Chapter 1: I keep missing you, again and again
Carol was gone again. Maria saw her fly off, shining like a shooting star that decided that falling on Earth wasn’t enough for her. Of course, she knew that wasn’t the case. Her best friend was just doing what was right. She tried to save innocent people, and Maria understood that completely.
That didn’t change how much it hurt.
After all, she hasn’t seen Carol for six years. She has almost lost the last bit of hope to ever see her again, and then she came back. She wasn’t the same woman she once was, but she tried. And she was enough for Maria, and she was enough for Monica. Finally, things could be just a bit like they were years ago.
But they didn’t have a race of aliens to save back then. Or at least they didn’t know about it yet.
If she had to be honest, she would admit that she actually started to like the Skrulls, just a bit. They were scary, of course, and their powers could easily be used against other beings, but they were people, too. And she understood that they just wanted a safe home for themselves and their families. That was what Maria wanted, as well. She wanted a place where her daughter could grow up strong and happy. And she did all she could to give her that.
But inside, she knew it wasn’t all there was to it. There were so many other things she wanted, things she couldn’t control. She wanted to be with Carol, to spend time with her, to get to know her again. After all, she has changed. Both of them have. It has been six years during which she had to raise her daughter alone, without anyone but her parents by her side. She wanted the old times to come back, so maybe they could be happy again. Together. But Carol had to go and Maria knew why.
So she said nothing, trying to ignore the ache in her chest as she watched her fly away from the planet, out into the unknown.
She hasn’t told Carol everything about their shared past. She didn’t mention the many nights spent cuddling in her bed, trying to wave the nightmares away. She ignored the tired kisses on the couch when they finally got Monica to sleep. Her friend didn’t need to know that right now. Not when she had a mission she needed to finish. But, on the inside, she felt like Carol already knew. She seemed to remember almost everything, but she never said anything.
And neither did Maria. They parted with few nice words and a promise that they both will be okay. Nothing more.
It was a cold December night when she decided to go for a walk after making sure her daughter was in bed, sleeping peacefully. She had missed her Auntie Carol, too, but her optimistic soul was sure she’ll be back soon. It’s been few months now, but the girl hasn’t lost her hope. She never doubted Carol, and Maria could clearly see why.
She wasn’t doubting her either, of course. But she was worried. She saw how dangerous people in space could be, and she hasn’t even gone too far. And these people wanted to get her friend.
Even though she wouldn’t say it out loud, she wished she could be there with her. It was terrifying to think about, but at least she could do something. Maybe she was just a human, but training has definitely taught her a lot. She could kick some alien asses. And she wouldn’t hesitate.
Maybe it was just her desperation talking, though. Maybe if she was there, she wouldn’t think that. But she wasn’t, and she knew there probably was no way she could, so she held onto her confidence. That didn’t hurt, after all.
She was sitting on the grass on the meadow near their house, watching the stars, when she heard quiet footsteps coming from behind her and a familiar voice spoke.
“Hey.” She turned around and there, next to a small tree, stood Carol with a slight smile on her face. “Sorry it took me so long,” the woman said and took few steps forward, standing next to Maria, who quickly got up.
“Well, i gotta say, it was better than six years…”, she replied half-jokingly. It was true. She couldn’t wait that long again, not just after she got her best friend back. So she was quite relieved. But she didn’t want to get her hopes up. Who knew what that girl was planning to do next? She was unpredictable, and that was something the woman loves about her. Even though they knew each other since childhood, they were still able to surprise each other. It was nice.
Carol laughed softly and looked into her eyes with an expression Maria couldn’t quite describe nor decipher. She moved closer to her and the woman could feel her breath on her skin. She smelled like candy and flowers, a combination she wouldn’t expect from someone who just came from space. But maybe she was underestimating her friend now.
“I remember some things. Some things you haven’t told me about.”
“Oh.” She wasn’t surprised. She was glad that the other woman started remembering everything that happened, even without anyone’s help. She always supported her and wanted the best for her. What she was worried about, however, was what Carol was going to think about it. After all, she has changed. She’s been through some things she hasn’t told Maria about yet, and the girl could only imagine what happened.
But it all didn’t seem to matter when her friend pulled her into a kiss.
It wasn’t a long one and it certainly wasn’t as wild as their first kiss, but it was something. It was a start. And it was something both of them wanted. And even as they pulled away, they kept looking into each other’s eyes and Maria noticed a blink of satisfaction and happiness in the pair of brown eyes that were now looking at her.
They moved away, still holding each other’s hands tightly.
“So… how was the space?”, she asked, watching Carol’s face light up in a way that she could only describe as beautiful.
“It was great,” she responded, nodding slightly, “We found a really beautiful planet, you know…”
“That’s nice,” Maria said as they began to walk towards the house, holding hands and smiling.
