"Gotta try harder than that, Danvers!"
Janet weaves and spins, dodging another of Carol's energy blasts, laughing, fluttering bright yellow and conspicuous and damned impossible to hit. Carol narrows her eyes and tries again, the beam at just enough strength to knock Janet out of the sky without hurting her.
She's sure, for a moment, that she's done it, but then Janet's flapping fast and desperate, her dodge less graceful and controlled but still good enough to get her out of range in time.
"Almost had you there," Carol calls, flying up to the top corner of the room to get a better vantage point. She tried chasing Janet, at first, but soon realized that she has nothing like Janet's maneuverability. In tight quarters like the Mansion practice room, her only tactically sound option is her energy blasts.
"You'll never catch me," Janet calls back, a sing-song taunt that makes Carol grin, makes her skin tingle with stars as bright yellow energy flows up her hands to her elbows. She never was very good at following the tactically sound options.
She waits for Jan to be close enough that she has a shot, and raises her hand as if she's going to shoot another bolt of light at her. Janet flutters warily, ready to dodge, and in that moment Carol throws herself forward instead, not as fast as her energy bolts but much bigger, much more solid, and, she hopes, completely unexpected.
Janet weighs almost nothing in her tiny form; hell, even when she's regular size Carol could pick her up in one hand with no superpowers. It's actually a disadvantage, though, since Carol can't tell if she's caught her or not until she's hit the floor at the end of her tackle maneuver. She looks down at her hand hopefully, remembering with sudden clarity trying to catch moths and fireflies as a kid. Remembering that moment of uncertainty when she didn't know if she was holding one in her hand, when she opened her hand and hoped to see something beautiful fluttering against her fingers.
Her hand is empty.
From behind, something tugs on a strand of her hair.
Sighing, she rolls over on her back, leaning on her elbows.
"That was a good try," Janet says, crossing her tiny arms over her tiny chest, and Carol can't quite tell if she's being sincere or condescending.
"I'll get you next time, Wasp."
Janet laughs. Carol wonders how her tiny throat can produce so much sound, light and clear but large enough to fill the cavernous space of the practice room. "You need to do more fist-shaking if you want to pull off those supervillain lines."
Carol grins and shakes her fist obligingly; Janet flits down to alight on Carol's knuckles. Without thinking about it, Carol turns her hand over and opens it, so that Janet is standing on her palm instead.
"It must really be something to be so tiny like that," Carol says, looking at Janet's feet, which are narrower than one of Carol's fingers. "Does the world look different?"
Janet cocks her head, expressing surprise at the sudden conversation change, but answers without hesitating. "Sorta. I do get to see everyone's pores up close."
"Ew," Carol says. "Now I'm freaked out."
"You have really nice skin, actually. Do you exfoliate?"
"Mostly I fly around unprotected in the vacuum of space."
"That'll do it. Though that does explain your slightly dry T-zone."
"This was fun," she says. "I had fun."
"Me too. It's nice having another woman on the team."
This isn't the first time Janet has said that, and Carol knows exactly what she means; coming up through the Air Force, Carol is no stranger to the sudden shock of recognition at seeing another woman in the boys' club. Right at this moment, though, the idea makes her a little uncomfortable, even if she can't put her finger on why.
"I hope I'm more to you than a general vague woman-shape, Jan," she says, trying not to sound irritated.
"In that outfit and from this vantage point, trust me, your shape is anything but vague." Janet follows this with a wink that would be salacious if it weren't so cute. Carol wonders how much shit Jan gets away with just by being too tiny for anyone to take seriously.
"You know I'd knock Tony across the room if he said something like that."
"I do know, because I love watching you do it."
"Then I guess you're lucky that I'm grateful to be on a team with another woman, no matter how annoying that woman is, and therefore I won't squash you like a bug."
At this, Janet laughs and hops into the air, fluttering easily up and out of Carol's reach.
"I think we've established that you couldn't squash me if you tried, Colonel."
