After the meeting and a tense car ride back to Stark Tower, Carter and Laynie started pack up their stuff.
Carter started packing up her clothes, leaving only enough out for the rest of the week. She leaned on the side of her bed as she sluggishly shoveled all her other clothes into her duffle bag.
She jumped when she heard a knock on her door. "Um, yes?" She called.
"It's Bruce, may I come in?" A quiet voice asked.
She sighed. "Yeah, come on in." She turned back to her packing.
The door opened and shut quickly. She felt the bed shift behind her as Bruce sat down.
Carter quietly packed as she waited for Bruce to speak.
"How can you be okay with this?" He asked.
"I said it before, everyone knew this wouldn't be permanent and I practically knew they wouldn't find anyone to take me in." She said calmly.
"Being aware isn't the same as being alright."
"I'm aware and I'm alright. I'm sure the foster family will be nice and I'll be able to keep in contact with Laynie." Carter shrugged. "I'm staying in New York. I'm staying at my school. I'm alright. Laynie's who I'm concerned about."
Bruce came down to Carter's level, placing a hand on her shoulder. "Carter I can tell you aren't okay. Please let me help you."
"I'm fine," Carter repeated, growing frustrated. "There's nothing for you to help me with."
Bruce sighed out his frustration. "Alright. I just thought that maybe you would like once last chance to open up before you leave." Bruce stood and made for the door. "I guess not."
Carter growled, "Why does everybody assume I need to open up? Or that I want to? Cause I don't." She glared at him. "I've been here only a few weeks, excuse me if I don't want to broadcast my life and thoughts to people I barely know!" She finished with a huff.
"I'd like to think we- at least I have made myself a friend to you? I know where you're coming from, we all do, better than you do. Y'know, Fury didn't just throw you in here because he needed a babysitter, there are a thousand and one other places he could have sent you. He sent you here because he knows what we've all been through individually, it's his job to know. He knew we could help you. But you aren't letting us."
Carter turned away from him. "Just go, I've got packing to do."
Laynie was not a happy girl.
In fact, she was so unhappy, that she had decided to take residence underneath her bed. She had a blanket thrown over her legs, piles and piles of used and clean tissues around her, and a book clutched firmly in her hand. She wasn't reading it, though.
She'd just managed to stop the flow of tears, once again. They'd been off and on all day, since hearing the news. She would manage to calm down, let her mind wander, but then the thought of leaving her friend set in again and she couldn't hold back the flood.
It was simply too much. The reality of leaving her friend behind was like a slap on the face.
Staring blankly at the bottom of the mattress above her, she began tracing the embroidered floral pattern with her finger. She breathed deeply, trying desperately not to cry. Tears still rolled out of the corner of her eyes, but she kept the sobs at bay.
There was a knock on the door that startled her. Laynie scrambled for a tissue to wipe her face and pulled her feet under the bed all the way. She didn't want anybody to know where she was. She wanted to be left alone.
The door opened slowly. Laynie figured it was Carter, but was proved otherwise when large feet came into view.
"Laynie? You in here?"
Laynie sighed silently. She did not want to talk to Tony.
"Jarvis, where's she at?"
"Underneath the bed, sir."
Tony slowly bent down, going on all fours to see under the bed.
"Hey, how's it going?"
Laynie stared back blankly.
"Mind if I join you?"
She made a face, but he came down anyway, barely fitting underneath the bed. "Nice and warm down here," he commented.
"What do you want?"
"I wanted to make sure you're okay. And let you know that my jet is taking you out to New Mexico. I'm not letting you travel across the country on a train when those guys are still out there."
Laynie smiled a bit. "Thanks."
"Eh, the thing needs to be used more often anyway."
Laynie was silent.
Tony heaved a sigh. "I'm sorry you can't stay. We knew you were leaving all along though."
"Can't you pay the social services to let me stay in New York at least?" The question was sudden.
"No. I wish I could. The government tends to reject my generous donations though."
"...I want you to call me. Or Pepper. Pepper answers more often. If he's... Not right. If you need us."
"I will. Thank you, Tony. You guys..." She sniffed, trying not to tear up again. "You guys made me feel loved."
Tony winced. He was never sure what to do when people started crying.
"I'm sorry," she said quietly, reigning in the tears. "Thanks."
Tony took this as a dismissal, rolling out from under the bed and leaving without another word.
The week flew by in a hurry. And now it was Friday.
Throughout Stark Tower, a sort of gloom could be felt from everyone.
For Carter it was mixed with anxiety. Not only was she wondering what the foster family would be like, but she was also worrying about Laynie. She has it worse off than I do. She's moving to a completely different state, I'm just moving a couple of blocks away. What do I have to be worried about? Nothing is really changing for me... except that I'm losing the only family I have left. She thought bitterly as she finished packing the last of her stuff.
Looking around, the room she had been given was bare once more. There was not even a trace that she had been living there at all anymore.
She heaved her duffle bag over her shoulder and left the room quickly.
First she would be seeing Laynie off in Tony's jet, and then she would be picked up by her social worker to be taken away.
She walked across the hall to Laynie's room, equally bare as her own.
Laynie sat in the middle of the floor, her focus on her gaming system instead of the emptiness around her. It was so hard to say goodbye to yet another home, especially so soon.
She looked up to find Carter in the doorway, and instantly grimaced. It was wrong, she knew, but she had been avoiding Carter. The fact that she was leaving made every second she spent with her nothing short of painful.
"I don't want to leave you," she blurted, staring up at her friend.
Carter smiled weakly. "I don't want you to go either. But, it'll be okay. We'll keep in contact. We can talk everyday if you want." She held out her hand to help Laynie up. "Come on, the jet's gonna leave soon. And it probably shouldn't leave without it's most important passenger."
Laynie didn't take Carter's hand. For a minute, she considered refusing to move. She wondered what the scene would look like it she actually would not move from the spot, and realized she'd just leave the tower over Thor's shoulder.
She still didn't take Carter's hand when she stood up. "I hate this," she muttered bitterly.
Carter let her hand drop to her side. "I know." She answered despondently and turned to leave.
Laynie sighed and followed her friend. She knew she might regret it later, but she didn't bother to look back at the room before slamming the door shut.
They both walked to the living room and found everyone waiting for them.
Pepper smiled at both of them. "Do you both have all your things?"
"Yes," Carter replied quietly.
"Yeah," Laynie said with a nod.
Her smile faltered as she said, "Well, then I guess we better get going. We wouldn't want you to be late, Laynie."
Laynie couldn't respond.
The drive to the airport was short, and nothing was said. Laynie gave everyone a hug, then stood in front of the stairs to the jet awkwardly.
Just as Laynie was about to turn around and climb the stairs into the jet, Carter threw both arms around her. "I'll miss you."
Laynie hugged her back tightly. "I'll miss you too. Good luck."
She pulled back after a moment and nodded.
Laynie finally climbed the stairs onto the jet and a few minutes later both her and the jet were gone.
That was when a car pulled up behind them. Miss Wright, Carter's social worker stepped out of the car. She looked at Carter and asked, "Are you ready?"
"As I'll ever be..." Carter answered with a shrug. "Thanks for everything." She said to the Avengers.
Tony nodded. "No problem."
Miss Wright took Carter's bag and put it in the trunk as Carter hopped in the front seat. And like Laynie, she was gone just like that.