The morning breaks over the mountains, cool and cloudy, like most summer mornings in San Francisco. The fog slowly rolls away, and from the doorway to the empty second bedroom, Hope Van Dyne can see her husband Scott Lang watching the sun rise from the lone rocking chair as he soothes his three week old daughter, Nora.
“Alright, Dumpling, are you done crying?” Scott cradles the baby, her murky blue eyes watery from tears, but she’s clearly looking up at him as he feeds her a bottle.
“You're going to wake your mom and your sister, and your sister has big girl classes at college, so she won’t be happy about that,” he murmurs to the baby as she greedily drinks her bottle. Hope now knows how difficult new babies can be, with their feeding and sleeping routine, but she thinks it’s worth it to watch Nora slowly fall asleep as she has her bottle in Scott’s arms.
“And we should let Mom sleep too,” he murmurs, just as softly, still not noticing Hope in the doorway. Scott moves the bottle to the window sill because it’s empty, and he shifts Nora to his shoulder to rub her back. Nora protests the movement but settles.
“You have a busy day, Dumpling. Grandma Janet is going to come see you in the morning while Mom goes to the doctor, and then Uncle Luis is going to come by to move more of his stuff to his new apartment.”
“Are you oversharing with our daughter?” Hope makes her presence known, despite Scott’s attempt to let her sleep.
“I’m only telling her what she’s signed up for today, which is a visit with a doting science grandma, and some loud and creative swearing while a man who is unable to modulate his voice moves heavy boxes.”
Hope smiles wanly in agreement of his description as she crosses the room. She stops to trail a finger down Nora’s back. “Did she eat ok?”
“She ate like a Lang,” Scott says proudly, as Nora opens her eyes briefly and burps like a tiny drunk man.
“Did that like a Lang too,” he quips, just as proud.
Hope arches an eyebrow. “So she ate too fast and gave herself reflux, God, she really is your daughter.”
Scott smiles softly at Hope. “She’s back asleep, either way, so I think it’s possible for us to go to bed, too.”
“I didn’t even hear her wake,” Hope whispers, yawning as they go back to the attic bedroom. Scott puts Nora into her tiny bedside crib and looks at the sleeping child, besotted.
“She started doing that hungry squeak she does,” Scott whispers back, “so I caught her before it turned into full on waterworks and took her down to Luis’s old bedroom for a bottle. I wanted to let you sleep.”
Hope yawns again. “I woke up when you got up. I was thinking I’d shower before seeing the doctor, and that I’d even wash my hair,” she says, running a hand through the mildly greasy looking mass.
“I’ll handle her while you shower later,” Scott promises, “but for now, bring that greasy head of yours over here and try to sleep.”
“Hey,” she protests.
“Your hair is super greasy, but I like it on you. It’s kind of like wilderness Hope, a rustic dirty version of regular Hope. I’m into it.”
“Shut up,” she says, with a small snort of laughter and a lot of affection, cuddling up to him and closing her eyes.
Hope is thirty nine and really never expected to be a mother, especially one three weeks postpartum, but here she is. Most of her adult life was spent fighting against her own demons in the form of workplace advancement and proving to Hank Pym that she was worthy of being seen. But then, Scott Lang got under her skin, and even when he ran off to Germany, she couldn’t get him out of her heart. He still makes her feel like she can never be ignored again because he’ll always see her.
The mothering part first came in the form of custody of teenage Cassie Lang, then she and Scott got married at the courthouse downtown, and the next thing she knew she was knocked up and having a baby just shy of her fortieth birthday. Pregnancy was both easier and harder than she expected, and now there’s a baby; her baby.
She looks over at said baby, and Nora is asleep in the little crib bed next to Scott. They’re both flat on their backs with their right arms over their eyes, softly snoring, and even though Nora has what Hope thinks is her nose and her ears and maybe the beginnings of her dimples, she secretly hopes that Nora has Scott’s sense of self so she can always sleep this easy.
Hope can vaguely hear meowing, which means the new kitten is awake. Starting to move to get up and feed the cats, she pauses when Scott’s hand lands on her arm. “Let Cass get them,” he says into the pillow over his head, “she’ll be eighteen in just a few weeks, and can manage to feed them in the mornings for her stressed out parents. She can even handle your picky wet food eating old man cat.”
Sure enough, she can now hear Cassie grumbling at Avogadro the kitten for waking her up. “Come on, science bros,” Cassie announces, her voice getting quieter as she collects both Avogadro the kitten and Schrodinger the old man for their breakfasts.
