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Story Notes:
Written for the first Veterans' Day event ever! I broke the world for you, Drag! Hope you enjoyed it XDD

As I mentioned before, HUGE spoiler warning for Infinity War. Run while you still can!
Rated because it's pretty dark and sad and after that ending, who would expect anything less? XD Sorry in advance for any depressed feelings~

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Chapter Notes:
Special thanks to DinerGuy and PineappleHead for betaing, and a million more to insert56 for being the best writing buddy ever X3 Thank you~!
“I’m not doing it, Shawn.”

“C’mon, buddy! It’ll be easy! You literally get to lie down on a nice, cushy bed the entire time; it’s simple as saying your abc’s-”

“It’s a coffin, it’s for dead people, and I am NOT going to lie in it!”

“So you’re saying you don’t know the alphabet?”

Snap.


Dust flew into his vision when the bell broke loose and hit the floor. Eyes watering, Shawn paused for a moment, but shadows crawled in from the broken windows like monsters, preying on his eyesight even when the dust finally settled. Shawn groped for the light switch and flicked it on and off a couple of times.

Nothing.

A short sigh passed his lips as he skirted towards the counter, trying to broaden his vision of the shop just in case someone was still waiting around, but a quick scan of the scene told him that he was alone. Empty shelves exposed the thieves who had come in before him - it looked like nothing even remotely useful had been left behind.

Shawn wandered towards the back. His eyes caught a glint of gold underneath a fallen shelf. He heaved the metal to the side, catching a noseful of dust.

He stared. His train of thought screeched to a halt.

Pineapple chunks.

Still useless.


Tensing muscles suddenly broke Shawn out of his stupor and his heart skipped for a moment, head snapping up to search for what had changed. Nothing seemed different . . . and then there it was again, a buzz and a flicker. Shawn flinched at the sudden light and white noise.

Guess the power’s back on.

At that moment, the TV above the counter flickered to life and sputtered out the latest news report.

“-vengers have yet to return, and we have no choice but to assume they’re dead, leaving Tony Stark, or Iron Man, a name he’s more well known as, the only surviving member-”

Glass cracked and popped underneath the weight of his boots as Shawn moved towards the TV with a sort of compelled interest, like a moth to a flame. His eyes flicked upward as a picture appeared in the top-right corner of the screen. He scanned the photo, committing the brown eyes and dark hair to memory, re-sketching it in his mind’s eye until he was sure it was searing into his brain.

It’s the freaking apocalypse and the guy still dresses like he’s from Ocean 11.

Shawn almost rolled his eyes before the joke brought a jolt of a reminder with it. Shawn broke his gaze away from the TV with a slight sigh, like his thoughts had ripped the breath from his throat and were just now returning it. Shawn grabbed what little he had and turned to leave.

“-ot panic. I know it’s confusing, but we will get everything under control.”

The familiar gruff tone stopped Shawn in his tracks. Shadowed humor fell over his expression as he listened. He was on the news, trying to relate to people, trying to comfort them.

“Old Lassifrass.” A tinge of pride seeped into his muttering. “I guess tragedy brings out different sides to everyone.”

Shawn stepped outside and the moment got ripped away in the wind as the ice reclaimed his bones.

