A hospital waiting room, where Patsy “Hellcat” Walker sits, tapping away at her laptop keyboard. Monica Rambeau returns, with two cans of soda and asks ‘Patsy, what in the hell are you doing, girl?’ Patsy puts the laptop down and explains that she is writing about this. ‘Umm. A little tacky, don’t you think? A little exploitative?’ Monica asks, handing one of the sodas to Felicia Hardy a.k.a. Black Cat who is sitting nearby. Felicia tells her friends that she dated a newspaper photographer once, who always said “Anything’s fair game, Leesh, everything’s a story”. ‘Yeah, but this is our friend’ Monica frowns.
Suddenly, Angelica “Firestar” Jones, sitting next to Felicia, looks up from her magazine and announces that it is okay, as she asked Patsy to do it. ‘Angelica, why?’ Monica asks, horrified. Angelica declares that she is not going to be a victim - she is going to beat this thing, and on the other side of this, she wants a record of how she beat it, to help other women. ‘Once a New Warrior, always a New Warrior’ Felicia smiles.
Patsy announces that she told her editor at Redbook that this is not going to be some puff piece. ‘Obviously not, it’s about cancer’ Felicia points out, to which Patsy adds that what she means is that this is going to be as honest as possible - as “in-the-moment” and real as she can make it. ‘You better. Or you’ll have every female super hero this side of the Initiative gunning for you’ Monica frowns. Suddenly a nurse wearing a black half-cape enters the waiting room, ‘Ms Jones… I’m the Night Nurse. Will you kindly follow me?’ she asks .
Angelica goes into the surgical room and changes into a gown, ‘It’s eleven in the morning’ Angelica suddenly points out. ‘Hmmm?’ the Night Nurse asks. ‘You’re seeing me at eleven in the morning but you call yourself the Night Nurse’ Angelica remarks. The Night Nurse flicks a switch which turns on some lights above them and tells Angelica that it helps not to be too literal-minded around here. Angelica raises one hand over her head as part of the gown is removed. ‘Do you have a real name? Like, on a your birth certificate?’ Angelica asks as Night Nurse begins her examination. She replies that she does, but that she is very particular about who she tells. ‘Ah, there it is. The size of a pea, it feels like’ she explains. Angelica pulls the gown back over her and replies that she is very particular about who touches her breasts. ‘But here I am, letting you, a total stranger, have her way with me’. The Night Nurse looks a little taken aback, before announcing that she thinks she hears the doctor approaching.
The doctor enters the room and introduces himself as Stephen Strange. He tells Angelica that it is a pleasure to meet her, despite the circumstances. ‘Or, if our paths have crossed before, it’s nice to see you again’ he adds. They shake hands and Angelica tells him that she thinks they have met once or twice. ‘Dr McDreamy, paging Dr McDreamy…’ Angelica thinks to herself. Examining the chart, Dr Strange tells Angelica that the Night Nurse informed him she has been diagnosed with breast cancer. ‘Stage two, Doctor. Her oncologist is Albert Hill at Mount Sinai’ Night Nurse announces. ‘A good man, Hill’ Strange remarks. ‘Yeah, he’s great, but my friends are insisting I get a second opinion from… well…’ her voice trails off. ‘Of course’ Strange remarks, explaining that he is not specifically an oncologist, and he is no longer Sorcerer Supreme, but he still has some tricks up his sleeve.
Strange helps Angelica to lie back on the bed, and assures her that this won’t hurt a bit. ‘Dr Hill scheduled me for some x-rays…’ Angelica begins, to which Strange tells her that this is essentially what he is doing, but he is using his magic to analyze her bio-energies for contaminants. ‘Let’s see if this nasty little tumor of yours has spread to any other part of your body’ Strange declares. Magical energies glow, and Strange tells Angelica that if it helps her relax, she should count backwards from one hundred.
‘Oh my Lord…’ Monica utters out in the waiting room shortly after. ‘What is it?’ Patsy asks. ‘Brother can’t take a hint. And by “brother” I mean Brother Voodoo. Sucker keeps texting me’ Monica reveals. Angelica sits beside her after the exam, while Felicia points out that at least he is not sending her voodoo dolls any more. ‘And isn’t it Doctor Voodoo now?’ she asks. ‘Brother, Doctor, he’s done a lot worse than dolls’ Monica remarks, recalling how she answered the door in a towel after being interrupted in the middle of a shower - and a zombie was at the door, extending a bouquet of flowers. Patsy smiles and asks Monica if she has seen him since he got to New York. Monica wonders whether she should lie or tell the truth, before she reveals that she has seen him - but only because she was sick of having zombies show up on her doorstep. ‘We met at - where else - the Voodoo Longue, in Harlem’ she announces.
