got spirits in my head and they won't go.
“Hello, Doctor Davies, it’s good to see you again -- can we talk about your future endeavors?”

“Hey, boss.”

“Doctor Davies, how does it feel?”



“Rise and shine, Cap.”

“You’ve got it boss.”

The questions and greetings rewound and replayed in her head -- disjointed and cigarette-burned -- while she sat in the shower; safely blockaded in by a locked door and more steam than she’d ever allowed a bathroom to hold. It was a cocoon of sorts: something warm and full of white noise that held her in stasis while she picked through her memories, her instincts, and placed them into their proper mental filing folders.

Everything was up for interpretation at this point; every bit of information she’d been enlightened with was fodder for viewing, reprocessing and reminiscing in a way that hadn’t been possible for the past six months, not since this entire superhero-mess had started. Cara was Carol was Cara being Carol, and..

Transference -- that was the term she was looking for -- there was finally transference and reciprocity between the captain and the doctor in a way that didn’t involve the Notes app, or a profuse amount of post-its; navigating her way through a life she’d only just come to be conscious of came with the territory now, and Cara hadn’t turned away from that responsibility just yet. She couldn’t turn away from this, she told herself; in fact, she’d actively chosen to settle the crown on her head and the mantle on her shoulders.

Treading that path had proven treacherous so far, with random thoughts ending up bent and feelings plucked tight like the strings inside a piano. She wanted to feel safe, and needed to know how to secure that feeling. She didn’t really need to know about the feeling of having a lobster clamp its claws down on her nose.. But as of these last few weeks, that feeling had been as much a part of Carol’s life as the taste of sweet tea was part of Cara’s. Nothing could’ve prepared either set of brains, brawn, and heart for this; what she'd considered the beginning of a legitimate merge of two consciousnesses, she thought, and closed her eyes. The brunts of her palms ground into place there, while her fingertips threatened to tremble. Cara willed them not to.

Despite her effort, they made good on that particular threat.

Flashes of a cockpit, the sensation of laying on the warm hood of a mustang, the crack of an aluminum bat against a ball, the icy sting of space.. It was all there, playing against her eyelids like a billion-dollar film. Every last, vivid detail was there, both contesting and validating some of the things she'd seen in 3D, in books, or on old, transferred VHS tapes. Cara knew her own life as much as she knew Carol's, and Carol knew Cara's. Two entities had become fully privy to one another, and it felt as much like an invasion as it did a warped version of acceptance.

When the hot water trickled down her face and spine; when Carol’s memories beaded and rolled and ran tracks through her mind, Cara did not turn away from them. Ruddy-cheeked and breathless and alone, Cara'd never been the type to flinch, and -- determined to see it through -- she wouldn't be now.

The world didn't stop just because she was having a hard time with this, Cara had concluded (and proceeded to remind herself now); she scrubbed her palms against her eyes one last time, and twisted the shower knob to stop the water. The world will not stop. There were still papers to grade, and finals to proctor; those things, she joked in a sick-sweet tone, were the few things she'd prepared weeks for. No sweat.

And with that small certainty, Cara pushed herself up off the floor. The barely-audible squeak of the shower door felt like it reverberated, tinny and hollow, throughout the house.
“Danvers, Carol Susan Jane.”

“Alias: Captain Marvel. Identified.”

“S.H.I.E.L.D. clearance, level 7: accepted.”

“Retinal scan: accepted.”

“Avengers identicard, level Alpha: accepted.”

[Beep. Beep. Whoosh.]

“Welcome back, Colonel Danvers. The time is 14:02, the current temperature..”

The mechanized greeting comes with an exhale on Cara's part, and the voice quiets as she walks down the empty halls of the Avengers compound. It’s not Tony's Friday, but she's learned to recognize artificial intelligence when she hears it.

