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The Ant, The Wasp, and the Hurricane

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Hank Pym sat at the head of his dining room table during breakfast that morning. His daughter, Hope Van Dyne, was sitting beside him, just to his right. It was early that morning, maybe seven or eight, but then again, both of them were early birds, anyway. It had been a couple weeks since the incident involving Pym Tech, when Darren Cross, Hank’s former protégé, had turned to Hydra and nearly destroyed everything Hank had ever worked for, and they were just beginning to rebuild. Hank flipped through the pages of a newspaper, while Hope scanned through some business emails on her phone, mostly having to do with Pym Tech and what will happen for the company. Neither of them spoke a word for a while; they both seemed to be preoccupied. As Hank flipped another page of the paper, his eyes scanned the words, and his gaze immediately landed on the bold title at the top of the page. It read Pym Tech Planning on Rebuilding Post-Incident. There was a photo of the rubble from that day under the title. He simply shook his head. That day could easily have been prevented.

Now that Darren was gone, Hope was the new CEO, and she was in charge of everything. Well, everything that had to do with starting from scratch: hiring contractors, architects, and construction workers to create the new office building, finding new people for new positions, and so on, all on her own. Hank promised that he'd stay out of it… most of it. He had to swear to Hope that he would, and he did it begrudgingly. He did find a way to keep himself occupied, though, and that was with fixing Scott’s suit, as well as working on Hope’s.

It was the doorbell ringing that had taken their attention off what they’d been reading. Hank began to get up from his chair, but he stopped when Hope put her hand on his shoulder and told him she'd get it. She rose from her seat and walked out to go get the door, having a pretty decent idea of who was waiting at the door.

Scott Lang stood patiently outside, and he grinned when Hope had been the one to open the door. “Hey,” he greeted her. He looked a lot better since the incident, his wounds healed. He was still a bit sore, but much better.

“Hey, Scott,” Hope smiled back at him, opening the door wider and waving him inside. “You’re a little late, you know?”

“Sorry,” Scott said as he walked inside, and Hope shut the door behind him. “I overslept a little.” He walked further into the house, glancing around, as if to check to see if anyone was watching. Hope gave him a strange look, rolling her eyes as she thought he was just goofing around. But then he turned around, facing her, swooping in to capture her lips with his own. She was taken aback at first, eyes widening and her face flushing, but then she soon melted into him, relaxing, recalling the first time he did this. A few moments passed before they pulled apart. Scott bit his lip, and Hope was still blushing.

“What was that for?” she asked quietly.

“We were interrupted last time, remember?” Scott said, a little awkwardly. He planted one last kiss upon her cheek before venturing into the house, kind of in a rush, so he didn't get hit, leaving Hope a little flustered behind him. She could have sworn her lips tingled a bit. It took her a moment to compose herself before she joined the other two in the dining room.

Hank had Scott sit down when he entered the room. Scott looked a little nervous.

"Uh oh," he went slightly wide eyed. “Am I in trouble for something?”

“No,” the old man shook his head, rolling his eyes. “Well, not for this. We're not gonna discuss what I discovered you doing not too long ago. This is different.”

“Dad,” Hope scolded, and she narrowed her eyes at him. “Don't start.”

Hank looked at her for a moment then grumbled to himself. “Fine, fine. But this is about the suit. The damage you sustained is a little too much. And now it looks ratty and vintage.”

Scott listened carefully. “Didn't we discuss this before?” he asked.

“Not the point,” Hank told him. “Anyway, I've decided to upgrade the suit, with a new one. It'll have better technology. But it'll take time.”

The younger man’s face brightened at the sound of having a new suit. “Whoa, really? That's awesome!” He was like a little kid, thinking about superheroes, and being one. Hope chuckled to herself, amused by his excitement.

“Don't get too excited just yet,” Hank shook his head. “I haven't even begun to build it. Think you have the patience?”

Scott nodded quickly. “Yeah, I think so.”

"Good.”

“So, what do I do until it's ready?”

“Oh, you'll still be training,” Hope piped up. “Gotta keep you in shape, Princess.”

He cringed slightly. “And that means you probably won't go easy on me.”

“Oh, hell no,” she smirked. “Never. You don't learn when it's easy.”

"Dammit," he whispered. Defeated again by this woman. He'd never win, and he knew it. So did Hope, and it amused her. He saw the look on her face and grumbled. She was planning to kick his ass more than usual. Wonderful.

Hope chuckled at his response. “As a matter of fact, we should go down and spar some, since you're here. Besides, I need a break, and Hank needs time to focus on the suit.”

Scott nodded, though he was a little hesitant. He didn't know he was going to get his ass kicked today. Nonetheless, he walked toward her and headed down to the training room with her. Hank watched them leave, and then his attention was completely on his task at hand.



Hope changed into more comfortable clothes before she met Scott in the training room, where she first taught him how to punch, as well as where she managed to beat him every time they sparred. No matter how hard Scott tried, she'd always come out on top. She smirked as she approached him.

“I’m glad we came down here. You and I both need this.”

“Wait, wait, wait,” Scott let out a nervous chuckle. “If this is a way to get rid of stress for you, you're not gonna go easy on me.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Am I ever easy on you, Scott? Come on, we just discussed this. You don't learn if it's easy. If it was easy, anyone could do this.”

“Good point,” Scott sighed, really mock grumbling, even though he knew sympathy wasn’t exactly Hope’s forte when it came to sparring. “Okay, fine. At least try not to kill me, okay?”

“No promises, Princess,” There was that smirk again.

“Ugh,” he grumbled again. “Come on, you sure you can’t this one time?”

“I could,” Hope pointed out. “But winning is a hell of a lot more fun, so…”

“Oh, come on!” Scott complained. One corner of his mouth tugged up as he teased her. “You are so unfair.”

“Have you ever noticed that most of the time, your opponents don’t play fair?” she questioned. She was having trouble hiding her amusement.

“But this isn’t the real thing.”

“You have to always be prepared for the real thing.”

“So unfair,” Scott said again.

That was when Hope suddenly noticed how close he had gotten to her, now a few inches apart. She found herself lost in his gaze for several moments before she blinked and turned her head away, smiling while she blushed. “Don’t,” she bit her lip.

“Don’t what?” Scott asked innocently.

“Don’t do that.”

“Do what?”

“That,” she pointed. She motioned at his whole face, unable to look away from that crooked smile once she turned back to glance at him again. “The whole staring thing,”

Scott couldn’t help himself. “Oh, wait, you like it when I do that.”

“No,” she shook her head as heat rushed to her face. “I don’t.”

“Yeah, you do,” he chuckled, putting his hands on his hips.

“No, I don’t,” she giggled, her argument becoming more and more invalid to Scott. She avoided his gaze again, knowing exactly what would happen.

“I don’t believe you, Hope Van Dyne,” he murmured. His voice had turned into a whisper, almost. He lifted her chin so she could look at him again, which made her heart race. “I don’t believe you one single bit.”

They remained close for several seconds, feeling their breath on each other’s lips. Hope’s heart raced faster than she could keep up with, and her eyelids began to flutter as he began to lean into her. Just then, she smirked and took hold of his arms, and with one yank, she had him completely off his feet. In one swift motion, she flipped him over her head, flinging him to the ground with a thud, and she held him in a headlock until he began hitting her arm, begging to let him go. He screamed in both shock and pain, and she kept him there for a while until finally, she let him go, and he let out a frustrated breath.

“Seriously?!” he gasped, since he'd had the wind knocked out of him when he landed.

She smirked and leaned over him. “This is why you should never lose focus.”

Scott sat up and rubbed his neck, which was already sore.

Hope rose to her feet, offering him her hand. He took it and hoisted himself up to his own feet, shaking his now-sore neck out. He shot her a stern glance and she stifled a laugh. “I’m sorry,” she said to him.

"No, you're not,” he raised his brow.

“You know what?” Hope began. “You're right.” She suddenly took a swing to his face, nearly knocking him off his feet again.

Scott was quick to defend himself after recovering quickly from the shock, and they were full out sparring. He did his best to block every punch, and Hope did the same, though slightly better than he. Then, something happened. As he threw an upper cut, he mistakenly punched her in the breast, and he punched hard. It wasn't the first time it had happened, and the first time he had a short moment of gloating. This time, he was shocked that he'd done it again.

“Oh, shit!” he gasped. “Hope, I am so—”

He was immediately cut off when she threw a nasty punch to his face, just before hitting his jaw. He was taken aback, and he didn't have time to defend himself. Hope was too fast. She leaped upward, right for him, she hooked her leg around his neck and used her weight to drag him down to the floor. She used the strength of her thighs to keep him in a tight headlock while he groaned with defeat. But suddenly, Hope noticed something that made her nearly panic. His nose was bleeding, and it was bleeding badly. Immediately, Hope let him go.

“Oh, god, Scott!” she exclaimed, and she sprinted to find some tissues. But at this point, he needed a towel instead. Luckily Hank kept a few towels down there, so she brought them over to Scott and he reached for them while trying to pinch his nose and stop the bleeding. But instead of giving one to him, she pressed the towel to his nose and pinched it for him, getting him to lean forward. Guilt washed over her for the first time in a long time. She'd never been so hard that it made him bleed that badly. Sure, she gave him cuts and scrapes, but they were minor and hardly bled. Now he was sitting on the floor with his nose dripping blood nonstop, and she was careful not to be too rough on his nose when she pinched it. He looked up at her.

“It's not broken,” he told her, moving his hands to take the towel from her. “I'm fine, let me do this.”

“Scott, I already have it pinched and situated where the towel will catch the blood,” Hope shook her head. “Don't move.”

"Really,” Scott tried to speak again. “Hope, I'm fine—”

“—Scott, shut up,” Hope cut him off with a stern voice and expression.

With that, he fell silent, and he let her clean him up. To his surprise, she was very gentle with him. She didn't hurt him at all. After a few moments, the bleeding had stopped. Now there was blood all over him and the floor and the towels. It covered his shirt, some of his pants, his hands, and of course, his face. Hope stood after a moment and ran one of the cleaner towels under some water before bringing it to him, kneeling beside him, and she started cleaning his face tenderly, wiping the blood from his skin. He watched her face, and he saw the concern in her eyes. He'd only seen that once, and that was when Hank was shot right in front of her. It was strange seeing it again.

After a while, his face was cleaned up, most of the blood gone. It still soaked his shirt, but otherwise he was clean. “Thank you,” he told her.

“I'm sorry,” she told him.

“Nah, it's okay,” he assured her. “You didn't break it. It happens.” He was a little confused. She'd never apologized for hurting him before. Just then, he started to stand, but she stopped him.

“No, Scott,” she said. “Don't get up so fast.”

Again, there was confusion. "Hope, I'm fine. It's a nosebleed, it happens.”

“Fine, but no more sparring, for today at least.”

“I swear, I’m fine—”

“—No, Scott, shut up. No more for today.”

He couldn't win. With Hope, he never could. So, he sighed, nodding with his agreement. He glanced down at his shirt and hands, blood covered like the towels she'd used to stop the bleeding and clean him. He chuckled. “Damn, you got me good.”

Hope decided to play along. “You deserved it, Princess,” she chided. “Sorry about your shirt.”

That was the Hope he knew. Saying she was more sorry about the shirt than his face. “I'm sure the blood will come out. Where is Hank’s laundry room? Might as well wash it here.” To his surprise, his pants weren't as bloody as his shirt. Plus, they were dark. The stains weren't noticeable.

Hope stood and helped him to his feet. “Come on, I'll show you,” she told him, leading him out of the training room so she could show him the laundry room.

By the time they got there and she turned around, she was surprised to find a shirtless Scott behind her. Her face flushed immediately, as she suddenly found her gaze dropping to look at his abs. They were torn up, covered in bruises and scars. But they were very attractive. She'd always thought that, ever since she first saw him shirtless and had been cleaning his wounds (the ones she gave him) with rubbing alcohol. She swallowed trying to find the words. Meanwhile, Scott was busy looking at the washing machine and setting it for his shirt to be cleaned. Good, he couldn't see the look on her face.

"I hope Hank won't mind me walking around shirtless for a while,” Scott chuckled.

Hell, I wouldn't mind, Hope thought to herself. But would she ever admit that? Hell no. “You might get a few weird looks,” she chided. “But I'm sure he'll be fine. He's too busy working on the suit to notice anyway, I'm sure.”

Scott nodded, knowing that it was probably true that Hank wouldn't even notice. When he looked back at Hope, he caught her looking at his abs, and he smirked with amusement. “Like what you see?” he teased.

Oh, God. He caught her! Instantly, her eyes shot up to meet his for a second before she decided to look to the floor, her face probably bright red.

He chuckled. “Oh, yeah, I totally saw that.”

“Shut up,” she mumbled, avoiding his gaze.

Scott let out another chortle. “I've never seen you blush like that before.”

That made her blush an even deeper shade of red. She had to force herself to look up at his face again, trying to play it off. She crossed her arms to stand her ground, but before she knew it, he grabbed her arms and swooped in for a kiss.

Hope was taken aback, much like the first time he'd done this, but within seconds, she melted into him. Her eyes fluttered shut, and she let out a long, pleased-sounding sigh against his lips. Her knees nearly buckled and gave way, had he not been holding her up like he was. Her heart felt close to bursting as it raced in her chest. No other men had made her feel that way. For what it was worth, Scott Lang was a damn good kisser. Please, Hank, don't come and interrupt. She didn't want this to end, ever.

After they ran out of oxygen, they pulled away, both fighting for air. Scott had a little smirk tugging at the corners of his lips. Hope bit her lip and looked down, her face still flushed a deep shade of red. It took a while for her heart to even think about slowing down.

“Wow,” he spoke up. “I gotta say, I like the kissing better than the punching.”

She simply rolled her eyes and shoved him gently. “Shut up.”

“Come on, admit it, you like it, too.”

“Okay, fine,” she mumbled. “That was… really good.”

“We can do it again if you want,” he spoke teasingly, playfully raising his eyebrows. “I wouldn't mind.”

Again she rolled her eyes, but she smiled at the same time. Her lips tingled as the kiss seemed to linger on her lips. “Don't get too proud, there, Princess.”

“I'm glad you haven't punched me for that yet,” he added.

“For what?”

“Stealing a couple of kisses.”

“I’ll admit, I almost did, but that was when you blamed me for the first time.”

He scoffed. “Oh, that was totally your fault.”

Again, she shoved him. “Shut up,” she giggled. “It was you, and everyone knows it.”

“Okay, okay, fine,” he said, holding his hands up in surrender. “Want to change the subject?”

"Please," she nodded.

“Okay,” Scott said. “So, how's the whole CEO thing going?”

“Oh, god it's stressing the hell out of me already,” Hope admitted with a huff. “But it also feels pretty damn good.”

“Look at you, all on top of the world. But hey, I want to ask you something.”

“Sure, go ahead.”

“How can I get an application?”

This caught her off guard. She didn't really expect him to ask that. But she played dumb, anyway. “For what?”

Scott cleared his throat. “Well, I don't have a job, and I need money to pay child support so I can see Cassie more often, have my own place, and so on.”

She was in awe as he told her this. “Wow, really?” she whispered. The next thing she said slipped from her before she could even stop it. “Well, the head engineer job is yours, anyway.”

His gaze shot up instantly. “Wait, what? Really?”

Hope nodded. “Yeah, really,” she told him. “It's yours.”

Out of excitement and gratitude, he suddenly hugged her. “Oh, god, thank you, Hope!” he exclaimed. “You have no idea how much this means to me.”

“It's nothing, really,” she chuckled slightly and hugged him in return. “No need to thank me. You deserve it, after everything.”

"God I'm so happy I could kiss you right now—” then he realized what he'd said and he stopped himself. “I mean, uh…”

Hope gave him a simple roll of the eyes and a shake of her head before she pecked his lips. “There,” she whispered. It was the perfect chance to do that. She couldn't pass it up.

“That'll work,” he smiled. “So… how many others are there to hire?”

“Well, I've hired mostly everyone. I'm still working on finding a new chairman, and an assistant. There aren't many applicants, but it's because we're trying to get the best scientists and others to fill the positions.”

“Well, I hope it works out.”

“I do, too,” she nodded with a bit of a sigh.

He looked into her eyes just then. “You'll be a great CEO. You already are, from what I can tell.”

She smiled, flattered. “Well, thank you, Scott. That means a lot.” She then glanced back to the floor. Her mind filled with thoughts of work, the stress, and in the back of her mind somewhere, she was thinking about her suit.

Scott noticed that she was thinking and he tried to get her attention. “Hey, whatcha thinking about?”

“Oh, nothing,” she lied.

“Come on, something's up. You okay?”

Hope thought for a moment. After a while passed, she sighed and started walking out. “Come with me,” she said, waiting for him to follow, and he did.

She took him downstairs to the working space they'd use to plan the heist. Once she typed a code in a keypad on the wall, sliding doors opened, and there was her suit in all its glory. God, she loved looking at it. Images of what she'd look like in it filled her mind and she grinned.

Scott, however, didn't know what was happening. But he was fascinated by the suit. “Wow, that looks amazing! What is it for?”

“It's a Wasp suit prototype that my parents started but never finished,” she explained. “But Hank is going to finish it… for me…”

The man’s jaw dropped and he turned his gaze to her. “This is yours?”

There was pride on her face as she nodded.

“Wow!” he exclaimed. “It looks incredible. Wait, this means we'll be a team, doesn't it?”

She blushed slightly as she realized that what he said was right. They would be a team, whenever the suit would be finished, that is. “Yeah, it does.”

“Life is good,” he grinned with his excitement.

“You're damn right it is,” she agreed.

“What does it come with? I see wings.”

“Yep, wings. It'll have the ability to fly, but only when small. And it comes with ‘stingers’ that shoot from the arms.”

“Damn you get to fly and you have weapons? I'm jealous.”

Hope let out a few chuckles. “Oh, come on, Princess, you've done splendidly without weapons or flight.”

He crossed his arms pretending to be offended. “Still not fair.”

“You're such a child, Scott,” she snorted.

This time, he laughed. “I'm just teasing. But seriously, Hope, this is really cool. I'm excited to see how it turns out.”

“Oh, so am I,” she giggled. “Hopefully it’s finished sooner than later. I can't wait.”

“It'll be worth it. The best things come to those who wait.”

“You’re definitely not wrong,” Hope agreed.

She knew that he was right because he had to wait so long for something, and the fact that he could start seeing his daughter again made the wait completely worthwhile. She knew for damn sure that it would be the same for her suit, whenever Hank got around to it. Things were really starting to turn around in life, and not just for Hope Van Dyne. Scott Lang's life was finally taking a turn for the better, instead of the worst. 

Chapter Text

Rebecca Ronan never went to sleep that night. It was eight o’clock in the evening when she decided to retreat to bed, but not once did she find her slumber. It was definitely not the first time, and it certainly wouldn't be the last time. She never learned, either. Every night, she would tell herself that maybe, just maybe, get some sleep for once. But oh, no. Becca ended up lying in bed for hours with her eyes fixed blankly on the ceiling fan as she let her inner demons run wild. She felt completely alone in that cold, empty bed. Actually, she really did live alone, but the emptiness went far deeper. Something should be there in that bed, something that was missing… something that, unfortunately, she'd never find again. At least, not in the same way. But despite the constant eating away at her own mind, Becca did nothing about it, because in reality, there was nothing she could do to fix it. So, she just lied there, frozen in place, not really thinking, but at the same time, her thoughts ran absolutely wild with no order or control. She let the demons run crazy in her head until dawn began to lighten the room. That was when she finally got back up again, pulling herself out of bed and heading into the kitchen.

She went right for the coffee maker. Coffee had been the only thing keeping her going. Not once did she go for the pantry, not once did she head to the fridge. All she did was sit and drink her coffee, not paying attention to anything else except the world going by outside her kitchen window.

Becca had been in this apartment for almost a year, now. It had been the toughest year she had to face. A lot of the time, she wasn't even there. She had other things to worry about. Sometimes, she wondered how she'd made it that far all by herself. Whatever the case, she had made it, but she wasn't really doing much. She was just… there, trying to find her footing again and move forward. The first thing that came to mind when dealing with finding a way to move forward was the idea of finding a job. See, Becca was a doctor, specifically an OBGYN, but the thought of getting a job in the medical field made her skin crawl, considering recent events in her life. But what else could she do? She had no idea.

In the meantime, Becca sipped away at her coffee mindlessly, hoping to get something from the caffeine sooner rather than later. Her mind wandered, though it didn’t really go anywhere. Her expression became blank, and the only thing on her mind had been the coffee, just like it had been every morning. Or, at least that's what she tried to focus on most of the time. It was the only thing she ever drank. That and water.

In the past year, she'd grown incredibly thin. Being a doctor, she naturally used to have the occasional dark circles under her eyes. But now, there were circles that had formed below her eyes and never went away. Her blue eyes, once known to her friends to be lively and bright, were now more dull, and forever pained. Her skin looked dull, colorless, and as if it were sucked to her bones just enough to be noticed. She was naturally fair skinned, with no ability to tan, but she had a healthy rosy undertone to her skin. Now, it just looked like there was no life in her at all. And to her, she honestly didn't think there was, either.

The phone rang. The noise was sudden and it pulled the woman from her thoughts immediately. Though, she didn't move. She just let it ring until it went to voicemail. The apartment she lived in still had a landline, and it was one of those phones that has the voicemail on a speaker so she could hear it. She didn't have to look at the caller ID to know who was calling.

"Becca?" a woman's voice rang out. “Becca, honey, it's me. I'm just calling to check on you. Your father and I are worried about you. Just… please call us soon, okay?” Then, the voicemail ended.

Becca sighed as her mother, Colleen, finished the call and had hung up. She called all the time. Becca hardly ever answered.

Colleen had been visiting six months ago, and it was during that time that her worries for her daughter skyrocketed. The fact that she hardly ever answered or returned the calls terrified her now. Her daughter’s health was a constantly growing concern. However, Colleen and her husband, Kevin, lived in North Carolina, on the opposite coast from Becca in San Fran. Visiting was very rare, so it was yet another reason for the Ronan's to be concerned.

But this time, the phone rang again. It was Colleen again. Becca just knew it. Becca was one of the most stubborn people ever, and she got that from her mother without a doubt. Knowing this made her realize that Colleen would not stop calling until she got an answer. Letting out a sigh, Becca rose from her chair and sauntered over to the phone and picked it up, answering for the first time in months.

“Hello?” she spoke, and the sound of her hoarse voice surprised her. Did she really sound that bad? Gross.

“Oh, Becca, thank god,” Colleen let out a sigh of relief. “I was starting to get worried.”

“I just woke up, Mom,” she lied. “Sorry.”

There was a little pause on the other end. Becca knew it was because her mother was shaking her head. “Bex, you and I both know you don't sleep until the morning like this.”

Dammit. Her mother knew her almost too well. “I'm fine, Mom. Is everything okay with you?”

“Well, this morning I had a weird feeling that you weren't okay,” she stated. Gotta love mother's intuition. “Did you sleep at all?”

“No.” It took Becca a while to answer that question. “But I’m used to it.”

"Don't you think you should go see Dr. Oliver again?”

Dr. Loraine Oliver was Becca’s therapist, had been for the last year. Becca had been doing everything in her power to avoid that woman. “No, Mom, I don't. It's fine. I'm fine.”

“Well, Becca, the last time you told us that, you really weren't…”

The thirty-two-year-old tensed up at those words. Her mother was absolutely right. The memory flooded back to her in an instant. Her mother had been visiting that fateful day, six months ago now. Her mother was the one that found her. She was silent for a moment as she remembered, but then she shook it off. “I mean it this time,” Becca said, clearing her throat. “I'm getting back on my feet. I'm in the middle of looking for a job.” As she was speaking, she made her way over to find the newspaper she'd brought in the previous day, and she opened to the job listings to see if there was anything available. She also did it so her mother could hear the paper turning so that she knew that Becca wasn't lying.

“Any luck?” Colleen asked.

“So far, no,” Becca replied with a sigh. “I'm avoiding medical care. One, because I'm still not ready, and two, because I'm still not allowed to go back to medical care yet. Dr. Oliver has to clear me.”

“Well, you have experience in other fields. What is available?”

Becca’s blue eyes scanned the newsprint. So far, she found nothing. Nothing until some bold lettering caught her attention. Employees Needed For Pym Tech. She'd heard of what had happened involving the company, knowing that it completely disappeared during some massive incident, and that they were rebuilding. “Well, there are some positions open for the new Pym Tech.”

“Is that the place that disappeared a few weeks back?”

“Yep, that would be the place. I mean, I'm no scientist, but I can see if they need receptionists or something. But I don't know…”

“Well, Becca, why not? It wouldn’t be permanent. It’s just something to help you get back on your feet. Honey, you need this. It’ll keep you out of the empty house and it’ll keep your brain occupied. I worry when you spend so much time alone… especially after what happened…”

Becca felt heat forming behind her eyes as the words “what happened” reached her and caused her to recall what had happened. Everything was still so clear to her. The sounds, the smells, the pain… remembering all of this made the tears begin to prick within her blue orbs. Her fists clenched, turning her knuckles white, and her breathing quickened with her pulse.

Colleen knew something was wrong, because Becca had begun to hyperventilate. She knew what this was turning into. “Becca, honey, listen to me,” she tried to get the woman in Cali to focus. “Come on, honey focus on my voice, okay?”

Becca tried to ignore everything in her mind, and her mother’s voice went unheard. She was fighting with nearly everything she had. But Colleen remained calm and continued to tell her daughter to keep her attention on the phone call. Out of frustration, Becca let out a huff, giving up the fight and hanging her head. Her mother heard the whimpering that had begun. That was when the tears began to fall, landing on the wooden surface of the table. Becca cried softly for several minutes, while Colleen listened sadly. She wished there was something that could be done, that she could be there all the time for her during this sad time in her life. But Becca was on the west coast, and her mother was on the east, so traveling was hard. As she continued to sob, a few words managed to slip past Becca’s lips quietly. However, as quiet as they were, they were loud enough for Colleen to hear.

“I miss him, Mom,” her shaky voice weakly spoke.

It didn’t take a genius to know whom Becca was talking about. Colleen sighed deeply. In fact, she knew all too well whom Becca was talking about. “I know,” she whispered as memories flowed back to her. “I know you miss him.” There was no doubt that Becca was still wearing the beautiful ring that was a reminder of what once was. Colleen saw it all the time whenever she was with her daughter. Her intuition was correct, because at that very moment, Becca’s gaze had dropped to her hand, where even in the dim light of the kitchen, the diamond sparkled at any angle. That ring was beautiful, and Becca didn’t have the heart to take it off, ever.

After a few minutes, Becca had calmed down, wiping the remaining tears from her face, even though no one was there to see them. “I'm sorry,” she breathed into the phone.

“Don’t be,” Colleen murmured back. “You know I'm here for you, even though I’m on the other side of the country.”

“Thanks,” Becca managed to smile through the evident sadness in her pale face. Again, no one else could see that it was there.

“I know you’re trying to overcome. What matters is that you’re still here, and you’re still fighting.”

“Yeah…” the other woman’s voice trailed off.

A silence came between them before Colleen spoke again. “You should get some rest, honey,” she advised.

“You and I both know I can’t sleep in this house,” Becca sighed.

“Well, then get out of the house. Take a walk. Get some fresh air. It’ll do you a whole lot of good.”

For the first time in a while, Becca actually contemplated doing that. It had been a while since she’d been out and about in San Fran. In fact, since she moved back from New York, she hadn’t done that at all. “I’ll try,” she told Colleen.

The woman on the other end was happy to hear this. “Good,” she sounded relieved. “I’m glad to hear it. Now, I gotta go back out to the barn. Don’t be a stranger, okay?”

“Okay, Mom,” Becca responded. “I love you.”

“Love you, too, honey,” the smile could be heard in Colleen’s voice, just before the call ended.

When she had hung up, Becca sighed and stood to put the phone back on the hook before she went to put her mug in the sink. She took a moment to think to herself while standing there before she turned for the bedroom and disappeared. She went right into her bathroom and turned on the hot water. While waiting for it to get hot, she rid herself of her baggy t-shirt and flannel shorts, exposing her bare body, which she thought looked vandalized. She was covered in scars, old and new. Some were from childhood, some from her teen years… and then there were others that were much more recent. Some of the recent ones were more linear, and they were all over her shoulder and back. There were three other recent ones on her front, which were smaller and rounder. Two were off to the side of her stomach, and a third was situated by her collarbone. The longer she gazed at these, the more pain they brought. But there was one that agonized her most, and that was the horizontal scar on her lower stomach, running all the way across. The horizontal scar had a friend that was another reminder of previous pains. That was the tattoo on her left hip. It was a small one, composed of two sets of pretty initials, AC and RC, with a heart between them and little wings in the background. This tattoo was recent, within the last few months or so, but it was a memory that she’d keep forever. As painful as the memory was, she wished to keep it.

She noticed that the mirror was starting to get foggy, and she turned away from her reflection to step into the shower and let the hot water warm her body. Hot showers or baths were one of the only things that made her feel relaxed these days. After washing her body and hair and standing still in the shower for a while, she stepped out and put on a towel and robe. She then walked to the vanity in her bathroom to put on makeup for the first time in months. Today, Becca was getting out of the house.



Becca found herself sitting in a quaint café, at one of the outdoor tables so she could take in the warm California summer air. It was nice, being outside for once. Becca really didn't go outside much, and it was for more reasons than one. First off, she was very fair. Thanks to the Irish heritage in her family, she inherited the pale skin and freckles, and she had no ability to tan whatsoever. Too long in the sun and she'd be the color of a lobster. So, being in the sun wasn’t exactly something she liked to do very often. Not to mention the fact that she hadn't had the strength to get out often either. But being outside, out of that too-empty house, at that café with a cool breeze gently pulling its fingers through her hair was refreshing.

She'd cleaned herself up before she got to the café, too. She was wearing one of her nicer sweaters with a pair of skinny jeans, her hair kept down in their natural state of bronze waves. She scanned the menu she had in her hands, not exactly sure what to get, considering the fact that all her diet had been over the past few weeks or months had been coffee. In fact, she ended up ordering just a cup of coffee. As she sipped slowly, her fingers mindlessly twisted the ring around her finger, a habit she'd acquired not too long ago. She glanced at it a few times, sighing deeply as she thought about it and how she got it. She sat there for a while, staring at it, and not paying attention to her surroundings. Her mind began to wander to a time when things were once different for her...



"Excuse me, ma'am, but I don't believe we've met."

Becca was sipping from a half-empty glass of red wine when the new voice came to her ears. Curiously, she glanced up, and standing there before her was a young man. She'd only glanced at the man earlier from across the bar, but never once had she spoken to him. Now that he was up close, she immediately realized that he was pretty attractive. He was tall, roughly six feet and two inches, maybe even more, and he was decently built. Becca could see how muscular his arms were, and by the looks of his broad shoulders and thin, yet stocky appearance, she knew he was very fit. His hazel eyes were fixed on her, and he held a friendly smile on his face. Becca was so taken aback that she had no idea what to say for a while. Luckily, she was known to be smooth with her words, and she managed to speak before it got too awkward.
"I believe you would be correct," she smirked.

The man's smile widened as he outstretched his hand toward her. "In that case, allow me to make your acquaintance. The name's Josh. Josh Collins."

Becca was amused and moved by his politeness. She couldn't tell if he was joking or not. "Well, I'm pleased to meet you, Josh," she shook his hand firmly. Josh kept his grin. It was really hard to tell whether or not he was being serious. Becca was suspicious that someone sent him to prank her. But his face showed no signs of betrayal. Either he was being sincere, or he, like Becca, was really skilled in the art of deception.

"What's your name?" Josh asked.

"Becca," the woman grinned. "Becca Ronan."

"Becca," Josh tested the name on his tongue. "Very pretty. I like it. It suits you."

