Carol finished telling Tony her story with the incident of
Dr. Keller and her promise. Tony paused a second and then
said, "Well, then, looks like you're going to have to
keep that promise. Want to stay at my place for awhile when
you get back to town, Carol?"
She considered it. "I might come over for a short while,
Tony, but not right now. I've got work to do. I've been doing
a little bit for Tech Support, and I need to keep that
"You can make phone calls or e-mails just as easily
from my place as from yours," he said. "And we'd
love to have you."
"Well, thanks, Tony," she said. "I need to
get healed up first, then I'm going to see the folks. Then
I'll be back in Seattle, and maybe I can drop by then. I need
some time to myself to figure out the next book. Plus my publisher
is going to want me to hit the road for the promo thing after
the first one gets published, which isn't that far away. So
that's how it goes."
"Uh, Tony? How's the metal thing going?"
He sighed. "I don't know yet, Carol. Once I get past
the hump, maybe I can analyze the problem factor and design
something different. But...we're in kind of the same
boat right now."
"Yeah. Both walking wounded." She paused. "Funny
how much alike we both turned out to be."
"I suppose." Tony paused again. "Just...take
care, Carol. Remember, when you need someone to talk to, I'll
try to be here."
"Thanks, Tony. But I have a feeling you'll be back in
action before very long."
"Oh, I hope so." There was a note in his voice
that let Carol know that Iron Man was too much a part of his
life to be abandoned long for anything. God help her, she
knew the feeling.
They rang off. Later on, her publisher talked to her, commisserated
with her, and learned that she'd be back on track before much
longer. He asked her to do a book about the Wolverine slashing
incident, but she said she didn't want to. Not right then,
A day later, Scott Summers and Jean Grey paid a visit to
Both looked immaculately dressed and discomfited. Jean was
dressed in a green three-piece ensemble and was holding Scott's
hand. Scott wore a black T-shirt without a logo and brown
pants, plus his trademark shades. It was a diplomatic mission,
and all three knew it, but both of the mutants were genuinely
concerned with Carol.
"Afternoon, Scott." Carol Danvers smiled wanly,
looking up from her copy of Newsweek.
"Hello, Carol," ventured Summers. "It's good
to see you again, just wish it didn't have to be like this."
"Both of us are sorry for what happened, Carol,"
murmured Jean. "I know that sounds inadequate, but it's
all we can say."
Carol set the magazine aside. "I know. Have you visited
the others Logan slashed?"
"Um, some of them," said Scott.
"Yes, we've been by Black Cat's room, and some of the
others," said Jean. "They're recovering."
"How about the civilians?" said Carol. "Are
they holding up well?"
"Seem to be, from what we've heard," said Scott.
"I, uh, didn't think it'd be a good idea to see them
in our other suits. You know our official status."
"You couldn't visit them in your civvies?" Carol
stared at him.
"Well, there is the problem of secret identities,"
Jean looked uncomfortable. Carol shrugged. She hadn't been
out of her room much since being stricken, either. "Well,
what the hell," she said. "Have you figured out
what happened to Logan?"
Scott shook his head. "He hasn't gotten back yet. I
wanted to ask you about him."
"We need to know if he was under control, or just whacked
out on berserker rage," added Jean.
Carol settled back against her pillow. "Something else
was inside of him. Or somebody was mind-controlling him. I've
been around Logan enough to know when he's not himself. And
I've seen his berserker bits. This was different from that.
He was slashing indiscriminately, but he held himself back
from killing." She paused. "Sometimes, only a little."
"Well, that's a relief," said Scott. "But
it's going to be a problem. Wolverine's committed assault
now, and I don't know how you can prove mind control in a
court of law."
Carol said, "He's committed assault and a lot more before
this. He's killed people, Scott. It's just that, up to now,
he killed bad guys."
Jean plopped herself into a chair. "I really don't know
what to say to you, Carol. After all this time...I really
don't know what to say."
Scott stepped nearer to her bedside. "Sometimes, the
only thing that we can offer is sympathy. I'm sorry, Carol.
None of us knew he would go off like that."
