So you probably know that I had a couple of issues with Endgame, especially what happened to Gamora, and this is my attempt to fix them. (Pay attention, James Gunn.)
Title: A Scar on the World
Fandom: MCU/Guardians of the Galaxy
Characters: Gamora, Natasha
Summary: Gamora is trying to come to terms with being alone and displaced in time. Luckily, the universe isn’t done with either her or Natasha Romanoff.
Gamora was alone on Knowhere, lurking around the ruins of what had once been the Collector’s establishment, building herself a home of sorts from discarded junk, when suddenly a woman fell out of her refrigerator.
It was nighttime, no light, and the woman neither looked nor moved like a real thing. She was flickering like a hologram, like a ghost. Gamora took a sword from the wall but otherwise stood still.
“Hi. I’m Natasha,” said the recently released being.
Gamora said nothing. She had been both victim and perpetrator of too many cruel tricks already.
“You must be the daughter of Thanos,” said Natasha.
Gamora stood still as a statue, with only the sword quivering. Finally she said, through her teeth,
“That’s what I thought,” said Natasha. Her voice was light and almost conversational. That confused Gamora even more than the refrigerator thing.
“Are you… real?”
“As real as you are.”
“What are you?” Gamora demanded. There was one word in the back of her brain – she’d heard it from someone or something who was just a blank in her brain now, what language it was she didn’t know, if it had a deeper meaning she didn’t know that either – alien.
“Well, we’re all aliens to someone,” Natasha said.
Gamora gave up. Torment and death no longer scared her and so neither did this creature. She threw her sword down and held out her hands.
“Go on. End it. I know that’s what you’re here to do.”
Natasha just looked at her, apparently almost amused. Then she approached the only chair in the room, a battered metal one, and put her hand through the solid back of it.
“Couldn’t even if I wanted to,” she said.
Gamora watched. A million questions flew through her mind. After the whos and the whats and the whys passed painfully by she decided to ask,
“If you’re incorporeal enough to do that, how are you walking on the ground without falling through it?”
“I don’t know.”
Gamora cast her gaze down at the sword at her feet, and wished her sister was there.
“And you can read my mind? Don’t,” she said.
“I’m not sure if I can stop,” Natasha said, “but I’ll try. I mean it, I will.”
Gamora decided, in a show of good faith, to step away from the sword and move closer to the woman. She was a Terran, Gamora thought, or something very close to it. Bright hair, pale skin, scars all over her hands as if she had fallen on sharp rocks.
Gamora slowly raised her own hands, which bore the same scars.
“Would you look at that,” Natasha said quietly.
The two women stared at each other from different sides of reality. Finally Gamora decided to state her name.
“Gamora. Daughter of Amina of Zen-Whoberi.”
“And sister of Nebula,” Gamora added.
“Yeah,” Natasha said, with a knowing and almost fond smile. Once more, Gamora was rendered mute with bafflement.
Natasha thoughtfully passed her hand through the back of the chair again.
“So you know you died, in another time, in a future you never saw,” she said. Gamora could only nod. “But in this time, which is our time, I was the one who died. I threw myself into the pit on Vormir, I gave the good guys the Soul Stone…”
“Thank you,” Gamora found herself saying.
“Don’t mention it. To borrow the most, well, the most human phrase I know, we’re connected, you and I,” Natasha said. “You were dead. You were a sacrifice. I took your place willingly.”
Those words sounded so matter-of-fact, and so frighteningly primal.
“Maybe there’s a scientific explanation for it,” Natasha went on, as if the other woman in the room wasn’t quaking with emotion before her. “I guess getting and using the Soul Stone is just an equation in the end, one bunch of person-shaped atoms falls into a pit and a rock-shaped bunch of atoms is thrown out of it in return. Simple and unchangeable math. But you and me and our friends, we messed with the whole system. We did something that the universe had never seen before. We were both in the pit, so maybe our atoms sort of… overlapped. Merged. In a sense.”
“And that’s why you’re here before me now,” Gamora said.
“Yes,” said Natasha.
Gamora asked, “And why the refrigerator?”
“Guess the universe has a sense of humour,” said Natasha.