‘So… how have you been, Monica?’ Jericho Drumm a.k.a. Doctor Voodoo asks as they sit across from at each other at a table, listening to the band on stage. ‘Busy, Jericho. You owe me two hundred dollars’ Monica frowns. ‘How do you figure that?’ Jericho asks, smiling. ‘That’s how much it cost to steam-clean the dirt out of my building’s carpets after your zombie shuffled by’ Monica explains. Jericho leans forward and asks Monica what her problem is, pointing out that they had fun together in New Orleans. ‘A lot of fun if you want to get innuendo-y about it’ he adds. ‘That… was a one-time-only deal. And it was more than five hundred miles from New York, so it doesn’t even count!’ Monica snaps. Jericho glances sideways and tells Monica that he likes this song. ‘Me, too, actually’ Monica admits. They get up onto the dance floor and hold each other as they dance.
‘So what if we kept things professional?’ Jericho suggests, while adding that this is nice. ‘What are you talking about?’ Monica replies, while warning him to watch where he pouts his groin, as he gyrates against her. ‘I believe what I’m asking is…wanna have a team-up? I need some help on a case’ Jericho reveals. He informs Monica that he tracked an occult artifact from New Orleans to New York, which is why he is here, for the gentleman in possession of this artifact is looking to sell it, however, he won’t sell it to him. ‘How come?’ Monica asks, intrigued. ‘Long, boring story involving me and his father, whom I accidentally killed’ Jericho reveals. ‘Classy’ Monica tells him. Jericho explains that he needs a middle man, or more accurately, a middle lady - someone who is not magical, as he would smell that a mile away. ‘I need you, Monica’ Jericho smiles. Monica tells Jericho that he doesn’t know what he wants or needs, but admits that she is mildly intrigued. ‘What’s the object and who’s the seller?’ she asks him. Jericho reveals that the object occulte is the legendary Monkey’s Paw, and the seller is Baron Samedi - the new Baron Samedi.
‘The Monkey’s Paw? What is this, sixth grade English class?’ Felicia asks. But Monica replies that it is apparently real, and powerful, so she told Jericho that she would help him to get it. ‘Talk about sending mixed messages’ Patsy remarks, before asking why Monica agreed to help him. ‘I have my reasons’ Monica replies, standing up, she starts to pace the room, while Felicia exclaims ‘Forget the paw. Did you sleep with him? After the Voodoo Lounge?’ Monica remembers another passionate encounter, and replies ‘We… ironed out some of the terms of our team-up. And that’s all you’re getting out of me’. B Angelica suddenly announces that it is official - she has breast cancer. The Night Nurse appears and reports that she will call Dr Pym, and see how soon he can fit her in. Angelica tells her friends thatr the good news is that the cancer has not spread yet, and the Night Nurse points out that the fact it is isolated in one tumor increases the treatment’s likelihood of success. ‘Swell, but any Tom, Dick or Harry could have told is that. Why doesn’t Strange cast some spell and just cure you?’ Patsy asks.
Dr Strange’s image appears before the women and explains that it does not work that way, as there are limits to what even a former Sorcerer Supreme can do. He tells the women that this is not the first time he has faced such a dilemma. ‘All due respect, Strange: is it that you can’t cure Angelica or that you won’t?’ Patsy snaps at her former Defenders teammate. ‘Patsy!’ Felicia exclaims, while Monica tells her to chill. Strange simply replies that this is beyond his purview as a mystic, but that as a physician he has made his recommendation: see Henry Pym and don’t despair. The Night Nurse opens the door and tells the ladies that there is nothing more Strange can do for them at this moment. ‘I’ll call Henry Pym and then call you, Ms Jones, as soon as I hear back - all right?’ she declares.
Walking down the sidewalk, Monica wonders whether she should have asked Strange about the Paw, but decides that it was probably not the time. Patsy tells her friends that she is sorry she freaked them out, and adds that obviously it is not Strange’s fault, but she is just looking for someone to blame. ‘It’s my fault. My body’s doing this to me’ Angelica calls out as she sits down on a park bench. Monica and Felicia stand behind her, while Patsy sits down next to her. Felicia tells Angelica that she can’t think that way, that this is stupid, awful, horrendous bad luck - that’s all. ‘And believe me, honey, I know from bad luck’ Felicia adds. But Angelica tells Felicia that it is more complicated than that. ‘You guys know my mutant powers are microwave-based, right? That that’s how I generate heat and fire?’ Angelica asks. ‘Yeah…’ Patsy replies, while thinking that she doesn’t like where this is going.
