Paxton is the only one who knows that Scott is coming to visit. Maggie would likely throw a fit because of his recent “vanishing act” (as if she would turn down an invitation from Captain America). Naturally, he wouldn’t tell Cassie, or else he would ruin the surprise of, well, him! And as much as he loves Luis, he knows Luis would accidentally tell Maggie and Cassie that he’s coming.
Scott waits until four-thirty to head up the front walk and knock on the door. He knows Cassie will be home from school, Maggie home from work, and Paxton off for the day. He rubs his hands together nervously. He knows what two of the three reactions will be. The third, however…
Maggie opens the door and gives him her famous unimpressed glare. “Scott,” she says.
He’s in trouble. “Hey, Maggie!” he greets cheerfully. “I brought a giftcard to Applebee’s. Dinner’s on me tonight!” He waves the one hundred dollar giftcard for proof. (It was a gift from a shy SHIELD agent with curly hair, whom he learned was on the other side of the comm during the Ant-Man versus Falcon fight. The agent said he’d never seen Black Widow laugh before that day.)
“Do you mind explaining how you ended up fighting with and against the Avengers?” she asks. Her arms cross, fingers drumming against her bicep in annoyance.
“I impressed Captain America by kicking his partner’s ass?”
Maggie doesn’t get the chance to tell Scott anything else before Cassie comes barreling down the stairs, dressed in her favorite blue dress, screaming, “Daddy!”
“Peanut!” Scott cries. He kneels down and scoops Cassie into his arms. She squeals when he spins her around. “Guess where we’re going tonight?”
Cassie’s jaw drops. “Applebee’s?”
“As long as it’s still your favorite!”
“I’m gonna get Paxton!” Scott puts Cassie down. She runs back into the house and calls out for Paxton. Maggie signals for Scott to follow her. They head into the kitchen. Maggie gets herself a glass of tap water and takes some Advil.
“Scott, do you remember when you promised that this Ant-Man gig was going to stay small and just to yourself?” she asks.
“Well, you’ve seen what happens! That kid who joined the Avengers was gunned down. I don’t want Cassie to go through the trauma that that poor kid’s family had to go through. She’s only seven. Do you know how much that’ll mess her up? Mess me and Paxton and Luis up?”
Scott sighs and rubs his hand over his eye. “You knew just as well as I did that being a superhero doesn’t mean you’re low-key. We’re the government’s little go-to weapons. And with the Sokovia Accords, no hero is allowed to be without federal control over them,” he says. Maggie looks even more upset now. “I don’t want to do this, but I have a chance to make the world a better place. A redemption for everything wrong I’ve done! Isn’t this what you’ve always talked about? This is what you wanted me to do!”
“Scott, do you even know which side is actually the good one? Believe it or not, it doesn’t look that way to anyone! It looks like one giant superhero dick measuring contest!”
Scott and Maggie stare at each other. They feel mentally exhausted from this argument. Cassie comes back into the room with Paxton in tow. She hugs Maggie’s leg and giggles at her. “I’m ready for dinner!”
Maggie’s face brightens. She smiles at Cassie. “Are you now? Well, Mommy still needs her shoes. Why don’t you go wait with your daddy and Paxton in the car?”
“Okay, Mommy!” Cassie grabs one of Scott’s hands and starts pulling him toward the front door. She takes one of Paxton’s hands and pulls him along when she reaches him.
All the adults at the table want to talk about Scott. Every adult at the table knows where the conversation will lead, and what arguments will happen. But they don’t want this to take place in front of Cassie, who is trying to see how long of a strand of cheese she can get from biting into a mozzarella stick. Scott decides that since he’s been given a large sum of money from SHIELD, and that he knows three guys who would love a free meal and to share their least-illegal stories with.
“Uncle Luis!” Cassie cries when she sees Luis come in. She gives him her best hug, before going on to hug Dave and Kurt.
Luis smiles grandly at Scott. “I’m the best uncle,” he brags.
“Luis, do you mind distracting her for a few minutes so we can talk about some Ant-Man stuff?” Scott asks.
“Oh, yeah, sure thing, man. Then you gotta tell us about Captain America. His death is such a travesty, you know? And the fact that my friend was fighting with his is amazing.”
