Hope let herself into Hank Pym's house. Scott hadn't called in two days and she was starting to worry.
Yeah, no, I just have to do something really quick. I'll be back in a couple of days, three at the most," he had said.
"Dad?" she called, setting her keys on the side table.
"In the dining room," he called back.
Hope found him sitting at the dining room table with his breakfast and his tea. His hands were folded across the newspaper. "I was about to call you. Have you seen the news yet?"
"I caught a bit on the radio about the Avengers."
Hank handed her the newspaper. "Page two."
Hope took a seat and skimmed the headline about the Avengers fighting each other at an airport in Leipzig. Pictures of Captain America and The Winter Soldier took up a good portion of the page and indicated that they were still at large. She turned to page two where pictures of four others were shown. Among them was a mugshot of Scott. It wasn't his old one from before they had met. This one had been taken recently.
Hank poured her a cup of tea while she read. Ant-Man had been arrested for violating the Sokovia Accords by assisting Captain America and others in fleeing from the UN. He had also destroyed several planes and blown up a fuel truck.
"I told you those damned Accords were going to cause trouble for us," Hank said.
"I didn't disagree with you, Dad," she reminded him. "I just said that we didn't need to worry because we're not in the Avengers. I didn't think Scott would run off and join them."
Hank looked at her. "Really?"
"Well I didn't think they'd accept." Hope stirred the sugar into her tea. She picked it up to blow on it. "So what are we going to do?"
"Nothing," Hank said bitterly. "There's nothing we can do. He's probably locked up in some supermax secret prison that we don't have access to."
"Of course he is," Hope said, slamming her cup down on the saucer. "but we can't just leave him there."
"We can and we have to," Hank said firmly. "He got himself into this and he'll have to get himself out."
Hope stood up and paced by the window. He was wrong, there had to be a way.
Hank came to join her. "Hope, I know how you feel about him, but there's nothing we can do. If you go after him, you'll just end up in jail with him. We need to wait and see how this plays out. Right now it's too risky."
"Don't you have any friends you can call?" she asked desperately.
"Not anymore," he said. "Our focus needs to be keeping the Ant-Man technology out of the hands of the Avengers and the UN. They have the suit, but we need to keep them from getting the rest of it. They're going to track him back to us and we need to be ready. "
Hope nodded. "You're right."
Hank put his hands on her shoulders. "After this all calms down, maybe we'll be able to find some way to help him."
He pulled her close. For a minute, she was seven again. All she wanted was for Hank to hold her and tell her it would be alright. She leaned her head on his shoulder. She might have lost Scott, but at least he had helped her get this back.
Hope rang the bell to Maggie Paxton's house. In nearly a year, Scott had never introduced her to his family. She felt a bit awkward showing up unannounced, but she felt like she needed to explain things to Maggie in person.
Maggie answered the door. "Yes, can I help you?"
"Mrs. Paxton, my name is Hope Van Dyne."
"Hope, you're Scott's girlfriend!" Maggie said cheerfully. "It's great to finally meet you. He's told us all about you. We really should have met already, but I asked him to wait before he introduced you to Cassie. He was actually wanting to bring you by next weekend-"
"He's in jail," Hope blurted out.
Maggie let out a frustrated sigh. "I knew this was too good to be true. Cassie is going to be devastated."
"It's a little more complicated than that," Hope said. "Do you mind if I come in?"
"Sure," Maggie stepped aside to let Hope pass. "Do you want some coffee?"
"You might want to put some whiskey in it," Hope suggested.
"Cassie!" Maggie called. A bouncy little girl with long brown hair came running into the room. "Cassie, this is Hope. She's your Daddy's girlfriend."
Hope crouched down. "Nice to meet you Cassie."
"You too, where's Daddy?"
Hope took a deep breath. "I have some bad news, Cassie."
"Your Daddy's in jail again," Maggie said. Cassie's face fell. Hope felt a stir of sympathy for the little girl. She had lost her father too and she knew what Cassie must be feeling.
"I thought you said he was a hero," Cassie said to her mother, her voice filled with disappointment.
"He is a hero," Hope said. She couldn't save Scott, but she could preserve him for Cassie. "He was helping Captain America. There were bad people out there that needed to be stopped and the UN said Captain America couldn't stop them. He had to break the law to save the world and he needed Scott's help."
