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Every Inch, Every Scar

Chapter Text

Scott sighed as he recounted the bills. It had been an unusually busy night. Some idiot had given him two hundred dollars without even asking what he charged for only a hand job. Not that Scott was complaining but the guy must have been pretty desperate to do that. In total, six hundred and fifty bucks. It paid to be the only well-known male hooker on that end of town.

He'd gotten a woman that night, which had been pretty interesting. That didn't usually happen. Other than that and hand job guy, everything else had gone pretty normal. He'd stayed off the street after those two as he'd had two regulars that night instead. Wouldn't have done him much use being outside though. It had started off with a light sprinkle and now it was pouring. Slamming against the window pane and onto the roof, Scott once again cursed that he was on the top floor as a leak begun that should have been fixed last week.

Grabbing the usual bowl, he listened to the soft ping of each drop as they fell down. The past winter hadn't been to wet yet now it seemed like the weather was just now getting started.

Scott sighed and fell back down on his bed exhausted. In his head, he started calculating all the expenses and mentally watched his wad of cash decrease to what he'd have left to get his daughter for her birthday. Sighing, he mulled his thoughts over before he finally moved a few bucks from his food savings to her present and finally smiled. He'd just have to be more careful with what he bought.

With that in mind, he fell asleep and woke up at around ten in the morning where he had a quick breakfast and ran off to his other job. He'd gotten it recently and though it helped with expenses, particularly child support, it was still almost miniscule to what he could get at nights.

The job was a cashier at a gas station and was one of the few where he could choose his hours. He'd tried getting a job that would alone support himself and Cassie but nothing had come his way. The fact that he was a convicted felon didn't help either.

Nor had he ever gotten the chance to go to college due to having to help his mother with her medical expenses. Nevertheless he had taught himself a good bit about engineering and computer engineering through books and later the computers that became more available. He was pretty good but it was the lack of a college degree and a criminal record that was really against him.

It would have been easier to stick with what he did but he knew that job wouldn't last forever and it didn't exactly have good retirement benefits. And even if that wasn't the case, he simply wanted to be better for his daughter. She needed someone who could truly support her.

After he got off, he used his last remaining hours of daylight to look for a gift for Cassie. When he didn't find one, he decided to get up early the next morning to look and instead went to the usual boulevard where himself, Lisa, Kirstin, and Davida usually hung around. There were others of course, but Scott had been friends with those three for a while thanks to living in the same neighborhood.

"Chris, nice to see you," Kirstin said, using the name that he gave clients. "You get any last night?"

"A few regulars. One random dude who was desperate as hell," Scott chuckled. "You?"

Kirstin shrugged as Lisa went off and said, "There was this one who wouldn't stop talking through the entire process. Clearly wanted someone to talk to rather than actual sex, pretty sure he felt guilty afterwards, but I did find out that his brother was talking with his girlfriend at lunch in this really nice café and she mentioned that her cousin who she'd talked with the day before had lost her job but spoken with this guy who got her connected with Pym Technologies."

"You say his talking irritated you but I'm surprised you didn't get married," Davida responded as the rest laughed.

"Yeah, interesting story but what's it got to do with us?" asked Scott.

"Well you never know. Big businesses are always in need of engineers and stuff. I could see if I could get you a job."

"At Pym Technologies? But Stark Industries already asked," Scott said sarcastically. "Don't make me laugh," he added. At the sound of a car slowing down, he looked up and said, "I think we've got the first one."

Scott watched the hustle and bustle as finally a woman got ahead of the others and leaned over and into the car. Scott remained back as always. Thanks to being male, he could charge more but the other women didn't really have that chance. If you got a good enough reputation for looks or certain acts you were willing to do, then you could, but most of these women were just barely making it by. Besides, there was no point in trying for those that weren't interested in a male escort. It was easier to just sit back and pick out those that were more likely to be clients.

As the group spread out a bit, another car pulled up about twenty minutes later and in this one, one of the girls actually got in, unlike the last one who'd driven off. Scott watched only for a moment before glancing across the street.

A car had been there for some time, longer than Scott had been, and someone was sitting in the driver's seat. Scott had no idea why he was there, it could have been for anything, but he decided to take his chance and crossed the street, making sure that his advance was obvious so that he didn't surprise the guy.

The man did notice him but didn't say anything, even when Scott was leaning against the side of the car.

"Any reason you've been sitting here for so long?"

Scott waited for the guy's first words or look as he usually could judge what the person was like and what they'd want. However, he just looked at Scott with curiosity. Not hunger, lust, disgust, fear, anxiety, or any of the other combinations of emotions that usually appeared.

"Not particularly," the man finally replied. He had a voice that could have performed a speech about the construction of a pen and made it sound interesting. "Any reason you've finally decided to come over?"

"Figured you'd have a friend show up but looks like I was wrong. Besides, I don't like seeing people lonely."

It was a stupid ass line but usually worked with a sultry glance and smirk. However, the man only seemed mildly amused.

"Perhaps I like being lonely," responded the man.

"Well let's not be to hasty. How about you take me for a ride and find out?"

"A little presumptuous isn't it?"

Scott continued with his perfectly placed smirk. "Not at all. I know exactly what you want."

Now it was the man's turn to smirk. It was softer than the one Scott practiced in the mirror and plastered on his face yet there was something extremely dark beneath it that the man seemed to finally reveal, almost like a welcome.

"Maybe not." The man pulled out his wallet and took out a bill. Holding it out, Scott didn't take it, to shocked and confused to do so.

This seemed to amuse the man even more and he added, "Think of it as a payment for your time."

Finally, Scott took it and as he did, he had to jump backwards as the man drove off, engine loud and tires spinning.

"Jackass," muttered Scott as he walked back across the street. Looking down at the bill, he was surprised that it was a hundred at first, half expecting it to be a joke or at least a smaller bill, but then decided that this was probably easy throw away money judging by the guy's cloths and car.

Thinking this all through, he didn't notice when Lisa walked over and said, "What did you do? Suck his dick through the window."

"No we just…talked."

"Talked?" she asked incredulously.

"Not like a real conversation. I tried to put my moves on him, they didn't work, it's as simple as that."

"And he gave you a hundred dollars for that?"

"I guess. I don't know Lisa. I'm still confused over it," muttered Scott. "And you know the weirdest thing? He actually looked familiar."

"What? Like you've met him before? That's just silly."

"I'm not saying like he was my best friend in another life. Just that he seemed familiar," muttered Scott.

He ignored everything else they said and in the end, didn't get another client that night. He went home and slept, concentrating on what he needed to get Cassie for her birthday.

Chapter Text

Becoming a prostitute had been a set of very normal, yet depressing, events that had all led to Scott’s end result. His mother had gotten cancer, not uncommon, but hers was especially bad. They were right on the line of poverty as well, not enough to get help from the government, but they didn’t have anywhere near as much as they needed for all the treatments. Scott dropped out of school during sophomore year to work full time but even with that it hadn’t been enough.

Never enough.

Scott hadn’t thought of such events, hadn’t thought of his early life for some time. Nevertheless, memories always came rushing back on this particular day. He hated how close the day of his mother’s death was to his daughter’s birthday, a time that should be filled with joy always slightly darkened by the receding thoughts of the past.

He knew it was stupid that he continued to blame himself after all this time yet he supposed that was what it meant to be human. To regret, to wish you could go back and make things right.

However, Scott let those memories retreat to the back of his mind as he searched for the specific dollhouse that Cassie had been asking for. Maggie, her mother, could have gotten it for her. There was no question that though her and her husband weren’t rich, they were well off.

Maggie had actually offered Scott some money to help with the present but he had declined. This wasn’t the first time she had tried to help: like with food, rent, cloths, medical bills. She worried way to much and was of course only trying to do right. Nevertheless, that wasn’t the point. Scott needed to know that he could support his daughter, even if that meant sacrificing some necessities.

He eventually found the one and mostly ignored the price tag as he bought it, pleased that he knew he’d gotten something Cassie would adore.

The first present Scott had ever given her was a small stuffed animal that was possibly the ugliest thing he had seen yet he’d been running late and with practically nothing on him. It had been pure luck that he’d seen the thing. Luck had even stayed on his side when Cassie declared she liked it and truly meant it.

Now, her birthday wasn’t for another few days but he was heading over there for dinner as Maggie had invited him over. Scott was a bit anxious over the whole thing. He hadn’t seen Cassie in what felt like forever. However, it was more so the husband that he really got antsy over.

Jim Paxton was a nice enough guy and Cassie loved him, which was the really important thing. He was nice enough to Scott too. But he was a cop. Of all the people in the world Maggie went and married a cop and now Scott was doomed to feeling uncertain and anxious whenever he was around the man.

He knew that most cops didn’t really crack down on hookers in this city. They weren’t as big a problem like it was in Chicago. But that didn’t mean Paxton didn’t have the authority to keep Scott away from his daughter for life. That frightened him more than anything.

Cassie lived with Maggie and Paxton in the suburbs, an area that he rarely came to unless it was for his daughter. He had an old truck that somehow continued to run after the harsh years it had been put through and he pulled up to their home in it. Scott hurried out and up to the front door, excited to see his daughter again.

He shifted from foot to foot as he waited for someone to answer the door. It eventually opened to reveal Maggie there with her usual soft expressions as she broke into a kind smile and hugged Scott. He sometimes wondered why he had never married Maggie. She was everything a person could want in a wife; sweet, forgiving, trusting, supportive. Yet, Scott supposed that was probably why. His darker view of the world clashed to much with her kinder version. Besides, they argued over petty things to much anyways.

“It’s so good to see you,” she said as she finally pulled back. “How are you? Everything going alright?”

“As good as can be expected. Where’s Peanut?” asked Scott.

“Well, I didn’t want to tell you because I knew you’d get to worried and would skip out on work so—”

“Wait, what happened?!”

“That is exactly what I’m talking about Scott. I assure you, Cassie isn’t in any serious danger, okay?” said Maggie, adding a comforting squeeze. “She broke her ankle playing outside, tripped over her soccer ball. It was a clean break, the growth plates were damaged so there won’t be any long term damage, and she didn’t break the skin. She’s okay.”

“You say that but I don’t think it’s going to fully register until I see her.”

Maggie rolled her eyes but went inside, Scott automatically following. They went through the house and into the dining area where Cassie was sitting in her chair with Paxton next to her. Both were coloring her cast which wrapped around her right leg. She was intently concentrating on her rendition of a dog when she heard them come in. She looked up in curiosity. “Daddy!” she cried out.

“Hey Peanut!” Scot rushed over, enveloping her in possibly the world’s tightest hug.

Hugging him back, she laughed. “I’m alright Dad.”

“I know I know,” Scott sighed. He finally pulled away just enough to see her face. Brushing her hair out of her eyes, he teased, “Did the big bad soccer ball get you?”

“I almost had it,” she replied defensively as she crossed her little arms. “It was the ground’s fault.”

Scott chuckled at that as Maggie quickly put in, “I’ll go grab the food and set the table.”

“I’ll help,” Paxton quickly added and followed, leaving the two alone for a bit.

“Well at least you’re beautifying your cast,” Scott said with a small grin. “Did you draw this?”

She nodded and pointed to something else. “And this. Jim drew this and Mom drew this.”

“Well I’ve got to say that you’re the best drawer out of the bunch. Mind if I join in?”

She shook her head no and handed him a marker. Cassie took her own as well and they both went to work as Maggie and Paxton came in and out of the kitchen to set things on the table.

“Okay, looks like we’re ready to eat. You hungry Cassie?” asked Paxton.

Nodding her head furiously, Scott chuckled. “Same goes for me. Here, let’s clean this up first.”

He grabbed the markers and put them back in there box before helping to resituate Cassie so that she was closer to the table.

Scott sat across from Paxton and in between Maggie and Cassie as he mostly talked with his daughter listening to how the last week had been though he also spoke with her mother and step-father as well. He told them a bit about what his past week had been like as well but only a little. Mostly he kept things vague and just gave a brief overview of everything.

He’d come for a later dinner so afterwards he went to go put Cassie to bed, helping her with the cast. “I’m glad you had a good week. Minus the broken ankle of course.”

“It’s okay. I’m just happy you got to come today!” she said excitedly. “Oh, I forgot to mention. We had career day yesterday. I wanted you to come. Mom said that wasn’t a good idea though.”

“Well of course not. I’d bore the kids to sleep,” joked Scott as he forced a smile onto his face and gave her a quick kiss on the forehead.

“Will you ever come to career day though?”

“Maybe sometime. You get to sleep now Peanut. I’ll see you when you’re older.”

“When I’m seven!” she said excitedly. “Night Dad.”

“Night Cassie,” he said fondly. He gave her one last kiss and then turned out her lights except for the nightlight as he closed the door.

He headed back into the living room where he’d last seen Maggie and Paxton. However, only Maggie was there with the TV on low. She looked up as Scott entered and patted the seat next to her welcomingly.

“So where’s the big bad cop?”

Maggie rolled her eyes, knowing that Scott was only joking. “In his office. Had some work that needed to get done.”

“So just us two huh? Like old times.”

“There were never any old times with us Scott,” she laughed.

He laughed in return. “True. So is Cassie really okay.”

“She’s fine,” reassured Maggie. “Honestly, you worry more than me and I’m the mother! But no, she’s going to be perfectly fine. So how’s work?”

“Fine, bit boring.”

“I mean the other work. Have you been alright? Eating enough? Nobody’s hurt you right?”

“Oh I see, you throw your motherly concerns on me.”

“I’m being serious Scott,” she replied with a sigh. “I worry about you. And you know you can always come to me if you need anything.”

“I don’t want to get in a habit of borrowing from you when I know I can’t pay you back. Besides, you’re not made out of money. You and Paxton are supporting a growing girl.”

“As are you.”

“Yeah, just barely,” sighed Scott. He leaned back on the couch, exhausted and wishing there was an easy way out of everything like in the movies.

In the background, the TV continued to flicker with the slight hum of voices. Out of the corner of Scott’s eyes he recognized something and fully turned away from Maggie to look. It was some little interview/commercial that he’d seen before but there was a new familiarity now. “Holy shit.”

“What?” Maggie asked as she turned to try and see what Scott was looking at. “What’s wrong?”

“It’s…oh my god it is! I told Lisa I’d seen him before.”

“Seen who? A client?”

“More like an almost client but yeah! It was super weird and right before he drove off he just gave me a hundred for nothing. It was so odd. But it’s him!”

“Darren Cross!?” she said incredulously. “You’re tried to get Darren Cross to pick you up? What, does Aldrich Killian stop by on Sundays?”

“Okay, first of all, he’s dead. Second, I’m being completely serious! It was Darren freaking Cross of Pym Industries!”

Scott fell back against the couch, completely blown by this information. Nevertheless, Maggie didn’t seem to believe him or at least got a kick out of teasing him. “Maybe he has a twin brother. Either way, I doubt it was him.”

“Screw you,” muttered Scott. “It was him. There was no doubt about it.”

“Alright alright, I’m sorry. No need to get defensive though. It’s not like you can brag that you slept with him,” Maggie joked. “You didn’t even get in his car.”

Scott just let out a groan and accepted the offered beer gratefully.

Chapter Text

It was Cassie’s birthday and Scott was running late. He felt absolutely horrible as he ran through the last red light towards the house. He’d woken up late, exhausted from work and arguments with the landlord, and he hadn’t even wrapped up her present.

Now he drove in front of the rather crowded house with balloons tied to the mailbox, bumping back and forth in the light wind. The sky had cleared up a bit and Cassie had gotten lucky with some sunshine for her birthday.

When he finally got into the house, he was immediately off to see Cassie.

“I am so sorry I’m late Peanut,” Scott said as he hugged her. “What do you want me to do? I’ll do whatever you want to make up for it.”

“I’m just glad you’re here,” replied Cassie with a grin. She was sitting in the living room and though a few moments ago she’d been surrounded by friends and their parents, they had moved off a bit to give Cassie time. “Are you alright?”

“What? Of course sweet heart. I should be double checking on you and your ankle,” Scott said with a grin.

“It’s fine,” she assured him, glancing down at the now extra colorful cast. She looked up again and frowned. “You’ve got circles under your eyes though. Mom says circles are bad.”

“Oh they are but when you get older you can handle them. I’m fine.”

“You sure?”

“Of course. And you know what I have?” Scott slowly brought up the present and shook it in front of her.

“What is it?” she asked excitedly.

“Open it and see.”

He waited in almost as much excitement as she opened it up and finally saw the full set that he’d gotten her. She let out an excited squeal. “It’s exactly what I wanted!” she cried out as she hugged Scott. “I got a better present though.”

“Oh really,” Scott said in mock seriousness. “And what is it?”

“My Dad!” Cassie cried out and hugged him again. “You don’t have to do anything else for me. I’m just happy you’re here.”

“As am I,” Scott agreed. “You know, we’ll have to play with that dollhouse of yours sometime but I think you have some friends that are waiting for your attention. I’ll see you when cake happens.”

“Okay,” she replied. “See you soon!”

“See you soon Peanut!” he said as he turned back to Maggie who was standing off to the side.

She looked pleased that Cassie was happy but still gave Scott a disapproving look.

“What?” Scott asked. “I wanted to spoil her.”

“Yes, but perhaps it would be better to spoil her when you can afford it,” Maggie said with a sigh. “Though I am glad she’s happy. Any reason you were late? Everything alright?”

“Christ, is it a gene that you passed onto her or something? You and Cassie worry about me to much, and she doesn’t even have a reason to.”

“Well she has a very simple reason. You’re her father and she loves you,” replied Maggie. “But I don’t want you avoiding my question.”

“It’s nothing I can’t handle Maggie,” he sighed. “I promise that if there’s something ever wrong, like really wrong, I’ll come to you. I promise. As of right now, it’s alright. Seriously.”

Scott was able to avoid any other talk of work and mostly stuck with Maggie. Small talk with the other parents was always difficult. It was easier when it came to singing and cake time. He joined Maggie and Paxton with teasing and spoiling Cassie who mostly laughed and took it all in stride, not seeming embarrassed for a moment.

Eventually the party dwindled and when most of the kids left, except for the few that were spending the night, Scott finally said his goodbyes to everyone. He left with the promise that he would play with the new playhouse the next time he was there before he finally tried to decide on where he was going to go.

He wished he could have just gone home but the fact remained that he needed to work.

Stopping to drop his truck off, he made his way to the usual street. He hadn’t been there the past few days so it wasn’t surprising when Lisa rushed up to him. She always seemed to have a million things to tell, whether he’d seen her five days ago or five seconds ago. However, this one time he was extremely interested in what was being said.

Her words were a bit shocking and didn’t completely register so Scott couldn’t help but ask, “Who’s back?”

“The guy! He’s been here a couple of times. He’d wait for a time but when you didn’t show up, he’d leave.”

“You don’t mean…oh so it’s this asshole,” muttered Scott.

Across the street was the exact same car as before and even if it hadn’t been, Scott immediately recognized the guy sitting there. Forgetting the composure he should have kept, he marched over as he watched the man simply give off a mischievous grin as if he knew this would happen.

“What the hell are you doing here?”

“Seeing when you’d show up again,” he replied. It was so smooth, as if he had no idea why Scott was mad.

“Really? Because I thought you made it very clear that you didn’t want to see me again, Darren Cross.”

“You know, most people recognize me on the spot,” Cross replied, seeming amused that Scott hadn’t realized it before.

“I don’t watch TV. I’m usually busy working. Like. I. Am. Now.”

“Hmm, really? Because it looks like you’re talking to me.”

Scott resisted the urge to launch himself at the guy. “Listen, I’m here to work so unless you want something, stop hanging around here.”

He moved back, not expecting anything but instead felt a hand launch out and grab his. The contact shocked Scott to much and he whipped away, snatching his hand back.

“I don’t care who the hell you are! Don’t ever touch me without my permission!” snapped Scott as he backed off.

“Alright, I won’t do it again,” Cross said evenly. He seemed to give Scott a look that picked him apart, piece by piece, before finally saying, “How much for a full night?”

“Six hundred.” That wasn’t really true but if Scott was actually going to ride with this guy then he sure as hell was going to get his money’s worth.

“Seems a bit overpriced.”

“Something tells me you can afford it,” replied Scott.

Cross smirked. “Fine. You have yourself a deal.” The car doors clicked unlocked.

“Fine,” Scott muttered. “But I have rules. Money upfront, no weird shit, no kissing, and no touching without my say so.”

“Seems easy enough to follow,” said Cross. His eyes followed Scott as he walked around and when he got in, he handed him a wad of cash.

Scott counted it. “You gave me seven hundred.”

“Keep the change.”

“You—” Scott was cut short as Cross hit the accelerator. “You really like throwing your money around don’t you?!”

“Only around those who are interesting.” Cross continued to hold the smirk in place. “What’s your name?”

“Scott.” Fuck.

“I’ll take it I wasn’t meant to know that. What do you usually tell clients?”

“Chris, or whatever they want to hear.” He wasn’t quite sure why he was telling him that. Actually, he wasn’t quite sure what was going on. “Why are you even putting up with my shit? I mean, even if you didn’t want a girl, there are still other guys around here who won’t put up as much fuss as I do.”

Cross just smiled as if it was a little secret that he’d never tell.

They continued to drive and Scott expected them to head to a hotel but was shocked when they came to an apartment complex. Besides the fact that it was an apartment, the place was the exact opposite of the place where Scott lived.

“We’re at your place?”

Cross shrugged as if why not. Scott wondered how many guys or even girls he’d brought here. He wondered even more so why he’d never heard about it in the news or something. Or was he the first one? He doubted that but it was difficult to say.

“So why did you throw me off the first time?” asked Scott. “Especially if you were just going to wait around for me?”

“You were boring. But interesting enough that I was curious what was behind the façade,” Cross responded as they went into the building. The entire first floor was more like a lobby with an area for mail off to the side. They headed for the elevator.

Scott whistled and then turned to Cross as they stepped into the elevator. “So what’s behind your façade?”

Cross ignored the question and pulled out a key which he used to activate the elevator instead of pressing a button. He asked, “What’s your poison?”

“I don’t drink on the job,” Scott replied stiffly. He’d done that once when he was younger. That had been a mistake.

“Whatever suits you,” said Cross as the elevator stopped and finally opened its doors.

“Shit, you have the entire top floor. A god damn penthouse.”

“Make yourself comfortable. Bathroom is down the hall and to your right,” Cross replied as he made his way to the center of the room. “I have to make an important call but I’ll be with you in a moment.”

“Take your time,” muttered Scott as he looked around the place. “I’m here all night.”

Chapter Text

Scott had explored only a section of the place before Cross was done with his call. He turned back after just barely hearing the end of the conversation. Slowly, he advanced until he was in front of Cross. He wasn’t wearing a tie (shame) but he did have on a button down shirt that Scott allowed his hands to slowly travel down.

“Done with business?” asked Scott.

“Just getting started. So, no kissing and no weird…shit. Does this count as either of those?”

Suddenly any control Scott had was usurped as Cross pushed him against the nearest wall. He allowed his tongue to travel down his jaw line as he sucked on his neck just barely biting.

The shiver that it sent down his spine and the shock of the act had Scott unable to answer as he sucked in a deep breath. He felt hands travel underneath his thin shirt, slowly pushing up. His back was up against a wall, Darren Cross’ taller form shoved against him.

Very rarely did a client ever want to be in control. The few who did never really were. They liked to think so, but Scott always had the situation in hand. He never allowed anything he didn’t like or deemed inappropriate, usually meaning anything to personal. But this was very personal and the ragged breathing and gasps of air were not a good sign.

There was meant to be no enjoyment in this job. Enjoyment meant pleasure which could mean personal. Scott knew how to fake it, nobody wanted to sleep with a doll like person who didn’t seem into it at all and on the off chance they did, they sure as hell didn’t go out and pay a prostitute.

But Scott wasn’t faking it. The inability to breathe right was not put on and the way his hands dug into Darren Cross’ back through his shirt was completely real.

Then there was the name. He would have been able to get out a word or two, maybe even succeeded in pushing him away if it just wasn’t for the name. He never should have told him his actual name. It was so stupid to have done so yet Cross had caught him off guard, just like now. He whispered it, softly, seductively, and in a way that had warning bells going off in Scott’s head.

Nevertheless, he didn’t do any number of the things he should have. Instead, Scott let out a soft moan as his hands finally succeeded in what they were meant to do and unbuttoned Cross’ shirt.

As he finally made contact with Cross’ skin, the man pulled him off the wall and actually picked him up only to place him onto a surface. He wasn’t sure where it was, Scott hadn’t seen the entire place, and was simply thankful when there was nothing behind him. Cross pushed him back and onto the surface, trailing his mouth down his chest (wait, when had his shirt exactly disappeared?).

His legs were pushed farther apart. He could feel the friction and let out another moan as Cross seemed to explore every crevice, every contour of his body. He kept one hand on the edge of the table, trying to steady himself as the other kept at back of Cross’ neck.

Scott involuntarily arched his back as his pants became achingly tight. Darren went even lower and he could feel him undoing—

When had Cross become Darren? When had he gone from releasing nonsense sounds to saying a name? Maybe it was because he hadn’t felt like this in forever, and they hadn’t even gotten to the sex yet. It wasn’t like being a prostitute meant he hated sex or anything. But it had become boring, excruciatingly so in some cases.

Right now, if he wasn’t careful, Scott could almost forget that he was working. He was getting lost, no longer concentrating on what was happening which was never a good sign. Always stay aware, only appear like you’re completely wrapped up in the single act. There was always the chance of something going wrong and he couldn’t be stuck in a haze if that happened.

Scott figuratively pulled himself out of the bliss, making sure that everything was going as it should. He wanted to simply give in and allow his groans to be completely honest but instead he falsified each sound.

Erect and with his cock completely inside Darren’s mouth, Scott suddenly let out a gasp as the feeling of intense pleasure stopped. The movement and caressing didn’t completely stop but it did set Scott completely on edge which never happened.

Usually it was always about how quick it could be done either because Scott needed to find another client or because the client in question had something he had to get back to.

Granted, Scott was going to be here all night but he still hadn’t expected to be completely thrown out of comfort zone.

Not to say it was exactly bad to be ravished against a table top that was probably worth more than his entire apartment but Scott needed to understand that this wasn’t going to be a normal thing. Fucking hell, if ever somebody had sex with Darren Cross and it was like this, Scott didn’t understand why they would leave.

But this wouldn’t be a normal thing. It wasn’t even a one night stand. Cross was paying him for sex, the physical aspect of companionship, not mentally.

Okay that was good. Just think of him as Cross. More formal, less personal. Good. It wasn’t like he was going down on him as if they were the last two people on Earth or anything.

Then Scott saw an opening to regain some control. He pushed himself up and then succeeded in pushing Darren Cross away and up against a wall. The man seemed utterly shocked by this but ultimately grinned as Scott went to work on him.

He pulled off Cross’ shirt completely and began going to work on him. The act helped to make Scott feel more in control as he did what he did best.

As he managed to finally get Cross’ pants down, he felt a hand grip his hair tightly as he wrapped his lips around the other man’s cock. The feeling of having Cross run his hands through his hair, pulling at just the right times, brought more of a high than it should have. Cross eventually pulled Scott away though and forced him on to floor, once again usurping control.

Scott only then realized that they were both now completely nude as he felt nothing but skin on skin contact. The act of controlling himself began to loosen again as Darren grinded against him, practically attacking his neck as he did so. The action almost made Scott wish that he hadn’t added in the no kissing part.

The first time he came was on the floor, simply trying to get out a full breath as the other man towered above him. Scott was so wrong in assuming that that would be the end of it.

Chapter Text

Scott had just seen his daughter Cassie to bed. Now that she was asleep and Paxton was away on work, he finally had time to talk to Maggie. It had been nearly a week since his rendezvous with Darren Cross and he really needed somebody to talk to. Besides, nobody was a better listener than Maggie.

“So is everything alright? It seemed like you wanted to talk to me pretty urgently,” Maggie said as they settled themselves in the living room

“Nothing is wrong it’s just…well you’re not going to believe me when I tell you.”

“Try me.”

“He came back. Darren Cross,” replied Scott. “Apparently he kept coming by when I wasn’t there and when I finally was I confronted him.”

“And…”

“And he asked me how much for a night. Got seven hundred dollars out of it.”

“Wait, are you serious! That must have been a nicer hotel than you’re used to.”

“It wasn’t a hotel. He took me to his home, or at least one. It was an apartment in the city. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had more than one,” muttered Scott with a shake of his head. However, upon seeing Maggie’s face, he couldn’t help but smirk. “You’re in shock aren’t you.”

“That’s an understatement. What was the place like?”

“Huge. He had a penthouse flat. Didn’t see much of it though.”

“Straight to business huh?” she asked with a wag of her eyebrows.

“You could say that. I was probably in every room of the blasted place but it’s not like I was really noticing anything.”

“Sounds like a wild time.”

“I’ll say. The morning after was even weirder.”

“What happened?”

“Well I woke to the sound of him throwing his phone across the room. The entire space is really open so I could see that he was in the living room while I was in the main bedroom. Don’t know what the call was about but it was enough to seriously piss him off. I was thinking of other exit strategies at this point, you know, in case he got violent towards me, but he simply left a fifty on the table and said, ‘For a cab’ and left.”

“Wait, he left you alone in his own apartment? Who the hell does something like that?”

“I know right? If I was a less honorable person I probably would have stolen something but it was just to weird. I grabbed my shit, my money, and got out of there as quickly as possible.”

“When did this happen?”

“Few days ago, almost a week. It was so surreal that the only thing that really reminded me that it happened was the money.”

“Whatever caused him to leave so suddenly must have been pretty serious.”

“He’s the CEO of Pym Technologies. I’m sure everything he does is pretty serious,” sighed Scott. “Still, it was pretty damn unnerving as well.”

“What? Is he like a freak or something? Really creepy?”

“No, I mean, as far as I can tell he’s volatile as hell. Does things really unexpected like on a whim. But no, he’s…I actually enjoyed that night. Like holy hell I was exhausted the next day but damn the sex was good for once.”

“You kept to your policy right?”

“Of course I did! No kissing, nothing weird.”

“So why did you actually enjoy it? There’s no such thing as love at first sight, we know that.”