Carol grins. "Just for that, I'm not going easy on you anymore."
Janet's fast, but Carol's sure she can be faster.
There's no warning: one minute Carol's minding her own business, cruising around in space, defending the Earth from potential extraterrestrial threats and trying not to damage any satellites this time (the Chinese Meteorological Administration, it turns out, does not have a sense of humor about that). The next minute, she's – well. She's still cruising around in space, but space's usual vastness is suddenly a whole lot vaster.
Her powers still seem to work, at least, so she doesn't immediately die – bonus – and is able to fly herself back to SWORD without further incident. When she flies into the control center, Brand stares at her for a few long seconds and then actually makes a facial expression, which is how Carol knows it's real, and she didn't have some weird space daydream about suddenly shrinking down to six inches tall.
The facial expression is a grimace.
"Danvers, what the hell have you done to yourself."
Her tone is exasperated annoyance, as if Carol is prone to bad hair dye decisions (not since she was sixteen, thank you) or has suddenly taken up smoking (ditto, not that she didn't bum a few cigarettes in flight school). This makes Carol feel somewhat put out, since it's not like she was flying by a sign that said Make Yourself Tiny in Two Seconds Flat! and decided to pop in for a spur of the moment treatment. It's not like she's always getting into ridiculous scrapes like some kind of tv sitcom character, though, of course, actually, she is. But they are rarely her fault, is the point.
"Nothing!" she says, possibly the worst answer she could give. Carol's only consolation is that it sounds like her regular voice, at her regular volume. She had concerns about a possible helium chipmunk situation.
Brand's eyebrows immediately furrow behind her tinted glasses, but she doesn't say anything, just waits Carol out. Carol's been through basic training and through Avengers hazing and she's been glared down by the best – which is to say, by Abigail Brand herself – so she lasts a good twenty seconds before she speaks.
"I did not notice any anomalies in the immediate area that could've led to this outcome, ma'am."
Brand sighs. Carol hopes one day to be able to sigh with that same melodious note of loathing and resignation.
"Okay, get yourself down to Earth, get checked out. I don't suppose Pym is anywhere to be found these days?"
"He's currently dead, ma'am."
"Well, you're on medical leave until further notice. Talk to SHIELD, talk to Stark, talk to someone, figure this out. Your orders are to re-embiggen."
"You want a ride to the surface?"
"I'm sure I can make it on my own, ma'am," Carol says. She can still fly, after all. The one thing she really needs, that feeling of absolute freedom from gravity, hasn't been taken away. She tries to remind herself of that fact as she flies down to the launch bay, past the surprised stares of even the most hardened SWORD agents. Quartermain, at least, just glances at her once, skipping the double takes favored by the others.
"It's always something, isn't it," is all he says.
"Yup," Carol replies.
But her first stop, once she's planetside, isn't going to be the SHIELD helicarrier or Stark Mansion or the Baxter Building.
Instead, Carol heads towards a beautiful, spacious loft apartment in Greenwich Village.
Carol just hopes she's big enough to push the buzzer.
"Gosh," Janet says, once she refocuses her eyes and sees Carol hanging in the air on the other side of her door. "Gosh. Wow. Come in."
"Thanks," Carol replies.
Janet shuts the door behind her, and then neither of them moves: Janet stands still, a normal sized woman in jeans and an off-the-shoulder sweater, while Carol hovers, a tiny superhero in a tiny bathing suit and tiny scarf and tiny thigh-high boots. Somehow the uniform got even sillier when she was shrunk down.
"So," Janet says eventually. "What's new?"
Carol can't help it; she breaks out laughing, and as she does Janet smiles at her, smiles down at her, which is both bizarrely familiar and completely new. Carol buries her face in her hands and laughs and laughs until she feels Janet's hands around her, warm and careful, cupping her loosely, the way she might hold a butterfly.
"So," Carol says, when she can speak again, "something happened. In space." She lets go with her mind and surrenders to gravity, collapsing down into Janet's hands. She's astonished by the texture of them, the skin rough with tiny wrinkles and pores.
