"Mom?!" Monica bellowed. When she didn't receive a response, she wandered out of her room with a small package in her hand. She turned the package over, inspecting the crooked tape and non descript wrapping.
"Monica! Watch where you're going."
Monica looked up and saw her mom holding a basket of laundry, which she had nearly crashed into.
"Who's this from?" she asked, holding up the package she had found on her pillow.
"I'm surprised you didn't rip it open immediately."
Monica put her free hand on her hip. "What's that supposed to mean?"
Her mom rolled her eyes at her, but she was starting to get used to that.
"Just open it, Monica, and you'll see."
Monica pulled apart the wrapping and immediately recognized the red, blue and gold emblem. "Auntie Carol! Mom, was auntie Carol here while I was at school again?"
"Fury sent it. I've got to fold this laundry before it becomes a wrinkled heap like the clothes on your bedroom floor. Dinner is in 30 minutes, so you can play until then, but I won't have you on that Game Boy at the kitchen table alright?"
Monica was already walking toward the living room couch, barely listening.
"Monica D. Rambeau, what did I say?"
"No Game Boy during dinner, got it."
"Not at the table at all; don't wander out in the morning with that thing glued to your hands," exasperation filled her voice.
"Yes, Mama," Monica said automatically, knowing that tone required an affirmative reply. She had already flicked the button on the top and was waiting for the screen to light up. When it finally booted, a note scrolled across the screen.
Monica, I hope you like this Game Boy. This cartridge is programmed specially so that you and XYZ can send each other messages. Press "Start" ABBA to create a message, "Start" BAB to read a message, "Select" to save a message, and "Select" ++ to reread an old message. Don't lose this, Captain Trouble. Love, Auntie Carol.
Monica wondered if there were any messages, but she could see a blinking envelope after Auntie Carol's message cleared. Monica pressed the buttons per Carol's instructions and the screen lit up.
Monica, thank you again for giving me your rubix cube, I've been playing with it a lot. The other kids are grateful too because they finally have a chance at the pinball machine.
"Monica, what are you doing up there?"
Monica could tell her mom was not happy to find her on the kitchen counter digging into the cupboards. She put her best puppy dog pout face on and said, "I'm making a care package for Zea. You said Carol might come back soon, and I want to give her some marshmallows." Monica held up the bag sheepishly.
"Monica, you know I said I wanted Carol to come back soon, but she's on a mission. She's trying to help Talos find a home for his people, including your friend, Zea. I'm not sure when she'll be able to come back to earth."
Monica hopped off the counter.
"I know mom, but you're the one that always says I should be prepared for anything. I want to make sure this is all packed up so even if I'm at school, you can give to her."
Her mom looked proud, and Monica's heart swelled. She left the marshmallows on the counter and went to hug her. "I really miss them, Mom. It's not fair."
"No, no it isn't. But, how many people can say they have an intergalactic penpal?"
"Mom," Monica whined, pushing away, "you said I couldn't tell anyone about that. You don't even let me bring my Game Boy to school."
"You're right. But you know how important it is to keep Auntie Carol and Zea safe. Sometimes we have to keep secrets to protect the people we love."
Monica went to the fridge and grabbed a chocolate milk. "Yeah," Monica sighed. "It's okay, Uncle Fury said if I practiced my secret keeping, I would make a good spy someday."
Monica headed toward her bedroom and she could hear her mom calling after her, "Fury told you what?!"
Monica just laughed, her mom was too easy to tease. She looked at her Math homework on her desk and decided she might as well ask Zea for help.