Angelica “Firestar” Jones flies down through the skyscrapers of the city, microwave energy radiating around her. She pushes her hair back out of her eyes and looks pensive. ‘You’d think I’d be happy. You’d think I’d be relieved. Well, apparently you’d think wrong’ the young mutant hero tells herself. She swoops lower, towards a road, pursuing a speeding car. ‘But that’s not this. This is a couple of joyriding bozos who think life’s a video game. Which, for me, it sort-of is in a way…. but again, that’s not this’ Angelica tells herself. Two teenagers are in the car, one of them cracks open two cans of beer. Angelica knows that this is a pair of dumb kids who blackjacked a man climbing out of his A8 and then took his keys - without bothering to look in the back seat. Firestar can see her reflection in the rear window - and a sign stuck to the window: “Baby on Board!”
Angelica knows that normally a burst tire or an overheated engine would do the trick, but this calls for a quick-and-gentle end, and lucky for her, with luxury cars like this, pretty much everything is electronic. She darts in front of the car, and one of the teens puts his head out the window: ‘Whoa! Dude, that fire chick’s gonna melt us!’ he exclaims wide-eyed.
Hovering over the front of the car, Angelica thinks that despite what the passenger-seat bozo calls her, it is microwaves that she controls. Angelica knows that if she concentrates on a broad frequency range where the control panel in the car ought to be, the ride will come to a full and complete stop - which is exactly what happens, as the car stops just in front of Firestar when she lands on the ground.
‘You two even flinch and I’ll deep-fry your eyeballs’ Firestar threatens the teenagers. ‘Not really’ she thinks to herself. ‘I need to check on the - napping baby’ Firestar remarks as she opens the rear door and sees the baby, fine, and asleep. Firestar takes to the air as the police arrive, jealous that the baby slept through the whole thing.
Soon: ‘Look at you. When’s the last time you got some sleep?’ Monica Rambeau asks Angelica as she opens her apartment door and lets her friend inside. Monica is wearing a blue robe, while Firestar has on her civilian clothes and a backpack. ‘Like, sleep-sleep? Or does it count when I lay down with my eyes closed as the room and the entire world spins around me?’ Angelica asks, flopping down on Monica’s couch. ‘You wen’t out today, didn’t you?’ Monica asks, not looking very impressed. ‘Monica - there was this baby and -’ Angelica begins, but Monica assures Angelica that she isn’t scolding her, not for doing good, but points out that she needs to know that she has to take it easier for a while longer, that she has to let the therapy do its thing so they can be sure she will be around a good, long time.
‘Therapy. When you say it like that it sounds heavenly. Like a sports massage’ Angelica replies, wondering if that is something she can do, become a certified therapist. ‘With my powers I could probably be really good at it, don’t you think?’ Angelica asks her friend. ‘Do what? What’re you on about?’ Monica asks.
‘Nothing, it’s - could I crash here tonight?’ Angelica inquires, pointing out that she is in no shape to fly home. ‘And that train commute…’ her voice trails off as she tells Monica that she just can’t go home, she needs a little break. ‘I get it, you know. The need to keep up appearances. The positive attitude, the getup… they say you’re supposed to do these things for yourself, to help you through it. But you… you’re doing it for everyone but you. That’s just how you were built. It’s how your daddy and your grams brought you up’ Monica remarks. She starts to tell Angelica that she should be really proud of herself, when she realizes that her friend has fallen asleep. ‘Aww. Look at you. You rest, girl. Don’t let the spinning world stop you’ Monica remarks, putting a blanket over her friend.
‘What would you do with a second chance at life? Here’s me:’ Angelica thinks to herself as she starts another day. At 8:50 AM, she rushes in late to a morning lecture. At 10:35 AM she argues over the phone with the financial aid department, and at 11:20 AM, continues note-taking for a treatise on early Byzantine art. At 1:15 PM, Angelica pounds her head on the desk over her third draft of said treatise, and ten minutes later, begins draft four. By 1:40 PM, she is on take three of draft four. At 2:00 PM, Angelica saves a construction worker from a fatal fall, then grabs lunch, and at 2:20 PM she attends an afternoon art-restoration symposium. At 4:45 PM, she is on the Northeast Corridor heading home. Lather, rinse and repeat….
