look alive.
Cara has never fluttered her eyes open in the face of an dripping-mawed insectoid, let's make that very clear. She's never felt quite like this, never held a dying man in a silver, gunmetal suit after watching Thanos (the Thanos) punch his fist clear through his abdomen. James, James, James is his name, and the vowels feel raw in her throat -- despite the fact that she’s only been breathing, buried into Wyatt's neck and the pillow at four in the morning. This isn't right. Something is very wrong.

These things, these memories and dreams; they don’t belong to Cara Leigh Davies. This deluge of information, seen through the eyes and heart of a woman who's really lived it, is too much to process.

And yet, unrelentingly, there's more. The only tentacled cat (no, flerken) she's ever seen has been on a film screen, and it was for a few seconds at that. She's never cleared the atmosphere (but she knows what it feels like), and she's certainly never held a nuclear missile in her hands. These experiences belong elsewhere. They belong in a specific place of her mind, filed away carefully and gone masterfully unaddressed during the weeks of the month where they have no bearing on her life as a sister, a daughter, and a partner from her very-grounded position on Earth. The way they're sitting right on Cara's frontal lobe is frustrating, and with a spiking pain behind her right eye, entirely not what she was expecting today.

It's not what she can handle right this second, and when Cara clumsily rolls away from her sole source of comfort, she almost falls right off the bed.

The onslaught of this dutifully and respectfully untouched reality, of this combined existence with Captain Marvel, is hitting her full force on the morning of April fourteenth, two-thousand and nineteen; Cara has no say in the matter when one side of her life sinks its teeth into the other.

If she did, she certainly wouldn't have chosen the day before her dissertation defense.
She gets lost on her way to the bathroom, vision blurred with tears (not sadness, not joy, sheer sensory overwhelm) as she drops herself to the tiled floor. Cara (or is it Carol now?) hardly feels the pain rocket up her knees when she hits, grasping for a grip while her stomach threatens to empty its contents into the pristine-looking toilet. Her brain is short-circuiting as she tries to pin down her rippling reflection, and it hurts to even try tamping down the lit nerves; her body's responding with vertigo symptoms in kind.

Jules has told her this much about how a body responds to shock. Jules. Cara's Jules. Carol's Jessica. Jessica. Jules. Cara chokes out an anguished cry as her best friend's face swims into the green face of a Skrull and back again. Veranke. Julianne. Jessica.

Noodles, bless her, had nosed her way into the dim bathroom -- the modern bathroom with two sinks and clean lines that Cara and Wyatt had talked about. A rainfall showerhead. Not like the ones in the USAFA barracks. Not like the ones in the tiny Noe Valley home. The dog whimpers at the sight of her human, fighting and threatening to crack beneath the crushing weight she can't see nor understand. The giant, well-intentioned husky lets out a yelp in response, and to the woman on the floor, it feels like it reverberates in the Grand Canyon. Cara -- Carol -- is tempted to yelp right back, lifting her arms to cradle around her head to muffle the sound. Any other sensory input, and it might just send everything even further into chaos than it's already gone.

Everything is amplified. Everything has energy.

Oh no.

Colonel Danvers takes over in earnest when their body starts to shudder and Cara starts to spiral, curling herself around the white-knuckled fists (and forearms and shoulders, and..) that have begun to glow under the duress: Carol, the one who understands the feeling of bewilderment and betrayal of her own mind. Her other half is going to survive this, she decides, and the Captain is no longer the spectator to someone else's life. Unleashed, she will not stand idle, even if she's being battered with information she didn't know she needed. That's the perk to being battle-tested, she supposes.

Why Carol Danvers now knows that three separate people jokingly call Cara Davies 'space mom' is beyond her, but she doesn’t linger on the thoughts that are assaulting her conscious mind. There's a human nuke in her head that needs help. She needs comforting.

Wait. A human nuke? Is that really what she's been calling herself?

Wyatt Wu. Tony Stark. Julianne Draper. Spider-Woman. London Little. Loki. Teddy Soriano. Quicksilver. Charlie Little. Spider-Gwen. Declan Ward. .. Declan.

They are all in the same space for the same reason, and she's taking inventory. With the divide between both Captain and Cara lifted, knowledge fires across her synapses at a speed she didn’t know was possible; it's unintentional, unconscious, and by the second, answered more questions than either party knew they'd had. Cara's thoughts are jittery and sharp while Carol keeps the wellspring of electromagnetic energy at bay. This is the first time they've worked together at once to achieve a common goal, and it isn’t a perfectly-honed twostep just yet. The moment when Cara accidentally shocks her dissertation advisor and the dean when she goes for the handshake'll end up burned into their memory.

Good going.

Looking in the mirror now, having taken a private few minutes in the bathroom before turning on her microphone, the woman staring back is one that both Cara and Carol recognize.

She wears a rich shade of red on her lips, in the precise way Marie Davies'd used to wear on special occasions. She's holding her shoulders back in a way that's both military-trained and experience-earned. She takes no bullshit, no refusal from the people who’ve told her 'not you,' and 'you are not.' Her chin finds a home in a lifted position, looking both toward the stars and over the heads of the anyone who'd dare to try blocking her line of sight. There is something in every detail that unites both Cara and Carol.. And there's a moment when it all makes sense.

This woman. This united embodiment of strengths, weaknesses, heart, head, feminine, masculine, terrestrial and non.. It all makes sense, and Cara understands something so much bigger than the mantle of Captain itself. She understands the weight of the world, and the willingness to carry it. For the first time in a long time, Carol Danvers doesn't feel as alone in her silent, Atlas-variety struggle, and the relief that floods through her veins is immeasurable.

"Look alive, Corps," she murmurs, taking a sharp inhale through her nose, and wriggling her fingers at her sides. "It's showtime."

When they, yes -- they, greet the panel of researchers in the front row for a second time, it's with a humming, warm kind of confidence. Her voice twangs a tiny bit, but her hands don't shake. Her strides are quick, long, and authoritative without being threatening.

"My name is Cara Davies," she begins, clicking into the title slide on the presentation behind her.

"Let’s talk about space, shall we?"