Scarlett stood on the precipice of life and death.

Time slowed down for her as she stood outside of her own body as it lay there on the hospital bed. Her entire torso was heavily bandaged, and she was hooked up to a respirator. Her head was bandaged a little, as well. Her arms lay motionless at her sides, and in one of them, a nurse had inserted an IV line. Electrodes taped to her chest and legs monitored the electrical activity of her heart.

Only a few hours before, Flint and Snake Eyes had rushed Scarlett into the emergency room after she had suffered multiple gunshot wounds and a ruptured descending aorta. How had it all happened?

Thinking to herself, Scarlett seemed to remember a car crash in the midst of a ferocious battle. The rest was a hazy blur.

"So this is what it's like to be dead," Scarlett said in wonder.

No one heard. She was standing right there at the head of her hospital bed. Looking down with detached curiosity, she could see her own critically injured body, fighting for life. So many people were standing with her in the room, watching her dying body but not her. They did not see or hear the true Scarlett, who could talk and move about just as much as an ordinary person. She felt no pain.

"The doctors say," Hawk observed, "that Scarlett would have died within minutes if her chest wall hadn't become so compressed in the crash and allowed some clotting of blood. They were able to insert a Dacron graft into her aorta. It's a miracle she's still alive."

Flint, Lady Jaye, Clutch, Cover Girl, Duke, Hawk, Jinx, Stalker, and Rock 'N Roll stood watch at Scarlett's bedside. Scarlett's eyes narrowed as she noticed Snake Eyes hanging further back, near the door, his form enshrouded in shadow.

How long had it been now since Snake Eyes had last expressed his caring for her? Scarlett wondered. It had been nearly five years, now, five years since the day…

The day he broke her heart.

"What are you doing here?" Scarlett screamed at him. Her yells went unheard. The sounds echoed endlessly in the canyons of her mind, gradually diminishing in intensity.

"I'm dying. Soon I'll be out of your life. Does that mean anything to you? Do you even care?"

No response came. Scarlett freely walked about the room, but she was an apparition, invisible and untouchable. There was no sound but the steady beeping of the EKG machine registering Scarlett's faint but steady heartbeats.

"I loved you, Snake Eyes. I loved you, and you broke my heart."

Scarlett dropped to her knees and held her head in her hands. She felt like crying.

"I'm not afraid to die. I'm ready. I want it, in fact. Just let me die in peace…"

"He can't hear you, none of them can hear you," a voice said to Scarlett.

Scarlett looked up. Standing before her was what appeared to be a matronly, middle aged woman with streaming blond hair. Clad in a glowing white robe, the woman held her hand out to her.

"Rise, Shana," the woman said.

"Who… who are you?" Scarlett said.

"I'm your guardian angel."

"An angel? Is this heaven? What's going on?"

"No, you're not in heaven. You're still alive, as you can see."

"I don't believe this," Scarlett said skeptically. The angel folded her arms and looked at her, waiting patiently.

"Okay, so let's say you're my angel. Have you got a name?" Scarlett asked.

"My name is Clara."

"I was never sure angels even existed. I… I doubted…" Scarlett said, feeling a little guilty. She had, after all, been brought up as a Catholic.

"Shana," Clara said, "right now you're trying to decide. You're trying to decide whether you want to live or die. Right now, you feel like you have nothing to live for. You feel empty and heart broken. You feel like your whole life up to now has been pointless. You have no sense of purpose. You feel a sense of patriotic duty, but the fire in your soul is gone."

"Wow, that's just brilliant, doctor," Scarlett said sarcastically. Just what she needed: an angel to psychoanalyze her.

"What's the point of all this? I just want to die. I've had a miserable life, all in all. In fact, I wish I'd never been born."

"Oh, but you mustn't say such things," Clara admonished. After a few moments, her eyes lit up with inspiration, and she smiled. She reached out her hand.

"Take my hand, Shana," Clara said, "and I'll show you some amazing things."

Scarlett, frowning in hesitation, looked around the room and took a last look at each of the faces of her teammates. They were all still there, watching her injured body in silence. Some of them were even praying. Praying for her, she guessed. Looking back to Clara, Scarlett saw the angel enveloped by a radiant, white light. The angel still reached out with her hand.

Scarlett took her hand and walked, as if floating on air, with her into the unknown.