Carol closed her eyes. "Scott. Did they tell you I was
drunk at the time?"
Jean's voice joined Scott's. "What do you mean, drunk,
Carol? What is this?"
She snapped her eyes open again. "So the Avengers haven't
told you yet? I'm an alcoholic, Jean. I was plastered when
I was out with Logan. I insisted on going with him to face
Powerhouse. Guess I wanted to prove I could still cut it.
It's a miracle I didn't injure someone myself. Now I've got
to go to Al-Anon and do blood and urine tests when I go back
Jean was immediately at Carol's bedside, hanging onto the
metal railing. "But that's terrible, Carol. We never
knew you had a, a drinking problem. I mean, sure, we saw you
take a drink or two when you were at the mansion. But I didn't
think you were alcoholic."
"I didn't think I was either, Jean," said Carol,
looking at her sadly. "Maybe it was just building. When
I lost my Binary powers, maybe it just...ah, hell. It gave
me a place to go where I didn't hurt anymore. That's why I
did it. Just crept up on me." She looked at both of them.
"I'd still like to go back there. But I just don't dare."
Scott touched Carol's hand, trying to reassure her, but she
pulled back. "Scott, please," she said.
"Sorry," said Scott, awkwardly. "Is there
anything we can do, Carol? Jean might be able to put some
blocks in your mind against overindulgence."
"Nuts to that," said Carol. "I've had people
screwing around with my mind long enough. I don't want Jeannie,
Xavier, or anyone else doing it again. Nope, Scott, I'm just
going to get out of here, go back to Seattle, and be a good
little writer and sober person. That's all. But thanks."
Jean said, "You didn't mention, uh, being Warbird. Are
you giving that up?"
Carol stretched a bit, to give herself time to answer. "I
really don't know, Jean. I'm considering it. I've had more
trouble than I could have imagined since I started the hero
bit. It never seems to end. I'm thinking of just putting the
mask, boots, and bathing suit back in the trunk. It'd be nice
to be a civilian again. It really would."
Scott said, "I know how you feel, in a way. We've all
been banged around in this business. I lost my parents early
on, I watched teammates die. We started out as heroes, with
government approval. Now we're just kind of outlaws, and people
seem to hate mutants more than ever. On top of that, once
a month we've got to face some numbskulls who want to kill
Carol noted that he didn't speak of his marriage to Madeline
Pryor, which he'd walked out on after Jean Grey turned up
among the living again. She had been at that wedding, but
not at Scott and Jean's nupitals. But she didn't bring it
up. She just said, "But you keep doing it. You and Jean
Jean spoke up. "We have to, Carol. If we don't show
the world that good mutants exist, where will we be?"
"Where are you now?"
Scott exhaled. "We don't ever seem to be able to walk
away from it for long. I imagine we'll retire someday, but
as long as we're still relatively young, I guess Jean and
I will always be on the treadmill. It's what we do."
Jean touched Carol's shoulder, and Carol didn't shrink back.
"But it may not be the right thing for you, Carol. You've
been raped, mind-raped, had your powers stolen, got new ones,
lost them, and now this. But it looks like you've got a life
outside of the Warbird thing. Maybe being Carol Danvers is
what you need to be."
"I'm considering it, Jean. I'm really considering it.
What are you going to do about Wolverine?"
Scott said, "If and when he gets back, we'll find out
what caused his assault. If he can't control it, then...he's
out. If he does turn out to have been controlled by an outside
force, we'll try and convince the heroic community of it.
The X-Men have already been footing the hospital bills for
you and the other victims, through a blind. It's risky, but
we felt we had to do it. But I've got a proposition for you,
"Oh?" She waited.
"Why not move back into the mansion with us? At least
for awhile. We could help you keep on the straight and narrow
as far as the booze is concerned. You'd be among friends.
You wouldn't even have to be Warbird, if you didn't want to.
Just think about it."
"No, Scott," Carol replied. "I appreciate
it, but--no. I've got a life in Seattle, now. I've got to
face this thing on my own. Besides, I know what the X-Men's
lives are like. You get attacked all the time. I'd have to
pitch in as Warbird--and I want to make my own decision about
being Warbird. I can only do that if a team isn't relying
on me. Do you understand what I'm saying."