“Yeah but lust is sure a thing. Maybe it’s because he just caught me off guard at every turn or something. I don’t know. There was definitely something else about him though. Like there was something extremely dangerous about him. I saw it in a smile the first time I met him and I saw it that night too. It was just so…different.”

“Well I honestly don’t like how it sounds.”

“Maggie—”

“I’m serious Scott,” she interrupted. “You’ve got to be careful about things like this. Besides, he’s practically an idol. Always over the television and on those talk shows and what not. People like that always have a deeper side that they keep from the world.”

“He’s not a serial killer Maggie.”

“First of all, you’ve met him twice so it’s not like you can give me a straight answer about that. Besides, you never know. And just because they’re not a serial killer doesn’t mean a person still can’t be sick and twisted. Especially with the charming ones and Darren Cross is a charmer.”

Scott snorted. “I don’t exactly think charmer is the right word. He’s a real ass. Takes a lot of pleasure out of that too.”

“Well in that case you’ve already gone past one layer. I wouldn’t suggest going any farther.”

“It’s not like this is a regular thing or something. The guy probably just wanted to mess around, maybe forget about all the stress of work or something. I don’t know but it’s definitely not a regular thing.”

“Just promise me you’ll stay careful if it happens again.”

“I’m telling you it won’t but I’ll promise anyway. Besides I’m always careful.”

Maggie gave him an uncertain look but finally nodded in acceptance.

Later, Scott would tell Lisa about everything that had happened as well. That was less because Scott simply wanted to talk and more because Lisa just wanted details.

The sun had only just started setting as Scott started talking to her.

“You lucky dog! You’re going to be scoring the big bucks now.”

“It’s not a regular thing. Seriously. Besides, I’m sure he’d be bored with me by now and move on to someone else. Guy like that, they can have just about anything and everything. Doesn’t make sense why they’d want a street prostitute.”

“Then why was he hanging around yesterday?”

Scott was lucky he wasn’t drinking anything as he gawked at her. “What!? You’re pulling my leg aren’t you?”

“Nope! When you weren’t around he left. I’m positive he was looking for you.”

“Shit, I can’t believe that. You’re totally lying.”

“I’m totally not. Every word is utter truth.”

Scott shook his head in disbelief and stared down at the table they were sitting at. He didn’t doubt Lisa was telling the truth but was Cross really there for him. Did he seriously want round two or was he looking for someone else? Or was he even there to get laid? Maybe there was some other completely unconnected reason as to why he’d been there.

“Hey, you working tonight? He’ll probably be there again.”

“I doubt it but yeah, I’m working the streets.”

“Just you wait. He’ll be there.”

About an hour later, Lisa was quickly proved wrong as Scott was there way past twelve and not once did he see Darren Cross. That wasn’t really surprising. It wasn’t like he’d expected anything else.

However, the next night Scott was quickly proved wrong. All he could do was gawk when the familiar car pulled up. He didn’t move at first, Cross giving no inclination that he wanted Scott to come over. Scott could only stare in amazement, wondering what the hell was happening when Cross finally glanced over with a single eyebrow raised.

An invitation. Was Scott going to take it?

Once he got close and was within earshot, Cross asked, “Seven hundred. Upfront. No kissing. No weird shit. Did I get it right?”

Was he actually propositioning Scott to stay another night? “That’s right,” Scott replied, his voice surprisingly steady.

The doors clicked unlock and after only brief hesitation, Scott moved around and got in.

Cross handed him the money. Scott counted it again but before he could say anything, Cross added, “And another hundred as an apology for leaving so suddenly. A rather serious matter came up at work. Or think of it as compensation for the fact that you didn’t snoop around my place and steal something.”

“Seriously? Do you like…get off on throwing your money around. I mean fuck. This is eight hundred dollars!”

“I can always take it back,” Cross said with a smirk.

“Now I wasn’t saying that. Drive on,” Scott responded with a small shake of his head.

Cross just chuckled, low and dark. It reminded Scott of what Maggie said but he kept any concern or questions out of the way as the car started up and went off.

Scott wondered if this just happened to be a one nighter that turned in to two. Or was this going to be a regular thing. He wasn’t sure if he’d be able to completely stay in control if it became a regular thing.

Chapter Text

So maybe not regular but he’d had sex with Darren Cross four times in the past month and that was definitely not what he’d expected. Despite how it seemed that this might turn regular, Scott really hadn’t learned anything else about the guy.

The only time they talked was on the ride over and in the morning the man was to busy going about the day’s business to chat. So despite the suggested darkness underneath the asshole which, apparently, was underneath his charm (Scott honestly didn’t see it, nope not a bit), he hadn’t gotten any farther in understanding the guy. The motive as to why he wanted Scott around above others also remained a mystery that had yet to be solved.

The one good thing about those nights was that he got to be off the streets for longer amounts of time as a good section of Cross’ money started going to his rent and bills. Still, he didn’t get a chance to talk over this with Maggie until after the fifth time he’d been in Cross’ bed, and most of his apartment.

Maggie was treating him to dinner, something that he rarely allowed her to do but for once he accepted instead of fighting it. Paxton was out taking Cassie to a practice for a school play that she was in. Scott would have been a bit jealous except the night before he had gotten to take her to practice and besides, Paxton deserved to have some personal time with his stepdaughter as well.

Now, Scott swallowed another glass of water as Maggie shook her head at him.

“You know, you can get something else to drink. And don’t go easy on the food on my account.”

“I’m fine with water, honestly. And I’ll just get the usual.”

“Oh, try to be little adventurous,” she said with a chuckle.

“Well, I think I’ve honestly been adventurous enough as it is.”

Maggie gave him a curious look.

Setting down the menu, Scott leaned forward. “Alright, I already know what you’re response is going to be but I’ll say this anyways. You were right.”

“About what?” she asked cautiously.

“About it being a regular thing. Well, I think it’s become a regular thing.”

“Wait you mean with—”

“Yep,” interrupted Scott. “Mister you-know-who. CEO himself. You were right, I was wrong. Come on, I know you want to say it.”

“Are you alright? He’s not forcing you into anything or—”

“No Maggie! See I knew you’d start worrying.”

“Because it’s a worrisome thing. He hasn’t made you an offer, has he?”

“An offer?”

“Like a permanent thing. Please tell me he hasn’t Scott.”

“You watch to much TV,” Scott responded, tossing the words off like they were nothing. “This isn’t Pretty Woman. I’m not going to end up spending a week as his escort and then end up falling in love with him or something equally stupid.”

“I’m not suggesting you are. But people like Darren Cross like being in control and if he finds an opportunity to control you, then he will.”

“Then I’ll just walk away.”

“Scott, you’re making this out like it’s not a problem.”

“Because it isn’t!” he replied, crossing his arms and settling back. “He’s not a god. He’s just a man and when it comes down to it, so am I. I know how to protect myself. I’m not some defenseless doll.”

“And I know that Scott,” stressed Maggie as she reached across the table. She forcibly took his hand, even when he struggled a bit, and held it tightly. “But when it comes down to it, you could disappear without a trace and no one would look for you.”

“Well glad to know you care!”

“No I—uh, I didn’t mean it like that. But do you really think that once cops realized that your main occupation was prostitution that they’d continue looking. The only ones searching would be me and Paxton and with a man like that, we would never find a trace.”

“Is this going back to the idea that he could be a serial killer because that’s—”

“No, this is going to the simple fact that he is a powerful man that could end up being extremely dangerous.”

“Okay, so maybe he is. But right now, all this is doing is benefiting me. When it stops benefiting me, I’ll get out of it. I’ll be done with it. And besides, I can always leave a note saying that if I suddenly disappear that it’s all Darren Cross’ doing.”

Maggie sighed at the joke, not appreciating Scott’s unaffected behavior but didn’t argue back.

Nevertheless, the sour look on her face had Scott finally leaning forward and squeezing her hand back. “The moment I’m in trouble, I’ll call you. No matter how…silly or stupid or pointless it seems. Okay? If there is a chance that I may need help, I’ll call.”

“You better Scott. And if you don’t take this seriously because of me, at least do it for Cassie.”

“Everything I do is for Cassie.”

“Oh don’t I know it,” she said with a sigh. She finally gave a smile, tired but clearly pleased they weren’t arguing anymore. “Let’s order, shovel food into our mouths, and talk about something else, please?”

“Sounds like a plan to me,” Scott responded and did just that.

Nevertheless, he did the opposite of what Maggie wished he would do and did continue to see Cross whenever the man showed up. Sometimes as much as two weeks would pass and Scott would think he’d never see the man again until suddenly he just showed up. Other times, only a matter of days sat between the last meeting and the next.

It was going good though. Scott was getting seven hundred a night with the man, sometimes more if he was being ‘generous’ (though Scott thought more of it as being a dick). But the rules remained in place, they continued on without any problems but then Maggie just had to be right! Like always, her weirdly intuitive powers seemed to be in place and she was fucking right.

Scott knew something was up when Cross wasn’t pacing back and forth or even already gone from the apartment when he woke up one morning. Instead Scott eventually found him in the kitchen. He sat, back straight, a thoughtful expression on his face as he held a half empty cup of black coffee at the kitchen table.

“Uh, I was just leaving—”

“Stay for a minute.”

Though the words left Cross’ mouth, the man didn’t actually turn and focus on Scott until it became apparent that the other wasn’t moving. He seemed amused by this and gestured at the chair opposite him.

“There’s coffee if you want it.”

Scott moved but continued to feel as if he was in a state of shock. He glanced over at the coffee pot. He wasn’t sure how to exactly continue the conversation and ended up saying the first thing that came to mind. “Do you have sugar and creamer?”

Cross made a face.

“I’ll take that as a no.” Scott finally sat down, waiting to see what would come next. Any number of things could happen with Cross and Scott readied himself for whatever was about to come.

The man didn’t speak immediately, eyes remaining unfocused as he concentrated on something inside his head when suddenly he spoke up and said, “How detailed and advanced is your understanding of electrical engineering?”

Well that certainly hadn’t been what Scott expected. “I’m sorry what—”

“You mentioned once that you had moderate knowledge of programming and a fair amount stored in your head of engineering, particularly electrical engineering.”

“When did I tell you this?”

“At one point on the ride here. I know you’re not stupid enough to divulge private details like that so I’ll take some pleasure out of the fact that I’m able to make you do just that.”

Scott couldn’t help the groan that escaped his mouth as Cross grinned in response.

“Okay, so maybe I am,” Scott sighed, “but what does that have to do with…well…anything?”

“You don’t have a degree, you have a criminal record, and your longest job is that of prostitution. Basically, any chance of you getting a job in such a field is practically in the negatives,” sighed Cross. “Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean you don’t have…potential.”

“Okay, listen, what is this even about because if I don’t get a straight answer then—”

“I’ll explain soon enough but first let’s play a game.”

“A game?” asked Scott incredulously.

Cross nodded. “Exactly that. I’ll give you a hypothetical situation. In return, you respond with your…hypothetical solution.”

Scott remembered what he’d said to Maggie, ideas flying through his head on where this could lead, but with the way everything was going, it was just to interesting. He wanted to know how all this would turn out. “Okay, shoot.”

Of course all the questions were engineering related though Cross did throw in specifics of different fields. Scott answered all of them, even on the ones he wasn’t certain of he at least gave some response. They went like that for over thirty minutes and as Scott replied to the last question, he realized that this was the longest he’d ever talked to Cross.

Cross suddenly stood up. “Only somewhat outdated information. Otherwise…you’ve passed.”

“Passed what?” asked Scott, confused.

“A test, obviously,” Cross replied in an irritated fashion, as if that should have been obvious. “Now, as long as you don’t ask any other incredibly stupid questions, would you care to work at Pym Technologies as the lead electrical engineer?”

“Wait, what!? You can’t be serious!”

“I’m perfectly serious,” said Cross. “Even the smaller positions at Pym Technologies is more beneficial to you than working off the streets, particularly with the added insurance and other perks. Nevertheless, you appear to work well with people and when you’re head of a department, that’s the important thing. You connect with other departments to solve problems but it’s the ones below you that actually do the work. It would allow you to catch up on more recent information as well.”

“And what? Be your personal whore on the side?”

“I hadn’t thought of that. But it’s certainly not a bad idea,” replied Cross in a way that said he most certainly had thought of that.

“No way, even if that wasn’t on the table, I don’t take people’s charity.”

“This is not charity Scott.”

“I don’t care what it is,” he said, abruptly standing up. “It’s still a no.”

Cross moved close to him, dangerously close, and Scott suddenly found himself backing up. However, before he could truly feel threatened, Cross pulled out a card and twirled it between his fingers before handing it over. “A shame, truly, but if you change your mind this is my personal number. Don’t hesitate to call.”

Scott let out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding as he took the card and looked at it. “Don’t hold your breath,” he muttered.

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Then Cross suddenly pulled out a fifty. “For a cab.”

“Right…” Scott muttered as he took it. “Uh…see you then.”

“I’m sure you will.”

Chapter Text

Three days had passed and Scott was still trying to figure out a way to break the news to Maggie. On the fourth day, he’d actually been laying in his ratty bed, twirling his phone round and round in his hands. It was totally outdated and he only used it if there was an emergency (which usually meant calling Maggie) but now he kept avoiding it. He knew she would freak out about the whole thing which was honestly worse than her gloating over the fact that she was right.

Scott tried calling her number for the eleventh time that night when he actually jumped and threw the phone away as it rang out. Scrambling to grab it, he saw that it was Maggie. Welp, he supposed he might as well get the conversation over now.

He answered it with a sigh and said, “Okay, this is actually perfect because I was—Maggie? Maggie what’s wrong?”

Stopping mid-sentence, he listened to her crying and frowned in confusion. She tried to start talking, started crying again, and then finally seemed to get a hold of herself. “I…we’re at San Francisco General Hospital. It’s…Cassie she has…”

Maggie had stopped talking again. She wasn’t crying but it was obvious that the next batch of words were difficult to get out. It was probably a good thing because Scott had frozen in place. Hearing Maggie’s utterly crushed voice had caused him to jump and grab his shoes and keys but his daughter’s name had sent a sliver of ice through his heart.

“Maggie please…tell me what happened,” Scott finally got out. He forced his body to move again and was out the door and heading towards his ratty truck before Maggie could get out another word.

“I didn’t call you before because I…I know how you worry about her Scott. She wasn’t eating. Kept complaining about being full and then started throwing up. We…we thought it was a stomach bug. But she didn’t get any better so we…we took her to the hospital and they just…just finished doing some tests and there’s a…a tumor in her stomach.”

“What do you mean a tumor!? She’s seven!”

“I don’t know Scott! I don’t know!” Maggie yelled back. It made Scott immediately regret snapping at her but he could just barely hold himself together. It was obvious now why Maggie had been having such a hard time getting the words out.

Nevertheless, the silence that grew seemed to allow them both to calm down somewhat. Maggie started off again, this time in a whisper. “They’re going to be testing it to see if it’s cancerous. Then they’ll have a more definitive route that we should go but…all the ways are…the chances are just so hi.”

“It can’t be cancerous though, right? I don’t know much about cancers but she…Cassie can’t have any of the risk factors can she?” asked Scott, hoping that whatever Maggie had to say would be of comfort. He was speeding through the streets, desperate to get to the hospital as quickly as possible.

“She only matches one of the risk factors. Her blood type. But that’s one out of…of hundreds it seems,” Maggie responded, her voice sounding like she was trying to convince herself as well. “But there’s a reason they’re called risk factors and not causes. At least that’s what the doctors are saying.”

“Listen, it’s going to be okay. Alright?” It has to be, he thought to himself. “I’ll be there soon. Is Paxton there?”

“Yes, he just got off work.”

Good, then Maggie wasn’t alone at least. “Just…just think positive okay.”

“I’m trying but it’s not easy. Hold on, she’s asking for me.”

“Hold on, when are they going to do the biopsy?”

“Within the hour. She’s been asking about you a lot. Try to get here before it begins.”

“I’m already halfway there. I’ll call you back when I get there.”

“Alright, Paxton will be waiting for you in the lobby.”

“Got it. See you soon. Tell Peanut I’ll be there.”

“I will Scott.”

Then she ended the call. The silence inside the truck was almost deafening as Scott tried to not get worked up over the entire thing. Of course now that there wasn’t anyone to prop up he was automatically thinking up the worst possible outcome. He just couldn’t help it. It was as if nothing good was going to come out of it. Yet he had to believe that whatever happened, Cassie would be alright. Otherwise everything became meaningless.

He called once there and like she promised, Paxton was there waiting for him. He looked as exhausted as Maggie had sounded over the phone. Any wariness of the man disappeared in that instant for Scott. Didn’t matter what job he had. It was obvious that he was as scared about what the outcome could be for Cassie as Scott and Maggie were.

Scott wasn’t really sure what to say. Seemed like Paxton was having the same problem. He quickly made up for that by unexpectedly wrapping Scott into a hug. The act made him stiffen at first but he quickly accepted it and copied Paxton’s movement. Scott needed something to anchor himself to and it seemed that Paxton didn’t mind being that rock. Scott imagined he had been doing the same for Maggie.

“What room?”

“One twenty-eight. This way,” Paxton replied when they finally broke apart and led him off to the children’s emergency ward.

Keeping his breathing regulated to try and steady his heart, Scott attempted to make himself look collected for Cassie. He didn’t want to cause her any extra worry.

Going in to the room was like walking into a different reality. It just didn’t look right. Her cast had been taken off since the last time he saw her which was one noticeable difference but even more so was the paleness in her face and her skinnier form. At first, Scott wanted to believe that it wasn’t his Cassie but then she released that breathtaking smile and cried out, “Daddy!”

“Hey Peanut,” Scott replied. His voice was softer, not that it needed to be, but yelling out with excitement like he usually did just seemed wrong for the moment. “Mommy tells me that you’re sick.”

She nodded. “The doctors are going to make me better though.”

“Of course they will. Besides, I know you. You’re a fighter. You’d never let some nasty bug get the better of you huh?”

“Nope,” she replied happily, her voice almost not connecting with the way she looked. It almost made it harder.

Before Scott could say anything else a nurse was coming in. “Excuse me sir but we need to prep her for it.”

“Hey, I’ll see you in a few sweetheart. Okay? I’ll be right outside with Mommy and Jim. I promise.”

“Okay. See you soon.”

He gave her a quick kiss before vacating the room.

After the biopsy, Scott remained at the hospital with Maggie and Paxton. Hours passed. Then days. But every second he got he made sure to spend it with his little girl. Eventually, information started flowing there way and it only seemed to get worse and worse. It was cancerous. The insurance wouldn’t pay for the treatment. All that added with the percentages they kept throwing at them about chances of survival was enough for Scott to do the number one thing he’d promised himself he wouldn’t.

He called Darren Cross.

There was no way of introduction. Simply the words, “Make it fast,” snapped at him.

“It’s uh…Scott. Scott Lang. Well not that that would really matter seeing as you never knew my last name beforehand but—”

“Do stop babbling,” Cross responded. The words were much more controlled and calmer than the last sentence, which was odd. Almost like Cross was pleased that Scott was calling him and suddenly any rush to get the call over with was gone. He no longer sounded cranky.

“Right, sorry. Listen, about your offer, I’ll take it but on one condition.”

“A condition? Hmm, that’s interesting. What is it?”

“I…have a little girl. She’s seven. I just learned that…that she has stomach cancer and I don’t care if you dock my pay or don’t pay me period but—”

“I’ll pay for her treatment.”

Well that was shockingly easy.

“Are you serious? But that—”

“Whatever she has done, I’ll pay for it, no matter how long it takes. And though it is admirable that you mentioned docking your pay, there really is no need for that,” sighed Cross. There was a pause for a moment and then, “Lang. Interesting last name. It suits you. Your daughter’s first name?”

“Cassie-I mean Cassandra.”

“Thank you. Come by my apartment tomorrow. I’m sure you know the address by now. Seven o’clock sharp. We’ll discuss the details further.”

“Got it. Uh…thank you. For-for everything,” Scott finally got it, feeling very much like he was stuck in a dream.

“There’s no need for that,” Cross replied as way of response and a goodbye as the call suddenly ended.

Put mildly, Scott was confused but at least it looked like everything would be okay. With Cross’ money backing her, Cassie could get the best treatment in the world.

Chapter Text

Needless to say, when the doctor came to talk to Maggie and Paxton again, she was confused. However, realization struck her and immediately after the conversation, she was calling Scott. It had been hell convincing Paxton to not push her for any more questions but she succeeded on the grounds that she talked to Scott first.

As Paxton waited in the hospital room, Maggie paced back and forth in the hall. When Scott finally answered, Maggie started heading for the stairwell where there would be more privacy. She spit out the words quickly, not wanting Scott to get a word in. “You made a deal with Darren Cross!”

She could imagine Scott’s face as he probably held the phone away from his ears as several moments of silence occurred.

Finally he replied, “It was our best option.”

“That’s not an option it’s-it’s slavery!”

“Maggie, you have it all wrong. He’s giving me a job and paying for Cassie’s treatment is just extra.”

“There’s nothing extra with men like him. Nothing free. Scott you—”

“I don’t care if Cross’ offer had been to be his permanent BDSM dungeon sex slave thing! I’d still do it for Cassie!”

“Wait-what?”

“Hey, don’t ridicule me. I came up with it on the sport alright? But I’m serious. No matter what you say, I’m doing this for Cassie. That’s what matters.”

Maggie sighed. “Well at least tell me where you’re going. You said you were getting a change of clothes.”

“I am,” stressed Scott. “I just have to speak with Cross for a bit. Get some more details on the whole thing. Shit like that.”

“Call me the moment you’re done with that. Just so I know you’re alright.”

“I will. I promise. Keep talking to the doctors, find out what Cassie needs. Obviously money isn’t a problem.”

“What should I tell Paxton?”

“Tell him that I met a friend in a hi place. I’ll figure out a story to tell him later. ‘Kay?”

“Alright. Be careful.”

“Always am Maggie.”

As she hung up and went back inside with Paxton and her daughter, Scott continued driving until he reached Cross’ apartment building. He actually didn’t know the address but had to start out on the street worked to get there, having memorized the roads and turns instead. He quickly got out and buzzed in. He waited for the door to open, not having a key, and when it sounded said, “This is—”

The alarm sounded that the door was open before Scott could finish. He wondered if Cross really recognized his voice so easily or if he’d just assumed it was him.

Either way, he quickly ran up, got into the elevator, and then before he could trouble over the fact that he didn’t have a card to go to the top floor the elevator started moving. Scott moved from foot to foot anxiously as the doors finally opened. No one was there so he headed into the apartment.

There were papers scattered everywhere and Scott noticed a lamp was missing (Christ he’d been there often enough to know when things were missing) along with a picture from the wall. Cross was leaning onto the main table where a good amount of the papers were. He looked like he was ready to explode yet when he looked up, it was much more like he was slipping into a different skin.

“Scott,” he said evenly, controlled, welcoming (certainly not how the room looked). “Scott Lang. Such a pleasure to know your full name.”

“Sorry I can’t give you the same honor but I suppose that is the life of the rich and famous,” he replied sarcastically.

Cross chuckled, dark and low. He moved away from the table and out of the room.

Just as Scott was wondering if he should follow or not, the man was back in the room, two wine glasses and a bottle that was probably worth more than Scott’s life.

“I told you. I don’t drink when working,” Scott responded, his brow knit with confusion as he watched Cross poor the two glasses.

The man laughed again, this time fuller and actually seeming amused rather than putting on a show. “Scott, you needn’t worry of that. You’re in a different business now, one which acquires it.”

Still unsure, Scott took the offered glass but still didn’t drink. “You’re actually being serious about all this.”

“I’m quite serious in everything I do.”

“Well you seriously made a mess of the room,” Scott responded, unsure of what else to say so he fell back on his humor. “Work not go well?”

“It’s manageable,” Cross responded in a way that certainly meant the opposite. “Now, before you begin work, you’ll need to get some proper attire. If it makes you feel less pitied, I do plan on docking this from your pay. Your actual work cloths should be casual formal but I would buy at least three suits for any meetings or gatherings you attend.”

Cross handed him a credit card.

“What? Don’t have a few more hundreds to just hand me?”

The man appeared disgusted at the assumption that the cloths would cost only a few hundred and Scott suddenly became very daunted with exactly what he was expected to get. Before he could worry though, Cross had snatched the card back.

“On second thought, I’ll schedule us an appointment tomorrow. Speaking of which, I expect you at Pym Technologies at eight in the morning. I’ll show you everything you’ll need to see and afterwards we’ll get some proper attire. The day after you’ll begin work. I expect you in between eight in the morning and six in the evening Mondays through Fridays. If someone of your position is needed on a weekend, I expect you to come in without any arguments.”

“And what if it doesn’t work out?” Scott questioned, rather daunted by what had just been said.

“I’m sure you’ll make it work.”

“So what should I call you then?”

Cross seemed confused by the question.

“Well I mean, what do people call you? Mr. Cross? Dr. Cross? Do you have a doctorate? Or just—”

“I have several but Darren will do just fine.”

“First name basis with the big boss,” muttered Scott and finally took a sip of the wine. It was only when the taste hit his tongue that he realized he’d never had wine (or at least nothing like this) and he gagged by accident.

The struggle to swallow seemed to amuse Cross (or Darren he supposed; fuck this was already to friendly) as the other said, “You’ll get use to the taste.”

“Like how you drink your coffee black? No thanks.”

“I’m surprised you remember.”

“I have a good memory. Besides, I make it a point to avoid those who drink black coffee. They don’t have souls.”

“Well aren’t you glad that you stuck around me.”

“Yep,” sighed Scott and tried another sip. He wasn’t sure if he like it or not but at least he wasn’t shocked by the taste. Suddenly Darren advanced. The intentions clear, Scott set the glass down on the nearest surface and took a step back. “Woah, I said I thought I wasn’t in this this business anymore.”

“You’re not. However, there is a very interesting phrase known as ‘mixing business with pleasure’.”

“Yeah but—oh fuck me,” muttered Scott as Darren caught him by surprise and very much grabbed him like that first night. However, this time he was even rougher, succeeding in breaking skin when his nails dug into Scott’s hips.

Scott should’ve stopped him. He should have told him that now wasn’t the right time. Either that or he should have told himself that he was only going through with it, no arguments, for his daughter. That would have at least been a logical reason even though it was now completely null as he moaned out Darren’s name. The man really shouldn’t have told him to call him by his first name.

He hated how completely undone he became the moment Darren’s sexual urges seemed to push forward. It was even more humiliating now that he was going to be calling the man who was shoving him against a wall boss. Thoughts of inner office relationship floated through his head, oddly amusing, though he didn’t laugh as any thoughts were flushed from his brain with a caress and a push.

Head thrown back, he could feel Darren’s larger form dominating him and making it utterly impossible to move without his say so (not that he would have wanted to). His last thought was that he was going to get back to the hospital a lot later than expected as Darren finally went about undoing his belt.

Chapter Text

Cassie was asleep when Scott got back to the hospital. Maggie was asleep next to her and Paxton was gone. Either at work or making a stop at home, Scott simply grabbed one of the smaller chairs and pulled it up next to the bed.

He fell asleep with his hand tangled in Cassie’s hair, using her as an anchor to his already messed up life.

When he woke up, he had a mini panic attack as he was slumped against the bed with no girl in it. He looked around wildly before finally spotting Paxton who was sitting in the large recliner in the corner.

“Where’s—”

“It’s fine Scott. Maggie went with her for another test. Tried to wake you but you were conked out. Had to untangle your hand from her hair.”

Scott yawned and stood up. He was calmer now that he knew where Cassie was. “Are they coming back soon?”

“I think so. Doctors are offering a lot more options for treatment. Thanks to that friend of yours.”

“Yeah, talk about luck,” Scott chuckled nervously. He wondered if Paxton would press him for more information. Instead he said something worse.

“I know.”

Well shit. “Wait you—god damn it Maggie I told her not to say anything,” Scott cried out. His face dropped into his hands.

“If it makes you feel any better she didn’t. At least not all of it.”

“About…” asked Scott hesitantly.

“Well I knew you were a prostitute from almost the point you reentered Cassie’s life.”

Scott wrapped his arms around himself protectively. He almost asked how but threw that away. He was a cop. It didn’t matter how. What mattered was why he hadn’t done anything about it. “You didn’t throw me in jail.”

“No. Mostly due to Maggie, so I’d thank her for that, but also because you were still trying. To get out that is. Seems like you’ve found a way.”

“You don’t approve,” Scott muttered, noticing the look in Paxton’s eyes.

“Not exactly. It’s great that you’re getting out. But with Darren Cross—”

“Oh god, don’t tell me you’re playing the mother hen to! I can handle myself,” stressed Scott.

Paxton sighed and moved forward. “He’s a dangerous man. And what he’s offered you doesn’t make any sense. I mean, what is he forcing you to do?”

“Nothing!”

The other didn’t look convinced.

“Listen,” growled out Scott, “it doesn’t matter. Okay? Cassie will get better this way without anyone hurting from it and—wait what time is it?!”

“Just after seven thirty,” replied Paxton

“Shit! I need to get to Pym Technologies by eight!”

He quickly threw on his jacket and grabbed his keys. Paxton remained where he was and said, “I’ll tell Cassie you said hi. Be careful Scott.”

“I seem to be getting that a lot,” he muttered. “But I will. I’ll be back tonight.”

Scott made it to the place right on time and was thankful Darren was waiting there. The looks he was getting were weird enough as he walked up to the man. The looks would have been even stranger if he’d had to ask someone where he could find Darren.

The man gave a rather distasteful and amused glance at Scott’s attire. Somehow, Darren looked perfectly well rested and collected, his suit crisp and his posture perfect.

“You made it just barely on time,” Darren said. “Good. Follow me.”

Pointing to the metal detectors and security measures, Scott began, “Shouldn’t I—”

“Not today. Once you’re officially instated here you will but as of today, there is no need for that.”

Scott walked with Darren around the building. He was positive that at least half of the facility remained behind closed doors to him but never the less it was spectacular. He’d never been in an area like this and it was difficult to keep the bug eyed expression off his face. However, it soon all had to end and Scott was being guided back to the front.

Darren followed him out of the building, along with a stream of watching eyes, and into the car that was waiting for them. It was actually a bit of a shock seeing Darren not driving (the times that Scott had been with him it seemed like one of the few things the man really enjoyed) but Scott supposed it had to do with keeping up appearances of a CEO.

