FANDOM: MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE
RELATIONSHIPS: Nebula/Tony Stark
CHARACTERS: Nebula, TONY STARK
SUMMARY: She’s galaxies and supernovas and anxiety and fear and he’s seen it all before.
The thing about her is, she’s blue, and unless you know what to look for, you aren’t likely to see the panic. The current of it in the galaxies that flood her veins with heat and light and color. You aren’t likely to see the heat flush her face and the subtle dilation of her pupils. None of that will be visible. You may not even notice the tremble in her hands. The way the blue shivers, ripples like water under a skipped stone.
But, Tony sees it.
A crumpled, exhausted mess of trembling blue; shuddering galaxies and quivering supernovas. And, she’s sitting there, trying to hide the fear, because she knows, somewhere that Thanos isn’t torturing her, anymore, but her brain is stuck on a single, repetitive loop. She’s on the verge of tears when a warm hand comes to rest on top of her. He rolls in his hand in a motion for the meeting to continue as he leans down and whispers; “Walk with me, Neb?”
She nods and shakily excuses herself to walk with him. Her hand slips into his, squeezing so hard, her knuckles turn a sky blue instead of the deep sapphire he’s used to. “I feel so afraid.” but, it doesn’t feel like her own voice she is speaking with. It feels like someone else’s, like a child after nightmare, like a relic of a past she can’t let go of. Her brain won’t release her from the clutches of a memory, she wants so bad to erase.
“I know.” and, he does, because he’s gotten lost in his fear, stayed up for two days straight and built four different suits. “It’s got a name. PTSD. It’s something you can manage, if not overcome.”
“So you have it?” Nebula sounds reluctant to ask. She’s still learning to take comfort in Tony, not fear him. Sometimes, when she’s feeling really small, and really afraid, she slips and calls him Dad. She calls Pepper, Mom on those days, because she’s never known her mother and Pepper might be as close as she ever gets.
“Since I was stuck in a cave in a far away place.” Tony offers a little piece of a bigger picture. She’s not ready for his story. Not when she’s still piecing together her own. “But, that’s not important.”
“How do you do it?” Nebula sounds for all the world like a child, needing answers from her father.
“I don’t know, Blue.” Tony shrugs, “I just pick myself up and keep going. I don’t think about it. I don’t let it control me.”
“Well, yeah. I mean, you’re blue and you’re my favorite space girl.” Tony explains patiently. He so often forgets that Nebula doesn’t know what affection is. All she’s ever known is hatred and abuse. “It’s a nickname, like the way I call my wife Pep, and my daughter is 3,000. I nickname people – it’s how I show them I love them. Even when they don’t always deserve it.”
The daughter of Thanos doesn’t understand the concept. She doesn’t understand what it means to love someone. Or be loved. Even though, they all try to show her.
“This, Blue.” Tony holds up their tightly interlaced hands. “Love is understanding someone, even though you’re from different galaxies. You’ve been through a lot and it’s going to take a long time to undo the mess Thanos made of you, of all of us, but you’ll get there. You’ll learn and grow and you will be okay. I think underneath the blue and the powers and the trauma is a pretty great girl. We just have to find her.” he clips her chin affectionately with his free hand. “Now, Pep should be out of her meeting, by now, and I think it’s I introduce you to cheeseburgers.”
Nebula looks at him a bit like he’s grown two heads, which isn’t exactly new for him, but nevertheless follows his lead. She doesn’t feel like a machine, like something to be taken apart, and reassembled when she’s with him and Pepper. She feels human, she feels like the child she never got to be. She feels strong and comfortable and safe.
She feels loved.