He nodded. "Yep," he said. "I really do. It's
been fine working with you, Carol, and we both wish you the
best with whatever you decide on. Friends?" He
stuck out his hand.
She shook it. "Friends," she said. "Let me
know about Wolvie when he turns up again."
"Depend on it," said Scott.
Jean came near and hugged Carol. "Anybody that can come
through what the Brood did to you can come through a booze
problem," she said. "We're all pulling for you,
Carol. Call on us if you need us."
"Thanks, Jean," said Carol. "Uh, you can tell
Rogue I said hi."
Jean smiled. "I will. Think you've finally buried the
hatchet with her?"
"It's not that simple. I don't know if I'd be comfortable
with her on a long-term basis. But...we've worked together.
So maybe we will in the future. If."
"Yes," said Scott. "If. You know where to
reach us, Carol. Goodbye, and good luck."
"And good life, too," said Jean, squeezing Carol's
hand. Then both of them left her room.
After a few moments, Carol pulled the tray with her laptop
on it closer to the bed, turned it on, and began working on
the book again. She reflected on the fact that the doctors
were now letting her eat oatmeal and things of that consistency.
Maybe by next week she'd be back up to steak.
Marie Danvers made it back to Carol's bedside the next day.
She was glad to see her daughter was fairly ambulatory, even
though the doctors had told her to take it easy. "I expect
to be out in a week," said Carol. "This hybrid phys
of mine works wonders. But it'll be a couple of weeks more
before I try really strenuous stuff. And saving the sun is
completely out." She was glad to hear her mother laugh
Marie said, "Sometimes I wish you could just tell Joe
about all this. But I don't know. Maybe he's better off not
knowing. And I know you're better off not seeing this Wolverine
"It'll depend on whether he was insane, or under outside
control, Mom," said Carol. "The X-Men will let me
"Carol, to hell with the X-Men. I don't care about the
X-Men. Any bunch of, of super-heroes who would let a killer
like that in is not to be trusted. The man gutted you. He
is an absolute menace. You cannot allow yourself to get near
"Mom," said Carol, firmly. "I've seen Wolvie
in battle conditions, and out of them...way out of them. As
in, up close and personal. The man is not dangerous to his
friends. Or at least, he wasn't before now."
"He cut you open. If there hadn't been medical people
there, you'd be dead. For God's sake, Carol, what are you
thinking? He put you in this hospital bed!"
"I could've put some people here myself, Mom, if not
for the grace of God," said Carol, quietly. "I fell
off the wagon."
"You what?" Marie's eyes widened.
Carol told her the story of the night at Hardcase's, her
fall from sobriety, the incident with Powerhouse, and what
the doctor had said to her. By the time she had finished,
Marie was gently crying. Carol got out of bed and held her.
She didn't attempt to say anything more at that point.
"You can't keep doing this," said Marie, through
her tears. "You're killing me. You're really killing
"Maybe I've been killing myself, Mom," Carol answered.
"Maybe this is just my wake-up call. I've been thinking
about being Warbird, Mom. I've been thinking about just giving
"Carol, there are plenty of heroes out there,"
Marie said. "But I've only got one daughter. I've already
lost a son. Don't make me go through that again."
"I don't want to, Mom. I don't plan on getting killed."
She smiled, grimly, and gestured to the wrappings about her
abdomen. "But I didn't plan on this, either. I just don't
"Well, I do know! And I don't want to have to go to
your funeral before you go to mine."
"Good Lord, Mama, what do you want me to do? I've been
in this sort of stuff ever since I got out of high school.
I was a fighter jock, a spy, a security officer, all of that
before I got to be a super-heroine. I got caught by the friggin'
KGB and almost got killed in Lubyanka Prison. I went on dangerous
assignments with Logan, that same guy who almost gutted me,
and there wasn't anybody this side of Nick Fury who was a
better man to have on your side."
"He wasn't on your side this time."