"Right. You got tinified?"
"I guess. SWORD is scanning for anomalies, trying to figure out what did it."
Janet nods. "What did SHIELD say? Did you talk to Tony or T'Challa or anyone?"
"Uh. No. I'm going to go there next."
Janet blinks. From this vantage point, Carol can see every aspect of her expression, every little twitch and movement. No wonder Jan's so good at reading people. It's actually part of her superpower.
"So, okay, you came here first because, obviously, you're going to need some tiny clothes, you can't just fly around in a tiny bathing suit all day, and you figured that, of all your friends, I was the most likely to have tiny but fashionable women's clothing – "
"It was a tossup between you and Rogers," Carol replies. "No, Janet, I mean – well. I mean, yes, some tiny clothes would actually be appreciated, if you have any. But I came here because I was hoping you would know what to do to, uh. Make me big again."
"I told everyone that all of Hank's research on Pym Particles was destroyed when his lab blew up," Janet frowns.
"That's what my report to SWORD said, too," Carol replies. It's a little strange, sitting in the palm of Janet's hand, but she's not sure where else to go. She'd look even weirder in the chair. It's not like she hasn't carried Janet like this plenty of times.
"But you didn't believe it," Janet says, frowning. Her frown is a huge, powerful thing, lips tense and pressed together, eyebrows furrowed, muscles twitching in her jaw.
"Well," Carol says slowly. "No, I didn't."
"You're not wrong," Janet sighs.
"You have some of Hank's research."
"Yes," Janet says, "but you have to understand, at the end Hank got – well, some of the research, specifically regarding Pym Particles, was getting scary. In a lot of different ways, I mean, I don't even understand all of it, but from what I could tell – oh, hell. I should've trusted Tony with it, really, after all he's done for us, but . . . "
"Once a weapons designer, always a weapons designer," Carol says. She probably wouldn't have given the research to Tony either. "And you didn't give it to SHIELD, or to the military," she points out.
Janet laughs quietly. "No. For the same reason. But I didn't want to destroy it, obviously, who knows when we may need that knowledge. Honestly I haven't been sure what to do with it."
"Okay," Carol says, "Okay, well, now's the time, Jan. This is the situation in which we need that knowledge. So break it out, let's make me big."
Janet doesn't say anything for a minute, and Carol gets lost in the slight downward turn of her mouth, the narrowing of her eyes, the way she bites her lip just a little.
"I'm not sure we should, even if we could."
Carol pushes away from Janet's hands and flies up to hover at eye level again. "Excuse me?"
"Look," Janet says. "If we use Pym Particles to make you your normal size, that might be fine. But what if whatever's happened to you wears off? You might suddenly become giant."
"That never hurt Ant Man. Or you, for that matter." Carol wouldn't want to be giant permanently, of course, but surely they could figure that out if it happened.
"It never hurt us because we used Pym Particles to get giant. We're not supposed to be that big, you know, any animal that size should just collapse. Hank and I violate the cube square law." There's a ghost of a smile on Janet's face. "Don't tell anyone I said so, but the truth is Hank never understood why. He just knew that something to do with Pym Particles made it work."
Carol rubs the palm of her hand against her forehead. "So you're saying that . . . if I got big with Pym Particles, and then suddenly got bigger with, with whatever this is . . . "
"Your bones would break. You'd be unable to move. You'd probably turn into a pile of goo, I don't know, I was never clear on all the details. The cube square law is nasty."
"But listen, I'll take the research to Tony. Maybe he can figure something out to help you."
Carol smiles, knowing that Janet will do whatever she can to make her better. "Thanks, Jan," she says.
"Of course," she says sincerely. Then her expression turns mischievous, and she adds, "although, I have to say, it's nice to have another tiny woman on the team."
Carol buzzes her in the nose with an energy blast, enough to make her jump with the jolt of it.
At least this time, Carol reflects, she managed to get a hit in.