Angelica tells her friends that a few years back, when she was a member of the New Warriors and engaged to Vance, she discovered that her powers were slowly poisoning her, and that if she kept using them, they would make her infertile. She remembers sitting with Justice, who told her not to stress, and that they would get through it. Monica announces that she remembers hearing about this, and recalls that it made her freak about her own powers. Angelica tells her friends that she retired for a while, thinking that she may not want to be a mother right this second, but that she will eventually, and later, reluctantly, she joined the Avengers. ‘That’s when Henry Pym figured out what was wrong with my physiology’ Angelica tells her friends.
Avengers Mansion, in one of the laboratories used by Dr Henry Pym a.k.a. Giant Man, where Firestar is being scanned in a large tank. Dr Pym stands before her and points out that most mutants are immune to their powers, but for whatever reason that part of her cellular makeup has not yet developed. Hank gives angelica a suit of bio-circuitry and tells her that if she wears it for the next six months, it should drain away the excess microwave energy that has been building up the toxicity n her cells, as well as, hopefully, kick-start her natural immunity. ‘Six months? Is that all? Oh, Doctor, thank you!’ Angelica replies, ecstatic.
‘I knew… I knew in my heart of hearts, I never should’ve taken that damn suit off…’ Angelica laments, informing her friends that when the six months were up, she decided she was going to be fine - no ifs, ands or buts. ‘As stupid as it sounds, I needed to stop thinking of myself as being “sick” you know?’ Angelica explains. Patsy tells her that it is not stupid at all, that it makes perfect sense. Angelica tells the girls that when she retired again to go to grad school, she assumed it was over. ‘Oh, somewhere in the back of my head, a little voice would say, every so often: Call Henry Pym. Call Reed Richards. Call Stephen Strange. Have someone check you out to make sure you’re still in the clear…” but I ignored it’. Angelica begins to cry, while Monica tells her that they all do, it is human nature. ‘Nobody takes care of themselves the way they should. I know I don’t’ Patsy remarks. ‘I haven’t had a physical in…’ Felicia’s voice trails off, as she thinks to herself ‘Months? Years? Memo to self…’.
Patsy tells Angelica that it doesn’t matter what caused this - what matters is now that she knows she has it, she has to take steps to protect herself. She reminds Angelica that Hank Pym helped her once, so maybe he can help again. ‘That’s what Linda said, too’ Angelica remarks. ‘Linda?’ Monica asks. ‘Oh, that’s…the Night Nurse. Her real name’s Linda. She told me’ Angelica reveals. Patsy gets up off the park bench and declares that the next step is to wait for Linda to call, confirming the appointment with Pym. ‘In the meantime, you know what I recommend?’ Patsy asks. ‘Knowing you, Patsy, something wildly inappropriate’ Monica replies. ‘Something fun to keep the positivity flowing! After all, you’re only as sick as you feel. Lunch? A Movie?’ she smiles. ‘Well, I do need a new dress…for my “project” with Jericho’ Monica points out. ‘Great, you’re in. Felicia?’ Patsy asks. Felicia replies that she wishes she could ,but she is broke and window shopping doesn’t really do it for her - plus, she has an appointment she can’t miss.
Soon, at the United Mutual Bank, ‘This is difficult, Ms Hardy…but I’ve been reviewing your loan application, and you don’t have much in terms of collateral, do you?’ the banker sitting at his desk across from Felicia, points out. Felicia tells Mr Jenkins that her apartment is bought and paid for, and asks about refinancing it, or borrowing against it. ‘In this fiscal climate? Too much of a gamble, I’m afraid’ Mr Jenkins replies, adding that there are other matters to consider - ethical ones. ‘My past as the Black Cat is… my past. But I’m reformed now. I’m registered, I was a member of Heroes for Hire for God’s sake!’ Felicia exclaims, adding that this is the fifth bank she has been to. ‘Please, Mr Jenkins’ she calls out. ‘You obviously don’t remember it, but the Black Cat once robbed this bank, Ms Hardy… this very branch… while I was on duty. You stole other people’s money… out from under my nose on my watch’ Mr Jenkins reveals. He tells her that he is sorry, but they are not the right fit. ‘Your application for a loan is officially…’
‘Denied! Five times!’ Felicia, dressed as the Black Cat, exclaims as she leaps into an alleyway. ‘Well, what did you expect?’ a voice asks via communicator, ‘I expected a fighting chance! I expected to be treated like a human being!’ Black Cat declares as her foot strikes a thug in the alleyway who was attempting to rob a woman. The woman starts to run away, but calls 911 on her mobile phone: ‘Some $%#& just tried to mug me but the Black Cat kicked his @$$!’ she exclaims. ‘Ow’ the thug mutters, clutching his head while rolling on the alley ground. ‘What was that? It sounded like… a head of lettuce getting crushed’ the voice over the communicator asks. ‘I’m so angry right now, Thomas!’ Black Cat tells the man she is speaking with, her boyfriend, Thomas Fireheart, who sits at his desk, signing some documents. ‘I know bay-’ Thomas begins to say, while thinking to himself ‘Don’t call her “baby”’ ‘- I know, Felicia’ he remarks.
