New York City, where Angelica “Firestar” Jones sits in a church, a scarf wrapped around her head. She muses ‘They say when you’re close to death, your life flashes before your eyes’. She always assumed that is when you’re in immediate danger - but this is a slow burn. A fight to the death that is waged over weeks - and it’s less a flash and more her remembering snippets from her life, good and bad, at weird times. She remembers being a student at the Massachusetts Academy under the tutelage of Emma Frost the White Queen, and fighting Wolverine of the X-Men. She recalls battling the Juggernaut alongside the newly formed New Warriors and Thor, and her relationship with Justice. ‘I understand…’ the priest sitting with Angelica tells her, before asking her what it is he can do for her. ‘Would you like me to hear your confession?’ he enquires. Angelica reveals that this is the first time she has been inside a church in years, and that her Mom and Dad were Catholic, and she was raised Catholic, but now - she is not sure what she believes.
The priest smile and tells Angelica that they all have moments of doubt. ‘Let me ask you another way: why did you come here today?’ he enquires. Angelica lowers her eyes and replies that she wanted comfort - that she wanted to know that if the worst happens, she will be okay.
Outside the church, sitting on the steps, is Patsy “Hellcat” Walker. Tapping away on her laptop computer, she thinks that she is not really an “are you there, God? It’s me, Patsy” kind of girl, but that if is what Angelica needs, she is going to make sure she gets it - which is pretty much how it has been since she went with her to see Hank Pym.
Angelica sits on a bed in Hank’s lab, as he tells her that he thinks they’ll treat this the old-fashioned way - aggressive chemotherapy to shrink the tumor, then a lumpectomy to get it out of her, followed by more chemo if needed.
Patsy likes that Pym is no-nonsense, but wonders if any of these super hero doctors have a good bedside manner. She stands near Angelica for support as Angelica asks Hank if he is sure chemo is her best option. ‘Yeah, what about… radiation?’ Patsy enquires. Hank turns to leave and replies that with all the microwaves already coursing through Angelica’s body it is not a good idea. He adds that eventually, they will get her back into a suit that will drain the excess radiation from her on a regular basis, but that right now, they need to flush it out as fast as possible. ‘Hence your little trip’ he remarks.
Patsy realizes that once someone is committed to chemo, there is lots of steps to prepare, and in Angelica’s case, she has to purge her body of as much of her microwave radiation as possible. So Firestar and Hellcat journeyed to the Savage Land where she could release all of her microwave power. Patsy accompanied her so that Firestar could do that in peace, and Hellcat kept the dinosaurs at bay. ‘Back off, buster! We’re not the Runaways!’ Hellcat jokes, hitting the dinosaur with a spear.
Afterwards, they returned to Pym’s lab so that he could run some more tests. ‘Better. We can manage these levels of radiation now’ Pym reports while Firestar is scanned inside a cylinder and Hellcat watched from nearby. When Firestar steps out of the tube, Hank informs her that he talked to her oncologist and that they identified the drugs they want her to start on as soon as possible - four cycles, with infusion treatment on the first and eighth days, and rest on days two to seven and nine to twenty-one. ‘Should we be writing this down?’ Patsy asks, pen and pad ready, but Hank smiles and tells Angelica not to worry, as they will be with her every step of the way.
A week or so later, at a clinic, the Night Nurse stands before Hellcat and Firestar, revealing that she contacted Dr Pym and asked if she could administer the treatment herself. ‘I thought you might be more comfortable’ she explains. Angelica addresses the Night Nurse as Linda and tells her that she definitely is. The Night Nurse takes Angelica’s coat, and as Angelica sits in a chair and the Night Nurse hooks her up to a drip, Patsy averts her eyes, always having a thing about needles and blood. ‘Can I look now?’ Patsy asks, hand over her eyes. ‘Yes, Patsy - and guess what? Linda found my vein on the first try!’ Angelic exclaims. The Night Nurse boasts that she never misses, and that it is practically her mutant ability. ‘Great… awesome…’ Patsy mutters, covering her eyes again, before sitting down in a chair next to Angelica.