Her footfalls echo, reverberating in a space that feels like it’s been full of life, chaos, and the kinds of things that’d shatter her own, little mortal, human world. An apocalypse? The Avengers called that Tuesday, and just the thought of it makes Davies feel like she's trying to swallow a rock. For the first time, as she stood at the head of a table in what her subconscious’d told her was the situation room, looking through documents meant only for Carol Danvers’ eyes; Cara's steely determination'd been bitten back by fear.. Not just for herself, but for her own, small world. It'd already started to tip onto her callused hands, all but asking her to hold it steady.

There she stood, alone with her own thoughts and that unfortunately-unnamed A.I. that whirred diligently away in the background. Her breathing kept itself even while she reviewed documents -- intel on the shadow-funding of a gala hosted this winter, on friends with suspicious links, all obtained by people like Natalia Watson, Natasha Romanoff. The Black Widow, in the flesh. Notes from Spider-Woman (there were a few smiley faces), and penstrokes that she knew came from someone else using Wyatt's hand. More than once, air shuddered in her lungs as she turned a page, or she’d wet her lips; this was real life, she reminded herself, pinching the soft area between her thumb and index finger. That bobbing, sharp-edged sense of fear in her throat that she’d been trying to swallow down hadn’t moved an inch, but some part of her had stopped trying to force it.

Fear is not a choice. What you do with it is.

“I can do this,” she murmured to no one in particular, feeling her brows tilt as she moved the papers aside to look around the room. A cup of water sat, abandoned. The glass walls were pristine, but there were fingerprints on the steel door handle -- belonging to someone she knew in her day to day, no doubt. Cara sat at the head of the sleek table, slowly letting herself down into a chair most-suited for a leader. Her body had been in this seat before, and it intuitively settled into place.

Flipping the legal pad over to a new page, in the silence of the compound, Cara started to write. Neatly, legibly, she wrote about the shifts; Cara chronicled her facts and assembled her very much non-fiction tale in the quiet, electronic hum of the situation room. She made her lists. She named the incidents, the perpetrators, the timelines, the names of those she knew to protect.. Cara did her homework, sifting through papers with a very-real S.H.I.E.L.D. logo embossed in the corner.

Carol Danvers was as alive as Cara Davies was for the time being, and when she raised her head, curling thick blonde hair behind her ears, hours had passed. Two young assistants, both in black, had politely knocked to deliver documents to the blonde at the head of the table. She'd gracefully accepted and offered them warm smiles.. Despite the stunned looks on their faces. Captain Marvel, taller and softer than the world remembered her, was not who they'd expected to be sitting there, plain as day. Still, she sat there, working, until Friday politely broke through the silence to suggest that she go home. Noodles, it seemed, was terrified of someone ringing the doorbell and required some assistance.
i want to bathe in these demons’ blood. do you need help with any containment at all?

let’s round ‘em up and take ‘em down. we’re on our way.

“I can do this,” she breathes, rolling her shoulders and all but giving herself over to memories of military, tactical training and barely-restrained anger; Cara leans toward memories of holding planets and spaceships in her hands, and a friend all but lost in another world. When her heels dig into the earth and she starts to sprint, the momentum builds into energy and energy to propulsion as she rockets into the sky, barrel-rolling and twisting through San Franciscan buildings as the atoms of her gym clothes rearrange themselves. It’s the leotard again, Cara concludes (with a slight confirmation from Danvers' reassurance), and she’ll never hear the end of it, but wardrobe is the last thing on her mind.

There’s a demon that’s stolen her best friend, her nephew, and many more; she’s on her way to tear through whatever it takes to get them back, and make the hellbeast pay in the process.

We’re on our way.

The domino mask and thigh-highs don’t hide much, but identify her well-enough as Ms. Marvel, or something like it: she’s the blonde with the solar flare of a right hook that catches Nergal on the back foot, and that's all the population of San Francisco needs to know. With Pryor holding court on the ground -- all flames and fangs and horns in a display that’d terrify Davies if she didn’t know better -- Marvel keeps her distance, using the shockwaves of force she’d absorbed from a desperate haymaker (thanks, Nergal) to fire down at a wave of sinewy, bloody-mawed demons. They go down like nauseating toy soldiers, and she's sure that local television stations are documenting the entire thing.