Gamora sat on the floor, among the rags which served as her bed, and ate the nearest food which was to hand. She knew about the nicety of offering extra food to visitors, but of course, she could not.
“Your sister cared about you, you know. Still cares,” Natasha said. “Where is she?”
“I told her I didn’t want to be found. She will respect that.”
“And there were others,” Natasha said after a moment.
“They were heroes, apparently. What use have heroes for me?”
Natasha smiled, sort of. “I used to think that.”
Gamora wondered if she was the only person in the universe who could see Natasha. Clearly she’d had friends. It seemed incredibly unfair that they would never get a chance to interact with her ghost.
“Did Terra recover from being used as a battleground?” she found herself asking. “Or did my father leave it barren?”
“We call it Earth. Earth’s a big place,” Natasha answered. “It’s carrying on as it’s always done.”
Gamora nodded brusquely, or what she thought was brusquely. There was silence for a little bit. There had never existed such silence in Gamora’s mind before.
“I’m like you, you know. I’m like you in far more ways than you know,” Natasha said. “Don’t suppose you’re in the market for another sister?”
“I have enough trouble with the one I’ve got.”
Natasha just smiled.
Gamora didn’t understand how she could be so at peace while she was dead. She was so… chilled-out. Wait, that wasn’t a phrase she’d ever used. Where had it come from?
“Like me, you say. Did you ever kill a child?” she asked Natasha, to distract herself from everything else going on inside her brain.
“No,” Natasha said carefully, “but there were times where I didn’t act to prevent children being killed.”
“I killed children while I was still a child,” Gamora said. She was almost expecting the universe to suddenly change its mind at that point and strike her down, but nothing happened.
“Having met both your father and your sister,” Natasha said, “I don’t think you were to blame.”
Gamora didn’t completely agree with her, but she didn’t say so. She threw the remnants of her meal down.
“I should go to bed,” she said. There would be nightmares, of course, but there always had been. Something else occurred to her. “Don’t watch me while I sleep.”
“I wasn’t planning to,” Natasha said.
“If you’re as connected to me as you say you are, where do you go when I sleep?” Gamora asked uncertainly.
“Hey. I don’t exactly have a schedule.”
A part of Gamora wanted to lash out and scream at her, and she barely even knew why. Her brain was tired and the scars on her hands hurt, which they had never done before.
“If I wake up and I see you-“ she began, but Natasha had disappeared. That had the opposite effect than what Gamora had thought it would. Suddenly, she was close to despair. Or rather, the despair that had surrounded her all her life was closer than it had ever been. Why? Why anything? She was supposed to be dead.
As she lay in the dark, she tried to remember the face of her mother.
Knowhere had been hit hard by what the locals called, “The Five Lost Years.” Gamora of course had no exact knowledge of what had happened during them. But slowly she had put the pieces together, and whenever she thought about it she hated herself more. In the morning she looked out of her window and saw children wandering among the rubble searching for scraps. How many of them had come back to life to find their parents dead?
“You have no reason to hate yourself for that,” Natasha said. “You didn’t help Thanos gather the stones, you actively tried to prevent all of it.”
Gamora jumped a mile, and she instantly hated herself for it. Stupid, stupid, stupid to let her guard down!
“You promised you wouldn’t read my mind!” she yelled.
“I’m not doing it on purpose,” Natasha said. For the first time, she looked rattled. “I promise. I know what it’s like to have your brain invaded.”
“Yeah, well, so do I,” was all Gamora could think of to say.
Natasha sighed. Hearing a ghost sigh was odd, because of course she had no breath to exhale, but the point was still very much gotten across, Gamora thought.
“I’m sorry. This is all new to me,” she said. “I was…” She trailed off.
“You were what?” Gamora asked.
“I was in the pit and then I was here, knowing who you were. Are. I just… I remember being in the pit, although I don’t know when the fall killed me, you know? I remember thinking, this is what I deserve. And then a few seconds before I hit the ground I thought, well, maybe it isn’t. And that’s it.” Natasha was looking at Gamora while she said that, but her eyes were far away. Obviously that made sense seeing as how she was dead but it was still sort of unsettling.
Gamora could think of nothing to say, but she thought she could feel air from another world rushing past her ears.