“So, what did you think?” Darren asked, his gaze almost suggesting that he should watch what he said.

“The place was…beyond what I expected. I mean, I knew it would be impressive but it was so different seeing it. I don’t have anything to compare it to but god it was breathtaking.”

Darren seemed pleased with this but zoned in on a specific word. He asked, “The place?”

“Well yeah…it’s just that the…well the people were just…they stared quite a bit.”

“Did it bother you?”

“Some,” admitted Scott grudgingly.

Darren smirked. “Not use to people taking an interest in your looks?”

“I’m used to that,” Scott joked. “I think we both know my looks were not the problem.”

“Oh I wouldn’t say that. Your looks are precisely the problem,” Darren replied. Before Scott could even think about being insulted though, Darren added, “Which is why we’re going to fix it now. Right after lunch.”

“Seriously? Why lunch?”

“Well last time I checked, humans do require sustenance.”

“I know that you asshole but—wait a sec. If that’s true then how come I’ve never seen you eat something? Not dinner or breakfast. Are you a robot?”

Darren rolled his eyes as he ignored Scott’s suspicious and silly look. “We’re eating. That’s the end of it.”

“Uh huh. I know you have some place you plug up to.”

“An amusing thought but I would think our nights would prove I am no robot.”

“Alright, point goes to Darren Cross. But back to how I look I’d just like to say that I’m perfect the way I am.”

“Of course you are.”

“Don’t be so god damn sarcastic. I know I don’t match up with your perfect idea of business and crap but at least I have style.”

Darren made a rather disgusted face. “Oh yes, clearly.”

“Whatever. Listen, the point is you can dress me up in something but even if I looked like someone who belongs at Pym Technologies, and even if my excellent looks didn’t distract people, I think it’s the fact that people saw me walking around with you, the CEO, for half of a day that will cause me to never be looked at the same. And I mean wholly hell! Most saw me get in a car with you after all that!”

“Do you worry about what people think of you?” asked Darren curiously.

“Not usually but I am human. Unlike someone,” Scott responded with a pointed look. However, instead of pressing the idea of Darren as a robot, Scott commented, “You’re the CEO. Don’t you worry about what people think of you?”

“I worry about what they see and what they see is not me. Therefore there is no need for me to worry about how people think of me.”

“Do you worry about what I think of you?”

“You don’t know the real me.”

“Really? Or are you just saying that so I believe that and therefore by knowing the real you I don’t think you I know the real you and in the end don’t know the real you,” Scott finished.

“You’re overthinking this. If you want an honest answer, there is only one man who I care what he thinks of me and I assure you, you are not him.”

“Glad to know I’m so important,” muttered Scott as he leaned back and crossed his arms. He kept the pouting face where it was as he growled out, “You know what? I don’t care about the ‘real’ you anyways. I have to much to deal with anyways.”

“Of course you do. The doctors are being courteous and helpful.”

“Yeah,” Scott replied, his frown deepening. Was Darren actually being kind? Was he really curious if everything was going alright for Cassie?

“Good. I would hate to hear of them being disrespectful. And just remember, nothing is out of price range.”

“Understood,” Scott replied, a little uncomfortable by talking about the entire thing.

Darren probably noticed but thankfully didn’t mention anything. Instead, he asked, “Is there any place you would prefer to eat?”

“Well seeing as I’m sure anything I actually said would earn me a disgusted look, and I doubt your driver has been going around without a destination in mind. So with that in mind, surprise me.”

“You are refreshing from those pointless business men in their suits with their white collars and dull tones.”

“Really? What about your suaveness and charm? I’m sure that can make things amusing for you.”

“You’d be surprised.” The car slowed to a stop. “We’re here.”

“Seriously?” Scott followed Darren out of the car and gasped. “Oh god are you serious? I mean, these cloths aren’t even that bad but I’ll look like a hobo in here!”

Darren smirked. “I’m sure if you work your looks then they won’t even notice the cloths.”

“Funny. But then again I’m with you. There’s a chance they’ll never notice me.”

“Do you really think that?”

“What?” asked Scott. “Just trying to be positive.”

Chapter Text

After weeks passed, Scott slowly got use to his new pattern. Cassie had gone through surgery and was recovering from that before beginning chemotherapy. The odds looked good and she was beginning to look better, not as skinny with a bit more color in her cheeks though she was still obviously sick. Scott was often at the hospital when not at work or Darren’s place.

He’d barely gone to his apartment at all, usually just grabbing a change of cloths while there. He’d talked to Lisa and the girls only briefly as well, not really having the time to fully explain everything that was going on.

As for work, Scott had certainly made a few mistakes and gotten away with more than anyone else would have in a normal situation. However, Scott at least had the pleasure of saying he never made the same mistake twice. It helped that he was not only a quick learner but also truly enjoying what he did.

Still, Scott didn’t fully understand Darren’s position on the entire thing. Was Scott just some pet project? Was Darren just setting him up and watching him go like a toy? It was difficult to tell and it didn’t help that Scott never really got a chance for a heart to heart with the man. He saw more of Darren than he had before as he actually worked for the man but he honestly felt he knew and understood even less about him.

Or perhaps that wasn’t completely true. He saw the mask, the CEO in his crisp business suits. Scott knew a lot about the CEO. But as far as Darren Cross was concerned, Scott only knew he enjoyed driving and liked his coffee black (and extremely sensual sex like holy shit). Other than that, the man remained a mystery.

Scott did have to say that he at least succeeded in breaking the charming CEO mask a few times. Usually it was when Scott did something the opposite of professional, like calling the man Darren instead of sir or boss or whatever. That charming exterior would break into a smirk as he gave some sarcastic or asshole-ish comment. Scott was pretty sure he got a kick out of releasing that side of himself, particularly with Scott as he always had his own comeback and didn’t seem to shy away like others did.

Which definitely added on to the stares. Seemed like every time Scott talked to Darren like an actual person people were expecting a beheading. He’d thought it ridiculous at first until actually being present when Darren talked to others. Those times it was clear that Darren thought himself better and the employees complied with that whereas Scott seemed to drag himself up to Darren’s level.

There was only one other person that seemed to talk to Darren like he was an equal and that was Hope van Dyne, the daughter of the founder of the corporation. Scott had never talked to the woman but he’d seen her often enough with Darren.

He’d done the mistake of asking Darren if she was his secretary which had the man using that low, dark chuckle. Darren had replied, “You’re lucky you said that to me and not her. She probably would have taken your head off.”

Nevertheless, Scott’s time to talk to the woman came sooner rather than later. A formal event was being held at a museum in town. Though not actually connected to Pym Technologies, plenty of influential businessmen and women would be there and it never hurt to rub elbows with those kind of people. Darren Cross, Hope van Dyne, some other man that was high enough up but Scott didn’t know him, and Scott himself were going.

And why was Scott there? Because of Darren of course. He was fairly certain that the purpose was to show him off, almost like ‘look at this thing I found’. That and Scott was fairly certain that Darren knew it would make him uncomfortable and that he’d feel out of place which Darren seemed to relish on.

Nevertheless, Scott had an odd feeling that Darren actually wanted someone there that he…trusted? Maybe that was the right word, maybe it wasn’t, but Scott was fairly certain there was an oddly personal reason hidden behind the others.

Dawning a tux that Darren had gotten him for such reasons, Scott rode with Darren to the event in the back of a car chauffeured by the usual man. Scott voiced his concern of what others might think but Darren quite clearly stated he didn’t care as long as Scott didn’t show up in a cab or his ratty truck like he certainly would have if he hadn’t rode with Darren. Scott didn’t know which was worse. People assuming something about his livelihood by showing up in his truck or a cab, or people assuming something about his relationship with Darren.

Either way he really didn’t have a say in the matter.

Scott simply kept quiet and followed Darren around, not really having much to add to any of the conversations he heard anyways. After the brief discussions, the guests gathered in a larger room where an orchestra played several songs and a woman occasionally sang in some unknown language. Never really one for opera or classical music, Scott busied himself with studying the people around him.

Most reminded him of Darren and Hope in the way that they kept their appearance, clearly putting on a show for everyone else. Nevertheless, those with oddly shaped faces or interesting suits and dresses caught Scott’s attention and he lingered on them a bit longer before moving to someone else. There was one man that stood out a bit more but Scott only got a few glances at him as the man sat behind them (didn’t want to make it to obvious). He was older than the general group and wore an outdated three piece suit. His face was extremely familiar but Scott couldn’t figure out where he’d seen it.

When the concert ended, Scott politely clapped with everyone else and hoped he could get a better view of the man afterwards but it seemed that chance was stolen as the next time he glanced back, the older man was gone.

“Someone catch your eye?” Darren asked, seeming amused.

“No, just someone oddly familiar,” murmured Scott as he ignored the implication. “Though granted, I’m sure most of these people have shown up on television or some magazine cover at some point or another.”

“Very true. What did he look like?”

“Well he was older than most of the people here, full facial hair, and he wore a three piece suit…too?” Scott ended his statement in a questioning tone, confused at the sudden stiffening of Darren.

“Stay here. I’ll be right back.”

“But—wait! What if—urgh!” Scott let out a disgruntled groan as he watched Darren rush off without another word.

Wishing he hadn’t said anything, Scott watched as people started to float off and into smaller groups. However, before he could be the awkward guy on the edge of everything, a figure moved next to him and asked, “Did Darren finally ditch you?”

“What? No,” muttered Scott as he turned. Hope van Dyne stared back at him and he suddenly wished he hadn’t used such a sulky voice. “I mean, he just uh-someone he knew or something. He went off to look for him.”

“Hmm,” she mused. The look she was giving Scott made his skin crawl. It was extremely analytical, similar to Darren’s, but there was a lack of amusement that Darren often held. “You’ve been working for us for two months?”

“Yeah-Yes. Yes I have,” Scott stuttered, trying to be more formal and not wanting to give a bad impression. “I don’t believe we’ve talked before. I’m Scott Lang.”

“I know,” she replied. Her head cocked to the side as she continued to stare. “You didn’t go to college. How did you meet Darren Cross?”

Well that was rather blunt. Scott’s mind raced to figure out how to reply but before he could, Hope’s attention was directed elsewhere. “I’m sorry, we’ll have to continue this conversation another time.”

“Oh-well alright…” muttered Scott, utterly confused. He watched Hope leave and quickly realized where she was headed. Eyes lighting up, Scott quickly followed, his interest peaking.

Darren was there talking to the man Scott had spotted earlier. Getting closer, Scott had to make an effort to fully understand the look on Darren’s face. It was different from anything else he’d seen before, almost a mixture between a Rottweiler getting ready to tear the man’s face off and a Golden Labrador hoping for a treat.

And then before Scott could get closer he froze. Like a ton of bricks, it suddenly hit him who the man was. Looking at him standing across from Darren and now next to Hope, it was almost painfully obvious.

It was Hank Pym.

Before Scott could force himself to move though, it appeared that the conversation was over. Hope squeezed Darren’s arm, an almost comforting gesture, as she followed her father. Before they left Scott’s line of sight though, Hank seemed to zero in on him. His gaze was oddly deep and Scott had the suspicious feeling that the man knew who he was. Which honestly made even less sense seeing as he was no one.

But with that said, Scott watched them go before sprinting to where Darren had remained. That certainly got some looks but it was better than standing alone with a stunned expression on his face.

Darren noticed the rushed movement and looked at Scott curiously. “That desperate to see me again?”

“Better than just wondering around by myself. Was that really Pym?”

“Yes,” he responded coolly with an odd mix of hatred and admiration underneath. He seemed to pause for a second, as if he wanted to say something else, but unexpectedly changed subjects and said, “I think it’s about time we retire. There’s nothing more for us here.”

Wondering if the whole reason for coming had actually been Pym or if that had just been coincidence, Scott had to actually skip to catch up with the longer strides and rather quickly they were out of the museum and the car was brought along. Once in, the car was off and was swiftly brought back to Darren’s apartment. The ride was silent and somewhat awkward. Afterwards, Scott automatically followed him, unsure of what Darren wanted.

When they were in the penthouse, Scott stayed near the door which quickly became a smart move. The first thing Darren did was grab the nearest object and throw it across the room. Items crashed and papers flew back and forth as Scott watched.

Once the air seemed to settle and Darren had stopped moving, Scott asked, “Should I leave?”

Darren shook his head though the fact that he didn’t speak certainly proved that he wasn’t completely under control. He loosened his tie, throwing it off and towards the ground. He stepped over broken glass (courtesy of a clock face) and moved into the kitchen. When he didn’t reappear immediately, Scott carefully walked in, half expecting something to be thrown, but was surprised when instead he saw Darren with his head in his hands.

The way his shoulders slumped and the ragged breaths that escaped his mouth was strangely…open.

The moment should have been important. Scott felt like he might have just found a door to understanding the man. He knew Darren had taken the reigns from Pym but not much else. Had there been a horrible falling out? What was Pym to Darren? What had they—

Scott didn’t get any farther with that thought process as Darren was suddenly attacking him, his hands desperately undoing his tux. It was so out of nowhere yet Scott was almost positive that he was simply trying to forget what had occurred between himself and Pym.

Scott actually tried to stop him. Talking was never a bad idea yet when Darren seemed to catch on, he shoved Scott against the wall, told him to shut up, and then quite effectively forced him to do so.

Once again, another door of Darren Cross was closed as unanswered questions rose up.

Chapter Text

Scott attempted to understand more about Darren but got very little as the man immediately ended any conversation that leaned towards his past or Pym. Unsure of what to do next, Scott discussed it with Maggie. Cassie was asleep in the hospital room with Paxton near her if she woke up. She was going to get to go home soon though the regular appointments of chemotherapy would certainly keep her from many activities. Scott missed the times when all he had to worry about was a broken ankle.

Now he sat with Maggie at the hospital’s cafeteria. It was difficult distinguishing patients from families and friends. Everybody held some wait on their shoulders, didn’t matter if it was physical or mental.

“He never hurt you though, right? He didn’t aim anything at you?”

“Huh-no. He never did anything like that,” sighed Scott as he was brought back to the present. “He wasn’t angry at me anyways. I’m pretty sure it was Hank Pym, or at least their conversation, that riled him up so badly.”

“That doesn’t mean he can’t refocus that anger on you. You should have left when you had the chance.”

“But he needed somebody,” stressed Scott. “Yeah we didn’t talk but he shouldn’t have been alone.”

“You think he’s self-destructive?”

Scott wearily rubbed his eyes. Maggie never did like to say suicidal. She’d used the same choice of words when she’d been worried about him and uncertain of some of his motives. Now it seemed to fit though, not the suicidal implication but the simple meaning of the word. “I can totally see him screwing everything he’s worked for simply because of one person but he’s not going to off himself.”

“Alright, but do you think he’s ever been abusive? You would be honest with me if he was, right?”

“Maggie, you have been with me through some of the worst moments of my life,” Scott replied as he squeezed her hand. “I would never be so rude as to exclude you from the future ones.”

“Not funny Scott. I know you like to joke but this is not a time for humor,” Maggie muttered.

He shrugged. “Maybe not but it’s the best way I know how to cope with things. Darren appreciates it at least.”

“The only thing that man appreciates is your situation.”

“You know, I can’t agree with you on that,” replied Scott. “I mean, maybe when I first met him but he’s not keeping me as some puppet now. I’m still free, haven’t sold my soul to the devil yet. Besides, I feel like he…wants something from me.”

“You mean sex?” Maggie asked sarcastically.

“Technically yes but he could honestly get anyone for that. No I’m talking about something…deep, personal. I sometimes get a glimpse of it when I look into his eyes. Sometimes I think I even succeeded in cracking into that surface, past the CEO and the asshole to something…else.”

Scott frowned, something which only became deeper as he realized Maggie looked utterly terrified. He took the time to glance behind him to see if she was focusing on something else but she was very clearly looking at him.

“What? You can’t just give me that look and then say nothing.”

“You aren’t-oh god Scott are you actually falling for the man?”

“What! No!” he cried out, slouching back as he crossed his arms. “What the hell could have made you think that?”

“Well most fuck buddies don’t try to find a deeper meaning in each other.”

“We’re not fuck buddies we’re—” Scott stopped himself as he tried figure out what the hell he was going to continue with. Maggie waited with an expecting look, clearly feeling like she was winning the battle. “Alright, I don’t know what we are but we sure as hell aren’t fuck buddies.”

“Oh yes, you certainly haven’t fallen for this man.”

“I haven’t Maggie! Honest! If anything I just feel…I connected alright? In some weird way. He doesn’t have anyone to rely on and I honestly feel like he may be using me for that.”

“And if you’re wrong Scott?”

“Then I’m wrong. There’s nothing else I can do. But something is up with him and Pym and I’m going to figure that out.”

She sighed and reluctantly moved with the change of topic. “Have you thought about asking the daughter?”

“Yeah but she’s not exactly the friendliest person in the world. Besides, I barely see her alone and I sure as hell not going to ask her in the middle of a busy hallway or at a meeting or, god forbid, in front of Darren.”

“Well I think you should stop poking your nose into this. Or at least hurry up and get your snooping over with. Otherwise, just try and stay as far away from Darren cross as possible.”

“I don’t really think that’s an option,” he replied.

Scott…”

“Hey! It’s not my fault, okay? And anyways, just talking about all of this is exhausting.”

“You were the one who wanted to talk to me remember?”

“True but now I just need to take all this in. I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do.”

“Well just remember that I’m always here if you need more advice or a helping hand.”

“How could I forget that,” chuckled Scott. “Don’t worry. I’ll always remember that.”

They then went back up to Cassie’s room and a few days later she was able to go home. Scott spent as much time as he could with her. Darren even allowed him a day off where he spent it all with her. Because of this though, he wasn’t at his office to receive the letter that was dropped off for him. He read it a day late and the contents confused him to say the least. At the end of it all was an address with a time and date. That date being that day, Scott immediately stopped by his apartment after work to try and get some more privacy as he tried to decide on whether or not to go.

As it was typed and with no name, he had no idea who it was from, though presumably not Darren as the contents discussed him and his actions. Rereading the words, Scott didn’t exactly doubt that what it claimed was true but he also didn’t know if he could trust the intents of the sender.

The idea that Darren was creating something dark, had a project that could “send the world into turmoil” (as the letter put it) was not shocking. But it was disappointing. Scott didn’t want to believe that Darren Cross was some evil mastermind as the letter seemed to claim, at least not without a reason. Darren had fame, was CEO of a powerful and possibly revolutionary company. He had plenty of money. The idea that it was simply world domination that was driving him was stupid and extremely childish.

In the end, it was this curiosity and confusion that drove Scott to the designated location. Hopefully he would get his answers, possibly even understand more of Darren.

He went tensed and wary. Scott had no way of knowing if the person who had written him was friend or foe.

Following the directions he’d gotten, he arrived at a large house. It either was there to give the illusion of money or the owner actually did come from money. Either way, Scott remained on guard as he approached the door and finally rang the doorbell. Needless to say, the last person he expected to see was Hope van Dyne.

“Good, you came.” She moved aside, expecting Scott to come in.

He had to take a moment though to simply take in the information he’d just received. So Hope, Darren’s right hand, was going against his back. Christ this was going to get complicated. Scott just knew it.

Finally moving forward, Scott walked through the doorway. Hope closed the door behind him and added, “Watch out for the ants.”

“What?”

She didn’t answer his question as she took the lead and they moved to what looked like the kitchen. Scott noticed the little trails of ants that moved in organized patterns towards the kitchen. However, he also noticed the decorum, the designs and organization of everything. Just as Scott was thinking that the house couldn’t possibly be Hope’s (just didn’t fit her character) he was proved right as Hank Pym sat at the table.

“Oh god why?”

Pym looked at him curiously. “Are you surprised to see me?”

“No but I wish I wasn’t,” groaned Scott. He rubbed his eyes for good measure, hoping the scene in front of him would disappear but it stayed right where it was. “Oh this can’t be happening.”

“I assure you it is. Take a seat.”

It was a command that Scott reluctantly followed. Nothing good could come out of this conversation. He could feel it.

“Since you are here, I’m assuming you read the letter,” Pym said as his daughter took a seat as well.

Scott nodded. “I don’t understand why you sent it to me though.”

“We’ll come to that. What do you know of the Pym Particle?”

“Uh…nothing?”

“It’s a subatomic particle that I discovered some time ago. Capable of shunting or adding mass and reducing or increasing scale of any form of matter, it compresses physical forces around such objects or organisms that they are applied to, as well as increasing density and strength of the subject.”

“So it can make you really big or really tiny and really strong.”

“In laymen terms, yes,” Pym sighed. There was an odd mix of pleasure that Scott had understood yet also abhorrence for using such simple and mundane terms for something so great. “Darren has been trying to recreate its effects within a suit known as the Yellowjacket.”

“Haven’t heard of it,” Scott interjected. “But I’m not exactly high up on the food chain which begs the question: why the hell am I here?”

“Darren has plans to mass produce the suit. He believes that an army like this could bring about world peace and stop wars before they began,” Hope responded, her tone showing that she clearly didn’t agree.

She paused, maybe for effect or so the information could sink in. Scott replied immediately though. “Well that sounds great but I know there’s going to be a kicker so please, don’t stop on my account,” he muttered.

“Such a suit could cause a dictatorship over the entire world. Every movement of every person under surveillance from an advisory they wouldn’t even be able to see. Their entire lives analyzed and dictated,” Pym replied. “It also appears that he plans to sell it to Hydra.”

Once again, a pause, but Scott barreled on through. “Well thank you for giving me this end of the world information but I’d really like to know what the hell this has to do with me!”

Pym said, “You’re a good man.”

“Thanks for noticing but that doesn’t really give me an answer.”

“You also have extensive knowledge of breaking into places. Your time at Pym Technologies has also proven that you are a quick learner and extremely intelligent despite your circumstances.”

“Okay, so my resume leaves something to be desired,” muttered Scott as he wondered how they’d gotten a look at his criminal record. “You’re still not answering my question!”

“You also have recently left prostitution, taking the job at the company as Darren promised to pay for your daughter’s medical treatment,” Hope added. “You’re also sleeping with him.”

“Woah!” Scott shoved his chair back and stood up. “I don’t know what you’re exactly doing but this is getting extremely creepy and vaguely threatening!”

“Sit down Scott,” replied Hope.

“No, not until you explain exactly what the hell you want from me and why you’ve basically educated yourselves with my entire history!”

Scott was quite literally on the edge of running away. The only reason he kept still was that burning curiosity and the confusion over the entire situation.

“You’re close to Darren. You’re beginning to understand how he works. You also are about to be given a promotion,” Hope said.

“Wait, what? Why?” How did she even know this?

“You’ve proven yourself far more intelligent than Darren initially expected. You’ve rapidly advanced your knowledge and what you lack in book smarts you make up for in common sense. Something that Darren has ironically noticed that is needed in certain fields,” Hope responded. “You’ll soon be seeing more of Pym Technologies. You’ll have a feel and constant examination of the security within the building. The areas you don’t have access to I can give you blueprints and visuals.”

“But why?” stressed Scott.

“You wish to be better for your daughter as well as to keep her safe and healthy,” Pym put in. “If you continue to work for Darren blindly you will only be doing one of those things. If the Yellowjacket suit becomes a reality, your daughter’s future will be gone along with the rest of the world’s and safety will be a thing of the past.”

Scott tentatively swallowed. “So why me?”

“You have an incentive to do this, more so than some. Your skills also make you an ideal candidate.”

“For what exactly?”

“For stealing the Yellowjacket suit.”

He had known the words were coming but he really wished they hadn’t. “I…well that is…if this is such a big deal then why can’t you just call the Avengers!?”

“Because this requires a level of tactility and secrecy they lack. We need this done with as little publicity as possible. Hence why a thief would be perfect for it.”

“I’d be going behind Darren’s back,” interjected Scott.

“Does that matter to you?” Hope asked, her eyes seeming to drill into Scott’s head.

“No but…I mean this is…” Scott trailed off and kept from saying the word dangerous. Of course it was going to be dangerous. It was stupid to voice it when everyone in the room already knew it.

“The plan is already in place,” Hank responded. “We just need a man.”

“Presumably everything you’ve done has been for your daughter,” added Hope. “If you don’t help us now, there is a possibility that all that would be in vain.”

Chapter Text

Scott didn’t decide there and then in front of Hope van Dyne or Hank Pym. He couldn’t do it afterwards when all he did was sit in his truck and try to come to terms with the fact that that just happened. The only thing he could really decide on was the fact that his whole reason for coming wasn’t accomplished. He never got the answer as to why Darren was creating the Yellowjacket suit (though the idea of world domination seemed null as he had plans to sell it off).

But that still didn’t clear anything up and Scott was only more confused than before.

Later on, the urge to talk to Maggie was there. She’d definitely have the rational thoughts he needed but in the end, he couldn’t talk to her. Scott knew she would have wanted him to, and he wished he could as well but the idea that doing so could put her in danger was to real.

Scott didn’t decide at work either. Hope’s piercing gaze every once in a while concentrating on him, probing. Scott felt translucent when near her. She knew everything about him before he’d barely even begun to remember her name. It was disconcerting to say the least.

And now watching Hope van Dyne, almost constantly walking next to Darren, sickened Scott. Perhaps it was the comforting squeeze that she had given the man at the museum or simply the fact that Scott felt more aware but it was obvious Darren thought she was a friend and that she played that part well, which was odd because the man didn’t have friends. Colleagues and underlings, yes. But he honestly saw Hope on the same level that he felt he was on, the same level that Scott seemed to drag himself to when he talked to Darren as an equal. It made Scott wonder if Hope had always planned to betray the man, if her friendship had always been a façade that Darren either couldn’t or chose not to see.

Later on, he could not make the decision when ending up in Darren’s bed either. Though he didn’t need to, Scott wanted to understand why Darren was doing all of this. He had nothing to gain from it as far as Scott could tell. It didn’t make sense and it was obvious Pym hadn’t told him everything. That and with Scott’s realizations, he saw that Darren was truly alone. It was achingly depressing yet saying anything would give it all away.

In the end, Scott made the decision as he helped his daughter practice her multiplication tables. Sitting there, holding up the flashcards and making jokes and silly faces to make it interesting and to keep her laughing, the answer to everything was so obvious. No matter how curious Scott was, no matter how uncertain he was, Pym had been right. Everything he did was for Cassie. That would never change.

That helped to solidify Scott’s decision to go back to Pym’s place, to hear the full plan. But that didn’t stop the sickening twist in his stomach every time he saw Darren. Still with more questions than answers, Scott at least understood part of Darren’s reasons and that was to ironically do good, to make the world a better place. Yeah, his plan was flawed and his morals twisted but it appeared that he honestly wanted to do better.

So why had no one explained this to him? Perhaps someone had tried but Darren still hadn’t understood, or maybe no one had attempted it at all. Which didn’t make sense because if they succeeded then the heist wouldn’t have to be done. A likely fight could be avoided. Which all went back to Darren’s reasons for the whole thing because Scott still knew he was missing something. There was some higher power than Darren’s want to do good that was driving him to the production of the Yellowjacket suit, damn the outcome.

Nevertheless, as Scott slowly began to learn more and more about the heist and Hank Pym and Hope van Dyne, he found that there were other problems to be seen. To say that the relationship between father and daughter was shattered was an understatement. It was practically dust!

Though both wanted the same end goal, it was obvious they didn’t agree on the process to get there. After learning about the Ant-Man suit (like seriously? even though the controlling of ants made the name fit it was still a stupid name) Scott understood that Hope wished she could do the heist and not Scott.

And honestly, when he heard Hank and her arguing over this fact, it fit the final puzzle piece into place, at least on Hank’s side.

He was expendable.

Scott wasn’t surprised by this but it at least had everything make more sense. But it also made Hope’s and Hank’s fighting seem even stupider. Of course he thought Hope was capable, that was clear as day. But he couldn’t risk the idea of losing her. Why couldn’t she see that? Scott honestly expected she could but there was something deeper causing the rift between the two.

Now, besides trying to figure out Darren Cross, Scott also had the challenge of fixing the father/daughter relationship that seemed to be in pieces. Yeah, it wasn’t his job, but even if he didn’t want to do it out of the goodness of his heart then it was because the yelling and fighting was about to get on his last nerve.

This was extremely emotionally draining and as if that wasn’t enough he often found himself physically drained as it seemed that fighting was also a part of ‘Breaking into a Hi-tech Place 101’.

Scott had always known how to take care of himself but until now, he’d never had proper training besides the streets. Though she was extremely practical about it, Hope seemed to take out all pent up anger over the current situation on Scott. Or maybe he was just slow and still had a lot to work on though he still felt some anger every time she landed one. Needless to say, that earned him a good couple of bruises which of course left a lot of explaining to do with Maggie (and sadly Paxton which made the situation awkward and annoying).

“I told you to come to me if this ever happened!” Maggie cried out.

“And I told you I would so you should come to the conclusion that it wasn’t Darren,” sighed Scott as he rubbed his eyes. Oh why couldn’t he just skip all of this and say goodnight to Cassie?

“It wasn’t Darren Cross?” asked Paxton with eyes that were clearly used for victims. Scott knew they were meant to be comforting and careful but it honestly just riled Scott up more.

“That’s what I just said!”

“Then how did you get them?” interjected Maggie.

“God, what are you? My parents!?”

“We’re just trying to help Scott,” Paxton replied, his stance and voice going along with his eyes. Scott imagined that he had perfected it through his years of police work and that it was very effective with an actual victim. But the only thing Scott was a victim of was apparently being to slow.

“I know. I know you are but this was all just an accident. Okay? Now can I please say goodnight to my daughter?”

They reluctantly moved aside and once Scott was down the hall he could finally breathe easily. He said good night to Cassie. He was dreading going back out where the obvious argument would appear again. However, it turned out to be much worse as instead, Paxton was the only one there.

“Uh, where’s Maggie?”

“Out back. On the phone talking about a work issue.”

“Welp, tell her I said bye and everything. I guess I’ll just—”

“Scott,” Paxton commanded, his hand up and body stopping Scott from advancing. “I convinced her that your bruises were most likely from an accident but I know a purposely placed punch when I see one.”

Scott stressed, “I’m fine.”

“I’m not saying you’re not. But if you are in trouble, no matter what it is, I can help. Off the books if need be.”