The Black Cat puts her shades on and asks ‘What’s the point of reforming if you’re only going to have doors slammed in your face, again and again?’ Thomas reminds Felicia that he has told her a million times - she doesn’t need to go to bans, as he can give her the money to reopen Cat’s Eye Investigations. ‘And I’ve told you a millions times, Thomas. En. Oh. No. I’m doing this for myself, by myself. I don’t want you bailing me out every -’ her voice trails off, and she asks Thomas if she can call him back. ‘Why, is something happening?’ Thomas asks, turning to his phone from here he is standing in his office, putting some golf balls into a hole. Felicia pulls her trench coat on over her Black Cat costume and replies ‘Not at all. I just had a stroke of inspiration…and I’m going to follow it up with a little research and recon’. She tells Thomas that she will call him, and makes her way to a museum with a sign out the front advertising an exhibit: “Immortal Wealth - the Golden Treasures of Ancient Egypt”.
Saks on Fifth Avenue, Patsy is tapping away at her laptop while sitting near some dressing rooms. She is updating the work she is compiling on Angelica’s illness as she and Felicia have taken Angelica out for lunch and some retail therapy. ‘Once a model, always a model I guess’ Patsy decides, when suddenly, a voice calls out ‘It still gives me such a thrill to see you do that’, and Patsy looks over to some racks of dresses, where Daimon Hellstrom is standing. ‘Daimon!’ she gasps. Daimon smiles wickedly and tells Patsy that she gets into such a zone when writing - that her fingers fly across the keyboard and everything else falls way. ‘I’m telling you, Pats, it’s hot as hell’. Patsy puts the laptop down as Daimon approaches her and sits down next to her. ‘Twice in one week, Daimon? That’s no coincidence’ Patsy remarks, while recalling what Daimon always used to say - that he is always there for her when he needs something. ‘Ouch, Patsy. You wound me. I’m here for you. I’m here to help’ Daimon claims.
‘You really are the little devil on my shoulder, aren’t you? Help me how?’ Patsy replies. Daimon grins and Patsy and reveals that he has been keeping an eye on her and her friends from afar. ‘I’m here to tell you… those rules that apply to Strange and his ilk? Don’t apply to me’. Daimon tells Patsy that he can cure her friend’s cancer with a twitch of his nose - and Patsy goes wide-eyed. ‘And let me guess: all it’ll cost her is her soul, right?’ Patsy replies. ‘No, Patsy, just yours’ Daimon announces. ‘My-? God, it’s always some angle with you, isn’t it? Well, forget it, Hellstrom, no deal’ Patsy exclaims. Daimon gets to his feet, ‘No? Well, we’ll see. It’s early yet. Your gal-pal’s barely started to waste away’.. Daimon tells Patsy to consider this a standing offer, and adds that he would say more, but he knows she is about to be summoned into t
he dressing room by that intriguing Rambeau person. ‘What -?’ Patsy replies. ‘Patsy - can you come in here for a minute?’ Monica calls out, opening the door to her dressing room. ‘I…sure. Since apparently I’m talking to no one’ Patsy mutters when she turns to see that Daimon has vanished. Monica ushers Patsy into the dressing room and tells her ‘We were laughing, joking, having a grand time, and then - I don’t know. She just stopped talking all of a sudden’. Behind a curtain in the large dressing room, Angelica stares at the mirror. She looks glamorous wearing a green dress - but she starts to cry, and her mascara runs - for what she sees staring back at her is a withered version of herself, sullen and suffering hair loss. ‘Angie? You all right?’ Patsy calls out. Angelica looks at Patsy and Monica and announces that she doesn’t want to have a mastectomy, that she doesn’t care if she loses her hair, but she doesn’t want to put her body through the rest of it.
Patsy tells Angelica that no one is talking about that yet, and that it is a last resort. Monica agrees and points out that they don’t come much smarter than Hank Pym - if anyone can help, he can. ‘But what if he can’t? What if he can’t help? What then?’ Angelica asks. ‘We…’ Patsy’s voice trails off as she remembers what Daimon said to her - that he can cure her friend with a twitch of his noise - and all it will cost is Patsy’s soul. Patsy glances away, and swears to Angelica that they will think of something….