“And there you go,” Natasha said with a shrug. “Like I said before, I didn’t do anything to prevent children being killed, when I was a grown adult and could have done. I didn’t do lots of things, but other stuff I definitely did. Who even knows what I deserved?”
“What we both deserved, then,” Gamora found herself saying.
Natasha didn’t really give an answer to that, but she did say, “What was your last thought when you were in the pit?”
“I thought, this isn’t fair,” Gamora answered, without giving it a moment’s thought. She had to backtrack. “I mean. Maybe it was punishment, but it wasn’t fair.”
Then she stopped. How did she know that? How was she aware of something that hadn’t happened to her? Natasha started to smile.
“S’funny,” she said, “but the universe does tend to swing towards fairness eventually. It just takes a while. Or, sometimes, it takes beating the shit out of it with time travel til it gives you what you want.”
Gamora considered that in that case, that made her the thing that someone wanted. The thing the good guys wanted, even.
“The man I was with. The man Nebula told me about. The Guardian,” she said hesitantly. “I don’t like him.”
“Apparently not many people do,” said Natasha lightly.
Gamora had expected her to say “You will” and was very glad that she hadn’t.
“He’s an idiot. From what Nebula told me, he’s reckless and foolish and overly sentimental. How could I choose him as a partner?”
“I don’t know,” said Natasha. “But one day, you should ask him. If he’s a good man he won’t press you for anything. He’ll just be glad you’re there.”
Gamora considered that and decided to change the subject a little. “You, did you have a person you… cared for?”
“I loved a man called Clint,” Natasha said. “And his wife and his children. I miss them.”
“Why can’t you see them?”
“Maybe I will eventually. I just don’t know.”
There was silence.
“What do you do around here all day?” Natasha asked.
Gamora and Natasha’s ghost went foraging for food.
“This is a yaro root,” Gamora told her companion. That name stuck out in her mind as being vaguely important for some reason. She put it in her pocket, and as she did she observed the scars on her hands.
“These,” she said, practically sticking her palm in Natasha’s face. “I’ve had them ever since I was a child. I never gave much thought to them before. But now! Why do I have them same as you?”
“It’s the universe repairing itself,” Natasha said, with a sense of authority Gamora hadn’t really heard from her before. “Remember how I said nothing like this has ever happened before? You’re not supposed to bring people back from the dead. It breaks every law of reality.”
Gamora dug her blackened fingernail into the yaro.
“I was never dead,” she said uncertainly. “Not really…” But the flashes in her mind were very real. Her skin felt cold, like she was lying on ice.
“You’re the only person in the history of the universe to survive the Soul Stone,” Natasha said. “Put that on your CV.”
Gamora sort of heard her, but another image had popped into her head. It was her father, and he was about to kill her. He loomed over her like a terrible giant, his hand gripped around her arm, and he flung her into the pit.
Gamora pulled up her sleeve and looked at her wrist. She’d expected there to be a mark there, but there wasn’t.
“Your father was a bad person,” Natasha said. A stark, simple statement.
“I know,” said Gamora.
“Consider your being alive a middle finger to him,” Natasha added. Gamora knew that extending the middle finger was a thing with a lot of Terrans, but she wasn’t completely sure how she knew. It must have been the fool. Quill. Bits of his personality dripping into her broken brain.
“I want to go home,” she said abruptly. Her hovel barely counted as one, but even so. She started walking that way, Natasha following on like a satellite.
Gamora thought she would stay awake as long as possible that night to see if Natasha started fading away, but she didn’t.
“When you sleep I guess your brain is sort of turned off,” Natasha explained, “so it makes sense that I wouldn’t be able to interact with you in that state.”
Gamora slept, and didn’t wake up til morning. She hadn’t actually entirely gotten used to sleeping all the way through the night. On Thanos’s ship, you didn’t rest. You were too busy watching your back.
Natasha was looking thoughtfully through the window when she awoke.
“When was the last time you interacted with someone who wasn’t a ghost?” she asked Gamora.
“Not since Nebula left me here,” said Gamora. Actually, she realised, really she had been the one who’d left Nebula, but she didn’t feel like correcting herself. “I don’t want to speak to people. Real people.”
“You might as well never leave this house again, then,” Natasha said.