“You’re a cop. Why even offer that?”

“Because I mean it. That little girl back there is important to me and you are important to her. That’s all the reason I need.”

Scott sighed and rubbed his eyes tiredly. “Alright, that means a lot, but I don’t need help right now. I’m good. But if I ever do I’ll keep your offer in mind.”

“That’s all I’m asking.”

“Good, I’ll see you later then.”

“Night.”

Once Scott was out of the house and in his truck, he raced to his apartment, hoping being alone would clear the air. He was lying to everyone he cared about, even people he hadn’t originally cared for. His daughter, his friends, Maggie, Darren, even Hank and Hope could be included as they at least didn’t know what was going on inside his head.

His life had gotten to complicated of late but little did he know that the complexity of his situation would only grow.

Chapter Text

Why did he have to remember it? Why couldn’t his mind just block it all out and go blank like it hadn’t happened?

Somehow Scott had managed to make it home, bleeding and bruised in every place imaginable. Opening the door to his apartment, he almost wanted to collapse then and there. He did just that, forgetting the boxes that he had been packing.

With his salary quite a bit higher, he had been getting ready to move into a nicer, better apartment, one that he could take Cassie to, but now such thoughts were the furthest thing from his mind.

Having fallen over a box and onto the floor, Scott curled inwards. He tried to keep his breathing even but memories floated to the front that had him shivering and pulling at his hair, hoping the pain would distract him enough.

The first time this had happened he’d been drugged. Ruphylin slipped into his drink. Even now he couldn’t recall any details, just the emotions he’d felt at the time. He’d been young and stupid and afterwards he knew to never drink while on a job.

But this time it hadn’t come unexpected. It was his own weakness that had kept him from protecting himself. He should have been able to get them off and away. He shouldn’t have moved into that alleyway. He should have known that they were herding him that way. But none of that had come to pass and he’d been pinned down. He’d bitten and lashed out, tried to scream until something was shoved into his mouth. They’d hit him, hard enough to stun but not to knock out.

And then he’d been alone, bleeding and barely able to breath.

The other time it had happened, when he was young and stupid, he’d woken up in a dumpster without any cloths. At least this time he’d had the dignity of being able to pull his cloths back on, even if they were bloodstained and torn.

That other time he’d had his mother and Maggie. His mother was dead but he still had Maggie.

Yes, he needed her, anyone. He’d thought he’d want to be alone but now, laying there with thoughts and memories running through his mind he knew that was untrue. With shaking hands, he was thankful his phone was still there and worked. His fingers were shaking so much he wasn’t even sure if he hit the right contact. The call was answered almost immediately and before anyone could speak Scott got out, “I’m at my apartment. I need-I just-please come.”

He then ended it, hoping whoever it was would come faster without an explanation. Scott hoped that he had called Maggie, that was who he’d tried for, but for the moment he needed comfort and he’d take it from whoever came.

It was difficult to tell how much time passed and Scott just curled inwards, blocking out the world and trying to block out his thoughts.

The noise that brought him back was the slamming of his apartment door against the wall and the cry of “Scott!” It had to be Maggie then. No one else could match that same desperate, utterly torn cry as she did. But the voice was deeper and didn’t sound quite right.

Scott realized why when it was a man’s hand that was brushing his hair out of his eyes to reveal Darren Cross staring back at him.

Darren’s next move was to check Scott’s pulse and it made Scott wonder exactly how still he was being.

His hoarsely whispered, “I’m alive,” made Darren jump which answered Scott.

“We need to get you to a hospital. You’re—”

“Please don’t. I…not again.” He did remember the doctors and nurses after the first incident. He didn’t want to go through that again.

“You still need a doctor,” Darren responded as he began to pull Scott up.

“I don’t—”

“I’m not going to take you to a hospital. Not if you don’t want to,” whispered Darren as he fully supported Scott’s weight. “I’m taking you to my apartment. I’ll have a doctor look at you there.”

Scott tried to protest but Darren picked him up with both arms and began to carry him through the apartment building and down, making all protests null. At least he wasn’t going to a hospital.

Always forgetting exactly how tall Darren was, he was reminded as he was fully supported by the other and looped one arm around Darren’s neck. He blocked out the world by burying his head in the other man’s chest. Darren put him in the back seat of his car and then left momentarily. It was some time before Darren got into the driver’s side which soon made sense as Scott spotted the keys to his apartment and his phone being dropped onto the passenger seat. He must have locked up.

Darren talked on his phone while he drove back to his own apartment. Once there, he went to the back of the car and picked up Scott again.

At any other time, Scott would have been embarrassed but the secure, warm arms just made him feel safe.

Once inside the penthouse, he finally spoke up upon realizing where he was being placed.

“I’ll get blood on your sheets.”

“I can get more sheets,” Darren responded. “I’ve called a doctor. She’ll be here within ten minutes. You can trust her.”

Darren slowly ran a hand through Scott’s hair, the rhythm soothing and constant. Later when Scott analyzed the situation, a mixture of confusion and something else would be found but for now all it did was calm him and remind him that he was okay.

When the doctor came, Dr. Eason, Darren continued to keep some form of contact between them until he stepped away to talk with the doctor for a moment. When he came back, he resumed that contact.

“She needs to know if you’ll allow her to use a rape kit.”

Scott closed his eyes at hearing the word, bile rising in the back of his throat. He shook his head no.

Scott…”

“I know who did it,” Scott whispered. “An ex-client and his friends.”

“Do you know any of their names?” Scott didn’t answer. “I won’t go to the police if you don’t want me to but I need those names if you have them.”

It took some time, forcing the words out of his mouth, but he eventually succeeded. He had the ex-client’s name and he remembered hearing the first name of one of the others.

“Thank you. Dr. Eason suggests you bath before she starts bandaging you up. Everything you’ll need is in the bathroom.”

Darren made to leave but Scott’s hand whipped out and latched onto the man’s sleeve. “You’re not staying?” he asked, his voice cracking ever so slightly.

“You’re safe with her, Scott. I promise. I’ll be back as soon as possible. Try and get some sleep.”

And with that, Darren was gone. Scott felt more self-conscience now that the other man was gone but pushed himself through it. He showered, dried off, and then the woman finished patching him up. She told him most of the wounds were superficial but would take some time to heal. She also took one of Darren’s shirts and a pair of yoga pants (he must have told her to do this earlier) and gave them to Scott to dress in. Dr. Eason then asked if he wanted her to stay until Darren got back.

He admitted yes and she took a chair from the kitchen and sat in it. As she did whatever on her phone, Scott laid back on the bed and mimicked the position he’d been in when on the floor of his apartment. Despite wanting to wait until Darren was back, he did doze off for a moment, completely drained.

When he came to, the doctor was gone and Darren was by his closet stripping. Knowing that he still wasn’t alone, Scott would have gone back to sleep but he became more awake upon noticing the large amount of blood on the cloths that fell to the floor.

Horror setting in, Scott slowly sat up. “Darren you didn’t—”

“No, though it was rather tempting,” he interrupted. Darren pulled on a pair of sleeping pants and then walked over. There was a cut on his lip and a growing bruise on his cheek.

“You didn’t kill them?” Scott clarified.

“I did not but believe me when I say that they will never hurt you or anyone else ever again.” Darren said this while one hand cupped Scott’s face and before Scott knew it, Darren kissed him.

It was soft, careful, and was over in a second, really more of a peck if anything. Scott didn’t say anything, nothing was really coming to mind. It felt like his brain had stopped processing.

“You’re safe here. You’ll always be safe here. Now get some rest. You need it.”

Scott mutely nodded as his brain tried to turn back on but he quickly shut his thinking off. Instead, he rolled over and laid down again. This time Darren moved in behind him and his arms wrapped around Scott in a comforting hold.

He didn’t question it. He didn’t try and overthink the situation. Scott simply eased into the warm body behind him and fell asleep.

Chapter Text

Scott woke up next to a cold spot.

His head was clearer and though a part of him still wanted to just curl up and forget the world, he pushed past it. He’d gotten through this before. He could do it again.

The clock beside the bed read eleven thirty-eight and from the light coming in at the edges of the curtains, it must have been close to noon.

Leaving the bedroom, he was surprised to see Darren sitting on the couch, working steadily on his laptop. He was dressed in jeans and a shirt, a rare sight indeed.

“Why aren’t you at work?” Scott asked, deciding that the line was safer than broaching what had had happened the night before.

“I decided to work from home today,” Darren replied as if it was the most normal thing in the world. Both knew that it wasn’t. He set his computer aside and stood up. “I’ll make you breakfast.”

“I’m not hungry.”

“You need to eat something,” Darren responded as he moved away and into the kitchen.

Scott slowly followed, unsure exactly what was going on. The man that was moving around the kitchen, grabbing materials that looked almost spotless and unused was not the man Scott had slept with numerous times. Neither was it the boss he worked under. Remembering how he often said beneath the charm and asshole-ness of Darren there was a third layer, Scott had the creeping feeling that it was that layer in front of him.

It was only after this thought process that he noticed the shaking.

“Darren are you—”

“No. No I’m not.” The words were hurried, strained. It didn’t seem right. If anything, Scott felt like he should be the one still freaking out and panicking.

He approached slowly, unsure of what was going on as he tried to connect it with the night before. He was right behind him when he asked, “What do you mean? I don’t…I don’t understand.”

Darren stopped what he was doing and simply leaned against the counter, whole form shaking now. Then with a sudden burst of energy he was spinning around and kissing Scott for the second time though this one was forceful and desperate.

The sudden action coupled with recent events sent Scott into a panic and he tried to pull away. When he did this, Darren at least stopped but he kept his hands on Scott’s face, keeping him close.

“I could have lost you!”

“What?” Those were not the words that Scott was expecting.

Darren let go and covered his face with his hands. It was obvious he was about to explode and Scott quickly took a step back.

“I thought—! Christ, I—fuck!” screamed Darren and he knocked a mug over that shattered against the ground. “I thought I wanted to control you! Don’t you see that? I didn’t affect you! You didn’t act scared or in aww of me like everyone else did. I thought I wanted to force you into that. To have power over you. I thought my offer would help me solidify that!”

Scott took another step back, staying safely away from Darren’s tirade but not leaving.

“And then I found out about you and Hope and-and Hank!” Darren cried out, his voice shaking with anger.

Oh god he knew. He knew it all. But Scott didn’t have time to reflect on that as the man continued.

“I was so mad! I thought I wanted to kill you. I tried to several times! It would have been so easy but I couldn’t bring myself to do it! I couldn’t-couldn’t-and then when I actually thought you had stopped breathing!”

Oh god there were actual tears. Darren was…he was crying?

“I saw you there and all my anger just—it was gone! I didn’t want to control you! I couldn’t bring myself to kill you even when enraged! And then to see you so…so broken and…and I just couldn’t…I realized I didn’t want to crush you. I could never bring myself to crush you. I wanted…to protect you. I couldn’t just…you just had to be okay,” Darren said, his voice having grown soft before rising again, “and I didn’t understand why and I still don’t but I could have lost you and I—”

Darren was unable to continue, either his thought process to muddled to do so or words were not adequate. Instead, he let out a scream again and slid to the floor, head in his hands.

There were so many things he could say, do, but Scott settled on, “You know about Hank’s plan.”

“Of course I do,” growled out Darren, the response cold and distant. Scott could tell he was trying to mask himself off but there were so many cracks in his armor it was almost pointless. “I’m not an idiot.”

“I didn’t say you were.”

“Well Hank thinks so. He always has! I thought I could impress him but no! Even in this he’s disappointed! He’s trying to take everything away from me! He has taken everything away from me!”

The mask fell away again, leaving a broken man that continued to shake.

Scott thought of just turning and leaving. He thought about running in the opposite direction and never looking back, damn the end result. Instead, he moved forward, avoiding the broken pieces of the mug and sat down next to Darren.

Deciding to change subjects, he thought of a question that he’d had since last night. “What did you do to…what did you do last night?”

Darren wiped at his face. “I uh…got them off one by one. Got a new name from each one after I was finished with them. The last one didn’t break though. No matter how much I hit him, what I threatened, he kept talking. Saying these…these awful things about you.”

“What did you do?”

“I cut out his tongue.”

Bile rose up in Scott’s stomach as he envisioned the scene but his fear did not rise. If anything, it decreased and a dark satisfaction appeared. “Why would you do that for me? I’m nothing.”

“You’re right. You shouldn’t matter,” whispered Darren as he finally turned to look Scott in the eyes. “I was tired, work was getting to me. Hank was getting to me. It wasn’t meant to mean anything. It was meant to be one night. Yet you…you wouldn’t leave my mind so I came back. And I…you already know what I thought at the time but you…even now you…you look at me like I’m a…a person.”

Scott remained silent as Darren took in a deep breath.

“Even Hope doesn’t…she thinks she can mask it but…I mean, she’s gone back to the very man that betrayed both of us! She sees me as a monster. I can tell. And then everyone else is afraid of me. Even the ones who look up to me.”

“Darren I…what are you trying to get at?” Scott finally got out.

“You…I just…it doesn’t matter what you do. It doesn’t matter if you continue to help Hank. No matter what the outcome I can’t…I can’t hurt…I care about you.”

Darren moved closer and Scott flinched away but Darren only cupped his face as kind, gentle, and careful as the night before.

“I’m sorry for doing what I did. It was selfish and in your state I suppose I…I was taking advantage of you. I won’t ever do it again.”

Scott froze up, unable to say or do anything. A man like Darren Cross took what he wanted when he wanted it. He didn’t take a step back. He didn’t follow the boundaries. There were no boundaries for a man like him yet he was staying clearly behind them.

Scott?” And there it was again, that stressed, worried tone that didn’t seem to match up with Darren though it did.

“I’m sorry. I was just…it’s a lot to take in,” Scott finally got out, unsure of what else to say or do.

“I know…I-urgh!” Darren stood up, hitting himself in the side of the head. “I shouldn’t have done this. Not now. I’m so stupid!” He hit himself again, this time even harder.

When it was clear he was bringing his hand back to do it again, Scott jumped up and grabbed Darren’s hand before it happened. “Stop it! You don’t have to hurt yourself over this.”

“But I—”

“You came Darren. When I was at my lowest. You forced me to get medical attention but also complied with my wishes to not go to a hospital. You made sure I wasn’t alone when I didn’t want to be. You forgoed work to stay here. Just moments ago you were going to force me to eat breakfast, something that I probably should do even though I said I wasn’t hungry. You haven’t done anything wrong.”

Darren looked between Scott’s face and the hand that gripped his. He was frowning, his brain clearly processing the situation. “I…why?”

“Why what?”

“Why do you…” But Darren trailed off as some form of understanding was made which Scott was not privy to. He suddenly whipped his hand away and bent down, beginning to pick up the larger pieces of the broken mug.

Remaining where he was, Scott watched Darren sweep up the remaining pieces with a broom. It was odd, watching the scene. It didn’t seem right. Darren doing such a mundane thing or even owning something as simple as a broom.

As he threw away the last pieces, Scott could see Darren trying to close himself off again. Scott immediately knew he couldn’t let the man do that. If he locked himself away then Scott may never be able to get past his defenses again.

“You…you’re not hurt. Are you?”

Shocked and confused by the question, Scott could see the defenses going back down as Darren frowned at him. “I don’t understand.”

“Clearly you took a few punches. I mean, you didn’t have to do what you did.”

Darren touched the now lighter bruise on his cheek as if he’d forgotten it was there. The split lip was cracked again, trying to heal itself. “I did it because…I did it for myself as much as I did it for you.”

“But you are alright. Aren’t you?”

“I should be asking you that.”

“That doctor of yours fixed me up pretty good. I’ll be fine. And I’ll…I’ll push through this. I’ve done it before. I’ll be fine.” Scott waited a few moments to see if Darren caught onto his wording. He saw the flicker of realization in the other’s eyes but he didn’t press. Interesting. He was still following the boundaries. Scott continued, “But you don’t have any more wounds, right?”

“None.”

“Good…good,” Scott finally said.

An awkward silence began to slowly grow, neither sure how to continue…whatever their situation was. And honestly, what was it? Would Darren’s words apply the next day? The day after? He was a volatile man. How did Scott know that he’d said what he’d truly meant?

“If uh…if you still want me around—”

Yes.”

The response came out quick, maybe a little desperate. Scott could see that Darren was embarrassed by his sudden outburst and it looked as if he wanted to back pedal so Scott quickly interceded. “Then uh…maybe I could help. With the uh…whatever you were going to make.”

“You’re staying?”

“Well you just said you wanted me to, right?”

“Yes but I didn’t think…”

“So you do want me to go?”

“No! I just…I’m sorry. For all that I’ve done. I probably scared you.”

The words were carefully placed. Scott felt like Darren wanted him to agree as if it would solidify that Scott thought Darren was a horrible human being. Despite all that Darren was doing to make Scott feel safe, he seemed to equally want Scott to think of him as a monster. As if the act of Scott pushing the man away would make it easier for Darren to close off and hide.

“You surprised me,” Scott supplied, going for the truth instead of what Darren was hoping to hear. “I mean, I didn’t know what to expect this morning. Certainly not this. But uh…what you’ve done? It’s…it’s made me feel safe. Something that I needed. So thanks for that.”

Darren seemed to be put off by this and mutely nodded as he turned away and began to reorganize the kitchen.

“So you…you said you wanted to protect me. That you felt you cared about me. Why?”

“I don’t understand.”

“People don’t just randomly care about someone. There are…there are reasons behind it. So why?” clarified Scott. Whatever answer was given would help Scott understand fully what was going on, on the outside and in Darren’s head.

“Like I said,” muttered Darren, “you talk to me…without walls. You argue with me. You make those…stupid stupid comments and sarcastic comebacks. You aren’t…for whatever reason you aren’t afraid of me.”

“And you want to protect me because of that?”

“I thought I wanted to stop those smiles you would give. That…kindness that I hadn’t seen in so long. I thought it angered me that someone who had had such a shitty life could still seem to enjoy it. I was only angry with myself however. The fact that…seeing you break the boundaries that I was so use to would nearly make me smile in return. That I looked forward to seeing such a look on your face seemed…wrong. It was painful. Yet I couldn’t break that part of you. It’s what drew me back to you in the first place.”

“Are you—” But Scott stopped himself. Though the past words basically solidified his unfinished question, he almost didn’t want to vocalize it.

Nevertheless, Darren seemed to understand the question and gave a small nod again. “I believe so. Yes.”

“If that’s so,” Scott murmured, still avoiding the use of the word, “then why do you look so broken right now?”

“Because caring is a weakness.”

“Who told you that?”

“No one. I figured it out on my own,” muttered Darren as he continued to create whatever he was working on. “I cared about someone, looked up to them and trusted them. They ended up ripping me apart from the inside out.”

Scott figured he was referring to Hank and/or Hope. But he threw those thoughts out of his head. Adding them to this would just complicate things even more. “You’re not the only one where that happens to them. I mean, all sorts of trust can be misplaced. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t…you shouldn’t try.”

“I don’t think I could come back if it happened again,” whispered Darren.

“You say that but I know you could. Maybe you’d need a little help but I’d pull you back together.” Scott knew that Darren had likely been referring to Scott himself when saying that line but Scott had to be honest. There was the frightening fact that he didn’t think he could hurt Darren either.

“I can’t…can we please stop. For the moment? I can’t…I can’t talk about this anymore.”

Scott wanted to push but the words were so pleading that he complied. “How about I help you make whatever you’re doing then?”

“It’s just a mess,” Darren muttered. “I wasn’t paying attention. Just keeping my hands busy.”

“Well how about we clean up the mess,” chuckled Scott, “and then start something. I make a mean pancake.”

Darren seemed almost in aww and yet also confused as to how Scott could give him a smile and let out the chuckle that he did. It looked almost like he wanted to smile back as well but he kept quite instead and simply nodded.

The rest of the day was an odd mixture of unsure comments and trying to decide whether to avoid each other or not. However, as night came, Scott stopped respecting whatever space Darren needed as he needed something for himself.

He’d been lying in bed for some time but still nothing had happened. He finally headed into the living room where Darren was on his laptop again.

“Not sleeping tonight?” asked Scott.

“I didn’t think you’d want me there.”

“I’m…I’m more likely to get nightmares if I sleep alone.”

“Oh. I’ll be there in a second.”

It was odd how one moment Darren was defensive and closed off but immediately after Scott admitted that small fact about himself, Darren was fully willing to help. It once again solidified that unfinished question.

Scott went back to the bed room and lay in the bed, waiting for Darren to come. He felt the bed dip when the other got in but he very obviously stayed on one side, forgoing contact.

It only took a few moments for Scott to slide over and grab one of Darren’s arms, looping it over like the night before. The warmth at his back and embrace was exactly what Scott needed for the moment. Still, Darren stiffened at first and there was a point where Scott honestly thought he would pull back and leave.

Nevertheless, he finally relaxed and came closer. The silence was soon broken as something that had been held for far to long was finally said.

Soft, whispered like saying the words to loudly could break the meaning, Darren’s breath brushed against the back of Scott’s neck as he said the words.

“I think I’m in love with you."

Chapter Text

The next day was almost like the opposite of the day before. Instead of appearing like he wanted to run away, Darren kept near constant contact, as if by admitting those words the night before he was afraid Scott would leave without him constantly being there.

Once again, Darren didn’t go to work and Scott had to wonder what the board thought. He knew he’d gotten several missed calls from Maggie and Hope (thanks to Darren brining his phone) but he couldn’t talk to either at the moment. He still felt that he needed to heal from everything, stay in the oddly protective bubble that he was already in.

That day Darren did whatever Scott asked and got a hold of whatever Scott needed: an extra blanket, a movie put on, a glass of water, whatever.

The day after felt a little more normal. Not as awkward as the first day and not as desperate as the second.

Something that couldn’t be ignored from work had come up and as Darren read through messages on his phone and looked up whatever was needed, Scott lay with his head on the other’s lap, one of Darren’s hands slowly going through his hair. When Darren finally seemed to pause in his work, Scott voiced something that had been on his mind constantly.

He had avoided speaking of it, not wanting to complicate things before, but he knew that an answer was needed. Besides, he was fairly certain that he’d finally come up with a solution.

“You’re creating the Yellowjacket suit to try and impress Hank, right?” asked Scott, something that he had slowly pieced together. It was the only reason that made complete sense.

There was silence for a moment and Scott glanced upwards, trying to get a better look at whatever Darren’s expression was. “If I can do this…he’ll be impressed. He has to be.”

That was ironic. Despite claiming that he didn’t care for anyone because of Hank, he was still desperately trying to win back whatever approval he had lost. “Can you just take Hank out of the equation for a second? Just…please look at the project without that reason.”

“But it revolves around him,” stressed Darren.

“I know. I know,” Scott said softly. “But don’t you see? That’s…that’s the problem. It falls apart. There are to many variables you wouldn’t be able to keep track of.”

“If I don’t do this, Hank will…he’ll never understand.”

“He won’t understand anyways,” countered Scott, pulling away and sitting up so he could look Darren in the face directly. “I mean…I know you’ve known him way longer than I have but you must know how stubborn he is. This will only make relations worse between you two.”

“It was his life’s work and now—”

“What? It’s yours? You can’t—” Scott let out a frustrated sigh before rubbing his eyes. “You’re doing this project because of him. Why aren’t you doing something because of you?”

“Hank’s approval—”

“Means nothing at this point,” interrupted Scott. “Listen, I don’t know what happened to you both in the past but either you have to break away or try something else because this will not work. You say you want to impress him. I think I have a way to do that.”

Darren frowned. “I highly doubt it.”

“Well hear me out first before you knock it down,” Scott replied. “At this point, Hank thinks you’re on a dead set course towards destruction. He’s given up on trying to help you and his only thought is stopping you with force.”

“And he’s right.”

“No he’s not! Not if you don’t let precisely that happen. Now, I don’t know how most business events go but I do know you can’t just suddenly pull the plug on the Yellowjacket project. There would be to many questions and I doubt even you could come up with a good enough reason. So, instead, we steal it.”

“My own project?”

“Yes I mean, what with all the blueprints and plans that Hank’s been quizzing me with and your own knowledge and access to all areas, it would be perfect!”

“So your solution is to do exactly what Hank has been planning?” asked Darren, clearly not following.

“Yes because it gives probable reason as to why the project wouldn’t be followed if all, and I mean all, tests and research was stolen. It would also be doing the exact opposite of what Hank expects! You’ll be proving him wrong.”

“But it’s my life’s work—”

“No its Hank’s. It’s his project and even if this all succeeded, that’s what you would be remembered for. Following his work. You want to impress him then you can’t follow in his footsteps. You can’t go down his path!” When Darren still didn’t look convinced, Scott used his final weapon. “If you can’t do what I’m asking of you for yourself then do it…do it for me. I’ve seen you work, the way you control a crowd of people, how you articulate information. You’re brilliant! A genius! It’s because of you that my daughter isn’t already dead and that I am actually getting somewhere. You’ve changed my life and I…I can’t lose you either. Not for those reasons but for my own selfish ones. And if you go through with this, I lose you or you could lose me. Either way, I don’t want that to happen.”

“Why can’t you lose me?” asked Darren, much like how Scott was several days ago.

“Because you’re not a boring business man in a suit. Because you respond to those stupid comments I make. Because underneath it all, I believe you have a good heart and I hope one day I can make you smile. Not those satisfied smirks but an honest smile. You make my life interesting, have since the day I met you,” replied Scott. “I don’t want to lose that. I don’t want to wake up one day and simply…not have you in my life anymore. And that includes keeping you from trying to finish a suicidal mission.”

Scott moved just the slightest bit closer, putting a hand on the back of Darren’s neck. He could see the other shiver with the contact. Darren was unsure of where the situation was going so Scott quickly made it clear.

Pushing his lips against the other’s, it was as much one last attempt to convince Darren to do the right thing as it was a test for Scott. The level of intimacy was something he had not shared in a long time yet the act did not reveal any shocking or unexpected feelings. It simply felt right. As normal as Darren wrapping around Scott at night. Scott pushed just a little deeper, moving Darren’s mouth open and pushing his tongue in.

When he pulled back though, the look on Darren’s face was once again not what he expected. He looked pained.

“What’s wrong?” asked Scott softly, wondering if he’d done the wrong thing.

“You…I…I love you.”

“Alright. You said that two nights ago.”

“No I said think. I think I love you,” responded Darren as he got up and began to pace rapidly back and forth. “Christ, what do I do? What do I do?”

“Well first you stop pacing like you want to create a hole to China.”

“You made a sarcastic comment,” Darren blurted, surprisingly stopping where he was. “Are you…are you feeling better?”

“I wouldn’t say that’s the right word but I’m getting back to my old self.”

“Good—no! No not good! I have to stop caring. Stop it now,” growled out Darren as he resumed his pacing.

Scott sighed, standing up and forcibly kept Darren from moving another step by grabbing a hold of both arms. “I thought we already agreed that caring is a good thing.”

“But I—I love you! Can’t you see all the things wrong with that!?”

“You mean besides the fact that you originally were paying me as a prostitute to sleep with you, you pay for my daughter’s treatment, you’re now my boss, and I’ve been in league with your former boss and your right hand in trying to destroy your current project. Things like that right?”

“If you are hoping to convince me otherwise, you are doing a terrible job of it,” growled Darren.

“Maybe so but I’m proving my point and that is that our relationship has never been normal or really even uncomplicated. Why is it that you stop at love?”

“I don’t…love. It’s not—I can’t—”

“Caring for someone is not that different from loving them. I care for my daughter. I also love her a great deal. Same goes for her mother. I care about you. What happens to you. I…”

Darren stared, waiting.

Scott swallowed several times. It was his turn to say it, if only to help the other. He just needed his mouth to work again. “I…I love you.”

Waiting for Darren to say something, Scott could only guess as to what was going on in his head. More than likely he was over analyzing the entire conversation and more before saying anything but it was impossible to tell for sure.

Finally, Darren nodded. However he still didn’t say anything.

“Okay, you’re going to have to start talking or else I’ll have no idea what’s going on. What does nodding mean.”

“I agree. To your plan. What do we do now?”

Scott’s mouth broke into a wide grin. “Yes! This will solve it but for now we don’t do anything.”

Darren frowned. “But why? Certainly this is something that should be taken care of quickly.”

“Yes, but I have been out of this world for three days. If I stay silent any longer, Maggie is probably going to start making a fuss and I…I’ve missed my daughter. I need to see her again.”

“Will this last?”

“What do you mean?”

“After you leave. When you go back to work, whenever you’re ready. This will last?’

“Well it sure as hell doesn’t just disappear because you leave a room. It will last. If you want it to last.”

“Yes.”

“Good. Now do you want to come with me?”

“What?!” Now Darren looked truly confused and concerned. “You mean to-to see your daughter?!”

“No I just wanted to drag you all the way there and then leave you outside. Yes to see my daughter!”

“I’m not…I’m not very good with kids.”

“You’ll like her. I promise.”

“I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

“Aren’t you the least bit curious? She is alive because of you.”

“I just don’t think I should.”

Scott sighed. He was hoping Darren would just come along. He didn’t want to guilt trip the man but he had to say what he honestly felt. “Listen, I want-no I need to see my daughter. But I don’t…I’m still hurting. Okay? I’m putting on a great face and all but I still…I need you.”

Darren frowned but let out a defeated sigh nonetheless. “Fine. But that doesn’t mean I’m interacting.”

“I don’t care if you do. I just need to know you’re close.”

“I can do that.”

“Good. Then we probably need to get dressed next.”

Chapter Text

Darren ended up driving, Scott telling him the directions. While the man drove, Scott talked of possibilities for stealing the Yellowjacket suit. He also made sure to make it clear that they were going to destroy it.

“I don’t care if it’s revolutionary or not. It’s to dangerous to risk it falling into the wrong hands,” Scott muttered.

Though it was obvious Darren didn’t wish to destroy his work, he did at least agree with that statement which gave Scott some hope. Soon after they arrived at the house and Scott got out, slowly followed by Darren.

Scott knocked and when Maggie answered, he had to say that he wasn’t surprised the way she reacted. Immediately yelling at him for not answering his phone earlier, she noticed the state he was in next (there were still some visible bruises and scratches though most were under cloths). As she worried over that, Scott could see that she was coming to the conclusion that Darren Cross must have done it only to finally realize that it was him who was standing behind Scott.

