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the apocalypse guard

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Monica Rambeau is sedately sipping at her coffee in one of her favorite local shops, stubbornly not thinking about what she wants to do with her life, when the door flies open and one of the craziest looking white girls she has seen stumbles in.  She doesn’t look strung out, exactly, though she could be mistaken for it.  And her (not purposefully) ripped jeans and long-sleeved shirt certainly have more (engine-oil-fuel) grease stains on them than the average person, but they’re nothing close to the most extreme clothes she’s seen in New Orleans.  The armful of various shapes of metal is also not the weirdest thing you’d catch someone carrying.  Most would probably mistake her for some kind of mechanic that’s neglected to sleep.

No, the crazy is all in the fever-glint dark eyes.  The twitching fingers and mumbling of numbers and seeming incoherent half conversations that make her snicker to herself.  While Uncle Nick surely had the best intentions in teaching her some “tricks of the trade” (that he had been duly informed by Maria and Carol would distinctly not be her trade), being able to read lips has made her lose more faith in humanity than gain any actual advantage in life.

Monica can’t help but sigh to herself when the other woman locks eyes onto her, grins manically, and rushes over.  Because of course she does.

She picks up the dish with her pastry just in time for metal parts to be dropped on her table as the brunette woman slides into the booth across from her.  She runs a slightly twitching hand through her bangs, opens her mouth, and lets it rip:

“There you are!  It took me forever to find you – well, like, 46 hours.  I knew you’d be in this area around this time.  We’re even around the same age now!  You’re about 28, right?  I’m 25.  Cool, cool.  We’re like, contemporaries.  Agemates.  Practically friends already.  You were always the ‘mysterious, competent, sexy older woman’ so it was hard for me to say if we were friends.  Ideally, lovers would—"

Monica doesn’t think she’s been mysterious a day in her life, but that’s not the most important thing to address here, “Look, I’m going to need you to slow down for a second.  Take a bite of this, it looks like you’re going to faint.”

The woman looks startled at being cut off and suddenly having a pastry pushed into her wildly gesticulating hands, but accepts it nonetheless.  Her hands are more than a bit grimy, but unless she’s got something toxic on them Monica doubts it’ll hurt her too much. 

The woman hesitantly raises the pastry to her mouth and takes a small bite, like she has forgotten how food works.  That confusion seems to quickly clear up and she begins to wolf it down.

Monica grabs the cup of water she hadn’t yet touched and finds an unclaimed part of the table on the Crazy White Girl’s side to place it down, confident that it will also be consumed by the way her eyes track it.

She takes this time to signal to Maurice where he had been warily watching from the counter that she is fine, to which he skeptically nods and turns his attention away from them.  She then rolls the hairband off her wrist to twist back her wildly curling hair and thanks all that is good that the coffee shop is virtually deserted at this point in the day.  Her drinks the rest of her coffee, the mug being used more like a shot glass.  She fervently hopes that the extra caffeine will let her deal with whatever this is.

By the time the porcelain of her coffee cup clinks down on the table the other woman has finished guzzling the glass of water.  She looks at Monica, who takes the opportunity to speak while the other’s mouth is still closed.

“First of all, what’s your name.”

“Oh, right.  I’m Morgan Stark,” the newly named Morgan blinks rapidly, muttering something about her mother and politeness. 

Monica eyes the metal in front of her, now noting how it doesn’t seem to be a pile of junk.  Some of it looks downright like James Bond style gadgets, sleek and small enough that at first glance they don’t look like they’d have any particular use.  Some of them are weapons, probably, and Monica would get her ass kicked six ways to Sunday by multiple people for letting that slip by her.

“So, are you gonna claim you’re Tony Stark’s long-lost sister or something?”

“Not yet born daughter, actually.”

Right.  Don’t joke about things if you don’t want crazy people to agree with you, Monica.  Or for the joke to be true.  She has seen too much shit since she was eleven to comfortably dismiss anything, even if she really, really wants to.

“What does Tony Stark’s future daughter want with a newly retired cargo ship captain?”

“Pshaw,” is the noise the woman somehow makes, “Like you were ever just a cargo ship captain when you have parents like Maria Rambeau and Captain Marvel.  Also, like, you’re you.”

“You know about Aunt Carol?”

Yeah I— wait, aunt?  Weird.” 

Monica sits back and crosses her arms because.  Yeah.  Aunt Carol isn’t really Aunt Carol, but Monica doesn’t go around advertising that.  At first because coming out as lesbians in the military really wasn’t a thing in the ‘80s/‘90s, though Lord knows if it could rightly be called a thing now, then her parents jointly decided to continue to keep things on the DL.  Mostly because being “best friend and best friend’s daughter” are much lower in potential targets than “wife and daughter”. 