“Actually…” She heard the other woman start and turned her head to look at her. “I have an idea. And I know you might not like it, so I’m going to wait until Monica is awake,” she said with a small chuckle.
“Well, now you got me worried.”, she responded, but started quietly laughing, too. No matter what it was, she had her Carol back. And that was definitely more than enough to make her happy.
Chapter 2: It always hurts to play along
Maria definitely doesn't like Carol's idea
“No. That is a terrible idea, Carol.” She said, failing to come up with a nicer, softer response. The other woman has clearly gone crazy, probably due to spending so much time in space.
“That is an awesome idea!”, shouted Monica, who clearly was already convinced. That wasn't surprising to her. Her daughter has always been the one wanting to see cool stuff and be a hero. She understood why Carol wanted to wait until their daughter was up to tell them about all that. But this was truly a bad idea and Maria wasn't going to be as easily persuaded as she was last time. And even the happiness from having her back wasn't going to change that.
“Going to space for few hours was one thing, but just... living on some weird planet far away is something completely different.” She shook her head. “Not to mention how that last trip ended.”
“It didn't end that bad…” countered Monica.
“Oh, you're saying that because you weren't there,” she responded quickly, shooting her daughter a 'you have no idea what you're talking about’ glance before looking at Carol again.
“Carol, you know I love you, but you've gone crazy.” She noticed the woman's face lighting up for a second before going back to her normal, a bit tired, but still happy expression. She wasn't sure if this was her powers manifesting or just the way Carol's face looked. Nonetheless, it was beautiful and Maria was reminded again of why she loved her so much.
But even that wasn't going to change her mind.
“But just think about it! Just you, me and Monica, and some Skrulls sometimes… We could even steal Goose from Nick, if you'd want,” she said with a seemingly careless smile, but Maria didn't buy it. She knew something was wrong.
“Oh no, we are not stealing anybody's cat!”, she replied, trying to play along with it for now. She wanted to ask Carol about it, but she wasn't going to do it now. Not in front of Monica, for sure.
“So you're not opposed to the other thing?”, the other asked with a smug smile on her face. Maria just shook her head again and sighed.
“Come on, mom, it would be so much fun,” Monica added and she had to admit, her daughter was her weak spot when it came to convincing her to do something. She noticed it the last time, when Carol asked her to be the copilot on her mission to find Lawson's lab. But this was a very serious matter and she wasn't going to let herself be talked into this by the kid's arguments.
“Monica, sweetie, can you let me talk about this with auntie Carol alone?”, she said and the girl obliged, going to her room upstairs. Maria was pretty sure she was going to try eavesdropping. Carol realized this as well, so they exchanged quick glances before moving to the backyard where they could talk in peace.
“What the hell?”, she almost yelled when she made sure they were alone. “You can't possibly think it is in any way a good idea to take my- our daughter to space. The same dangerous, full-of-people-out-to-getcha space where we almost got killed.”
“I know how it sounds-”
“We both know how it sounds. And we both know how it is. She's barely a teenager. And what do you think we're supposed to do with all of this? Just abandon it all like nothing ever happened?”, she tried to keep calm but something inside her was boiling. It's been so long since she had Carol back, and now that everything was supposed to be normal, she had some crazy ideas. She loved her, so much, and she wanted to be with her but this didn't feel right. None of this felt right.
“I just…”, Carol started, with uncertainty, “I can't stay here.”
“Why not?”, she asked, a bit confused. She knew something was wrong, from the beginning but she had no idea what.
“Because they need me,” she said and Maria felt something inside her chest sinking. Of course it was about the bigger thing. Her friend never hesitated to do the right thing. Even at the expense that was her happiness.
“And I know the Kree are after me. And I'm scared they might be after you, too.”
Maria knew that. Ever since they were on their way to Earth and she had to face Minn-Erva, she became painfully aware that could be a target, too. But so was Fury. She assumed that as a SHIELD agent he had some sort of protection, but looking at how easily Talos managed impersonate Keller, it wasn't the best one he could possibly have.
“I know,” she assured Carol, looking her in the eyes, “But do you really think it's the best idea?”
“I just want everything to be fine again,” she responded. Maria saw she was trying to be chill and even though she could see that she wasn't, she was really good at pretending. Of she hadn't known her for so many years, she would say everything is fine with her. But he had, and she knew her friend needed some reassurance.
She took her hand gently and a small smile appeared on other woman's face, melting her heart completely. “I will think about this, okay?”, she said softly and Carol nodded.
They sat down on the grass and both looked at the sky. Out there, somewhere, was a planet beautiful and safe enough to make Carol want to stay there. And she wanted both of them to be there with her. She wanted to live with them and be happy together, as a family. And after all, a place doesn't matter that much when you are with the right people. And both of them knew that they were right for each other. They were right for Monica, and she was right for them. And that was what mattered the most.
“We gotta talk about Monica's future education, though."