"He wasn't himself, Mom. He was under control by somebody
else, or crazy. I know Logan. He's a friend of mine...a really
Marie wiped her eyes. "A really good friend. He gets
you into a pool hall, you get drunk, and then he almost guts
you. That's a really, really good friend, Carol. I should
take him to my next bridge club meeting. Maybe somebody'll
bring Jack the Ripper, too."
Carol sighed. "I want to go back to bed, Mom. Is it
okay with you?"
"Sure, sure." Marie took a handkerchief from her
purse and cleaned her eyes and nose with it. "Everything's
okay. I'm just the little woman who has to act like a statue
anytime one of my kids gets hurt. Or killed. Carol, please.
Stop doing this. I beg of you."
Carol swung her legs back into bed, and then tented her fingers.
"Mom, tell you what. I'm going back to Seattle after
I get well. I've got some work to do and I want to get back
in touch with Tracy and some others up there in the office.
After that, I have about a month or so before the book tour.
I want to spend some of that time with you out at the lake
where we used to go. No superheroes, no bad guys. Just you
and me. I can use the time to get ahead on my next book, and
we can just, you know, talk. If you want to. If Dad doesn't
"Mind?" Marie sniffled. "The way your luck
runs, you'll be dead before you can get there."
"Not if I don't do super-hero stuff, Mom. And I won't."
Marie looked up, with a note of hope in her eyes.
Carol said, "I've been thinking the Warbird thing over.
I'll need more time to decide, I know. I like the powers I've
got, like using them. But using them the way I have seems
to have gotten me into a lot of grief. I'm either doing things
wrong, or I'm wrong to be doing them at all. I don't have
the Binary powers anymore, and there's a lot of heroes who
could take up the slack if Warbird quit."
"If you...quit?" said Marie.
Carol nodded. "It's a possibility. I haven't made up
my mind yet. But I'm going to take some time off and make
it up. If it's just me and you down there, we can talk freely.
If Dad was there...dammit, I hate keeping it from him. But
I know he wouldn't understand."
Marie said nothing.
"So what do you say, Mom? I could go there on my own,
but if you're there, at least I'll have someone I can talk
to." Carol waited.
Finally, Marie said, "I'll talk to your father about
it. I think he'll be okay with it. You know, he doesn't like
the idea that we've been keeping something from him all this
time. But he still loves you. Maybe someday you should tell
Carol shook her head. "It's been hard enough on you
with you knowing. I just don't want to tell Dad. Not yet."
"All right, Carol. And you want to know something else?"
"Tell me," said Carol.
Marie grasped Carol's hand. "Even if you do decide to
keep being Warbird, God help us, we'll always love you. Joe
and I both. But I do hope you give it up."
"We'll see, Mom," said Carol. "We'll just
A short time later, Carol was released from the hospital
and went back to Seattle. The first place she went after getting
unpacked was Tracey Burke's office, where she collected a
big hug and a lot of conversation and a couple of new assignments.
She decided that she'd wait a day before making an appointment
for Warbird to take a urine test.
When she got back to her apartment again there was a call
waiting for her on her phone. It was from Wolverine.
He said he was in town because of what had happened and he
had to see her, in a place of her choosing. He said that "another
party" was in control of what happened the last time.
He left a number for her to call.
Carol wasn't prepared for the fear she experienced when she
heard his voice. This was, after all, a man with whom she
had made love many times, vigorously. A man who had saved
her from a Russian prison. A man with whom she had entrusted
her life on multiple occasions.
A man who had almost gutted her, the last time they met.
She fought to keep her terror down, and, when she made the
mental pun of a "gut reaction," almost had to laugh.
In actuality, she would have been pleased never to see him
But he owed her. He owed her an explanation, and he owed
her a lot for having put her in a place where she succumbed
to the urge to booze again. She knew intellectually it was
her fault for having gone there, it was her fault for having
picked up the beer, it was her fault for not having told him
of her problem.
Nonetheless, she still felt he owed her. And she was curious.
She was also damned well determined not to develop a phobia.
Carol hardened herself, picked up the receiver again, and
called the number he had given her.
"Logan," said the voice on the other end.
"It's me, Logan," said Carol.