Becca found herself blushing in response, which was a first for her. Even if he really was acting all of this out, it was flattering to hear a compliment like that. But deep down, something didn't feel right. She made a promise to herself a long time ago that she would harden her heart to love. She's so far kept that promise, and she planned to keep it that way for a long time. Sure, she was flattered by the kind words, but she knew flirting when she saw it. He wouldn't get to her that easy, that's for sure…



Rebecca let out a long sigh as she thought of the past. She knew she shouldn't, but it was hard to put it behind her, especially since it was gripping her with talons and never seeming to let go. And with that ring on as a constant reminder, it made it worse. Part of her was aware that taking it off would be best, but she didn't have it in her heart to do so. She couldn't remove that last memory of someone that had owned her heart. She wasn't ready to move on just yet.

Chapter Text

After much contemplation, Becca decided to go ahead and apply to work for Pym Tech. She went for the assistant position. It was low stress, she didn't have to have to work with too much of the scientific aspect, and it was mostly relaxing. Her old job had was one thousand times more stressful than this. Why not go for it? It wasn't like it would be her career forever.

It took a few days before Becca received an email that she would be given an interview for the position, which was very relieving. That was a step in the right direction. She worked hard to prepare, and when the day arrived, she dusted off one of her more decent looking outfits, perfect for an interview, made sure she didn't look like that absolute mess that she was, and headed out.

Hope was holding the job interviews in a nearby office building’s conference room that she'd paid to borrow for the day. There weren't many applicants, but she knew the interviews would take up a good chunk of time. When the first one rolled around, she made sure everything was neat and tidy, and she went into full boss mode. The interviews went smoothly so far. Hope was proud of herself and how she was handling the CEO thing. Before long, she'd made it to the end, with just two interviews left. But before they began, she needed a break to take a few breaths.

Out in the hallway, in a little waiting area, Becca sat waiting patiently. Her interview was next. Part of her was a bit anxious, but it was nothing to be worried about. In her hands she held her resume, filled with mostly medical references. She knew someone would ask why a doctor would be applying to be an assistant. That wasn't one of her worries, though. She just stayed as calm as she could, breathing deeply and calmly.

A door opened nearby and it made Becca glance up from her resume just in time to see a handsome man walk into the hall from the stairwell. He was tall, from what she could tell. Becca was only 5’2” so everyone was tall to her. When she saw that he was looking at her now, she dropped her gaze back to the paper in her hands. The man caught it when she suddenly looked down and he inwardly chuckled with amusement. She could feel his eyes on her, now. It was that feeling of someone watching you. Her face went red. Meanwhile, the man was studying her, and he couldn't help but get a little smitten. He turned on the charm instantly.

“Excuse me, ma'am,” he spoke smoothly as he edged toward her. “I don't believe we've met.”

Those words. She'd heard them before. Just as charming, just as friendly. It was major déjà vu. Nonetheless, she swallowed and mustered the strength to look up at him and smiled politely back at him. “I don't believe you'd be wrong.”

The man grinned and offered her his hand. “Then I say we should change that. I'm Jack. Jack Lawton.”

Becca returned the smile, rose to her feet, and shook his hand firmly but politely. She was looking up at him at an angle, as he was about a foot taller than her. “I'm Rebecca Ronan. But I go by Becca.”

"Well, then, Becca," Jack echoed her name. Since she'd gotten closer to him, he could see more of her features. The blue eyes were what he first noticed. He was captivated in an instant. And what he really liked was the fact that her face was covered in freckles. “Pleased to meet you.”

"Likewise," the woman nodded. Now that she had a closer look at the man, she was actually a bit flustered. He was very charming. It had been so long since she'd had someone be that nice to her. Not to mention those eyes. They were blue, a couple shades darker than her own bright blue orbs. She easily became lost in that gaze. And as Becca was thinking this, Jack was thinking the same about her eyes. After a moment of silence that got a little awkward to her, she shook her head once. Don't get distracted, Bex, she told herself.

The man beamed the more she spoke. Becca was from the South, so she had a little bit of an accent. “Where are you from?” he couldn't help but ask, the curiosity nagging at him already.

“Raleigh, North Carolina.”

“Oh, so you're a little southern belle?”

“You could say that,” she giggled. In fact, the phrase was pretty accurate. Becca was short, most people having to look down at her at an angle, and she knew she had a sassy attitude sometimes, so “little southern belle” was correct. Most of the time, anyway. “What about you?”

“Sacramento, originally,” Jack replied. “How'd you end up all the way over here from Carolina?”

“Well, my family moved out here when I was fourteen, just in time to start high school. But actually, I just moved back here from New York not too long ago.” That was the short version of that story.

“No way,” the man was in slight disbelief but he was also fascinated. “I moved here from New York recently, too. But it was in 2012.”

“I came back in 2014,” Becca spoke with a soft smile playing on her lips. “Just a two year difference.” Just then, someone called for her from inside a nearby room. She turned to Jack again. “Oh, that's me. I gotta go. I'll see you around?”

“Yeah, see you,” Jack grinned.

With that, Becca turned, and she went into the room, while Jack watched with a grin. He was definitely smitten now.

Hope was overlooking a few papers when Becca came into the room. Hope glanced up and smiled. “Good afternoon,” she greeted the other woman. She stood to shake Becca’s hand. “Go ahead and have a seat.”

Before she did, Becca handed her the resume. Then she took a seat. Hope took the paper and looked over it, and immediately she noticed something about Becca’s name at the top. It said Rebecca Ronan, MD. A medical doctor applying for Pym Tech. That was new. Hope couldn't help but wonder why.

“Ms. Ronan—” she began but then stopped herself upon reading the MD on the woman’s name. “Oh, sorry, Dr. Ronan…”

Becca chuckled modestly and she shook her head while holding a hand up. “There's no need for calling me that. Unless I'm at the hospital.”

Odd. She’d never met a doctor who wanted to not be called as such. “Well, as a formality, don’t you think I should address you as Dr. Ronan?”

“No,” Becca shook her head again. “I’m not at the hospital, not doing any medical work, so there’s no need. Trust me. Ms. Ronan will do just fine.”

“All right,” Hope nodded, though hesitant to call her Ms. regardless. “Why did you choose to apply here, instead of a hospital?”

Becca hesitated for a moment, but not for too long. “I just moved back here, and I need something to get me on my feet. I'm no scientist, so I'm only applying to be an assistant. I'm never late, never missed a day of school or work, and I'm dependable to get things done.”

“Aren't you a little too qualified? I mean, you're a doctor, after all.”

“This job is something I need. At least for a while. You won’t be disappointed.” She tried to be as confident as possible.

Hope gave one nod as she read over the resume. “Well, your credentials are outstanding. You weren’t kidding about never missing anything. You’re a great candidate. As a matter of fact…” she glanced at her laptop screen to scroll through a few things before looking at the other again. “You are pretty much the only person who applied for this position, and you’re very qualified. The job is yours, if you want it.”

The other woman looked shocked for a second. She expected to have a longer wait, rather than getting it on the spot. “Really? Oh, thank you, so much Ms. Van Dyne. It means a lot.”

Hope smiled softly. “You can call me Hope,” she explained. “You’re my assistant so I’m sure we’ll be close. No need for formalities for me if not for you, either.”

“Well, then, I guess we’re even,” Becca chuckled.

Hope let out a chuckle as well before typing a few things to put Becca into the system. “When the new building is finished, we’ll get to use it right away. Your desk will be in my office so it’s easier.” With a few clicks and typing, she finished. “All right, you’re in the system.”

“Wow, that was quick,” Becca pointed out.

“We’re kind of desperate for employees, and we tend to be quick regardless when it comes to getting things done around here. For example, the building will be done within a month and a half to two months.”

“Really? That quick? Can a building be done that quick?”

“It can if you pay the right people. But anyway, welcome to the team.”

Becca smiled and stood, reaching out to shake Hope’s hand again. “Thank you.”

As Hope stood as well to shake the new woman’s hand, she heard the door knock and open. Of all people, Scott poked his head in. He saw that Hope was busy and he felt awful. “Oh, sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to interrupt.”

“It’s okay, Scott,” Hope rolled her eyes amused. “We were just finishing anyway. Scott, I’d like you to meet Becca Ronan, my assistant. Becca, this is Scott Lang, one of the head engineers.”

Becca had turned around when the door had opened, so she’d already seen who was at the door. She grinned. “Pleased to meet you, Mr. Lang.”

“Oh, you don’t have to call me that. Just call me Scott.”

“All right, then,” she nodded, shaking his hand. Then she turned to Hope. “Is there anything else I need to do here?”

Hope shook her head. “Nope. You’re free to go.”

“Okay. Thanks again!” With that, she left the room, leaving Scott and Hope alone. As she walked away she could hear them inside the room flirting with one another, and she smiled to herself. She loved to see and hear couples do that, showing that they make each other smile. She had that once…

In the office, Scott approached Hope’s temporary desk. “I brought you a late lunch,” he stated, holding up a brown paper bag. “Sorry it’s in a brown bag. That’s all I could find.”

“That’s okay, Scott,” Hope giggled, very flattered that he’d brought her something to eat. “I’m glad you came. I’m starving.”

“Oh, good,” he smiled and handed her the bag. “I brought tea in a thermos, a Panini, and fruit. I don’t know what kind of fruit you like so I brought an assortment.”

Her face grew heated as she felt blood rushing to it, making her blush. “That’s very nice of you,” she smiled, taking the bag as he offered it. “By the way, if you want to know, I like raspberries.”

“Noted,” Scott stated. “I’ll remember that next time.”

She giggled and opened the bag, and she took a deep breath through her nose. “It smells amazing, Scott. Thank you. Did you make it yourself?”

“Actually, I’m going to be honest, I bought it. Luis doesn’t have much except things for Mexican food. I’m sure you wouldn’t want ground beef on a Panini.”

“Maybe not on a Panini, but in a taco sounds nice.” She smiled and sat in her chair before starting to eat her food. “Oh, god, Scott this is incredible. I needed this.”

He chuckled as he walked around to sit in the adjacent chair. “I’m glad you like it. So, that’s your new assistant that just left?”

“Mhm,” she nodded, unable to speak because she’d taken a bite of Panini. She swallowed after a few moments. “Yeah, that’s Becca. Don’t know why she applied here, though.”

“Why?” Scott asked curiously.

“Her resume said ‘MD’ on it… she’s a doctor.”

“Really? Wow. I wonder why she didn’t apply to a hospital instead.”

“Yeah, but it’s really not my business. She seems very glad to have this job, so I’m not complaining.”

She continued to eat her late lunch, occasionally letting Scott have a piece of fruit here and there. When she finished, she placed the thermos to the side and threw the bag into the garbage. She turned to grin at him. “Thanks again for that, Scott. It means a lot.”

“You’re very welcome,” Scott smiled with a nod, standing to be at eye level with her.

A silence then came between the two, as they got lost in each other’s gaze, falling into a trance. Then, Hope realized that she was staring and it became awkward. After they’d kissed in the training room, some time had passed since they’d last seen one another. After all, they were so busy. She was doing CEO duties while he was helping Hank with what he could, as well as seeing Cassie. Once again, heat rushed to her face, because since their last kiss, they’d danced around each other, with stolen glances and blushing faces shown when they were in the same room. Now that they were alone for once, they were both realizing this, and it made them blush.

“I, uh,” Hope began, but then she chuckled awkwardly, since she didn’t know what to say.

What came out of Scott’s mouth blurted before he could even stop it. “What are you doing this Friday?”

It took Hope aback, and she thought for a moment. “Nothing, I don’t think,” she told him. “Why?”

“Would you like to go out to dinner with me?” he asked. As awkward as things were, he was quite surprised that his question came out so smoothly.

The woman was taken off guard yet again. She didn’t realize that her eyes had gone a little wider, but she did notice that her heart had jumped a little. “Sure,” her response was quiet, awkward, but she smiled and it showed that she wanted to. “I’d like that.”

Scott, who had been holding his breath while waiting for an answer, let it out, probably louder than he’d expected it to be. “Me, too,” he replied. “I’ll make reservations for this great restaurant downtown. If I had a car, I’d pick you up, but I have to let the guys drop me off.”

“That’s okay, Scott,” she replied. “I’ll be there.”

“It’s a date then,” he smiled wide and gave her a wink, and he was amused that it had made her blush so deeply. He was apparently more charming than he’d realized. Maybe it was just him. He couldn't tell.

“Yeah, it is,” she nodded giggling. At that moment she realized how close he'd gotten.

The smile lingered on his face as he searched hers. “I can't wait,” he whispered, just before he planted a soft kiss on her lips. God, he'd missed that, as did she.

She'd seen him close the space between them, and this time, she wasn't taken by surprise. Hell, the whole time she was wanting to kiss him. And now that she got what she wanted, she let her eyes flutter closed and melted into him the instant their lips met. In fact, she allowed her hands to come up and cup his face gently, something she had yet to do while kissing him. Any other time, it had been his hands doing the work. Now she was putting some work into it, and Scott adored it.

Soon, they got carried away, and the kissing became deeper. He began using his tongue, gently letting it drag across her bottom lip. To his surprise, she parted her lips and granted him entry, which he gladly accepted. His tongue slipped past her lips and into her mouth and it began to explore the inside of her mouth. She even opened her mouth wider so it was easier. It was hot. Apparently, Hope Van Dyne liked tongue action. A surprise that Scott was pleased to find out about. And he used this as an advantage. Her tongue began to dance with his, and the opportunity came to him. When it was the right moment, he caught her tongue in his teeth and sucked on it gently. A little sound escaped her just then, and it took both of them by surprise. He pulled away, but kept a close distance, with a little smirk on his face.

“Was that a moan, Ms. Van Dyne?”

Her face was very red. “Maybe, maybe not,” she murmured as she bit her lip, which was now swollen from him biting it every so often. She was panting hard; she hadn't realized that she'd run out of oxygen by then, because she'd been so caught up in the moment. “What's it to you?”

“It was cute,” he had a mischievous smirk plastered on his face by then. “I like that sound.”

“Since when did you become so flirtatious, Mr. Lang?” she raised a brow, but she was smirking, too. Deep down, the flirting was very, very nice to hear.

"I don't know,” he shrugged. “But it appears to be working.”

“How do you know?”

“Because you're blushing.”

"It's hot in here,” she tried to deny it.

He just smirked again. “Fair enough,” and he swooped in for another kiss, and she couldn't help but smile against his lips a little bit.

They kissed for a while before Hope forced herself to pull away. “I have another interview, Scott.”

“Aw, bummer,” he pouted.

“I have to,” she sighed. “But it's my last one.”

“Can I text you later, then?”

“Sure,” a chuckle slipped from her. “I'll see you Friday?”

He nodded. “Yep, see you Friday. What time should I make reservations?”

“How's 7:00?”

"Perfect," he replied. He then pecked her cheek quickly, and he turned to leave. “See you then.”

“See you. By the way, can you send the man sitting outside in here?”

He nodded and left the room to see Jack sitting on a chair outside. When the door opened and Scott stepped out, their eyes met. “Hey, she's ready for you,” he told the man.

“Oh, perfect,” Jack nodded and stood up. “Jack Lawton, by the way. If I'm applying here, I may as well get to know some of the other employees here.”

“Scott Lang,” the other responded and shook his hand firmly. “Are you the possible candidate for chairman?”

“I am,” Jack replied. “Hoping I get this job.”

“You'll do fine,” Scott assured him. “Good luck.”

The men waved goodbye and went their separate ways, Jack into the office, Scott down the hall. No one could see it, but Scott had the biggest and proudest smile on his face, a little bit of a strut in his step. He'd scored a date with the almighty Hope Van Dyne. He had every reason to be proud of himself. Never in a million years did he expect to ever woo her like he had, but he must have done something right along the way. He was sure that Hope felt the same way, never expected to fall for him, because she'd hated him for a while. In any case, he had a date with her, and he was going to do the best he could to make it a good first date.


 

When he came back to the apartment complex Luis and the guys were in, he found that it was quiet, aside from the bass playing from the apartment downstairs, which was odd. But it only lasted a moment because he could hear Luis elsewhere.

"Scotty!" he called. "That you, bro?"

“Yeah, Luis,” Scott replied, going to sit on the crap sofa he slept on most nights.

Luis then came into the room. “Hey, man, where you been? I needed the van.”

“I told you I was borrowing it,” Scott reminded his friend. “I just went to help with interviews.”

“Oh, you we're going to see your girlfriend, weren't you?” He gave Scott a sly look.

“She's not my girlfriend… not yet anyway.”

“But you've made out with her, right?”

Scott blushed and let out a few chuckles. “Yeah, a few times. But we haven't gone on a date yet. But that'll change this Friday.”

“You scored a date?!” Luis exclaimed. “Nice, bro!”

The other man just laughed with amusement. “I need to make reservations for a restaurant, and find a new outfit by then, but yeah, I scored a date.”

“Way to go, Scotty.”

“Thanks, Luis.”

“Hey, did you see anyone else during interviews? Like, any ladies?” He raised his brows with a hopeful look in his eyes.

Scott was about to say no, but he remembered Becca. “There was one, a doctor. But I only got a few seconds of a glance. Sorry, man.”

“Nah, that's okay,” Luis didn't look too disappointed. “Worth a try. Hey, you hungry? I can make waffles again.”

“No, thanks, Luis,” the other man shook his head.

Just then, Luis caught a whiff of what smelled like perfume. It wasn't him, he knew it. He sniffed audibly, walking around.

Scott watched with a confused look. “What?”

“I smell something… like… flowers…” Luis said between sniffs. He got close to Scott and realized that it was coming from him. “Bro, are you wearing perfume?”

“I'm not,” Scott shook his head. “But she was.”

It didn't take long for Luis to catch on. “Bro, you sly dog!”

“Don't get ahead of yourself. We were only making out.”

“Still, bro! You know it's good when her perfume rubs off on you. You lucky dog, Scotty!”
He slapped Scott’s shoulder playfully.

Scott just chuckled. “Do you have to be so nosy?”

Luis shrugged innocently. “I'm curious, man.”

“Don't ask too many questions, though.”

“Yeah, of course. I got you man. Not too many questions, got it.”

Scott let out some more chuckles before leaning back. “I'm gonna try and take a nap.”

“All right, bro. We'll try to be quiet.”

“No, you won't.”

“We'll try anyway.”

“Whatever you say.”

Luis chuckled and got up from the sofa before grabbing a few snacks from the kitchen. While he did, Scott lied down, taking up the whole sofa and kicking his feet up. He stared at the ceiling for a while, thinking about nothing but Hope, of course. He didn't notice that he now smelled like her, and that was amazing to him. His lips still tingled from their kiss. That had been the most passionate kiss between them ever. It was the kiss that let him know that Hope liked his tongue in her mouth, and Scott was perfectly fine with that. He loved it. As he drifted off to sleep, the last thing he thought of was that woman, and it had put a soft smile on his face. He had a good feeling about this.

Chapter Text

On that Friday, Hope had to go to Hank’s to help out with the suits before the date. He promised it wouldn’t take long, but Hope had her doubts. When she arrived, she was already dressed for her date, and Hank noticed this immediately. Never before had she worn a dress like that. He didn’t normally see her dressed for anything other than work or casual wear. This was different.

“What are you all dressed up for?” he asked as he looked up to see her walk into the room.

“I have a meeting later,” she lied quickly. “Dinner with a few of the chairmen.”

Hank didn’t think anything of it at first, and he went back to his work.

“It’ll be interesting to see what happens when it's done."

The old man nodded again, not taking his eyes off his work. But after a moment, he took a break and went to the wall panel where he kept the wasp suit. He typed in the code and the door opened so he could go inside. When he came back out, he had a helmet in his hands… her helmet. He handed it to her. “Here, try it on. Make sure it fits.”

Hope took the helmet into her hands, feeling the smooth surfaces of the metal and seeing her reflection in the visor. Emotions swarmed over her. It was almost enough to make her cry. After a few seconds, she carefully slid the helmet over her head. It was a perfect fit. Her eyes pricked with tears just then. She felt her heart lift with joy, and she turned to see her reflection in the nearby mirror. Even more emotions flooded her, and her vision became blurry as she imagined what it would be like to finally be able to fly.

Hank smiled softly as he looked her over. She reminded him of his wife. When she disconnected the mask, opening her visor and revealing her eyes, he saw she was emotional, and he put his hands on her shoulders. “You look just like your mother in that.”

“I wish she was here,” she whispered, her voice broken.

“I know,” the man nodded sadly. “She’d be very proud of you. Just like I am.”

A few tears slipped from her eyes. “Thank you…”

They shared a tender smile before Hope decided to remove the helmet and hand it back to him. Hank took it and went to put it back so it was kept safe. When he returned, he found his daughter wiping her tears away. He went to help swipe them away as well. “I promise I’m working to get the suit done so you can use it. I know how much you want it.”

Hope only nodded, sniffling a few times. She looked into her father’s eyes, and suddenly, he’d hugged her. She wrapped her arms around him. This hug was a lot warmer than the first time had been. There was no hesitation, no discomfort. Suddenly, she was a child again, before Janet disappeared, when she was daddy’s little girl. That was a time when she looked at him with a twinkling in her eyes, instead of resentment. Most of the resentment was gone now. There were just good memories and warmth for once.

It took a few minutes before they let go and Hope had calmed down. “Thank you,” she whispered to him. “I know you’re working hard.”

Hank nodded once and smiled, before he went to sit down and go back to work. Hope was there to help as much as she could. Then, her phone buzzed. It was Scott.

Everything’s all set for tonight :)

She smiled to herself, and she typed her reply. Good. I’ll see you then.

“Who’s that?” Hank asked without even looking up.

“Do you have to be so nosy?” Hope raised a brow. “It’s just the people I’m having dinner with tonight.”

“Or maybe just one person,” the old man mumbled under his breath. He had his suspicions already, considering that Hope was wearing a low cut shirt and was going out to dinner. Normally, she’d wear a business suit. “I bet Scott is thrilled.”

“Dad, stop,” Hope she narrowed her eyes and blushed a deep shade of red. Despite the fact that she was thirty-five, Hank was still a little overprotective. It’s not like he could help it. Still, it was annoying. “It’s none of your business.”

Hank didn’t really press any further. But it was evident on his face that he wasn’t too happy that it was happening. He called Scott to help with the heist, not fall for his daughter.

The woman rolled her eyes and shook her head before sending another message to Scott. Hank is onto you.

Scott’s reply was fairly quick. Oh, I don’t doubt it. He has been since he caught me lip locked with his daughter in the hall.

She chuckled to herself. It’s not like he can change anything. Anyway, I better go. I’ll see you tonight.

Have fun. See you :)

After that, she put her phone away, turning her attention on the suits and completely focused on them. Well, not completely. Scott was on her mind the whole time, as well. She was hoping that this date would go over well.


Scott showed up to the restaurant right on time, but he noticed that Hope wasn’t there yet. But he didn’t think anything of it. He figured he’d go inside and wait for her at their table. A waitress handed him a menu and brought him a glass of water. By the time he finished the glass, ten minutes had passed, and she still wasn’t there. He kept his eye on the door for a while, occasionally reading the menu over and over again. Fifteen minutes had gone by, now. Still, she wasn’t there. His leg began to shake, and he adjusted the way he was sitting. Finally, the door opened, and he glanced up to see Hope rushing in and searching for him. Relief washed over him, and he took a good look at her for a second. She wore a V-neck black dress, a little bit of cleavage showing, with a little slit on the thigh on one side. With it she wore low-heeled pumps, which were peep toe. He knew there were hearts in his eyes. He waved his hand to flag her down, and she hurried over.

“I am so sorry I’m late,” she sighed, taking off her jacket and sitting down. “Hank wouldn’t let me leave on time, there was an accident on the road… I’m sorry.” She looked at him and noticed that he was in nicer clothes than usual. He wore a smooth buttoned up shirt, which looked ironed, and it looked like that he took the time to fix his hair. It was neat, for once. Scott Lang cleaned up quite nicely.

“It’s okay,” he reassured her. He ran his hand through his hair. “But to be honest, I thought you’d bailed. Or Hank held you hostage.”

Hope felt so guilty. “I’m so sorry,” she said. “I would have texted you, but my phone died.”

He just smiled and shook his head. “Hope, it’s okay, really. I’m glad you’re here.”

She smiled, blushing slightly. “I am, too.”

Scott looked her up and down, and when he brought his gaze back to her face, their eyes locked. “You look amazing,” he informed her. “Like, I’ve never seen you in a dress like that.” As he spoke, he fidgeted a little, a stutter in his words. His flirting was hit or miss at this point.

Hope giggled, flattered by his compliment. “Thank you,” she smiled. “You clean up pretty well yourself, you know.”

“You do way better than I do, though,” he told her, causing her to roll her eyes with amusement. He just gave a goofy smile. “Anyway, I waited on ordering anything other than water. Do you want wine?”

“Oh, yes.”

“Red or white?”

Hope actually wasn’t sure. Wasn’t red wine the traditional first date drink? “Red,” she replied.

Scott nodded, and he ordered them a couple glasses of wine. Hope only wanted one; she’d be driving herself home. The waitress brought them each one glass, and then she took their orders. Scott ordered a medium rare steak with a salad on the side, while Hope ordered grilled salmon. She wasn’t a big fan of red meat, but chicken and fish were fair game. Scott took notice of this quickly. While they waited for their food, he smiled at her, taking a sip of the wine.

She blushed and looked around, avoiding getting lost in his gaze for too long. “This is really nice, Scott.”

Good. She was happy. He was doing something right. “I’m glad you like it.”

“You know, I haven’t had a real first date like this before.”

“No?” Scott was surprised. “Why not?”

She looked down at her hands and remained quiet. Scott wished he hadn’t asked, because she looked pained. He opened his mouth to apologize, but she stopped him.

“I fit all the stereotypes of a no nonsense businesswoman,” she admitted. “I never focused on things like this. I never went on dates. No feelings were ever involved with anything. I’m not used to this.”

His face softened, and his heart ached for her. So many years of building the walls around her and doing everything on her own… these emotions were new to her. He reached forward to take her hand. He wouldn’t give up on her. He knew it would take a while for her walls to fall, but he was going to do all he could to help her, as long as it would take. When he took her hand, she blushed again, looking up at him.

“I’m not giving up on you,” he told her softly. “However long it takes. I’m going to take you on dates, if you’ll let me. I’ll take you to movies, baseball games, all the cheesy romantic stuff.”

Hearing this made her smile, and she couldn’t hold back her giggle. “I’d like that. Thank you, Scott.”

“No need to thank me,” he held up his other hand. “You deserve it.” He then took the chance and laced his fingers with hers ever so slowly. Hope didn’t stop him. In fact, she gently squeezed his hand.

Hope hadn’t held someone’s hand like that, ever. His hands were rough, as an effect of being in prison mostly, but warm and gentle. When his thumb stroked her hand, it felt smooth and soft. Her heart was sent aflutter, a feeling that no other man has given her. She felt like a kid in high school giggling over her crush. That was one of the many effects Scott Lang gave her, and she actually liked it.

Even as their food came to them, they didn’t let go of each other's hands for a while. Scott brought her hand to his lips and pressed them against her knuckles before he let her go so they could eat. There was a cute smile on her face as she started to eat her food. Scott noticed and smiled to himself. That was a real smile from her, not one of amusement, pride, or sadness. That was a true, blissful smile, one that Scott had never seen before.

They ate in a blissful silence, not quite as awkward as before. The only sounds between them were the sounds of silverware clinking against their plates. It was nice. But Scott remembered that this was a first date. He wanted to get to know the real Hope Van Dyne. “So,” he began. “Tell me something about you.”

She was mid chew when he'd asked, so it took a while for her to answer. “What would you like to know?”

“Anything. Surprise me.”

“Well, I like to read.”

Scott grinned. Hope being a bookworm didn't surprise him, though. “What's your favorite book?”

“Oh, Frankenstein, no question,” she said. “Do you have a favorite?”

“I like anything that Tolkien wrote.”

So, apparently, Scott Lang was a nerd deep down. Okay, well, not much of a nerd so far, but there were a few things that made him one. Hope smiled. “Those are good, too.”

Scott mirrored her expression and gave a nod. “Tell me what you like to do on a rainy day.”

“Do you have a Rolodex of all these questions?” she giggled.

“Maybe, maybe not,” he teased lightly. “Come on, I'm curious.”

“Okay,” Hope let out another giggle. “Well, I usually spend my time reading.”

“I kind of figured you were a bookworm,” he admitted. And God, it was the cutest thing ever to him, and the sexiest. “I like that.”

She blushed. “I'm glad you do. What about you?”

“I don't really have a specific thing I do, honestly,” he shrugged, taking a bite of steak. “I'm boring in that category, sorry.”

“You're not boring, Scott,” Hope laughed. “A lot of people think that reading is boring, so, really, I am.”

"Come on, I don't think you're boring. I think that the fact that you read is actually very attractive."

“You do?” It was weird. She wasn't used so such complements.

There was a light in his eyes as he nodded and beamed at her. His eyes were soft, and Hope could have sworn she saw them twinkling. His eyes were one of her favorite things about him; they were so green. They had a kindness in them that she'd never seen before. Warmth pooled in her stomach and her heart fluttered a bit. Scott Lang was the only man to make her feel that way. She once felt hatred for him, but now it was the total opposite. Hope was falling for him. She was falling hard, and she knew it. No man had made her feel so warm and appreciated like him; Hope had every reason to like him now.

They eventually finished their meal, and the waitress took their plates away. Scott glanced at Hope with a grin. “Want to split dessert?”

“Sure,” she returned the smile. “Is there mousse?”

Scott checked the menu, and indeed, they had mousse. Scott ordered one for him and Hope to share. It was chocolate, another thing Hope liked. It was brought to them quickly, and they took their spoons and started eating. They smiled at one another, and while they ate, Scott reached forward to take her hand again. Hope laced her fingers with his, holding his hand tight. Their faces were close, and her heart fluttered again. Now that she thought of it, her heart always fluttered like that when he got close to her. The fact that her heart raced whenever she was near him should have been the first sign that she was falling for him. But of course, being the stubborn person she is, she denied it at first. Now, she was starting to accept it. A wave of heat began to flood her. Scott smiled and searched her face. He'd never noticed this before, but he found that Hope had freckles sprayed all over her face. His attraction toward her grew in a second and it showed on his face.

“What?” her voice pulled him from his thoughts.

“Sorry,” he chuckled. “I just… I couldn't help but notice that you have freckles. That's amazing.”

Her face grew hot, like always when he flirted with her. “You like them?”

He nodded. “Oh, hell yeah. I think that a woman without freckles is like a night without stars.”

“When did you become so poetic, Mr. Lang?” her voice was low. Her eyes flickered between his eyes and his lips. She swore that this man would be the death of her.

“It's a little hidden talent of mine, I guess,” Scott murmured back at her. “Actually, my flirting either works smoothly or it fails epically.”

Hope bit her lip. “Well, for what it's worth, that was smooth. I think it worked.”

“Me, too,” he whispered, and he seized the moment and kissed her softly. It wasn't a very long kiss, only a few brief seconds or so, and he went back to looking into her eyes. “I'm going to pay the bill. Want to take a walk after this?”

“I'd love that,” she nodded slowly. Reluctantly, they pulled back, just in time for the waitress to bring the check. Scott quickly paid for their meal, and then she collected her jacket and stood with him. He grinned and led her out of the restaurant.

The late August night was actually cooler than normal, not blistering hot, which was perfect weather for walking. They walked and talked, and as they did, Scott slowly got closer and took her hand. It started with just his pinky touching hers, and then moving closer even more. Hope spread her fingers, and they laced with his eventually. She lifted her gaze to meet his, both of them smiling. After a while, they stopped, and they remained close. Very close. Their faces were mere inches away; their breath tickled each other’s lips. Warmth filled them both. They got lost in each other's gazes, their hearts went faster just from being there with each other, and the space between them began to get smaller. All concepts of reality became nothing as they focused on just each other. Hope had been thinking of him since their last kiss, and now it was all she was thinking about. The same could be said for Scott, too. At this point, they were tired of dancing around each other, at least at that very moment. They stopped at the one inch mark, hovering for a moment. Their breaths mixed, their breathing synced. Her eyes switched between his own eyes and his lips.