‘We outta that shower yet, Angel?’ Angelica’s father, Bart Jones, calls out from the kitchen where he is making some food. ‘Dad…’ Angelica remarks as she enters the kitchen. ‘Hey, what do I always say?’ Bart asks. “Hot water doesn’t’ grow on trees” Angelica quotes her father. ‘Got that right’ Bart remarks, before telling his daughter that she looks great, that she has some color in her. Angelica takes the sandwich that her father hands her and replies that the train made her sick again, so it might be some sort of upchuck afterglow. ‘That’s my girl. Still can’t take a compliment’ Bart smiles. Angelica lifts up the bread on top of the sandwich and asks her father if he made it for her. Bart realizes that he has made an error: ‘Spicy cold cuts. What was I thinking? I wasn’t thinking, that’s what’ Bart mutters, before telling Angelica to take a seat, but Angelica tells him that it is okay, as she will just nuke some soup.
Angelica is able to nuke some soup with her own power, and sits at the kitchen table with her father, who asks her if she has any plans tonight. ‘I was hoping, ah… I was hoping you’d come out with me to, ah… meet this lady I’ve been seeing -’ Bart begins. ‘You have a girlfriend? When did this happen?’ Angelica asks, wide-eyed. Somewhat embarrassed, Bart tells Angelica that he is sorry he didn’t tell her, but he didn’t want to say anything until he knew ‘It was, you know…’ his voice trails off, before informing Angelica that her name is Janet, Janet Sandusky, she is a widow. ‘We have that, and she’s… well, she’s great’ Bart smiles. ‘Daddy. Such amazing news. I’m so excited for you’ Angelica smiles, getting up out of her seat and putting her arms around her father. Bart adds that there something even better - and reveals to Angelica that she went to school with Janet’s daughter. ‘You mean at the Academy, or…?’ her voice trails off. ‘No, here in Jersey. And Sandusky’s her married name?’ Angelica asks. ‘Uh-huh’ Bart replies. ‘Sandusky’ Angelica declares. ‘Yeah’ Bart tells her. ‘Cassie Sandusky?’ Angelica mutters, glancing away and narrowing her eyes.
That night, Angelica and Bart are at a restaurant and sit opposite Janet Sandusky and her daughter, Cassie. Angelica remembers being bullied by Cassie as a child. ‘Cassie Sandusky’ Angelica thinks to herself, deciding that the trick is to be cool, to pretend those days belong to someone else’s life. ‘So, Cassie… wow, how long’s it been, huh?’ Angelica asks, smiling. ‘Or not’ Angelica decides, as Cassie scowls and looks away, drink in hand.
Janet asks Angelica if her father told her that Cassie is in charge of human resources for the entire Sheinhardt Company? ‘No… no he didn’t’ Angelica replies, before remarking to Cassie that is a lot of responsibility. ‘What would you know about it?’ Cassie asks, raising her drink to her mouth. ‘No, that’s what I’m saying. I’ve been involved in, you know, team leadership, but I don’t think I could do what you do’ Angelica remarks. ‘Hmp. Prob’ly not’ Cassie mutters, knocking back the rest of her drink.
‘So, Miss Sandusky -’ Angelia begins as everyone starts to eat their food. ‘Janet, please’, Janet replies, before Angelica asks how she and her father met. ‘Oh, it was the cutest thing’ Janet begins, revealing that she was at the work bench looking for some parts to fix her sink. ‘Hey, table drone. This place turn self-service or what’s the deal?’ Cassie rudely calls out to a waiter, holding her empty glass out. Cassie frowns as her mother adds ‘This young employee didn’t know anything, but then your father happened along. He offered to help me out and ever since then we -’ she begins, as Cassie mutters that she is about to heave. ‘Cassie, I thought we’d agreed you wouldn’t -’ Janet admonishes her, to which Cassie snaps that she isn’t twelve, and calling her mother ‘Janet’, she adds ‘Dunno if you know this, but I’m all grown up now. I get to decide for myself what I -’ she begins, as Janet interrupts, asking her to decide to behave like a grown-up in front of their friends. ‘Friends? With Angelica the freak girl? HAH!’ Cassie shouts, standing up. Bart and Janet look on, horrified while Angelica remains calm.