She was speechless for a moment so before Scott could ramble off some explanation, Darren quickly replied, “Scott had some trouble with some muggers and wasn’t in contact as he was healing from the fight. He mentioned wanting to see his daughter and I offered to drive him.”

Even if it had been a shitty explanation, Darren’s voice made it sound like it really happened. Still, Maggie was somewhat skeptical as she asked, “And you were in the fight?”

“A final participant. I came across the scene sometime after it had happened.”

“Well…thank you for helping Scott. But you! Why didn’t you at least call?!” yelled Maggie. It was clear she was unsure how to act around Darren so she let out her frustration on Scott. “I could have come and helped at least!”

“You have enough on your plate as is. Besides, I knew you’d worry like you are now!”

“Of course I would have! And because of that you should have told me anyways.” She went to punch him in the shoulder but Scott reeled back before he could help it.

He stumbled and Darren quickly supported him, a flicker of rage going through his eyes which Scott knew he’d have to calm down later. Maggie hadn’t meant anything. She usually would give him a small punch or a painless slap upside the head if she was angry with him. He should have been expecting it.

“Sorry,” Scott quickly got out, before Maggie could respond. “Still kind of on edge.”

“Of course,” she murmured, now clearly knowing something more was up.

Scott simply hoped that she wouldn’t press him for the moment. Instead, heart still beating a little wildly, he calmed himself by slipping one hand behind him and into Darren’s hand. “Anyways, uh, I was hoping I could see Cassie. Since I haven’t seen her for the past three days? And I felt that Darren should meet her to.”

“Yeah, that’s fine. How long are you both…?”

“Only for a little while. Like I said, wanted to assure you that I wasn’t dead in a ditch somewhere,” Scott responded with a laugh. Finally Maggie moved aside and Scott and Darren walked in. Scott almost let go of the hand (Maggie hadn’t seen that yet and he could still get away with it), and he didn’t know how Darren felt about it. However, Paxton suddenly came into view and a wave of nausea washed over him and he was quickly gripping Darren’s hand harder. Paxton was a good guy, he knew this, but just the simple fact that he was a cop brought back memories that had Scott resisting the urge to puke.

He almost thought about turning around but he didn’t. He needed to see Cassie, needed to know that she was still alright and getting better. “Before you say anything Paxton, I know. I look like shit,” Scott joked.

“Yeah you do. You’re as white as a sheet,” Paxton responded. He noticed Darren but didn’t say anything. “Overheard the explanation so no need to repeat it. Did you file a report?”

“No, they were just punks and besides, got everything that was mine back.”

“Well I can—”

“It’s fine, honestly,” Scott responded, stressing the words only enough in the hopes that Paxton wouldn’t push anymore. “So, yeah we’re here to see Peanut. She in her room?”

“Yeah. Want anything to drink?” asked Paxton, directing the question at both of them.

Darren shook his head as Scott replied, “No thanks. Come on Darren. It’s this way.”

Scott knew their eyes were looking at their linked hands as he led Darren away but he forced himself to ignore it. The firm hand was helping him stay together and as long as Maggie and Paxton were around (as great as they were) he was breaking just ever so slightly.

But then he walked into Cassie’s room and everything was okay. A smile splitting from end to end, he was able to let go of Darren’s hand as he picked up Cassie and swung her in the air. “Peanut!”

“Daddy!” she squealed happily.

“How is my little trooper?”

“Good,” she replied with a grin. Her face dropped a bit. “You look spotty.”

“Ah, it’s just a few bruises. Nothing to be worried about.”

“You’re alright?”

“Of course Pumpkin. I should be asking you that. Hair is getting a bit thin.”

“Mommy says we may shave it,” Cassie responded sorrowfully.

“Ah, but you’d look beautiful with a little bald head,” cooed Scott. “Besides, you draw on your arms so much, then you could draw on your head.”

She giggled as Scott saw Darren roll his eyes. He’d been looking around the room but had refrained from saying anything.

“Hey, you know who this is?” asked Scott as he turned towards Darren, Cassie still in his arms. Cassie shook her head no. “This is Darren Cross. He’s a friend. He’s also the one who has been paying for your treatment.”

“You mean he’s why the doctor’s stick me so much? Blech!”

Scott chuckled while Darren gave an incredulous look. Scott quickly said, “They’d probably still stick you anyways but it’s because of him that you’ve been able to get so much better.”

“Oh. Thank you then,” Cassie responded with a grin.

“So, I’m only here for a bit but anything you want to do while I’m here?” asked Scott.

“Hmm, a story!”

“But it’s not bedtime silly.”

“Well I want a story,” responded Cassie, her mouth stubbornly set.

“Alright, we’ll do a story,” chuckled Scott. “How about…Darren picks the book? Should end up with an interesting choice.”

“Me? I don’t—”

“Pick a story,” Cassie said eagerly, interrupting whatever Darren’s excuse was to be. “Pick one.”

“You heard the girl. Pick one,” Scott laughed as he set Cassie in the bed.

He watched Darren reluctantly move towards the bookshelf. His eyes scanned the spines before landing on the oddity of the pile. It stuck out among the rest, being about ten times bigger with an old, cracked spine that made the title unreadable. He picked it up and spun it in his hands and Scott’s eyes lit up in recognition.

“Hey, when was the last time I read you a chapter from the Hobbit?”

“Eons ago!”

“You weren’t alive eons ago silly,” Scott laughed as he tickled Cassie. He took the book from Darren and flipped to a marked page. “Let’s see, Chapter Seven is up next. Ready for the adventures of Bilbo Baggins? Bravest little hobbit of them all?”

Even Darren cracked his stoic expression with the poorly done Leonard Nimoy impression.

However, Cassie seemed to adore it and after her giggles had subsided, Scott immediately went into reading.

The unintended anxiety that Maggie and Paxton had caused easily slipped away while reading of the Company and Bilbo’s journey. It had been sometime since reading that particular story to Cassie (the cancer had halted the usual pattern), and the familiarity helped Scott calm his beating heart and pretend that everything was okay.

Turning to a new page, Scott noticed how Darren, though complying with the visit, wasn’t exactly being sociable. He’d set with standing off to the side, rather brooding like. Granted, Scott couldn’t blame him and did feel sorry for dragging him here. Darren clearly didn’t know how to handle himself around kids. However, Cassie seemed to notice this too and patted the bed while Scott continued to read.

Darren looked like he’d been propositioned to do…well clearly something not as mundane as sitting on a bed. It made Scott stop reading as he burst out into laughter.

“It’s sitting on a bed, not jumping off a building. Come on.”

Darren frowned. “I don’t think—”

“Please,” begged Cassie. “I get tired when I stand up for to long. I don’t want you to get tired too.”

“I assure you I won’t get to tired,” Darren tried.

“But what if you do? Daddy’s sitting down. Why won’t you?”

“Well I won’t,” repeated Darren rather stubbornly.

She patted the bed again. “But what if you do? It’s always a good thing to be careful.”

“Well why do you care either way?” he questioned.

“You’re Daddy’s friend. Of course I care,” she said with a grin. Cassie once again patted the bed. “So sit down please.”

Darren looked like he was tempted to argue again but the glare that Scott had set on him seemed to convince him to comply. He reluctantly sat on the other side of the bed and Cassie gave a satisfied smile. She patted Darren’s hand, which he gave her an odd look for, and she said, “There. That’s better isn’t it?”

Scott gave a small, satisfied smirk as he was about to continue reading when the door to Cassie’s room suddenly opened. It was not that sudden nor loud yet nevertheless Scott jumped ever so slightly. He saw Darren’s worried glance but thankfully Cassie was concentrated on the door.

“Hi Mom!” she said excitedly. “Daddy is reading the Hobbit to me finally.”

“That’s nice. Been a while since you’ve read that. Hasn’t it Scott?” Maggie said.

“Yeah, it has. You need something?” asked Scott. He hated how Maggie kept that accusing look on Darren the entire time. He needed to set it straight with her that he hadn’t done anything wrong.

“No, nothing,” Maggie responded. “Just checking up. You need anything Cassie?”

“I’m good,” she responded. “Now continue the story! You just got to the best part.”

“You say that about every part,” chuckled Scott. “But she’s right. Have to get back to the story.” He hoped Maggie got the hint. He hoped she’d stop with those accusing looks and suspicious tone. He knew he needed to explain. That it was the lack of an explanation that was making her act like this, but not now. No, now he just needed to get back to Gandalf and the Goblin King and everything else in the land of Tolkien.

“All right. I…I’ll be back in a moment.”

Oh thank goodness she was gone. Scott breathed a sigh of relief and dived back into the book without a second’s hesitation. After a few more turns of the pages he handed it off to a shocked looking Darren.

“What? I need to go to the restroom but the story must go on.”

Cassie nodded. “If Daddy’s leaving for a bit you have to read instead.”

“You can’t be serious,” grumbled Darren.

“What? You have a lovely voice. Besides, it’s not like you’re coming up with a speech on the spot. The words are all there for you,” Scott responded with a smirk and headed off before Darren could argue the fact.

Scott left the room, closing the door softly, and had almost made it down the hall and into the bathroom before Maggie practically jumped at him.

“Christ Maggie! Don’t—”

“You left him in there with our daughter?! After what he’s done to you?”

“Maggie, he hasn’t done anything to me.”

“You expect me to believe that with how jumpy you’ve been? The way you’ve flinched? How do you explain those bruises and cuts?! No I am not—”

“Maggie, please—”

Scott attempted to step in front of her, tried to stop her as he thought of all the ways to admit to her what happened when she did something that wouldn’t bother Scott in any normal circumstances but now shook him up. She pushed him.

He stumbled under the force and resisted the urge to jump away.

“Scott, step aside! I will get Paxton involved in this if I have to.”

“Will you just—”

Maggie tried to push past him again. He could feel his pulse quickening as his mind shot back to a particular scene. He tried to erase it from his mind.

“Maggie if you want us to leave then fine but please don’t make a scene—”

“No I’m not letting that man hurt my family anymore! You’re done with him Scott!”

She knocked into him again and Scott was just barely able to hold himself up. Hands that were long gone ghosted across his skin.

“He never hurt me Maggie! He helped me! And please be softer I don’t want Cassie—”

Instead of simply pushing this time she grabbed his shoulders and forcefully shoved him to the side. Scott closed his eyes, hoping that it would help but it only made things worse as instead of simple thoughts, scenes visualized themselves in front of him.

He tried to open his eyes, or maybe they were open, but the imagery didn’t leave. He saw the same faces as before, felt those hands, felt the pain and the struggle and helplessness.

Vaguely he heard Maggie’s voice and Paxton’s, like they were some omnipotent force that slipped in and out of clarity. Then movement. He could feel himself being forced and he struggled, he fought, but for whatever reason he couldn’t scream.

Scott felt like he was drowning, choking on his own tongue as he tried to clamber back to reality. He tried to latch on to either Paxton or Maggie but they slipped away before he could and another hand was pulling him back down.

He was so scared, so helpless. He fought harder and harder until—

“Scott, hush. Shush, it’s alright. No one is hurting you.”

Darren? Yes, it was Darren. Scott seemed to be able to open his eyes as he felt a different pair of hands instead. They were calming, careful, soft. Familiar. He saw Darren, once again with his guard down. The awkwardness and distance had disappeared to simply hold full concern. One hand slowly went through his hair as the other carefully cupped his face.

Fear and pain continued to run through Scott’s body but he was slowly becoming aware again. They were just memories. “How’d I get on the couch?”

“They moved you here,” Darren responded, referring to Maggie and Paxton. Scott noticed them behind Darren.

“Did…did Cassie hear anything? Did she—”

“A little bit of shouting but no, she doesn’t know what’s going on,” assured Darren. “I told her it was simply adult business. She’s busied herself with a coloring book.”

“Good,” whispered Scott. That was one worry off his shoulder. “Good.”

“Scott I—” The words came from Maggie as she took a step forward. She clearly was trying to piece together what was occurring but was cut off by Darren.

Shut up.”

“Excuse me?” asked Maggie incredulously. “This is my house—”

“I don’t care! You had no right to do what you did!”

“Darren,” whispered Scott.

“How stupid could you have been? Could you not see how it was affecting him?! He had—”

“Darren back off. Please,” Scott stressed. He could see that the man was only two steps away from getting physical. “Please, it’s not her fault.”

Looking reluctant and still pissed off, Darren did so, resuming his position besides Scott. “You’re shaking,” he said softly.

“Yeah. Can’t seem to make it stop. Funny how the body likes to disobey us at the worst of times huh,” commented Scott. He chuckled and tried to make light of the situation but it was poorly done and as see through as his attempted reassurances.

“You weren’t ready for this,” murmured Darren.

“Maybe so but I needed to see Cassie. I’m glad I did.”

“Well I don’t care. You shouldn’t have,” growled Darren. “You still need time to rest. Nobody just comes back from something like that and is fine. I’m taking you home now.”

Maggie suddenly interjected. “Wait…Scott what exactly happened to you. If…if Darren didn’t do anything then who…who hurt you?”

“I’m not ready to have that conversation,” murmured Scott. “Not right now. I just…I can’t.”

Scott shivered again and Darren made sure to give him an extra comforting kiss, soft and sweet as he ran his fingers through the other’s hair. Scott ignored the looks from Paxton and Maggie who now clearly didn’t know what to think as he added, “I need to say goodbye to Cassie. I need to make sure she knows I’m okay.”

“You go in like this and she’ll know you’re not okay,” responded Darren.

“Just give me a few moments,” he murmured. “I just…I need to collect myself enough. I’ll at least seem like I’m okay.”

Darren let out a reproachful sigh but nodded. He turned to Paxton and Maggie. “Get him a glass of water. He needs it.” When they both still seemed frozen he snapped, “Now.”

“You don’t have to be so rude,” sighed Scott.

“Excuse me if I’m a bit peeved that the man I love practically had a nervous breakdown because of someone,” Darren responded with a glare behind him. “You know, I’m never listening to you again. I don’t care what you want to do. If I think you need to stay home, you’re going to do just that.”

“Home? You mean your apartment?”

“Whatever. Details don’t matter. The point is sometimes you can’t push yourself and you simply have to take a step back,” muttered Darren, a flush of red coming to his cheeks.

“Oh, because you know how to do that so well?”

“Shut up,” Darren muttered and then took the glass of water from Maggie’s hands that he’d asked for earlier.

As he handed it over to Scott who eagerly drank it, Maggie awkwardly stood to the side and hesitantly asked, “So when did…did this happen?”

“Uh, not really an easy question,” Scott responded. “Listen, I know…I’m sure you both are utterly confused right now but I honestly just…I’ll explain it all later. Right now I’m going to say good bye to my daughter, reassure her that everything is alright and that I’ll get to the next part of the Hobbit with her soon enough, and then I’m leaving with Darren. That’s the end of it. I’ll…I’ll get in contact with you in a few days. But I’m serious. I’m not going to talk to you before I’m ready so don’t try to call.”

Chapter Text

After saying goodbye to Cassie, Scott and Darren took their leave. Before actually driving off, Darren leaned over to the passenger’s side and softly ran his thumb along Scott’s jaw line. “You’re sure you’re alright?”

“I will be. I saw Cassie. That’s the important thing.”

Darren turned back and started the car. As he drove, Scott let out a tired sigh. “Darren, whatever you’re thinking, no.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Yes you do,” grumbled Scott. “Whatever you’re thinking you’re not allowed to hurt Maggie or Paxton.”

“I’m not thinking that.”

“Of course you are,” he sighed. “They didn’t mean it. It’s not their fault.”

“You may say that but it’s not true. You can keep going on about how they didn’t see the full picture. Fine. But they shouldn’t have pushed you like that,” growled out Darren. “I would say that me not being there would have helped but they would have just pushed in a different manner. Less noticeable, slower. Either way they would have hurt you.”

“Fine! They hurt me! There, are you happy? I said it. But people hurt each other. Doesn’t matter if you love each other unconditionally, if you’re family or friends. People will always hurt each other. Still doesn’t mean it was done with the purpose of hurting,” responded Scott with a sigh.

“So? What’s the point in having connections?”

“Well the make-up sex can be pretty great.”

Scott…”

“Well on a more serious note,” Scott responded with a role of his eyes, “I guess it would be pretty lonely. I mean, you don’t risk getting hurt then you’re going to miss out on a lot of things. People risk that all the time. And not just with other people.”

Darren sighed. He looked pained, as if he despised the words Scott had just said. “I hate this.”

“What?”

“I hate caring about you, about what happens to you. I’m not…use to caring about more than one person.”

“Yeah, it can get fairly bothersome sometimes,” admitted Scott. “But you haven’t left yet. Haven’t abandoned ship. Must be something keeping you here.”

Darren kept silent.

Deciding to try and move to a lighter subject, Scott asked, “How did you do with Cassie? What did you think of her?”

“She reminded me of you,” Darren responded. “She…simply saw me.”

“She’s pretty down to earth for a kid. Though she does love her fantasy worlds. I think she liked you,” Scott put out.

Darren gave a small nod of agreement, a curious look on his face. “She could be dead now.”

A small chill ran through Scott at the words. So much for a lighter subject.

They were at a stop light now and Darren took the time to look over, curiosity in his eyes. “It’s the butterfly effect.”

“What?”

“If I had never stopped on that road, if you hadn’t caught my attention, we wouldn’t be here right now. And the cancer could have already eaten at Cassandra Lang. Such a small act can save a life and cause such a horrendous mistake. The butterfly effect.”

“What part of this do you think is a mistake?” asked Scott, a small frown forming on his face.

“Every part. I’m giving up something that I’ve strived ages for simply because of…you.”

“And that’s a bad thing?”

“It is because I’m slowly realizing that I don’t mind it,” murmured Darren. The light turned green and he quickly sped forward. “For a while I was wishing I hadn’t met you. It wasn’t…it wasn’t fair how simply one man could suddenly make choices that were once so easy impossibly hard. How at times I would unwillingly find myself distracted by you, even if you weren’t physically present. I wished our lives had never intersected but once again…”

Darren trailed off. Scott watched as sections of his face lit up from other cars and lights off of buildings. There was that odd look of pain, that inability of understanding. So much of what Scott would take for granted, what the world did really, Darren hadn’t experienced or simply didn’t understand.

Despite the fact that it was Scott who had just gone through the traumatic experience, Scott could also tell that Darren had practically tortured himself his entire life. Never fully fitting somewhere. Never with complete understanding or a connection.

“A lot of you is still a mystery,” admitted Scott, “but I know enough of you to know that if you are certain an endeavor is worthless, you would never pursue it. Clearly you see something worthwhile if you haven’t thrown me out.”

“Yes, but I still don’t know what that is,” Darren murmured. He let out another, tired sigh. “I want you to at least take tomorrow off. You can take more time if needed or you can come back to work immediately, but please just take tomorrow off. I won’t be able to stay though. I’ve been away from work to long and the board is getting irritable. I can’t miss another day.”

“I understand,” Scott responded, not bothering in fighting Darren’s command. He knew he still needed some time, even if he didn’t want to. It was more so the fact that Darren wouldn’t be able to be there that made him uncertain.

“I’ll be on call though. If you need anything, don’t hesitate. And you can…you can go to your own place if you wish but my place is still open.”

“You want me to just stay in your apartment?”

“I don’t want you to do anything. I just…do what makes you comfortable.”

Scott gave a small nod as they finally arrived back at Darren’s place. He followed the man and once they were in the privacy of the flat, Scott carefully pulled Darren to a stop. He’d been staring carefully ahead and looking away but now he was forced to look Scott in the face.

Standing close with his hands curled into Darren’s cloths, the other took a few moments before talking. “This…this won’t change? It won’t stop simply because of work?” Darren asked.

“Not unless you want it to,” Scott responded. “You know, things don’t just stop because the situation changes. I mean, relationships and stuff certainly can but they don’t have to.”

“Relationships?”

“Did I say something wrong? Should I have chosen a different word?”

“We’ve been sleeping with each other for months. I think the word ‘relationship’ is fine.”

“Right, just don’t want to push you to hard,” Scott responded.

“All of this is pushing me,” sighed Darren as he moved closer and kissed him. Pulling away, he remained inches from the other as he whispered, “And the only way to stop that is if you disappeared from my life, something that I currently can’t part with. I would rather be pushed than alone at the moment.”

Scott nodded in agreement. He kissed Darren back, the feeling so odd and unusual yet comforting and sweet. He liked it, liked the idea of getting used to it, but he didn’t let that thought play in his mind for to long. He knew that thinking of them as an actual couple was stupid. It so wouldn’t work. But for the moment it almost seemed like it could.

“Come on, you need to sleep,” Darren murmured. “I won’t be here when you wake up but like I said, the place is yours if you need anything.”

Both went to bed and though the next morning Scott wasn’t pressed up against a warm body, there was the remnants of one. Scott took in that warmth for as long as he could until he finally got up and decided what to do. He thought about going back to his apartment but that idea soured in his mind.

The last memory he had of the place was of himself collapsed on the floor. He didn’t exactly want to deal with that now.

He thought of talking to Maggie but he realized he’d rather be alone in Darren’s apartment than out in the world with someone else. It was still a protective bubble so to speak, one which Scott realized he wasn’t prepared to leave.

Nevertheless he couldn’t just let himself walk around and mope all day. He needed to do something mentally or physically active so he started trying to get a more concrete plan on exactly how he and Darren would steal the Yellowjacket suit (if he was still up for it).

Around lunchtime he finally broke the silence of the flat by calling Darren. Not to discuss the plan that slowly seemed to develop but due to a simple need for hearing the other’s voice.

“Yes?” The question was a curt welcome and made Scott imagine that the man rarely glanced at who was calling him, the action probably thought of as to slow and time consuming which amused Scott.

“Hey, it’s me.”

“Oh, is everything alright?” The words were carefully guarded but still held some concern making Scott imagine he was in a fairly crowded place.

“Yeah I’m…I’m still at your place. Just uh, getting a bit lonely.”

“But you’re alright?”

“Yeah, of course I-no this is stupid. I’m sorry I called you.”

“Don’t be,” grumbled Darren with an irritated sigh. “I just had to deal with firing someone. Your voice is extremely welcomed.”

“Sorry to see him go?”

“Sorry it didn’t happen sooner. The man was an idiot. I don’t know why I wasn’t involved sooner.” Another growl. “Hope’s also suspicious. She wanted to know where you were. She said she went to your apartment.”

“What? Are you serious?”

“Very much so. She clearly thinks something is up. Though granted I’d be almost disappointed in her if she couldn’t tell,” sighed Darren. The background noise seem to lessen until silence came and then, “I miss you. I never thought I could miss a person.”

“I’ve missed lots of people before. You get use to it,” Scott responded.

“I’d rather not get used to it,” Darren replied, the irritable tone coming in again. “I know it’s only psychological but there’s a pain here which I can’t fix.”

“Yeah feelings suck don’t they,” chuckled Scott. It was weird hearing these thoughts and ideas being admitted by Darren Cross of all people but Scott couldn’t help but smile at that. When talking like this, he felt like everything could turn out all right. “You know, I use to imagine myself as a Vulcan when I was younger. Told my mother human emotions were stupid. She said I was to much like Kirk though.”

“You are.”

“I’m surprised you even know what Star Trek is,” Scott responded.

“Well if it helps, I never watched it. I just know of it,” sighed Darren.

“Well that’s something that needs to change. I’m going to force you to sit through at least the first episode.”

“Scott I have…there are work issues that will keep me for some time.”

“Oh, right. Yeah that was pretty stupid to ask of you wasn’t it?” Scott tried to laugh it off but even to himself the disappointment and embarrassment was clear in his voice. “I mean, we’re not a—I was just being stupid. I’m sorry.” There was an awkward pause of silence before Scott added, “So you won’t be home tonight?”

“More than likely not,” replied Darren. “That doesn’t mean you have to—you don’t have to leave. Like I said, whatever you need is yours.”

“Right, definitely got that in mind.”

Another awkward pause, this one broken by Darren as he said, “There is some business I need to get back to…”

“Right! Yeah, silly me. But just uh, real quick, I was planning out things with the heist thing.” Scott paused, wondering what Darren’s reaction would be. He feared that he’d say that the idea was stupid, that they shouldn’t do it, but before he could continue fretting over that he asked him to continue. Surprised but pleased, Scott quickly said, “Well it needs to be done after you unveil the project, so that way it’s more likely an outside source did it. You’re inviting Hank to the first unveiling in two weeks right?”

“Yes.”

“Well then a week after that. I’ve started planning how to get in, disarming of security and whatnot if you’re…well if—”

“We can discuss it in more detail tomorrow night. I’ll be home then,” responded Darren. “And will I be seeing you at work tomorrow?”

“Not…not tomorrow. Maybe not the day after that,” admitted Scott. “But after that definitely! I’ll definitely be at work.”

“You can take your time you know.”

“I know but I’d…being busy helps. But I’ll see you tomorrow night, right?”

“Yes, I will be home.”

“Good…uh good. I'll call if anything happens.”

“As will I if plans change. Good day Scott.”

“Bye.”

When the call ended, Scott couldn’t help but sigh as he placed down the phone with an annoyed sigh. That was possibly the most awkward thing he’d ever done. He shouldn’t have said some of those things. It was to couples-ish, to normal. Darren was not ready for that which was pretty damn clear. Nevertheless he hadn’t freaked out that much over what Scott had said, at least not verbally, which was a good sign.

Scott went back to work on the heist, only finally falling asleep from exhaustion later on.

Chapter Text

The night after Scott talked to Darren in greater detail about the plan. He was pleasantly surprised that the other listened and still seemed willing to help. However, what surprised Scott the most was the fact that afterwards Darren asked if he still wished to watch Star Trek.

That was definitely the most shocking and took Scott a few seconds to long to finally take the information in and process it. He agreed and what occurred was…strange to say the least. Darren bickered about the level of cheesiness in the product and Scott defended it by reminding him about when it was made and how at the time it was a marvel. It was very much Darren and very much Scott to act in such a way but they were doing exactly what Scott figured would freak Darren out: being couple-ish.

More than likely Darren had come up with some rational idea in his head to keep himself from freaking out but it still was strange, the warm body pressed against Scott’s own and the comforting arm around his shoulder that pulled him in. It made Scott smile. Made him feel safe. It also made him dread what could happen tomorrow. Or even the day after that.

Nevertheless, he kept quiet about his uncertainties and enjoyed the moment instead.

The next morning, Scott once again woke up to a cold spot, Darren having already gone to work. That day he decided would be his last day away from Pym Industries. After that, he’d force himself to face the real world but there was something he would have to do before then.

Scott knew he could have waited if need be but the need to clear Darren’s name and make her see that he wasn’t a bad person was to great. He called Maggie and set up a meeting place. Just so he knew he wouldn’t back down, he got there early.

Honestly he was a bit surprised that Maggie didn’t end up coming early as well. She always hated being late yet this one time she seemed to be doing just that.

Scott had finally decided on ordering a cup of coffee. He nervously rubbed his thumb against it, more so than actually drinking it, when he finally spotted Maggie. Upon seeing her, he saw why she had come late. If Maggie had been sitting down and Scott had been the one running late, he probably would have ran in the opposite direction. As it stood, he was thinking just that as Maggie and Paxton walked in.

He finally took a gulp of the coffee, trying to distract from his nerves with the burning sensation running down his throat. As the moment stood, he had two pairs of eyes zeroed in on him. He really didn’t want everyone else seated around him to turn and stare as well. So Scott sat, taking in deep breaths where he could as they moved closer.

“Why is he here?” Scott choked out. He glanced at Maggie several times but mostly concentrated on the table.

“I know it may surprise you Scott but sometimes I need support as well. Besides, you’re going to need to convince Jim as well to not throw that man in jail.”

Scott let out a tired sigh and rubbed his eyes warily. “He’s not…Darren isn’t the problem,” he stressed. “I’ll explain what happened. From beginning to end, alright? Just sit down.”

“Alright, then explain. Clearly the story Darren shot out was a lie,” Maggie responded. “Tell us the truth.”

Scott took out a deep breath.  A million different ways of opening up his tale passed through his head. He settled on, “I was just walking. Trying to uh…clear my head I guess. I was stupid not to realize what was happening. That the suspicious guys, they were guiding me. I hadn’t met any of them before, wasn’t properly thinking and just tried to avoid them, to caught up in my own head. Anyways they were able to get me to go into an alleyway.

“A guy came out from behind a bin. I recognized him as an ex-client from-well you know. He’d been pretty dangerous and I’d finally cut ties with him when he attacked me once. Gave him a broken nose and a black eye for that. Well he tried to grab me but I got him in the jaw pretty good. Didn’t knock him out though and he managed to still hold on to me.

“As we struggled the other guys from before caught up. They managed to get my arms and legs down and—” Scott cut himself off, partially because of the shaking but also from the looks being given to him. He had to calm himself before continuing. “Well, you get the picture. I managed to get home after what…after what they did to me. I tried calling you Maggie. Thought I had but it turned out to be…it was Darren.”

Scott turned silent again. Now that it was out, it was a bit easier to breath. However there was still that uncertainty that remained in Maggie’s and Paxton’s eyes. “He helped me,” Scott quickly added. “He got me a doctor, looked after me. He’s done just about everything he can think of to make sure I’m alright.”

“Maybe so but you…don’t you remember what happened the first time?” questioned Maggie. Scott’s mind returned to his younger life, the missing time, the humiliating stay in the hospital. “You hung on to me for over a week. You were becoming to dependent. Perhaps this—”

“Do you see Darren here?” interrupted Scott. “No? Because I haven’t become dependent on him. I still…could I just walk out and never see him again at this point? No but I’m not following him around like a puppy. I’m not-not wrapping myself up in the man. So please just…stop! Stop with accusations and the looks and the mistrust. All he’s done is help me. Nothing else. He’s not the bad guy everyone makes him out to be.”

“Did you at least file a report?” Paxton finally asked.

Scott shook his head. Maggie of course looked like she was about to jump him for not doing that but Scott quickly shot out, “I just couldn’t. Alright Maggie? Besides, you won’t change my mind now and even if they didn’t feel the wrath of the law they certainly felt the wrath of Darren. The matter is done. It’s over and I’m getting through it. The only reason why I needed to tell you this, both of you I guess, was to make you realize that Darren wasn’t the guy you were making him out to be.”

