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Life Between Shoes

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The white rope of her wedge sandal stood out even brighter against the tan of her fingers as she held it by its strap. Carol pivoted on her left foot, sliding the heel just so until she was balanced better. She slipped the sandal onto her foot, lifting her other hand from her bed frame to buckle it up. He balance shifted, then steadied as she stood with one foot in the air and both hands working at the straps of her shoe. When they were finally in place Carol set her foot down with a sigh, then cocked her head as she twisted and turned, checking out her own outfit. White wedge sandals, a red sundress, and a teeny-tiny bikini underneath. Carol grinned as she grabbed her sunhat off the hall tree by the front door.

Beeping from outside. Carol grinned as she checked herself in a mirror one last time. She looked pretty damn hot, if she did say so herself. Winking at her own reflection Carol scooped up the beach bag by the door and hurried out of the Mansion. 

"I'm here, I'm ready!" she shouted at the cutesy little red convertible waiting for her in the drive. A cutesy little red head was behind the wheel, to match: Wanda smiled big as Carol tossed her bag in the back and hopped over the door into the passenger seat. Carol swooped in for a quick kiss in hello.

"Ready?" Wanda asked. She was dressed in a silky see-through wrap, done in two parts: a tube top and a skirt, jangling with little golden discs. It reminded Carol of one of her old superheroing outfits--one of Carol's personal favorites, point of fact.

Carol nodded and snapped two fingers forward. "To the beach!" she commanded. She relaxed in her seat as Wanda shifted the car into drive. "To a day of sunshine, and tanning, and no supervillains-"

crash! behind them. Carol groaned and knocked her head against the headrest behind her. She squeezed her eyes shut and refused to look.

"I jinxed it, didn't I?"

Next to her, Carol could hear Wanda shifting, turning around in her seat. After a brief moment of silence, punctuated only by the dulcet tones of every Avengers alarm system going off at once, Wanda sighed.

"You might have jinxed it."

Carol opened her eyes and turned around in her seat. Doombots. Great. What the hell were doombots even doing at Avengers Mansion? Wouldn't that constitute an act of aggression by the nation of Latveria?

Carol frowned down at her extra-cute outfit. What a waste. With a sigh she pushed herself out of the car, changing into her costume as she floated above it. Wanda was performing a hex onto her own beach clothes, turning them into her Scarlet Witch outfit. Carol floated down and offered her a hand. 

"Wanna go break some doombots with me?" Carol asked graciously.

With a sad smile Wanda took Carol's outstretched hand and let her pull her up, out of the convertible and into the fray of battle. Their hair whipped together as Carol flew them to the densest concentration of doombots she could see. 

"Not exactly the date I had planned..." Wanda sighed. She zapped a doombot approaching too close with a hex sphere. It sputtered and shrieked, collapsing to the ground in a fit of electrical despair. 

"Eh, these guys?" Carol shot a blast from her free hand, cutting through two bots at once. "We'll take them down in fifteen minutes, be back on the road within the hour." As Carol blasted a couple more bots out of the way so she could deposit Wanda on the ground in the midst of battle, she tried to keep the disappointment off her face. Maybe they'd get their beach day back. After all, luck was supposed to be on Wanda's side.

Carol stuck her fist straight through a doombot's face. Damn it: those sandals had looked really cute on her.

The skin on Carol's fingers turned faintly red as she pulled the laces tight into loops, over and under and through. She tightened them again, skin white under the laces and red around them, knot securing in place. 

"Are you ready?" Wanda's voice called from the hallway. 

Carol snorted. "Aren't I the one usually asking that?" She jumped up and checked herself over in the mirror quick. Hiking boots, brown shorts, green tank top, blonde hair pulled back into a high, tight ponytail. Good enough. Wanda had seen her crushed nearly to dust, bloody and bruised and covered in what remained of an office building. Still, it was fun to try and look nice for her girlfriend for a change.

In one quick motion Carol gathered up her backpack and slung it over her shoulders before heading for her door. She threw it open to reveal Wanda waiting on the other side, a smile on her face. She looked unfairly gorgeous in her cargo shorts, hiking boots, and red fluffy off-the-shoulder top. Her hair was pulled back with a red and black polka dot headband. Carol pouted as she swooped in for a kiss.