“I promise to tell you later, but just give us ten minutes. Please?”
As Luis, Dave, and Kurt give Cassie their best tips on how to avoid getting in trouble, Maggie wrings her hands, Paxton struggles to figure where he stands, and Scott wishes they wouldn’t worry so much.
“They really need me. They’re a complete mess right now.”
“No, Scott, they don’t. They’re a government organization with several branches that can definitely assist. I mean, if SHIELD they’d helped out more during the Sokovia, the death toll wouldn’t be in the tens of thousands!”
“Scott, the news has been talking about how they’re targeting certain heroes. One of the people you’re supposedly going to work with is rumored to try killing another person you’re working with! How long until they turn on you?”
The conversation goes in a round like that for the next seven minutes. Maggie pauses in between with stressful sighs and tapping her silverware on the table. Paxton glances over to Cassie, who has several coloring pages and crayons that’s keeping her, Luis, Dave, and Kurt occupied. Scott checks his phone and occasionally sends texts to someone he’s expecting to come soon. No one wants to relent on the others and say, “Hey, maybe you’re right too.” The stubbornness continues into silence when their meals all apply. Cassie, they all can tell, notices, and are glad that she ignores it as she shows off the broccoli she’s eating as her side. And for eating her broccoli, she was allowed to have desert. She splits a lava cake with Scott, and Maggie jokingly tells Scott that she’s going to make him deal with her incoming sugar rush.
Scott sees Hope sitting at the bar, patiently drinking a margarita. He hands the waitress his giftcard and credit card, tells his friends and family that he’ll see them later, and heads over to where Hope is. A Corona shows up once he sits down. “It’s been a while,” he says.
“It has,” Hope replies with a smile and a nod. “Dad is impressed with you, even though he’s sure you’re selling your soul by working with SHIELD.”
“It’s weird working with the guy who shot at you before you disabled his wings, but I feel that I made a great first impression.”
Hope raises an eyebrow. “Was what you said serious?”
“Hope, the whole place is falling apart. Last week was the third assassination attempt this month. You would bring stability and level-headedness to people who really need it.” Scott takes another swig from his beer. “And I sort of robbed you from your glory of wearing the Ant-Man suit.”
“No, you completely robbed me,” Hope corrects. She taps her fingernails on the counter and pretends to think about her decision. “Good thing there’s a suit for me that is packed and ready to go to New York first thing in the morning.”
Hope and Scott go back to Maggie’s house before they go to the airport. He goes inside to see Cassie sitting in front of the TV swaying as she sings along to the Dora the Explorer theme song. Scott hugs her tight and explains that he’s going away for a while, but he promises to send her gifts and postcards from every place he visits, including from New York. Maggie is promised that she won’t have to plan his funeral anytime soon. Paxton gets an awkward hug.
They visit Luis’ apartment and see Dave and Kurt. Luis happens to be at a high-profile film festival. Scott doesn’t ask, nor does he want to know. Hope waves awkwardly and smiles politely. They aren’t the criminals she usually works with.
Scott tells Hope about all the Avengers and SHIELD, and how that even though they’re going through some tough times, she’ll fall in love with it very soon.
Maria Hill takes a deep breath and starts the conversation with, “We really underestimated her.”
Scott and Hope take a look around the main room of the SHIELD building. Almost everything made of glass had shattered and has yet to be swept up. The lack of sweeping came from the lack of available agents whom are overflowing in the medical wing, and also overflowing Doctor Cho and her staff with nonstop work. The computers are still sparking form their crushed-in screens. Marks from bullets, power blasts, and magic litter the building. Hope was still impressed by the amount of windows missing.
“This was all the Scarlet Witch?” Scott asks, motioning at the room.
“To be fair, it was also the War Machine, Iron Man, and Vision. And nearly every single agent, including those she’d used mind-control on. Turns out she was very serious about killing Stark.”
“So does that make this the fourth assassination attempt this last month?” Hope asks Scott. He can’t tell if she’s pissed or ready to show them just how much they need her. Likely both.
“Anything else?” Scott asks.
Maria shrugs. “We’re looking to hire a new psychiatrist if you happen to know one. We had to fire the other one.”