Carol is tiny for days while Tony, T'Challa, and Reed work the problem. They pore over Pym's old research, disagree loudly about everything, and eventually get frustrated enough that they convince Hulk to turn back into Banner for scientific backup. Even then, it just means that they have four-way science arguments instead of three-way science arguments, while Carol continues being way too small to fit a cockpit, her clothes, or her usual spot on the couch during Avengers movie night. Janet shrinks down and pats the spot next to her up on the back of the couch, though, and Carol discovers that the little dip between the cushion and the wood is pretty comfy.
"It's funny that you're about my size," Janet says, as Carol gets settled. "Or, I don't know, maybe a little bigger."
"I'm bigger than you anyway," Carol says. "I think we're about proportional." Janet curls up next to her, her translucent wings, usually so delicate in appearance, looking strong and solid at this size. They tickle against Carol's shoulder.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm tiny, rub it in," Janet says. Quick as lightning, she flies down to where Steve and T'Challa are sitting, grabs a single piece of popcorn from the bowl, and flies back up.
"It's not so bad to be tiny," Carol says, accepting the chunk of popcorn that Janet breaks off and offers to her. "Popcorn lasts longer."
"And no one ever notices if you get a zit," Janet agrees cheerfully. Carol laughs until she snorts, which leads Tony to actually complain about them making too much noise.
"Last movie night you managed to make something explode during the nuclear wessels scene in Star Trek IV," Carol protests.
"I was fixing the Iron Man gauntlets!"
"Not gonna fly with me, Stark," Carol says, chewing on some more giant popcorn. It tastes different like this, the texture something new to her. "I am well within my rights to bug you through this entire film." She pauses, considering. "And I will exercise that right."
Tony sighs. "What is it about being tiny that makes people so annoying?" he asks the room at large. "I swear Carol used to be so nice."
"I don't think you were paying attention before," Steve tells him kindly.
Up on the back of the couch, Jan elbows Carol and gives her an encouraging nod. Grinning, Carol blasts the back of Tony's head, enough to singe a hair or two but not enough to cause any real damage.
"Hey!" Tony turns around and throws a kernel of popcorn at her, which she manages to incinerate with another energy blast. Tony gets a gleam in his eye, and next to him Steve cocks his head consideringly while Clint, Thor, and T'Challa grin at one another. Then it's all-out popcorn war, with Janet and Carol blasting them away and everyone else just trying not to get too much butter in their hair.
"Being tiny's starting to look pretty great, right?" Janet says, when they're all surrounded by destroyed kernels and burnt popcorn smell and the fun has wound down.
Carol agrees, but she notices, wistfully, that Janet changes back to her regular size before she heads off to bed.
The next day the Avengers go up against Doombots without her. She watches the fight on the monitors, wincing every time one of her people gets hit, and wonders if Doom might have some idea of how to fix her. Or if he might be behind it in the first place. Maybe the Doombots showing up, she thinks, means that the situation has finally come to a head. Maybe Doom's master plan will soon be revealed and there'll be an explanation and a confrontation and a return to normal.
It doesn't, and there isn't, and she stays the same size.
"Carol, we've got it!" Tony says, barging into the kitchen where Carol is attempting to enjoy a single corn flake. It's six am, and it looks like Tony hasn't slept; he's all greasy and he's got stubble coming in around his usually immaculate beard. Carol wonders if he's really that dirty and unshaven or if she's just seeing it more now that she's tiny. She can't really tell anymore. She opens her mouth as wide as she can so that she can gnaw on the edge of the corn flake, but it's slow going.
Hot on Tony's heels, Bruce and T'Challa are yelling and shaking their heads.
"No, we don't have it, Carol, don't listen to him – "
"Utterly irresponsible and untested as usual, I cannot be part of such a dangerous experiment – "
Carol sighs and puts down her corn flake. It's no good without milk anyway.
"You know what, guys? I'm not waiting around for this anymore. I'm going back on active duty. You can talk to me when you've found something you agree on."