"How do you look beautiful just rolled out of bed?" she murmured, one hand tangled in Wanda's curls.

Wanda laughed, breath huffing against Carol's lips. "I don't know, what's your secret?"

Carol snorted and shoved Wanda away--gently. She winked. "Alright, so where we headed?"

Wanda perked up even more, if that was possible. Her face glowed with excitement. "There's this park upstate, great trails, some beautiful rolling hills. It's no Mount Wundagore, but-"

They stepped out of the Mansion together... straight into a torrential downpour. Carol glanced up, tilting her head out from under the front awning of the Mansion. She pulled back quickly. 

"Um. Did you check the weather?"

Wanda's curls were turning more frizz than bounce. They bobbed sadly as she deflated. "Oh. Uh. I just assumed..."

"...we'd get lucky?"

Wanda scuffed one foot against the concrete of the front step. "Oh. ... Oh. I didn't think."

Carol shrugged. "I probably should have checked, too." With one eye on the skies, she shook her head. "Come on," Carol wrapped an arm around Wanda's shoulders, steering her back into the house. "We can have our picnic in the living room. I'm sure Jarvis won't mind, as long as we don't get too many crumbs on the carpet."

Wanda sighed as she let herself be led inside. She leaned against Carol in forlorn apathy. "It was going to be so nice to get some fresh air, out of the city."

"We'll do not-Wundagore another day," Carol promised her. "It'll still be there when the rain stops."

Carol's fingers slid out the back of her pump as her heel slipped in. Setting her foot down, Carol checked herself over in the mirror, keeping an eye on the hem of her floor-length dress relative to the height of her heels. The hem barely sashayed above the ground, millimeters to spare. Carol grinned. Perfect.

She hurried out of her room alone, blonde tresses cascading down from her up do in gentle waves. She tucked one back nervously as she slid into the car waiting for her outside. It wasn't like she had reason to be nervous--she and Wanda had done these Avengers charity events plenty of times before. It was one of the benefits of knowing people like Tony Stark and Janet van Dyne--you ended up going to a lot of expensive charity galas, dinners, and balls.

But this was the first time they'd gone to one together when they were together. Carol had thought they should go together, since they were going together, but Wanda had been the one to suggest they meet each other there. Carol wasn't sure why, and the odd request had been grating at her nerves for the past few days. Was it because Wanda didn't want to broadcast their relationship? The Avengers knew, but it wasn't like they'd had a press conference about it. And there would certainly be press at the gala. That was kinda the point.

Carol started to chew on her thumbnail before remembering that she'd gotten a manicure for this. Grimacing, she dropped her hand to her lap, grabbing it with her other hand in an effort to make them stay put. It was no use stressing over it now. She'd see Wanda soon enough. And if she didn't want to dance with Carol tonight, well, that'd be okay. It's not like Carol had a compulsive need for PDAs, anyway (not like some superhero couples she knew who couldn't keep their hands to themselves).

The gala was already in full swing by the time she arrived, New York's social elite trying to one-up each other in ostentatious displays of charity. Carol felt no little bit awkward in her Janet van Dyne original dress and heels: she felt like she should be in her formal uniform, not this flowy thing. It wasn't until she stepped inside that she stopped worrying about it.

There was Wanda, across the floor. Carol's eyes were drawn to her instantly: maybe it was good luck influencing where she looked first. Pietro was next to her, striking with his white hair and tall frame in an elegant black tux. But Carol only had eyes for Wanda.

She was wearing a green dress, for once: not red like she almost always seemed to. Carol smoothed down the blue of her own dress and realized Jan must have coordinated their colors, because the dark emerald hue of Wanda's dress seemed to perfectly match the midnight blue of Carol's. Wanda's dress was off the shoulder and poofy, like she liked, with little gems sparkling out even across the length of the room. Her auburn hair glistened reddish against the green of the dress, tamed down to a soft wave instead of her natural mess of curls. Carol imagined her green eyes were lustrous, though she couldn't see them from here.