‘Here’s the deal’ the Night Nurse begins, explaining that the drugs mostly attack cells that are dividing, and the majority of the cells in her body are in a natural state of rest - but cancer cells divide like crazy, so they get the worst of it, while the other cells, the healthy ones, will weaken - but they will bounce back between treatments. ‘The thing is…’ her voice trails off as Angelica remarks that certain cells in her body are always dividing, like her hair cells. ‘And the ones in your blood, your mouth, your intestinal tract, your nails… there are going to be side effects, Angelica. That’s just the reality’ the Night Nurse announces.
And there were - they started like clockwork after the first treatment. ‘Angie? Honey? You okay in there?’ Monica Rambeau calls out to Angelica who is locked in her bathroom. ‘Yeah, Monica, just - I need a minute’ Angelica replies. Some, like this, were expected. Others, less so, like when Angelica and Felicia Hardy the Black Cat were out to lunch: ‘Okay, this is bizarre, Felicia’ Angelica remarks. ‘What is it?’ Felicia asks. Angelica tells her that her salad doesn’t taste like salad. ‘It tastes like… I don’t know, I can’t place it’. Felicia reminds Angelica that the Night Nurse mentioned this - chemo can affect your sense of smell, your sense of taste.
Individually and together, Patsy, Monica and Felicia did their best to help Angelica through the cycle. ‘Sorry I’m so lame, you guys…’ Angelica tells her friends as she sits snuggled up on the sofa, wrapped in a blanket. ‘Girl, please. This is why they invented Netflix’ Monica replies, opening a package from Netflix. ‘And rom-coms!’ Felica exclaims, walking into the living room with a bottle of wine. ‘And Gerard Butler!’ Patsy grins. Patsy thinks that all of them were secretly hoping that the worst wouldn’t happen - that somehow Angelica would be an exception.
But no such luck. It started in the shower, when Angelica noticed some hair falling out. And it gets worse as the days progress - more hair coming out, this time when she brushes it. Pretty soon, Angelica is waking up in the morning and her pillow is covered in red strands. Patsy thinks that Angelica is a brave girl - she fought the Juggernaut once. Walking down a busy street, Angelica is on her mobile phone to Patsy, ‘Denial’s a mighty river, but I’m done putting this off. You used to be a model; you must know all the best hair and wig people, right?’ Angelica asks her friend. So, Patsy calls in a favor, and later that day, Patsy takes Angelica to a trendy salon. ‘Patsy, you big tramp, where in the H have you been?’ a stylist asks, extending his arms to welcome her. ‘The Upper East Side, like always’ Patsy replies, before remarking ‘This is my friend I called you about -’.
Before Patsy can introduce Angelica properly, Dusty grins and exclaims ‘Firestar! Oh, my God! Best. Costume. Ever. Except for Dazzler’. ‘Oh - well - thanks’ Angelica replies, before Dusty takes her over to a chair where some mannequin heads have been set up with wigs. Dusty tells Angelica not to worry about a thing, as he is going to kiss it and make it all better. ‘Patsy? Help?’ Angelica calls back. Patsy just smiles and thinks ‘Thank God for gay men. They just make things better, don’t they?’ Dusty shows Angelica the wigs, explaining that he took the liberty of preparing a few options for her, and thought “of course, we could go traditional, sure, that’s the safe choice, but why not an update?” ‘Something fun, something sassy, something a little less 1985 - no offense, hon, but we’ve come a long way since bobs’ Dusty remarks, referring to Angelica’s current hairstyle.
‘Allow me to introduce you to - the Carrie - the Miranda - the Charlotte - and the Samantha. What do you think, hon? Any of them? All of them? Talk to me’ Dusty exclaims, showing Angelica the wigs. ‘I think, maybe - maybe I want to try something else’ Angelica replies. Patsy is sceptical at her idea, but in the end, she agrees with Dusty: ‘Very Sinead. Very Sigourney. Very Demi’ Dusty exclaims, clippers in hand, as he spins the chair around, revealing Angelica’s new style - a short, shaved look. ‘Patsy?’ Angelica asks. ‘You look beautiful, Angelica’ Patsy smiles. Dusty pulls away the towel covering Angelica’s body and exclaims ‘Beautiful? Understatement! She puts the star in Firestar!’ Angelica runs her hand across her short hair and asks Patsy if she thinks Felicia and Monica will like it.
‘EEEEEEEEEEE!’ Monica and Felicia exclaim later that day when they meet up with Patsy and Angelica and see their friend’s new short hairstyle.