"Whatcha looking at, Ms. Van Dyne?" he smirked softly and raised a brow. There was teasing in his voice.

She swallowed after a moment, still hovered over his lips. Then, she cracked. Hope couldn't bear the anticipation anymore. "Fuck it," she whispered, and she closed the gap swiftly. Their lips met for a soft, sweet, much anticipated kiss.

Scott savored the kiss and let it linger for a while. Her lips were like the perfect puzzle piece against his own. He loved how they started slow, remembering the sweet taste of each other before they got a little rougher. Scott's hands dropped to her waist and pulled her closer so their chests were touching, and she could barely keep her balance. She decided to take the opportunity and let her own hands explore. But they didn't really move too much. First, she cupped the back of his neck so he couldn't pull away, and then her arms came up to snake around him. That was it. She kept them like that. She then parted her lips, begging for his tongue.

And he gave her what she wanted. He slid his tongue into her mouth and explored, their kissing becoming hard, fast, and passionately, hungry for more. Her own tongue started to dance with his, and he relished in how it felt for him to take hers between his teeth and suck on it, this time rougher than the last. It drew a moan from her, one that was unexpectedly loud. But the kissing never stopped, not until they'd used up all their oxygen to the point where she had to pull away to catch her breath. Her lips were swollen and wet, burning a little bit from rubbing against his scruffy face. They were probably redder, too, from all his ministrations. While she caught her breath, he pressed soft kisses down her jawline and one over her pulse point before looking into her eyes.

"I could get used to this," he whispered close to her.

“So can I,” she breathed. Her arms were still wrapped around him, their chests touching. And this time, they didn't pull away awkwardly. They remained like that, blissfully out of breath.

True to his nature, Scott let out a chuckle as a thought came into his head. “Hank would probably want my head on a pike if he ever found us like this.”

“Yeah, he'd probably kill you,” Hope agreed.

“But I would die a happy man if he did.”

She lifted her head to smile at him before pressing a kiss to his chin. “You're such a dork, Mr. Lang.”

“Yes, but you like it, Ms. Van Dyne.”

There only came a small chuckle from her, but both of them knew the truth; Hope liked his dorky side. It's what made Scott, well, Scott. She loved how he didn't change to impress her. All he had to do was be himself. That's all she'd ever want.

The two of them remained pressed against each other like that for a little while longer before they realized that it was getting late. Scott reluctantly straightened and pulled away to check the time. “I better hail a cab,” he spoke with evident disappointment.

"I can take you home,” she suddenly blurted. He glanced at her and she blushed. “I mean, it won't cost you any money, or anything.”

“You don't expect me to turn that down, do you?” he teased her lightly. “I'd love that, Hope.”

She grinned and turned back toward the restaurant parking lot, taking his hand like they'd done before, and they sauntered hand-in-hand to where she'd parked her car.

“Ah, the place where we had the first meaningful conversation,” he smiled fondly.

“Yep,” Hope chuckled at the memory as they both got inside the car. “Feels like a lifetime ago already.” She turned the key to start the car and began backing out. Once on the road, Scott held her hand, squeezing gently every so often. It made the ride home nice and warm. It sucked that it would end soon.

Scott gave her directions to the crappy apartment complex where the guys lived, but he had her drop him off at the street corner instead of having her drive through a sketchy part of the neighborhood. When she stopped the car and he prepared to get out, he leaned over to kiss her goodbye.

“We’ll have to do this again.”

“I agree,” she nodded. “Will I see you soon?”

“Yes, you will. Good night, Hope. Thanks for the ride.”

“Thanks for the dinner.”

“There's more where that came from,” he winked, and with one last peck on her cheek, he got out of the car. “See you soon.”

“Bye, Scott,” Hope called after him, and once she could no longer see him, she drove away, her lips still tingling and her heart still fluttering. This was the start of something beautiful between them.

Chapter Text

A month passed. Hope and Scott had made every Friday since their first date a designated date night. He took her to a few movies, to a Giants baseball game, and out to dinner a few times, as well. So far, things were going well. Of course, the earlier dates usually started with Scott stumbling over his words telling her how amazing she looked, knocking over a fork or two or spilling some of his drink, while Hope blushed and tried to find her own words, but they would soon find their footing and continued with the date rather smoothly. Hope was beginning to open up a little bit more, but progress was rather slow. That was okay, though. Scott would take all the time needed to get those walls down. He liked where things were going.

To everyone's surprise, at the end of the month, the new Pym Tech building was finished, a few weeks faster than anyone expected. Hope was glad because she knew her new office would be a lot nicer than her old one, with sofas, large space, a desk for Becca, and, her personal favorite, soundproof walls. When dealing with secrets like the Pym Particles, silence and privacy was key, especially for meetings. Scott got his own office as well, with the same soundproof walls, as did Jack. Everything was finally ready to go, and the first day came faster than expected.

As she walked down the hallway that morning, Hope noticed Jack leaving her office. Confused, she locked eyes with him, though remaining polite and smiling. “Morning, Jack,” she spoke up.

Jack looked up and grinned. “Morning, Hope.”

“What are you up to?” Hope asked.

“Oh, I was helping Becca use her badge for the door,” he explained smoothly.

Oh, of course. He’d been helping Becca. Hope had noticed the way he’d look at her from afar, knowing that he was smitten. So, she didn’t think anything of it. “Oh, so she’s here. That’s good.” 

“Yep,” he nodded. After a moment of silence, Jack straightened. “Well, I better go to work. I’ll see you around.”

“See you,” the woman nodded, and they parted ways.

When Hope walked into her office, Becca was already there waiting. She'd been writing a few things down in her agenda when she noticed Hope walk in. She glanced up. “Good morning,” she said. She didn’t mention Jack. 

“Morning, Becca,” Hope replied, going to her desk and setting her bag down on the floor. “You're here early.” 

“Yeah, I tend to do that. Being at home gets boring, especially when you're alone.”

“Oh, I know how that feels,” Hope replied.

“Well, normally my husband would be around, but he's deployed.” 

Hope smiled a little. “I didn't know you were married,” she stated. But then she remembered Jack. How was he going to take this? 

Becca chuckled lightly. “Yeah, six years in May of this year.”

“What branch of the military is he in?”

"Special forces," Becca hesitated a bit. She hoped that it was the right thing. “I don't know too much, but he doesn't know much about medical stuff, either, so it's even.”

The other woman giggled. “Okay, fair enough. Speaking of, what's your specialty?” 

“Oh, I'm an OBGYN. I was almost a cardiologist, but I seemed to do better in obstetrics. Plus, I liked it more.”

“That's usually how it goes,” Hope said, sitting in her chair and starting up her computer. “I almost had a major I biology, but instead I chose physics. Turns out, I'm better in physics than biology.”

“Where were you when I was in physics?” Becca joked lightly. “I could have used you as a tutor. I thought that class was going to kill me.”

Hope laughed. “Sorry. But you made it right?”

“Barely.”

Hope was about to speak again, but then someone knocked on the already open door. Scott was standing there, dressed in a business casual outfit that Hope had helped him pick out; Scott wasn't good at the whole fashion thing. In fact, he'd enlisted Hope to help him pick out a new wardrobe for work, and even for home. He took great pride in showing off the outfits she chose in front of her. Hope had to admit, he looked sharp in his work clothes. She smiled at him. “Good morning.”

“Morning,” Scott answered. He noticed Becca and nodded in her direction. “Morning, Becca.”

“Mornin’, Scott,” the OBGYN only looked up for a split second to say hello. Then she was right back to writing in her agenda, distracted from the others.

Scott turned back to Hope. “Hey, you said to meet you here this morning?”

"Oh, yes," she nodded and reached into her desk. Out she pulled a badge with his name on it, and she handed it to him. “Here's this.”

“What is it?” he asked curiously as he was taking it into his grasp. “Oh, it's a badge.”

“Yep, it's how you get into the labs and through other security.”

"Oh, nice. Thanks.”

Hope nodded. “You're welcome. And that one gets through more security than what my dad’s badge allows. Don't tell him.”

Scott chuckled and attached the badge to his pocket. Now he looked official. “I won't,” he promised. “But what if he finds out on his own?”

“I'll deal with that when I have to. Don't worry about him.”

“I can't help it. He's been onto me since the hallway incident.”

"Did you expect anything else?” Hope raised a brow. “I mean, you kissed his daughter in the middle of that hallway. Of course, he’s onto you.”

Scott shrugged. “Yeah, true. Nonetheless, he’s not gonna stop me.” He then got closer to her with a smug little grin on his face. For some reason, he’d totally forgotten that he and Hope were not alone. Not that he cared. With no other thoughts, he leaned forward and gave her a little kiss.

Hope seemed to have forgotten that there was a third person in the room and she smiled against his lips. Her hands came up to wrap around his neck. Becca tried to ignore it, but she couldn’t help it. She thought it was cute, the two of them. But after a while, it became a little awkward, so Becca cleared her throat. The sound caused the lip locked couple to pull apart. 

“If you two are going to continue, do you want me to leave?” she raised a brow as she glanced at them. There was a teasing expression on her face.

Hope’s face flushed deeply, but Scott was just grinning smugly. “Um, sorry…” Hope stammered. 

Becca just stood and chuckled, heading for the door. “It’s okay. I’ll leave you two alone. If you need me I’ll be at the coffee cart.”

“Becca, wait,” Hope stopped her. “You don’t have to.”

“Yeah, I should go,” Scott said quickly. With one last kiss on Hope’s lips, he left the office. Hope watched him go, while the corners of her lips curving upward.

The shorter of the two women glanced at the other who was blushing. “You didn’t tell me you and Scott were romantically involved.”

Hope’s face was blood red. “Sorry about that.”

“Oh, don’t apologize,” Becca chuckled and went back to her desk. “I’ve been through the same thing with my husband.”

“Yeah?" 

“Oh, yeah, definitely.”

Hope felt a little better and went back to her own dress. She kept forgetting that Becca was a married woman, so these things weren’t knew to her. She wondered if Becca’s relationship had started the same way, but at first, she didn’t want to ask. Still, she knew they’d get close eventually. Why not start becoming friends sooner than later? 

“Hey, Becca…?” she began, nervous as it was. “Can I ask you something?”

“Sure, what is it?” the smaller woman asked with curious eyes.

“It’s… kind of personal…”

“How personal are we talking?” 

“About relationships.” 

“Oh, that’s not bad. Go for it.”

“When you and your husband first started dating was it… um…?” she had trouble finding the words. 

“Awkward?” Becca took a wild guess.

“Yes,” Hope nodded.

“Absolutely. Without a doubt.”

“Really?” 

“Oh, yeah. Very. Well, at first, it was one-sided.”

Hope cocked her head. “It was?”

“Well, when I was in med school, my first year, I promised myself I wouldn’t get distracted from my schoolwork,” Becca explained. “One night at a bar, I was alone, drinking Pinot Noir, when this guy came up to me to introduce himself. I was nice, carrying on a conversation or two. After meeting a few nights, he asked me out. I decided to be nice and went on a date with him. Then one date became two, then three… then after I graduated, he proposed, and I said yes.” 

“Aww,” Hope grinned. “Picture perfect, huh?”

Becca giggled a little. “Yeah,” she replied. “But it started awkward as hell. It goes from awkward to loving pretty quickly.”

“Really?”

“Yes.”

This gave Hope both a bit of a fluttering stomach, as well as a sliver of hope (pun intended). Would she and Scott become loving? Had they already? Hope wasn’t good at the whole relationship thing. Hell, she really hadn’t been in a real one like this before, so she didn’t know how to tell. She was sure that Scott knew better than she, because he’d been married before. Then again… that marriage ended, but because he made a mistake. Scott was a changed man, now. Maybe things would be different. She hoped they’d be. She was really starting to like him. Deep down, she wished for a future with him. Wow, was she really admitting this to herself? 

“Hope?” Becca called her name, for the third time now. Hope blinked a few times and glanced over. Becca chuckled at her reaction. “You zoned out for a while.”

She had? “I did?”

“Yeah,” the doctor giggled. “You were staring off into space. Thinking of Scott?"

Hope’s face flushed. That was all Becca needed for an answer. Hope looked at her with a confused face. How did she know? All Becca did was hold a hand up. “I used to make that face, too. All the time.”

The dark-haired woman chuckled. “All right, all right,” she said. “Yes, I was thinking of him. But I shouldn’t be. I should be focused on work.”

After that, nothing was said. The women worked hard, filing paperwork, answering calls, among other things. When lunchtime rolled around, Scott came back in with snacks for both women. Hope accepted with a bashful smiled. Becca, however, politely declined; she didn’t want to stop working on what she was doing just yet. Scott shrugged and went to Hope’s desk, and they quietly flirted (though Becca could hear them). In the middle of the conversation, Hope’s desk phone rang. Grumbling, she answered it.

“Ms. Van Dyne?” it was Chelsea at the front desk. “Your father is here asking for you.”

Oh, great. What did he want? Hope sighed. “All right, send him up. My office door is open.”

“Yes, Ms. Van Dyne,” Chelsea replied, and she hung up.

Hope grumbled and rubbed her temples. “Scott, you may want to leave before he finds you,” she joked.

“I’m a big boy,” Scott teased. “I can handle him.”

“Whatever you say, Scott.”

After a few minutes, Hank turned the corner down the hall and headed to Hope’s office. He was in a hurry. He was annoyed about something. When he heard Scott’s voice inside the office, his fuse shortened. The old man stormed into the room, though he tried to be as calm as possible.

“Hey, Dad,” Hope greeted him.

“Hope,” Hank replied. “I have a question. Can you fix my badge? It’s not letting me into the labs.”

“It doesn’t need to be fixed,” the woman answered plainly.

The old man raised a brow. “What do you mean?”

“I mean exactly what I said. You’re allowed to get into the building and into the vault with the particles. That’s it.”

“What? You’re telling me Scott can get into the labs and I can’t?”

Hope just rolled her eyes. “Dad, he’s the head engineer. He works here, and you don’t.”

This made Hank’s blood boil. How did it come to this? He had lesser privileges than Scott Lang. That wasn’t okay. “Are you kidding me?” 

“Dad, you don’t work here. You’re retired.”

“Last time I checked, my name was the one that’s on the side of the god damn building.”

“Dad, will you relax?” Hope looked at her father with bewildered eyes. “Stop being a child. I don’t want you micromanaging anything.” 

They went back and forth, and Becca, who wasn’t able to focus anymore, stood and left the room quickly. She could still hear the argument behind her, and she had been peering over her shoulder when she suddenly ran into someone and was almost knocked off her feet. Embarrassed, she looked up to see whom she’d run into, and the embarrassment suddenly heightened. 

“Jack,” she muttered under her breath. All around her on the floor were papers, obviously from the stack he was holding. Her face was a deep shade of scarlet. “God, I am so sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Jack chuckled. Honestly, he’d been hoping he’d see her that day. “Don’t worry about it.”

But Becca did worry about it. She kneeled immediately and started picking up his papers. With her luck, they’d probably been in alphabetical order, and she’d messed them up. With his help, she gathered the dropped sheets and stood to her feet again. “Here,” she said. “Sorry if I messed up the order they were in.”

“It’s all right, Becca, really,” he assured her, taking the papers and adding them back to the stack. “I was just going to drop these off at Hope’s office.”

“Oh, you may want to wait on that,” she warned him. “She’s having a little argument with her dad in there. That’s why I left. Though, I have nowhere to go. I don’t know anyone here.”

“Well,” Jack began, building up the courage. “Would you like to get coffee or something? It’ll pass the time.”

Becca thought about it and nodded. “I’d like that,” she said. “I was planning to see on what was available at the coffee cart at some point anyway.”

Jack bit his lip for a second. “Well, what about the coffee shop down the street? There are more options there.” 

Becca honestly thought nothing of it, so she gave him a nod. “Sure, but won’t Hope be looking for me? Or you?” 

Upon her question, he simply took out his phone and shot Hope a text. Going to coffee, Becca’s coming with me. We figured you don’t want to be bothered. He then put his phone away. “Taken care of, now.”

“All right, then,” she smiled. “Lead the way, then.”

Jack returned the grin and led her out of the building. They walked a ways before getting to a cute little coffee shop down the road. He opened the door for her, and the two went inside, picking a booth in a quiet corner. They sat down across from each other a few seconds before a waitress came to take their orders. Becca ordered a vanilla latte, while Jack decided to get a cappuccino. The waitress wrote down their orders and went off to make their drinks. Jack turned to Becca.

“So, little lady,” he began. “How’s the first day going for you?”

Little lady? That was new. She’d been called many things, but “little lady” was a new one. She shrugged, her face going a bit pink. “It’s going well so far. Seems pretty easy, from what I can tell. But it’s not what I’m used to.”

“No? What are you used to then?" 

“Night shifts, hours on my feet, running around answering calls, those sort of things.”

Jack looked puzzled. “What kind of job was that?”

“Doctor,” she answered.

This impressed the man. All the more reason to like her. “You’re a doctor? Come on, I’ve been calling you ‘miss’ all this time.”

“That’s okay,” she assured him. “You don’t have to call me that, unless I’m working at a hospital. Calling me ‘miss’ will do just fine.”

The conversation was interrupted when the waitress brought their drinks. Becca immediately took a sip of her latte. Jack watched her, intrigued now that he knew she was a medical professional. “Okay, I gotta know,” he began. “What’s your specialty?" 

Becca giggled. “Well, sir, if you must know, I’m an OBGYN. I work in maternal-fetal medicine.”

“What made you choose this job?” he asked.

That was when Becca froze for a split second. “I needed a change of pace. And it’s something to do while looking for places that need another OBGYN.” Her answers were vague, but what was she supposed to do? Open up right then and there? She wasn’t ready for that yet.

Jack took notice in the fact that there was some hesitation on her words. He didn’t press matters any further. He stayed quiet, but he ended up getting lost in her blue eyes. They were like ice, or oceans. Becca noticed that he was staring and she cocked her head. “What?” she asked.

The man cleared his throat and blinked a few times. “Sorry,” he said smoothly. “I just couldn’t help but notice that you have really pretty eyes.” Honesty was the best policy, right?

“Oh,” she whispered shyly. “Well, thank you.” 

“The freckles are pretty, too,” he noticed that her reaction was positive, so he threw one more compliment in there for some extra credit. “Just thought you should know those things.”

Her face went a darker red, and she sipped her latte to keep herself busy. A small giggle escaped her. “Are you always this charming?” 

“I try to be,” Jack gave a light shrug and a bright smile. His attempts seemed to be working. Amazing. “A woman like you deserves it.”

Becca didn’t know what to think. Well, first, she was very flattered. She couldn’t pretend that the compliments made her feel good. Not to mention that she hadn’t heard something like this said to her in a long while. But still, part of her didn’t feel like it was right. It was a small part of her, trying to pull at the bigger part, the part that was urging her to go for this. Jack was charming, intelligent, and easy on the eyes (a nice bonus). He had been so kind to her from the get-go. No man (except one) had ever made her giddy and blush like that. Her heart and her brain were having a fight, and it was nagging at her now.

“Becca?” Jack’s voice pulled her from her trance. “You okay?”

She went from looking off into space to gazing back at him. “Yeah, I’m fine. Sorry, I zoned out for a second.” 

“That’s okay,” he smiled. “It happens, I get it. So, tell me something else about you. I’m curious.” 

“Well… I’m a former athlete.”

“Really? So am I. What sport?”

“Swimming. Didn’t you smell the chlorine?” 

He laughed. “So that’s why I keep smelling it. No, I’m kidding. I played baseball, though, in case you were wondering.”

“You’re this charming and sweet and you played baseball?” this was shocking to her. “I don’t believe it. You’re too nice to be a baseball player.”

“So I’ve been told, many times,” he admitted. “But no, really, I played short stop for several years.”

“When did you stop?” 

“When I realized that school was way more important. What about for you?”

“I injured myself too many times.”

Jack’s smile dropped. “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.”

She shook her head. “No, it’s okay. I had a good run for fifteen years. Then I focused on school." 

“Well, looks like we have that part in common,” his grin came back.

“We do,” Becca nodded, her expression mirroring his.

They continued to talk and drink their coffee. Minutes turned to hours. Before long, they had to head back, since the workday was almost over. They were both reluctant to leave, but they knew they had to. Jack walked her back, opening doors for her, all the way to Hope’s office, where he let her go. The whole time, she was blushing, flattered by all the compliments he’d given her. As Becca went to sit down, Hope watched her, and she could see the smile on the assistant’s face. She recognized that look, since Hope herself had just been showing the same faces earlier that day. Jack seemed to be getting to Becca. They’d just have to wait and see what happened as time passed.

Chapter Text

About a month went by since the first day of work, and everyone had adjusted pretty well to the new environment. Becca and Jack had gone on a few more of their coffee “dates” almost every other day or so. Meanwhile, Scott and Hope had been becoming more serious. Every weekend was a date weekend for them. But things were still at their beginning stages, as it would seem. Both couples have befriended each other; the girls got closer as friends, as did the guys. Hope and Becca were especially close, now. However, their deep and personal secrets and demons remained secrets for the most part. That all changed one day, and no one saw it coming.

Hope and Becca were at work like usual, but they also kept conversation, as they usually did. Also like usual, Hope’s relationship with Scott was the topic of the discussion. Becca adored the couple, and she did openly. She loved seeing how domestic they were. It reminded her of the past. And this was in a good way, for once. Then, the subject changed.

“So, how are you and Jack?” Hope asked. “You’ve been going on many coffee dates, now.” She was a bit concerned. She’d seen the way Jack looked at Becca and made her blush; she was hoping Becca wasn’t planning on cheating on her husband.

Becca sighed. “I don’t know,” she admitted. “I don’t know what to do. He’s been getting more and more flirty on these ‘dates.’ I don’t know where to turn.”

“Well, does he know you’re married?”

The question caught Becca off guard. She’d completely forgotten that Hope knew she was married. Or, at least that was what she suspected. She hesitated on the question, hanging her head a little lower and twiddling her thumbs.

Hope eyed her suspiciously. “Becca, seriously. Does he know?”

“Does he know what?” Becca tried to play dumb.

“Becca, come on,” the dark-haired woman narrowed her eyes. “He doesn’t know, does he? Becca, you have to tell him. If he doesn’t know, then he’ll continue with his advances.”

But Becca didn’t want him to stop the advances. She was actually admitting that to herself. Well, she was at the back of her head. The stubborn part of her still denied everything. That was nothing new. Then there was the part of her that made her ache: the truth. Hope was still talking, but Becca was in another world, a world where storms were swallowing her whole. Her heart raced and ached, and she began shaking. It wouldn’t be much longer before she’d break. Suddenly, she cut Hope’s sentences off. “I have to go,” she stated quickly, and she whipped around on her heel and hurried out of the room, leaving a very confused Hope behind.

Hope worried, for both her sake and Jack’s. Becca was dragging this out and letting the poor man think that she was still single. And yet, the married woman was letting him continue, as if she wanted him to. It was obvious that she wanted him to. This didn’t seem like a Becca thing to do. Now, Hope was alone in her office, confused as to why her assistant and friend left so suddenly. She wanted to go see if she was okay, but for some reason, she decided against it. So, she continued with her work to keep herself busy.

Once a few minutes had gone by, Becca appeared again. Hope didn’t know this, but Becca’s eyes were reddened and glassy. Tears were burning and staining her cheeks. Her heart was heavy and weak. The troubled look on her face became obvious when Hope took a second look. Quickly, the CEO stood.

“What is it, Becca?” she asked. “Are you okay?” The confusion on her face gave way to worry. However, the other woman stayed silent. Her gaze dropped to the floor, studying her shoes. Hope tried to get her attention again, but to no avail.

Becca’s mind raced. Heat was remaining behind her eyes. The lump in her throat felt like she was trying to swallow an apple whole. You have to tell the truth, Becca, she told herself. But before anything, she had to calm down. She took a few breaths. In. Out. In. Out. Hope watched her the whole time, waiting for some answers. After a few moments of a very long silence, Becca took one more deep breath.

“I’m not married…” her words were quiet at first.

“What?” Hope asked. She hadn’t heard the first time. She heard something but wasn’t sure she heard correctly.

“I’m not married,” Becca spoke up. She finally mustered the strength to look up and meet Hope’s gaze. “Not anymore.”

Hope was shocked. She didn’t know what to think or how to react. What had happened? “What?” she asked again, this time more appalled than asking for clarification. Well, actually, she was asking for some clarification. Was she divorced? Separated? Had he left her, or vice versa? “But, I don’t understand… what do you mean? Becca, talk to me.”

Becca let out a breath, glancing back down as a couple of tears fell. With blurry vision, she looked down at the ring she wore. “I’m… I’m a widow. My husband was shot and killed while carrying me out of a burning building.”

The other woman’s jaw dropped. She just couldn’t believe it. After all this time, the woman she once thought to be happily married was actually a broken widow, whose husband was murdered, as it sounded to her. “Oh, my god, Becca…” she breathed. “I…” Her voice trailed off, because she honestly had no idea what to say to her. Her own eyes filled with tears as she looked at her friend. “I am so sorry, Becca.”

“It’s okay,” Becca spoke quietly. “It’s been well over a year now. I should be moving on by now.”

Well, for Hope, it had been so much longer than that, and part of her still hadn’t moved on. “Not necessarily,” she whispered. The next thing she said was under her breath, barely audible. “I still haven’t moved on completely.”

“What?” Becca had heard that. She brought up her gaze to meet Hope’s again, but she found Hope to be looking down at the floor herself this time. “Hope, are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” Hope partially lied.

“No, you’re not,” Becca eyed her. “You can tell me, you know?”

The CEO let out a long sigh. “When I was seven, my mother disappeared,” she began. She didn’t go into detail, because for all she knew, Becca was innocent to the whole word of Ant-Man and such. She didn’t want to reveal anything secret.

“Oh, my god,” the other woman stared agape. “You were seven?”

Hope gave a slow nod. “My father left and never seemed to come back while I grieved. Then, he sent me to boarding school. Only recently have we reconciled to some extent. But I still haven’t completely moved on, because honestly, I don’t know what happened to her.”

“Oh, god,” Becca spoke quietly. “No child should ever have to go through that. I’m sorry.” She couldn’t think of anything else to say, so the best she could do was step forward and wrap her arms around her friend in a tight hug.

It only took a split second for Hope to return the hug. If only she had this when she was seven. It had been all she ever wanted. Even as an adult (and one who rarely hugged people), the hug was nice, welcoming. Maybe it was the fact that she actually needed it, because whenever she thought of her mother, she didn’t want to be alone (as much as she’d tell people that she did). Maybe it was because both of the women were damaged souls coming together. Whatever the case, this was nice. Becca needed this, too. With all her panic attacks and other mental incidents, she wanted nothing more than this. Both women felt better with this hug.

After they calmed down and felt even better, they pulled away, both of them sniffling. Becca still looked shameful. “I’m sorry I lied about that,” she apologized. “I just… I haven’t been able to move on completely, and I can’t seem to find the strength to take off the ring.” She then glanced down at her left hand and spun the ring back and forth.

Hope looked at Becca’s tearful blue eyes and gave her a sad smile. “I know what it’s like to feel vulnerable like that,” she stated the obvious at this point. “But you don’t need to apologize for being in pain. It’s hard moving on from something like that, especially in your case.”

“Still,” the widow replied. “I try so hard to be strong, like everything’s okay. But it’s lying, and for me, it’s messing things up with Jack.”

“Becca,” Hope sighed. “You should talk to him, tell him what’s going on. If you really like where things are going, you should talk to him.”

“I know. I think I like where things are going, but I can’t seem to move forward.”

Hope sighed. She couldn’t do this for Becca. “Well, it’s your decision to take that risk. This could be good for both you and Jack. That’s just my opinion. If you’re not ready, you’re not ready. In any case, you should tell him what’s going on, if you feel up to it. But rather sooner than later.”

Becca thought for a moment, and then she nodded. “You’re right,” she finally said after a while.

“Aren’t I always?” Hope teased lightly, trying to get her to smile or something.

Becca gave a slight smile. “Most of the time.”

The women hugged once more. Hope smiled softly and looked back at Becca once they pulled away. “I’m glad you told me the truth. I can’t even fathom that kind of pain.”

The widow nodded slowly, wiping the remainder of her tears. “Well, now I don’t have to fake anything. Thanks, though, for everything.”

“You’re welcome,” Hope said. “I wish someone had done the same for me when I was a child. But we’re here now. We’re stronger now.”

Becca mustered a smile before going back to her desk and sitting down. Hope did the same. The ladies kept their focus on their work. However, both of them couldn’t help but remember their lost loved ones. Becca thought of her husband. But she couldn’t really help that. Just like Hope couldn’t help but think of Janet. But they survived. They would be okay.


In Jack’s office, Scott stood with him, having just dropped off a few reports from the lab. While Jack was typing a few things, Scott struck a conversation.

“So, how’s it going with Becca?” he asked. He, too, knew that Jack had eyes for her, and that they had been going on so-called coffee dates. “You two seem to be hitting it off quite nicely.”

Jack chuckled, giving a small shrug. “So far, so good,” he stated. But it was clear that something was bothering him, judging by the sound of his voice and the look on his face.

Scott picked up on this immediately. “You okay, man?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.”

“Don’t BS me. Come on, you can tell me.”

"I just… I wanna take her out on a real date but… well, let's just say I haven't had much success with relationships." He stopped, hoping Scott would leave it there, but of course he didn't.

"You're kidding right? With a face like that I thought you'd be beating of girls with a stick. Baseball bat? You played baseball right?"

Jack chuckled. "Getting dates isn't the problem. It's maintaining them."

"Ya lost me," Scott replied as he sat down in a chair across from Jack. "You're not some weirdo or a killer are you? I don't see it."

Jack tossed a wad of paper into a waste bin by the wall and let out a sigh. He didn't want to get into it, but it's not like he could hide it forever.

"I've been cheated on," he finally said.

Scott leaned back, no longer smirking or joking. "Oh."

"Multiple times."

"Oh.

"Yeah."

"And you think Becca's gonna do the same? Come on. You and I both know she's not like that."

"I didn't know the other girls I dated were like that either. It's not like I went into those relationships to be cheated on. I don't even know why it happened. Was it me? Was I too nice? Had I done something wrong? Do I just have bad taste or something?" Jack found himself rambling, surprised that now he didn't want to stop talking. "I don't think Becca is the kind to cheat, but at the same time..."

"You're afraid to find out for yourself?" Scott finished. Jack didn't answer, but Scott knew he had hit the nail on the head. "Look man, I've never been cheated on before, let alone multiple times, so I don't know what it's like."

"It's not a tea party I'll tell you that." He wasn't paralyzed by his past lovers anymore; he had long forgotten them and realized if they hadn't cheated, they would have broken up for some other reason, but he didn't want to risk the past repeating itself again.

"Noted, so let me ask you something," Scott spoke up. Jack suddenly became nervous, quickly regretting this snowball of a conversation he'd started. "You like Becca right?"

"Yeah."

"You wanna date her right?"

"Right. We've established this."

"Then the only thing stopping you is yourself. I know moving on can be tough, trust me I'm still working on moving past a big mistake in my life, but you can't judge Becca because of a few bad apples you've met. You can never really know what kind of person will cheat or stay, but I've seen the way you look at her and talk to her, the way you make her blush and so on. I'm not going to tell you what to do, even though I think you should totally date her," he added quickly, causing Jack out let out another laugh, "but do you really want to risk missing out on something amazing just because you can't get out of your own way?"

Jack sighed. “I just… I want to take the next step and take her on a real date. But I don’t know if I should. I feel so bad, too, because it’s like I'm expecting her to cheat. And that isn’t fair to her. But at the same time, I’d be stopping a fire before it starts. I don’t know, man.”

