COME AS YOU ARE, AS YOU WERE, AS I WANT YOU TO BE.
There’s an incoming call, miss. Joseph Davies from Savannah, Georgia on the line. Your father. The line is secured. Patching through to kitchen monitors now.
The sergeant, as he blinked into view, saw his daughter, with tired eyes and spectacularly-lazy nest of blonde hair atop her head. He saw a beautiful young woman in a kitchen that was spacious-enough to hold the full first-floor of the childhood home he’d once provided for her and her two brothers. She looked exhausted, but her gaze never wavered; that was the thing he’d always noted about her. That hadn’t changed one bit. For better and for worse, his daughter Cara was a fighter, and had never backed down from what she perceived as a challenge.
Even if that challenge was him.
Today, Joseph Davies didn’t flicker onto Cara’s screens, buzzed on Bud Light and clad in a bright-red, ‘Make America Great Again’ cap. This time, he was sitting in his La-Z-Boy, crouching forward and pushing his grocery-store-readers up on his nose. He had a magazine in his hand when the call had connected; it was an USWeekly, with her Stanford graduation photo and a Marvel Cinematic Universe heroine splashed next to one another on its cover. Southern Belle to Superhero, the Cara Davies story, the tabloid promised, and Joseph let it fall to the floor as he steepled his fingers without a word.
“Why are people callin’ me, askin’ about what kinda kid you were, Cara Leigh? About your prom? Is it because’a this bullshit? This alien superhero crap?”He watched her face on the screen before him and waited for it to fall like it had on the day he’d told her no, he wouldn’t be bankrolling her rocket-science-pipe-dream. No, he couldn’t spend his life savings on something that wasn’t certain. She hadn’t liked that answer. At that time, Cara didn’t understand the real world, and had no desire to, so she’d spitefully run off to California.. Where she’d up and become.. This.
Cara’s features, however, didn’t fall. She held no disappointment in her posture, even if shadows had smudged themselves beneath her eyes. He had to give her credit. She was proud, she’d grown a backbone through what California had done to her, and clearly, it’d done a number. Her breath shuddered, but only for a second.
His daughter was silent for another few seconds before she wiped her hand down her face and took a breath; he knew when she was preparing to launch into a martyrous monologue. She’d done it since she was ten; this was how she stood up for what she thought was right and true. Joseph quietly watched as she leaned on the countertop, collecting her thoughts before she spoke; he’d need to give her a good five minutes of prologue before she got to what she was actually trying to say.
“It’s not crap,” she said finally. It was curt, and her eyes were shining. Something had gotten to her about all this, but he resigned himself to removing his glasses and letting her speak; “I can fly, shoot fire out of my hands, and can punch a planet to smithereens if I really, y’know, apply myself.”Joseph said nothing for a long time, collecting himself before deciding upon how to proceed. It was an unusually thoughtful move, but his daughter was working through this. His daughter, who was now on tabloids. He’d seen her in action himself on Fox News -- punching giants, and shooting laser beams from her hands. He didn’t need the convincing she was assuming he did, but he'd let her get the words out. He could, at the very least, give her that. Sort of. They did come from the same family, after all.
“I did the YouTube on you, honey,” he began, “They’re saying you’re an alien, that you’re from some other planet, and that everything special about you only happened because you were too stubborn to die.” Joseph watched as his daughter stood, stoic and with her lips pressed in a line as the weight of his words settled in.Heart rate’s increasing, miss, chimed the accented artificial intelligence Joseph knew Cara and Wyatt’d had installed in their one-percenter mansion. Despite the stating of the obvious, Cara’s face remained soft, nodding once.
“.. It was safer that way,” quick on the defense. “.. And now it’s safer for you to know,” she explained calmly, glancing down at her hands. “It’s me, dad. All of it, and-..” Cara still didn’t waver. “I wasn’t going to let you get hurt six months ago, and won’t let you get hurt now.”Another uncomfortable beat passed between them. It’d lasted at least a full minute before either one of them spoke again.