"So Daddy's in jail for saving the world?"
"More or less," Hope said. Cassie didn't look convinced. "Laws aren't always right, but heroes like your Dad and Captain America always do what's right no matter what."
Cassie nodded glumly.
"I need to talk to Hope," Maggie said, stroking Cassie's hair. "Go play outside with your ant for a while." Cassie ran off, some of the bounce gone from her step. Maggie turned to Hope. "So what's the real story."
"So I was talking to my cousin Raul, you know, the one with the lazy eye. He knows this guy, who dates this girl, whose uncle works for the State Department."
Hope set her cell phone on the table and turned on the speaker as Luis continued.
"He's kind of a tool, but he's got mad connections. This guy shares a cubicle with the guy in charge of processing the paperwork for Falcon, and the Scarlet Witch, and Hawkeye and Ant-Man. So I ask Raul, to ask the guy, to ask the girl, to ask her Uncle, to ask his coworker, where they sent them. He said it's classified, but my sister dates a guy who works for the CIA, and he said that they had them in a detention center in Berlin, but they moved them like two hours later-"
"Luis," Hope interrupted. "Where is Scott right now?"
"Oh, I got no idea," Luis said. "But I can ask around."
"Call me when you have something," she said, hitting the button to end the call.
"Anything?" Hank asked.
"Nothing," Hope said. She looked around the lab. "I still think we should destroy it."
"That is my life's work," Hank insisted. "I'm not going to destroy it unless I have to."
"Well you might have to," Hope told him. "You said it yourself, they're coming. They know what we have and they will search every inch of this place until they find it."
"Until I think we're in imminent danger of that, I'm not going to destroy 40 years of research," Hank said adamantly.
Before Hope could argue, the doorbell rang. Hank went upstairs to answer it. Hope followed, but stayed in the hallway, out of sight of the door. Hank opened it and immediately slammed it again.
"Who is it?" Hope asked.
"Imminent danger," he said wryly.
Hope sighed and went to answer the door. She immediately recognized the man standing there, but decided to feign ignorance in the hopes that it might annoy him.
"I apologize for my father, but we already ordered Girl Scout Cookies from the neighbors."
"Hope Van Dyne, right?" Tony Stark said, pushing into the house. "Which would make you Hank Pym. I think you knew my dad."
"I know why you're here and you're too late," Hank said. "I don't have the Ant-Man technology. You do."
"Alright, let's cut the crap Pym," Stark said. "I don't know what my dad did to piss you off, and whatever it was I'm sure whatever you did was totally justified, but I'm not him."
"Well you're certainly the next best thing," Hank quipped.
Stark looked around the hallway. "I'm sure you keep up with the news and you know that your little friend Ant-Man is in a supermax prison for enhanced people."
Hank shrugged. "I don't know who you're talking about."
Stark tapped his watch and a picture of Scott popped up. "Scott Lang. Ex-con, fired from Baskin Robbins for lying on his application, current Ant-Man, and according to his Facebook page, he's in a relationship with your daughter. Also had this address as his last known place of residence, so don't play dumb with me."
"Fine," Hank said. "Scott Lang is the Ant-Man and since you already have him, and presumably the suit, you don't need anything from me."
"Well we did have him, then this happened." Stark hit a button on the display, bringing up a video of Steve Rogers breaking into a security facility and escaping with Scott and three others.
Hank chuckled. "I told you he'd be fine."
"Yeah, he's fine. Where the hell is he?" Stark asked impatiently.
"We don't know," Hope said. "This is the first we've heard of a breakout. This wasn't even on the news."
"Well, the UN isn't exactly eager to tell the world they can't contain Rogers and his people. You're telling me that he hasn't contacted you?"
"I am, but I don't know why I should," Hank said.
Stark powered down the display. "Because I'm trying to help you."
"We don't need your help," Hope said.
"Oh no, you definitely need my help, because in 8 hours a UN weapons inspection team is going to walk through that door and tear this place apart looking for whatever powers that suit."
"They're looking in the wrong place," Hank insisted. "Scott has it."
"He has a suit," Tony acknowledged. "And some cute little toys, but if you wouldn't hand this over to SHIELD, there's no way you gave everything to an ex-con who only has a masters in Electrical Engineering. Did he even study particle physics?"