Carol must have spent too long standing and gaping at her girlfriend from the front of the hall, because before she knew it she had a petite hand on her elbow, guiding her through the room.

"Doesn't she look gorgeous?" Jan asked, teetering on heels so impossibly tall that she was almost at a height with Carol. 


Jan squeezed her arm and giggled. "I know. I do some incredible work. Including for you! Now go on, let her see how beautiful you look." With one last shove Jan released Carol and melted seamlessly back into the crowd. 


Carol stumbled over her own feet. Smooth, real smooth. She swallowed and shoved a lock of hair away from her face, then tried smiling. It felt like she was doing it wrong, somehow.

But apparently not too wrong, because Wanda was beaming at her, eyes glimmering as they tracked up and down, taking all of Carol in. Carol flushed and shoved at her hair again. Was it falling down? Was it supposed to be doing this? It probably looked awful, already. Not like Wanda's.

Wanda's hand came out to gently overlay Carol's, dragging it away from her hair and down to her waist. Carol's heart stuttered as her fingers tangled with Wanda's.

"You look beautiful," she blurted out, because Wanda should hear it. "More than beautiful. I've been staring for like. Ever."

"We know, I went to Europe to buy a watch to time how long you'd stand there gawking and was back before you were through," Pietro chimed in.

Wanda didn't break eye contact with Carol as she told her brother: "Oh, is that Remy heading our way? I should make his acquaintance..."

Pietro was gone in a blur. Carol snorted. "Remy LeBeau? He wouldn't be at one of these things."

"He's not here," Pietro announced, already back at Wanda's side. He glared at her.

"Must have been mistaken," Wanda mused. 

For just a moment she turned away from Carol and to her brother. They exchanged a few quiet looks, doing that twin thing of theirs. Finally Pietro shrugged and turned away. "Have a nice night," he threw over his shoulder, before he was gone. Carol thought maybe he was headed in the direction of the buffet. 

"So," Wanda said, turning her full attention back to Carol.

Carol shrugged, grinning maybe too-hard. She tried to tone it down. "Yeah. So." She frowned, remembering her earlier concerns. She tried to pull her hand away from where it was still trapped in Wanda's. "Oh, yeah, if you don't-"

Wanda frowned, lips parting in a silent question as Carol put some space between them. "If I don't...?"

"Well, reporters. I wasn't sure..."

Wanda's eyes widened. "Oh, no! I'm fine- Unless you're-"

"No, no! I'm fine," Carol reassured her. 

"I'm a mutant, after all," Wanda continued. "They can't exactly say anything about me I haven't already heard-"

"Mom knows. The gist of it, at least."

"Well if you're fine-"

"I'm fine, if you're-"

Wanda beamed. "Do you want to dance, then?"

Carol's heart melted just a little bit, spreading like a warm glow through her stomach. "I... yeah. That'd be. Yes. Yes I would."

They danced until Carol felt like she was drifting off against Wanda's shoulder. "Why did you want to come separate, then?" Carol asked once an evening in Wanda's arms left her feeling more confident.

"Because I wanted the surprise of seeing you here. And knowing I had the most beautiful date in the room."

Carol flushed and buried her face in Wanda's hair as they continued to sway together on the dance floor. And they only had to stop because some damn Serpent Society goons decided to set up shop trying to mug the gala attendees as they left. Carol grinned as she watched Wanda hex a fire escape ladder right down on top of Sidewinder. Carol pressed her heel to his throat and lifted an eyebrow at him. "You might want to stay down, buddy. You mess up these dresses and you'll be paying for them for twenty years on a prison salary. Not to mention have a very pissed off Wasp waiting for you when you get out."

The oak leaves crunched under Carol's fall boots as she hurried ahead of Wanda, grabbing at the door to the coffee shop. She held it open for her as Wanda blew her a kiss and sauntered inside. Carol followed, not a little besotted. Wanda kinda had that effect. But not besotted quite enough to quiet the worry gnawing at her stomach.

Carol ordered herself a strong dark coffee, Wanda going for a spiced tea instead. As they checked out, Carol grabbed a pumpkin spice muffin from a display and had the cashier ring it up, too. Wanda was already eying it, like Carol knew she would. The secret was: Carol didn't even really care for pumpkin spice.