“Then maybe I never will.”
“There are kids out here, you know,” Natasha told her, gesturing to the outside world. “Little girls who are in danger. You can go outside and help them.”
Gamora’s first feeling was irritation. Not irritation at the situation, not quite, more irritation that Natasha had touched a nerve so perfectly.
“What help would I be?” she asked crossly.
“Go and find out,” said Natasha.
Gamora thought about it for a few seconds. Then, in defiance of herself and possibly of the universe, she threw a robe over her shoulders and went outside, down the ruins of what had once been a road, to the pile of junk where the kids of Knowhere scavenged and played.
By the time she was there she realised Natasha had not followed her.
One child, a pink-skinned creature with hair growing down past her waist, looked up at Gamora.
“You’re the witch,” she said.
“The witch,” the child said. She was unafraid, but in a voice that suggested she was only that way because she’d never had a choice. “You put a curse on this place.”
“Says who?” Gamora answered childishly.
“Grown-ups,” said the girl. “A prison ship with camera drones passed by here and they said you were the daughter of Thanos. None dared go against you.”
Gamora wondered why she hadn’t thought about that before. Of course there would be people tracking her now, they hadn’t seen what had happened on Terra. It would be like how it had been back at the Kyln…
…except that hadn’t happened. Except it had? She had met Drax there, he’d held a knife to her throat…
“Well, say something,” the child demanded, interrupting her terrifying thoughts.
“I’m not gonna hurt you,” was the first thing that came to Gamora’s mind. “I’m not a witch.”
The kid shrugged. Gamora tried to remember anything else that had happened at the Kyln but she couldn’t. How could anyone have memories of something they hadn’t even done? Also, who exactly was Drax, what did he look like, why hadn’t she killed him straight away if he’d tried to kill her?
“What do you want?” another one of the kids asked.
“I came to give you something,” Gamora said, without even knowing she was saying it. She reached into her pocket and took out the yaro root, which had grown a little overnight. They always grew more after they were plucked from the tree.
“Take it,” she demanded. The children looked at each other suspiciously, and then the pink-skinned one snatched it from her hand.
“If it’s poisoned,” she announced, “my family will come back and kill you.”
And then she scattered with the others. Gamora half-wondered if that was what she herself was like as a child.
Halfway up the pathway she saw Natasha. In the outside air and far away she didn’t look like a ghost, but she didn’t look like a person either. She looked like a glitch in the world.
Which she sort of was.
“She seemed like a nice kid,” Natasha said.
“So was I. So was my sister,” Gamora answered. She wondered where Nebula was and what she was doing.
Back inside the house she instinctively reached for the yaro root in her pocket then realised she had literally just given it away. She was used to hunger, though, so she simply slumped on the floor and began taking off her boots to clean them.
“What is it like on Terra?” she asked Natasha, just to pass the time.
“We call it Earth, remember?” Natasha said. “Earth is strange. Different weather all the time. Different terrain all the time. Different people all the time.”
“Did you have wars before we arrived?” Gamora said, those words coming out sharper than she intended.
Natasha almost laughed. “Yes,” she said. “We had wars.”
Gamora looked at her sword, still on the floor where she’d left it. She wasn’t entirely sure about its origins, she’d gotten it too long along, but she thought it might have been from Thanos. For a while she had imagined murdering him with it.
“The man who killed my father. What was his name?”
“Your sister became friends with him.”
That made Gamora laugh. “Nebula doesn’t have friends. And she would have no love for someone who stole her kill.”
“You’d be surprised.”
Gamora found herself wishing fiercely that Nebula was there. The last time she’d seen her she’d been virtually a stranger in so many ways, but also… she seemed more like the her she should have been from the start. Gamora barely understood it, but she felt it in her bones.
“I will see her again soon,” she told Natasha. “We have a lot to talk about.”
Natasha nodded. “No time like the present,” she told Gamora.
“Not now. She still has the dust of our father in her lungs,” Gamora answered.
Later on that day Gamora put her cloak on. It hid her face and her green skin.
“I’m going to the market. It’s not far. You stay here,” she told Natasha.
“There’s not really anywhere else I can go,” Natasha answered.
As Gamora walked out of the door she wondered if ghosts ever got bored. It did seem like an appallingly dull existence.