Scott raised a brow. “You don’t? Well, you want her, don’t you?”

“Yeah, I do. But the thing is, I’ve been cheated on so many times... how can I be sure that she’s not going to become another statistic?”

“Well,” the former thief sighed. “One can never really know. Becca’s a sweetheart, from what I can tell. I think you should go for it. But you’re the one who has to make the decision.”

Jack thought for a moment. He knew he wanted Becca, to date her and get to know her more. He also knew what he’d have to do if he wanted her that much. He’d miss the shot if he didn’t take it. “Okay,” he nodded. “I’m going to ask her on an actual date today.”

“Atta boy,” Scott smiled and playfully nudged him. “You’ve got this.”

The other man smiled as he continued to type things into his computer. Once he was done, he let Scott leave, just before Jack himself left the office, as well, going to find Becca. He saw the woman heading to his office, just what he wanted. She appeared to be looking for him, too. He waved to catch her attention.

She spotted him, and she smiled as she walked up to him. “Hey, you,” she greeted him.

“Hey,” Jack said, trying to be confident. Well, he was a confident guy usually, but when it came to asking women out, he tended to be a little shy. It was odd for him, but after being cheated on, he couldn’t help it. “I wanted to ask you something.”

“Oh?” Becca raised a brow curiously. “Go ahead, I’m all ears. What is it?”

He opened his mouth to speak, but his eyes captured something in the corner of his eye, guiding his gaze downward. What he found made him stop in his tracks, and his heart sank. There, glimmering on her left hand, was a ring. Not only that, but there was a wedding band, as well. Another man had a claim on the woman he wanted so badly. How had he not noticed? His demeanor changed instantly. “I, uh…” he stammered.

She raised a brow, watching him as he tripped over his words. “Well?” she asked. Then she noticed how almost shameful he appeared to be. She followed his gaze (but not obviously), and then she realized what he’d seen. Shit.

“Never mind,” his voice tore her from her thoughts. “I forgot what I was going to say. I've gotta go.” With that, he turned and went back to his office.

"No, Jack wait..!" She called after him, but she'd been too stunned and frozen, unable to react quick enough until he was already too far away. God, she didn't mean for that to happen. She could have reached out to stop him, to grab his arm and keep him there so she could explain. But no, it was too late. Jack was already too far gone, and it was too late. Out of utter embarrassment and shame and with a heavy heart, Becca turned around and headed back to the office.

Hope was still working (not a lot of time had passed since Becca had left). Confused, she glanced up, because she’d thought that Becca had been going to find Jack to clear things up. Why was she back so soon? “What happened?” the CEO asked.

The widow looked like she’d just seen a ghost. Once a few seconds passed, she glanced up at her friend. “He saw the ring.”

Hope was surprised, and she fought to find the right words of advice for her. Meanwhile, Becca leaned her head back until she was staring at the ceiling, reality fading away as she suddenly began to recall what happened that day… the day her life would come crashing down on her, taking a turn for the worst. It was the fact that she had a lost opportunity that reminded her of what else she’d lost. Even though it had been well over a year, now, every detail was still clear in Becca’s head, and she remembered it as if it happened yesterday.


It was the day that would haunt Becca for the rest of her life.

Everything had gone to hell very early on, and it was only getting worse from that. Jets were exploding midair, bullets were flying left and right, and many agents were either dead or dying. SHIELD had been compromised, and everyone was suffering for it. Becca and Josh had sought refuge in one of the offices, and they’d carried with them a few injured agents and began helping them while they could. For a while, they were safe, until the wall they’d barricaded suddenly exploded and rocked the entire room, sending those standing off their feet. Becca slammed into the other wall, hitting a mirror, the glass piercing the skin on her hands and arms. And yet, she kept helping another agent, despite the fact that she was spurting blood from so many places already. Josh stood his ground while she worked, and when the smoke cleared, he could see three masked Hydra men emerging from the shadows. They were well armed, and they shouted their demands for everyone to surrender or die. In an instant, the men shot those already on the ground, including the one Becca was helping, causing the female SHIELD agent to shriek and jump away, holding her hands up. Meanwhile, Josh cocked his gun, and quickly disabled one of the guys, but another shot caused him to duck. When another shot rang out, Becca’s yelp followed quickly after. Josh turned around to find her on the floor while gripping her side. She was bleeding so much already that it was hard to tell where the blood was coming from. Josh wanted to run to her, but he still stared right down the barrel of the other man’s gun, and if he moved, he’d surely be dead.

There were people shouting from down the hall over the deafening alarms that echoed through the building. Josh recognized a few of them, and he was relieved. He then scanned the room. One of the Hydra men, the one Josh had shot, was still on the floor. Another one ran out once he heard the other voices, leaving the third still in the room, aiming his gun at Josh and ready to shoot if there were any sudden moves. All of a sudden, a shot rang out of nowhere, and the Hydra guy collapsed to the floor. Josh whipped around to see Becca gripping a handgun she’d grabbed from one of the dead agents on the ground with her. She was still bleeding profusely, and she was beginning to feel lightheaded and dizzy. Josh ran to her side to see what he could do. Her breathing was shallow and rapid, and when Josh went to check her pulse, it felt as if it was barely there. Despite this, she was quick to raise her arm and fire three bullets at the last Hydra guy that had returned to the room. He fell to the floor, and he didn’t get up after that. With the short amount of time they had before more would enter, Josh started to carefully pick a weakened and confused Becca up in his arms. One of their fellow SHIELD agents, a man named Anthony, reached the room to check on them. Upon realizing the situation, he motioned for them to follow him out of the building. Josh carried Becca bridal-style, hoping he didn’t worsen her condition with his movement. Becca was fighting to stay awake as she weakly clung to Josh’s shirt, but she was awake enough to know that they were getting out of there.

What happened next happened so fast, and yet it felt like it was happening in slow motion. A single gunshot rang out, easily heard over the alarms in the halls. A split second passed, and Josh suddenly jolted and went limp. He fell to the ground, taking Becca with him. She didn’t know what had happened. All she knew was that she was no longer in Josh’s arms. Her body slammed to the ground, worsening her existing pain. She looked around, bewildered. Everything was blurry and merged together. She could see Josh lying there, not moving, and blood was everywhere. In front of them, Anthony drew his gun and shot someone that Becca couldn’t see. But she wasn’t paying attention. She was preoccupied with using her weak, trembling hand to try and shake Josh, wondering why he wasn’t getting up or moving at all. Suddenly, she was being lifted again, and she was forced to let go of Josh’s body. But by then, her mind was too hazy for her to focus. Before another second could go by, her world faded, and everything went black.


The next thing she knew, she was waking up in a hospital bed. Her eyes fluttered open to find bright lights glaring down on her, and she immediately heard a rhythmic beeping coming from nearby. She could barely make out the slightest mumbling of voices, as well. Flickering around, her eyes began to adjust, and the first thing she noticed was the fact that all sorts of tubes were twisted up and down her arms, some of them taped to her. She still felt hazy and lightheaded, but she did notice that she was no longer in excruciating pain. It didn’t take long for her to understand that it was probably morphine. She scanned the room around her as her vision began to fix itself, and her gaze instantly fell upon a figure sitting near the bed. It was Colleen, her mother, and Kevin, her father, both of whom were beyond relieved to see that their daughter was awake.

“Hey,” Colleen whispered, giving Becca a slight, relieved smile. “You’re awake.”

“Wh—“ Becca croaked, surprised by how hoarse her voice was. “Where am I?” It was a stupid question, though.

Colleen reached forward to take Becca’s hand gently. “You’re at the hospital,” she spoke.

“You lost a lot of blood,” Kevin explained quietly. “You were shot several times, not to mention the amount of glass and shrapnel embedded in your body. Had us scared half to death when we heard.”

“How long have I been here?” Becca asked. She tried swallowing to ease her parched throat.

Her parents sighed. “Three days,” Kevin said. “We got here yesterday morning, and you had just gotten out of surgery.”

“Surgery?” Becca echoed.

“You were shot a few times,” her mother spoke now, restating what she’d said earlier. “They had to get the bullets out, because they didn’t go through. You also had to have a blood transfusion, since you lost so much. You also got stitches to the deeper lacerations.”

The SHIELD agent nodded slowly, understanding that it was necessary to have all that done. Then she remembered that Josh had been there with her before she passed out. However, she couldn’t recall the last moments. She didn’t think anything of it. “How’s Josh doing? Did he make it out okay?”

That was when their expressions suddenly fell, becoming somber and hesitant. Her gaze dropped to her hands in her lap, making Becca worried and suspicious.

“Mom, dad,” she spoke uneasily. “What’s wrong? Where’s Josh?”

The woman in the room with Becca sighed, unable to bring herself to look at the agent. “Becca…” she said quietly. “I don’t know how to tell you this.”

“Tell me what?” Becca asked. “Mom, please tell me that Josh is okay.” She was more distressed now, beginning to think the worst when she considered that her parents exchanged glances but didn’t look at her. Tears brimmed in Becca’s eyes. A lump formed in her throat. A whimper escaped her. “Please, please, tell me you know where Josh is.”

After a long silence, they finally met gazes with Becca. Tears had been streaming down her face by then. Becca had no idea. Colleen took a deep breath and swallowed her pride, squeezing her daughter’s hand. Becca, frustrated that she wasn’t getting any answers, was now crying and worried sick about Josh’s whereabouts. When she spoke, she trembled, for her bottom lip quivered from her sobs. Colleen had a hard time keeping herself together.

“Becca,” she began. “When you were carried out of that building, Josh had hold of you… someone… someone had shot him in the back of the head…”

“No…” Becca’s voice was broken. She shook her head. “No, no, no.” Was it really what it sounded like they were trying to tell her? “Please, don’t tell me he’s…” Before she could even finish her last sentence, she began crying.

“Becca…” Colleen tried to keep herself collected. “Josh didn’t make it out... He’s... he's dead.”

The woman in the hospital bed began shaking her head in denial. “No…” she breathed. “No, Josh…” Her face twisted in pain, and then more of the tears fell. The denial quickly faded when reality sank in, and that was when Becca completely broke down, sobbing hysterically. The only sounds in the room were her gasps and sobs, all of which were heart wrenching to hear. Her parents soon rushed closer to her side. Becca began continuously said Josh’s name in utter despair, and she wished she had gone with him. Her entire body shook with her sobs, and her loud crying went quiet, yet it was just as violent. Kevin and Colleen held their daughter close, wishing they could do more to help. Josh had been the only person that Becca wanted to see after a shitty day. His smile was the only thing that could cheer her up. Whenever she cried, the only thing that she’d want to feel were his strong arms around her, holding her close, calming her. His fingers would be the only way her tears would ever dry. Now, she would never be healed. Her tears would never dry. Becca had lost the one and only person she’d ever truly loved, the one and only person she felt completely safe with. It pained Becca when she realized something that day…

She’d become a widow. 

Chapter Text

When Hope came into the office a few days later, she was a bit stunned to find Becca’s desk to be empty. This was odd. Becca was usually in before Hope was, having always been in early otherwise. She checked her phone and emails, trying to see if she missed a message that Becca may have sent to tell Hope she wasn’t coming to work. Nothing. No calls, no emails… nothing. Did she sleep in? Was she sick? Becca had never missed a day of work in her life. Now, she’d dropped off the face of the earth with no word. Hope made a mental note to try and contact her later. For now, she wasn’t too worried. Not yet.

While she was so caught up in her thoughts and setting everything up on her desk, she didn’t hear Scott coming into the room. He noticed that she was alone. When Becca was around, he tried not to give Hope too much PDA. However, when he had time with her alone, that was a different story. He could be as sappy as he wanted. Since there was no Becca, there was no way he could pass up this opportunity. With a smile on his face, he tiptoed up behind her. She jumped a little when he wrapped his arms around her waist.

“Jesus, Scott,” she gasped. “Don’t surprise me like that.”

Scott just chuckled and pressed a kiss to her shoulder. “Good morning,” he whispered.

Hope went from tense to relaxed in a matter of seconds. Scott’s arms were always incredibly warm. She’d begun to notice that she only felt completely safe in his arms. A smile came upon her face. “Morning,” she murmured her reply, leaning into him. Inwardly, she was chuckling to herself. This man brought out the best in her, as well as the most romantic parts of her. Who would have thought that it would be Scott Lang, the man she once despised, that would be the one to make her melt? That would always be amusing to her.

Scott turned her around in his arms and looked into her eyes with a soft grin. He clasped his hands behind the small of her back and pulled her close. He noticed that something was bothering her. There was that look on her face that he’d grown to know so well now, with her eyes dropping a bit while she was thinking. “Whatcha thinking about?”

“Hmm?” she hadn’t been listening.

“Something’s on your mind,” he pointed out. “What’s wrong?”

Hope didn’t think that anything was necessarily wrong, but it was bothersome. Her mind was spinning trying to figure out why Becca hadn’t called or shown up. If she was going to be late (which had only happened once or twice), she usually called ahead. “Have you seen Becca around?”

He shook his head. “No, I figured she’d be here, but on, like, a bathroom break, or something.”

“No, she’s not here at all.”

“She’s not? Well, in that case…” he then leaned in to kiss her. He didn’t know that Becca had left no word, so he figured he had all the time in the world. There was still some concern on her face, so he changed the subject. “I was at Hank’s the other day. The suit is coming along nicely. It’s so new and shiny.”

Hope couldn’t help but notice that “suit” wasn’t plural, like she’d hoped. What was taking Hank so long to finish her suit? The disappointment must have been a little too obvious, because Scott’s smile dropped. She didn’t want him to think that she didn’t care about his suit, because she really did. She just cared about her own suit just as much. “Sorry, I don’t mean to look so dismayed. I can’t wait to see you in that suit.”

His thumbs absently stroked her back. He understood right away. “I can’t wait for yours.”

“Neither can I,” she admitted. “What’s taking him so long to work on it? I have a feeling that he’s stalling.”

“Come on, I don’t think he’d do that to you. But I get why you’re upset. I want you to have your suit, too.” He then gave a smug grin and pulled her even closer. “I bet you’d look sexy in that suit”

She blushed and gave a smirk. “Will you be saying that while I’m kicking your ass?”

“You know I always find it sexy when you kick my ass,” he murmured.

“And when I do get my suit, I can find all sorts of ways to kick your ass,” a giggle escaped her and she bit her lip before pressing a kiss to his lips.

He playfully lifted his brows once they pulled away. “If this was before we started dating I’d be terrified, but I’m actually excited for that. Is that bad?” She raised her own brow at him. He shrugged. “Okay, maybe I’m still a bit terrified, but you get my point.”

“Yeah, I got what you meant,” she rolled her eyes, just before giving him another kiss. They gazed into each other’s eyes while Scott traced her jawline with his finger.

“You’ll get your suit. And you’ll be amazing.”

“You really think so?”

“Oh, yeah,” he nodded confidently. “I definitely think so.” They kissed again.

This kiss was longer than the last, much to Hope’s delight. But in her heart, she knew they couldn’t stay here for long. They had work to do. “We have to work, you know.”

“Ugh, don’t remind me,” he grumbled against her lips. But he knew they’d have to go back to work. But he was going to savor the moment for as long as he could. He kept the kiss for as long as possible until they ran out of air. “Okay, fine.”

Hope giggled. “I’ll see you at lunch, though. Can you wait that long?”

“I guess,” he faux mumbled. “How will I survive?”

“Um, Scott, you have a phone.”

“Oh, yeah. Right.”

She shook her head with amusement and quickly pecked his lips. “See you later.”

“Bye,” he smiled, just before he turned and left the room.

Hope went to sit down at her desk, pulling out the paperwork she had to work on that day. She glanced across the room to Becca’s empty desk, and she sighed. Something wasn’t right. At first, she guessed that she might have been with Jack. But after the whole ordeal with him seeing her ring, she doubted it. Still, maybe Jack knew something. She took out her phone and sent Jack a message. Have you seen Becca by any chance?

He replied after a few minutes. No, I haven’t. Why? Is she okay?

She’s not here. No calls, no emails. It’s weird.

Yeah, that’s not like her. Jack sent his response. You try calling her? I hope she’s okay.

Hope just realized that she hadn’t made an attempt to call Becca. No, I’m going to try now.

As soon as she sent her message, she pulled up Becca’s name in her phone and dialed the number. It didn’t even ring. It went straight to voicemail. This was a red flag at this point. Becca’s phone was always on. This wasn’t even Hope worrying as Becca’s boss. She was worrying as Becca’s friend. She sent Jack another message. She’s not answering. I’m going to run by her house and see if she’s okay. Hold down the fort until I get back.

Will do.

Hope stood with her bag and quickly rushed out, locking the door behind her. She made sure to tell Scott that she was leaving.

Becca’s not answering her phone. I’m going to make sure she’s okay.

I’m sure she’s fine. It’s not like she got into an accident. Maybe today was her day off?

I would know about it. Hope answered. I’m going to find her. I’ll be back later. With that, she left the building, getting into her car and driving off toward Becca’s apartment complex.

When she got into the parking lot of the complex, she searched for her car. Becca drove a red SUV with a big sticker of North Carolina on the back window. Her car was hard to miss. But it wasn’t there. Hope circled the lot three times, trying to see if she had missed it. Nope. Becca’s car wasn’t there. Which meant the widow wasn’t either. Dammit. Where the hell was she?

The phone ringing made Hope jump. When she looked at the screen, she saw it was Jack. Hope answered quickly. “Hey, Jack, what is it?”

“Becca’s in the hospital,” Jack cut right to the chase.

“I'm sorry, what?” the news was such a shock that Hope wasn’t sure if she heard that correctly. “She’s in the hospital?”

“Yeah, I went to talk to Vicky in scheduling to see if maybe we missed the fact that she took a day off.” It was obvious he still cared for Becca, despite everything. “Turns out she did take the day off… for a medical procedure.”

Hope was silent for a moment. Why hadn’t Becca said anything? “Uh… okay… wow…” she had no idea how to react other than with utter shock. Should she go see the widow? She didn’t know. Becca lived close to the hospital, so Hope might as well. “Okay, um, I’m going to go see if she’s okay. Can you take care of things while I’m gone?”

“Yeah, of course,” Jack replied. “No problem.”

“Thanks, Jack. I’ll be back soon.” The call then ended, and Hope drove off to the hospital.


When Hope got to the hospital it was bustling with commotion. She had to weave through the groups of people rushing everywhere so she could get to the front desk. The receptionist was writing something into a chart when Hope approached.

“Excuse me,” Hope caught her attention. “I’m here to see Rebecca Ronan.”

“Are you of immediate family?” the receptionist asked as she typed Becca’s name into the computer nearby.

“No, but I am her boss and a close friend. Is she okay?”

After a moment, the other woman found Becca’s name. “She’s fine. But I can’t disclose any information. If you want to wait for her, you can sit in the waiting room. A nurse will come and find you when she’s done.”

Hope thanked the woman and went to go sit down in the waiting room as she’d been instructed. She kept herself busy with finishing some emails on her phone. An hour had gone by before someone came up to her and brought her attention away from the phone. She glanced up and met the gaze of a woman who appeared to be a nurse.

“Are you here for Ms. Ronan?” the nurse asked.

“Oh, yes,” Hope nodded and rose to her feet.

“Well, she just got out of surgery, and—”

“—Wait,” Hope cut her off, her eyes wider. “She had surgery?”

The nurse just nodded. “She’s been taken to recovery, now. I can take you to see her, but she probably won’t be awake right away.”

Unable to speak, Hope just nodded, still trying to comprehend what she’d just learned. She followed the nurse, her mind racing with all sorts of questions, until they reached Becca’s room. Inside, the widow laid asleep, an IV in her arm, wires covering her. She was asleep, still under the effects of the morphine. The nurse let Hope inside the room.

“It’s a good thing you showed up,” the nurse spoke up. “She showed up this morning by herself, meaning no one to take her home.”

Despite her mind being so full of questions, she nodded at the nurse. “Yeah, she didn’t think ahead, I guess.” What else was she supposed to say? “Thank you, though. I’ll stay here with her.”

“Good,” the other woman nodded. “Nurses will be in and out to check on her while she’s still sleeping, as well as when she’s awake. Take care.”

Hope nodded once again, remaining silent. The nurse then left the room. There was only silence, except for the sound of the heart monitor near Becca’s bedside. She looked at Becca, shaking her head slightly. She didn’t know she could be so reckless. She didn’t know many things about Becca apparently. A sigh left her, and she glanced to her phone and sent Jack a message with an update on Becca’s whereabouts. Jack’s response showed his relief. Hope knew he was. He couldn’t just stop caring about her at the drop of a dime. Actually, she was sure he wouldn’t be able to stop caring ever. Part of her wanted to tell him the truth, but it would be better for Becca to say it herself. She decided to keep quiet about it. For now.

A new noise came to her, one that wasn’t a monitor or the PA system in the hallway. It was a mumble. She looked over at the woman in the bed. Becca was shifting slightly. She peeled her eyes open, squinting immediately because the lights were so bright in the room. She blinked a few times as her vision adjusted. Her eyes flickered around the room, then, expecting no one to be there. So imagine her surprise when she found Hope sitting nearby. Becca’s heart shot to her throat. Actually, it stopped all together. Her blood ran cold. She swallowed her pride.

“Dammit,” she muttered under her breath.

Hope’s brow shot up. “Yeah, dammit.”

“Hope, what are you doing here?” the widow asked, as if nothing was wrong.

“I can ask you the same question. Becca, what the hell? You don’t show up, answer your calls… Becca this isn’t like you.”

“Hey, it was on the schedule. It’s not like I ditched work.”

“But I’m your friend, Becca. I was genuinely worried.”

“Really?” Becca raised a brow.

Hope crossed her arms. “Yes, really.” She looked at her friend with a worried expression. “Becca, what’s going on?”

Becca opened her mouth to speak, but no words left her. She only sighed. Her gaze tore away from her boss and friend. A somber look suddenly washed over her. Heat pricked in her eyes and it made her vision blurry. When she took a deep breath, it was shaky. “It’s a long story,” she finally spoke, but her voice was broken as the lump formed in her throat.

The other woman’s face softened when she saw Becca’s expression drastically change. She scooted her chair a little closer to the bed. “Well, we have time,” she spoke gently. “But, then again, you don’t… you don’t have to say anything.”

“No,” Becca shook her head. “I should. You’ve been running all over kingdom come looking for me, you deserve some answers. But I’ll have to start from the beginning.”

“Becca, if it’s too personal, you don’t have to.”

Nonetheless, Becca pulled herself together. Some tears had slipped down her cheeks; she wiped those away. “When I was twenty-nine, I found out I was pregnant with my first child.”

Hope was shocked. Becca had kids, too? How come she’d never spoken about this? She only thought these things, though. If she spoke up, it would ruin the moment.

“I was terrified, but aren’t all first-time mothers, right?” she chuckled lightly. “But, I was over the moon, which I didn’t expect to be, not right away. Nevertheless, the baby was on the way, and my husband and I prepared for parent life all we could. At twenty weeks, we found out we were having a little girl. We named her Alana. Everything was going well, until I hit twenty-four weeks…”

Hope listened carefully, and she noticed that Becca’s voice was becoming more and more broken as she held back her urge to cry. “Becca, you don’t have to…” she stated softly.

Becca shook her head. “I woke up in the middle of the night with awful cramps, and I felt something wet. I looked and saw it was blood… a lot of blood. We went to the ER, got a bunch of tests done, and we learned it was a placental abruption. But, despite everything, it was too late. My daughter was delivered stillborn via C-section at twenty-four weeks…” She looked at her hands sadly, sniffling and giving slight whimpers, but otherwise silent.

“Oh, my god…” Hope breathed. Her hand came up to cover her gaping mouth. Becca was not only a widow, but also a woman who had lost a child. “Becca, I… I am so sorry.”

“You don’t have to apologize,” the widow sniffled again. “I’ve learned to accept it. I mean, I’ll never be quite the same, but I’ve learned to take it day by day. It did take a while, though, before I was well enough to try again. Sure enough, the test came up positive. We were happy, but also very cautious. But the joy went away when we went in for an ultrasound. There was no baby… there was no heartbeat. I miscarried the baby before I could even see it. The grief came again, mostly because we had no answers. A blood test came back and showed that the baby we’d lost would have been a boy. We named him Riley.

I didn’t understand why this was happening. It didn’t make sense to me for a while. I sought help, and I went through a few tests. Finally, I got some answers. My uterus had a septum dividing it right down the center of it. Well, it had a septum. This surgery was to remove the septum.”

“So you can have kids again?” Hope couldn’t help but ask. Her tone was hopeful, though still saddened by all she just heard.

Becca nodded. “Yeah, basically... Though I see no point. I was supposed to get this surgery last year, but my husband died, and I kept postponing it. Part of it was me just maybe having a chance to not be so broken anymore. But, then again, what's the point? The man I was going to have kids with is dead. I mean, I could be a surrogate or get a sperm donor, yeah, but it's not the same."

"Then why get it?" Hope asked softly. 

"Because, later on in life, there could be issues with the septum. Better to do it now than keep postponing it. But still, I don't count on having any more kids at this point."

“Don’t say that, Becca,” Hope sighed. “There’s always hope for the future.”

At that moment, a nurse walked in to check on Becca, asking her how she felt, the usual stuff. The nurse gave her some antibiotics before telling her that she had to stick around for a while until the afternoon. Becca just gave one-worded answers until the nurse left her and Hope alone. Neither of them could really say anything at first. It was just a long, awkward silence.

“Becca, I don’t know what to say, other than I can’t even imagine what kind of pain you’ve gone through. But you still worried me when you said nothing this morning. A nurse told me you came here alone. How are you supposed to get home?”

“Easy,” Becca shrugged. “Über.”

Hope sighed. “Becca, you can’t take an Über home.”

“Well, there’s nothing else I can do. It’s my only option.”

The CEO was about to say something, but then she remembered something. “Maybe it’s not the only option,” she thought aloud.

Becca was confused. “What do you mean?”

“What if Jack helped?”

That name made her freeze for a moment. “Hope, I’ve already gotten you away from work, Jack doesn’t need to leave work, either.”

“Becca, I’m the CEO, I have meetings later today. Jack, however, does not. I can send him to help you. It wouldn’t be without reason.”

“What makes you think Jack would wanna help me?” Becca asked. “After everything he learned. He still thinks I’m married, he wouldn’t come to help me.”

“I beg to differ.”

“How do you know?”

“Because he still cares about you, Becca. This morning, when he learned that you weren’t here without any word, the first thing he asked was if you were okay. He went out of his way to do the digging and find out where you were. All I'd asked him to do was take care of things while I was gone. He went the extra mile for you. If it weren't you, I wouldn't have found you.” As she explained this, Becca felt guilt in her veins, and she looked down shamefully. Hope continued. “Becca, he'd be happy to help you. And it's a chance for you to tell him the truth. He still thinks that you're taken by another man. It would be a good thing if he came.”

A long sigh escaped the widow. Hope was right. She was right about everything right now. Becca couldn't even argue, at this point. She did care deeply for Jack by now, and she wanted him to come. But would he believe her? What if he decided not to come? What if he didn't even listen at all? What if… what if… what if…

The silence that came from her was enough of an answer for Hope. She went ahead and sent Jack a text message. Turns out she had surgery.

Surgery? Is everything okay?

Yes, Jack, she's okay. But she came here alone. She needs someone to take her home. I would, but I have a meeting I can't miss later. Would you mind?

Jack’s answer was quick, and short. I'll be there ASAP.

She breathed a sigh of relief. Becca looked at her curiously. “What?”

“Jack’s coming.”

Becca just gulped and slumped in her bed. She didn't argue or protest. She didn't let her stubborn self take over. Hope gave a triumphant smirk. This would work for the better, she just knew it.


 

Some time passed, and a nurse came in holding a clipboard with papers. Discharge papers. They were allowing Becca to go home, once she felt comfortable enough to be on her feet. She signed them quickly, and the nurse left. The widow looked at Hope.

“I need to change. Do you mind?”

Hope stood up and even handed Becca her clothes that had been folded up across the room. Once she handed them off, Hope left the room to let Becca change. As soon as she got outside, her phone buzzed. It was Scott. God it was so good to see his name on the screen.

Hey, you. Everything okay?

I think so. I'm at the hospital.

Hospital?? Why?

Becca apparently had surgery. But it's okay. Jack is driving her home.

Scott took a moment to respond. Really? Is he okay or comfortable with that? I mean, I know he's still a bit shaken up about her being married.

Scott, he still cares for her. And besides, Becca’s not married. Not anymore. But I'll tell you later. Hope rolled her eyes and put her phone away. Just in time to look up and spot Jack coming out of the elevator down the hall. Hope waved to get his attention. He hurried over to her.

“Hey,” he said, out of breath. “Where is she?”

Hope used her thumb to point at the door to her room. “She's inside changing. Look, Jack, thanks for coming.”

“Not a problem.”

“Are you okay? I, uh, I heard what happened.”

Jack shrugged. “I'm fine. I just wished she'd told me she was married in the first place.”

“Oh, um, about that…” Hope began but she stopped herself.

Too late. She had Jack’s attention. “What?”

She shook her head. “Nothing. Never mind.”

“Hope, come on. What is it?”

She sighed and swallowed her pride. He wouldn't let it go. Might as well tell him. “She's, uh… Jack, she's not really married.”

“She… she's not?” Jack was astonished. “But… I saw her ring. And the wedding band. I'm confused.”

“Jack…” Hope stalled on her words for a brief moment. “She's… a widow.”

Jack felt his heart drop deep into his chest. “A widow?”

“Yes. She was working up the strength to tell you. She didn't mean for you to find out the way you did. She's going to tell you the same thing, by the way.”

“Oh, God, I… I don't know what to say. I mean, I—”

“Jack, hey,” she grabbed both his arms. “It's okay. Now you know. I know you two will work it out.”

Just then, Becca called from inside the room. “Hope, you can come in now. Everything's all appropriate in here.”

Hope walked inside, Jack followed. Becca softly smiled at Hope, and when she saw that Jack was there now, too, she tried not to look shameful. “Jack, hey,” she breathed.

“Hey,” he greeted her, avoiding making a conversation about anything yet. “You feeling okay?”

Becca nodded. “I'm okay. Better than when I did when I first woke up.”

Jack offered a light smile before turning to Hope. “I've got it covered now.”

“All right,” she stated. Her eyes met Becca’s. “You take care of yourself, you hear?”

“All right, all right,” Becca held up her hands. “I will. Thank you for coming, and being here when I woke up. It means a lot.”

“No problem,” Hope smiled. “Jack, make sure she doesn't do anything reckless.”

Jack chuckled a little. “Will do.”

Hope waved goodbye, and then she left the room. Becca and Jack were alone. Neither of them knew what to say. Becca found the strength to speak first.

“I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner,” she spoke quietly. “I should have taken it off. Sometimes I just forget that it's still there. The truth is, Jack… I'm not married. I'm a widow. I just… I haven't had the heart to take off the ring. But it's off now. I'm not putting it back on. I promise.”

“Becca,” Jack stopped her. “You don't have to do that. I can't expect you to do that.”

“But I have to,” she argued. “Look, Jack, I'm really starting to like you. You're sweet, funny, smart… all the things that girls dream of. Sometimes, I wonder if you're even real. And I'm sorry that you had to find out the way you did. I wanted to tell you sooner…”

He put a hand on her shoulder to stop her. “Becca, it's okay. When dealing with that pain, I can't imagine how hard it is to admit that to anyone. You don't have to apologize. I just want you to know… I've been cheated on, multiple times. I didn't know how to handle finding out. But now I know and I'm sorry I reacted the way I did.”

Becca listened to him, and her own hand found its way to his on her shoulder. She felt bad, knowing now how he'd been betrayed. She never ever intended to make him feel that way, and she felt so guilty. But they'd reconciled, and it was sooner rather than later, thank goodness. “I guess we're even then?”