Hank folded his arms across his chest. "I will burn this place to the ground before I hand over a single redacted paper of my research to anyone."
"I know you will," Stark said. "And one misguided scientist to another, I don't blame you."
"The difference between you and me is that I stopped before I destroyed a small country," Hank said.
Stark scowled, fighting to maintain his flippant demeanor. "Somehow I came out looking like the bad guy in all this, but I'm not. Whether or not you agree with the Sokovia Accords, they're law, and Scott Lang broke the law. If you don't hand over your research, both of you will wind up in jail for obstruction of justice and they'll get it anyway. Burn it if you want, but if they can't get the hard data, they'll take you instead. I'm trying to offer you a way out."
"I'll tell you what I told Howard Stark, no."
"You know I'm still not convinced you don't know where Lang is," Stark insisted. "If you don't, that's unfortunate because if Ant-Man were to join the Avengers and sign the Accords, the UN wouldn't need to confiscate your research."
"Well forget that," Hank said. "He'll never sign and I will gladly go to prison for the rest of my life if it means keeping it out of your hands."
"Fine," Stark huffed. "Don't say I didn't try." He started for the door.
"Wait," Hope said.
"Hope," Hank said in a warning tone.
"Does it have to be Ant-Man?"
Stark turned around. "Come again?"
"Do you have to have Ant-Man join the Avengers?" Hope asked. "Can someone else do it?"
Stark took a step towards her, intrigued. "Who did you have in mind?"
"Well," Hank said through clenched teeth. "You might as well show him."
Hope led Stark downstairs.
"I'm assuming you have a secret vault down here or something," he said, looking around at the dusty basement. "That's what I would do."
Hope opened the vault door. "Meet the Wasp."
"If we get one more insect I'm going to start carrying a can of RAID," Stark muttered, stepping into the vault. "You can do the shrinky thing?"
"This suit can do everything Ant-Man can and obviously it has the added feature of flight."
"So can you do the Attack of the 50 foot woman thing too?"
"I haven't tried it, but it should be possible," Hope said.
Stark examined the suit, clearly impressed. "It's a neat toy, but how do I know you can actually use it?"
"I trained Scott, I know what I'm doing," Hope assured him.
"Ok," Stark said. "So you sign the Accords, join the team and we'll just keep this whole basement lab between us."
"Can we have a minute?" Hank asked.
"Sure, I'll just be upstairs calling off the SWAT team that's out there trampling your tulips," Stark said as he left the basement.
Hank watched until we was gone. "Hope don't do this. We'll find another way."
She shook her head. "This is the other way, Dad. They're going to get it eventually. If I join them, we'll at least have some leverage."
"You're going to trust Tony Stark?"
"No," Hope said emphatically. "But we need him right now, and if I'm an Avenger, I'll have a better chance of maintaining control of your work."
Hank sighed. "If you see Scott out there, punch him for me."
Hope hugged him. "I'll punch him for both of us."
Hope opened the door of Stark's sports car and climbed out. The facility was impressive, but she couldn't hide a smirk remembering how she and Hank had helped Scott break in.
"Right this way, Ms. Van Dyne," Stark said. "Can I call you Hope?"
"No," she said, walking past him toward the door.
"We'll work on that. This is the main door," he said, pressing his palm to a panel. The door slid open and she followed him through to the main hall. "We'll set up all the bio-metric stuff later. There's a lap pool, a screening room, fully equipped gym and training room." She followed him up a flight of stairs.
"Bedrooms are down that way." He pointed down a hall. "You don't have to stay here, but it makes things easier. The briefing room is down there. This is the main room, kitchen, and lounge area."
The large room was furnished in a modern style. The Vision and Colonel Rhodes were playing chess on the coffee table.
"Vision, Rhodey, this is the new teammate I told you about, the Wasp."
"Hope Van Dyne," she said.
"This is James Rhodes, War Machine, and the Vision, who's just the Vision, no secret identity."
They stood to greet her.
"Please to meet you Ms. Van Dyne," the Vision said. Hope nodded. She had heard about him, but she hadn't expected his voice to be so soft.
"Glad to have you on board," Rhodes said, offering his hand.
Hope shook it. "I couldn't really say no, could I?"
"Well," Stark said. "Welcome to the Avengers."