"Carol. I was hoping it was you. I--"
"You almost killed me, you sonofabitch."
"I know. It wasn't me in control. I want to explain,
Carol. But it's got to be face to face."
She sighed. "Are you in control now? Will you be in
control when we meet?"
"Absolutely," he said. "That situation is
resolved. Please, Carol, let me make it up to you."
"You can't," she said. "I'm not going to carve
a hole in your belly. But. I will let you explain. And you
had better be damned convincing."
"Okay. I'll try."
She gave him the name of one of her favorite eateries. "I'll
be there at 7:30. You buy us both dinner. No booze for either
of us. Understand?"
"Yes, hon, I understand."
"Don't hon' me. Not yet. Not until I'm convinced.
She hung up on him. For a long moment, she considered calling
back and telling him the whole thing was off.
Then she went into the bathroom and started to get ready.
She showed up at precisely 7:35 and saw Logan seated at one
of the tables. He was easy to pick out, even in a black suit
and a white tie. Before the maitre-d could come up to her,
she sauntered over to Logan's table. He was drinking Perrier.
He looked up.
"You've got exactly one minute, Logan," she said,
standing there in her blue jumpsuit. "This better be
He cleared his throat. "Carol, I'm sorry about what
happened. It wasn't me that hurt you, darlin'. But a real
explanation is gonna run me way over the time limit."
She searched his eyes, found the old Logan there. Was there
a chance he'd go crazy again, try to maim her and a dozen
other people in a rage?
Before she could think more, he stood up and put his arms
around her, and pecked her on the cheek. "It's good to
see you again. Especially after what went down."
"So tell me about it," she heard herself saying.
"You want to order first?"
She shrugged. Logan motioned a waiter over. She ordered steak.
"I wasn't able to eat anything like this for a couple
of weeks, you know," she told Logan.
"Yeah," he said, ruefully. "I know."
The waiter, figuring they were lovers patching up a quarrel,
withdrew discreetly. Logan said, "All right. It starts
with this alien called Aria. She was from a prison planet.
She took control of my body, all to get me to help free thousands
of people that were bein' held against their will by the Collector.
You know about the Collector?"
"The Avengers told me about him," she said. "You
helped a murderess free a planet full of space-cons?"
"It wasn't like that," he said. "And I didn't
free very many of em. Galactus saw to that."
"Yeah. Galactus," said Logan. With that, he launched
into the story of the Zennian woman who had possessed him,
the struggle to free the prisoners of the Collector's world,
with the help of Torgo the robot-being and the Starjammers,
and how a few had been saved, while the many perished with
their world when Galactus ate its energy.
At the end, Carol said, "That's some story."
"I guess it is," he said. "But it's all true."
"And this...Aria...can't take over your body anymore?"
"No," said Wolverine. "She's dead. Charley's
helped put up some blocks in my mind to make it very hard
for someone to do that to me again. Maybe impossible. I hope.
But...it doesn't change what I did to you or the others, Carol.
"I believe you, Logan. You've never lied to me before...and
I know how crazy things get in the cosmic sphere." She
paused. "But I'm still afraid of you."
"I'm afraid of me too, sometimes. But I'll never lay
a hand on you again. Ever."
She put her hand on his.
He attempted a smile.
"Can ya forgive me, Carol?"
"If it wasn't you...then there's nothing to forgive.
But I can't get as close to you as I once was, Logan. We're
still friends, though."
He nodded. "All right. I'll accept that. Carol, uh...how's
She said, "I'm working on it. Haven't taken a drink
since then. I'm going to take a short bit off soon and work
through a few things."
"Then you'll be back as Warbird?"
"We'll just have to see, Logan," she said. "We'll
just have to see."
Continued in Chapter
Thanks for sticking with me through all this rehash and expansion
of Carol Danvers's past, folks. The only way I could make
her checkered history make sense to me, and to my readers,
I felt, was by retelling her entire history up to the point
that my story proper would start. I thought I could get it
done in four parts.
Now, 16 chapters later, we're all grounded enough in Carol's
story that I can progress from here. The next episode will
begin an original story. Be watching for it. I hope you'll
enjoy it. Till later...
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