Finally, a smile came to his face, a true smile… that smile Becca was beginning to adore. “I guess we are,” he replied. Then, he got to his feet and took hold of the bag she'd brought with her. “Now, shall we?”

“Yes,” she nodded. “But you go pull the car around front. A nurse has to take me in a wheelchair. They don't want me walking that far.”

“Fair enough. I'll meet you out front, then.” Then, he left the room, just as a nurse was coming in with the wheelchair, right on time.

Becca eased into it at her own pace. Once she was in it, she had to sign one last paper before she could be wheeled out. The nurse walked her down to the front entrance, where Jack was waiting with his car. When Becca was at the car, he helped her stand from it, and then helped her into the passenger seat. Before long, they were driving off toward Becca’s apartment complex.


 

From the parking lot, all the way up to Becca’s apartment, which was on the third floor, Jack carried her, despite her trying to tell him he didn't have to. He insisted. He wouldn't even let her stand to open her door. He had her hand him the keys so he could do it. Once inside, they went right to the sofa, where he set her down gently.

“There,” he began. “Now, you can relax in a place more comfortable than a hospital bed.”

“Thank god,” Becca giggled. “I wasn't sure how much longer I could take it. Now, I want to change out of these clothes. Am I allowed to walk to my room to change?”

“Ugh, I guess,” Jack teased. “While you do that, I’ll fix you something to eat.”

"Oh, you don't have to Jack," she tried to tell him, but he shook his head.

"Come on, making you one meal and giving you a ride isn't exactly anything fancy. It's the least I can do. Plus, you've been at the hospital all day; I'm sure you'd want something that isn't hospital food."

"Okay, you're not wrong," she chuckled. "That's very true."

Jack smiled softly and went to the stove to fix her something to eat.

The woman had a grin on her face as she left for her room. Jack was cooking for her; she couldn’t say no to that. It was kind of attractive. It made her want to look attractive while he was there. But she’d just had surgery, and all she wanted to wear was her Carolina Panthers t-shirt and some shorts. She went with the latter option. The last thing she wanted was to be uncomfortable after just having a uterine surgery. As she dressed herself, she took great care not to aggravate her incisions, or to throw off her balance. Once she was dressed, she checked herself in the mirror. Good god. She’d totally forgotten that she had absolutely no makeup on because of the surgery. She thought she looked like a walking corpse. She thought quick to rush to her vanity and used some concealer under her eyes to make her look a little less dead, and she at least put on some eyeliner. Once she was satisfied, she threw her hair up into a bun to keep it out of her face before walking back to the living room.

It smelled sweet and homey when she entered the living room. She felt like she’d just walked into a bakery. Her nose led her to the kitchen, where she found Jack working away at the stove, humming to himself. She smiled.

“Wow, it smells amazing in here,” she spoke up, causing Jack to turn to look over his shoulder.

“I hope you like breakfast for a late lunch,” he chuckled. “Because I’m making the famous Lawton French toast.”

Becca giggled. “Well, I didn’t eat breakfast this morning, so anything sounds good right now. French toast sounds incredible right now.” She then went to sit at the kitchen table.

“Oh, no,” Jack stopped her. “Go get comfortable on the sofa. I’ll bring it to you.”

“Jack, you don’t have to.”

“But I want to. Now, go get comfy.”

Becca chuckled with amusement and turned to leave. Before she did, she spoke one more time to him. “The tray is in the lower cabinet next to the oven, Jack.” She knew he’d ask later.

She went to the living room and carefully sat back on the sofa. Thankfully, the remote was close by, so she could turn on the TV without having to get back up again. It wasn’t long before she had Netflix pulled up and was playing another episode of Lost. Jack soon came in with a tray of food for her.

“Here you go,” he said as he set the tray down on her lap.

“Oh, thank you,” she smiled, surveying the meal in front of her. It looked and smelled amazing, enough to make her mouth water. She dug in right away, realizing how hungry she really was. “Oh, god, Jack this is amazing!”

“I’m glad you approve,” he beamed. “The Lawton French toast has a new fan, it appears.”

“Hell yes, it does,” Becca nodded with her agreement, eating happily, and rather quickly, from what he was noticing.

"Whoa, hey, slow down," he told her, partially teasing. "You just had surgery. Take it easy."

She wanted to protest, but he was right. She did her best to slow down. But boy was she starving. Meanwhile, something was nagging Jack's mind, and for a while, he kept himself from speaking up. Once the silence got too long for him he looked up at her. "Speaking of, why did you have surgery in the first place, if you don't mind me asking."

Becca swallowed the mouthful of French toast she had been chewing and avoided his gaze. Jack realized that he might have overstepped, so he spoke up quickly. 

"If you don't want to say, that's fine. I don't want to invade too much."

"No, it's okay," she sighed, putting her fork down and the tray aside. "Look, I wanted to wait until the whole ring thing died down before anything, but I might as well get it over with..."

"Becca, you really don't have to tell me anything if you don't want to," Jack murmured, unable to stop himself from placing his hand over hers for a moment.

The woman gave another long breath outward. She had to tell him. No more secrets. She explained everything to him, from the beginning, about her two lost babies, the same thing she’d told Hope earlier than that. She would squeeze his hand every so often as she spoke, trying to get past the pain. She felt so vulnerable in front of him, but he was there with all the support in the world. He listened to every word. His heart filled with agony for her situation. She was a damaged soul, more than he expected. He wanted to be with her more now, to help her. She was alone and that was the last thing she needed. By the time she ended her story, she was in tears.

"I'm sorry," she whimpered. For what? Honestly, she didn't really know.

Jack didn't know what to say to her for a long while. When his gaze met hers, he saw how red they'd become, how they brimmed with tears. "Don't apologize," he whispered. "You don't have to ever apologize for grieving."

"But... but I..."

"Shh," he whispered, and he could do nothing else but hug her. Becca accepted the hug and held onto him tightly, burying her face into the crook of his neck. This was a side of Becca that Jack had never seen before, and it was heartbreaking. But it was a wall broken down, a step toward healing. "It's okay," he told her softly. And he kept telling her that, over and over while she cried into him. He was there for her, and it was his goal to be there for her for as long as he could, as long as she would let him. One thing’s for sure, though...

Becca was very glad Jack was with her.

Chapter Text

The day after Becca’s surgery, Jack was still with Becca. He wasn’t comfortable leaving her alone during the first few days of her recovery. So, he called ahead and took a couple days off to stay with her. Hope gladly approved, knowing her friend was in good hands. And surprisingly, Becca didn’t argue against it. She wanted Jack around. With him around, she realized that it was really lonely in that house. He filled the void, and the house wasn’t so empty.

That morning, Jack woke before Becca. He’d slept in the chair near her bed that night, despite Becca’s arguments that he didn’t have to sleep there. Nonetheless, he did. When he woke, he saw her all curled up as she slept, and he smiled. He stood and stretched, admittedly a little sore from being in the chair all night, but he wouldn’t complain. As quietly as he could, he tiptoed past her and slipped to the kitchen.

He returned twenty minutes later, holding a tray with her breakfast on it, and went to Becca’s bedside. She was, of course, still asleep. The surgery was still affecting her, so she’d been sleeping a lot for the last two days. He smiled and set the food tray on the nightstand before sitting on the edge of the bed slowly. The comforter had been thrown back during the night as she’d adjusted her position, so he thought he’d fix it for her. As slowly as he could without waking her, he pulled the blanket up around her a little more. Thankfully, she didn’t budge. Jack noticed the serenity on her face. She looked so peaceful, and there was even a slight smile on her sleeping face. A soft smile stretched across his face as he gazed at her, and he couldn't help himself. He leaned forward to peck her cheek.

However, just as he started leaning toward her, she suddenly turned as she started to draw out of her sleep. So instead of her cheek, he landed on her lips. This woke Becca up quickly. A little gasp escaped her as she realized what was happening, and Jack’s eyes shot open and he pulled away. His face went florid immediately. They both stared into each other's eyes, neither of them knowing what to say. Jack was horrified, since he hadn't been aiming for her lips. Becca, on the other hand, looked surprised, obviously not expecting that to be her wake-up call.

“Oh, god,” Jack stuttered. “I am so sorry, I wasn't… I mean, I… I didn't mean for…” he was tripping over his words. How the hell was he supposed to rebound from this? Would she slap him? Push him? Yell at him? Oh, god, he didn’t know what to do.

As he tried to explain himself, Becca’s lips curved into a gentle smile. Jack hadn't noticed, since he'd been avoiding her gaze, and that meant he didn't see Becca’s hand coming up to cup the back of his neck. She pulled him to her and pressed her lips to his. He was immediately silenced. At first, he didn't know what to do, but it quickly came to him, and he melted. His eyes fluttered closed and he kissed her back, his heart kick starting and racing in his chest. Deep down, he'd been hoping that this would be her reaction, though he expected the worst. He never would have guessed she'd kiss him again, but here he was, lip-locked with her. This woman was certainly full of surprises.

Becca just kept him there against her lips, not wanting anything to end yet. She wove her fingers through his dark locks, her other hand coming up to cup his cheek. His hands followed suit, framing her face softly. His touch was so warm, welcoming. It was something she hadn't felt in a very long time. So, she savored it for as long as she could. Her heart raced, too, but for a good reason. It only took her a second to realize that she liked kissing him, a lot.

Sooner or later, they pulled away, lips tingling from the kiss. Blue eyes met blue eyes for a long while. The surprise was evident on his face. “Okay, maybe I’m not so sorry.”

“Oh, I sure as hell ain’t sorry,” Becca retorted with a playful grin.

“I figured,” Jack let out a few chuckles.

She sat up a little and brought an arm around his shoulders, her hand stroking the back of his head. “That was a great wake-up call, by the way. Just thought you should know that.”

“Mmm, well good,” he replied, his confidence and charm returning to him. He’d won Becca over, and he knew it. “Should I do that more often?”

“You don’t even have to only do a wake-up call,” she smirked, kissing the corner of his mouth.

He grinned. “Noted.”

Just then, Becca noticed that it smelled good in the room, and she took a deep breath in. “Did you make breakfast?”

Jack nodded and brought the tray over, showing her the chocolate chip pancakes he'd made.

“You are apparently the king of breakfast,” Becca replied, sitting up more so she could rest the tray in her lap. “All I can make is a bowl of cereal.”

He laughed. “Well, when you live alone for so long, you learn to fend for yourself.”

“How long have you lived on your own?” she asked as she took a bite of pancake.

“Pretty much since I got out of grad school,” he explained. “But I lived near my parents in New York for a while, and they visited a lot. I was rarely alone. But after 2012, I was on my own.” He seemed a little pained when he spoke of his parents. Becca put her hand on his arm.

“Hey, you okay?” she questioned quietly.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” he gave a nod. “Just… reminiscing, I guess.”

She tilted her head a little. “You can tell me, you know?”

Jack lifted his gaze to meet hers, and he let out a sigh. “I moved back from New York because my parents were killed… it was the day those… aliens… showed up…” He shuddered some.

Becca’s heart ached. There was something else they had in common, moving back from NY because of losing a loved one. “Oh, Jack…” she whispered. “I’m so sorry.” She recalled the day the Chitauri came and destroyed half of New York City. It had been a hard day for everyone. Becca stroked his cheek before giving him a hug. She hated to see him so saddened, but she was glad he was opening up to her like she had to him the day before.

“It’s okay,” he murmured, holding her close to him. He decided to change the subject away from himself. “Were you there that day?”

She shook her head. “I was not. I was visiting my mother in North Carolina. But I saw everything on the news. It was awful. I’m sorry it affected you so personally and tragically, Jack.”

He just turned and looked at her, and she pressed a kiss to his cheek to comfort him. He leaned into her touch, and she started to lay back with him. That was when he sat back up. “No, Becca, I don’t want to hurt you.”

“You won’t, Jack,” she insisted. “I promise.” She then pulled him back toward her, getting him to lay with her again. He didn’t protest again. Slowly, he laid his head down, and she situated herself on her side, facing him. Her hands held onto his. “It’s okay, Jack,” she told him with a soft voice. It was obvious that the grief still affected him, just like her own grief did, so she was returning the favor from the day before, when he’d comforted her. He wasn’t crying or anything, but she didn’t need to see that for her to understand that he was upset about it. “I’m here.”

“Thank you,” he spoke quietly. God he was glad they could be like this. He'd been thinking for a couple days that he'd never be able to be this close to her, but he had never been more thankful to be wrong. It brought a smile to his face at that moment. He realized her wanted her closer to him, so he started to move. “Come here.”

Becca obliged by scooting closer to him and settling in his arms, her face against his chest. She could hear his heartbeat when she pressed her ear to him. She felt safe, warm, and content in his embrace. It had been a long time since she'd felt that way at all. After letting herself rest like that, she brought her gaze up to meet his before kissing him again. Their lips fit together perfectly each time. She slid an arm around him and pulled him even closer, stroking his back as well. But she kept pulling him while she rolled to her back, so he could end up holding himself up over her while he kissed her. He was careful, though, not to cause her any harm. The last thing he wanted was to cause her ant post-surgery pain.

They soon ran out of oxygen and pulled away from each other to breathe. Becca let out a blissful sigh as she looked up at him. Her hands clasped behind the back of his neck, and she ran her fingers through his dark curls. His soft gaze searched her face while he smiled at her. “Beautiful,” he whispered, tracing her jaw with his thumb before brushing a lock of her hair away from her face.

This made her blush and give a shy smile. She didn’t believe him, because she wore no makeup, she’d just woken up a little while before, and she hadn’t showered yet. So she shook her head a little, but she didn’t speak. She just lay there and quietly examined the features of his chiseled face, as he did the same to hers. It was a blissful silence between them. All they needed was each other’s presence, and nothing else. Jack still held his soft smile as his blue eyes flickered across her face, admiring her eyes, her freckles, her blushing cheeks… everything about her was gorgeous to him. Especially that smile. He drifted into a trance while watching her like that, until she spoke again.

“You’re really happy this is happening, aren’t you?” she grinned.

“It doesn’t even feel real,” he admitted. “If this is a dream, I’ll kill whoever wakes me.”

A giggle fell from her lips. “I feel the same way.”

“You do?”

“Oh, definitely. And I’m going to savor every moment, in case it is a dream.”

He laughed softly and rolled onto his side, pulling her close like before. But this time, instead of lying on her side facing him, she pushed him onto his back. She climbed on top of him and laid on him. At first, he was skeptical.

“That’s not hurting you, is it?” he asked worriedly.

“I’m fine, Jack,” Becca shook her head. “Don’t worry about me.”

Jack sighed and looked at her. “You should know that I can’t help it.”

She kissed his chin before taking his hand and playing with his fingers. “I promise I’m not that reckless,” she crooned, though that was a partial lie. He didn’t have to know that yet.

“I still can’t help it. Might as well get used to it.”

“All right, I can do that,” she figured she couldn’t change anything about it, so there was no need to push the issue. She then buried her face into the crook of his neck. Her lips grazed his skin there, her breath warm on him. “I’m just really glad you’re here.”

He brought his hands up to wrap around her and hold her there. “I am, too,” his voice was low and sweet. “Very, very glad.”

She smiled against him, nuzzling him with her nose before settling, holding still while on top of him. She thought that maybe it wasn’t comfortable for him, but he insisted that she stay like that. She wasn’t that heavy. So, she obliged. Jack smiled and pressed his cheek to her head, one of his hands coming up to play with her bronze hair. It was soon after when he realized that playing with her hair was like Kryptonite for her, and soon, she was asleep on him. The man chuckled and pulled the nearby throw blanket over them to keep them warm. Before long, he was asleep, too, with nothing else in the world than the woman he was starting to fall in love with. He had no problem admitting that to himself, because it was certainly true. And if he had to guess, Becca felt the same.


 

At Pym Tech that morning, Hope was knee deep in her work. She hadn’t seen Scott that day at all, nor had they spoken over text. She was just focused on her work, both her own, and the work she’d picked up for Jack, and she seldom took breaks. All she wanted was to get everything done so she could go home early. Luckily, she finished everything quickly, and she was out of her office just after lunch. But she didn’t go straight home. Instead, she headed to Hank’s to check on the suits and see if he needed help. She was in for a surprise when she got there.

Hope walked right into Hank’s house (he left his door unlocked, again), and found everything to be silent. This was normal. Hank must have been in the lab. She went for the stairs, but the sound of some voices outside stopped her. Her attention was turned to the back windows once she caught the sight of movement in the corner of her eye. She was surprised to see Scott outside in the yard, but he wasn’t alone. There was a little girl with him.

Cassie. It didn’t take a genius to know who the little girl was. She wondered why Scott would bring her here, but then she remembered that Scott didn't have his own place. Hank had a decent sized backyard, so it was reasonable. But still, she had no warning. Her heart leaped into her throat for a second, not expecting Cassie to be coming that day. Part of her wanted to go outside, but she stopped herself. She didn’t do well with children, she didn’t think. What was she supposed to say to her? But she couldn’t just hide, either. Gulping, she took a deep breath and opened the door to go outside.

The sound of the door opening made Scott stop what he was doing and turn around. His face lit up when he saw Hope there. “Hey, you!” he greeted her with a grin.

“Hey,” she smiled back at him, keeping her eyes on Scott and avoiding Cassie’s as she walked down the stairs of the deck to meet him. Scott immediately kissed her, causing Cassie to giggle softly.

“How was work?” he asked, noticing she was in her business suit.

“Long, but I got the rest of the day off now, so that’s good.”

“I agree.” He kept his smile. “I’m glad you came. Someone here really wants to meet you.” Then he turned around to look at his daughter before he picked her up and brought her to the woman. The little girl looked at Hope with the biggest smile ever. Scott chuckled. “Hope, this is my daughter, Cassie. Cassie, remember the woman I told you about?”

Cassie thought back a moment, and then she brightened. “The one who taught you everything?”

“Mhm, that one,” Scott nodded. Hope raised a brow. How much had he told his daughter about her?

“Is this her?” the little girl’s mouth went wide with excitement and wonder.

“This is her. Cassie, this is Hope.”

Hope took a good look at the girl, noticing that she had many of Scott's features. She had his dark hair and cute smile, but she guessed that the eyes and nose came from her mother. Those eyes were the cutest thing Hope had seen. They were big and brown, full of innocence and curiosity. There was a time when her own green eyes had the same look in them. Somehow, when she looked at Cassie, she was reminded of her childhood for a split second… the happier part of her childhood.

Those big brown doe eyes focused on the woman standing there, a huge smile there on the little girl’s face. “Hi, Ms. Hope,” she said. “Daddy, she’s so pretty!”

Hope stood there not knowing how to react for a moment. Heat rushed to her face at the comment. She almost held out her hand so she could shake Cassie’s but she held back. “Hi, Cassie,” she smiled softly. “You’re very sweet, just like your daddy said.”

Cassie giggled. “Daddy talks about you all the time.”

“Oh, he does?” the woman raised a brow and glanced to her boyfriend, who was giving her a smug grin as he shrugged innocently.

Cassie nodded her head. “He does a lot.”

“Hopefully, they’re not bad things,” Hope eyed Scott.

“Of course not,” Scott acted offended. “I would never.”

Cassie giggled. “He says good things.”

“See? Told you.” Scott chided.

Hope simply rolled her eyes with a laugh. Cassie was still looking at her with a massive grin, eyes full of wonder. “I like your hair,” she said.

Hope blushed again. “Why, thank you, Cassie,” she said. “I like yours too.”

“Yours is prettier,” Cassie stated plainly.

“You're too sweet,” the woman smiled shyly. “You're just like your daddy, you know.”

“Aw, Hope,” Scott's tone was teasing. “That's the nicest thing you've ever said.”

“Oh, you hush,” she scoffed.

Cassie laughed at their banter. “Ms. Hope, didn't you punch my daddy in the face?”

Hope hesitated for a moment, not knowing what to say. She looked at Scott, swallowing. She knew Cassie adored her father. Would the little girl be upset that Hope had punched Scott in the face? She didn’t know how to handle this.

Scott noticed her hesitation and chuckled, looking at Cassie. “She did,” he said. “But she was teaching Daddy a lesson.”

“That was before I knew how sweet he was,” Hope added quickly.

The little girl let out several giggles. “Daddy, you got beat by a girl.”

“A pretty girl,” he added.

Hope rolled her eyes again, chuckling.

Cassie looked back at her father after a moment. “Daddy, can I go look at the ant hill?”

“Sure, Peanut,” Scott nodded and set Cassie down to her feet. She ran off into the yard and knelt down over where some of the ants were, watching them curiously. The man turned back to Hope. “She thinks you're a warrior princess. She even asked why you're not a Disney princess.”

“Really?” Hope didn't expect to hear that. “Well, she's very sweet.”

“Yeah,” he smiled. “She is.”

“I didn't know she was coming today,” she said.

“I meant to tell you earlier, but I know you were working hard so I didn't want to bother you. I only learned that I get to see her today yesterday evening, when Paxton called. This was kind of last minute.”

“It's okay, Scott,” Hope gave him a soft grin, stepping closer to him. “I'm happy you get to see her, and I'm sure you are, too.”

Scott nodded. “Oh, yeah. Without a doubt. I missed her.”

She wrapped her arms around his neck. “I know,” she said just before she kissed him softly. “Now, you go play with your daughter. This is your day with her. Have fun.”

“What about you?”

“I'll be fine, Scott. Go be with her.” She pecked his lips once before letting him go. Scott immediately turned and ran to go play with his daughter.

Hope was about to go inside, but she couldn't tear herself away just yet. She had to sit and watch, just for a moment. Honestly, she didn't know why, but nonetheless, she sat on the deck stairs and observed the two. Scott rolled around in the grass with his daughter, their laughter like music to Hope’s ears. He'd let the girl tackle him, climb onto his back, and play wrestle him. As Hope watched, she was enamored by this affectionate side of him. Sure, he was quite affectionate to her, but this was a different kind of affection. This was fatherly affection. Hope loved this side of him. There had been glimpses of it before, while they were preparing for the heist and he'd talk about her, but seeing it in action was a whole new experience. Hope adored it.

She was drawn out of her trance when Cassie came bounding up to her, her dark waves bouncing with her. Hope met her gaze and smiled softly. Cassie stopped right in front of her.

“Ms. Hope,” she began with that sweet little voice. “Can you teach me how to punch like you did with my daddy?”

The question took both Scott and Hope off guard. Hope stammered a bit. “Well, I… well, I think it's up to your daddy. Scott?” She looked to her boyfriend for guidance.

“I don't see why not,” Scott stated. But then he kneeled to be at eye level with his daughter. “But Cassie, you gotta promise me you won't punch anyone. Remember, Hope only punched me because she needed to teach me a lesson, and we're grown ups. Okay?”

Cassie nodded. “Okay, daddy. But I just want to learn because I want to be more like Ms. Hope.” The little girl then brought her gaze up to meet Hope’s, smiling.

Hope was touched. This little girl wanted nothing more than to be a little more like her daddy’s girlfriend. She'd never had that feeling before, of being someone's role model. It was a nice feeling. “All right,” the woman agreed. “Let's go down to the training room, then.”

“Yay!” Cassie exclaimed joyfully. She stuck close to Hope as they were led down to the training room.

Scott kept Cassie entertained while Hope got into more comfortable clothing. She came back to find that Scott had set up a punching bag for them to use, and Cassie, so eager to learn, was already throwing punches at the bag with the most excitement they'd ever seen. She gleefully turned to Hope when she approached. There was so much of Scott in her. Every bit of that smile was Scott.

“You ready, Princess?” Hope asked. Funny how she used to call Cassie’s father that name as a joke. She meant it with Cassie.

The girl nodded excitedly, and she prepared herself by getting into a stance that seemed like it would work. Before they began, Scott kissed the top of Cassie's head, and he left them alone and went to help Hank. Hope was a little worried when he left, because part of her feared being left alone with his child. Nonetheless, she bucked up. After taking a deep breath, Hope helped Cassie correct her stance.

“You have to plant your feet on the ground,” the woman explained. “With your lead foot forward.” She then demonstrated how her feet should go. Cassie mirrored her as best as she could. Hope smiled. “Yes, just like that.”

Cassie grinned when she was praised. “I got it!”

“You do,” Hope smiled. “Now, when you punch, you'll twist your hips, following the punch. But you have to keep those feet planted because otherwise you'll spin and lose balance. Now, hold up your fists, like this.” She held up her own fists to show her, and she also crouched a little, explaining how it helps with following through. When Cassie got into the stance, Hope praised her again. “There you go, just like that. Now, watch me, okay?”

Cassie relaxed for a moment so she could watch, but in her head she made sure not to forget the stance she'd just been taught. Meanwhile, Hope showed her the exact things she'd been telling the girl. “Okay, so you're in your stance, and with just a little bit of twisting, you throw a hard punch—” she threw a hard punch at the bag, “—just like that.”

“That looks so awesome!” the girl exclaimed. “Can I try it, now?”

“Of course,” Hope smiled and stepped back, giving Cassie the okay to come back up to the bag to join her. “But take it step by step. I'll show you, and you follow my moves. Okay?”

Cassie nodded, and she studied Hope and tried to copy her as she got into the stance. Her little fists came up like Hope’s had. Slowly, she followed Hope’s moves. But they didn't punch yet. Hope was leaving that up to her. “Now, all you have to do is twist your hips like I showed you. As you do, you'll drive your fist to the bag. You ready to try it on your own?”

“Oh, yes!” the girl exclaimed. Hope watched as Cassie mimicked her previous movements to the best of her ability, and, just as she'd been taught, she threw a punch into the bag. The bag didn't really move much, because her fist was so little, like the rest of her, but it was still correct. “Like that?”

Hope nodded. “Yes, exactly like that,” she stated. “You did it!”

“I did??”

“You did!”

The little girl let out a thrilled squeal of ecstasy and satisfaction. She jumped up and down in a celebratory fashion. Hope laughed at her reaction.

“Good job, Princess,” the woman grinned, and she held her hand out so Cassie could give her a high five. But instead of returning the high five, Cassie shocked Hope by throwing herself at the woman and wrapping her little arms around the woman in a tight hug. It almost sent Hope off her feet, but she managed to stay upright. Hope didn't know how to react at first, but soon, she got it, and her arms came up to return the embrace.

“Thank you, Ms. Hope!” Cassie said happily.

A soft smile worked its way onto Hope’s face just then. “You're very welcome, Cassie,” she whispered. “And you can just call me Hope.”

“Okay, Hope,” Cassie corrected herself now.

They hugged for a while, Hope slowly but surely getting used to it. During those few moments, Hope had a whole new experience of affection, not from a significant other, but from a child. That was something she never expected to happen. She didn't ever imagine herself with children at all; she had zero experience. The fact that this little girl was hugging her and seeing her as a role model was new to her, and the more she thought about it, the more it grew on her. And that meant the more Cassie grew on her. She was just like her father, anyway. What's not to love about her? What's not to love about Scott? Maybe it wouldn't be so bad to have a child like Cassie one day. Wait, what?

Speaking of Scott, he returned just then with water bottles for them, and he adored the scene before him. His daughter was hugging his girlfriend. It was the greatest thing he'd ever seen. But he felt bad, though, because Hope and Cassie pulled away from the hug to look at them. Hope blushed, while Cassie excitedly ran up to Scott.

“Daddy, guess what! Hope taught me how to punch, and I did it just like her!”

“No way!” Scott gasped. “Show me, Peanut.”

Hope smiled as Cassie ran over to the bag and got into position. Hope helped her adjust a little bit, and then the little girl demonstrated her new skill. She got it right, yet again. Hope praised her like before and she got excited.

“Did you see that, Daddy??” Cassie asked with a squeal. “I did it!”

“You really did, Peanut!” Scott grinned and picked her up to twirl her around. “I'm proud of you!” As he hugged his daughter with pride, he looked over at Hope, who was grinning humbly. He smiled at her and mouthed “I told you she'd like you.”

Hope giggled and shrugged. Her smile was modest and shy. She never expected to be so blissful over teaching a child something, but it felt amazing. She loved that little girl now, despite still being unsure of how to deal with children otherwise. Oh, well. Cassie was special, like her father. In fact, she pretty much was her father; sweet, loving, and playful. And knowing this, it was no wonder she liked this kid so much. As she watched the two, a thought she had earlier came to her head. It surprised her, but as she thought about it, she realized that it wouldn't be so bad in the future.

She just might want a child like Cassie someday.

Chapter Text

Hope was working on some paperwork a few days later before she heard someone knock on her office door. It took her a few seconds for her to find a stopping point before she glanced up. There was Scott in the doorway, leaning against the frame.

“Can I come in?” he asked.

“Scott, you don’t have to ask every time,” she raised a brow with a smile. “Of course, you can come in.”

He stepped into the office. “I saw you were busy, so I wasn’t sure if you wanted to be disturbed or not.”

She rose to her feet and approached him. “I don’t mind you being the one to disturb me,” she reached for his hand and went up to kiss him. “In fact, I’m glad you came. I needed a break before my brain burst into flames.”

“Lucky you,” he smirked teasingly, hovering over her lips until she pushed forward to kiss him. “At least it’s the end of the week.”

She nodded, letting out a huff. “Oh, yeah, definitely. We should celebrate tonight.”

Scott liked the idea. “Oh, yes, we should. Do you have anything in mind?”

She thought for a moment until an idea came to her. “How about dinner tonight at my place?”

“Ooh, I like it,” he grinned at the idea of going to her place. “Will we be cooking together?”

“If you want to, then yes.”

“I’ll be there.”

She laughed and kissed him again. “Good, then.” She then gave him a few more kisses before she forced herself to back away. “Now, let’s get back to work, so we can get off in time.”

“Agreed,” he nodded, and after one more kiss, he turned for the door. “See you tonight.”

Hope grinned to herself as she went back to her desk. It was hard to keep herself grounded and focused, but she knew the date would be a nice reward.


 

At long last, she finished everything, just in time to get home and make herself and her home look presentable. She spent a while cleaning everything and setting out the ingredients for the meal they’d make that night. Once that was all finished, she went to her room to change. Since they were at her place, she didn’t have to dress up in anything fancy, but she still made herself look nice while also looking comfortable. By the time she was finished with her makeup, a knock came to her door. Right on time.

Hope hurried back downstairs as quickly as her feet could take her. Once she checked her reflection in the hall mirror, a habit of hers whenever she went on a date, Hope went to answer the door.

“Hey,” she greeted him with a smile.

“Hey, you,” he replied, stepping inside once she opened the door a little wider for him. The first thing he did once he got inside was kiss her, causing her to grin even wider. After a few seconds, he pulled away. “I missed that.”

Hope just chuckled as she shut the door. “We kissed at work a few times today, remember? Hasn’t been that long.”

“Still too long,” he teased, walking inside her home with her. She led him to her kitchen, where she had ingredients set out for dinner, and when she got to the counter, he came up next to her and slid an arm around her waist. “What are we making tonight?”

She leaned into him. “Roasted salmon,” she told him. “Kind of like what I had a few dates ago.”

“Sounds amazing,” he stated. “I’m starving so everything sounds amazing right now.”

“Well, good. I’m glad you think so.” She turned to the oven and set the temperature to preheat it. When she turned back around, she found Scott reading the recipe that she’d written down when she found it on the Internet. She grinned and wrapped her arms around him. “Looks easy enough, right?”

He gave her a nod. “It also sounds more and more delicious the more I read over it,” he told her, putting the paper down. “What can we do while the oven preheats?”

Hope picked up a bowl and brought it over, and then she pointed to the ingredients to mix in it while waiting. Scott volunteered to mix while Hope went to boil some water as the recipe called for. As the water heated, she walked to the cabinet where she kept her glasses and pulled two out. She retrieved the red wine she bought earlier and brought it to where they were cooking. “Want some?” she offered.

“Is that even a question?” he brightened. “Of course.”

She giggled and poured wine for them both. Hope took a sip once she filled her glass, but Scott waited until he was done mixing the ingredients before he took a sip. Now, they were just waiting for the oven and the water, so they had some free time.