At that Bruce looks uncomfortable, and T'Challa looks smug, and Tony looks deflated.
Brand stares at her for a long time when she hands over her paperwork asking to come off of medical leave, but she doesn't say anything, and she approves the request.
"Just don't get any smaller," she warns.
"I promise, ma'am," Carol says, though really she can't be sure that she won't.
Her first mission back is a little weird. She's been working on her maneuverability, and she's as strong and dangerous as ever, so that's not a problem; what's weird is the way that none of the HYDRA robots target her. She's used to being at the center of the battle, surrounded by things that are coming to kill her. Now, despite her apparent vulnerability, none of the robots seem to fix on her as a target, and she finds herself flying through the battle, picking off the robots easily.
"It's like they don't even see me," she complains, and over the comms Janet laughs.
"Well, use it, Colonel," Steve says, clearly exasperated. He's currently punching one robot in the face while swinging for another with his shield, maybe wishing that they wouldn't take quite so much notice of him.
"Someone wants to be the center of attention," Janet says, stinging another robot in the eyes and at the joints until it collapses to the ground.
"Hey, I'm not the one who wears a dress to fight HYDRA," Carol replies, taking down a robot that's got Clint pinned. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees Janet twirling a little as she takes on her next target, her skirt flaring out around her knees. Carol can't help but smile.
"Hey, I like my dress," Clint says, picking himself up and dusting off his purple skirt.
"Don't blame us for being fabulous," Janet agrees.
Carol takes a breath and pushes herself to fly faster, until she's not even bothering to aim and shoot, instead just blasting energy in front of herself and shoving her body through the robots' heads, faster and faster until she's nothing but a swoop of red and gold light covering the battlefield.
"You want fabulous," she grits out, "I'll give you fabulous." She leaves a trail of robot dead in her rainbow wake, the sonic boom of her passage sounding off like a whipcrack in the air. When she's done, the other Avengers take the time to applaud, and she takes a little midair bow, shining with glory and able to forget, for a moment, that she's not what she should be. In the end, that delay lets the second wave of robots get the drop on them, but nobody really seems to mind, and they all set to fighting with renewed energy.
After the battle, Carol feels better than she did before it, exhausted but sated, and she realizes that it's not just the flying she would miss if her powers were suddenly taken away.
"Good work, team," Steve says, like he does at the end of every mission. He pats everyone on the back, careful to use just his index finger to tap Janet and Carol on the shoulders. Carol rolls her eyes and holds out her fist; smiling, Steve bumps it with his own, much bigger fist.
"Good to have you back, Colonel," Steve says.
As they walk and fly towards the Quinjet, Janet flies up to her and takes her by the hand. It's actually odd, after these weeks around humans so much bigger than her, to feel Janet's normal, smooth skin against hers.
"Yeah, it's good that you're fighting with us again," she says warmly. Carol squeezes her hand.
"I missed you guys," she says.
"Without knowing how your size change was caused in the first place," T'Challa explains, "we cannot safely recommend a cure. That is the inevitable conclusion."
"Right," Carol says. "Yeah. I figured." She's floating in midair in front of them, because if she can't do anything else she'll at least look them in the eyes.
"Sorry, Carol," Tony says. "We really – but what Jan told you that first day is true. If whatever's affected you interferes with our attempts to make you big again, it could go disastrously wrong."
"And none of the tests we've run have told us anything about why you're small in the first place," Bruce says. "Reed says he'll keep working on it, and, I mean, we all will – "
"When you're not the Hulk, and when we're not busy fighting supervillains, and when Reed's not off exploring alternate dimensions," Carol says. Tony and Bruce fidget, and T'Challa gets that look he gets sometimes, like he'd definitely fidget if he weren't a king and stuff.
"It's okay, guys," she says. "I'm grateful for all you've done. Maybe it'll just wear off."