They sat down at a cozy table next to the window, warm drinks pressed against their palms and muffin set temptingly between them. Carol pretended to completely forget its existence as she sipped at her coffee and people-watched out the window. She hid behind her mug as Wanda's fingertips darted out to break off a piece of muffin for herself. Helped assuaged some of her guilt.

"I'll be back before the weather even changes," Carol pointed out, not looking away from the street outside.

Across from her, Wanda hummed irritably. "I feel like a war widow. 'I'll be home from Christmas, darling!' Except they never are."

Carol's lips pressed together in a tight line as she watched a little girl hurry after her mom in the blustery weather outside. "It's not like that. It's a quick mission, they just need an Avenger present to make sure things go smoothly. In and out."

"And when things don't go smoothly?"

"I'll make them go smoothly."

"They never go smoothly, and would you look at me?"

Startled, Carol looked away from the cafe window at long last and looked at Wanda. Wanda, who had tears in her eyes, and who had only had a pinch of the pumpkin muffin between them. Rubbing her forehead, Carol closed her eyes for a moment, steadying herself. When she opened them back up she pushed the muffin across the table to Wanda. She took it angrily.

"Quill's gonna hook me up with communication. We'll be able to do the interplanetary equivalent of Skype every night. And the choice to be on this mission is mine. If I feel like I'm not useful, if I feel like I've been gone too long, I can come home. I can always come home, at any time."

Wanda's cheeks were stuffed with pumpkin muffin as she tried to swallow down angry tears. Finally she shook her head, layers of gold hoop earrings tinkling against each other. "I know this is what we do. I know we do it all the time. I just... I'm scared for you. It hasn't been so long, since... You won't have a support system, out there all on your own."

Carol's lips twisted. "I know I'm an alcoholic. But I know how to handle it, too. At least, I do now."

"It felt like I just got you back," Wanda whispered.

Reaching across the table, Carol folded Wanda's hand in her own, gripping it tight. "I have you," she told Wanda. She shook Wanda's hand for emphasis. "I have you, and I can call Tony, and I'm going to be working. Keeping my head in the game, representing the Avengers and Earth. I'll be back in a couple weeks, maybe months. And I don't care if I sound like everyone whose ever gone to war: I will be home for Christmas." Carol smiled crookedly at Wanda. "I already bought your damn gift, so I better be home for it."

Wanda covered Carol's hand with her free one, holding on tight. "You better be."

"If I'm not, I give you permission to send Vizsh after me."

A surprised giggle escaped from Wanda. "Send my ex-husband to bring my girlfriend home?"

Carol grinned, relieved to have gotten a laugh out of her. "Well, who else can you send into space after me? Tony, maybe. Maybe Thor would help."

"The Fantastic Four?" Wanda tried, warming to the idea. "I could send Sue after you. She'd understand."

Carol smiled, rocking Wanda's hands gently. "Sure, you do that. Send Sue after me."

"Don't you think I won't. We miss too much of our lives as it is."

Carol grumbled as she made her way up the little hill, breath coming way too hard given the amount of exertion this should have warranted. Her boots were more black than brown now, soaked with snow as they crunched through the inundated park. Her feet were still dry inside, but she imagined she could feel the cold seeping through her boots, her coat, her gloves. No matter that she was actually melting the snow a little bit as she walked--running as hot as a Kree warrior on the outside didn't mean she couldn't feel the cold on the inside.

"Carol, heads up!"

Carol ducked instinctively. A good thing she did: a snowball sailed over her head and landed harmlessly on the ground behind her, cracking apart. She straightened up with a glare, squinting through the winter sun up at Wanda perched on top of the hill. Wanda giggled and was already ducking down to make another snowball. Carol frowned down at the snow. With a sigh she tried to scoop up a snowball of her own, only to have it slowly turn soggy in her mitts before she was done forming it. She sighed again and dropped the slush to the ground.

A rushing wind beside her was the only warning she had before ice slid down her back. Carol yelped and jumped, spinning around to try and grab at Wanda, wherever she was. But Wanda was still perched on top of the hill, sled next to her as she added to a steadily-growing pile of snowballs.