She had been to the market only once before. She’d stolen some food and then fled before anyone spotted her. If they had done, she would have had to disable them, and she didn’t feel like doing that.
When she got there she bought nothing, but she reached out a hand and took a holoscreen tablet from the stall of the richest-looking seller. Nobody saw. She waited a few minutes just to be safe, but everyone in the settlement seemed too downtrodden to care about the stranger in their midst. The place stunk of rotting animal flesh and waste. The words “honourless thief” flickered unbidden through Gamora’s mind.
On her way back to her hovel she passed the group of parentless children. They were living in a crashed ship, Gamora realised. There were about seven of them there and they seemed to be doing as well as they could do under the circumstances. They had a fire for warmth, a storage container for food, and they seemed to have rigged a pipe to provide them fresh water. Gamora felt so intensely jealous of them just for a moment.
When she got back Natasha appeared to be looking at her reflection in a mirrored panel on the wall.
“What do you see?” Gamora asked.
“My own face, surprisingly,” Natasha said. “I kinda thought that once I saw myself in this state I’d just look like a black hole or something.”
Gamora didn’t really know what to say that. She wordlessly handed Natasha the holoscreen she’d stolen.
“I can’t hold things,” Natasha informed her politely.
Gamora set it up on the chair instead and knelt down to turn it on.
“I thought you – we could see what’s going in the galaxy,” she said uncertainly. “After the war.” The battle with Thanos hadn’t exactly felt like a war at the time, Gamora knew that wars were long and mind-numbing and involved the deaths of far more innocents, but she couldn’t think of a better way to label it.
“Alright,” said Natasha.
Gamora tuned it on to the Terran channels. Once upon a time only curiosity-seekers who wished to see what the backward primitives were up to ever viewed them. Not any more.
“Do you recognise anything?” she asked Natasha. There was a woman on the screen talking about things Gamora knew nothing of.
“That’s Russian,” Natasha said. “This is the news in Russia!” She seemed so excited all of a sudden.
“How can you understand it? Terrans don’t have universal translators.”
“I was Russian once,” Natasha answered. “Sssh!”
No-one apart from Thanos and Nebula had ever told Gamora to be quiet before. Annoyed and baffled, she watched the screen with Natasha.
“Plans are in place to compensate the nation of Wakanda for their time, money and resources,” the woman read out to her audience. “The King and Queen Mother are in Washington DC today to discuss what they are calling ‘a worldwide regeneration plan.’ The US government has offered an unconditional pardon for Sergeant Barnes also…”
“Yes!” Natasha suddenly cried, happier than Gamora had heard her so far.
“…and with the death of Steve Rogers, reportedly the Avengers have inaugurated a new hero to take over as Captain America: this is military man Sam Wilson, formerly known as Falcon…”
“He’s not dead,” Natasha said cheerfully. “Everyone thinks he is but he’s not.”
“I don’t know any of these people,” Gamora said. She was feeling jealous again, jealous of the friendship Natasha had with her teammates. She had never had anything like that, except she had, except she hadn’t.
The signal flickered and the screen went blank.
“Did you do that?” Gamora asked Natasha.
“Don’t think so.”
“Fine. It was cheap and badly made,” Gamora said in a bout of sudden fierceness. She took it from the chair and tossed it into the corner.
Natasha ignored that act of childishness. “We can try it again some other time.”
Gamora placed her face in her hands just for a second. How long had it been since Thanos had been killed? About five days? She had had five days of a free adult life.
She tried to calm down her racing thoughts. In her mind she was falling over and over and over again.
“Do other people know what you did?” she asked Natasha. “That without you, we’d all be dead?”
Natasha wore an expression that was impossible to read. “Maybe.”
“It doesn’t matter that you didn’t land the killing blow. I learned long ago, those who move the enemy into position at the cost of their own lives, they’re also brave warriors, just as deserving of respect…” But where she had learned that she didn’t know.
“What happens when the universe repairs itself?” she suddenly found herself asking.
“You said that I’m – that you’re – that all this is the universe repairing itself. What happens once it’s finished?”
“I don’t know.”
There seemed to be a lot Natasha didn’t know, Gamora thought, aware as she thought it how uncharitable it was.