“So,” Scott began. “How was work? Are you still taking up Jack’s stuff while he’s gone?”

Hope nodded. “It was okay, but yes, I’m still helping with Jack’s work.”

“When’s he coming back?”

“Next week. Becca will be back, as well.”

“How is Becca?”

Hope swallowed another sip. “She’s doing well, from what I’ve heard. She’s in good hands.”

Scott smiled. “Good, good. So she and Jack have cleared things up, then?”

“So I’ve been told, yes. But I haven’t asked any questions other than that, so don’t be nosy.”

“All right, I won’t,” he promised.

“Good boy,” she teased, kissing him.

When the oven and water were ready, the two continued with their cooking. At some point, Scott went to turn on the radio Hope kept in her kitchen, just in time for a Beatles song to begin playing. Instantly, he could hear Hope humming quietly to herself. He smiled at this and went up behind her to hug her. “You like the Beatles, I see,” he murmured, swaying with her.

“Yes,” she smiled. “They’re one of my favorite music artists.”

“Really?” he perked up. “They’re one of mine, too.”

“Are you just saying that because I did?” she asked, though she was completely joking.

Scott played along. “Oh, definitely. Was there ever any doubt?” He then leaned into her neck to kiss her skin there, and it made her shiver. A pleased sound left her, almost like a purr. He pulled back with a smirk making its way onto his face. “What was that?”

Her face went red, for she hadn’t even realized she’d made a sound until he mentioned something. A small giggle left her as she bit her lip. “Oh, nothing,” the words dripped from her mouth with the amount of smugness she had back when they first trained together; that voice she had right after she’d punched him in the face to prove her strength. That’s how you punch.

“Nothing, huh?” his voice was low against her ear. That tone of hers was all too familiar, and this time, it was sexy rather than intimidating. Okay, maybe he was still a little bit intimidated, but that was beside the point.

“Yes, nothing,” she repeated herself. “Nothing at all.” Yeah, right.

He knew for damn sure that was certainly not “nothing.” The smirk remained on his face, drawing closer to her skin to kiss her neck again. “I don’t believe you, Ms. Van Dyne.”

She drew in a light gasp as he kissed her there a second time, before she could even stop it. There was a complacent tone in his voice. Obviously it was a challenge to her. “That’s too bad, Mr. Lang,” she taunted him. Two could play at this game. By now, the food in front of her was the last thing on her mind, but she tried to make it seem otherwise. With the same smirk as he had, she ever so slightly pressed back against him, her ass meeting his hips. If he was going to test her, she was going to return the favor.

“Whoa, what was that?” his hands went to rest on her hips as their hips met. It was new and he was certainly enjoying it.

“What are you gonna do about it, Mr. Lang?” after spending a while not looking at him, she turned to peer at him from over her shoulder. There was her smirk again.

He didn’t answer with words. Instead, he went right for her neck again, this time nipping gently, occasionally flicking out his tongue to taste her. It made her completely forget about everything else. Part of her wanted to resist. Scott had an unfair advantage on her. But at the same time, what he was doing felt really, really nice. Damn this man.

All of a sudden, she got her conscience back when the oven beeped as it finished preheating, and she had to force herself to focus on the food preparation. Her skin was covered in chill bumps, neck tingling where he’d kissed and nipped and licked at her, and her heart had begun to flutter in her chest. But that wasn’t stopping her this time. Despite his attempts (and thanks to a lot of self-control), she didn’t give in. She couldn’t deny to herself how good the kissing felt, because good God Scott Lang was a fantastic kisser. She could, however, control herself to make it look like he hadn’t just found one of her biggest weaknesses.

After a while, the salmon was finally finished, and then Hope went to set the table for them. Once she’d set down the plates, silverware, napkins, and trivets on the table, she and Scott brought the food they’d made over just before they sat down. The whole room smelled like salmon, and it was a nice smell. It made both their stomachs growl. They fixed themselves their plates, and at long last, they settled to eat. As they did, they spoke of the suits, work, Cassie, and other things. Every so often, she’d cross her legs and rub her foot against his leg. At the same time, Scott’s eyes would flicker over her face and the rest of her. Hope’s eyes did the same. When a long while passed and they realized that they’d spent several moments staring at one another like lovebirds, and they’d immediately go back to eating. Then it would happen again. And again. Scott began to tense, his movements almost robotic as he tried to control himself. Hope stayed relaxed. She refused to outwardly show him that her own patience was wearing thin, and she was close to the breaking point.

They eventually finished eating, and Hope stood to take her plate to the sink. Scott followed her quickly. How was she being so calm? He was barely holding onto whatever control he had left. His face was beginning to grow sweaty and red, his fists clenching every so often as he held himself back. Up until then, he’d been playing along to see if she’d make a move, but he’d turned into a time bomb now. Green eyes examined her up and down, switching between her neck, her shoulders, her waist, her breasts, her ass…

He suddenly blinked and entered reality again when Hope finished the dishes and moved past him, and it forced his gaze to follow her motions. Eyes were fixed on her with his growing desire, until she turned around. They locked gazes, and that was when Hope saw the way his eyes were beginning to cloud with want. It amused her, especially since he seemed to be breaking first.

“Whatcha looking at, Mr. Lang?” she asked him teasingly.

God there was so much intentional smugness in her lowered voice. Scott had a hard time trying to find the words just then. “I—uh—what?” Wow, he hadn’t even been paying attention to what she’d said. She was really good at this game.

The woman emitted an entertained chuckle, and she decided to stop teasing him so much since it was obvious he was failing to hold himself together. With her hand, she waved for him to follow her. “Come on, let’s go sit down.”

She led the way into the living room. Since her back was to him, she couldn’t see him, and therefore she couldn’t see how his expression had changed. She walked toward the TV and turned it on. The news channel came onto the screen, because other than Netflix, she didn’t really watch anything else. “So, do you wanna watch a movie, or something—?”

She was suddenly cut off when Scott came up from behind, whirled her around and kissed her. That was it. He couldn’t take the tension any longer. He’d cracked the moment she stood from kneeling before the TV, the moment he said fuck it. The kiss was hungry, aggressive. Hope’s knees almost gave out the instant their lips touched, but he held her up so she didn’t become a puddle at his feet. Realizing she’d made it further than he had, she smirked against his lips.

“I knew you’d crack first,” she crooned, taking his lower lip in her teeth for a moment.

“Good god, you were killing me,” he admitted, his voice hoarse as it had thickened. It was a low murmur, a wonderful sound to her. The cadence of how he spoke was suddenly arousing to her. “How were you so calm?”

“Believe it or not, I was close to cracking, as well.”

“You sneaky woman,” he hovered over her lips. When she leaned in to capture them, he’d pull back so she couldn’t. Though, he kept extremely close to her. He did this a few times until she pouted at him. He let out a devious chuckle. While he was distracted, she brought her hands up quickly to pull him to her lips, frustrated with the teasing. Scott grinned. “See? Now you know how I feel—”

“—Don’t talk,” she hissed against his lips. “I want your lips on my neck again.”

And she got what she wanted right away. Oh, god, those lips on her neck again… There was no holding back any of the sounds she made, now. It was impossible now that she was past the breaking point. She had to use her arms to keep herself up, clinging to his shoulders as her legs turned to jelly. How she still had strength in her arms was beyond her. Thank god Scott’s were there to hold her up.

He worked her skin with his lips for a while before he threw his tongue and teeth into the mix. It was when his teeth met her neck when she almost lost it. A pleased moan escaped her. She was panting as she clung to him. Her knuckles were turning white as her fists clenched in his shirt. There was something about the way Scott Lang tended to her neck that just made her lose every bit of her willpower.

As he continued with her neck, Scott put his hands to work. First, they slid down slowly to find the small of her back. But he wasn’t satisfied with just that. His fingers searched for the hem of her shirt and pulled up on it until he could feel the skin of her back. Hands explored that area for a while, rubbing up and down, and they returned to her lower back, lower than before, right at the hem of the denim she wore. Though he didn’t move past there. She didn’t seem to be complaining, but he wasn’t taking any chances. His focus remained on her neck, biting, kissing, and licking away at it.

Hope eventually realized that he was hesitating with those hands of his, so while holding onto him with one arm, the other reached behind to find his. She took hold of his wrist and started urging it downward in a hurried manner. Now that he had permission, he obliged, pushing his hands past the hem of her pants, as well as her lace panties, until he was cupping the curve of her ass… that perfect ass of hers. As he explored it, he trailed his lips back up to her hers to deeply kiss her, his tongue immediately sliding deep into her wide-open mouth. Whatever moans she released were sent right into his mouth. The longer they kissed, the more aggressive and hungry they became, the more Scott filled with desire, in more ways than one. His groin had begun to throb with his want, making his pants grow tighter. He squeezed her ass gently before pulling her against him to see her reaction to it.

Feeling the bulge in his pants sent a sudden shock through her body. There was a dull but noticeable pulsating between her weakened legs. Her body had been set ablaze as desire pooled in her lower belly more and more. It was so strong that she didn’t even realize that she’d lifted one of her legs to wrap around him, keeping him pressed there against her. God, the things he did to her.

Scott suddenly realized what was happening. He stopped to look at her, both of them out of breath. But before he could speak, she did first.

“Take me to bed, Scott,” she whispered her demand.

No questions were asked. His eyes were clouded with same desire she had, way more than before. In one swift motion, he’d hoisted her up into his arms, her legs wrapped around him. As he whisked her away, she released a laugh and started to kiss him again. He continued to kiss her on his way, bumping into walls and furniture as a result. But he didn’t care. Finally, he found the door to her bedroom. After fumbling with the doorknob and eventually throwing the door open, he finally got inside.

Hope was on her back before she could blink, his lips meeting hers once again. By now, her mouth was swollen and reddened from their hungry kisses. Her neck was wet from his earlier ministrations. She could only imagine what he’d do to the rest of her. But she also had another thought. With whatever focus she could still grasp and what little strength she had left, she wrapped her legs around him and forced herself up toward him, rolling them until she was over him. Immediately, she went right to kissing him, and her hands cupped his face or went to run through his hair. Scott could only lay there with his hands stroking her outer thighs while she worked her magic. After a while, her hands went for his shirt. She started to unbutton it, but she couldn’t handle it taking so long, so she just yanked. Buttons popped and flew everywhere, some clattering on the floor, others getting lost on the comforter. She stared in wonder at those abs of his, the same ones she constantly stared at every chance she got. With her finger, she traced his scars, and then she leaned down to press kisses to his chest. As he had with her neck earlier, Hope used her tongue and her teeth on his skin. Scott moaned every time. The sound became louder when he felt her hand slide over his bulge, just before she ground her hips against his. He swore this woman would be the death of him.

Scott eventually found a way to occupy his hands, once he figured out how to use the fraction of a brain he had left. Slowly upwards they went, thighs to hips, hips to waist, waist to ribs… all this moved the shirt in the same direction. Hope did him a favor and removed the shirt quickly. All that was left was her bra.

A soft moan escaped her as he cupped her breast through the fabric. It only took one gentle squeeze for Hope to reach behind and unclasp her bra for him. It loosened around her shoulders, the straps beginning to slide down her arms. Scott watched in awe as the garment slowly fell from her and revealed her supple breasts. Her nipples stiffened the moment the cool air of the room brushed over her bare skin. Desire rose even more than it had before. And then… oh, god.

Before he could even take the chance, Hope brought her hands up to cup her bare breasts right before his widened eyes. At the same time she drove her hips forward on him. He shuddered with pleasure, and it rendered him speechless. He could only watch her. He was way too mesmerized to do anything else. Hope helped him out after a moment, reaching for his hands and guiding them up to her breasts. They felt perfect in his hands. He gave a gentle squeeze, bringing forth a moan from her. After massaging them for a while, his thumbs found the stiffened pink peaks and began rubbing circles over them. She became louder. She even arched her back and pushed her breasts more into his hands.

“God, Scott,” she whimpered with the pleasure. “Don’t stop.”

The next thing she knew, she was again on her back after Scott found the power to roll them. One of his hands immediately returned to one of her breasts, the other hand holding him up over her. He kissed her for a while, starting on her lips, and trailing downward. He went down her jawline, to her neck, to her collarbone, and then he reached his destination, hovering over the breast that didn’t have a hand on it. She squirmed with immense pleasure and anticipation as she glanced down at him. He was looking at her in search of permission.

“Jesus Christ, Scott, yes!” she yelled.

Oh, god, that mouth of his, that mouth on her breast, was almost unbearably pleasing. And that tongue, dear god. A few curses fell from her lips as his tongue darted out to flick her sensitive nipple a few times. The moans erupting from her were loud, and they became even louder when his teeth took her nipple between them. She was clinging to him, now, curled over his head and scratching at his muscular back while he worked her breasts with his mouth and hand.

She suddenly took hold of the wrist of his hand that was working her breast and pulled it away. Confused, he drew back from her other breast to glance at her. Had it been too much?

“What?” he asked nervously.

She didn’t answer. Not with words. She used actions, by guiding his hand downward, toward her center. Scott breathed a sigh of relief as he realized that he wasn’t overstepping. He adored that she was taking the lead. She was showing him what made her melt, and by god, he was definitely taking notes.

His hand unfastened the button of those jeans and pulled the zipper down. But she hadn’t let go yet. She didn’t release him until she’d pushed him into the denim. From there, she let him take over. To her surprise, he removed his hand, but before she could protest, he quickly found the hem of her pants and pulled them down, her panties as well. She lifted her hips so he could get it past her ass, and once he managed to strip them off, he threw her jeans and underwear aside, the garments lost on the floor like the rest of her clothing. Once free, Hope spread her legs for him.

Scott couldn’t believe that this was happening. Hope Van Dyne was completely naked and spread open below him. Never in a million years did he expect it to happen. In fact, he thought he was dreaming. If he was, he’d kill whoever woke him.

The scent of her arousal soon hit him, sending his hand back to her to cup her heat. She shuddered at his touch. He slowly dragged a finger down her opening, bringing moisture to it in seconds. He heard her seethe as he began to rub circles into her slick folds.

“You’re soaked,” he murmured against her ear as he dragged his finger over her.

Oh, god. A gasp expelled from her lips in a breathy fashion. Her body shook violently as the pleasure became almost too much to handle. She was squirming nonstop. Fists clenched in the sheets below her. Her heart raced faster than ever, slamming against her ribcage like a beast trying to escape its prison. She arched her back, bucking against his hand as his fingers found her overly sensitive clit after a while. As if the pleasure wasn’t extreme enough, one of her hands came up to pleasure her own breasts. Scott throbbed in his pants as he watched that.

“Don’t you dare think about stopping, Scott,” she seethed.

A smirk tugged at one corner of his mouth. Never before had he imagined that he could get Hope Van Dyne to melt like that. Hell, he never imagined he’d be able to merely kiss her. This was some sort of dream, he was sure.

His finger dragged over her wet folds once again before finally entering her. She keened to the sky immediately. He found the ridges within her and stroked her there, and she shuddered. Once he got into a rhythm, she matched it. She bucked her hips against his hand with every thrust of his finger.

Soon, he added a second finger, and she nearly screamed, her hands gripping the sheets as pleasure was making her throb against him. She dug the back of her head into the pillow as she threw back, closing her eyes. Where the hell had he learned to do this so well? That was the last thought she had before desire took full control. No longer could she think properly. And the deeper his finger went, the louder she became. This was a side that Scott had never seen before, and he absolutely loved it.

Hope was in a state of complete bliss as pleasure rocked her body in sharp bolts. She was dangling over the edge by a mere thread. But suddenly, before she could come, his hand disappeared. Her eyes flew open in confusion and she pouted.

“Evil,” she hissed.

Then she noticed what he was doing. The confusion faded away when she found him to be fumbling with his belt as he gave her a smug grin. With a smirk playing on her own lips, she quickly sat up to help him. Since her whole body was shaking, her hands didn’t help much with the leather. But they managed to find some sort of control. Once the leather, button, and zipper were all undone, she did the honors of pushing his jeans down, along with his boxers. She went slowly as he did with hers at the beginning. One of her hands slipped within and helped free his erection.

Dear. God.

His shaft was long, thick and absolutely throbbing as she touched the velvety skin. He let out a moan as her fingers wrapped around him. For a moment he allowed her to stroke him slowly, the pleasure almost too good. After a moment, though, he brushed her hand away. She glanced up at him.

He didn’t want this to end so soon if she continued only with her hand. Fair enough.

Scott was back over her in a split second, and he heard her gasp as his length met her thigh. It made her spread her legs even wider than before. One even wrapped around his waist, pulling him closer. But before anything, he stopped all of a sudden.

“Wait…” he breathed.

She looked at him again. “What?” she whispered. Obviously, she was too far-gone to think straight.

His eyes searched her face. “Do we need a condom?”

It took her a moment for her to process what he’d said, and she shook her head. “No, I’m on birth control,” her voice choked out words between heavy breaths. Thank God, she thought. She didn't keep condoms around since she'd been out of a relationship for a long time. There was no need for them. And Scott didn't carry any because he didn't expect this to be happening. They would be in for a disappointment if she hadn't been on the pill.

“Oh, thank god,” he breathed. But he didn't go back to kissing her just yet. “Are you sure about this? You won't regret this tomorrow, will you?”

Was he seriously asking that? Sure, it was a legitimate question, but to Hope, it was obvious that she wanted this so badly. She pulled him down to capture his lips. “I want this, Scott,” she mumbled against him. “As long as you want this, I want this. So badly.” She pulled away to look into his eyes once again. “I’d never regret this with you.”

He nodded as he positioned his hips against hers. Now, his shaft tip was pressed against her opening. He glanced back at her, locking gazes. “Neither would I,” he told her, just as he pushed into her.

Finally. Oh, finally. She moaned his name as he filled every inch of her slowly. She arched her back again, groaning and squirming and clinging to him. Her nails dug into her back as she writhed with the greatest amount of pleasure she'd ever felt in her life. Soon, he was buried fully into her, every sweet inch filled to the brim. She wrapped both legs around him, keeping him there.

After a moment of pure bliss like that, he started to pull out. She whined in protest, tightening her legs to bring him back, but Scott had a plan. He pulled out of her almost completely, working against her strength, only his tip within her. She squirmed her hips impatiently, and then all of a sudden, he slammed back into her. She shouted at the top of her lungs, again and again as he started to thrust in and out of her. Every thrust in, he went all the way. He kept his lips occupied by sucking on her neck. If he was functioning properly, he would have stopped himself before he sucked too hard and would leave a mark. But no. That thought never even crossed him. He nipped and sucked hard, and he made his thrusts faster. In turn, she became louder. His voice matched hers. They were getting closer and closer to falling over the edge.

Her body became hotter. Her shouts grew even louder than before. She was clawing at his back so hard that there were evident red marks all over his skin. She felt like she was on fire, or close to bursting into flames. She was almost sobbing the pleasure was so good. She knew it would only be a few seconds before…

The orgasm ripped through her so suddenly, so powerful that curses flew from her mouth at the top of her lungs. She shuddered uncontrollably beneath him. Her breaths came heavy and fast. Her back arched, her toes curled, her head threw itself back. His thrusting made it even better, electrical surges shooting through her entire body. Never before had her heart raced so fast.

“Holy shit, Scott!”

He wasn't too far behind her. All at once, he fell over the edge so hard like she had. Fire exploded from his groan and spread heat throughout them both. It felt like Independence Day for them both, and it was oh, so good. So good that Scott rode it out for as long as he possibly could while at the peak of the orgasm. Neither of them wanted this to end. Honestly, who would? It was incredible.

But unfortunately, they eventually came down from the glorious high. Scott remained inside her for a while, his length still throbbing with the remainder of the orgasm. She was panting below him, completely blissful and evidently out of breath. Her body trembled with the pleasure. She smiled at him and pulled him down so she could kiss him. Scott smiled against her lips as he realized that he'd just made love to the woman he never thought he stood a chance with. And it felt completely amazing.

“Wow,” he whispered, also trying to catch his breath. “Absolutely… incredible…” He couldn't even find words he was so blissful.

“Mmm,” she replied with a nod. She couldn't even think straight. All she could do was lay there under him, looking up at him with a soft smile.

Eventually, he rolled off her and laid beside her, propping himself up on his elbow as he faced her. He couldn't believe it. Hope Van Dyne was laying completely naked beside him. Was he dreaming? He hoped not. He gazed at her with those green eyes, stroking her arm softly. “Beautiful,” he murmured, making her blush.

She beamed and scooted closer to him until she was pressed against him. He was incredibly warm. She took a deep breath and took in his scent before nuzzling her face against his chest. She could hear his heart beating against her ear, a nice sound to hear. “Will you stay?” she asked against his skin.

His arm wrapped around her so he could pull her in and press a soft kiss to her temple. “Of course.”

The smile she had went wider with his confirmation, and she peppered a few kisses to his hard chest. When she settled down, she suddenly realized how tired the sex had made her. Her eyelids grew heavier, and Scott noticed this.

“Sleepy?” he chuckled quietly. He kissed her forehead this time.

“Yes,” she admitted. “You wore me out.”

“I can say the same thing about you,” he laughed. “But I'm not complaining at all. We're gonna sleep so well.”

Hope released a few giggles. “I have no doubt. I must say, this was probably the best date we've had.”

Scott grinned with his agreement, just as he sat up to pull the covers over them. Honestly, she didn't need them, because Scott was so warm already. But she didn't mind. As long as she was close to him, she didn't care about anything else. Neither did he. Once he'd pulled up the comforter, he had her turn around so she could lay with her back against his chest, his arms snaked around her to keep her in place. His face was buried into her hair, smiling contently. Hope quickly fell asleep in his arms, completely relaxed. Scott wasn’t too far behind her, the exhaustion finally hitting him fully. As he drifted off to sleep, his smile never left him, and Hope never left his thoughts. At that very moment in time, the rest of the world didn’t matter to either of them. All they needed was each other, and that was it.

It was just Scott and Hope against the world.

Chapter Text

Scott woke from his deep, comfortable slumber when the sun was just beginning to peer out from the eastern horizon, its rays beginning to shroud the city of San Francisco in its bright, warm light. Though her bedroom window faced the west, he could tell the sun was rising, because the bedroom was beginning to light up more and more as time passed. He opened his eyes and blinked a few times to get himself used to the light after being in the dark all night. As he adjusted, sitting up only slightly, his gaze flickered around the room, and on the floor he could see different articles of clothing. Some were his, others were not. Then, he remembered what happened the night before, and in an instant, his gaze landed on the woman lying next to him. Her back, still bare, was turned toward him as she still slept soundly. Her breathing was deep and slow. She was very close to him, as she had been before they went to sleep. Scott's eyes followed the curve of the indentation of her spine, in love with the fact that he'd woken to find that last night hadn't been a dream. He didn't need to see her face to know how beautiful she was while asleep. Everything about Hope van Dyne did was beautiful to Scott.

He carefully edged closer to her body, careful not to suddenly disturb her. He pressed a soft kiss to her shoulder as he lazily snaked an arm around her waist. When he pulled on her, he was so gentle, and thankfully, it wasn't long before he was against her. She was again enveloped in his warmth. It was the first thing she noticed as she stirred.

Hope took a deep breath in as her mind went from the dream world to the real world. She could tell the room was bright, so she kept her eyes closed. A little smile made its way across her sleepy face as she recalled falling asleep the same way the night before. Her body leaned back into him. Scott realized she was awake, so he brought his face close to her skin, his breath hot against her as his lips hovered.

“Hey,” he whispered in a hoarse voice to her ear and kissed her shoulder as he sat up a bit to lean over her. He tightened his arm around her, as well.

“Mmm, hey,” her reply came at the same volume as his had been. He could tell she was still half asleep, because her word was drawn out, like the breath that came after it. In fact, Hope was drifting in and out of sleep, only half conscious.

Scott gave a soft grin and buried his face into the back of her neck. The blissful sigh that he emitted was a long one, absolutely content. She was so warm, her skin soft. He'd spend the rest of his life like that with her if he could. After a moment like that with her, he kissed her shoulder, then the nape of her neck. Hope craned in response, a soft moan escaping the back of her throat. She smiled lazily at the contact against her skin. He moved his mouth down to her shoulder once more, and afterward, he brushed her dark hair behind her ear so he could kiss the patch of skin just below her lobe. Hope turned her head to make it easier for him to reach. She took in a deep breath and sighed heavenly, loving the feeling he was giving her.

She allowed him to keep working her with his lips until she decided to slowly turn in his arms to her other side so she could face him. This time, she took her turn to kiss him, leaning up to plant a lazy kiss against his jaw, another one to his clavicle, then to his chest before burying her face into his chest and settling down to doze off while enveloped in his warmth. Scott peered down at her with a smile and kissed the top of her head ever so gently.

“Beautiful,” a soft whisper fell from his lips as he remained close. He kissed her forehead slowly.

Hope drew out of sleep again and smiled, finally opening her eyes and lifting her gaze to look at him. He thought she was so cute with her heavy eyelids and that tired gaze. She blinked slowly and scooted upwards to kiss his jaw once again, this time a few more times than the last. His hands stroked her waist, squeezing gently, before he pulled her up to meet her lips. They kissed deeply, slowly, not as aggressive as yesterday's kisses had been. Hope gave a little moan against his lips the longer they were like that. Soon, her hands slid up to cup his shoulders and start pulling him to the side. She turned at the same time. Scott followed her movements, and before long, he was over her, looking into her eyes.

“Good morning,” he spoke quietly as he hovered over her beautiful lips. His voice was thickened from sleep, and Hope found it incredibly endearing, and arousing.

She pulled him down for a heated but slow kiss. Her hands reached around to his back and pulled him to her. He was already hard and throbbing for her. “Ooh, good morning to you,” she crooned, one of her hands sliding down to his front to take hold of his throbbing velvety shaft. He jolted and moaned as she stroked him. “What do we have here?”

He moaned again and ground his hips oh so slowly, the tip of his length dragging against her, getting her to spread her legs wide for him. Her arms wrapped around his neck to hold him close. She ground her hips up toward him, as if to beg for entry. Then, she wrapped her legs around his, pulling him to her. His tip met her soaked, pulsating entrance. As he kissed her slowly, he pushed himself into her, causing her to squirm and writhe below him as he filled every inch of her.

“Mmm, oh, Scott,” she moaned, her back arching.

Scott's thrusts were slow, passionate, lazy. They weren't quite as needy as they had been the night before. But they still felt just as good. Hope writhed against him, clinging to him as the pleasure overwhelmed her. Scott throbbed for her nonstop as he filled her all the way every single time. He moaned against her, softly rather than loudly. But the pleasure was amazing as it had been last night.

As he moved within her, he kissed her neck, which made her pleasure heighten. Those neck kisses were her kryptonite. She clawed at his back as her hips followed the rhythm he'd created. Their moaning became in sync with one another the longer it went on.

“Oh, Hope,” he murmured against her ear as he pushed into her once more, all the way.

She tightened her arms around him, because the pleasure was starting to build even more. Her breathing became harder and faster, and she bucked wildly beneath him. “Oh, god, Scott, yes!” she moaned. “Don't stop!”

He heard the desperation in her voice and obeyed the demand. He wasn't going to stop anyway. There was no way. He grew faster, his own pleasure building. Thrusts grew harder, as well. They both got louder. Both were hanging over the edge by a thread.

Scott's eyes grew wide as he began tumbling off the edge. “Oh, shit, Hope, I'm going to—!”

“—Come, Scott, come!” she begged through her teeth.

That was it for him. Her demand was like a push off a cliff, and the orgasm was explosive and incredible, like fireworks on the Glorious Fourth. She came with him, her walls tightening around him and further heightening both their pleasures. She arched and convulsed below him as she relished in the feeling of his heat within her, filling every inch of her. He remained deep inside her as his length throbbed. She tightened her legs around him so he couldn't pull out. She shivered, moaned, arched, her toes curling, her body shaking nonstop. It was just how he liked to see her.

He stayed deep as they came down from the high. He pulled back to look into her eyes, finding her expression to be oh, so blissful. Her hands cupped his face and pulled him down to kiss him.

“God, you're amazing,” she whispered, relishing in the feeling of his shaft still within her.

“Yeah?” he replied with a murmur. He traced her jawline with his thumb as he gazed at her.

She gave him an out-of-breath nod, a sleepy, lazy, blissful smile.

“You're not so bad yourself,” he informed her as he took in her features, from her freckles to her hazel eyes. Her dark hair was unkempt from sleep and sex. It was hot. “How'd you sleep?”

“Like a baby. And you?”

“That was the best night of sleep I've had in a long time.”

She grinned, and she frowned slightly as she watched him pull out of her and lie next to her. She could feel the result of their sex slowly dripping down her thighs. Her mouth turned into a smirk as she reached down to scoop some of it up and bring it to her lips. With a seductive gaze she sucked on her fingers and licked them clean. He watched in wonder.

“You dirty tigress,” he smirked back at her. When they kissed he could taste himself on her tongue. “I gotta say, I never expected that from you.”

“I guess you can say it's my dirty little secret,” there was that sultry tone of hers. “Only you get to know it.”

“Oh, god, I feel so special now,” his face brightened at the thought of being the only person to know that she could get like that. “I must say, I had an amazing time last night.”

Hope grinned and pressed a kiss to his jaw. “I did, too.”

“It was really, really sexy that you took the lead, by the way.”

“What? Did you expect me to let you guess my weak spots? I was too impatient to wait through that.”

“Fair enough,” he nodded, pulling her close to him and embracing her to keep her warm. She snuggled close to him. With him, she'd never need a blanket. Scott kissed her forehead. “Cuddles after sex, greatest thing ever.”

Her agreement came as a heavenly sigh against him, since her face had been buried into his chest like it had been before. As they lay like that, she could feel his hand stroking the skin of her back softly. It was soothing, enough to lull her to sleep if she wanted it to. Nonetheless, she tangled her legs with his, stroking him with her foot, and she slid her arms under his and held him like that. She focused on her body for a moment. The aftermath of last night’s fun had left her a bit sore, and she was almost positive she had some marks covering parts of her, especially around her neck where he’d worked her so much. Her hair was a mess, and she didn’t need a mirror to know that her makeup was smudged. Not to mention that she had a dried mess between her legs. So after a few minutes cuddling him, she started to squirm away.

“Where are you going?” he asked curiously.

“I’m going to take off my makeup and clean myself up,” she explained as she started to get up out of bed. “I’ll be quick, I promise.”

He just grinned as his gaze followed her as that naked body of hers made its way around the bed and toward the bathroom. She left the door cracked open, because honestly, she didn’t really need to shut or lock it. It was only Scott there with her, no one else.

Hope went right for the shower stall and turned on the hot water. While waiting for it to heat up, she went to grab a towel from the rack nearby and hang it over the stall so she’d have it ready when she was done. When she passed the mirror something caught her eye. She turned, and she found her neck to be covered in marks. Her breasts had a couple of light bite marks, too. She’d have to work hard to cover her neck, because they were some pretty dark hickeys. They would definitely be there when she went back to work. But thinking about the marks made her smirk at the memory. There would be plenty more in the future.

It wasn’t long before the steam from the shower began to fog the mirror, and so she went to step inside and let the hot water drench her body. She just stood there for a while as her hair got wet, letting her body getting the same way before she grabbed the bar of soap that she kept nearby. While she hummed quietly, Hope washed her body, making sure to clean between her legs a few times over.

As she took her shower, she was turned toward the back corner, so she didn’t see the bathroom door push open as Scott walked inside. The room was hot because of the steam, and he could barely catch the sound her humming over the running water, and he smiled to himself. Her shower stall was made of frosted glass, so he could only make out the curve of her beautiful body. Slowly he made his way to the stall. He was careful with the door, because it was magnetic and one had to pull kind of hard to open it. Luckily, when he tugged on it, she didn’t notice, and with that soft smile on his face, he entered the stall. His arms went to slowly wrap around her waist from behind.