"Hey!" Carol shouted up at her.

Wanda blinked innocently down. "What? I was up here."

Carol glared and thrust her chin up at Wanda. "Yeah? And where's your brother?"

Almost as if he had been nearby--go figure--Pietro solidified next to his sister in a burst of snow. Glancing around at her feet, Carol noted the runways of cleared snow around her, leading suspiciously around the back of the hill Wanda and now Pietro were standing on top. What a mystery, however would she solve this.

"You guys are assholes!" Carol called out as she continued her trek up the hill.

"Shhh!" Wanda chastised her. She nodded over to her left, where there was a family a little ways away teaching their young kid to sled. Carol rolled her eyes and kept trudging. She noticed with faint interest that both she and Pietro's trails through the snow melted it to different degrees. That might actually come in handy in battle sometime--with his ability to create friction and the amount of heat she knew she could give off... she filed this in the back of her mind. Never knew when they might come up against some Mr. Freeze straight out of the comic books.

Finally summiting the hill, Carol pressed her hands to her waist and leaned backwards, cracking stiff joints. Screw the cold. Screw nature. She'd much rather be warm in her room with Wanda than out here freezing her everything off while Wanda played with her brother.

"Alright, you got me up here," Carol grumbled. She stamped her boots in the snow a bit, clearing a little snow-free spot for her to stand. If anything her feet now felt colder. Damn tilted axis causing variable seasons. What she wouldn't give to live on a more temperate planet right now. "Now I guess we sled down?"

Pietro was already climbing onto the sled, glaring up at Carol. Wanda smiled apologetically at her. "Well... Pietro gets first sled. It's the first ride of the season. But then you!"

Carol let her head fall back as she watched her breath huff up to the sky. When she dropped it back level, Wanda was standing close to her, smiling softly. She had snowflakes clinging to the edges of her long eyelashes. Sighing, Carol reached up and brought her hand close, melting them away with her proximity. Wanda beamed and stepped closer, wrapping one arm around Carol's waist.

"It's Pietro. It's the two of us. For so long it was only us, him and me against the world..."

"I know, I know," Carol rolled her eyes. "Just because me and my brothers were never close doesn't mean I don't get it." Leaning in, Carol pressed a quick kiss to Wanda's lips. They were surprisingly warm, even though she had surely been outside longer than Carol this morning. Carol's eyes slipped closed as she sighed into the kiss, cold heart maybe melting just a little bit.

Carol nuzzled her forehead against Wanda's before pushing her away. "Go on," she told her, nodding at Pietro. "Get your special sibling sled ride over with. Then I'm stealing her for the rest of the day!" Carol waggled one mittened hand at Pietro.

Pietro waved her off, ignoring her in favor of his twin as she climbed onto his lap on the sled. Pietro wrapped one arm around her waist before pushing off with the other one. They went down the hill at a respectable little bumpy pace, Wanda screeching with delight, hands in the air above her head as Pietro held on for the both of them. Carol smiled, sighed. She wondered if Pietro felt the same way about sledding as she did: not seeing the point, being able to move so much faster under his own power. Carol had heard sledding described like flying, and as such couldn't see much point in it. Not when she had the real thing. She wondered if he did it for Wanda, like Carol was.

"Mon cher!" an out-of-breath voice called out behind her.

Turning, Carol watched bemusedly as Remy LeBeau huffed his way up the hill behind her, stopping to press his hands to his knees once he reached the top.

"You know, aren't you in terrible shape for a superhero?" Carol pointed out, pointedly ignoring the fact that she had been in a similar state not minutes ago.

Remy patted his chest and coughed. "It's the damn weather, cher. My thin blood can't sustain me through this unnatural cold. Wasn't meant to."

Carol snorted. Honestly, she could commiserate. Even though it was probably worse for Remy, not growing up in it like she had. Hell, she'd grown up through far worse than what NYC saw most winters.

"Ah, snowballs!" Remy picked one out of Wanda's pile with a grin. Stumbling forward a few steps--he was wearing fashionable boots that in no way were designed for snow--he peered down the hill. Wanda and Pietro were dusting each other off, laughing as they started to drag the sled back up the hill. Carol watched with a soft smile as Pietro kept pace with his sister. Definitely doing it for Wanda. Carol could understand that.