Also, calling her “Aunt Carol” isn’t something she struggles with, since it means about the same thing as “mom” in her head at this point, but the implications that she doesn’t call Carol that in the future…

Of course, there are ways this woman can know about their mother-daughter relationship.  Just not many.  Monica is pretty sure Uncle Nick’s spy organization isn’t even aware that they exist in any particular capacity, beyond maybe Phil.  Not many people on Earth would.  And Aunt Carol doesn’t exactly talk about her personal life with strangers, so aliens knowing isn’t that likely either.

Either way: “You know just saying you’re from some kind of future and that you know me isn’t going to convince me, right?”

“Of course!” Morgan says as she whips her head down, sloppy bun slowly but surely coming unraveled, and her hands skitter over the scattered bits of tech on the table.  Monica subtly tenses but is pretty sure the woman isn’t going to suddenly become aggressive.

The strange woman whips up a slim piece of sliver, then pulls it lengthwise in two.  In the middle of these two pieces a glowing hologram appears.  It’s not the most advanced technology Monica’s seen or anything, but…it’s definitely not something the average nutjob would have.

The woman says, “You wrote this to yourself, just in case.  You said I could rely on you in the past.  You also said you probably wouldn’t take me at my word and would think I’m a crazy white girl - which, hey, I resemble that remark - so see if this convinces you.”

Monica gingerly takes the offered tech.  And is subsequently convinced.  The message is written in a cipher based off of an alien language Carol had taught her when she was younger.  On top of that, future her precedes to detail every excruciatingly embarrassing thing she’d done up to this point in her life, many of which she had never told anyone. 

The missive ends with, “yes, I know Morgan is a lot.  But she’s also been through a lot and needs your trust and support more than anything.  She’ll also get you to where you need to be to save the world – including our moms.”

And if nothing else, a world without her moms isn’t really acceptable.

“How do you know me, exactly?”

“You – you helped me get here.  But,” she licks her lips, athletic sandaled foot tapping madly at the ground, “but you.  Didn’t make it.  Had a break in at the last second.  I’d have been donezo if it weren’t for you.  Future you.  Pretty much everyone else was gone by that point.”

“And why’d I help get you to the past.”  Really meaning What The Hell Happened To My Moms.

“Oh, you know.  World ending.  The Avengers not being able to stop it this time.  I mean, technically they didn’t stop it once for quite a while.  But then they did because, dad.  But, yeah, no Hail Mary Gauntlet of Over-Powered Plot Devise this time.  Time travel, however, was still on the table.  Plus, we had Queen Shuri, Beautiful Genius of the Universe, and me to do it right this time.

“Implying people have time-traveled before?”

“Yeah.  Though I’m not sure if they actually understood how time travel works…” her eyes flutter and she lists to the side for the moment before jolting, “But anyway, yeah, we’re gonna stop the apocalypse from happening.  Save some lives, but probably not prevent the property damage.  Woo!  Go team!”

Monica takes this in as Morgan begins to mumble to herself “well, actually, we’re probably going to have to deal with multiple Apocalypse.  Apocalypi?”

When the other woman starts to argue with herself that words aren’t real, Monica decides to cut her off, “I’m not sure why you’re coming to me about this.  I’m not like Aunt Carol, or Iron Man, for that matter.  No superpowers or superhero schtick.”

At this, Morgan lights up.  Monica finds this somehow both endearing and ominous.

A somewhat pale and scarred hand reaches for the table, “You want your superhero schtick?  Here’s your superhero schtick.”

A flat bit of shining metal is pulled out from under some other pieces.  Her hand holds it up and Monica instantly recognizes that it’s the same shape as the star on the front of Carol’s suit.  Morgan, with a manic grin, says, “let’s fly.”

And in a seamless burst of quicksilver that almost seems like magic, metal wings burst from the star.  Morgan clearly hadn’t accounted for the size of the booth they’re sitting in, and has to quickly adjust so that the wings are angled diagonally and don’t bust through the window.

Monica stares at the slick silver wings dazedly for a moment, feeling almost light headed.  She has the strongest urge to snatch the wings from the grease covered grasp holding them before she grudgingly lets common sense get the best of her, “What, are you crazy?   Put those away – God and everyone can see them through the window and they’re hardly inconspicuous.  Also, do you have to say that to get them to open?”

Morgan’s hand, hidden by the wings, does something that causes them to contract back into the hand-sized star disk, “It’s not necessarily voice activated – as long as you, in particular, have it on you, it’ll know exactly what you want.  But ‘let’s fly, baby’ is like your catchphrase, and it’s really hot.”

“I recognize that design.  It’s based off of the military’s EXO-7 Falcon.  Not that I legally know anything about that.”

The other woman sniffs indignantly, something she can’t quite pull off with her current state of disarray, “Please, it is much more advanced than that primitive design.  I wouldn’t let you wear something that old – hell, Falcon’s was upgraded compared to what the EXO-7 is now by the time you got it.  Of course, my version is better.”

