When you're ready.
When she comes to, she's back in England. It's how she knows that she's dreaming, because Jamie hasn't thought about this place in years. It was always too lavish, especially for a family of five who called Boston their home, not London. There were too many rooms. It was always empty, decorated to impress with hand-carved bannisters in the stairways and sunlight that would reflect brilliantly across the chandeliers. It was a trap, too, in its own way; nobody who lived here ever knew what happiness meant. Nobody, while they lived here, ever thought about happiness as a priority, shrouded by a thin layer of apathy, comfort, and responsibility.

A father always away. A mother left to treat her own loneliness and reduced to a lively prop. It's an old story, and not a particularly inventive one.

Still, Jamie knows, growing up in this place was cruel. Abuse doesn't always mean physical violence.

In the foyer of her childhood home, Jamie Drewick watches a marble roll across the wooden flooring. The cold glass rolls, and rolls, and rolls down the hallway until it stops at the edge of her shoe.

She thinks that there's something-- not quite right, here. Because she should be awake. There is a reason she should be awake.

She stares down at the marble.

All she can hear is the gentle sound of wind chimes. The light, musical notes as a warm breeze rolls through, carrying with it the scent of lavender. It's her favorite scent, but suddenly it feels cloying, hazy-making in a way that makes her senses scream anesthesia, not comfort. Distantly, there's the sound of a cello, somebody practicing the beginning to Bach's Cello Suite No. 1. G major.

Something isn't right, here.

"You really should pick that up."

There, suddenly, mary-janes shiny and still in the crisp first press of her school uniform, is a blonde-haired teenager. She can't be older than seventeen. Hair pushed back with a headband, she has long limbs -- tall for her age and slender, a dancer's grace in the straight ridge of her spine. Her eyes are the same color as Jamie's. She looks happy. Healthy, even, save for the ugly, mottled bruise that circles all the way around her neck, and the thin, coiled noose still hanging there.

Jamie hasn't thought about her sister in a long, long time.


Jamie stares at her sister. The smell of lavender grows stronger, and the image of Jamie's dead sister smiles at her.

"Hi, Jess."

The name should make her stumble. It doesn't, somehow, because it just feels -- familiar, a knee-jerk instinct that's hard to repress without acknowledging how right it sounds. It's like being called a childhood nickname, or affectionately called by a lover. You understand that it's you. It's so familiar it aches, how strongly it calls to some part of you.

"I don't—"

"—understand what's happening?"

Mary smiles again, finishing the question for her. Jamie tries not to notice the way the smile makes her face stretch strangely, how it makes her tip her head and for the first time, she notices that her sister's eyes aren't the same color as they used to be. That they've started to grow milky. Glazed over. Lifeless.

"Ask her."

Jamie pivots. At the end of the hallway, hidden in the dark, something scuttles. Something with legs and too many eyes, something black, something monstrous, something alive.

At the end of the hallway, the spider waits. It skitters sometimes, as if pacing, as if waiting for Jamie to move towards it but too — scared? — to make the first move.

Jamie opens her mouth to speak. More questions, maybe. She opens her mouth and instead what comes out is a spray of blood, bright red and splattering in a fine mist across her sister's face. Flecks of it across the crisp white of her school blouse, the plaid skirt, across those perfectly shined mary-janes. Jamie coughs, and coughs again, and the feeling returns.

Something isn't right.

There's a reason she should be awake—

Carol's out there

—a marble rolls.

She coughs, coughs, keeps coughing. Doubles over. She's so tired. She's so worried. Something isn't right, and her sister killed herself years ago, and this is a dream but there's something in it that calls to her, something beyond the specter of her sister and the spider at the end of the hall.

"I've got it."

A new voice, this time, along with a warm hand on her back. Jamie looks up. And she's seeing-- herself, in a way, but different too. She sounds more British. There's a difference in the way she carries herself. And intimately, suddenly, Jamie knows that this not-reflection of hers is scared too. Scared and tired but fighting anyway, because that's all there is to do in life, because she's an old pro at it and you can't break someone who knows what being broken is like. Who made that place their home for so many years.

"I've got it," the reflection repeats. "We need to have a talk later, but I promise you, I can do this. I know how to do this."

Jamie wipes her mouth with the back of her hand. Blood, slick and syrupy, coats the back of her hand. Carefully, giving her enough space to breathe, the reflection helps her stand.

Mary looks dead now. Mary looks the way she did when Jamie had a friend at Quantico hack into the hospital records to look at the autopsy reports that ruled her death a suicide. Mary's eyes are milky, and her skin is pale, and there's no pink in her cheeks.

Mary points down the end of the hall and says, "Your son needs you."

And she does feel stronger, somehow. With every step down the hall, towards the monster in the dark, Jamie leaves the lavender behind. She leaves behind the sound of windchimes, the footsteps echoing in an empty childhood home. She leaves behind the anxiety and the chaos and thinks about being an Avenger. About the skrulls. About HYDRA, about SWORD, about how she was made for this. There is nobody out there who is more made for this than she is.

In the dream, Jessica Drew heads towards the spider, and she promises to do what she's always done.

Fight back.