got this under control .
Later, she would wonder how she had fallen prey to such hubris.
Next Chapter: Old friends meet new friends, and some mistakes are (hopefully) corrected.
If I could trade mistakes for sheep
Count me away before you sleep
I’ll stay awake ’til I trade my mistakes
Or they fade away