“What?” Monica says as Morgan stretches out her arm and puts the wings in her hand like it was nothing.

“Well, when Sam became Captain America he eventually gave up his wings.  Clashed with the shield; you know.  He didn’t want to retire them, though, so he found someone who had both as much flight in their blood and looked just as good in them as he did.  That wasn’t just me saying that, by the way – that was totally a criterion.  He couldn’t have anyone ruining the ‘Falcon tradition of being hot as hell’.  But I’m also saying it too, just to be clear.”

She doesn’t know who the hell Sam is (presumably one of the lucky bastards who got to use the EXO-7 Falcon in Afghanistan) or what the hell becoming Captain America is about, but.

Monica can fly a plane, of course.  How could she not?  But she didn’t join the air force, for multiple reasons, even if that had been one of the only blow-out fights she had had with her mom when she was younger and wanted to follow in their footsteps.  It was probably for the best either way, not growing up directly in their very large shadows.  Flying commercially just doesn’t do it for her either, so she was forced to look elsewhere for a career. 

It’s not that she didn’t enjoy being a lieutenant in the New Orleans harbor patrol; she had a special place in her heart for boats and the sea.  But, well.  She decided to retire for a reason, and an aching sense of boredom was one of them.  On the other hand, she has never lost the thrill of taking off in their family airplane for a cruise around the sky.

And Morgan, Crazy White Girl or not, has just handed her wings.

This is sketchy as hell and probably something she should hand off to her moms, but Carol took Maria out on some intergalactic romantic getaway and Monica would rather listen to Republican news for the rest of her life than interrupt them.  Also, superhero or not, it’s not like she can’t handle herself.

Listen, you don’t grow up with both of your moms being major badasses (one being probably the most powerful being in the universe, as far as Monica can tell) without becoming a bit of a badass yourself.  And being incredibly used to weird shit.  Who (currently on earth) is more qualified for this than her?  Maybe Uncle Nick, but Carol always says she wants Monica to keep him on his toes.  Mother knows best, and all. 

“Right.  Have you slept in about ever?”

“Oh, you know. Apocalypse.  World-ending of the non-do-over ‘with a snap of your fingers’ kind.  Not much time for things like sleep.”

“Well, we’re going to make time.  We’re going to my house and you’re going to pass out for about twelve hours.  You’re going to wake up, eat some food, shower, then we’re going to discuss things when you’re more coherent.”

“I love it when you tell me to be more coherent,” Morgan sighs, elbow on the table with her chin cradled in her hand.

Monica eyes her before she starts gingerly gathering up the metal gadgets on the table to pour into her messenger bag.  Hopefully she doesn’t hit a button and fire a laser or enlarge a boat or something.

“I’m guessing your dad had something to do with the time travel last time.  You sounded pretty dubious about it.  Are you sure it’ll go better this time?”

“I have my dad’s genius and my mom’s emotional and mental stability; anything he can do, I can do better.  Also, Shuri.”

Monica snorts, “Right.”

She slides the star disk into the front pocket of her flannel, which is maybe not the most secure spot but she can’t bear to not have it on her person at the moment.  She grunts a bit when she slides the strap of her messenger bag over her shoulder and stands up, but she doesn’t have these muscles for nothing.  Also, Morgan must be stronger than she looks.

She ushers the younger woman out of her seat and begins to herd her out of the shop.  She gives a two fingered salute to Maurice as they pass him, who just shakes his head at her in return.  Good old Maurice.

Morgan slurs, “Come to think of it, I should probably apologize.  When I don’t sleep for over 50 hours and am stressed, mom says I remind her a lot of dad.  Not necessarily in a fond way.”

Monica pats her on the shoulder, makes commiserating noises as Morgan goes on to rant about how to differentiate between her mother’s disappointed/disapproving faces “at least 20 flavors of each!”, steers her unerringly in the direction of her house, and easily maneuvers them both in dodging unwitting pedestrians despite the fact she’s in deep thought.  There is definitely going to be hell to pay for taking this crazy woman to her home.

Even as she imagines how she’s going to get chewed out for this later, grown-ass adult or not, Monica’s hand reaches up to her pocket to curl around the star-shaped device that contains honest-to-god wings.  In her mind she hears a cacophony of “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” 

In her heart: higher, further, faster.

Morgan cuts herself off and stands a little straighter, dark eyes (a brighter shade of brown than she had thought, in this light) glancing back at Monica as they continue to walk, “Oh, yeah.  In a few days here, New York is going to be attacked by aliens, Hollywood style.  For our first step in stopping the world from ending, we’re gonna kidnap Loki Odinson, the Norse god of mischief and dickery.”

Well, this at least means she probably doesn’t have to think about career prospects for a while, “Sounds like a plan; kidnap a god, kick the apocalypse’s ass.”