In the same breath, bright, blue-white energy erupts over her shoulder and she knows the source. Her face visibly relaxes when she feels and smells the ripple of o-zone that comes with Stark’s repulsor beams. All he gets is a nod, and it’s what she gets in return -- an exchange clearly outlined in their unwritten contract -- before she takes off for the sky again. Wyatt is safe in that armor, both in the nitinol and held fast by Stark’s quick mind; that tiny nod is a promise that no one dares voice, but it’s enough to soothe her while they work in tandem, pulling hell itself apart to get to what matters. Seamless.

It’s chaos below their aerial assault; there’s no sign of reprieve, and yet.. Cara sets her jaw, and dives in again; hands indistinguishable beneath the white-hot flames that have engulfed them.

I can do this, she breathes one more time, as the acrid smell of burning fills her nostrils. Twisting like a trapeze artist, grimacing right before her flaming hand reaches for the ugly bastard’s face. Nergal howls in pain when his vision goes black, and Cara throws an upnod down to Jude and Nat.

Good would win today. She's sure of it.

She’s scrubbed clean of brimstone and blood now; settled quietly on a couch facing the giant windows that overlook the city at night. Cara has a giant, white dog at her feet and approximately eight active conversations on her phone (something that’s been silenced, and vibrates with urgency despite the tamper) that need addressing; there’s Jess and Gerry, Kara, Loki; they’re all home now, recovering and where they need to be, but there are still so many questions.

There’s the argument about Sam, the boxing of Nat, the surveillance of Hunter, and Donny. Cara’s pinching the bridge of her nose, inhaling the scent of soap still fresh in her palms, when the phone buzzes again. Her world has come back to life after a week under Nergal’s foot, and part of her wonders if this is how this new reality works.

Do things splinter, and diverge more and more until they’re beyond recognition? Is it up to the few left standing in the fray between 'us' and 'them' to put it all back together?

The stars, impossibly, seem to wink back at her. Maybe it’s just Cara who sees it, but they respond to her question in kind, steadfast and blazing in the example they set. She understands, and lets her head rest back, staring now at the ceiling instead of the world before her. It’s when her eyes are closed, damp hair hanging down the back of the couch, that she hears the footfalls of someone else come down the hallway. Their cadence is different, and it’s notably not the harder heel-hits of Tony Stark.


Wyatt's leaning in the doorway with that look on his face, the one that draws her attention (that one has since day one) and snips the remaining threads of homesickness that'd been double-knotted into place over the last seven days. Some wise Instagram poet once advised her to not make a home in one person, Cara recalls, but she comes damned close when he slings an arm over her shoulders and presses a kiss to her temple.

His breath lingers there for a few seconds, holding them both in the moment before either can throw themselves into the line of proverbial (and/or very-literal) fire again. This kind of intimacy, Cara understands, is singular, and the accompanying intuition of an experience-weathered superhero on the matter is more validating than not. When he asks how she's holding up, her weary smile is enough of an answer for him, for the simple reason that he's going through it too; she squeezes his hands then, thumbing over his palms.

The burden is easier to bear then, Cara concludes, it's easiest when she feels herself nod and sees his mouth relax in response. It's easy when she sees Jules' face and Jeremiah's smile in her minds' eye, when she imagines London's grin, and hears Donny's laugh. This is the first time she's kissed Wyatt after missing him for a week, and with her hands placed firmly on his shoulders for leverage, she finally speaks. It's the slightly-drawling, tired kind of voice that comes out only when she's exhausted, but still, she speaks.

"It's all worth it," Cara remarks softly, resting her forehead against his. ".. I promise."