"You think I could nail Pietro from here?" Remy asked. He had one eye closed and was aiming the snowball like a dart in his right hand. "Right between the eyes, heh."

Carol cocked an eyebrow at him. "You could charge it."

Remy snorted and dropped the snowball without throwing it. He turned back to Carol as he shook his head. "It'd just turn to water. Potential energy of a snowflake is to become a raindrop."

Carol wondered if that actually made sense. Then she shrugged, figuring Remy knew his powers better than she did. 

Wanda and Pietro crested the hill once more, Pietro dropping the sled onto a level patch of snow until its next rider claimed it. Wanda rushed over to throw herself into Carol's arms, giggling wildly. "You have to go next," Wanda insisted, hair tangling around Carol's neck as she hugged her.

Carol pulled away with a mock-reluctant sigh. "Well, if I have to..."

Wanda snorted and smacked her on the arm before dragging her away to the sled. Carol let herself be dragged. As they settled down, Carol in back, Wanda pressed up against her in her lap, Carol caught Pietro watching them curiously. She cocked an eyebrow at him, but Pietro just shook his head. Then, to Carol's surprise, he nodded, and even... almost... maybe... shared an honest-to-goodness smile with her.

The ride down was still fucking cold, though.

Carol almost tripped over herself as she hopped to the door, one hand sliding the last buckle into place on her strappy gold sandals. She finally managed to grab the knob and drag it open, foot hitting the floor just as the door swung open. Wanda's smile turned from happy to see her to bemused fondness in a moment as Carol quickly straightened up and brushed down her slacks and button-up shirt. "What, shut up. Hey, good morning." Carol leaned in for a quick kiss.

Wanda held up the package in her hands. "I know your mother said not to bring anything, but I figured a little side-dish...?"

Carol shook her head and took it from her. "It's fine, she'll love it. She'll love you for bringing it." Anxiety swelled up in Carol's stomach at the thought of her mother, just a few rooms away in the kitchen. She tried unsuccessfully to tamp it down. "She'll love you. Just, in general. You know. Because you're you. You."

Wanda smiled coyly. "I am very lovable," she reminded Carol.

Carol groaned and dragged her in for another kiss, resisting the urge to bang her forehead against Wanda's. That wouldn't serve to calm anyone's nerves, and would probably just give Wanda a headache.

"By the way, I told my mom she didn't have to, but she insisted on going to a kosher deli for lamb instead of our traditional ham-from-a-can. I'm not sure if she actually knows how to cook lamb, so, just..."

Wanda squeezed her arm as they made their way into the house together. "That wasn't necessary, but I'm very grateful. That was very considerate of her."

Carol rolled her eyes. "I think she just wants to tell her friends she had to make a kosher Easter dinner. That'll be the story she tells for the next ten years."

"And for a mutant," Wanda pointed out.

Carol winced. "She might not bring that part up..."

"She knows, doesn't she?" Wanda bit her lip.

Carol shook her head. "Oh, no, yeah, she knows, it's not a problem, don't worry. Just, you know."

Wanda hummed. "'My Daughter's Dating a Mutant!' does sound like a controversial Lifetime special."

Carol snorted. "Exactly. It's enough that you're a Jewish lesbian-"

"-bisexual," Wanda corrected her.

"Mom's going with lesbian, just so you know."

Wanda was still laughing as they entered the kitchen, where Carol's mother was puttering around the stove. Carol cleared her throat. "Hey, Mom. Wanda's here. And she brought-" Carol trailed off, peering at the dish in her hands. "Casserole?"

Wanda laughed as she stepped forward to greet Carol's mother. "Close enough." She stuck out her hand. "High, Mrs. Danvers? Thank you for having me for Easter."

Carol's mom ignored the hand and instead went straight for the hug, wrapping Wanda up tight. "Of course, sweetheart! I would have had you over for Christmas but Carol put up such a fight..."

Carol rolled her eyes. "Because we don't really do the whole Christmas-at-home thing. Not since- You know."