Hope made a slight jump, and a little gasp left her, but she quickly relaxed as Scott’s arms pulled her close. As if she wasn’t already warmed by the water. She turned her head to see him in the corner of her eye. “Why, hello there,” she murmured quietly.

“Mmm hey,” he kissed her shoulder. When he inhaled he could smell her soap. It was a nice, calming scent. Her scent.

“Get too lonely in there?” she asked him.

“A little,” his embrace tightened around her. Another kiss pressed to her shoulder. Then another. And another. Hope leaned her head back into him. While she was distracted, he took the soap from her and started to run it all over her. He made sure to get every inch of her body, even though she’d covered some spots already. He washed her slowly, paying extra close attention to her breasts. He couldn’t help himself. But thankfully, she didn’t mind. In fact, she encouraged it. His speed was slow as he massaged her soft mounds, and he continued for quite a while. She leaned her head back onto his shoulder as he ran his hands over her.

As she leaned, his eyes caught sight of the hickeys on her neck. Pride swelled in his heart. Those marks were his, and that thought would always make him quite pleased with himself. He kissed each hickey he could reach.

“You left quite a few marks there,” she smirked.

“I did. And it’s hot.”

“You sound proud. Proud that you successfully slept with your boss? Twice?”

“I’m trying to get a raise here,” he joked, making her laugh a bit.

He went reaching for her shampoo so he could wash her hair for her. When it was wet, her dark locks seemed longer than they actually were. It made Scott wonder what she looked like with longer hair. Had she ever had longer hair? He tried to picture that as he massaged her scalp to clean it. Hope relaxed at his touch as he did. He and his magic hands.

Once he’d finished with her hair, she turned so she could return the favor. The shampoo she used was actually considered for both men and women, so he wouldn’t be smelling like roses when she’d finished. Not that he would mind that. She peppered his face with kisses as she lathered the shampoo in his hair. Her fingers were firm, and yet gentle, and it almost left his legs in the form of Jell-O. Neither of them spoke a word as their hands explored each other’s bodies, washing one another in the peaceful ambience of the running shower water.

They rinsed and just stood together under the hot water before Scott reached behind Hope to turn off the shower. They didn’t leave right away, though. They were too content just standing like that in each other’s hold. Eventually, though, Scott opened the door for them and Hope reached for her towel. Scott stepped out to find another towel nearby and used that to dry his hair some, before he brought it around his waist. When he turned, he found his girlfriend doing the same, towel-drying her hair before wrapping it around her body. As she stood up straight, she grinned at him.

He walked up to her until he could get his arms around her. “Feel better?”

“Much better,” she nodded.

“So, now what?”

“Well, it’s Saturday. We don’t have to work, much less do anything else today.”

“I say we just stay inside all day, no clothes required.” He sounded really hopeful when he spoke. For added effect, he gave her that goofy smile of his, with slight puppy eyes. After all, it wasn’t that unreasonable of a request considering how far they were into their relationship. He leaned forward to hover over her lips.

She adored the way he made those eyes, and that smile of his got her every time. She went to meet his lips, wrapping her arms around his neck loosely. “I think that’s a great idea,” her voice was soft and low, sultry almost. Then she took his hand and led him back to the bedroom. They were back in bed in mere seconds, back in each other’s embrace. Soon they were kissing, slowly, lazily, without any other care in the world. That moment was interrupted when Scott’s cell phone rang. Hope pulled away, but he brought her back for another kiss.

“Ignore it,” he mumbled against those lips of hers. “Whoever’s calling can take the hint.”

There came a giggle, and once again, their mouths and tongues were dancing amongst one another. Thankfully, the call ended and went to voicemail, giving them silence. But the silence didn’t last long.

Scott grumbled and finally tore away from her to lean for his phone. He picked it up and saw that Luis was calling him. Why now? He answered. “What is it, Luis?”

“Bro, you never came back last night!” Luis exclaimed from the other line. “Where are you?”

“Luis, I’m fine,” Scott replied smoothly. He had to quickly come up with an excuse. Luis and the guys knew that Scott was dating Hope, but he wasn’t going to tell them that he slept with her the night before just yet. “I came back late and left early this morning to get stuff done at Pym’s place.”

Luis was about to speak, but in the background, Kurt could be heard. “He not come back. I was up all night.” God dammit, Kurt.

Then Dave had to add something. “Yeah, man I would have heard you come back.”

“Where were you, Scotty?” Luis pressed fervently.

“Probably at mean pretty lady’s house still,” Kurt guessed.

“Guys, not now, please,” Scott tried to intervene so they’d stop. Meanwhile, Hope was giggling. She could hear everything that was going on since she was so close to Scott still. Scott shook his head. “Can we talk later?”

On the other end, Luis could be heard gasping after there’d been a long pause as the realization hit him. “Bro, you got laid last night!”

Scott’s face turned crimson. The last thing he wanted was for loudmouth Luis to learn of this. “Luis, not now.”

“You totally did, bro! That’s why you didn’t come back last night!” The other two guys soon joined in the commotion. Great.

“Luis, I’m hanging up.”

“Way to go, Scotty!”

Scott rolled his eyes and ended the call before dropping his phone aside. “Why did I answer his call?”

Hope chuckled and snaked her arms around him. “No idea. Now, where were we?”

Her little smirk and fluttering eyelids made Scott immediately focus on her instead of the call, pushing it to the back of his mind as he leaned down to continue kissing her. Several minutes later, the phone rang again.

“Ugh, go away, Luis!” Scott huffed and reached over to blindly tap the ignore button before returning to Hope’s lips. “He never learned what ‘privacy’ meant.”

“You know, you could put your phone on silent,” she reminded him. “Especially since we don’t want to be bothered.”

“You’re right. But he hasn’t called back right away, so I think he might have taken the hint.”

“Good, then,” Hope laughed and pulled him down to meet her mouth.

As they continued with their make out session, Scott began to drag his tongue over her lower lip, prompting her to open her mouth wide for him. His tongue slid across her teeth, along her cheeks, and against her tongue, exploring every inch of her mouth he could reach. When she bit his tongue, he moaned, and he then searched for her tongue to catch it in his teeth so he could suck on it. The moan came from her this time. Scott would never get tired of hearing that beautiful sound.

But then he heard another sound. It was faint, but audible. At first, he couldn’t tell what it was. He jerked his head up curiously, leaving Hope confused below him. Then she heard the sound, too. It sounded as if someone was… laughing? There were incoherent whispers along with it as well. Both of them stayed perfectly still so they could hear it a little clearer. Scott suddenly froze as his eyes flickered across the blanket and found his phone. His face twisted into horror as he realized that instead of ending the call, he’d answered it instead.

“Shit!” he interjected, fumbling for his phone. The guys were laughing hysterically on the other end. “Leave me alone, Luis!” He then ended the call and made sure to turn his ringer off. No more calls.

Below him, his girlfriend was blushing. She wasn’t too embarrassed, though. In fact, she found it a little funny. “Look at the bright side,” she told him. “At least they didn’t walk in on us doing anything. That would have been so much worse.”

“Good point,” Scott nodded with a slight shrug. He ran his hand over his face. “God, they’re never going to shut up about it, though.”

“Don’t worry about them,” Hope used that lowered tone of hers to calm him down. She ran her finger along his jaw. “Now, it’s just you and I. No more interruptions.” At least, that’s what she hoped.

That seemed promising to him. Her reassurance brought a smile to his face, and right away, they were locking lips once more. Luckily, there were no more interruptions the rest of the day. They spent the rest of the day like this, cuddling, kissing, whispering sweet nothings, rarely leaving the comfort of the bed at all. No one else called, or sent a text, or knocked on the door. Scott and Hope could finally enjoy each other’s company without the rest of the world interrupting their bliss. It was definitely a much-needed lazy Saturday for them.


 

Elsewhere, in Becca’s apartment, Jack was over again, as he’d been every day since she had surgery. He was on the couch with her, letting her rest on him as the two of them passionately kissed nonstop. This had become a daily thing for them at that point. If they weren’t kissing, they were cuddling, or eating together, or, on some days, sleeping peacefully together. After a few long, sweet kisses, she pulled away from him so she could look into his eyes. His hand came up to run fingers through her long hair. The way he looked at her was like he was seeing stars. She looked at him with the same gaze. There was no talking. Just silence. Blissful, beautiful silence…

And then the silence was suddenly broken as a phone started to ring. Becca jumped slightly. Looking over at the coffee table, she found that it was her phone that was ringing. She started to reach for it, wondering who was calling, but Jack stopped her.

“Leave it,” he whispered just as he pulled her down to capture her lips again. She could only giggle and she reached to at least silence the ring. They kissed again, smiling against one another.

The phone rang again. That time, they let it ring. But then it rang again. And again. Finally, Becca grumbled and reached for the little machine and brought it up. A sigh escaped her when she saw who was calling. Without moving from him, she hit answer.

“Hey, Mom,” she spoke. “Sorry, I was, uh, preoccupied.”

Colleen sounded relieved. “That's okay. I'm just calling to check in. We never managed to get a hold of you after your surgery. How'd it go?”

“It was successful. They got the whole damn thing out.”

“Oh, good!” the woman on the other line exclaimed.

Colleen went off on a tangent, and Becca listened for about half of it when she suddenly felt Jack’s lips on her neck. Becca gasped and bit her tongue.

“Becca? You okay?”

Shit, Colleen had heard her. “Oh, yeah, Mom, everything's fine.” Her words sounded hesitant and choppy. It was hard to focus with those magic lips on her neck. She managed to whisper to Jack. “Jack, you're going to get me in trouble.”

“I'm not doing anything,” he murmured against her jaw with that damn smirk on his face.

“Becca, who was that?”

Oh, god. “No one Mom,” she tried to sound as innocent as possible.

Colleen immediately got suspicious. “I thought I heard someone. Who's Jack?” After a split second a gasp came from the other line. “Becca, is there a guy with you.” Now, why it took her so long to figure out, no one would ever know.

“What? No, there's no one here. I don't know what you're talking about.” As she spoke, Jack continued to work her neck and jaw. Her sentences were split up as she tried to fight back her moans.

“Oh, Becca, you never told me about this! When did that happen? How'd you meet?” Colleen didn't believe Becca’s excuse one bit, and she threw several questions at her that displayed her excitement.

Becca grumbled to herself, running a hand all over her face. “Great,” she huffed under her breath. “Mom, can we talk about this later?”

At that moment she could hear Kevin walking into the room, because he'd called Colleen in the background. Becca heard him ask “what guy?” Then he started to ask curious questions, as well. Meanwhile, Becca glanced at Jack. “You're so bad, you know that?”

Jack’s grin was smug. Thankfully he decided to give Becca a break so she could speak properly. He listened as best he could.

“I know there's a guy, Bex,” Colleen stated.

Oh, goodie. There was no way she'd get out of this one. Dammit. After a long sigh, she began to answer the questions. “His name is Jack. I met him through work. The, uh… romantic involvement started the day after I had surgery. He's been taking care of me every single day. That better?”

“Becca, he sounds wonderful!” her mother chimed. It was nice to know that Becca was finding happiness for once. “And he's there with you now?”

“Wait, what’s his name?” Kevin asked.

“Jack,” Becca answered, almost with a grumble. “Do you guys really have to be so nosy?”

“We can't help it, Bex. You live so far away, and we barely get to see you. Flying over there for a visit is expensive. So when a long time passes between the times we talk, we can't help but be nosy and wonder what you've got going on.”

Becca sighed just then. Her mother had a good point. “All right, fair enough. But can we please talk another time?”

“I guess,” Colleen sighed, but it was a fake one, just to mess with her daughter. It didn’t take a master’s degree to know what Becca was really up to on her end. “I'm glad you have someone there with you, though.”

Becca smiled a bit. “Me, too.” She fixed her gaze on Jack, who gave her a sly wink. She rolled her eyes at him but the smile remained. “All right, I’ll talk to you soon.”

“Stay in touch, okay, Bex?” Kevin made one reasonable request.

“I will, I promise.”

They said goodbye and hung up. Once the call ended Becca put her phone back on the table before rubbing her face and grumbling. Jack grinned at her. “They sound nice.”

“They’re so nosy,” she scoffed. “My dad isn't as much as my mom, though.” She then rested her chin on his chest. “But she has a good reason, since she's on the opposite coast. The last time I saw them in person was about a year ago. Probably a little less than a year. But hey, on the bright side, she seems to already like you, so bonus points for you.”

He gave what looked like a triumphant expression before chuckling and guiding her up some more. He liked it when he could see her eyes without having to strain to look straight down at her. Fingers found her hair again, playing gently. “Well, I already like her,” he murmured. “What do they do?”

“Mom’s does therapeutic horsemanship stuff, and my dad is a now-retired vet.”

“Wow, so you got some of the medical brains from him, then?”

She chuckled. “Yeah, I guess you could say that. But I was more interested in human anatomy and medicine rather than animals.”

“How’d I get so lucky to get a girl who has looks, brains, and personality?” Jack thought aloud. A love-struck expression was written all over his face as he gazed at her.

The woman’s face turned a bit red. It had been a while since she’d received constant flattery like that. It was still new to her. “Oh, hush.” She then offered a soft smile before she leaned down to give him a soft kiss. She seemed a little distracted, though, as she thought of her parents, and the last time she saw them in person. Well, really, the last time she saw her mother in person.

Jack noticed that her smile had faded some. He tilted his head and cupped her cheek. “Hey, you okay?”

She nodded. “Yeah, I'm just… thinking, I guess…”

“You can tell me, you know,” his voice was gentle.

“It's just that… my mom has done so much for me in the last year. I mean, she's been there for me my whole life, as my dad has, too. But my mom has been my rock, especially in the past year and a half. She's nosy because she worries. I'm 32 years old but she still is constantly checking up on me.”

“Well, that's a good thing, though,” he assured her. “Considering what happened last year, I'm sure she was constantly checking up on you while you grieved.”

“She's also checking up on me now… because of something I did.” That was when she hung her head a bit shamefully.

Jack frowned and lifted her chin gently. “Hey,” he whispered. “It's okay.” He didn't know exactly what she was talking about, but she was upset and he wanted to make it better, even if he really didn't know how. “But if you don't want to talk about it, you don't have to say anything.”

“You should know this,” she shook her head. “I don't want to keep anything else from you. But, honestly, I don't even know where to begin.”

He took hold of her hand then. His fingers laced with hers, and his thumb stroked her hand softly. “I'm listening, one hundred percent.”

Becca nodded and took a few seconds to think. How was she supposed to tell him this? Should she just cut to the chase and tell him what happened? Or should she tell him the entire story? The gears in her head turned quickly and she just decided to say whatever came to her mind first.

“Last year, I made… an attempt on my life…” Well. There was the blunt part of it all.

Jack face became horrified and saddened immediately. A murdered husband, two lost babies, and an attempted (and luckily, failed) suicide? What else had she gone through? “Oh, Becca,” he whispered, bringing his arms around her so he could hug her and hold her.

“My mother was the one who found me,” she continued as she was pressed against his warm chest. “She just so happened to be visiting that week so I didn't have to be alone. If she hadn't found me when she did…”

“Hey…” he hushed her and kissed the top of her head. “Don't think about that, now. You're here, now.” One hand came up to cradle her head against his chest, much like a parent would a child. “You survived. You're stronger now because of it, I can tell.”

His words were calming, what she needed to hear. Remorse and resentment had been the only things she affiliated with the attempt. She'd never considered strength to come from it until he'd said something about it. “Thank you,” a whisper finally came from her. Her eyes soon met his as she realized something else about herself. “I will say… I’m doing much better than I had been. I’m happier now. I’m still taking things day by day, but it has gotten so much better.”

“Well, good,” he praised her. “I’m glad you’ve made it far enough to be able to say that. You’re a soldier, a fighter.”

In her head she was repeating things: I survived. I’m stronger. It was rejuvenating to have thoughts like that in her rather than negativity. It also hit her that one of the reasons she was happier now was because of the man upon which she rested. She shared a long, quiet gaze with him as he stroked her cheek with one hand and rested the other on the small of her back, keeping her safe.

“I'm glad you're here, now,” Jack whispered after a moment. “I'm very happy and proud that you made it this far since then.” His mouth turned into a soft smile as they locked gazes. Soon the space between them closed when their lips met. There was encouragement in that kiss. There was pride, and there was gratitude. Then it turned to comfort when he started to stroke her back tenderly. He made a promise to himself that he would keep reminding her that she was a warrior. She was strong.

She was a survivor.

Chapter Text

That Monday, Becca returned to work again. Jack had been over at her place the night before, like he had been every day, so he was the one to drive her to work with him early in the morning. They held hands in the car, and they even walked into the building hand-in-hand. They were early, so no one was really around to see them like that. It's not that they were shameful of the relationship. It's just that it had been so sudden, and no one else knew. They'd get around to telling people eventually. At least that's what they told themselves.

Jack escorted Becca from the car to the office, where he stopped to face her. “This is where I leave you, unfortunately,” he told her.

“I know,” she sighed. “I wish it was just another lazy day with you.” She stood on her tip toes and pulled him down so she could peck his nose. “But it's okay. We'll see each other for lunch.”

“Very true.” He was playing with her fingers as he gave a nod. “In that case, I'll see you at lunch.”

She grinned, and instead of her having to reach up to him, he did her a favor and leaned down to kiss her lips. “See you.” She then watched him leave and turn down the far hallway before she pivoted on her heel and went into the office to begin working. It wasn't five minutes later when they began texting each other.

Hope walked in about half an hour after Becca had gotten there. Becca didn't know this, but Hope had arrived with Scott that morning. Since their date, he still hadn't left her place. He'd even had the guys drop off some of his clothes for work so he didn't have to leave her. The woman strolled into the office and right to her desk.

“Morning, Becca,” she smiled on her way. “Glad to have you back.”

Becca, who had been writing something down, glanced up for a split second to reply. “Hey, morning. I am, too.” She went right back to work, but then suddenly took a second glance at her friend when she noticed something. She had to squint while Hope had her head turned, and her eyes shot wide open when she realized what she'd found. The surprised expression was mixed with one of knowing suspicion. “Uh, Hope?”

“Yeah?” Hope didn't look up from what she was doing at first.

“You got, uh…” it was hard to explain without being so outright about it.

“What?” Hope asked, glancing up for once.

Becca pointed to her own neck to show her where on Hope’s she'd seen the addition to her skin. “You missed one,” she stated with a slight smirk.

It took a moment for Hope to realize that she was talking about one of the newer hickeys on her neck. Quickly she brought out her handheld makeup mirror from her purse, and sure enough, she'd completely missed the mark. How did she not notice it before? “Shit,” she said under her breath as she fought to cover it up.

“Wanna tell me what happened on this date of yours?” Becca asked slyly. She already knew what had went down, and she was sure Hope knew it now, too.

The CEO's face turned crimson. “Do you even need to ask?”

“Nope,” Becca giggled. “But I do want details.” When Hope hesitated, Becca crossed her arms. “Come on, we’re friends, here. You can tell me.”

Before anything, Hope went to shut the office door. Turning against it, she leaned, letting out a breath. “Well, you already seem to know that we slept together.”

“Yeah, yeah, I get that part. How'd it happen?”

“Becca,” Hope wasn't used to sharing these details. She'd never really had that close of a friend for that.

“Come on, Hope, it's not like I'm a complete stranger. And I won't tell anyone. Come on, what led up to it?”

“Fine, fine,” the other woman held up her hands. “Well, I had him over for dinner, and while we were cooking together he started kissing my neck. He knows that's one of my weaknesses, and it made me shiver and I tried to play it off. We started making flirty moves or whatever, trying to see who would crack first. I won.”

Becca listened intently. “What did you do to him, anyway?”

“I kept teasing him, pressing my ass against him when he was behind me, giving him the same smug grins he was giving me… but I kept watching him and hardly did a thing. Then I brought him to the living room and he suddenly kissed me aggressively.”

"Couldn't handle the pressure,” Becca giggled. “He's whipped and he knows it.”

“And a damn good kisser,” Hope added under her breath, thinking it wouldn't be heard. Wrong.

“Oh, I bet. So what happened after he caved?”

Hope chuckled. “We just had a make out session right then and there. He kissed my neck, his hands roamed. I realized what was he was trying to do and helped him out by urging him on. One thing led to another, and now we've done it about seven or eight times in the last three days.”

The assistant’s jaw nearly brushed the floor. “Really?”

Hope nodded with a blush. “Is that bad?”

“Hell no, I’m jealous,” Becca admitted. “Damn, the sex must have been really, really good… wasn't it?”

“Oh you better believe it. It's earth-shattering. And I'm relieved it finally happened. Some of our dates have been filled with so much sexual tension that I wasn't sure how much longer we'd last. But I knew we were ready. And thank god for birth control.”

“Preach it.”

They both laughed, and then Hope wanted to change the subject to something other than her sexual encounters with Scott. “So, how's your recovery been?”

“So far, so good,” Becca replied. “Most of the cramping has completely gone away. I have a follow up this week.”

“Good to hear. And how are things with Jack?”

That was when Becca got tripped up. “They're well, from what I am tell. He's been helping a lot.”

Hope couldn't help but notice how her friend had started to blush. “What's with the flushing face?”

“Huh?” Becca hadn't even realized that there'd been heat rushing to her face.

“You're blushing,” the other woman pointed out. It was her turn to smirk this time. “Becca, what's going on?”

“Hope…”

“Oh, come on! I told you about me!”

“Yes, but I knew that was coming sooner or later. This… this is different.”

“Oh, bullshit,” Hope crossed her arms as she stared at the other woman, who was now avoiding her gaze. “Come on, tell me what happened.”

After a moment of silence, Becca, who had eventually started to smile like a giddy teenager, let out a breath. “Fine. We, uh… we kissed.”

“I knew it!”

“Oh, whatever. It actually happened by accident.”

“What? How?”

“Well, while I was sleeping, he went to kiss my cheek, but I moved, so his lips ended up on mine instead of my cheek. That was one wake up call I was pleasantly surprised to receive, honestly.”

“What did he do after that?”

Becca chuckled lightly. “He tried to apologize, thinking I was upset. To shut him up, I pulled him down to kiss him. Turns out he's a fantastic kisser. And I mean really good. Ever since then we haven't stopped.”

"Aww," Hope smiled. “See, I told you it was a good idea to have him help you.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Becca laughed. “No need for gloating.”

Hope’s smile became triumphant just then, but only for a moment. “I’m happy for you guys.”

“I can say the same about you and Scott,” when the other woman spoke, there was a teasingly smug grin on her face. “You and your mind-blowing sex.”

The CEO rolled her eyes with a chuckle, and that was when she went back to her work. Becca did the same, the two women working hard on whatever task they had on hand. Every so often, they’d gossip some more, just like they always did. It helped them get to the lunch break.

On another wing of the building, Scott was walking to Jack’s office to hand off some reports. When he poked his head inside, he found Jack texting… and smiling at his phone. This sparked Scott’s curiosity, but he kept himself from being nosy right away. “Here are the reports,” he came into the doorway. “Is now a good time?”

“Oh, yeah,” Jack nodded and waved him inside. But he didn’t look up yet. He had to finish writing a message. Once he’d sent it, he glanced up, and there was Scott, standing right in front of the desk and holding out the papers he’d brought. “Thanks.” Jack took them and set them aside.

“You’re all smiley this morning,” Scott pointed out. “Especially for a Monday.”

“Is that a bad thing?” Jack raised a brow, but he also let out an amused chuckle, because Scott had a similar form of happiness on his face. “I can say the same about you, ya know?”

“Well, I have a great reason.”

“Oh? Let me guess, it has something to do with the date you had on Friday?” By now, Jack had caught on. It wasn’t difficult to catch his drift. When Scott nodded and gave a victorious grin, Jack chuckled. He knew it. He just knew it. “You naughty bastard. How was it?”

“Absolutely amazing,” Scott answered, his mind flashing back to that night. It would be clear in his mind forever. “And she was asking for it. I started kissing her neck and tried to tease her, and she took it as a challenge. She’s sneaky and a tease… I cracked first.”

“Because you’re whipped.”

Scott laughed and shrugged. “Yeah, basically. Not that I care, though. I have no problem with it.”

“Of course, you don’t.”

They both shared a few laughs before Scott leaned against Jack’s desk. “So, how are things with Becca?”

“They’re better,” Jack replied. “She was working up the courage to tell me sooner. I saw the ring before she could speak up. But things are okay now.” He wasn’t sure if Becca wanted Scott to know that she and Jack had kissed over the last few days.

“Are you going to continue with a relationship?”

“I think so, when she’s ready. I’ll be patient and wait as long as it takes.”

Scott remained in there and chatted with Jack until lunchtime rolled around. Scott looked at his watched and smiled to himself. “I’m gonna go find Hope for lunch.”

“Easy there, horny bastard,” Jack teased.

“Shut the hell up.”

The chairman chortled. Scott eventually let out a few chuckles as well before he left for Hope’s office. On his way, he passed Becca, whom he waved at as she went by. She smiled at him, but it was smug, like Jack’s had been. Scott figured that she now knew of what happened between him and Hope. Girls and their gossip. He shook his head and went to find his girlfriend. He found her like he usually did, at her desk and typing a few things. He could see the uncovered hickey clear on her neck.

“Pssst,” he tried to get her attention.

Hope peered up and grinned. “Hey, there you are,” she beckoned him inside. “I just need to finish this last email, and then you’ll have my full attention.” Then, she turned back to her computer and continued typing.

Scott remembered that Becca was no longer in the office, so he decided to shut the door… and he locked it. He then went up behind her chair and slowly kissed the mark on her skin. “I see you forgot one, there,” his voice was muffled against her skin.

Hope shivered immediately. “I did. I asked you to check for me this morning, you liar.”

He gave a devilish grin and nipped at her neck. “I swear I didn’t see it.”

“I don’t believe you,” she murmured. “But, can you wait a few minutes? I’m almost done.”

“Am I distracting you, again, Ms. Van Dyne?” he asked the very obvious.

“Scott, why do you even ask that question?”

He didn’t answer. Instead, he kissed up and down her neck. He took her earlobe between his teeth, and then he sneakily brought up a hand to cup her breast. Thank god the door was locked.

“Careful, Mr. Lang,” she whispered, biting her lip to keep herself from moaning. Whatever was on her screen didn’t matter anymore. Nothing mattered. “We’re in public.”

Scott just smirked, noticing how she was beginning to squirm. He brought his mouth up to her ear to speak, his breath hot against her. “I don’t care. I’d bend you over this desk if I could.”

“Jesus, Scott,” Hope’s voice was breathy.

At first, it made him pull away slightly. “Too much?”

“Hell no,” she shook her head.

“Too bad I can’t do it more,” he teased and suddenly backed away all together. Hope peered over her shoulder in confusion. He was smirking, standing about a foot away, now.

She glowered at him. “Damn you, Scott Lang,” she hissed. “That was mean.”

“What?” he asked.

“You come in here, get me sexually frustrated, and then back away. Evil.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he shrugged innocently. He was trying so hard not to let his lips turn into a smile.

Damn this man. Sometimes she hated him. “You do,” she responded. “You do, and it was evil.” This time, he allowed himself to smirk mischievously, and she rolled her eyes. “What am I gonna do with you?”

“I have a long list of ideas.”

“Oh, god,” she laughed, just as she picked up a few pieces of paper. “Can you go take these to Jack, please? Since you’re going to be like that.”

He tried to give her innocent puppy eyes, but they didn’t work this time. He took the papers, kissed her cheek swiftly, and left the office. Inside behind him, he could hear her let out a frustrated huff, and it made him grin to himself. But he had to wipe it off as he got to Jack’s office again. Scott opened the door, and he was immediately shocked.

“Oh, my god!”

Right there behind the desk was Jack, but there was a woman with him… actually sitting on his desk while he kissed her. Scott’s interjection made her jump, and she pulled away from Jack and glanced toward the door. Scott couldn’t believe it.

“Becca? Holy shit, when did this happen?”

Jack and Becca both laughed. “Looks like the cat’s out of the bag, then,” Jack stated. “This happened last week, by accident, actually.”

“A perfect accident, if you ask me,” Becca added, wrapping her arms around Jack’s waist.

“And you didn’t tell me?” the other man acted offended. “You just told me you reconciled, and that was it. You left out a big detail here! You didn’t say it was that kind of reconciliation! You traitor.” He was mostly joking, of course, because he couldn’t hide his excited grin.

“Just because you have loose lips doesn’t mean that I do. I didn’t know if Becca wanted me telling anyone yet,” Jack raised his hand in defense. His other hand was resting on Becca’s hip. The woman smiled at Jack’s chivalry. “Nothing personal.”

Scott chuckled just then. “In any case, I’m happy for you both. So, everything’s okay now?”

“Yes, Scott,” Jack nodded, a laugh falling from the edge of his words. He motioned toward the stuff in Scott’s hands. “Are those the papers from Hope?”

“Yeah, here,” he said and walked up to hand it off. “Okay, I’ll leave you be, now. Carry on.” Scott then turned and left the room, though he didn’t go back to Hope’s office because he knew he was still in trouble. He decided to instead send her a text. How are you holding up?

Still frustrated no thanks to you. I hate you for that.

Come on, you don’t hate me that much do you?

She was typing for a moment, and then it paused. A short reply came from her. I guess not that much.

He smirked to himself as he wrote. Still imagining me bending you over the desk?

Oh, definitely. In fact, I’m relieving myself thinking about it.

His eyes went wide. The thought of her touching herself was incredibly arousing. Really? That’s hot.

That was when she threw her revenge at him. Too bad you won’t be getting more.

Wait, what? His brows had furrowed at the screen. No reply came after that. He sent another text. Hope? Come on, I’m sorry I frustrated you. Despite his efforts, he got no answer. Hope, one. Scott, zero. Like it usually was. There really was no way he could win against her. All he could do was sit there in his locked office, his only choice to deal with his own sexual frustration himself.


 

A few hours went by, the end of the day drawing near. Scott was finishing up the last of some lab reports when his phone buzzed. He took one glance, not expecting much, but then he did a double take when he saw that it was from Hank. Before he got distracted, he finished his work and looked at the message. His eyes went wide as he read it, and he shot up to hurry and clean up and lock up the office before running out. He went to Hope’s office immediately, skidding to a stop and hitting the doorframe. The sound made Hope jump.

“Scott?” she let out a breath. “What the hell?” Her furrowed brows and confused look gave way into a bit of worry as she rose to her feet. “Are you okay? You look like you've been running a marathon.”

“I came to show you this,” he whipped out his phone and rushed to open his messages.

Hope’s confusion returned. “Show me what, Scott?”

Finally, he pulled up the message and showed her his screen. Hope read the message, and her heart skipped a beat, eyes going wide.

Your suits are both finished.

Chapter Text

Hope, like Scott had, hurried to finish her work as soon as possible. Scott waited with her, thankful that she didn't seem to be mad at him anymore for teasing her. That was the last thing on Hope’s mind, now. Her heart raced, excitement rushing through her veins. The phrase “it's about damn time” kept looping in her head. Scott watched her with a smile. Not only was he happy for her to finally getting what she wanted, he was thrilled to see her in the suit for the first time. And that was for more reasons than one. He started zoning out at the thought. Meanwhile, Hope was shutting everything down, signing the last of a few documents before quickly gathering her things and turning for the door.

“Let's go,” she hurried him. But she didn't wait for him. She was out the door in seconds. She had to pull Scott with her so he’d keep up. He laughed and ran with her.

They passed Jack’s office, and Hope quickly slid to a stop to peer inside. Jack was sitting, Becca with him, of course. They looked up.

“Hey, where are you off to in a hurry?” Becca asked.

“Something came up,” Hope said, panting. She then tossed her the office key. “I have to go, so I need you to close and lock the office.”

“No problem,” the other woman nodded.

Hope then looked at Jack. “And you can hold down the fort, right?”

“Of course,” he nodded as well. “I've got you covered.”