‘Cassie!’ Janet exclaims, starting to stand up, too, while patrons in the restaurant turn their attention to the commotion. ‘Yeah, don’t get your big white panties in a bunch, Janet, old pal… Sandusky out’ Cassie mutters as she turn and walks away, past the waiter who is bringing another drink to her. ‘Wow. Um…you want me to go after her, or…?’ Angelica asks. Janet announces that she has Cassie’s keys, so she is not driving anywhere. Bart goes over and puts his arms around Janet who is clearly upset. Bart reveals to Angelica that Cassie is going through a big, ugly divorce. ‘It’s been really hard on her’ he adds. ‘Oh, okay. Not that that has anything to do with her being all cruel and snarky in the first place…’ Angelica adds.
Life continues, with Angelica going about more of her oh-so-routine. Days pass by, and yet she just can’t shake it. She meets Monica and her other gal pals - Patsy “Hellcat” Walker and Felicia Hardy the Black Cat for lunch, and as happy as Angelica is for a day’s second chance, she is just as unnerved about Cassie. All these years, all the fantasies of her tormentor being tormented - the real thing comes along and Angelica finds herself without the stomach for it. She battles a criminal, and attends a lecture - not just without the stomach, but actually worried over Cassie Sandusky. The lecture ends and Angelica moves on, deciding that Cassie deserves a second chance, too - doesn’t she? Doesn’t everyone? Sitting at the kitchen table back home, Angelica can’t believe she is actually going to do this. ‘Maybe I should get checked for a brain tumor’ she wonders.
Cassie Sandusky sits slumped over a bar. A man approaches her and she tells him to take a hunt and invest in some mints, while he is at it. Her eyes dart in the other direction as she hears someone at the bar ask for a cranberry and soda. ‘Oh, wonderful. Little Miss Sunshine’ Cassie mutters, putting one hand over her head, while holding her glass with the other. ‘Come to cry about how mean I was to you? How you couldn’t hack it so somehow it’s my fault you got no self-esteem?’ Cassie asks, smirking at Angelica, who calmly replies ‘It’s okay, you know. It’s okay to worry about where your life’s headed. Everything turns upside down, nothing’s like it was before… maybe it never will be again. It’s only natural to be scared’. But Cassie scowls and asks ‘What in the hell are you babbling about?’ ‘Your divorce’ Angelica replies. ‘Your Mom told me how it blindsided you. I just wanted you to know that, weird as it may seem, I’m here to listen if you -’Angelica begins, unable to finish what she wanted to say as Cassie reaches down the bar and grabs someone’s glass of beer, which she then throws over Angelica’s face. ‘You don’t get to know me!’ Cassie screams.
Cassie then bursts into laughter, ‘Oh, now that takes me back. Such a loser! You -’ she begins, when suddenly, flames spread around Angelica as she dries the beer away. ‘Wait. What’re you -? No… that’s not fair!’ Cassie screams, she gets up and starts to run out of the bar, ‘Freak girl! Freak! FREEEEAK!’ she screams.
Angelica apologizes to the bar tender and puts some coins onto the counter, ‘I’m really sorry. I hope this covers it’ she tells him, before she runs out of the bar, ‘Cassie! Cassie no!’ she calls out, as Cassie gets into her car. ‘Not the smartest plan I’ve ever had’ Angelica thinks to herself as she flies after Cassie, who has pulled out into traffic. Angelica only wanted to help, but she sees now that Cassie is all over the road. Drivers honk their horns at her as she swerves about. Angelica realizes that if she doesn’t do something fast, Cassie could kill someone - even herself.
Firestar decides that electronic disruption won’t do any good this time around. ‘Sorry about this, Cassie…’ she calls out as she fires a blast of energy at one of the tires, causing the car to swerve off the road and into large pond of water. Cassie steps out of the driver’s door into the water, as Angelica hovers above her and reaches out to her. ‘Cassie, here -’ Angelica calls out. ‘No! Don’t!’ Cassie shouts, she falls over in the water, and as Angelica hovers over her, exclaims ‘This is your fault this happened! You! You did this! And I - I -’ she stammers, before she vomits.