"That is not impossible," T'Challa says kindly. He holds out his hand, as if to reassure her with a friendly squeeze of the shoulder, but then obviously isn't sure how to complete the gesture. She flies up to him instead, landing in his palm and taking in the heat of his skin. He smiles apologetically as he bears her weight.
"Good to know," Carol says, and starts wondering how many microliters of alcohol it'll take to get her really, really drunk.
"It'll probably help with some things," Janet offers, as she carefully pours a few drops of scotch into the tiny doll-sized mugs that Carol's been using. It's their fourth drink – or possibly their fifth? – so it's actually really impressive that Janet doesn't spill all over everything as she lifts the huge bottle with her tiny arms. "You'll save a lot of money skipping the subway turnstiles."
"Yeah, but you know how Steve gets when we do stuff like that." They clink their mugs together and drink.
"Yulch," Janet says, immediately, even though she's been drinking this stuff for a couple hours now. "I hate scotch."
"You're dead to me," Carol says fondly. They're sitting together on Carol's bed, since sitting in the easy chairs while tiny is just ridiculous. And Janet is, once again, being tiny for Carol's sake, keeping her company.
"You military types. What's wrong with a nice appletini?"
"You and Tony can have the drinks with fruits and vegetables in them, I'll pass. If you don't want the scotch just say so. And give me your share."
"Yeah, you wouldn't want this six drops of scotch to go to waste," Janet says, grimacing as she takes another sip.
"So we'll get you a tiny bed, a tiny lamp, a tiny comb. Tiny Air Force uniform. It'll work."
Carol groans. "I think I no longer satisfy the height requirements for the Air Force."
Janet laughs and rubs Carol's shoulder in sympathy, then takes her hand, the way she did after the battle, warm and friendly.
"That's the saddest thing I've ever heard," she says, still laughing. "Come on, there have to be other benefits."
"You would know," Carol says. "What do you like about it?"
"Hmm, well, it's nice to be unobtrusive sometimes. A fly on the wall."
"That's true. Then I would just need to get some interesting friends to gossip about. All Avengers ever do is, like, science and punching things."
"I know, right?"
Janet's still holding her hand, and Carol grips it a little tighter. "What else?" she asks.
"Umm, Hank always really liked riding around on flying insects?" Jan tries. "Tell the truth, I don't usually spend that much time tiny except when I'm superheroing."
Carol nods. "But you've been tiny a lot more lately. With me."
Janet's smile is big and kind. Uncomplicated. "Well, I didn't want you to feel alone! And I don't mind being tiny with you."
"You've made this experience a lot easier," Carol admits. "I really appreciate everything you've done." She bites her lip. "But you don't have to stay tiny. You can be big if you want."
"Well, the wings are a little annoying sometimes," Janet says, obviously hesitating. "You're sure it's okay?"
Carol tosses back the rest of her scotch. "Totally sure."
Janet does her thing, moving her hand as she changes size so that she's cupping it around Carol's shoulders rather than holding her hand. Carol smiles as she feels the huge warm weight settle around her.
"Thanks," Janet says. "I don't mind being small most of the time, but it does get annoying sometimes." She grimaces. "Sorry."
"It's okay. Like you were saying, it has its rewards." To demonstrate, she climbs up Janet's fingers, encouraging Janet to move so that Carol can curl up inside her hand. The alcohol is making her warm and fuzzy, and for the moment it doesn't seem like such a bad thing, being small enough to be protected like this.
"Aww. You're so cute there." Janet brings up her other hand, as if she were going to pet Carol with the tips of her fingers, but then hesitates.
Carol's mouth is dry. "Go for it," she says. This is exactly what she didn't want, people treating her like a pet or a mascot, losing all the respect she's worked so hard to earn in the military, at SWORD, in the Avengers. But coming from Janet, it doesn't feel like a threat.
It feels like something very different.
Janet's fingertips land on her hair, feather-light, and stroke hesitantly down to her shoulders and over her back. It feels amazing, somewhere between a caress and a back massage, care evident in the touch.
"That's nice," she says, stretching out in Janet's hand.