Tapping away into her laptop, Patsy recalls that that is how the coaster rolled, up and down, bad days and good, while Angelica’s treatment continued, until Dr Pym and Angelica’s oncologist, Dr Hill, decided the tumor had shrunk enough for the surgery. ‘Sister, can you spare a dime?’ a voice from behind Patsy calls out. Patsy turns and sees Angelica walking out of the church. ‘Hey! How did it go?’ she asks. Wearing large sunglasses, Angelica replies that she doesn’t know. ‘I talked to a nice man, I lit a candle, said a prayer… I’m still scared, Patsy. Patsy gets up and puts an arm around her friend as they walk on, ‘Stay strong, Angie’ Patsy remarks. ‘I am. I’m trying’ Angelica replies, while Patsy assures her she is doing great, and suggests they get her to the hospital.
A few hours later, post-surgery at Metro-General Hospital. Patsy and Felicia sit next to each other, when Felicia calls out ‘I’ve been wanting to tell you all night, Monica. You look incredible in that dress…’. Monica strides forward wearing a purple evening gown, ‘What, this old thing? I’ve got that thingie with Brother Voodoo tonight, remember?’ she reminds her friends. ‘Doctor Voodoo. I keep forgetting that’ Monica thinks to herself, before telling Felicia and Patsy that as a mater of fact, she should probably get going. ‘Me too’ Felicia announces, offering to walk out with Monica. ‘Hot date with Thomas?’ Patsy asks. ‘He wishes - but not, I’m working’ Felicia replies as she gets up. Monica looks back at Patsy and asks her if she wants a ride. ‘And by that, I mean cab ride. I’m not flying in these heels’.
Patsy picks up a magazine and tells her friends to go ahead, as she is gonna stay. Monica and Felicia look at Patsy silently for a moment, before Monica reminds her that Angelica is not supposed to wake for hours, the doctor said. Felicia tells Patsy to go home and get some rest, that they will all reconvene in the morning, and she will bring bagels. Patsy tells the others that if Angelica does wake up, she doesn’t want her to be alone. ‘Patsy -’ Felicia begins, but Patsy assures them that she will only stay a little bit longer. ‘You two go ahead, I’ll take the subway home’ she adds. ‘All right…’ Felicia replies, and Monica announces that she will call Patsy later - and she better be home in bed, watching Conan.
Later, Patsy knows she isn’t going anywhere until Angelica is up and asking her if Vance has sent flowers. She walks into the darkened room, where Angelica lies in the hospital bed.
At the North American Occult and Paranormal Society’s Annual Benefit Auction, a red carpet is laid out the front of the New York Public Library, and inside an auditorium, Monica holds her mobile phone up to her air, slumped over in her seat, surrounded by old men, while her lover, Doctor Voodoo asks over the phone ‘How you holding up?’ ‘Fine, Jericho, except that these weirdos keep hitting on me’ Monica replies, unimpressed. Doctor Voodoo is at his apartment, doing some abdominal exercises, he speaks into his ear-piece phone and tells Monica that they are all chumps, but powerful, especially in numbers, and that they have something he wants. ‘Speaking of which…’ Monica replies, as the auctioneer on the stage stands next to an item covered by a cloth. ‘Lot 404, ladies and gentlemen, originally catalogued in Bombay, India, by Sergeant Major WW Jacobs, circa 1902 - the legendary Monkey’s Paw’.
The auctioneer pulls back the cloth, revealing a glass canister holding the infamous object. ‘Shall I start the bidding at fifteen thousand? Fifteen thousand for the legendary Monkey’s Paw?’ he remarks. Monica quietly tells Doctor Voodoo that she can’t believe she is bidding on this piece of crap. ‘I’m debasing the Captain Marvel name and legacy…’ she mutters, while Doctor Voodoo tells her to get that paw. ‘Fifteen thousand!’ Monica exclaims, holding her betting stick up. ‘Fifteen thousand, do I hear twenty thousand?’ A spindly old man raises his betting stick and calls out ‘Twenty-five’. Monica is annoyed by this, so she raises hers high over head: ‘Fifty thousand!’ she declares. ‘Good girl’ Doctor Voodoo says. ‘Quiet, I’m concentrating’ Monica tells him. The old man places a bet of seventy-give thousand, to which the auctioneer leans over the podium and asks if they have a hundred thousand for the legendary - he doesn’t finish his sentence as Brother Voodoo can be heard saying ‘Monica -’ to which Monica stands up and shouts ‘Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars!’