Carol's mom shook her head as she released Wanda. "Well, I'm just glad you could make it. What with your superhero schedules, its a wonder you girls have a Sunday off. Even Easter Sunday."

Carol snorted as she made herself at home in the kitchen, checking on her mom's dishes. "She's still mad about the year aliens invaded Christmas Eve."

Wanda shrugged placatingly. "We can't control when crises strikes. And unfortunately, it seems Murphy's Law applies to superheroes as much as it does civilians. Maybe more so."

"But that's why we have you," Carol pointed out as she sat down at the kitchen table. Wanda beamed down at her.

"I can only do so much. But I try."

"Carol said you had..." Carol's mother gestured vaguely, fingers wiggling in front of her. "Something? Magic?"

Wanda smiled. "Yes, magic. Chaos-magic. I can manipulate probabilities, make the unlikely likely."

Carol's mom frowned as she busied herself in the kitchen, pulling dishes out of the oven and replacing them with other dishes. "How do you use that in battle with supervillains, though? I worry about Carol every day, and she's got all that strength and..." Carol's mother gestured again, miming explosions with her hands. "I'd be worried sick about you."

"It's actually very useful. I can make guns jam, bullets miss. Villains trip over their own capes, engines fail on warships, robots turn against their masters. I also have a small healing ability I've been working on: I can encourage white blood cells to work faster, skin to knit itself neatly."

"Oh, well it's good to hear that," Mrs. Danvers hummed as she pulled the lamb out of the oven. She gestured at Wanda. "Now sit, sit. Dinner's ready, I just need to plate it all."

Carol snorted as Wanda joined her at the kitchen table. "It's just us three, Mom. You don't have to impress us."

Mrs. Danvers clicked her tongue as she brought the first two dishes over to the table: lamb and string beans. "I know you girls are used to service at Tony Stark's mansion, so no matter what I do I wouldn't be able to impress you." As she brought over another two bowls of sides, she told Carol: "It doesn't mean I can't still want it to look nice."

Wanda smiled fondly at Carol from across the table. Carol stuck her tongue at her, laughing at Wanda's open surprise at the childish gesture. At least the food smelled good. And her mom hadn't said anything too embarrassing, just yet.

"Wanda dear, after dinner you'll have to remind me to get the photo albums out," Mrs. Danvers told Wanda as she brought her "casserole" over to the table with the rest of the food.

Carol groaned and prayed for an Avengers emergency to interrupt dessert.

Carol hesitated as she opened the door to Wanda's convertible, wedge sandal hovering in the air just outside as she looked around. Wanda watched her from the driver's seat.

"What are you waiting for? Get in."

Carol glanced around, still balancing on one foot. "I'm waiting for the emergency."

Wanda waved at her. "Well then get in quick, before something comes up!"

Slowly Carol set her foot down inside the car, then the other. As she settled into the seat her eyes kept tracking around the Mansion driveway. "There's always an emergency," she replied.

Wanda gunned the car, shifted it into first. No explosions. No doombots. No serpent society, evil aliens, fires, or floods. The car rolled forward as Wanda steered it out of the drive. Carol realized as they pulled out onto the main street that she was holding her breath.

It wasn't until they were on the highway outside of the city that Carol let out that breath--metaphorically, even she couldn't hold her breath longer than Manhattan traffic. Carol stuck her head out the window, looking around at the open highway before them, beach far ahead. She ducked back inside and turned with Wanda with a smile.

"I think we're actually going to get this day off!" she said.

Wanda gasped and smacked her one-handed. "You'll jinx it!"

Carol laughed as she groped at the side of her seat. She found the recline lever and snapped it up, tilting back her chair with a happy sigh. Her wedges settled onto the dash with a head thump as she finally let herself get comfortable.

"Isn't that why I've got you? To protect me from malicious curses and jinxes?"

Wanda's eyebrows raised above her over-sized van Dyne (TM) sunglasses. "Is that all I'm good for?" she mused.

Carol didn't worry as she let her eyes drift closed, wind whipping past her as Wanda sped them along to their vacation. "As if you don't know better."

Carol's wedge sandals knocked gently against each other with the rhythm of the car. They gleamed white against her tanned skin in the morning sun.