“You did what I would do, baby. You ain’t some far-off alien with green skin and flying saucers. You’re my damned, pain-in-the-ass daughter, aren’t you? Nobody’s bothered me until now, and I can handle a few fake-news snowflakes trying to ruffle my goddamned feathers, but shit.. Cara, doesn’t make it the goddamn right thing.”Joseph looked at the image of his daughter in the screen, at the eyes and lips that’d clearly come from her mother, and the bold sense of preserve-and-protect that came from him.. Or so he’d like to think. His precious little girl had all but held Thanos by the jewels, had looked hell's demons square in the face and still managed to pull herself back up to defiantly stand. Proud, but pained, Stevie and Joey had already called him in hysterics months prior -- they’d all known and seen it on national news.. They were just waiting for her to tell them. That moment had finally come. He was staring down his daughter, the big, damned superhero.. Like she’d always tried to be.
“.. You really hate me that much, kid?”For the first time in the discussion, Cara broke eye contact for more than a split-second. Joseph watched her, moving to look down at his own clenched fist only after he'd confirmed that his daughter had heard him. He waited. And then he didn't, because waiting had done him a ton of nothing over the last five years.
"You're a good person, Cara Leigh. But you can't shut the goddamn world out whenever you feel like it. You can't shut me out. I'm your father. We can't help you or love you if you don't give us the goddamn chance."Something had hit a boiling point. He'd hit a button somewhere, because his daughter's lips parted slightly to draw in a breath. But Joseph wasn't done. This was the most attentive he'd seen his daughter in over a year, and he was loathe to waste it.
"I don't care if you disagree with who I voted for, or what I think about where to buy my goddamn pants. You're my daughter, you're sneezing fire out your nose, you've got Piers Morgan having a shitfit, and there's a Thanos out there. And you treated all of us like scum on the bottom of your shoes while you.. Do whatever you superheroes do in space. What did we do to earn that? Your mother taught you to treat people better than that. You tried to show me better than that."Cara was silent. The monitor, for all it's high-definition glory on her end, picked up the way her nose had started to run just a little. The small glisten in the corners of her eyes. Her nostrils were flaring a little (always a tell when it came to Cara's upset) and there was something in her that kept her from speaking. For once, Joseph hopefully thought, he'd gotten through to her. He'd spoken sense into her, even when she hadn't wanted to hear it. She'd heard him, and her eyes were searching for an answer in response. When her father's gaze hardened, it was a direct challenge -- a mandate -- that she had to find it for herself, but only while under his watch.
The anger was there. The flare in her gaze and the balling of her fists at her sides. Her chin threatened to rumple and tremble, but a steely, Danvers-reminiscent will kept it in place. Carol had left Cara on her own to fight this battle, to lose it, and learn from it.
Cara took the shot hard, took the abandonment, the isolation, the anger.. And Joseph stayed on screen, just breathing as he watched it all start to settle. He watched while his daughter turned away from the camera and ground the brunts of her palms against her eyes. She was crying, and Friday was watching all of it. It wasn't right, it wasn't private, and she'd had enough of her life exposed for the public, and yet.. Joseph sat. Still, while she spoke.
"I tried. I thought it was the right thing, I-.."Another try.
"I don't know what to do. I don't know how to be a hero, Dad, I.."Almost kid, you're so close.
"I was wrong."That got a smile out of her, and that was when Joseph leaned forward and reached out to touch the screen. She might've defied his wishes, she might've been impossibly stubborn, bright, and opinionated. She might've been wrong more times than he could count, and so could he.. But Cara Leigh was his daughter. She was one of the most powerful women in the world, because the world had decided she was strong enough to take it.. And she'd been dutifully, harshly reminded that she couldn't -- shouldn't -- do it alone.
"I love you, Dad. And I'm so sorry. I'm so, so sorry."There was no kiss-and-make-up. There was no happy ending here, just a promise and an intent to deliver. That was what an apology was, they'd both tell you; what a clearing of the air felt like. It was the kind of break that'd left both parties shaking as its tide ebbed. When Joseph reached to switch off the communication monitor and switched back to the local news, his daughter's face lit up the screen again, and instead of meeting it with frustration and disappointment, he held his breath. His daughter, the superhero. When Cara had turned to face the remainder of the kitchen, her shoulders released their tension, but her brows knitted together as she glanced down at her phone. Joseph Davies was not the only person she'd need to contact today.
Get out there, and make it right.
The work had only been established. Now, it needed actual doing.