“But why help you?” interjected Paxton.

“Exactly,” Maggie cried, jumping in. “There still must be something he wants you for if he’d go to all that trouble for you.”

“Can’t you just believe he did it because he felt sorry for me?”

“Not at all,” Maggie responded stubbornly.

“You’re not going to like it,” muttered Scott, already imagining her reaction, “but he explained it to me. I’m not going say what he said word for word. It was to personal. But to summarize it all, he basically admitted that he’s in love with me.”

“But that doesn’t make—”

“It does make sense,” sighed Scott. “If you look at the situation in a certain light, it actually makes perfect sense why he’s done all this.”

Maggie was silent for a moment, clearly trying to process this and except Scott’s answer. However, Paxton spoke up first. “What was your response to this?” questioned Paxton.

“Nothing when he first said it. But I’m pretty certain I've completely fallen for him to.”

“Scott—”

“Alright, just stop making it out like he’s the devil alright,” growled Scott. “You’re as bad as Hank and Hope. Stop just assuming everything about him. The only time you’ve even met him is when he came to your home. He was a perfect gentleman to Cassie and was only helpful and kind when you both pushed me to hard! Okay? So just stop making up these stories just…well just because!”

Not ashamed of the tone of voice he’d used, Scott was resisting the urge to yell more at the both of them. He was trying to let them in, trying to explain everything that had happened and yet they still held to their ideas. Nevertheless, the seething anger slipped away when a look of embarrassment actually did form on Maggie’s face.

“You’re right,” she whispered. Then louder, “I have been judgmental, more so than I should have been. But you have to understand it was only because I care about you Scott.”

“And I understand that,” Scott sighed. “But there is a time when you simply have to accept that maybe you were wrong. Darren is…troubled. That’s true. He has issues and it doesn’t help that a lot of shit is happening at work with his former mentor. But he’s a good man.”

“I suppose you’re asking me to trust you on this.”

Scott nodded. “Both of you. And that is all I’m asking. Trust.”

“I think we can both do that,” Paxton put in, putting a comforting arm around Maggie. “Will be seeing more of Darren then?”

“Maybe. Uh, you actually won’t be seeing much of either of us for a bit. There’s this project that we’ve been discussing and it’s going to eat up a lot of our time for the upcoming weeks.”

“You’re going back to work already? After—”

“It’s almost been a week,” Scott responded before Maggie could continue. “Maybe I still need time off but work helps. Staying busy helps. But anyways I’ll still be by to see Cassie occasionally. The visits will just be less frequent for a bit.”

“So you’re actually working on this project together? You’re…I suppose learning in the company?”

“Yeah. Still plenty that flies over my head but I’m getting there. I’ve even got the pleasure of surprising Darren a couple of times. He likes to use all these terms, partially just because he can but he’s always curious who can still follow along. I can,” Scott said, if just a little smugly. “But really, just give the man a chance. He deserves it.”

Paxton nodded. He looked to Maggie, some unspoken conversation going between them before he said, “Then how about dinner. As way of an apology for…last time. Besides, Cassie actually has been wondering when ‘Daddy’s friend’ would be coming back. Claimed he had a better reading voice than you.”

“Ah, the little traitor,” Scott chuckled, pleased with this new found information. “I’ll bring it up with him and then give you a date.”

“We’ll await your call,” Maggie responded. “Now how about lunch? I don’t know about you boys but I will like I’ve dropped a size from all this stress.”

“Agreed,” muttered Scott with an approving nod. He smiled though, pleased that he finally seemed to be getting Maggie and Paxton on his side.

Chapter Text

Scott did bring up the idea of dinner with Maggie and Paxton. Strangely enough, it was taking a lot more convincing than breaking in to Darren’s own company and destroying his number one creation.

Another week had come close to passing and Scott was well into being back at work, going full speed ahead and catching up with everything he’d missed. The most difficult part by far had been dealing with his disappearance from Hope and Hank. Both had been extremely suspicious so he’d told them a partial truth. It had taken some time for them to accept it but they finally allowed it and he went back to training with them every afternoon he could manage when he wasn’t at work.

Now he’d just turned in the handwritten report to a finished project to Darren when he’d brought up the idea of dinner again. The man’s look very easily could have drilled a hole through Scott’s head.

“No.”

“Oh come on! You’ve said that the last eight times!”

“And I will continue to say it. I have work Scott and so do you.”

Scott sighed. Being at Pym Industries seemed to always crank up Darren’s ‘grouchy’ meter, like putting on the charming persona took to much so in more private situations he turned into a grumbling ass. Not that it really bothered Scott. He’d dealt with this side of Darren plenty so he knew when it was time to back off and when he could keep pushing.

Walking around the desk, Scott purposely spun Darren’s chair away from his computer and towards him. “Alright, why is it that you’re willing to give up something you’ve been trying to accomplish for…forever really and not sit down for dinner? It doesn’t make sense.”

“I do not feel like spending another moment around that man and woman. And neither should you! They were absolutely horrible to you.”

“For the last time they didn’t do that with the intention to hurt me, alright?! And I talked to them. I told you that. Besides, it was their idea as way of an apology.”

“I won’t do it.”

“Cassie really wants to see you again.”

“And she is welcome to but I’m not going to that household again.”

Scott frowned before an idea popped into his head and he quickly bent down and kissed Darren. He felt a considerable amount of tension drop from his shoulders in just that one move. Still, a warning noise of, “Scott,” managed to escape Darren’s lips and the other reluctantly pulled away.

“Please. They’re making an effort. They are trying. Besides, Maggie is a great cook.”

“Why does this mean so much to you?” Darren eventually sighed.

Scott immediately saw that he was getting through to him. Pleased, he couldn’t help but smile as he replied, “Because you’re a part of my life and so are they. I don’t want those two things to just be exclusive of each other. Things get to complicated when you try to keep things in neat, separate boxes. And like I said, Cassie wants to see you again.”

“I feel that if I continue to say no you’ll figure out some other, irritating way, to force me into this.”

“You know, you’re absolutely right,” Scott said with a smirk.

“Fine.” It looked like it was killing Darren to say that simple word but he said it once more. “Fine, but not now. Not until after we steal the Yellowjacket suit. Things are to complicated right now.”

“That I can agree with.”

“Good, then we’re in agreement. Now get back to work,” grumbled Darren as he spun back towards whatever he was typing. His face only seemed to sour more when he added a question before Scott left his office, “Will I see you tonight?”

“Yeah but I’ll be back pretty late. I’ll be at Hank’s and then I promised Cassie that I’d pop over at least for five minutes. She gets tired of conversations over the phone and all that.” Scott knew mentioning Hank always upset Darren on some small level but he also knew that he appreciated the honesty more so.

Scott left and as thoughts turned to Hank and Hope, he once again felt bad for lying. He’d thought about telling them the truth beforehand but the idea that they may stop them was to great. He may have won Maggie and Paxton over but for the moment, Hank and his daughter were utterly impossible in that regard. The only thing that made it easier was the fact that he promised to explain to them what had occurred immediately afterwards.

Despite his ties with Darren now, Scott had still grown attached to Hope and Hank in some regard. He’d also seen behind layers, walls of defense that they both seemed so unwilling to let down. Really, it was almost ironic how similar they both were to Darren. It was surprising the guy wasn’t actually Hope’s brother really.

Maybe after it was all over Scott could figure out a way to solve that last schism. He didn’t dare get his hopes up but it was certainly worth pondering about.

Time passed as Scott carefully walked the edge of Cross and the Pym-van Dyne family. As he furthered the heist plan and his training with Hank, he did the same thing with Darren. Nevertheless, he certainly got a closer look with Darren. Really, if he was still completely sided with Hank, he was learning a lot of things that could have helped but instead he kept quiet.

Around a full month had occurred as Scott had been stretched from end to end, trying to fulfill his work duties, his alliance to Darren and the other one for Hank, and those as a father towards Cassie. Needless to say he was practically passing out every night as the designated date came closer and closer.

When it did arrive, it felt like it should have come weeks earlier and weeks later at the same time. Scott and Darren left work like they usually did but that evening they prepared themselves for the heist. Darren made little comments and was clearly withdrawn, probably still coming to terms with what they were doing.

Nevertheless he didn’t voice any concerns with Scott and went along with everything that had been preplanned. They waited until an hour when most of the staff was already gone. Since Darren wasn’t there, most tests and jobs had ended until the following morning. The only main threat they had were the security officers and the few workaholics that were still running about.

Though they technically could just waltz in and probably get pretty damn far before somebody realized something was wrong, they couldn’t have records or any witnesses saying they had been there that night.

Instead they drove up about half a mile away from the perimeter. They walked from the car, both carrying the necessary tools they would need, and dressed in all black.

The look Darren had given him when Scott had first brought up the wardrobe had been quite funny. He’d thought it was a joke at first before realizing that Scott had been completely serious. Of course, wearing all black made sense, made you less noticeable and easier to lose in the dark.

Now that they were moving together though, the scene became incredibly odd to Scott. He’d done jobs before when in desperation (he’d even been pretty good until that one arrest), but it had been a while and he had always been alone when going in.

“What?”

Scott realized he’d been staring while stuck in his thought process and returned Darren’s confused look with a small smile. “Nothing just thinking to much. I mean, my life has been completely turned upside down. Who would have thought a year ago that I would be breaking into Pym Industries with the CEO himself?”

“I suppose that makes two of us,” sighed Darren.

“Having second thoughts?”

“No,” Darren responded, squelching any worry that Scott had. “But that doesn’t make this any easier. You know I did it.”

“What?” asked Scott.

“I solved it. Finished it. However you want to put it,” replied Darren. “And now I’m going to destroy it.”

“Yeah but remember everything that’s ahead of you. This isn’t going to be the end of your work. You’re still going to discover and create loads of things and finish projects. This doesn’t change that. Just gives you a fresh start.”

“A fresh start. I like the sound of that,” he murmured. They stopped as they came to the outermost gate near the back of the facility. “Alright, Richardson comes around this corner in…about ten minutes. We’d better make it through fast.”

As they carefully and strategically moved closer to the compound until finally inside, Scott had to say that this was definitely easier than Hank’s plan. At least this way he didn’t have to worry about lasers cutting himself to bits.

Cross had already set in motion most of the plan. An untraceable program had been placed into their servers which had just shut off every security camera. They didn’t need to worry about a guard noticing though as every man or woman monitoring cameras had been knocked out by carefully timed and placed canisters.

Then the split came. Scott went to wipe the computers and servers of any trace of the Yellowjacket project while Darren actually went to collect the physical evidence. During all of this they still had to avoid the moving guards and the few people still working and within the hour which was when the shift change would occur.

Scott performed his part of the operation and went to where Darren was supposed to be. When he didn’t show up, Scott only waited for a moment as security officers were about to cover that route. He thought of leaving but just in case Darren was in trouble, he went to go look for the man.

Finding him in one of the labs, Scott saw that he already had the case that held the Yellowjacket prototype but he seemed stuck on the vials that held his version of the Pym Particle.

“Uh, Darren? I hate to interrupt your staring contest with the glowing ooze but the shift change is about to happen,” Scott put in. “We need to—”

“Something isn’t right,” growled out Darren. “Did you already wipe all the files?”

“Yeah but I also backed them up on the flash drive like you asked for. You know we’re still going to destroy it though.”

“I know I know,” muttered Darren as he finally started to gather up the vials, finalizing their heist. “There’s just something I need to check. Before you destroy it.”

Scott nodded in understanding but quickly added, “Well we still need to go before somebody notices something. Come on.”

Alarms weren’t raised thankfully and they got out swiftly, walking that half mile back towards the car. They got in and went back to Darren’s apartment where he would have to wait for someone to call him in, reporting the heist. However, as they both waited, Scott watched Darren review the Yellowjacket files. It was clear that he wasn’t just reminiscing over the thing and was purposely looking for something yet Scott couldn’t tell what.

Nevertheless, Darren seemed to get some satisfaction out of his search and finally helped Scott finish off destroying the evidence. There was still a look about Darren, like something wasn’t completely right, but he didn’t voice his concerns and Scott didn’t have time to ask as soon Darren was being called in.

Scott waited behind as Darren went off to perform his anger at the scene of the crime. The heist was finished but Darren still needed to fool the authorities.

Chapter Text

“If anything, it should be taken as a compliment. Clearly a highly skilled individual or group was involved. Every detail was thought of.”

“So the authorities are stumped then.”

“Painfully so. By this point I would be more shocked if they did find something that keyed them to who this individual, or individuals, was.”

Scott snorted. He was laying against Darren’s chest, comfortable and warm, as they both watched one of the latest interviews that Darren had finally given out. “You really do save your best smiles for the camera don’t you?”

“That’s my second best. The first one is reserved for the men with the large pockets.”

“You ass. You were supposed to say your best smile was reserved for me.”

That line actually did cause Darren’s lips to twitch though he carefully refrained himself from actually smiling. “I don’t know what you mean.”

“Of course you do. Now try to get all this asshole-ness out now. We’re going to be visiting Maggie and Paxton soon.” Scott could feel the rumble of a groan as he quickly added, “Hey! You promised. Don’t forget that. There is no way you’re getting out of it.”

“And I’ve been regretting that decision since the day I made it,” responded Darren.

“That finishes our segment with Darren Cross, current CEO of Pym Technologies now onto—”

Darren clicked it off and let out a sigh. “It’s over but it’s not. I’ll be dealing with FBI agents and the police for some time. At the very least I know where security needs to be tightened though.” Darren grew silent again before voicing the question, “So what happened yesterday? You never told me what occurred with Hank and Hope.”

“That’s because you weren’t home yesterday,” snorted Scott.

“And you’re calling my apartment home. Hmm, very interesting.”

“Hey, you’ve done it to and I haven’t been to my own apartment in nearly two months. It practically is home!” Scott retorted albeit fondly.

“If you say so. But what did they have to say?” Darren asked tentatively. Scott could tell that he was afraid yet also anxious to hear what they thought.

“Well Hope at the moment feels more betrayed than Hank. I tried to calm her down but she threw me against a door and stalked off.”

Darren huffed.

“Stop laughing.”

“I wasn’t.”

“That was your version of a laugh when you’re trying to hide the fact that you’re laughing. It hurt like hell,” defended Scott.

Darren chuckled before finally releasing what almost seemed like a fond smile. “I’m sure it did. She throws a mean punch. We use to spar…ages ago.”

“Really?” asked Scott as he turned slightly to look the other in the face. “I didn’t know that.”

“Well you never asked and I’m not surprised that Hope doesn’t bring that up,” replied Darren. “So Hope felt betrayed and stalked off. What else?”

“Well I haven’t heard anything from her since then but I could tell Hank was breathing a sigh of relief when I told him that all the information was destroyed for sure. He still…he told me to watch my back.”

“So he still doesn’t trust me.”

“It’s not that,” Scott interjected. “He admitted that he was shocked that you came through on your promise. That you-well Hank put it as you ‘did something rational’ and he was…I think he was pleased by that. Really. But he also said that only time would tell if you had changed. He has doubts still firmly set in place but you really surprised him with this. Shook him up in a good way I might add. Just uh…just give it time and who knows what might happen.”

“Time you say. One of the most irritating yet still impossible barriers to overcome. Let’s hope it’s in my favor, hmm.”

“Well I know right now it’s not,” responded Scott. “We’ve got less than an hour before the dinner.”

“You’re still making me go aren’t you,” grumbled Darren.

“Of course. Even if it means dragging you by your ears.”

He sighed irritably before commenting, “It’s a very…couple like thing to do.”

Now they were getting into uncertain territory. With everything that had happened, they still hadn’t had time to discuss their relationship, if there even was one worth talking about. The teasing tone gone, Scott responded, “Laying on the couch like this is a very couple like thing.”

Darren hummed in agreement but whether that made it a bad or good thing, Scott couldn’t tell.

“So um…are you happy about that or contemplating murdering me cause I’d really like to know which it is,” Scott got out, adding humor into his voice once again. However Darren just hummed again and Scott let out an annoyed grumble. “Alright, words would really help right now.”

“Sorry…I’m just…relationships aren’t my strongest suit.”

“Well you’re not exactly looking at the king of relationships either,” Scott responded. “I never even really had one in high school.”

“Were you horrendous in manners or looks?”

“Very funny,” replied Scott as he rolled his eyes. “And neither, thank you very much. But I was barely there. It was honestly a miracle I graduated at all. I had-god how many was it? Three? Yeah like three jobs besides school.”

“That’s a little excessive. I’m assuming stretching yourself thin had a purpose though.”

“My mother had cancer. We were stuck in that great in between area of poor but not poor enough to get real help from the government.”

“Your father wasn’t in the picture?”

“Never met him,” responded Scott. Hoping to get some more information about Darren, he asked, “What about you?”

“It’s rather long and boring.”

“Ah come on. Did you have a father? Mother?” questioned Scott as Darren messed with his hair. “I was an only child also. Any siblings?”

“Two.”

“Really? I always pegged you for an only child.”

“I might as well have been one. My guardians never paid much attention to them.”

“Wait so you’re—”

“I’m not an orphan. Biologically I had a mother and father but parent is a term one must earn. Neither of them did,” replied Darren.

“Shit, sorry. I’m guessing you didn’t have a great childhood.”

“From what you’ve told me, I doubt yours was a walk in the park either.”

“Yeah,” said Scott, “but my mother cared about me. She did all she could to try and make it so I wouldn’t have a single burden on my shoulder even though it didn’t work out for her.”

Darren responded, “Mine were quite the opposite. They didn’t pay attention to me much when I was little. Wasn’t sociable enough for them. They thought something was wrong with me but clearly didn’t care enough to take me to see anyone. Up until fourth grade they focused on my younger sister, Cecilia, and somewhat on my baby brother, Mark.”

“What happened in fourth grade?”

“They finally seemed to realize that where I lacked in social skills I excelled with information and knowledge. After that they got me a private tutor and seemed to only focus on me. I rarely even saw my siblings, not that we had interacted much before,” Darren said. “You see, you call me a genius, maybe I am, but I wasn’t a genius then. Not one of those child geniuses that get a doctorate at nine years old anyways. My parents wanted me to be that though. When my father passed away from a plane crash, my mother doubled in her efforts to force me into the light. I got into college at the age of fifteen. At sixteen I emancipated myself from her and never heard from any of them again.”

“Wait, you just left? Not a word?”

“She never cared about my achievements, just that I did better than the last time. She was trying to live through me and I was tired of it. I haven’t spoken to her or my siblings in two decades.”

“Christ, and you just made it on your own?” asked Scott.

“I got my first PhD when I was nineteen. There were plenty of opportunities for me. I started working for Hank when I was twenty-three.”

“Have you ever thought about getting back in contact with any of them?”

“Not particularly though I have occasionally looked them up out of curiosity. My mother died from alcohol poisoning about three years ago and Mark died in Afghanistan.”

“So only your sister’s left. Haven’t you ever thought of talking to her?”

“She envied—no loathed me. I suppose both really but she hated my very being because I took the attention off of her. Besides, despite all that’s happened I feel more connected with Hope than I ever did Cecilia, betrayed or not.”

“Hmm, I guess that just goes back to the fact that you can choose your family,” replied Scott.

“A statement that I have held as fact for a long time.”

“But you really weren’t sociable as a kid?” Scott asked. “What with how you talk in front of a crowd and command people, that’s pretty damn shocking.”

“I’d never had a life with my family and once in elementary school my shyness certainly didn’t help. Probably the most outgoing action I ever took was leaving my mother. Once I began working for Hank, he took the time to teach me the ins and outs of rhetoric. He helped me practice, taught me the tricks, how to read people.”

“Shit, that’s so weird. I never would have guessed any of that.”

“Well if we had met in some mundane place rather than that street, I doubt I would have been able to guess your hardships what with your cheerfulness and open nature. It’s all about perspective.”

“I suppose you’re right. But as much as I loved this walk down memory lane, we did kind of go off on a tangent,” Scott said. “You never really told me if it bothered you, being couple-ish and what not.”

Darren sighed. He sounded reluctant to answer but said, “I don’t know how to act in a situation like this. How to go through with it. There’s no certainty as to when or if this will end. That…scares me. The fact that I don’t have full control, that there’s a level of uncertainty, does…terrify me in some aspect. But it doesn’t bother me. Not acting like a couple or even…being a couple. As difficult as it may be, I don’t mind letting you in like others. I want you here with me.”

“I’ll take that as a no then,” Scott replied as he turned and kissed Darren before adding, “because I want you here with me too.”

“I’m glad to see we’re on the same page.”

“Not completely. We still have dinner to go to.”

“I was hoping you had forgotten about it.”

“Not a chance,” Scott responded as he finally got up and pulled Darren to his feet. “Now enough stalling. We’re probably going to be late as it is.”

Darren reluctantly complied and they both got more presentable before going down and getting into Darren’s car. They seemed to arrive right on time as when Maggie opened the door the smell of food wafted outwards. Darren was immediately holding out a bottle of wine that Scott had convinced him to get as way of an apology for last time as well.

However, when he did hand it over Darren voiced that it had been Scott’s idea as if to force blame on him on the off chance that it didn’t work.

Nevertheless Maggie responded, “Well it was a good idea Scott. And thank you…”

“Just call me Darren,” he sighed. “No need to be overly formal here.”

“Right. Well, come in please. You’re just in time though Cassie has been asking about you both for the past hour.”

 Scott chuckled as he followed with Darren behind him. They headed into the dining area were Cassie was already seated.

“Daddy and Daddy’s friend!”

Laughing a bit harder, Scott picked her up and hugged her. About a month ago she had finally decided to shave her head and now she had a bit fuzz growing on top.

“Going to shave it again or grow it out now?” asked Scott as he moved a hand over it.

“Shave it but Mommy says maybe by next time it might get thicker again.”

“We can always hope. Though I must say, I like the look you got going on right now,” he replied with a smile.

“Thank you,” she said, smiling back. She then leaned away slightly to give Darren a big wave. “Hi again Daddy’s friend.”

“His name is Darren,” chuckled Scott.

“Hi Daddy’s friend Darren. You’re staying for dinner right?”

“Uh…well yes,” he said slowly.

Cassie’s face lit up at that and asked, “So will you read another chapter from the Hobbit for me?”

Darren looked to Scott for an answer but it was very clear that he was leaving the choice up to the man. He sighed and replied, “If you would like but I’m sure you’d rather have your father read to you.”

“I’d agree with that,” said Scott, “but apparently she likes your voice better.”

Cassie didn’t even look embarrassed as she replied, “He can do the different voices better. Sorry Daddy.”

“No hard feelings Peanut,” Scott said with an over exaggerated sigh. He grinned at Darren though and said, “So you’re good at voices. Another thing I’ve learned about you.”

“I’m only alright. Not that big of a deal,” replied Darren as he tried to brush the attention off of him.

However, he didn’t need to worry about that as Paxton suddenly mentioned, “The tables all set and ready if everyone wants to eat.”

“Definitely,” Cassie said happily

The interesting group gathered around the table. Though it started off a bit awkward, Cassie seemed to fix that as she easily moved from topic to topic. Whether because she was easily distracted or honestly knew that her switching of topics was keeping the awkward pauses to a minimum, Scott could at least see Darren was appreciating it.

She had plenty of questions about what Scott did and for the first time, Scott could actually answer them truthfully (at least mostly anyways). However, probably the most amusing part of the evening was when everyone seemed to be taking a break to get a proper bite in when Cassie asked, “So do I have one mommy and three daddies now?”

Scott tried to keep everything in his mouth as his entire form erupted with laughter. Oddly enough, Paxton seemed to join him as Maggie and Darren seemed to be chocking on their food.

“What gave-what-oh god ha ha! Why do you say that?” Scott finally got out, still laughing.

“Well aren’t you together? You look at Darren like Paxton looks at Mommy.”

Scott started laughing again though his face did turn somewhat red. He, nor anyone else, seemed to be able to answer her though before she also added, “What? I’m not blind.”

“Of course not sweetie,” Scott replied, a chuckle still erupting from his mouth. He shot Darren an apology with a glance though he honestly couldn’t tell if Darren was uncomfortable or not. He still seemed to be in shock. He turned back to Cassie and said, “It’s pretty complicated but to put it in very simple terms, we are together.”

“So I do have three dads! Yay!” cried out Cassie. Clearly overjoyed, she continued with, “So I have more than Jaylen, Marcie, Dana…everyone in my class! Yes.”

“Glad to know it’s about the competition,” Scott replied.

“Not just about that. It makes me very happy too. Welcome to family Daddy’s friend Darren.”

Darren just kind of blinked, perhaps still in shock. “Right…”

“Well that was very sweet of you,” Paxton responded as he patted Cassie on the shoulder. “It’s very nice of you to welcome Darren so readily.”

“Well it helps that he has a good reading voice.”

Maggie finally seemed to snap out of it and added, “Ah, now it makes sense.”

Cassie nodded. “And now I’m done with dinner! Daddy’s friend Darren, will you read to me again?”

“You can call him just Darren,” Scott said with a smile.

“Alright. Just Darren, will you read to me?”

Scott chuckled. “You’re doing this on purpose aren’t you?”

She just smiled and jumped from her chair.

“Woah there!” Scott cried out. “Don’t tire yourself out Peanut.”

“I’m only going to my room Daddy,” she replied and walked over to Darren’s chair. She pulled on his sleeve as he looked down at her with utter confusion. “Will you please?”

Slowly, Darren nodded. It seemed that even he couldn’t resist Cassie’s persistence though he did throw a look at Scott that said he’d better come and help soon. Scott chortled again as he said, “I think it’s going fairly well.”

“Yes, much better than I would have thought,” Maggie replied.

“Weren’t you the one who suggested this?” asked Scott.

“Yes but I had no idea if it would work or not. Thankfully it seems it is.”

Paxton nodded in agreement. “And Cassie has definitely helped. They’ve barely even met but she already looks ready to glue herself to Darren,” he chuckled.

“So it’s…going well with you two?” asked Maggie.

“As best as can be expected. Not that that’s a bad thing!” Scott quickly got out. “It’s just weird. Granted everything is weird-but great to! Like really great! Like-I’m rambling aren’t I?”

“Very much so,” Maggie responded with a kind smile.

Paxton shook his head as he grinned. “Then I’m happy for you Scott. I’m glad things are working out for you.”

Scott smiled in response. Though they of course didn’t know what had occurred with Hank Pym and the Yellowjacket suit, even he had to say that things were definitely going well. “Things definitely are. But as glad as I am with what’s happening, I’ll probably only leave Darren for another ten minutes.”

“He doesn’t really do kids,” Paxton said.

“No, not really. He probably views them more as aliens if anything,” Scott laughed.

They continued talking before Scott finally excused himself and headed for Cassie’s room. He hadn’t heard any murderous screams so he was definitely looking on the positive side. When he walked in, he saw that Cassie had already tired herself out. She was just barely keeping her eyes open. It seemed that Darren had noticed as well as he said, for what sounded like the fifth time, “Perhaps we could finish this at another time.”

“But they just got to the mountain,” mumbled Cassie.

“Exactly. Better to stop before the action than in the middle,” Darren responded. He seemed to just barely be keeping his voice from a plea. Nevertheless, his awkwardness was overcome by a sudden act of kindness as he pulled up a blanket, even if the look on his face was uncertain.

As he did, Cassie said, “I have a Daddy and a Step-Dad. Would it be alright if I just called you Darren?”

Darren signaled Scott that he knew he was there by giving him an incredulous look. “Well,” Darren said, “everyone has been suggesting that.”

“Kay. Darren it is,” she mumbled.

Smiling, Scott finally made himself known at that as he could easily see that she was getting to conk out.

He moved forward and softly rubbed her head. “Hey Peanut. Looks like you’re about to fall asleep.”

“Sorry Daddy. I can—”

“It’s fine sweetheart. Fall asleep if you need to. I’ll be here with you. The entire time.”

Cassie let out a happy sigh and Scott kissed her head softly. Like he said, he waited until she deeply asleep and then walked with Darren out of the room. He carefully closed the door as he said, “You handled yourself well. I’m impressed.”

“She’s big on questions,” sighed Darren. “And so very talkative. She probably runs herself out more with her mouth than anything else.”

“Yep, she’ll be a real firecracker one of these days,” Scott said proudly.

He moved out of the hallway and back to the front where Paxton and Maggie were waiting.

“I’m assuming she’s fallen asleep?” asked Maggie.

“Yep,” Scott replied, “and all thanks to this one’s lovely voice.”

Darren looked at Scott with a small glare. “I’m not that good at the voices.”

“Ah come on. I know Cassie and she would never lie. Except of course that one time she stole cookies from the cookie jar but that’s beside the point. Anyway, it is getting pretty late in all actuality and what not. I don’t know about everyone else but…”

“That does sound like a good idea,” Paxton replied. “I know Cassie would enjoy it if you could come again. Both of you that is.”

Darren seemed surprised by this but Scott spoke before he could. “Sounds like a great idea to me. Maybe lunch next time. See about having a play date or something.”

Giving him a look that clearly said no way, Scott mostly ignored Darren as he hugged Maggie goodbye. “I’ll talk to you later. Tell me if anything significant happens with Cassie.”

“Will do Scott. Have a good night.”

“Thanks, you to.”

Scott didn’t leave to move though as he gave Darren a pointed look. When it hit Darren what Scott wanted him to do, the man let out a tired sigh but turned to Maggie and Paxton and said, “Thank you for the evening. It was very kind of you to allow me back into your home.”

Rolling his eyes, Scott simply shook his head and gave one more goodbye before leaving with Darren once outside he gave him a pointed look. “Really? ‘It was very kind’? ‘Thank you for the evening’? Did you really have to go all posh?”

“I’m sorry but as cordial as I may have been it was still difficult.”

“Darren…”

“No,” interrupted the man, “you don’t have to say anything else. I understand that they’re important to you, I understand your side, but I still can’t fully trust them. If it’s any consolation though, I do find myself…enjoying my time with your daughter.”

“Aw, see I knew you’d grow to like her,” Scott said with a grin. However, he didn’t manage to look serious as he said, “But I understand your side. And thanks for all you’ve done so far. You were great tonight and it means a lot that you came. Even if you were totally against it.”