Later, Cassie sits in front of a fireplace, a blanket wrapped around her. ‘Here. Tea should help’ Angelica tells her as she walks over to her. ‘Every time I drive home like that… the next morning I tell myself “Okay, Cassie, this is the last time”. I’m lucky I haven’t been pulled over. Or worse’ she admits, before thanking Angelica dor drying her off. ‘It’s the least I could so, considering’ Angelica replies. ‘These things you can do… I don’t understand any of it. It’s all strange and unsettling’ Cassie remarks, ‘But you must have a pretty amazing life, all things considered’ she adds. ‘Oh, I don’t know about that’ Angelica replies, pointing out that being a mutant comes with a lot of baggage, and that in every other respect, she is still definitely only human.
‘I don’t know what I’m doing’ Cassie admits, remarking that the divorce is taking her down with it, as her ex wants everything - this house, their house. ‘If I had it to do over, I would never have even gotten married. Neither of us knew who we were yet…’ her voice trails off.
Angelica reveals that she was almost married, but that in the end, things didn’t work out between them, and yet, there isn’t a day she doesn’t wish she and Vance were husband and wife. ‘You can’t know how it’ll all pan out. You go with your gut and your heart and… I don’t know. You do your best to make it work, I guess, and if it doesn’t…’ Angelica’s voice trails off, as she raises a cup of hot drink to her mouth. Cassie looks at Angelica, and asks her if she is wearing a wig. Angelica goes wide-eyed, ‘I, uh… I am, yeah’ she admits. Angelica slowly removes her long red wig, revealing her nearly bald head, save for a few small patches of red hair. Angelica looks away from Cassie, who is wide-eyed herself now, as Angelica reveals it was breast cancer. ‘They got it out, but, you know, just to be sure about everything I get the joy of chemo for a little while longer’. She adds that it is a heck of a diet plan, and not much of a sleep aid, though. ‘I don’t know what I’m doing either, Cassie. I really don’t Angelica explains.
‘Angel! Got yer breakfast ready!’ Bart calls out from the kitchen, but Angelica doesn’t respond. ‘Angel?’ Bart asks, knocking on Angelica’s bedroom door. ‘What am I doing, Dad?’ Angelica asks as she sits on her bed, holding herself. ‘Shouldn’t I be - I mean, an art masters, Dad. Spending my days and your money and all this future debt studying for a career that, you know, isn’t important?’ Angelica asks, tears falling down her face.
Bart sits down next to Angelica as she tells him that so many don’t even make it, but that she survived and here she is, living her life. ‘I mean, I’ve been given a second chance and I can’t help but feel I’m wasting it!’ she explains. ‘Angel…’ Bart begins. ‘Angel, most people go through their life never figuring out what to do with it. And those that do, most of them never go for it’. Bart points out that Angelica has a passion and is actually pursuing it - he add that she is selfless and loving towards her family and friends, and that she has helped to make the world a better place countless times with no expectation of any kind of reward.
Bart informs Angelica that, thanks to her, Cassie checked herself into rehab. He puts an arm around Angelica and remarks ‘The life you lived before the cancer? The same life you live now? Honey, there ain’t a single thing wrong with it’. Bart tells Angelica that her Mom and Nana would be proud of her. ‘I’m so proud of you. Now come on down and I’ll heat up your -’ he begins, kissing Angelica’s forehead, when suddenly, Monica Rambeau materializes in the room. ‘Angie!’ she exclaims. ‘Hi. Sorry’ She tells Bart, before announcing that thre is a thing going on up near the city - kinda big. ‘We could definitely use you’ Monica declares. ‘Daddy?’ Angelica asks, turning to her father. ‘You’re a big girl, Angel. If you’re feeling up to it, you do what you need to do’ Bart replies. ‘That’s a great kid you got there, Sir’ Monica tells Bart. ‘Don’t I know it’ Bart replies, as Firestar takes to the air.
Angelica smiles and thinks that if your character dies in a video game, you get a new life. ‘This is my new life. It’s very much like the last one. Nearly exactly’. But the difference is, this time she is going to take her own advice - go with your gut - go with your heart - do your best to make it work - and if it doesn’t…. ‘You think I’d be diminished. You’d think wrong’.