"Yeah," Janet says, uncharacteristically quiet. Probably because she's a little drunk, like Carol is. When Carol looks up, she sees that Janet's curled up on her side on the bed, her eyes closed, as she continues to pet Carol absently with slow fingers.
Warm and vulnerable under Janet's hands, encouraged by Janet's silence, she leans forward and presses a long, soft kiss to the base of her thumb. Janet won't be able to feel it anyway, she's pretty sure, and it feels good to do it. Another benefit to being this size, she thinks: secret tiny kisses.
If she ever gets big again, maybe she'll try the not-so-secret kind. When she gets big, that's definitely when she'll do it.
She kisses Janet again, tasting the roughness of her skin against her lips, and lets herself relax against the warmth of her body.
When she's big again, she thinks, as she drifts off.
In the end, it takes a good two months, but it does, in fact, wear off. Or the evil magician who put Carol under a spell decides to remove it, or the solar flare reverses itself, or whatever, it doesn't really matter that much how it happens. Carol is totally happy to file SWORD incident form 427B-2, We Really Have No Fucking Clue What Went On With That. What's important is that she goes back to normal size, suddenly, in the middle of lunch, and it feels good.
"I still think it was actually a side effect of your Kree powers," Tony grumbles. "Now we'll never know."
"But also, Ms Marvel will never collapse into a horrifying pile of broken body parts," T'Challa puts in.
"I'm fine with that," Carol says. She's stretching and shaking out her limbs, still freaked out by how tiny everything seems. She looks Tony and T'Challa in the eyes and doesn't even have to fly upwards to do it.
"Sorry we couldn't be more help," Tony says.
"I was more help than you were," T'Challa points out. "I correctly predicted the likelihood of the effect wearing off on its own, and recommended waiting for that to occur."
"Oh, Jesus, T'Challa, seriously," Tony laughs, which makes Carol laugh too. T'Challa smiles softly, and then Carol can't help hugging him, hugging Tony too, wrapping them up in her big strong arms and reveling in the feeling of them against her.
"Woah, woah," Tony says, a minute later, when she lets them go. "Are you sure you're still Carol Danvers, hardass air force colonel? Maybe we should run some more tests. You might be a Skrull."
"I don't think we're at the place yet where we can joke about being Skrulls," Carol says, loudly, to cover the fact that her eyes are wet.
As T'Challa draws his arm back he gives her arm a little squeeze. "Indeed not," he agrees. "I think you have just been spending too much time with Janet."
"Yeah, or not enough," Tony says, still blinking in surprise from his hug.
"Definitely one of those two things," Carol says.
"Oh, wow," Janet says, when Carol shows up at her door. "Gosh. Come in."
Carol does, stepping on the hardwood floor of the apartment, loving the feeling of it, solid beneath her feet.
"You couldn't call and tell me you'd been magically de-tinified?"
Carol grins. "I wanted to surprise you."
"Well, you did," Janet says. "Can I get you a drink? You can even have it in a big person glass if you want."
"Oh, are we joking about that now?"
"I don't know about you, I was joking about it before. Water? Juice? Tea?"
"Uh, water," Carol says. She blinks as she takes in Janet's apartment. It's her first time seeing it while at her normal size. For some reason she never came here before the current crisis.
Janet comes back and puts a glass in her hand, cool and beaded with moisture. Her fingers touch Carol's fingers, and it feels the same as it did when they were both tiny, like nothing's changed.
Carol pulls back.
"I like the jacket," Janet says, gesturing at Carol's faded brown leather bomber jacket.
"Thanks. I missed it while I was, you know."
"Six inches tall."
"Fashion's a pain in the ass for a girl of changeable size," Janet sighs. They sit down; Janet sits on the couch, with plenty of space open and inviting next to her. Carol hesitates, then sits in the chair.
"I just – you know. I wanted to say thank you for everything. And, of course, let you know I'd – that it'd worn off."
"You're welcome. I'm glad I could help."
