This story takes place in mainstream Marvel Universe continuity, shortly after the events in Avengers v.1 #366.
Amid the vast splendor of the English countryside lay the estate of the recently deceased Victoria Bentley. Mystics and mages from all over the world had gathered to honor the memory of one they had variously called friend, patron, hostess, lover, or mistress.
Among those present was Dane Whitman, the Black Knight. Though not a practitioner of the mystic arts, his noble ancestry tied him to the myths and legends of knights in shining armor. He had also been a friend of a friend of Victoria’s. The man who had introduced them, one of Victoria’s oldest and closest friends, Dr. Stephen Strange, was noticeably absent. So was another friend of both Dane and Victoria, the young knight-in-training Sean Dolan...it was he who had accidentally killed Victoria when his Ebony Blade – formerly wielded by Dane before being entrusted to Sean – went awry during a battle against the mutant Deadpool of all people.
Understandably, this all weighed very heavily on Dane, who, at that moment, was wondering how Sean was dealing with it while in self-imposed exile.
“I hope you can help me come up with a good reason for me not to kill Sean Dolan.” said a familiar voice which Dane hoped did not belong to the person it reminded him of. Dane looked over his shoulder and, indeed, it was Mary Clarke.
“I hope you can give me a good reason why I shouldn’t have you forcibly ejected from here.” snapped Dane.
“Victoria was my friend.” an unfazed Mary replied softly.
“Friends don’t use each other the way that you used Victoria.”
“It is true that it didn’t end pleasantly, but she did me kindnesses that no one has done for me before or since then. I arrived in England without money, without knowing anyone, without any job qualifications, and she took me under her wing.”
“And look how you repaid her!”
“I was young and foolish. I would like to think that Victoria found it in her heart to forgive me.”
“She never talked about you after you fled to America. Does that tell you something?”
Mary’s voice then became louder and harsher. “Yes, dammit, it does! Look, Dane, I’m not pretending to be a perfect person. I wronged Victoria, and now that she’s left us before we could talk about it, I’m going to regret it for the rest of my life.” She paused before spitting out the sarcastic addendum, “Does that make you feel better??”
“Hearing you take responsibility for once in your life?” said Dane, “Yeah, it does make me feel better.”
Mary’s reply had a sour coating: “I’m happy for you. Really, I am.”
Dane didn’t let the sourness faze him. Instead he pressed on. “Now, if you’d apologize for your behavior at Avengers Mansion, that would make me really happy.”
“What do I have to apologize for?” sneered Mary. “They’ve all got feet of clay and, as they say in America, I call it like I see it. You’d be better off without them...” she paused, “...although you couldn’t get away from them now if you wanted to, what with that cosmic bond you have with Sersi...”
Dane was incensed. “How do you know about that??”
Mary smiled slyly. “I know everything, Dane dearest. I know you can barely keep yourself together right now and that cow Sersi occupies your every waking thought...”
“Please stop.” choked Dane.
“As usual, you misunderstand my intentions. I want to help you. I can cure you and I can put Sersi in her place. You just have to say the word.”
To Dane’s surprise, Mary’s tone became almost pleading. “Dane, you would be so much happier without her and without the rest of those soft-centered do-gooders. This is not a dainty world to set before the swine. You were meant to wander the magical way. Come go with me.” Mary abruptly caught her breath, as if she couldn’t believe she had just said those last words.
Now it was Dane’s turn to be cruel. “You’re desperate.”
Mary snapped. “And you’re an immature little boy playing games that will lead you to nothing but confusion and unhappiness! You had your chance, and you wasted it! I don’t care if I never see you again!”
“If you try to lay a finger on Sean, you will see me again,” said Dane firmly, “and all my friends, too. It won’t be pretty.”
Mary paused and then smirked. “And what makes you think that the alternate path you’ve got lying ahead of you will be pretty? No, Dane, from this moment on I shall delight in your misfortune. It’s a pity, because we could have had something really great.” And with those words, she turned her back on him and walked away.
Dane spent the rest of the night drinking heavily, among other temporary distractions from everything that was threatening at that moment to tear him apart.
NEVER THE END