“I’m going to bed,” she said.
But she couldn’t sleep. In her nightmares she cried out “No, this isn’t love,” to the father who had warped and abused her, and yet it must have been love, because he walked away and she didn’t. She woke up in a cold, shaking, despairing rage.
Natasha wasn’t there.
Gamora rubbed her eyes. Where was she? Maybe reality had knitted itself back together already, but in that case, still… where was she?
The room was silent and freezing. Wind was blowing in through a hole in the roof. Gamora looked around and stood up. Was this really the existence she’d chosen for herself? It was so desperately lonely.
She picked up the holoscreen from where she’d thrown it and switched it on. It seemed to work perfectly now. It was still tuned to the Terran channels and Gamora was able to flick through some of them. There was satellite footage of the Stark man snapping Thanos out of existence. The image cut to a multitude of murals and hastily constructed statues of that moment, like the Terrans wanted to stamp it into time immediately. But there were none of Natasha, Gamora thought.
She switched to the Nova Corps channel. It was nothing but political chaos. Elected leaders had been snapped away and returned to find despots in their place. Cities had burned, oceans had boiled. There were people helping but how could there ever be enough help? There were hungry children right outside her door.
Suddenly Natasha smacked into her vision again. One moment she wasn’t there and the next she was. It was desperately disconcerting.
“Not the refrigerator this time, then,” Gamora said once she’d recovered.
“I guess not,” Natasha said. “And before you ask I don’t know where I went. I mean, where do holes go once they’re stitched up?”
Gamora was irritated at that question because it seemed so simple and yet she couldn’t answer it. She put the holoscreen down.
“It’s working again if you wanna see,” she said, ineffectually.
“I’m good,” said Natasha.
Gamora felt almost like throwing it again, simply because all the anger in her had to come out somehow, but she managed to refrain herself. She sunk into a heap on the floor, and starting straightening out her sleeping pile of blankets and furs.
“Natasha,” she said. It was the first time she’d actually said the other woman’s name.
“I don’t know your title, if you have one. I don’t know your mother’s name.”
“Nor do I,” said Natasha.
That made Gamora jerk up. Even in her darkest moments she had never forgotten the name of her mother.
“I’m sorry,” she found herself saying.
Gamora thought of the word alien again. She stood up and stared out of the window.
“I was thinking. Everything’s gone to hell. Just a look outside and you can see that. Maybe I can help make it right.”
Natasha nodded approvingly.
“Except, I don’t know if I can, or even should. I could make it better, or maybe I could make it worse. I’m not a good person, I’m not a hero. I don’t know! I don’t know what I am.”
“You’re an idiot,” Natasha said.
Gamora was so taken aback that time seemed to stop for her entirely.
“Let’s do a runthrough,” Natasha said. “I get here. You ask after my planet even though you weren’t responsible for whatever happened to it. You ask about my loved ones. You give food to children even though you could use it too. You steal me a screeny thing just so I can see my home. Oh, and you know, you broke years of conditioning and turned against your purple bastard father. Not a hero! Come on!”
Gamora just stared at her.
“You just have red in your ledger,” Natasha said quietly.
Gamora didn’t have an answer or anything at all. She sank back down to the floor, which was where she seemed to be spending most of her time these days.
“I want to know one thing,” she said. “Would the universe care?”
“How do you mean?” said Natasha. But she said it in a way that implied she’d known that question would come soon.
“Here’s what I remember. I mean, what I know. I went with Thanos to a pit in the ground and whatever lived there said, if you want the Soul Stone someone you love has to die. I screamed at my father, you love nothing, no-one. But he grabbed my wrist and he threw me anyway. He killed me and it worked. So the universe-“ she said this while clenching her fists to make the scars hurt – “the universe thought that was love. He was right and I was wrong. Who would serve that universe? Who would save it?”
“No,” said Natasha, very quietly. For half a second Gamora thought something else might have been speaking through her, but she dismissed that as a figment of her imagination. In a normal-ish voice Natasha said, “How do you know it wasn’t your love?”