Carol takes a sip of her water, and doesn't say anything.
"Oh, for goodness' sake," Janet says, after a long silence, and smoothly, effortlessly, becomes tiny, flying up out of her clothes with her superhero dress on instead.
"What – " Carol begins, but before she can do more than put down her glass Janet's flying up to her, impossibly tiny hands grasping her thumb and pulling firmly until Carol's hand turns over, palm up.
"You always forget that I'm faster than you, Danvers," Janet says, and bends her small head to press a tiny, perfect kiss to the base of Carol's thumb. Carol, to her shock, feels it perfectly, the unmistakable sensation of being kissed, wet and warm and lingering.
"You knew," she says, breathlessly. "You knew, that night, when I – "
"Hey, I know from tiny kisses," Janet says, raising an eyebrow.
"But then why didn't you say anything?" Carol asks, embarrassed now. She thought she'd been so careful, keeping it all locked away.
Janet shrugs, and flits upward a little so that she can sit in Carol's hand. Her whole body rests there, trusting, warm and moving and alive against Carol's palm. "Well, the circumstances weren't ideal, and I didn't want to take advantage." She gets a very small gleam in her very small eye. "I figured, you know, if being tiny was just a phase you were going through, just something you were experimenting with, then it'd be bye-bye Janet as soon as you returned to normal – hey!"
This last as Carol raises her fist and shakes it at Janet's small form. "I'll get you, Wasp. One of these days."
"Today's good for me," Janet says simply, and ripples and changes until she's her normal, huge, imposing five foot four again, shifting to straddle Carol's lap. They fit cozily together in the armchair, Janet's knees pressing down on either side of Carol's thighs.
Carol blinks up at her. Moved by desire, she cups the side of Janet's face, runs her hand through her hair. "Yeah?"
Carol leans up and kisses her mouth, slowly at first and then fast and hungry, loving the softness of her lips and the hard, unmoving weight of her body on top of her. Janet kisses like she fights: easily, joyfully, and able to devastate you completely when you least expect it. More than once, Carol feels Janet's grin against her mouth, and can't help but grin back before pressing forward again, kissing her again, going back for more. After a minute or two, Carol pulls Janet's hands forward, encouraging her to touch her shoulders, her arms, her sides.
They stay together like that for a long time, exchanging slow kisses and quick ones, murmuring into each others' mouths, Janet squirming just a little in her lap, just enough to make Carol's imagination kick into high gear.
"This is good," Janet sighs, when they break apart for a moment. "This is great. I'm very glad you finally got your nerve up enough to make out with me."
"Shut up," Carol says, grinning. "I was coping with a major life change, you know."
"I know. Usually that makes people want to have ill-advised makeouts more often, not less."
Carol smiles and rubs her thumb lightly over Janet's cheekbone. "This is ill-advised, you think?"
"Oh, who knows," Janet says. "My last superhero relationship ended with the guy faking his own death."
Carol can't help but laugh, and Janet laughs with her, encouraging.
"It is too bad you didn't kiss me while you were small, though," Janet says, ducking in to press a soft, brief kiss to Carol's mouth. "We could've had, oh, just the tiniest, cutest little dollhouse makeouts."
"I have to say I'm a little sorry I didn't say anything then," Carol admits, thinking of the softness of Janet's lips, of how they'd feel rough and hot and huge if Carol were still tiny. Of how she could rub her whole body along Janet's mouth, curl herself around a nipple, press her face into the dip of her bellybutton.
Janet raises an eyebrow, and Carol meets her challenging stare with one of her own. "Oh really," Janet says. By way of affirmation, Carol leans up and sucks gently on the vulnerable line of Janet's jaw, just where it meets her throat.
"Really," she breathes, against Janet's skin.
"Well," Janet says. "I can still get big, you know."
Carol laughs, joy and abandon and the bright fresh feeling of new beginnings, and wraps her arms around Janet's waist, holding her firmly while they kiss again.
She doesn't think she's going to let her get away.