He had a job to do.

~~~~~~~~~~

Click.

“Don’t move.”

Tony froze as the icy barrel of a gun pressed against the back of his head. Blood-red liquid sloshed as he slowly brought his arms up. When the bottle passed his face, the corner of his eye caught the swirls of olive green that depicted a young man.

“You’re Tony Stark?”

“No, I just live in his house and eat his food.” Tony’s words slurred a bit, but the sarcasm was clearly evident even without the eye roll. The gun buried deeper into his skull.

“I need you to take me to Thanos.”

The name dropped in the air, dragging immediate gloom down with it. Tony gave a dry chuckle and took another swig of wine in return. The intruder, however, didn’t seem to think there was anything to chuckle about. He was practically growling, Tony noted with slight amusement.

“You’re the last Avenger. You know where he is. Take me.”

“Why should I?”

“Because if you don’t, I’ll blow your brains out.”

Tony laughed. “Nice. That’s a great plan. Except for one thing - your gun isn’t real.”

The intruder’s hesitation confirmed Tony’s hunch. He rolled his eyes and wobbled his way towards the couch, easily picking up on the man’s quickened breaths as he decided what to do - then the breath hitched and Tony felt the punch before it came. A smooth dodge, swift kick, and painful retaliation left the intruder gasping on the floor a second later. Tony stared down at him, all traces of drunkenness gone.

“Don’t try that again,” he warned. Then seemingly satisfied, he shuffled back to the couch and plopped down, the wine slipping over the rim of his bottle and staining the white sofa cushions. The kid was trying to catch his breath, but still managed to sputter out between gasps,

“How did you - know abou - about the gun?”

“I used to design them for a living,” Tony idly played with the rim of the bottle. “I know their ins and outs like the back of my hand. And guns don’t make that sound.”

The bottle mouth met his lips again and bitterness encased his tongue. The breathing had changed again - no longer struggling for breath, but oddly strained. Exasperated, Tony tore the bottle away from his lips and snapped, “What?”

“Can you take me? Please?”

Mirthless laughter leapt unbidden from Tony’s throat. “Of course I will, since you asked so nicely! Forget the fact that you broke into my house and tried to threaten my existence, because the criminal said please!”

“I’m not a criminal-”

“Oh, is that so? Because last time I checked, breaking and entering was a crime.”

Paper-thin silence fell over the room. Tony shut his eyes again and leaned back in a manner that clearly screamed “this conversation is over.” The sounds of movement followed not long after, and Tony relaxed as he assumed the intruder had finally left him alone.

A beat of peace kept his depression at bay.

Then the walls broke and Tony sunk lower into the couch, his eyes reopened. He sighed as his gaze wandered over to the window, where the vaguest of shadows reflected back at him. Tony turned, irritation flaring up as quickly as it had gone.

“Were you planning on leaving, or are you going to stand there al-”

The look on the man’s face choked the words as they emerged from his throat.

His shoulders slumped with an unseen burden, his posture looked like it was going to collapse in on itself, his eyes were haunted by shadows beyond his years, his face, once lit up with pride, now only showed wrinkles of shame and regret. The toy pistol trembled in his hands.

He looked like the reason Tony had thrown out all the mirrors in the house.

He looked . . . beaten.

Suddenly a bitter, raging hate flared up like a fresh wound in Tony’s chest. He cracked the half-empty bottle against the table with a bang. Shocked hazel eyes snapped up to meet his. He instinctively stepped backwards and clutched the gun tighter as Tony approached, but he could tell the action was force of habit and didn’t hold any heart to it.

Strained silence stood between them like a wall.

“Okay,” Tony finally said. “I’ll take you.”

Hazel eyes blinked.

“You’re gonna . . . take me?” A beat while suspicion slipped in. “Why?”

“Because I want you gone, and you won’t stop asking until you’re dead,” Tony snarled and shoved past him before the intruder could get a good look at his eyes.

“Why not just kill me yourself, then?”

“Because I can’t,” Tony snapped over his shoulder. “Now are you coming or what?”

Shawn turned with a start, then quickly followed behind before the door slammed shut.

~~~~~~~~~~

Shawn was drowning.

The silence was cramming unwanted thoughts down his throat, into his brain, through his eyes and ears and nose until he didn’t have room to breathe. Before he had kept himself busy to push the silence away, but now his hands were idle and he felt like he’d been stripped of his shield and armour and dropped in a gladiator’s colosseum with no way to defend himself against the monsters -

“C’mon Gus, don’t be the “mine?” seagulls from Finding Nemo. All you have to do is pretend to be asleep for all of five minutes so I can bust the killers!”

“Over my dead body!”

“. . . Well that’s kind of bionic.”

“It’s ironic, Sha-”

“Shoot, here they come. Get in now!”


Something slammed and Shawn jumped out of his reverie, heart flinging at his ribcage.

“Relax, kid, I was just getting a drink.” Tony shook the bottle in Shawn’s stunned face for emphasis.

“DON’T call me kid,” Shawn snapped, shutting his eyes as he tried to force his muscles to relax. Sleep. Sleep was the only way out of this trap.

As soon as he thought it, his eyelids felt ten times heavier than normal. He vaguely tried to puzzle out when he’d last slept for more than an hour at a time . . .

Tony glanced over at the kid and wasn’t surprised to find him fast asleep. While he slept, all the walls he built in his conscious were torn down by subconscious’s brutal grip, leaving a deep look into everything his usual awareness tried to hide. Again, the hatred burned in Tony’s chest and he gripped the controls tighter.

It was like looking in a mirror. Tony saw all of his own pain and suffering in the lines that sketched much too young a face - The pain of having a father who wanted nothing more for you to be EXACTLY like them. A father that you grew up to be remarkably like despite your best efforts. A father you couldn’t say you were sorry to because you waited too long and now only regret filled that space where pride once was . . .

And the suffering of being the only survivor in a world you’d rather not survive in, the agony of outliving the friends when they were the only reason you had stayed alive all this time . . .

But the hatred that flared in Tony wasn’t for their similarities. It was for their differences.

Because even though they’d had the same pain and fears, the kid was still fighting for all he was worth.

And Tony was just a coward.

He had watched all his friends - no, his family - go off to fight and had listened as they’d all been killed within minutes. One by one they all gave their greatest sacrifice for the world they wanted to protect, and Tony had done nothing. Day and nights were drowned by bottle after bottle, trying so hard just to forget, to lose more, to lose it all, almost like a punishment for being too scared to do more -

But this kid was just as terrified, and he was still fighting when Tony couldn’t.

When he looked at Shawn’s sleeping face, all he saw was his own failure.

Tony was overwhelmed with sudden tearing guilt. For a moment he considered turning around while the kid was still asleep - drag him back, fix him up, maybe they could learn to forget together. But a tiny part of Tony needed him to continue on and succeed where he couldn’t.