“I did not love my father-“
“Listen to me. You don’t know everything, not yet,” Natasha said. “Maybe you will one day. But you were there at the side of the pit in order to save your sister. You loved her. You were never supposed to, and she was never supposed to love you. But you both were better, smarter, kinder! Here’s the thing I’ve thought about a lot. How could some ancient evil that lived at the edge of the world claim your soul? You don’t own your soul!”
Gamora was silent.
Then Natasha added, “Or perhaps even it was me. Perhaps my love saved you. ”
“What do you mean? You didn’t even know me.”
“Yep, you’re right, I didn’t,” Natasha said. “And I died so Clint wouldn’t have to. So he could go home and his children could have a father. But… I knew what I was doing. I knew what it meant. I got the agency that you were denied. And, gotta give myself some credit here, I also died to save everybody. Who says that’s not love?”
Gamora didn’t know what to say. The hole in the universe was gaping wide open, red and painful as childbirth. What was she now? What was Natasha? Which one of them was the rip and which one was the needle?
Her scars hurt like the coldest ice in the world was stabbing into them, and suddenly… they didn’t.
“Perhaps I was wrong,” Natasha said, sounding far away. “Maybe it isn’t science, or at least not in the way we know it. Your soul isn’t atoms, isn’t math.”
“But neither is yours. Please tell me,” Gamora said, crying, “when the universe fixes itself where will you go?”
“You know,” said Natasha, “I think on the most basic and fundamental level, it was already fixed. You’re gonna be fine, Gamora, daughter of Amina of Zen-Whoberi and sister of Nebula. Okay?” She smiled. “See ya round, kid.”
And then she was gone.
After a few seconds Gamora reached out her hand, and touched nothing. She hadn’t touched another person in several days, she realised. Natasha was gone. Her mind was still a blur of half-memories and Natasha was gone.
She then raised her hand to her eyes, and the scars were still there. She remained frozen in time like that for a while, thinking. Now she was a scar on the world.
Huddled up in the corner of her hovel, Gamora picked up the holoscreen and did a search across all channels for “Natasha.” She wasn’t expecting to find much, as she was sure Terrans had a thing where they tended to share names, but the war on Earth had been so recent that actually there was plenty of information. Her last name was Romanoff. Her codename was Black Widow, a type of fearful spider. Her mother still had no name, and perhaps never would.
Natasha was a difficult heroine, because of her past and the way Earth was divided. Some people said she was a traitor and a murderer. There were rumors that she was the mistress of Clint, and that was why she had saved him from the pit. There were stray murals drawn of her, dwarfed by the ones of Tony.
There was no permanent memorial for her. Gamora would be it.
She left her hut, taking nothing with her but her sword and the holoscreen. On the way she passed the scavenger children and their ship.
“Hey,” she shouted at them. “I got something for you.”
The pink-skinned girl, who seemed to have established herself as their leader, came forward. She had a pipe in her hand to use as a weapon if needed and Gamora greatly admired her for that.
“I’m not gonna hurt you,” she said. “You see the house up there?”
“Not really much of a house,” the girl said.
“Well, either way, I built it and you can have it. All of you. There’s blankets in there, some furniture, there’s a refrigerator so you can have fresh food. I’m not coming back, so it’s yours, okay?”
The girl looked at her suspiciously. “Okay,” she said.
Gamora carried on.
Once upon a time Gamora had learned how to hack into security channels. It was a pretty simple and easy trick. She was sure Thanos hadn’t taught it to her, though. More likely it had been her mother, or perhaps even her real father.
She learned the people she was looking for were on Xandar. (Generally, talking raccoons and humanoid trees didn’t pass through too many places unnoticed.) She hitched a ride on a ship by hiding inside an empty product container, and then ran out into the light.
Tracking their images via the holoscreen, she found them outside a bar in one of the central districts. They were working with a cleanup crew, shifting piles of rubble.
She recognised the blond man instantly. She had met him before of course, briefly, but this time it was very different. As she stared at him he turned around and saw her.
“Gamora,” Quill said in awe.
As the others – Drax, Mantis, Rocket, Groot, she could remember their names now – looked on in delight, Gamora reached out her hand once more. She thought of the debts she owed them, owed Nebula, owed Natasha, owed herself.
“I’ve got red in my ledger,” she said. “I’d like to wipe it out.”