Darren simply rolled his eyes as he finally kissed Scott. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Uh huh of course not. But seriously though. I get this is difficult for you, different, but it means a lot that you’re here. Things are finally looking up.”

“They are. Aren’t they?”

The look that Darren gave him then and there was so startling that it made Scott know for sure that he was in love. The hope, the joy, the kindness that he held in that moment, it lit up Scott’s heart and the only thing stopping him from kissing the man again and again was the ride back to the apartment.

Chapter Text

Scott felt the lips against his own and couldn’t help but smile. He opened one eye and mumbled against the kiss, “I am really starting to like this wake up call.”

“It does have its perks. Doesn’t it?” Darren responded as he deepened the kiss. However, he pulled away and added, “I won’t be home tonight though. There’s a rather late board meeting that I’ll need to attend as well as my plans with Hope.”

“Yeah good luck with that. Try not to kill each other,” Scott said with a small smile. Still, he added, “Seriously though. I’m shocked that she’s been working at all and yet still somehow managed to completely ignore you for this long.”

“Hope is rather tenacious. If she sets her mind to it she’ll accomplish it.”

Scott gave a small chuckle. “Don’t I know it. And remember, today’s my day off. I’ll tell Cassie you said hi.”

“I swear that child is going to track me down to get those damn last chapters.”

“You stopped right at the battle of the Five Armies! Of course she wants you to hurry up and read the chapters,” laughed Scott.

Darren rolled his eyes. “I have several more hours before I really have to be at work. Do you really want to spend that time talking about your daughter?”

“Normally yes but seeing as you’re not going to be home tonight, I am definitely going to take advantage of now,” Scott responded as he easily flipped Darren onto his back. “Now, where to start?”

Fooling about for some time, Scott really couldn’t help the smiles that kept appearing on his face. In a way, he still couldn’t believe this was happening. His daughter had always brought joy to his life but he’d never thought any other part would be joyous. Yet now he had a great job. He had an amazing partner (Darren had strictly forbidden the use of the word boyfriend as he claimed it was to juvenile sounding; of course, that only made Scott use it more just to annoy him but at least in the presence of others he accepted his terms). He was healthier than he had been before and had even tighter bond with Paxton.

It was all great yet he still forlornly watched as Darren finally went to get dressed.

When he finally finished adjusting his tie, Scott asked, “Are you ever going to allow yourself a full day off?”

Darren smirked in response. “You know I use to be known for my workaholic nature. Something tells me that reputation will change.”

“Wait,” Scott quickly said. “You actually mean it? Like a day just to ourselves without scheming or horrible angst?”

“What about a vacation?”

“You can’t-god I’d say you were joking but then I’d say the same thing about you and I regularly watching Star Trek! You’re serious aren’t you!”

“Completely, though to be perfectly honest, that trip won’t happen for some time. I still need to allow everything to settle with the Yellowjacket suit. Help cement the company in another major project.”

Suddenly not looking forward to getting multiple days alone with the man if it meant waiting that long, Scott muttered, “But that could take a year or more.”

“I assure you I won’t allow that to happen. And I of course don’t mean completely. Truthfully the FBI agents are unlikely to drop the case any time in the near future. Of course, that doesn’t mean there will be much reason for me to stay within their reach. They’ve already exhausted me as a resource and there are only so many times they will come back asking the same questions as before.”

“Alright, then I give you two months.”

“Really Scott, something like this can’t—”

“Two months,” he said stubbornly. “Alright? I don’t care if it is just a day. We are going to get some time to ourselves without having to worry about a damn schedule.”

“Fine, two months,” agreed Darren with a roll of his eyes. “Now I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Yeah, good luck with Hope by the way.”

“I don’t need luck Scott.”

“Oh, right, this is Hope we’re talking about. You’re going to need Captain America’s shield.”

Darren let out a low chuckle. “An excellent idea but I doubt the man will lend it to me for such a mundane event. Enjoy your day off Scott,” he finished just before giving Scott a quick kiss.

Scott smiled and watched Darren go before finally stretching and getting up. He took his time getting dressed but before he could find the right shirt, he got a call from Maggie. The information that she gave him had him calling Darren immediately.

“Yes?”

“Alright, this is going to probably seem really stupid and—”

“Scott, you just saw me? What could you possibly—”

“Nothing. I’m fine. More than fine! This will only take a few minutes but like, holy shit I just had to share it with you!”

“Well then tell me and stop babbling.”

“Cassie has gone into remission! Maggie just got the news from the doctors!”

Scott waited to see what Darren’s reaction was and also due to the need to give the man a moment to process what he had just said. He would have just kept rambling if he hadn’t restrained himself.

When Darren finally did respond, Scott couldn’t help but light up with a smile as he could clearly hear a smile in Darren’s own voice. “I’m very happy for you Scott. And Cassie. Perhaps I could stop by to give her some of my own congratulations.”

“Wait but what about—”

“Even if I can’t get out of the board meeting a bit earlier I can probably convince Hope to move our meeting up by a little time. It’s the least I can do.”

“Then I’ll see you over at Maggie’s tonight,” Scott replied. “It will allow everyone to say their farewell words before you’re slaughtered by Hope.”

“Thank you for the vote of confidence. Good bye Scott.”

“See ya,” said Scott.

He hung up and went back to looking for a shirt. When he was finally ready and already in his truck heading towards Maggie’s, he still couldn’t help but grin. With those official words it truly solidified that his life was as great as could be for the moment.

He went out to grab lunch before heading over to Maggie’s and Paxton’s place. Several of Cassie’s friends were already there so Scott spent a good time talking to Maggie and Paxton of more recent events. When he did get some quality time with his daughter, he practically didn’t let her go. Part of him still couldn’t believe it had happened and he kept expecting to wake up. Of course that didn’t happen though. Everything was perfect and nothing could go wrong. Right?

As the hours grew later, Scott began to keep checking the time. He knew when the board meeting was expected to end and couldn’t help but wish that Darren could hurry up and get out of it. However, eventually the time passed and Scott knew for a fact that the board meeting should be over. Nevertheless, he still waited for another half hour on the off chance that maybe an emergency might have happened. Still, Darren didn’t send a word as to why he hadn’t come at the expected time which was seriously starting to cause Scott to worry.

When it looked like Cassie was finally getting tired, he tried calling Darren. No answer. Scott tried texting. Maybe he was in a position where he couldn’t talk. However, after another half hour of waiting there still wasn’t any response.

It was nearing ten o’clock when he started pacing and Maggie seemed to finally decide it was best if she intervened.

“Scott, I don’t mean to be rude,” she said as she kept him from moving, “but you’re over reacting.”

“I know it seems like that but I’m really not.”

“Darren Cross is a powerful, well known man around the world and is the CEO of Pym Technologies. Needless to say it would not be shocking if he had to suddenly change plans or was unable to contact you.”

“Okay, yeah, maybe for someone else but not for me Maggie.”

“Then perhaps you assume to much.”

Scott let out a small growl as he muttered, “No I’m being serious here Maggie. Every time I have ever tried to get in contact with him, he has answered right away. And he’s not one to just suddenly change plans, at least not without telling the others involved.”

“He is human Scott. Things happen.”

“But it’s getting so late! And how hard is it to text ‘still busy’ or something else?”

Scott was tempted to keep ranting but Cassie interrupted at that moment asking, “Is Darren coming?”

“I don’t think so sweetie,” said Maggie. “Perhaps another time. You should probably get to bed now anyways.”

“Alright,” she muttered sadly. However, her face lit up again as she said goodnight to her dad and went off with Maggie.

As they did that, Scott took the time to call Hope. Thankfully he still had her number programmed into his phone. Now he just had to hope she’d answer.

The phone rang and rang until it seemed that it would go to voice mail but at the last second she seemed to finally answer. “What do you want?”

“Uh, hey Hope—”

“It’s Pym to you. Now, what do you want?”

“Hey, you went back to your father’s name! That’s great! Things must be really—”

“What. Do. You. Want.”

“Alright, sorry, okay? Really for everything but—”

“You’ve already apologized to me,” Hope responded, “and it does not matter how many more times you do it. The quantity of the ‘I am sorry’s’ that I get will not change whether or not I accept your apology.”

“Listen, I don’t care about that right now, alright? I just need to know if Darren is with you.”

Hope gave a rather humorless huff as she responded, “Not here. Odd, I would have thought he had stood me up for you.”

“Stood you up? But what about the board meeting—”

“Done and over with,” Hope replied coolly.

“Seriously? Did Darren—”

“He did not inform me of any disappearing acts he may have decided to perform if that’s what you’re wondering,” responded Hope. The response made it clear that she was still very bitter. “Now if you want to know the details, he mentioned seeing you and then meeting me later. It’s been over an hour and he hasn’t even had the decency to call.”

“He hasn’t called me either! What if he’s in trouble or—”

“Then it’s none of my business. I warned you about him. He’s nothing but trouble.”

“But Hope—”

“It’s Pym,” she responded and then hung up.

Scott couldn’t help but feel a chill run through him as the sense that something horribly wrong was going on. Darren would never do this. Just run off without a word. Perhaps if stuck in his second phase, the asshole phase, he might, but the whole point of wanting to see Cassie or reconnect with Hope was part of that earnest, third phase of himself. The real him. He wouldn’t have just thrown away that chance.

When Scott turned around, he saw Maggie and Paxton were waiting behind him.

“Hear anything from him?”

“No and neither has anyone else it seems. Listen, I know you guys don’t think it’s that big of a problem but I’m going to go back to the apartment and see if maybe he’s there or at least he’s been there.”

“Just do whatever you think is necessary Scott. Tell us if you find out anything,” said Maggie.

“Will do. I’ll see you guys later. Night.”

Scott rushed home, because really Darren’s apartment was home now, but he saw no sign that anything had occurred there. He tried calling and texting Darren again but once again, nothing. He ended up falling asleep from exhaustion and in the morning, when he saw Darren hadn’t come home, he texted and called and then finally went to work. But once again, Darren was nowhere to be seen and no one had heard from him either.

Everything was in place and everything was perfect but now Darren was nowhere to be found. Scott doubted that the disappearance was anything simple.

Chapter Text

Scott curled into a pillow. The scent that was explicitly all Darren’s was rapidly disappearing and the bed that Scott once thought of as theirs was quickly becoming just his. It was probably wrong to stay in a missing man’s apartment but after the police had decided that it was useless, he’d immediately gone back. For the moment it was all he had of Darren and he was desperately holding on to it.

A week had passed and still nothing had come up. Not a ransom note, a post, a video, a whisper even, there was just nothing. It was even more baffling to the police than the missing Yellowjacket suit it seemed.

Work had of course continued on at Pym Industries but needless to say, everything was rather in a flux. Though the CEO, Darren had made sure to be a part of every aspect of the company and with him gone, it was like suddenly realizing one was missing a backbone.

Now Scott thankfully didn’t have to deal with that having just come from there. Yet, he was now stuck feeling utterly helpless in the lonely penthouse.

However, the sound of a door suddenly opening shocked him as he quickly became self-aware. His hair on end, he sat up and carefully made his way to the main door. He moved slowly, each footstep silent. Scott’s eyes latched onto the figure that he had heard come in but before he attacked, he recognized it as Hope.

“What the hell are you doing here?!”

“I believe I should be asking you the same thing,” she replied evenly.

“Uh, no you shouldn’t! I live here.”

“Not legally. You don’t own a single inch of this property but I do now.”

“Wait, you what?!” cried out Scott. “Why?”

“Because it’s in Darren’s will. I suspect he hadn’t had time to change it, or maybe he was still hoping to befriend me again, either way until he turns up, all of this is mine.”

“Does that include anything with the company?” asked Scott hotly.

“Not technically,” Hope said, “but we had a board meeting today and I’ve stepped up as the temporary CEO. And please don’t start. I know what you’re going to say.”

“No you don’t,” Scott muttered. “I mean, it would be great if you were behind it but you’re not stupid enough to do that. Though I bet you’re pretty damn happy it happened.”

“An amusing thought but sadly not a single truth in it. And stop acting like somebody took him. That’s highly doubtful.”

“Okay, well for argument’s sake, let’s agree to disagree and let me simply ask why won’t you consider that he could have been taken. Don’t you care about what happens to him?”

“Of course I do,” Hope bit back. “As stupid as it may be, I still care! But Darren has shown himself to be self-destructive in the past. This is some stupid game he’s made up and I wouldn’t be surprised if he turns up with an irritating smirk but ultimately, there is nothing to do.”

“If you mean that then why are you here?”

“On the off chance he left a clue so I could drag his ass back here a little quicker.”

“Well you’re not going to find anything. Darren’s not one to leave loose…”

“What?” questioned Hope. “Why did you trail off?”

“Because he doesn’t leave loose ends! Holy shit I think he really has been kidnapped!”

“And what leads you to that conclusion?” She clearly didn’t believe him but at least seemed willing for the moment.

“Before we destroyed the Yellowjacket information, something was bothering Darren about it. Something didn’t fit or seem right but he finally gave up on it. What if someone had already stolen the Yellowjacket information before we did? They might have left a trace somewhere that caught Darren’s eye but which he couldn’t understand. Maybe they-they got him to force him to remake the Yellowjacket suit!”

“Plausible but still extremely unlikely,” Hope responded evenly.

“But what if I’m right?”

“Then the world is going to be in a mountain of shit.”

“Well don’t you think that’s reason enough to follow me up on this? Even if it is unlikely?”

Hope mused over the words for a moment before finally nodding. “Most likely it will be a waste of time but if what you suggest is true, then I am fairly sure he’s probably already advanced rather quickly on the project. Particularly if they have some information or copy of the Yellowjacket suit and its workings.”

“Alright, then what’s our first plan of operations?” asked Scott.

“What? Do you think we’re a team again?” asked Hope.

“Uh, personally I doubt you ever thought of us as a team. But whatever you do I’m helping you with it!”

“And what if we discover something darker than him simply playing a game or having actually been kidnapped?”

“What do you mean?” he asked.

Hope sighed as she looked somewhat annoyed that he didn’t get it. “What if he went willingly?”

“Why would Darren do that?”

“Because he nearly finished what he wished to conquer only for you to make him stop. By being away from you, he can relieve himself of his moral compass and do what he wishes.”

“But that would mean he hasn’t changed at all and he has!” cried out Scott. “And besides, what does that even have to do with me helping you.”

“If what I find is…unsavory, you will be biased in the situation.”

“Well of course I would be but that doesn’t mean I’m stupid enough to not see the fate of one man isn’t as important as the world’s!” he yelled. He almost continued but just barely stopped himself as he tried to calm down. Finally he muttered, “If you won’t listen to me, then I’m going to see if your father will.”

She bristled from that remark but instead of snapping back she replied, “Fine. I’ll keep you in the loop. But that doesn’t mean there’s anyway in hell I’ll let you help me get him back. Especially if it means he’s done this all willingly.”

“I can accept that,” muttered Scott even though they both knew he’d go racing to get Darren out no matter what. “Hank home now?”

“He should be. Come on, we might as well get this over with.”

They went to Hank and explained the situation. In response, he told them to wait until tomorrow as that night he used his contacts to see if they could dig up anything the government hadn’t. He called Scott at work, asking him to come down afterwards.

Scott went immediately after work and found Hope already there.

“You found something?” he asked hopefully.

“I got in contact with Tony Stark and through him, the Avengers. Currently they’ve been sweeping the globe for Hydra bases and dismantling those that they could. They looked deeper into Darren’s disappearance and found something of interest,” Hank replied. They were currently in the basement and he pulled up a satellite image.

“This was a small Hydra base in Utah that quickly dismantled after the fall of Shield,” continued Hank. “It’s been unoccupied for some time until about three weeks ago. From what the Avengers have gathered, the group there is likely Hydra or Hydra supporters and are extremely few in numbers nor particularly dangerous hence why they haven’t intervened yet. They’ve been hoping they may lead them to a more prospective target.”

“But why Utah specifically? What about outside the States?” asked Scott.

“Though certainly not impossible, it would most likely be more difficult to drag Darren across National borders than simply a few States. Also, it is likely they have enough entail to force Darren to finish the Yellowjacket suit in a short amount of time and moving across the world would only work against them. The time frame in which it became active again was also near the time of Darren’s disappearance. Besides this, it’s honestly the only lead that could be gathered no matter how small.”

“So are the Avengers going in?” Scott questioned.

Hope shook her head. “Seeing as this is a rather small and personal matter, for the time being at least, they have allowed us to look over the area and determine if it is of any use to us before they take over again.”

Scott looked back towards the satellite image. “It is a rather small compound. At least from the outside.”

“It is on the inside as well. No secret underground network or anything like that. Whatever is going on there can’t be on that large of a scale,” Hank supplied.

“So Utah is our only lead. What’s the plan from here on out?”

“I was waiting for you both to arrive,” Hank said as he gave Scott and his daughter a pointed look. “Hope believes you shouldn’t be allowed on this but I think otherwise. If Darren has done all of this willingly, you are much more likely to succeed in talking him down.”

Scott glanced at Hope and saw that she still clearly didn’t want him there, but Scott was fairly sure she also agreed with her father’s logic. He asked, “So we both scope out the place, see if Darren or any hint of him is there, and then do whatever is needed, right?”

“Basically, yes. I’ll remain here and make sure that I have eyes on the perimeter to warn you if anyone is coming. Nevertheless, no matter what you find, from what I’ve seen there are little to no guns and most of the people there are scientists so there shouldn’t be to much fighting involved if you are spotted.” Hank then turned all his focus onto Scott as he added, “As you may or may not know, Hope and I have been working on her own suit. She’ll be wearing that and you will wear the Ant-Man suit again.”

“Alright, cool. Still think it needs a name change but cool. So when are we heading out?”

“Two days from now,” Hope replied. “Hopefully this won’t take long but I do need to make sure Pym Industries is in order. We’ll meet here and then head out towards the specified coordinates.”

“Anything else?” asked Scott.

“Not at the moment,” Hank replied. “But I’m keeping constant watch over the compound and I’ll inform you both if anything changes.”

Scott nodded and took his leave after that. He thought about telling Maggie about what he was doing but decided that she’d ultimately just try to stop him. Instead, he told her that work had gotten more complex again and that she probably wouldn’t hear from him in the next couple of days. She took the answer fairly well and then made small talk though it was obvious Maggie wanted to know how he was doing with Darren’s disappearance.

He spoke very little on the subject and instead hung up after saying goodnight to Cassie over the phone too.

The next few days his entire body was alert and it was nearly impossible to fall asleep at nights. He needed to find Darren, needed to know he was okay. Now with this lead, as farfetched as it was, Scott couldn’t help the hope that built up in his stomach.

Chapter Text

Scott and Hope had flew to the specified area near the base. Apparently being CEO, temporary or not, really held its perks. They had left near the middle of the day. Now evening had come and night was fast approaching. Because of the small amount of people and lack of security, they were able to get fairly close before changing into their own costumes.

It was the first time Scott had seen the suit Hope and Hank had been working on. It was black and red and reminded Scott of the pictures and plans of her mother’s suit, known as the Wasp, but it also was reminiscent of the Ant-Man suit along with something entirely new as well.

“So what can yours do?”

Hope gave what sounded like a sigh of relief. “I was waiting for you to ask that. I was afraid the thought wouldn’t even cross your mind.”

“What do you mean?” asked Scott, slightly confused.

“We are going in to gain information and possibly rescue or stop Darren Cross. It’s essential that you understand how your individual suit and partner’s suit works.”

“And if I hadn’t asked?”

“Then I simply would have told you but believe me when I say my opinion of you would have greatly lessened.”

“Oh, you mean like it hasn’t already?” asked Scott sarcastically.

Hope sighed and for the first time in a while, didn’t look angry at him. “If anything, my opinion of you has only become more positive. Whether I agree with it or not, you did what you could in a difficult situation. I still don’t trust Darren, but perhaps, depending on what this mission proves, I can began to trust your word for him.”

For a moment there was silence as Scott honestly didn’t know what to say to that except a rather shocked thank you. Hope nodded before continuing with, “Now to what matters for the moment. I have bio-wings that I can use to fly and bio-electric blasters that can stun or kill if needed. I also have claws that extend from my gloves for close hand-to-hand combat. If required, I should be able to fly Darren out of there along with yourself though you’ll obviously have to be miniaturized for it. I can’t carry both your full weights.”

“Understood,” replied Scott, “though hopefully that won’t be needed. Still I got the ants if I have to use them.”

“Right you are. And we should probably take them out now.”

As they took out the ants and they formed straight lines, Scott asked, “So what do you go by?”

“Is this really the time Scott?”

“Oh come on! You have to tell me. Or else what are we going to call ourselves? The duo of Ant-Man and this person who won’t give a name? So what is it? Something bug related? I’m guessing so. I mean what is with your family and bugs—”

“If only to shut you up,” grumbled Hope, “then the project’s name is Red Queen.”

“Oh now that’s just not fair! You get the cool name, even Wasp sounds pretty neat, and I’m freaking Ant-Man. That is just not—”

Scott was cut off as Hank suddenly broke his silence of the last thirty minutes.

“There’s a heat signature growing in the compound. Either it’s going to blow or continue to jump in temperature. If it goes to hi then the possible explosion could incinerate the entire area,” Hank said in one rushed breath.

“Shit, the lead will be dead,” cursed Scott. “Is there no way you can calculate when—”

Bwoom!

Scott immediately ducked and flinched but from where they were standing all they felt was a large gust of wind.

“Never mind, it just blew!” cried out Scott.

“Get on my shoulder Scott. Quickly! I can fly us there faster than the ants,” Hope said.

Doing as he’d been told, he miniaturized and Hope quickly flew towards the compound. Scott had the ants follow behind them.

Hope suddenly said, “It’s not nuclear in nature but we don’t know if anything toxic is radiating from it. Once we land, I’ll begin scanning the air.”

“Got it,” muttered Scott.

The building had no windows and only the garage and main door acted as entry points. The door had been blown open by the blast and the rest of the facility looked weak but was still holding together.

As Hope landed, Scott jumped and resumed to his regular size. They rushed down the open area to the first room. It looked like sleeping barracks but no one, or anything of value it seemed, was in there. They then advanced towards the next room. One wall had caved in, crushing several computers, as other machines went off with warnings. There were two men there, clearly knocked unconscious.

Scott commanded, “Get both of them out of here. I’m going to head for the center of the blast.”

“First of all, there is no reason for you to be in charge, and second, the data could be far more important!”

“If this place crumbles down there is no way you are going to be able to fly both of them out of here! Now I don’t care if they work Hydra or not. They’re still humans so get them out of him, then come back for the data.”

She looked like she wanted to argue but they clearly didn’t have the time so she went to work instead. First using her blasters to destroy an exact hole above her, then she grabbed one of the men and flew out.

Scott left after seeing her leave with the first man and went in deeper. He found what looked like another computer room where only one man was. There, the damage to the area was even worse. He told Hope through the comms and finally went into the center of the building where the blast had originated.

Though he hadn’t seen the rest of the rooms yet, Scott suspected that the rest of them were for sleeping and storing food or data. This space, however, was obviously the laboratory and took up most of the buildings space. Or at least it had before it had become a sizable hole.

Even if Scott had been familiar with whatever kind of equipment they had been using, he certainly couldn’t recognize anything now. Whatever had been at the center had been incinerated instantly, evident from the rather empty space in the middle of the wreckage.

The roof was completely gone, now among the rubble surrounding him. Scott walked only a few feet before spotting a hand but before his fear could grip him, he recognized it as obviously not Darren’s. Still, he checked for a pulse and found none so he continued on.

There were other bodies. Some even more obviously dead while others clearly alive. He helped those he could and reported them to Hope as he continued to search for Darren or anything connected to him. He began to hope he wouldn’t find him. If Darren was here, he was likely dead and for the moment Scott couldn’t fathom that.

He continued to hope that Darren remained unfound, though if he had been at the center of the blast there would be nothing left—Christ! He needed to stop thinking like this. Scott would find something he had to.

Finally, when it seemed like he’d surveyed the entire laboratory, he expanded his search ever so slightly. Part of the ceiling had collapsed in one area and knocked down the wall, leaving a rather clear view of another decimated hallway. Scott jumped on top of it to get up and over, wondering if maybe there was anything else beyond, only to hear a soft moan.

He jumped out of shock and the moan turned into a sharp cry of pain.

“Shit! Shit! I’m coming! Hold on!” Scott jumped off on the other side. Hopefully he’d be able to see whoever was trapped. It would be even more difficult if they were actually buried in it.

He turned and knelt down to see not one but two bodies. A larger one covered whoever was underneath. The larger was clearly dead so Scott went to trying to get the guy out of the way and provide air to whoever was underneath him.

“Hold on! I’m almost there!”

The body detached at the waist and Scott quickly shoved it to the side as he attempted to not vomit. However, all thoughts of hurling left as his eyes went wide. “Oh god Darren! Darren can you hear me!?”

Darren let out another moan as Scott looked over the damage. Both legs were stuck under the remainder of the man that had fallen on top of him along with sections of the wall and ceiling. It was difficult to tell if he was bleeding or not.

As Scott attempted to lift the rubble, Darren finally spoke, proving that he was still somewhat conscious.

“You don’t have to scream in my ear…”

“You’re a bit late on that response,” Scott huffed out.

“Shut up and get this off of me,” he groaned in reply.

“That’s what I’m trying to do,” growled Scott. “Can you move your legs?”

“I don’t know,” murmured Darren.

“Well try alright? I got it up!”

Pushing away what he could, Scott just barely lifted up the main piece of debris as Darren stayed where he was.

“Come on you have to try and move!”

Darren slowly brought his hands up beside him and tried pushing himself back. He barely moved a centimeter before he let out a scream.

“Hope I need your help!” Scott yelled out before focusing on Darren. “What!? What’s wrong?!”

“I can’t fucking move is what’s wrong!” Darren screamed back, to angry and in pain to properly think for the moment.

“I mean specifics!” replied Scott, having to shout over Darren’s continued screams.

Finally he cried out, “My fucking leg alright! The leg!”

“Which one?” asked Hope. She had just arrived and knelt where Scott couldn’t as he continued to support the weight.

“Left!”

Hope examined it and quickly saw the problem. “Alright, this is probably going to hurt so on the count of three. One—”

“Fuck! That was not fucking three!”

“Well you would have tensed up otherwise,” muttered Hope. “Having you limp made it easier.” His leg had partially gone through an angled pipe. To get it out properly without just taking the entire leg off though, she’d shoved him forward and then up and over the metal pipe. Now she went around and pulled him out by the shoulders.

Scott finally let the slab drop and hurriedly got next to Darren. Now that he could get a better look, he saw that besides the leg, there was possibly something even worse that had happened to the man. Slivers of something had cut through his shirt and as Scott pulled it up he saw what it was.

“Oh god you’ve got glass in your stomach! Hope, he needs medical attention now!”

“Not until he explains what the hell happened here! What set off the bomb?”

“Hope, now is really not the time!” yelled Scott.

However, he flinched at the sudden contact of Darren weakly bringing up his hand and patting his cheek. A chill ran through him as he realized Darren was no longer screaming. “It’s alright Scott…I’ll be fine…”

“Darren?! Darren you have to stay awake alright? I know you’ll be fine okay? But you have to stay awake!” Scott couldn’t let him die. Not now. But what should he do? He was in a panic and his mind was going blank.

Hope ignored this however as she forced Darren to look at her. “What set off the bomb?” she repeated, calm and controlling.

Darren let out another moan but it seemed that screaming was now to strenuous.

“I set it off,” he mumbled.

Scott had finally decided that he could at least do the leg as he looked for obvious debris in the wound that he could get out before binding it tightly to try and stop the bleeding. “You don’t have to talk Darren. Conserve your energy alright?”

“Shut up Scott,” growled Hope as she continued to focus on Darren. “Now why would you set off the bomb?”

“Well I don’t really like being kidnapped,” mumbled Darren. “Besides…Scott would have been disappointed if I let Hydra get the Yellowjacket suit.”

“Not if it meant blowing yourself up! Now stop god damn interrogating him Hope and just—do something!”

She let out an annoyed sigh and gave Scott a pointed look. “An Avenger is already on their way along with the policing force of this area.”

“Why didn’t you tell me that in the first place?!” cried out Scott.

“Because this is more important.”

“Like hell it—”

“Shut your mouth Scott!” Hope snapped. To Darren, she hit him hard in the cheek to keep him conscious before asking, “Was this lab for anything else? Was there anything else here? Did they take the Yellowjacket suit information elsewhere?”

“No…no…and no,” Darren responded softly. “Only the Yellowjacket and I blew it all up…”

“How far out is the Avenger?” asked Scott desperately.

“Hard to say. I asked Hank to contact them when the place blew. Either way it’s still at least an hour if not more.”

“He may not have that long!”

“Either way he may not wake up again.”

“Don’t say that god damn it!” yelled Scott. “For your own sake he better wake up because his last moments on this Earth should not be of him being interrogated!”

“I got what we needed to know and what the Avengers needed to know,” Hope replied evenly. “We’ll of course have to have someone comb through this area to be positive, but it seems that Yellowjacket information was destroyed and nothing else was occurring here. Neither was the information sent off elsewhere. I’m sure either the government or the Avengers can interrogate the fellow scientists who are still alive. And with that said, I got all of this without denying him help.”

Maybe she was right but Scott just couldn’t agree with what she had said. Nevertheless, he couldn’t think of anything valid to argue for the moment and instead just let out a frustrated growl and replied, “Fine! Whatever! Can we please just get him out of here and somewhere more comfortable and stable? How far out are the other authorities?”

“Minutes,” replied Hope evenly. “They should be able to keep Darren alive long enough to make it to a hospital.”

Perhaps it was a bit childish but Scott couldn’t help but respond, “You better god damn hope so.”

Chapter Text

Scott had taken off the Ant-Man suit and had rode with Darren to the nearest hospital. Even by helicopter, which had actually been brought, Scott still felt like it was to slow. The scientists had been rounded up and were being taken into custody but Hope was still geared up and guarding the ruined hull. On the off chance someone decided to snoop around before the Avengers got there, they sure as hell would be sorry.

Once at the hospital, Scott was stuck in the waiting room as Darren was rushed off for surgery. He still hadn’t woken up. Nervous and terrified of what could happen, Scott paced back and forth, wondering if he was just over exaggerating. Maybe the glass hadn’t gone in that deep. Maybe it wasn’t that bad. Or maybe it was worse and Darren was already lost.