Schrodinger had reappeared suddenly a few months ago in the storage unit when Luis and Scott went back to collect some housewares from before the Snap. Hope had been shocked that her cat somehow lived through the Snap in Scott’s storage unit until she remembered how messy the van was when they had it in New York. Her cat had obviously been a stowaway in the brown van on the day they all vanished, and managed to sleep inside it for five years, which explained the cat hair everywhere before it exploded. He’s now safe and sound with her, minus a few teeth, and just as picky as he’s ever been.
Which is to say, of course, that Schrodinger still barely tolerates Scott, who still barely tolerates him in return.
With a sleeping baby, a sleeping husband, and cats with full stomachs, Hope feels like she can relax a bit, which the doctor has been telling to do ever since Nora’s birth three weeks ago. Hope is itching to exercise again, having jogged throughout her pregnancy until she couldn’t handle the pressure on her bladder, but she hasn’t been cleared. Begrudgingly she admits to herself that it’s because birth itself is stressful and her body is not entirely over it even though Nora is here. But she’s looking forward to taking a long walk with Scott and Nora in her jogging stroller at the very least very soon.
Maggie formerly-Lang-but-now-Paxton, a new mother again herself to Cassie’s half brother John Paxton, had given her the rundown on what to expect in the first few weeks after birth body-wise and her advice has been incredibly helpful, if a little gross. Hope’s new extended family is certainly a strange configuration of found friends, but Hope, who has never totally felt like she belonged while growing up and certainly not for quite a bit of her adulthood, finally feels like she’s home amidst the chaos.
When Hope wakes next, Scott and Nora are gone and she can hear the din of voices on the first floor to indicate that they let her sleep very late. She stretches and heads for the shower, where she excitedly washes her hair. Hope pulls on a pair of clean yoga pants because the compression waistband makes her feel like her organs are moving back to their rightful spots in her body.
As she walks down the stairs, she smells waffles and grins when she gets to the kitchen and Luis is there, making waffles in the iron as Scott scrambles eggs on the stove. The kitten is perched on Scott’s shoulder, purring, completely undermining Scott’s claim that all cats hate him. Scott Lang is a dog person, but the lengths he agrees to go for her, a cat person, shows how much he loves her.
Her mother Janet is there with Nora, pacing around in circles and making cooing noises at her. Nora isn’t fussing, so Scott has probably fed and changed her already.
“Mom? You’re here early,” Hope comments, kissing her mother on the cheek.
“Hank wanted to drive Cassie to school and chat about her physics final,” Janet explains, “and I wanted waffles because I heard a rumor it was waffle Wednesday.”
Luis grins at Janet, “Aw, you know it, Dr. Van Dyne! Waffle Wednesday don’t quit!”
Hope sits down next to Janet and fusses a little with the snaps on Nora’s onesie, lining them up so they’re even.
“We’ll just have to undo them again when she poops,” Scott warns, plopping the kitten in her lap and kissing the top of her head. “Nice, it smells like shampoo!”
She pushes him away with a snort.
Scott returns and puts a plate in front of her with some of the scrambled eggs and takes out hot sauce for her from the refrigerator.
“Waffles are almost done,” Luis announces.
Hope smiles up at Luis as her phone vibrates softly in the pocket of her track jacket. “It looks like three weeks after a baby is born is the agreed upon time for superheroes to wish us congratulations,” she jokes, tilting up her phone for Scott to see a video text from Thor, who is looking healthier than he has in awhile. His message is straightforward: “I wish the littlest Lang good tidings!”
Janet holds the phone as they record a reply with the three of them and send it back.
There’s a rather lengthy message from May Parker, who had befriended Hope when she and Peter had come to stay with Hope, Scott and Cassie while the heat died down after Peter’s secret identity was revealed.
Of course Scott has been texting with Sam Wilson ever since Nora was born, with picture updates, but Hope has a video message from him with Bucky Barnes and Wanda Maximoff smiling and waving in the background.
Hope thinks it’s quite nice to have to have these messages, especially when she’s been out of commission for what feels like forever, and she’s still not up for much physically. She feels respected and included, and in combination with the family, blood related and not, around her, suddenly entirely overwhelmed by emotion.
Scott notices, because he always notices, and moves her phone back to her pocket. “We can reply later,” he says lightly, and she smiles up at him again for being thoughtful.
“Yeah, I’ll even wear makeup for it,” she says, clearing her throat and recovering. Even with the threat of crying, she wouldn’t have things any other way.