So he took another swig of wine, kept his eyes forward, and drove the kid to complete his suicide mission.

~~~~~~~~~~

Shawn was jarred awake by a sudden shove to the spacecraft’s floor.

“We’re here.”

He blinked a few times, rubbing his elbow where it had connected with the chair’s leg. For a moment he just stared at Tony, confused, different words battling on the tip of his tongue -

“Are you going to lie there all day or do I have to kick you out?”

Shawn stood up somewhat shakily and opened his mouth for a second, then shut it and just gave a quick nod before dropping into the prickly grass. A second later the ship rose up with a roar, and then it was gone.

Shawn stared at the place where it had gone for a moment, then took a deep breath and turned to face the music.

All he could do was stare.

The world felt like it was made of glass.

Clear.

Untainted.

Unbroken.

The lake casted a perfect reflection of boiling amber and scarlet of the shocked star. The air felt like it had never been breathed - there was no birdsong, no wind thumping against his eardrums, no bugs humming as they worked, no water lapping against the shore. The lack of sound was like a vacuum that sucked up everything but your thoughts, giving the heavy impression that anything he said would evaporate like a hot breath on frozen glass.

It was hell.

It didn’t take long for Shawn to find him. The dark figure was hunched over at the edge of the dock, unmoving. Shawn padded softly up behind him, each sound pounding into his nerves and expanding outwards like the epicenter of an earthquake, echoing in his inner ear. Every action felt a thousand times more vast.

He stopped. Breathed deeply. Fought back the rising anxiety. Six feet away sat the monster who had killed half the universe with a snap of his fingers.

And then . . .

“I’m sorry.”

The words lingered in the air. Shawn blinked.

“I took something you loved and I sacrificed it without your consent. I didn’t even do so much as to give you a warning in advance. I caused you pain . . . and I am sorry.”

“Then give them back.”

His voice trembled. Thanos’s shoulders sagged.

“I can’t.”

Even in the silence his voice was barely audible. He paused and sighed, his voice strengthening as he continued, “I wish I could. I would do anything to change their fate . . . to change her fate . . . but I can’t.”

“Why not?” The water beneath quaked as his voice rose. “You broke it; why can’t you fix it? You’ll just take all the blame but none of the responsibility? That’s not fair-”

“Life isn’t fair!”

“And death is?”

“Yes.”

Thanos’s face met his. They stood there, one hot and burning, the other cold and considered. Neither moved.

“If you came for a fight-”

“No,” Shawn cut in. “I know I can’t fight you. And I know I can’t change your mind.”

“Then why are you here?”

“Because I want to die too,” Shawn finally cracked.

The silence shattered. Thanos blinked a few times and took a step back towards the very edge of the dock, straightening to his full height, but something inside Shawn had broken open and he couldn’t stop.

“Gus and Jules and my dad, they were everything to me. They made me who I am and I wouldn’t be me without them. I wouldn’t be alive without them! Every time I pushed myself farther it was for them, ‘cause I wanted my dad to be proud, and I wanted Gus to look up to me, and I wanted Jules to look at me the way I looked at her when I snuck glances without her noticing at the station. And those days when I woke up feeling like crap and wanting to curl up until the sun went away I DIDN’T, because I would remember that someone was gonna miss me and need me and now nobody does. Nobody should. ‘Cause without them, I’m . . . I’m . . . nothing.”

The stream of consciousness stopped and Shawn hiccuped, suddenly realized that he was crying. For the entire rant Thanos’s face could have been carved out of stone . . . then finally, once Shawn had stopped, his composure collapsed.

“I’m sorry,” he repeated, eyes misting. “I really am; I’m so sorry-”

Surprise evaporated the unshed tears and Shawn wiped his cheeks, sniffling like a little kid. Neither of them had any more to say. Time hiccuped once. Twice. Three times.

Then the stillness settled back in. Thanos’s face hardened once more, and he straightened back to his full height and stared Shawn head-on.

“Are you sure you want this?”

Shawn didn’t have to answer. Red-rimmed eyes looked up to meet dark, sad ones.

His hands didn’t shake.

Snap.

Shawn finally let go. The pain and fear floated away like balloons that had come untied - he closed his eyes and gave in to the feeling, like falling asleep . . .

.

.

.

“Shawn? Oh God - Shawn, I don’t know- I don’t wanna die, I don’t want you to die-”

“Gus? You’re gonna be fine, you don’t have to get in the coffin after all. Those guys are gone, like they vanished into thin ai- . . . oh my God . . .”

“Shawn, help - Help me!”


“Shawn, you idiot. You were supposed to stay alive.”

The voice made Shawn jerk with a sudden panic - that hadn’t been a memory - that really sounded like Gus-! But the dust was already crawling up his neck-

“Gus? Gus, are you-”

Chapter End Notes:
Yes, I do have a reason for ending it that way, having to do with my own current theory on the movie~ If you wanna know then PM me and we can talk Avengers =D


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