The only thing besides Darren that entered his thoughts for the next hour was of the police and he was honestly surprised they hadn’t come to talk to him. He kept expecting to turn and just see one standing there.

Eventually, he did turn in his pacing and was shocked for who he saw but it wasn’t the police. The Avenger, Falcon, walked with a doctor who he hadn’t seen yet. They were talking intensely before she hurried off and Falcon came into the waiting room.

Scott did a double take around himself before he finally realized the man was advancing towards him.

“Scott Lang?”

“Yes?”

“I’m Sam Wilson.” He held out his hand and Scott took it, albeit a little shakily. “You helped find Darren Cross with Hope Pym?”

“Yeah-I mean yes sir…uh should I say sir?”

“No need for that formality,” the man replied. “Just call me Sam. Now, I’m sure by now you’ve been wondering why law enforcements haven’t been crawling over you, right?”

“It’s not at the top of my list exactly but yeah, have been a bit confused by that.”

The Avenger-Sam he meant-gave him a rather sympathetic smile. “I understand that. Actually, you’ll probably like to hear that the woman you saw me with was Helen Cho. She’s going into surgery to help Cross.”

“I’m assuming she’s good if she works with the Avengers.”

“The best in her field.”

Scott’s face dropped slightly. Pain pricked at him as he immediately murmured, “So the odds aren’t good. He’s not going to make it is he?”

“What? No, not at all man! Maybe in these doctor’s hands, no offense to them, that might be true, but with Dr. Cho he’ll be fine. Trust me, he’s in good hands.”

For whatever reason, Scott believed what Sam said. He felt like he should still be worrying and freaking out but maybe he had already done plenty of that. Instead, he nodded and asked, “So about the police and FBI and everything…?”

“Other Avengers are handling it like they’re handling the research lab that went up in smokes. That Hope Pym did a good job of retrieving all the files she did. The only person I can think who might be able to find anything else is Tony Stark and even then I think there wouldn’t be anything else to find.” Sam gave another reassuring smile and asked, “How about I grab us something to drink? Coffee?”

“I really don’t need that adding to my nerves,” muttered Scott. “Uh just a soda-not that you actually have to get me anything! Actually you don’t, yeah I’m uh-I’m fine. Really.”

“Of course. I’ll get you a coke anyways,” Sam chuckled. “Be right back.”

Scott sighed but couldn’t help the smile that formed anyways. He had to say, as far as first impressions went, Sam’s was very promising.

Now with something to do other than worry, Scott finally sat down as he waited for Sam. He concentrated more on what Sam might say next or what he might ask Sam rather than what state Darren might be in for the moment.

Sam quickly came back, coffee for himself and handed the coke over to Scott. “Alright,” he said with a small smile, “so like I said the Avengers got the cops off your guy’s backs. Now, Cap was wondering if either of you would care to pay us back in any way.”

“What do you mean?”

“You’ve both got some pretty amazing suits. Even Tony would say he was jealous of them though I know he’d never really admit it. And you both have your own interesting skill sets. Besides, I heard about what you and Cross did the first time with the Yellowjacket suit. That must have been pretty ballsy going behind Dr. Pym’s back.”

“Have you met him?” asked Scott curiously.

“Nope but from what I’ve heard he can be pretty frightening.”

“Oh I wouldn’t say that. He’s more like an angry teddy bear really. I mean, he can still rip off your head but honestly, he’s a teddy bear.”

Sam laughed at that as did Scott. It felt good to laugh after what he had just dealt with. “But you guys can’t be serious. About wanting our help that is.”

“Oh, we’re completely serious! I mean, this isn’t like…mandatory or anything. Cap just wouldn’t do that. But we’re also not asking you to suddenly just pack your things and become Avengers.”

“Then what are you asking?”

“For your help. The Avengers priority is the world though it does seem like we face a lot of things on the East coast too. Still, there are plenty of smaller battles that could have major consequences that we either can’t get to fast enough or simply don’t know of,” Sam replied. When he saw that he was beginning to loose Scott, he quickly wrapped it up with, “What we’re asking you to do is to keep an eye on things on the West Coast. To use your suit if you’re ever in a position to when no one else can be reached.”

“To take the initiative instead of standing on the sidelines,” surmised Scott.

“Exactly! What do you say?”

“I can’t give you a direct answer just yet…”

“I wasn’t expecting one,” grinned Sam. “From what I know of you, you got a hell of a lot on your plate at the moment.”

“That is certainly true,” sighed Scott, “but it would be a shame to just allow that suit to gather dust.”

“Glad to hear it. Remember, we’re not asking you to become some renowned hero or anything. Just help us out whenever you can. Besides, I’m sure working at Pym Technologies allows you to see more than most people see behind the exterior of other companies. That could really prove useful.”

“You’re right. Listen, I’ll have to talk to Hank about this, it is his property after all, but I will talk to him,” Scott replied. Not wanting to succumb to worry, he tried to think of something to ask. “Uh…so how exactly did you become an Avenger?”

“It’s rather mundane really.”

“You helped Captain American take down Hydra and Shield. How is that mundane?”

“Well I wasn’t actually a part of the Avengers then. Just one of Cap’s friends trying to help him do the right thing,” Sam chuckled. “No I became an Avenger because Tony Stark called me up and…”

As Sam and Scott conversed, time passed swifter than before and it seemed like in no time, Dr. Cho was coming back. Of course, with her back in the room, the relaxed air that Scott had held onto before crumbled and the panic set in again.

“Is he—”

“We finished the surgery and I have to say it looks pretty good from here on out. The shards did what a few years ago would be considered irreversible damage but he’s stable now. Still under but you can go be by his side if you like,” Dr. Cho replied.

“Seriously? Just-oh god thank you thank you,” gasped Scott. He was practically ready to burst off but Sam caught him before he left.

“Hey, here’s my number if you ever need any help or questions. Give me a ring some time.”

“Got it, thanks,” Scott said with a quick smile. He thanked Dr. Cho one last time before booking it to the room, only to realize he didn’t know the number. He ran back, got it, and then was off again, desperate to see Darren still breathing.

When he got there, Scott had to admit that Darren looked a bit paler than before but that was likely because he’d been cleaned off. He looked calmer now, his heart being monitored and allowing for a steady beep.

Scott stayed with him for some time and after a while, Dr. Cho came back. Scott was surprised she was still there at all but she informed him more on what procedures they had used and when Darren was estimated to wake up. After that, she gave her final goodbye and left. Several hours later, Hope finally arrived.

Though still bitter about how she’d treated him before, he couldn’t help his good mood. “Hope, I’m surprised you’re here at all.”

She rolled her eyes, not affected by his sarcastic tone, and took the larger chair that was propped up in the corner. Arms crossed, she simply replied, “If you would like an apology you’re not getting one. Besides, the information I gathered allowed the Avengers to get a jump start on their investigation.”

“You still could have handled it with more tact.”

“It worked and that’s what’s important,” Hope responded. “Besides, he’s alive and that’s what you wanted.”

“And what did you want out of this?” asked Scott suddenly.

“I believe I’ve told you that before.”

“Yeah but…there has to be something more.”

“Not necessarily.”

Scott frowned. “Really? I mean, didn’t you go simply because you cared?”

“Simply? No, not at all. But I won’t lie and say it wasn’t part of my reasoning.”

“So you do care!”

“I don’t think I ever told you I didn’t.”

“Christ, you Pyms are annoying,” muttered Scott and he shook his head and looked down. “I suppose I should expect that answer. You and your father did constantly act like you were going to rip each other’s throats out for the longest time but that must be code for your family.”

When he looked up, he was surprised to see a loose smile on Hope’s face. She replied, “I suppose it makes you wonder why Darren’s last name isn’t Pym.”

“Damn right it does,” Scott muttered.

They lapsed into a comfortable silence as Scott remained next to Darren. He kept their hands locked, a simple reminder that he was alright and that he would come back. Hope got up after a few moments, and took the clipboard at the foot of the bed. Humming over what stuck out to her, she finally put it down and sat back in her chair.

She took the next section of time to study Scott and finally said, “You really do love him.”

“Do you think I would risk my life for him if I didn’t?”

“Scott, you’re the kind of person who would risk your life for your arch nemesis if the opportunity presented itself. It’s simply in your nature to help people rather the want it or not.”

“Alright, maybe you’re right but that’s beside the point. Did you think it was fake before?”

“No…but it is different seeing it for myself. And as you put before, Darren has always been a large part of the Pym family. Even in the darkest times it was difficult not to consider him a brother. I suspect that those feelings simply made it even harder for me to accept not only that you had fallen for him but that he had fallen for his whore.”

“Oh you’re so kind,” muttered Scott sarcastically. Nevertheless, he couldn’t help the laugh that escaped afterwards as he replied, “Though that is pretty much true. I swear, Pretty Woman has got nothing on us.”

“An amusing notion certainly. And now that we’ve smoothed things out again, I must inform you of my leaving.”

“Wait, you’re going? Why?”

“Darren may be back but I’m still running the company,” Hope said with a small smirk. “I can set you up with a hotel room but even if you decide to stay in the hospital all hours, I know that it won’t last long. Darren will want to be transported to San Francisco as soon as possible and from there he’s probably going to try and sprint out the doors.”

“Seems like him. I imagine he thinks bed rest just waists time,” Scott responded.

“Exactly. If you need anything, simply call but I imagine I’ll be seeing you soon.”

With that, Hope left and once again, Scott was left to wait for Darren to wake up. Naturally, he would have had an hour left but they had purposely sedated him since to much movement could tear the repairs they had made in his body. Instead, Scott waited another twelve hours, dozing off during several of them, as nurses came in and out.

Finally, the hour hit and Scott was completely alert as he waited for Darren to open his eyes again. The first reaction though was the tightening of his hand. Scott squeezed back automatically. He watched as Darren’s face scrunched up and he slowly opened his eyes, letting the bright light trickle in as they adjusted.

“Well,” he said softly, “I know I’m not in Heaven because it smells hellish here.”

“You’re in a hospital Darren.”

“Ah, so Hell it is.”

Scott chuckled. “Really?”

“Yes really,” growled Darren. “God I hate them. Where’s the sign out log?”

“Very funny. You have to stay here for at least twenty-four hours before they’ll move you back to Sans Francisco and even then they suggest longer.”

“Ah, how cute.”

“Alright, now I know you’re okay. I’d say stop being so much of an ass but I suppose you should get it out of your system now. The nurse is coming.”

Darren cursed.

“Ah come on. They need to ask you questions about how you’re feeling and all that jazz.”

“I feel like I blew myself up! How is that for an answer!?”

“Well your vocal chords seem just fine,” the nurse suddenly replied.

And with that sentence, a very interesting thirty minutes went by as the nurse and Darren quickly went head to head. Scott tried to keep Darren in line but he mostly just played referee. Afterwards, he yelled at Darren a bit for his behavior, albeit fondly, and eventually calmed him down.

After that, Scott mostly just made sure Darren was comfortable, waiting for him to be ready to ask the questions. When he finally did, Scott didn’t leave out a single detail. The Avengers, Hank, Hope’s suit, the explosion, he even repeated what Darren had said and what Hope had done.

He laughed at that particular part. “I do sort of remember that. I’m honestly surprised you didn’t jump her from how much you were screaming at her.”

“Well fighting her just would have distracted me from you.”

“Hmm, maybe so but if our places were switched, I would have launched myself at her.”

“Your chivalry knows no bounds,” muttered Scott.

“I’d like to think so.” Darren smiled but let a mournful sigh out afterwards. “I hope you at least believed what I said. I meant it after all.”

“Meant what?”

“After they captured me and explained what they wanted me to do. I went along with it. Didn’t really feel like getting tortured or anything and though they couldn’t kill me, they knew how to get pretty deep and under your skin,” replied Darren. “So, I went along with it. All of it. Until I of course remembered what you’d said, how disappointed you’d be, what could happen. Then of course when I got a bit difficult they threatened to hurt you so I…I snapped in a way. I just couldn’t allow any of it to happen so I set up the bomb.”

“Did you know you’d make it out?”

“Not at all. Now don’t get the wrong idea! It wasn’t a suicide mission or anything! I just knew I couldn’t let you down.”

“Well next time you’re ever feeling like that, I’m just going to tell you that I don’t care how you let me down. Do not blow yourself up again.”

“I’m not making any promises,” smirked Darren.

Chapter Text

Though the hospital had argued constantly with him, Darren had finally gotten himself transferred back home and was now waiting for the day that he could get out and go home. It was his last day there but even so, there was plenty of ‘taking it easy’ and ‘going slow’ that he was not looking forward to.

Most people would have hated being around Darren during this time as he was almost constantly irritable and usually arguing with some doctor or nurse. Scott simply took it all in stride and mostly ignored what occurred, much more aware than the people around him that if he let Darren just run his mouth he was more likely to grow bored of it than if anyone responded. That simply presented a challenge.

Nevertheless, his last day was an extremely interesting one as early on, a man that Darren hadn’t seen for some time came by.

Scott couldn’t help the shocked face he made and he noted how Darren immediately sat up straighter and became stiffer as Hank walked into the room.

“Didn’t expect to see you here,” Darren said cautiously.

“I know. But I figured it would be easier here than showing up in some place where you have the right to slam the door in my face,” responded Hank.

“Hmm, how do you know I’d do that?”

“You’re rash. And in a vulnerable state. Of course you would.”

“So another criticism then.”

Scott looked from both men. He felt like he should leave the room but Hank was still standing in the doorway and he felt like an interruption wouldn’t exactly be appreciated. Besides, he was intrigued as to what exactly was occurring.

“Yes,” Hank said finally, “but it does seem we’re both quite excellent at doing that to each other.”

“Don’t forget the cleverly disguised insults that sound like compliments, old man,” fired back Darren.

“I do find it oddly hard to forget those pointless paragraphs that come running out of your mouth.”

Scott was still fairly lost as he noted that neither was exactly angry but still weren’t smiling.

“Right back at you,” Darren said evenly. “So, come to revel in the failures of your past?”

“Mistakes, perhaps, but not failures.”

From the way Darren’s eyes lit up, Scott was fairly certain it was the closest thing to a compliment that Darren had received in a long time from Hank. He cocked his head to the side slightly. “I remember you calling me a failure once. Did that not apply then?”

“It did. But my thoughts of the future were skewed. I simply see the mistakes instead.”

“Hmm, that implies you think you can fix what you’ve done, that it’s not already set in stone.”

Hank nodded. “You’ve already proven that yourself.”

“Ah, a proper compliment. I have to say…it’s honestly been years since I’ve heard something like that from you.”

Hank grunted in acknowledgement. Scott watched as Darren, though carefully composed, still was clearly being thrown by this conversation. On the other hand, Hank was obviously battling with something that he needed to say.

“I…” Hank paused and then slowly continued. “I abandoned you. I blamed you for everything that occurred even when it could often be followed back to me. I saw myself in you and only acknowledged the bad of that. I didn’t believe you could move past it.”

“Well, people tend to be full of surprises. They aren’t exactly black and white,” responded Darren slowly. “And your thoughts on them aren’t exactly the law of the land.”

“That is very true.”

They stared at each other, silent for a few moments, before Darren finally replied, “You are welcome to come to Pym technologies. You don’t need an invitation.”

“You’re implying that I’d want to?”

“I’m implying that perhaps you would like to be more aware of everything that is happening inside the company you created.”

“It would certainly be easier than spying on its CEO.”

There it was finally, a smile from Darren. Still closer to a smirk, probably somewhat smug, but it was there and Scott couldn’t help but grin as well. He’d told Darren it would take time. He just needed to wait.

“I’m sure Hope would also appreciate having you around again,” Darren responded. “How is she?”

“Ask her yourself. She’s coming before you’re released.”

If Darren had looked surprised at seeing Hank, he was even more shocked by this. Still, he kept a carefully neutral face and nodded again. “Well it’s not like I can leave just yet.”

Hank gave a small snort that could almost be a laugh. “True. But I’ve said my part. Unless, you have anything else, I have business to attend to.”

“Only that you’re a thick skulled man who’s conscience, genius, and common sense are always at odds with each other,” Darren replied.

“Of course I am,” said Hank defensively, as if it would have been rude of Darren to not say that. “Who do you think you got it from?”

There it was finely, the real semblance of a smile on both their faces. Of course they wouldn’t let it truly show through but it was certainly enough to give the other an idea of what they were feeling.

However, apparently that wasn’t to be Hank’s final words on the matter so he added, “Besides, you have other visitors waiting. And Scott, I’d run if I were you.”

Both Darren and Scott threw each other confused looks as Hank left. Scott started, “What the hell is he—”

“Daddy! Mommy is very angry with you!”

“Peanut? What are you-how did you even know I was here? And what do you mean she’s angry—”

“Scott Edward Harris Lang how dare you do that!” Maggie cried out as she stomped in not far behind Cassie. Behind her was Paxton who still looked like he was trying to calm her down but was failing miserably.

“Do what?!” asked Scott incredulously. He stood up but Maggie shoved him back down before he could do anything. Cassie had already taken a seat on Darren’s bed and Paxton still looked like he wanted to calm her down but still didn’t know how.

“Oh you know what you did mister! Work was so not the issue was it!? You went off and rescued Cross didn’t you?”

“What? No of—”

“He did. And he did a fine job while he was at it,” Darren interrupted with a mischievous grin.

“Why would you-argh!” cried out Scott. “You…horrible man!”

Darren let out a low chuckle as it was clear that Scott was just barely refraining from yelling out several choice words. Cassie was in the room after all.

“See!” Maggie yelled. “I knew it! How could you not tell me Scott? You could have been hurt or worse!”

“It wasn’t that big of a deal okay! Besides, the explosion went off before I was even in the building so—”

“There was an explosion!?”

Scott let out a groan. He should not have assumed that Maggie knew everything. God that was such a stupid slip. “You know you could jump in at any time Darren.”

“But I have to take it easy. Don’t you remember Scott?”

“Oh you f—urgh! Alright, listen Maggie, I’m sorry alright! But I didn’t tell you because I knew you would do exactly this.”

“We’ve already established that! I thought we had also established that therefor it was better if you explained everything beforehand but clearly you didn’t get the memo.”

“I’m sorry alright? But okay! And how did you even hear of all this?”

“I spoke with Hope Pym. She was kind enough to give me some of the details. Really, Scott, do you not trust your own family?”

“No-I mean yes! Yes god yes! But I don’t like it when you worry alright?”

She gave a huff. “Well next time tell me before you go running into danger and maybe I won’t do as much.”

“Christ it’s like you’re my mother.”

“No I am worse than your mother because I’m not afraid to hit you,” she responded with hands on her hips. “Now promise me you’ll never do something like this again without telling me first.”

“Fine, I promise but it’s not like it’s going to happen any time soon—”

“I thought you told me you were thinking of helping the Avengers,” Darren said with a grin.

“You are not helping here!”

“I’m simply telling Maggie what she’d like to know,” he replied with an innocent look.

Maggie nodded. “Exactly. Now why is it that he’s being honest and you’re not?”

“Probably because he’s enjoying the show,” muttered Scott with a pointed look. “But fine! And I mean it this time okay? I’ll tell you about things before they happen. I may not be able to tell you the details but I will tell you, okay? Now can we please talk about something else? Like why you’re all here in the first place?”

“Oh, well when we heard that Darren had been found, Cassie wanted to see him,” Maggie responded, immediately going from her rage filled self to calm and collected.

Darren looked confused however as he stared at Cassie. “But why?”

“You’re not well. You saw me when I wasn’t well.”

“I never visited you in the hospital though.”

“Yes but Mommy said you wouldn’t like it if we just showed up at your home. How are you feeling?” she asked curiously as she leaned in.

Darren instinctively leaned away, continuing to keep the odd look on his face. “Fine. But I still don’t see why you care.”

“Why wouldn’t I?” asked Cassie. It was clear Darren was overthinking the situation and she was doing the exact opposite. “You read to me. You’re nice. And you make Daddy smile. Of course I care.”

Before Darren could question it more, Scott got up and leaned over saying, “She’s eight Darren. I highly doubt she has an ulterior motive so just accept it.”

Darren simply shook his head and finally said, “Well thank you for coming Cassie. I was told before that you went into remission. I’m sorry I couldn’t congratulate you then but I am now.”

“Thank you,” she said happily. “So why did bad people want you?”

“Cassie—” Paxton spoke up but Darren cut him off.

“It’s fine. You see, they wanted something only I could make. So they took me to perform that task for them.”

“Like if a bad guy wanted Mommy’s chocolate peanut butter brownie recipe but couldn’t make it himself he’d steal Mommy right?”

A unanimous snort went around as Darren replied, “Yes, I suppose you could look at it that way.”

“Okay, so if that happened then I’d have to go save Mommy and that’s what Daddy did for you.”

“Essentially yes.”

“Okay. See, that’s not that hard to understand Mommy,” Cassie said with a grin. “So was there a big fight?”

“Ginormous.”

“What?” cried Scott. “No there—”

“Hush. I’m trying to tell your daughter what happened.”

“But there wasn’t—Maggie I swear there wasn’t—oh I hate you,” muttered Scott.

Darren just grinned and went on with telling Cassie an elaborate story that Scott kept whispering towards Maggie “No that didn’t happen” and “No Doc Oct did not show up. He’s not even in liege with Hydra from what I know” and “I did not do that”.

Nevertheless, Cassie was enthralled. “Wow, you’re a hero Daddy!”

“No I’m not. Not really.”

“Yes you are. Even though Darren made up a story you still saved him so you’re still a hero.”

Darren chuckled as Scott simply looked embarrassed. “Yeah whatever listen—”

A knock at the door drew everybody’s attention there where they saw Hope standing there. “I’m not interrupting anything, am I?”

“It depends,” Darren replied. “Are you here just to say hi or does everyone need to leave?”

“I’m not going to attack you if that’s what you’re thinking.”

“My thoughts were more along the line of something confidential in regards to the company but I can see you throwing a few punches as well.”

“Don’t worry, those will come later when I know you can punch back,” Hope replied. She saw the fire light up in his eyes but didn’t let him respond as she continued with, “Anyways, I figured we might as well begin talking again. I’ve sent you the necessary files to catch you up on Pym Technologies’ latest news and I’ve already scheduled a meeting for you with the board a week from now to ease you back in to it all. If there’s anything else, you’ll know where to reach me.”

“That could all have just as easily been said in an email or a text.”

“Like I said. I figured we might as well begin talking. Have a safe trip home. Scott, I’ll see you at work. Good day Mr. and Mrs. Paxton, Cassie.”

And with that she was suddenly gone before anyone could really react.

The first one to say anything was Maggie who seemed utterly astounded. “How rude of her.”

“Don’t worry,” replied Scott. “I’m pretty sure that was Pym speak for ‘I care about you’.”

Darren snorted. “Scott is right. I would have been more surprised if she had acted any differently.”

“I liked her. She had pretty hair. So are you her boss?” asked Cassie curiously and once again, a barrage of questions came tumbling out of her mouth which easily filled up any possible silence for the next twenty minutes.

When she finally took a breather, Paxton spoke up and said, “I think it’s about time to say goodbye Cassie.”

“Ah but I had more questions.”

“How about another dinner then? Before you go back to work Darren but after you’ve had plenty of time to heal.”

Darren slowly nodded. “I don’t see any problem with that. Then I can finish the Hobbit if you’d like, Cassie.”

“Yes please!”

“It’s settled then. Simply call us when you feel up to it,” Maggie replied. “We’ll see you both later then.”

“See you. Bye Peanut,” Scott said as he gave Cassie one last kiss.

Once they had left, neither Scott or Darren said anything, as if they were expecting someone else to walk in. When no one did, Scott let out a soft laugh and said, “God I thought we were going to get bombarded with someone else.”

“Hmm, so did I. Now just another twenty minutes and then I’ll finally be home,” Darren said with a tired sigh.

“Yeah,” agreed Scott, “if I don’t kill you on the way. You were no help you know that?”

“You weren’t in any real danger and besides, like you said I was enjoying the show.”

“Oh I hate you,” Scott said fondly. “I’ll be right back now. Just want to double check that everything is in order and then we’ll soon be on our way.”

Scott left to do just that and within twenty minutes Scott was finally forcing Darren into the wheelchair that he continued to say he didn’t need and that Scott continued to insist upon. He eventually complied however, most likely because it meant he’d get out of the hospital sooner. They headed downstairs and Scott quickly grabbed his truck. He almost helped Darren in when the man slapped his hand away with a pointed look.

“Damn it Scott I’m not going to fall apart walking a few steps. Calm down will you?”

Rolling his eyes, Scott simply went along with it and got into the driver’s seat. They drove back to Darren’s place and like at the hospital, Scott attempted to help but Darren swatted at him again.

However, this time Scott replied, “Alright, it’s not just two steps it’s quite a lot of feet from here and into the building, then to the elevator, then to your penthouse, and finally to wherever the hell you’re going to want to sit down so you are going to get some god damn help whether you want it or not.”

Moving to the left side, he helped support the leg that had been injured and added, “Besides, you’re still not supposed to put to much pressure on this thing. Doctor’s orders, remember?”

“Screw doctors, I’m not in the god damn hospital anymore.”

“Still doesn’t mean you can just do whatever you want,” chided Scott. “Now come on.”

Darren grumbled the whole way up but let Scott do his thing. When they finally made it to the penthouse, Darren automatically headed towards the bedroom so Scott helped guide him there.

Carefully laying himself back, even if he wanted to just fall, Darren let out a contented sigh. “Fucking finally.”

Scott just shook his head as he let out a soft chuckle. “You’re to impatient.”

“I am just the right amount of impatience thank you very much,” replied Darren.

Suddenly he grabbed Scott and pulled him down.

“Woah!” Scott caught and supported himself above Darren. “Don’t be so reckless! What if I had fallen on top of you and hurt you?”

“I trust you,” responded Darren as he pulled Scott’s face closer and kissed him.

“Alright, stop being sappy because we both know you aren’t one and don’t…distract…Darren will you stop kissing me you are not helping the situation!”

Darren smirked triumphantly as Scott glared down at him. “Excuse me if I’m a little touch starved. I was kidnapped remember?”

“Don’t even think about trying to guilt trip me.”

“Perish the thought.”

“Oh shut up,” Scott responded as he kissed Darren.

The man smirked. “Weren’t you the one who just told me to stop kissing?”

“It’s not my fault it’s the only effective way of shutting you up.”

“Oh I wouldn’t say that…”

“Darren you just got out of the god damn hospital! I would rather you not rip something and start internally bleeding on the bed!”

“What? Near death doesn’t turn you on?” joked Darren.

“Oh you are impossible, you know that?” Scott finally flopped down next to him. Darren immediately pulled him closer again and Scott let him. Though when his hands did wonder he slapped them back. “Hey!”

“You’re such a spoilsport.”

Scott rolled his eyes. “Oh yes, that’s what I am.”

Darren smirked and they lay there for a moment before he finally spoke again and said, “You know, we could go on that vacation—”

“Do the words bed rest mean nothing to you?”

“Hey, the place I have in mind is a wonderfully secluded cabin, far up north, with nothing to bother us, and the only requirement being that body warmth certainly helps the nights go by.”

“If we went anywhere, you would be bouncing up and down begging to do…anything.”

“I’m begging to do something right now but you denied me.”

“Oh, that was you begging? Well that makes a world of difference now,” Scott replied sarcastically.

“Just shut up and listen alright. Taking a trip would involve hours of sitting in a plane, then sitting in car so you needn’t worry about me over exuding myself. Second, if I’m being perfectly honest after the shit that I’ve been through I think I deserve a secluded vacation with my boyfriend, healing or not.”

“You said boyfriend.”

“Yeah, whatever now back to—”

“You said boyfriend.”

“Yes, I think both of our hearing works just fine so you can stop repeating what I said.”

“But you’ve never said boyfriend!” Scott squeaked.

“Is there something about that word that upsets you?”

“You said it!”

“Well if you don’t want me saying it all you have to do is—”

“No you-that just-you’re serious aren’t you?!”

“Scott, I told you I love you—”

“Yeah but people say I love you all the time! Boyfriend implies-it implies commitment and promises and a-uh-a continuation and—”

“Well in that case I suppose I should being saying something else. Scott, do you want to be my boyfriend?”

“I feel like I’m almost to old for that word.”

“Alright, do you want me to use the damn word or not because a straight answer would be nice thank you!”

“Okay-sorry…right sorry just-yes. God yes, I want to be your boyfriend,” Scott responded as he kissed Darren deeply. “I don’t think I could say how many times that is a yes.”

“Good. So now that you’ve stopped your little bout of shock, will you please just agree to go away from here for a while?”

“Well why do you want to though? You’ve been complaining about wanting to come home for ages now.”

“And I’ve finally made it but while here there’s still the chance that I could become busy and get pulled into something while away we could finally spend some quality time together, particularly seeing as the moment I go back there’s going to be a flood of sleepless nights.”

“So you really want to do this?”

“Yes,” growled out Darren, “now will you please just agree before I decide to kidnap you instead?”

“Good luck doing that in your condition.”

“Scott…”

“Fine! Yes, alright? I was just joking. Yes, I’d love to just go away with you for a bit but damn it Darren, you’re going to have to promise me that you will rest.”

“I promise. Besides,” purred Darren, “you should keep me occupied enough so that I wouldn’t want to go anywhere.”

Darren.”

“Oh just hush and let’s enjoy a moment instead regardless of you worrying over me,” he replied before pulling Scott into a kiss again.

This time Darren, mostly, behaved himself and Scott didn’t have to swat anything away as they simply kissed and pulled each other even closer. When they finally broke up apart, Darren gently brushed Scott’s hair out of his eyes and said, “Thank you.”

“For what?”

“Changing my life.”

“You can only say that if I get to say it to.”

“Neither of us would be here without the other,” agreed Darren.

Scott smiled in response. “I love you,” Scott said. “Every aspect of you. Every inch and every scar, you’re mad brilliance and your mind. I love.”

“I love you too Bug Boy.”

“Oh way to ruin the moment!”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about Bug Boy.”

“I swear if you start using that as a nickname—”

“Bug Boy.”

“Oh for the ever loving—fuck I hate you.”

“I know,” Darren said fondly. “I know.”