Monica turns to the old man, ‘And just you try to outbid me, Merlin!’ she snaps. The auctioneer asks if he hears three hundred thousand, but the old man just sits in his seat, scowling. ‘Going once…going twice…sold to the stunning woman in the stunning dress!’ the auctioneer announces. Monica immediately gets up and starts to make her way through the crowd of auction attendees. She tells Doctor Voodoo that she is on her way - and that she wants a check for two hundred and fifty thousand dollars and the best Bordeaux in Manhattan waiting for her.
Meanwhile, at the Museum of Natural History - a convenient skylight and a reluctant thief are about to meet. In her Black Cat costume, Felicia climbs onto the rooftop, armed with a device to slice open the glass, when suddenly, her boyfriend, Thomas Fireheart, in his Puma guise, appears behind her. ‘Don’t do this, Leesh. I told you I’ll lend you the money you need to start your business’ he reminds her. ‘You’re following me now? Oh, Thomas, Thomas, Thomas…you could’ve been a contender, stud’ the Black Cat declares as she leaps up and kicks back, smacking her foot into the Puma’s face. Puma wipes his bleeding lip, ‘For God’s sake, Felicia. Could you take it down a notch?’ he asks. ‘That’s what I’ve been doing, for - too long, Puma!’ Black Cat replies as she leaps into the air, her claws extended, she lands on Puma and announces that she is not a hero, but a thief - a born thief, raised a thief and will die a thief.
‘Is that you - or your daddy talking?’ Puma replies as he grabs her by the wrists, holding her hands at bay so her claws don’t strike him, before he throws her off of him. ‘How dare you?’ Felicia shouts. ‘Damn it, Cat, get this though your thick head - as long as I’m in your life, I’m not going to let you backslide!’ Puma exclaims. ‘I mean it. You’ll have to kill me’ he adds, staring at her. The Black Cat stares back in silence, before replying ‘So be it’. Puma looks surprised, and they turn their backs to each other. ‘You don’t care about me. Okay, I can deal with that - but consider this: you break into a museum, steal some jewels… and what will the Spider think?’ Puma asks, referring of course to Spider-Man. Black Cat slowly turns her head, ‘You - you - you’re fired, Thomas… as my business manager and my lover!’ she replies coldly.
Midnight - the Witching Hour. Patsy still sits beside Angelica who has not woken. She taps away at her laptop, when she suddenly smells brimstone. ‘That means -’ Patsy begins, before looking across the room, she sees Daimon Hellstrom sitting opposite her. ‘I could set my watch by you, Daimon. Your sudden eleventh-hour appearances are starting to get very, very predictable’ Patsy tells her ex-husband. ‘Last one, I promise’ Daimon smiles, before pointing out that it is do-or-die time - fork-in-the-road time. ‘Tonight’s the night it could go either way for your little friend there’ Daimon tells Patsy, looking over at Angelica. ‘Meaning?’ Patsy asks, putting her laptop down. ‘She could wake up tomorrow, the surgery a complete success. Her body clear of any and all malignancy - or she could wake up and be told by her doctors that the cancer has spread to her brain… to her stomach… to her pelvis’.
‘Enough! I get it, Daimon, and no one’s giving up their soul to you’ Patsy shouts, getting to her feet. ‘Understood. But I’ve for another offer, too good to pass up’ Daimon smiles, inviting Patsy to join him in his realm for one night, and he promises that Angelica will wake up one hundred percent cured. ‘One night in Hell…against my friend’s life. No choice at all, really’ Patsy thinks to herself, before telling Daimon ‘All right, Daimon. But only one -’ she begins, as Daimon declares ‘Done. Welcome back to Hell - where one night lasts forever’. There is a crackle of energy, and then Patsy and Hellstrom vanish.
Angelica suddenly gasps and sits up in her bed. She looks over and sees smoke rising from the chair where Patsy was sitting, and only her handbag and laptop remain. ‘Wha…? Patsy?’ Angelica utters, confused.