“Thank you,” Hope said, and then she disappeared with Scott in a hurry again.

She raced to Hank’s as fast as she could, so excited that her knuckles were white as she gripped the steering wheel. Scott put his hand on her arm but didn't say a word. He only smiled at her. She smiled back at him, relaxing a bit at his touch. After letting out a long breath to calm herself down, she relaxed completely, continuing with her drive to Hank's.


 

They burst into Hank’s house and headed right for the lab. They only got inside a few feet, because Hank was heading to meet them at the door. He noticed Hope out of breath, Scott just as much, and he chuckled to himself.

“That was quick,” he noted. He waved them to follow him. “Both of your suits have a new kind of regulator on the arm. You'll still shrink by the push of a button, though. No more torso regulators. Scott, your suit is more flexible and can take more damage than the old one, obviously. Hope, yours can take just as much. You also have ‘stingers’ on your forearms.”

“What do they do?” she asked as they began descending the stairs to the lab.

“They shoot fire-like blasts of discharges of compressed air,” Hank explained. “You can use them while both big and small. However, you can only fly while small. With the wing span they'd get in the way at full size. You can hover, however, because that doesn't require the wings to fully spread. It'll help when switching between big and small.”

She nodded. “That makes sense.”

Hank walked ahead and opened a first panel. A door slid open, revealing Scott’s new and improved suit. He stared at it in wonder. It looked almost like the old one, but not so dirty and vintage, and it was much sleeker.

“Sweet!” he exclaimed, and he stepped up to take it off the display and head out to put it on.

Hank then turned to another panel, where he kept Hope’s suit. When the completed suit came into view, Hope was awestruck. Everything was completely attached, wings and all. Her heart leaped instantly. She was so in awe that she was at a complete loss for words. Hank smiled gently and put his hand on her shoulder.

“I'm sorry it took so long, but it's finally done. And it's all yours.”

Hope turned to look at him, smiling wide, and she then wrapped her arms around him. “Thank you,” she whispered.

“You're welcome,” the old man replied. “I'm glad you approve.”

She pulled back to look at the suit again—her suit. “Can I…?”

“Of course. Go ahead.”

The woman smiled and took down the suit and held it in her hands. It felt sleek, lightweight… and it was all hers. After holding it for a moment, she went to go change into it. Hank watched her leave with pride in his heart.

Scott returned before Hope, feeling more confident than ever in his new suit. “This is so amazing! And you put flannel lining! You know I was mostly joking when I said that.”

Hank shrugged. “I thought I'd do something nice.”

The other man chuckled and moved around to get used to the feel of the suit. He felt lighter than he did in the old one. He then noticed that Hope was gone. “Where is she? Trying on the suit?”

The old man gave a nod. “Yes.”

Scott could see the pride on Hank’s face, but he also saw some worry. He understood immediately. “Hey,” Scott spoke up. “She'll be fine.”

“I can't help but worry,” Hank sighed. “But I know I need to learn to let go. She's a grown woman. I just… I don't want to lose her.”

“I know the feeling. All too well, actually. But she's been way more qualified than I have ever been for this. She'll be a natural once she gets the hang of it.” He spoke of her like she was a goddess. And Hank noticed.

“Just do me a favor, Scott,” the old man began, glancing at him.

“Yeah?”

“Don't kiss my daughter in front of me, please. I know I can't change whatever's going on with you two, but at least no PDA, okay?”

Scott looked at him for a moment in confusion, but then he realized that he wasn't a dead man. “I can do that,” he nodded. “I honestly thought you were about to say don't kiss her ever. Because if that was the case, I'd be in deep shit.”

“Scott, if I wanted you dead for that, I would have done it long ago.”

Thank god. “Okay, then. Thanks, I guess… for sparing me?”

Hank rolled his eyes and shook his head.

Just then, footsteps came from down the hall. Both men looked up just in time to see Hope enter the room, fully dressed in her suit, helmet in her hand. It was a perfect fit, every bit of it. She glanced at her father and boyfriend. “So? How do I look?”

Pride washed over Hank in an instant, along with a few other emotions. He looked upon his daughter and saw her mother instantly, and it brought tears to his eyes. “You look beautiful, Hope,” he told her. “Just like your mother.” He then brought her to the nearby mirror so she could see for herself.

The moment her reflection met her eyes, the green orbs filled with tears. So many emotions surged through her at once. She'd dreamed so long of this moment, and now she finally had it. It was all she ever wanted to see. “Oh, my god…” she spoke under her breath. It was more than she ever could have imagined.

Scott went up behind her, sliding a hand over her shoulder. “You look beautiful,” he whispered with a smile. He then brought his voice down even lower. “And sexy.”

“Thank you,” she sniffled a little bit, laughing at his last remark. Her face turned red for a second.

He kept his smile and reached up to wipe her tears. “Is all you've ever dreamed of?”

She nodded. “Yeah, it really is.”

“Then let's go test this baby out,” he reached to take her hand.

Hank turned for the door, leading them up the stairs and out to the backyard. That was when the nerves hit. Her heart skipped a few beats. Scott turned to her.

“Hey,” he took both of her shoulders. “You'll be great.”

She nodded slightly. “I'm sorry. I'm just nervous.”

“That's okay,” he assured her. “It's understandable. But I know you'll be amazing.”

Her green eyes lifted to meet his after a second. “You really think so?”

“Oh, I don't just think so. I know so.”

Hope giggled and looked down blushing. “I never thought this would be happening,” she let out a breath. “I can't believe it.”

He reached out to lift her chin so he could lock gazes with her. “I bet your mom would be proud. I sure as hell am.”

This comment made her eyes brim with tears again. When they slipped, he was quick to wipe them away. “I wish she was here to see this,” she breathed.

“She's watching down on you right now, I'm sure. Now, let’s go be badasses together.”

Hope let a small grin spread across her face as she met his gaze. “Thank you, Scott,” she murmured, just as she hugged him tight. “That means so much to me.”

He hugged her tight, eventually pulling away to look at her again. While Hank wasn't looking, he stole a quick kiss. Then he took his helmet and slid it over his head. Hope did the same with hers. He could see the smile through the visor. “Let's do this.”

She nodded with a huge grin on her face, and they walked into the grass hand-in-hand. Hank was already in the patio chair he kept in the yard. He decided to let Scott be the one to give her the most help. And the whole time, he was grinning, seeing Janet in her, like he always had. He might have been nervous and worried, but he was so damn proud of her. He wished Janet could see her now.

Scott brought Hope to the center of the yard and stood before her. “I guess it would be best to start with shrinking. Starting easy.”

She nodded and looked to her hands, and she found the buttons she needed. Scott pointed out which one was which, and when Hope pressed the shrink button, she was gone in an instant. Scott followed immediately. He was just in time to catch her from falling.

“I've got you,” he told her.

“Thank you,” she giggled, finding her footing again. When she was steady she glanced up at the huge world around her. Up until then, she'd only imagine and dream of being as small as an ant. Not once did she ever expect it to come true. Here she was. “This is incredible.”

“You took to it better than I did. I didn't know what to think. Must be in your genes.”

Hank's voice came over their communicators. “You okay, Hope?”

“Yeah, I'm fine,” Hope replied. “It's just… it's amazing.”

“Try using the wings,” Hank suggested. “They work like the communication system with the ants. Signals from your brain in your helmet are sent to the wings. Try hovering.”

Hope nodded and took a deep breath, peering behind her to look at her wings. She felt Scott take her hand and looked back.

“Just in case,” he shrugged chuckling.

“Thank you,” she smiled. Then she silenced, focusing on nothing else but the whole flight thing. She was very careful, especially since they fluttered at the slightest signal. Her grip on Scott’s hand tightened. He squeezed to tell her that he had her, and it gave her some confidence. After a deep breath, closing her eyes, she began, and she heard her wings fluttering behind her. A little more thought and soon she felt the ground disappear slowly from beneath her. Her eyes flew open and she looked down and smiled so wide. “Oh, my god!”

Scott smiled, still not letting go of her hand. “You've got it!”

But right as he said that, she lost a little control and came to the ground. Scott was there to catch her, and they were laughing.

"Ease into it, Hope," Hank’s voice rang in her ear gently. “It takes practice. And I know you have the patience.”

“Want to try again?” Scott's voice caused her to glance at him. He could see her still grinning through her helmet.

“Are you kidding? Yes I want to try again!”

He chuckled and backed up some, but kept his grip on her hand still. Her heart raced, but she focused despite the overwhelming situation. Carefully, she tried to hover again, and though a bit shaky, she managed to stay hovering for a long time without losing connections and falling. She was laughing excitedly.

“There you go, that's it,” Scott praised her. He said it again when she managed to handle multitasking, thinking about him while also keeping herself airborne. Scott wished he could kiss her right then. “Okay, want to try small movements?”

She nodded, but the thought made her squeeze his hand more. He squeezed back to give her some reassurance. Thank god he was there with her. As she kept herself in the air, she started to move slightly, going forward and back, side to side, up and down. She was surprised that she was staying in control for the most part. She rose higher into the air, a bit shaky, but still decent. She couldn't believe it. She was flying. She was actually flying.

Scott grinned proudly. "Okay, want to try it on your own?"

“Yes!” she exclaimed. She released his hand a few seconds later, and then tried moving on her own. She was shaky, but slow and steady wins the race. She began to lift herself higher, getting more of a feel for her wings, and she was more relaxed, now. After a moment she stretched out her arms to feel the wind. Suddenly, as her hand flexed, there came a whoosh that was loud, and a bright light took her by surprise. It threw her off focus—and off balance. Luckily, Scott was there to catch her. She was bewildered. “What was that?”

“Your stingers,” Hank said, and he sounded a bit tense. When Hope turned she could see that her blast (which was surprisingly huge) had landed really close to the old man.

"Oh, god," she cursed under her breath. “Sorry.”

“No, that's okay,” her father reassured her. “You'll get the hang of it. Let's try flying again.”


 

An hour went by of nonstop practicing. It was also an hour of falling, too. And sometimes Scott wasn't quick enough to catch her when she was farther from him. Those times Hope would land with a thud on the ground. There was one fall that she was sure would leave a bruise on her elbow. And yet, she'd always get back up to try again. By the time the hour was up, she'd gotten the hang of most things. It would still take more practice and getting used to, but more practice would have to come from being in action. So, that's exactly what they did.

Hope did her best trying to learn how to dodge while flying, and how to fight midair. Scott felt so bad sometimes, when he'd hit her too hard and knocking her off balance, or when he'd cause her to lose focus and fall. He was sure she was getting all sorts of bruises and cuts, and yet she kept going.

By the time three hours had passed, Hope was doing even better. She had full control of her flying, now, and she had no problem dodging Scott and his ant. By the time she got used to fighting in the suit, her marital arts skills came into play, like usual. Her body may have been sore, but that never stopped her. Now Scott was the one being hit hard, which was just how Hope liked it. Although, she didn't like hurting him too much. But god did it feel good to be able to do this. I hope I'm doing you proud, Mom.

At the end of five hours, both were out of breath, ready to stop for the day before they got too carried away. They grew to full sized, out of breath, faces red and sweaty. Hope was hunched a little bit, since Scott had kicked her in the ribs more than a few times. Scott just knew he was covered in cuts and bruises, because she always pommeled him during sparring. Finally, at the end of one of the countless rounds of practice, Scott landed on his back, out of breath, and sore all over. He returned to normal size, Hope appearing next to him after a moment. She, too, was out of breath and sore. Some parts of her were stinging. She pressed the side of her helmet to open the mask when looking at him.

“You okay?” she huffed trying to breathe.

He nodded and opened his visor as well. “Yeah, yeah, I'm good.”

She offered him her hand just then, and she helped him to his feet. Once he was steady, he took off his helmet completely, breathing in fresh air and sighing heavenly. Hope did the same thing, and she turned to see Hank walking up to them.

“Nice job, both of you,” the old man praised them. He noticed the bliss on his daughter's face. “How'd it feel?”

“Incredible,” she grinned widely. “I can't thank you enough for this, really.”

“You deserve it,” Hank said. “You also deserve some rest, both of you. Get home, get some rest. You both got beat up today. And it certainly won’t be the last time, either. Good job, though.” He then walked past them to head inside the house.

Scott turned to his girlfriend once Hank was gone and kissed her. “You’re so sexy in that suit, you know that?” he mumbled against her lips.

“Mmm so do you,” she answered. “It looks great on you.”

“So does yours. But I must admit, I like it when it’s off, too.” He was smirking as he hovered over her lips.

She gave him a playful slap. “Easy there, hornball. Let’s get home, first.”

“Fine,” he fake grumbled before kissing her again. “Come on, then.” He took her hand and led her inside to go take off the suits.

They went back down to the lab together and went off to remove the suits. Hope finished before he did, and she was hanging her suit on its display when he came up behind her to caress her hips softly and kiss her shoulder. She leaned into him with a smile. Once she had hung up her suit, and he’d done the same with his, she turned to face him. He slid his hands over her hips once more, and when he did, she seethed suddenly and tensed, almost jumping away. He jerked his hands back.

“Whoa, I’m sorry,” he said quickly.

“No, no, don’t be,” she shook her head. “I’m fine.”

But he didn’t believe her. Carefully, he lifted her shirt, and he found bruises starting to form on her hips. There were also a few nasty cuts, ones that she actually hadn’t noticed. “Okay, let’s go home so I can take care of these.”

“Scott, really,” she protested. “I’m fine. Plus, I can fix them myself.”

“Nope,” he wouldn’t listen. He took her outside once saying goodbye to Hank and had her sit in the passengers seat, much to her dismay. Nonetheless, she took his hand while in the car and held it the whole way back to her place.

The next thing she knew, she was laying on her bed on her side, shirt off while Scott pulled out the first aid kit she kept in her bathroom. He sifted through the kit and found the alcohol and gauze pads and bandages. Unfortunately, she didn’t keep hydrogen peroxide, and it wasn’t until then when she realized that she was not going to enjoy this. She watched as he pulled out what he needed and set them aside. He took the alcohol and poured it on a cleansing pad.

“I’m sorry,” he said as he scooted closer. “This will sting.”

“I’m a big girl, I can handle it,” she snorted. But when he drew closer with his hands, she couldn’t help but hold onto one of his arms. She was careful, though, not to mess him up. When the alcohol met her skin, she hissed a little, but kept perfectly still. He gently cleaned the cuts she had, making sure that they wouldn’t get infected.

“You okay?” he checked on her. She nodded, and he kept going. Before long, he finished, and he covered each wound with a bandage. He had to be careful, because they had a bunch of tender bruises around them. Once he’d closed the kit, he had her lay back, and thankfully, she didn’t argue with him. She lied back and settled against the pillows. As Scott watched her, he did with a massive, love-struck grin, but he said nothing.

She glanced at him with her brows raised. “What’s wrong?”

“Absolutely nothing at all,” he replied and kissed her hand.

“Then why are you being so quiet and looking at me like that?”

Scott fell silent for a moment, his gaze dropping to his hands for a second while he carefully tried to find the right way to say what he was thinking. After he realized that there was only one way to say it. His gaze flickered back up to lock with hers.

“Because I love you.”

This took her by surprise, and it made her lose all her words instantly. He loved her. He actually loved her. No man had ever loved her in that way before. And the fact that it was Scott made her heart sing, and that was when she realized something. She carefully sat up to be closer to him, and she gazed at him with a soft smile for a few seconds before she leaned in to kiss him and lay her head on his shoulder.

“I love you, too, Scott,” she whispered gently, her arms coming up to wrap around him. And she did love him, more than anything now that she’d thought about it. And knowing this made her smile wider. He relaxed with her, relieved that she returned the gesture. She could hear him let out a sigh and she chuckled softly. “I really do.”

“I’m so glad,” he laughed back at her. His hands rubbed her back tenderly, and he soon got her to lie down again, but he joined her this time. His arms never left from around her.

She giggled and snuggled closer to him, breathing in his scent that she’d grown to love so much, just like the man she’d grown to love so much. She’d never felt this way about anyone else, and it felt so amazing to feel that way. It made her heart flutter and soar. And as she thought about it, she realized that it was a little bit funny in a sense. She’d gone from completely despising him, to “almost liking” him, to liking him in a romantic way, to being completely in love with him. If someone had told her that this was the man she’d love six months before, she would not have believed it. Look where she was now. It was almost the same way for Scott. Still, she was always attractive to him, but he never thought he stood a chance. Hell, they were in love, and he still didn’t think he stood a chance, nor did he believe he deserved someone like her. But he wasn’t complaining.

They were in love, and they couldn’t have asked for anything more.

Chapter Text

Three weeks passed. Over the course of those three weeks, Hope continuously trained with Scott in their suits, and she was getting better and better. Flying was a breeze now. She knew how to control her stingers. Changing sizes was a piece of cake now, too. And boy, did she adore every minute of it. Every time she flew, her laugh rang out louder than ever. Freedom never felt so good. Scott was jealous that she could fly. He still had to control an ant. But he did enjoy watching her fly around so happily. If she was happy, so was he.

One particular day started out normal. Scott and Hope were in the backyard of Hank's house, preparing for another practice round of sparring and shrinking and what not. They'd already been at it for a couple hours, but they were getting bored.

They shrank down to the grass trying to come up with a good approach for something new to do. Scott called his ant (affectionately called Antony 2) and mounted. For a while, he relaxed atop the ant as he thought. Hope did her best to think, as well.

Suddenly an idea sparked in his mind and he smirked to his girlfriend hovering next to him. "Wanna race?"

His tone was so challenging and teasing—and cocky. How could she say no? "Oh, you're so on, Scott."

"Last one to finish here after flying around the house makes dinner tonight?"

"Sounds like a deal."

In the blink of an eye, Scott whizzed past her on his ant. "Looks like you're making dinner, bye!"

Hope scrambled to fly after him. "What the hell, Scott?!"

Ahead of her she could hear Scott cackling. He peered behind to look at her, and she was getting closer to him quickly. Dammit, she was an expert at flying now. He urged Antony 2 to go faster, trying to stay ahead as best he could. He didn't dare look back, for it could be detrimental.

Hope kept gaining on him, a smirk forming on her face. Now that she was up to speed, she was starting to casually soar past him. "I think you may be the one making dinner tonight," she taunted him as she came up next to him.

"You sound so sure," he called back to her. But as he said this he was beginning to get distracted. She always distracted him when she was being a badass.

She remained there for a moment, and in a split second, she zoomed ahead, Scott unable to do anything but watch. Then he got another idea. His mind was thrown off course, and his balance. He tried to regain it quickly, but he was too slow. The next thing he knew, he'd slid from his ant.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, shit!" he shouted, trying to grab for Antony as quickly as he could, but he wasn't quick enough. "Antony, little help!" he tried using his ear device to get Antony to come back for him, but he was falling too fast.

Hope stopped short when she heard him curse, and she whipped around. "Dammit, Scott," she exclaimed and fired after him in a matter of seconds, going faster than she ever had to go catch him. She got him right before he hit the ground.

"Oh, God, thank you," he let out a huff as she set him on his feet.

"I hope that won't become a regular thing," she crossed her arms, shaking her head with amusement.

"It won't," he promised.

"Good," she nodded, and she rubbed her arms, for they ached from catching him from that height at that speed. She took a moment to stretch them so they wouldn't be as sore later.

While she was distracted, Scott quickly called for Antony and mounted as the ant whizzed by. "See ya!" he cackled.

"God dammit, Scott!" she shouted and fought to catch up with him. Her wings beat quicker than ever, as they had when she went to catch him.

They were getting close to the finish, and Hope was not okay for letting him do that not once, but twice. She caught up to him at almost the last second. They were neck and neck for a few, but one extra burst of speed made Hope pass him, just in time for the finish of the race. She skidded to a stop and landed on her feet in the grass. She was out of breath, but she was laughing victoriously for winning despite being tricked twice. "Looks like you really are the one making dinner tonight."

He dismounted from Antony, dumbfounded and amazed at the same time. She crossed her arms standing there, and he didn't say a word.

"Cat got your tongue, Mr. Lang?" she teased. "Seriously, that was a dirty trick. Both times."

"Come on," he finally said. "You already kick so much ass! I wanted to win just once."

"You thought I would just let you? It has to be fair and square, at least during races."

He held up his hands in surrender. "Okay, okay. I'm sorry. But I wish I could have seen your face when I tricked you."

"You're an idiot," she scoffed, shaking her head.

"Yes, but I'm your idiot." He trotted up to her so he could see more into her visor. He could see her smiling despite trying not to show it. "Come on, you love me."

Damn him. No matter what he'd always manage to make her smile. "I guess," she droned teasingly. "But you still have to make me dinner tonight."

"And for dessert?" he raised a brow behind the mask with a hinting smirk.

"I'll have to think about that," she murmured. "You've been very bad today. We'll see."

"I promise I'll be extra good."

"You better be." She chuckled quietly and suddenly grew to full size, Scott following right after. She took off her mask once normal size, shaking out her hair that was probably messed up from the helmet. When she glanced up, she saw Scott following her lead with his own helmet. But he didn't bother fixing his hair. It wouldn't look any different. She smiled at him and stepped closer. "You're adorable."

He chuckled and wrapped an arm around her. "I think you have me beat on that one."

"I don't agree." She drew her lips closer to his and hovered for a moment before kissing him.

They kissed for several seconds before Scott pulled away for about two seconds, just to say, "Of course, you don't." And then he was back to kissing her.

She let her arms rest on his shoulders as their lips met several times over. His own arms tightened around her waist. If they weren't outside and if they weren't at Hank's house, they'd be stripping and in bed in seconds. They had to be careful here. Scott had to force himself not to feel her up. But their kissing was still fierce. "I love you" fell from both of their lips, voices swallowed by the other's mouths.

They continued like this for a while, until a distant sound caused them to pull apart. They tuned in and listened carefully. The sound was unmistakable. Sirens. Many sirens. And they weren't really that distant now that they were paying attention.

Scott turned to Hope, his brows raised. "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"

Her only response came in the form of her slipping her helmet back on and closing the mask. "Let's go."

Just then, the particles danced, and she was gone. Scott was quick to shrink as well, calling Antony and flying off after his girlfriend, the two of them heading toward the sirens.


Jack was at Becca's again. It was the third day this week. It was quiet, like it usually was, aside from the low volume of the TV in the living room. Other sounds came from the kitchen, where Jack was working on some late lunch for the two of them. This time, he was making some grilled cheeses, something easy since it was basically a lazy day for them. He had two plates prepared, and once he'd cut them in half and put salt and pepper on them, he carried them to the living room.

There, Becca was dozing off on the sofa. Before he'd left, he told her to relax while he took care of food. She had laid her head down, and the next thing she knew, she was sleeping. She really didn't mean to fall asleep. But the comfort and warmth of the blanket that now smelled like him was too alluring. She lay there curled up, a corner of the blanket by her face so she could continue to breathe his scent while she napped. Jack chuckled when he walked into the room and saw this. He almost didn't have the heart to wake her up. But he knew she was hungry, and the sandwich would get cold soon, so he sat down and placed the plates on the coffee table before shaking her gently.

"Becca," he whispered.

"Mmm?" she tried to speak, but she forgot to move her lips. Her blue eyes fluttered open and she sat up to stretch. "Oh. Hey. Sorry, I didn't expect to fall asleep."

He smiled and kissed her temple. "It's okay. I brought you a grilled cheese. I didn't want you to have to eat it cold."

Her gaze fell upon the table and found the sandwiches there. "Wow, they look so yummy." She leaned forward to take a plate and place it in her lap, digging in immediately. "Oh, yes. Delicious. Thank you."

"You're welcome," he nodded and kissed her cheek this time before digging into his own sandwich. He reached for the remote. "Do you mind if I check the news?"

"Not at all," Becca shook her head. "Go for it."

Jack switched the channel to the news, and at first, everything seemed boring. But then a breaking news coverage came on the screen and caught their attention. The reporter came up, with a live video feed beside her. It was hard to tell what was happening at first, but as the reporter explained it, it became clear. A bank robbery had occurred, and at that moment, there were cops and some SWAT team members on scene. Gunshots were going off, people were scrambling to get to safety, typical robbery scene.

But then they noticed something else when the camera zoomed in on the chaos. First, there were flashes of light that didn't normally come from guns. Secondly, there was something about who was involved in the fighting. If Jack and Becca looked closely, they could see two people that stood out from the rest. They were… appearing and disappearing? Becca sat up and watched with intrigue. The two were in suits of some kind, looking like something like Iron Man from afar. The red suit could have been anyone. But then there was the one in the yellow and blue suit. She'd never seen that before. No one came to her mind that had those colors.

"Do you see that?" Jack's voice pulled her from her thoughts.

"See what?" she snapped into reality.

"Those guys that keep going invisible," he pointed out to the two on the screen. "You think they're Avengers?"

She shrugged. "After everything with Sokovia, I don't think they'd be hanging here in San Fran," she thought aloud. After all, she didn't see a giant green monster, a flying suit of legitimate metal, anyone in red, white, and blue, or a thunder god anywhere. "I have no idea."

"Whoever they are, they're kicking some serious ass," Jack watched the screen intently, in wonder by what he was seeing.

Becca watched with him as she ate her sandwich, wondering who could be the suited couple. Maybe they were new recruits. She didn't know. But Jack was right. They had some serious fighting skills, both individually and as a team.

As they watched the feed, they could hear a single gunshot that followed a chorus of others, and the person in the yellow-and-blue suit suddenly appeared and landed hard on the ground, appearing to be in pain. The red suited one came into view and pulled its injured partner up from the ground and rushed to get out. They ran into a sea of people and disappeared. They didn't come back into the feed again.

"Damn," Jack sounded disappointed that the super couple left the scene. "I hope the one that was shot is okay." His interest in the news story took a nosedive after that, so he turned to Becca beside him. He smiled and kissed her cheek like he had earlier. "Is it good?"

She nodded as she swallowed the last bite of her sandwich. Her lips curled upward happily. "Very," she answered. "Thanks again."

"You're welcome," he grinned, just as he was leaning forward into her. "And now, dessert." With that, the space between them closed in seconds.

They completely forgot about whatever was happening on TV in a matter of three seconds. Each other's lips were all that were on their minds now. Becca wrapped one arm around his neck and pulled him in closer, her kisses remaining soft and chaste. Suddenly, there was a tiny flame in the pit of her stomach that was moments away from spreading if they kept going. And she wanted so badly to keep going. She wanted him. If it was dessert he wanted, he would get it.

The kiss deepened. There was hunger on her lips, and he knew it wasn't for grilled cheese. He knew what was happening, and he reluctantly pulled away. "Wait, Becca," he murmured.

"What's wrong?" she asked with a whisper. God she hoped he would keep going.

"I, uh… are you… are we…?" he had a hard time finding the words. He let out a breath. "What about your recovery?"

Becca's lips lingered over his jaw for a moment. "I've healed completely," she whispered. "Last week my doctor said I'm just fine now." She then went back to kissing him, especially around his pulse point. After a moment she felt him pulling her back up to look at him again.

"Are you sure?" he asked her softly.

"I am," she nodded slowly. "I want this. I want you, Jack."

She was about to kiss him again when he stopped her yet again. He couldn't help it. He wanted to make sure it was real and that they were truly ready. Jack knew he wanted her just as badly as she wanted him. But he had to be sure. "What about condoms? Do you have any?"

"I just got back on my birth control pill the week after my surgery," she explained. "I don't have any condoms otherwise."

"Yeah, neither do I," he told her. How was he supposed to know that this was going to happen? "But it's good you're on the pill, then."

She kissed him softly after she gave him a nod. "Yeah. Also, I'm clean. I have no diseases or anything."

Another good thing. "So am I. I got tested a while ago and I hadn't been with anyone. Still haven't been with anyone so I'm clean, too."

"Good, then," she smiled, pressing a kiss to his chin.

"So…" he began. "You're absolutely sure, right?"

"Jack, I really want this with you. However, if you're not sure, we can wait. I'll wait as long as I have to." Her eyes were as sincere as sincere could be. "I just want you." And she kissed his lips.

He kissed her in return. "I want you," he replied softly. He didn't know if this was a dream or not, but he certainly wouldn't waste this. His heart jumped into his throat, but not out of fear. Those eyes of his lingered down at her body, swallowing hard. God, he was already getting hard just looking at her and thinking of what was about to happen, his denim jeans getting tighter by the second. There was no way they'd be stopping now. Hell, there was no way they could stop. The only way would be for someone to actually rip them apart. His hand came up to cup the back of her neck, and he pulled her down.

However, he knew she'd recently come out of surgery, so between each kiss, he managed to get a few words out. "Tell me if I'm overstepping. I don't want to hurt you."

"You won't," she assured him with a murmur that was sweet like honey.

"Maybe you should take the lead," he suggested. "Show me what you like, and I'll follow." He wanted so badly to be hers, a dog chained at her feet to do whatever she wanted.

She kissed him again, hungry like before, proving to him that she really meant this. To further prove her point, she slowly crawled forward and straddled his lap carefully. She let out an interested purr when she felt his erection in his pants against her. For a moment she ignored it. Her focus turned to his lips, his jaw, his ear, his neck… and ever so slightly, she pushed her hips forward on him. He took in a sharp but pleased breath, his hands finding her thighs and rubbing them. His heart seemed to sprout wings in his chest.

After their lips danced for a while, turning pinker and swollen from all the fierceness that had grown between them, she pulled away, to get oxygen for one. But she had another goal, as well. She had him sit back for a moment while he, too, caught his breath, and so he could watch her as she reached down to find the bottom hem of her shirt and lift it. It was off in seconds and cast aside with little care. Jack watched in awe, his eyes lingering all over her bare torso and her still-covered breasts. They didn't stay covered for long. The next thing he knew, her bra was gone, probably on the floor with her shirt. He was immediately enamored.

As his eyes wandered, he noticed something about her. Her skin, which was fair and sprayed with freckles, had a different kind of mark in some places: scars. They were easy to see, because they were darker than her actual skin color, and there were quite a few. There was one that was circular in shape, just under her collarbone on her right side. There were two similar ones on the left side of her torso (on the right since he was looking directly at her from the front). She followed his gaze and looked down and realized what he was seeing.

"I was shot three times," she explained quietly. "The day my late husband was killed… Two of the bullets, the ones on my stomach, didn't go all the way through, and they had to be surgically removed."

Jack listened and ran his fingers over the scars. He didn't ask why she got shot. It was probably a result of her becoming caught in the crossfire of all the chaos she endured that day. After a moment, he met her gaze. "They make you more beautiful," he told her.

"You think so?" her face turned a rosy pink.

He nodded. "Of course. They show how much of a warrior you are."

She smiled at him, and then he pulled her down to kiss her again. She took his hands blindly and brought them up and over her breasts. He felt the soft mounds in his hands as they fit there perfectly. He ran his fingers over them, feeling her stiff nipples. He gave her breasts a slight squeeze before taking her nipples in his thumb and index finger on both sides. She moaned.

"Yes, like that."

When he got that from her, he squeezed a little harder. The pleasure made her shiver and arch, pushing her breasts more into his hands. She leaned back, and her hips moved forward over his bulge. He moaned and squeezed even harder with every time she rode over his hard length.

Becca smirked and reached for his jeans, undoing the button quickly. The zipper followed quickly. He held his breath in anticipation as she began to reach into his pants. Dear god, she was reaching into his pants! It made his heart jump and race a million miles an hour. Everything felt like he was floating on cloud nine. And oh god, feeling her hand on his shaft made it even more amazing.

Her hand was gentle when she stroked the velvety skin, feeling the way he throbbed. God she wanted him. With each passing minute the desire for him skyrocketed. She couldn't take it anymore. Suddenly, she was off him, on her feet as she started pulling his jeans off him. But he took her wrists to stop her, only so he could do the work for her, taking them off as well as his shirt. She started to remove her own jeans, as well. As soon as she was completely bare, she was back straddling his lap and kissing him fiercely.

A hand came down to cup her heat and feel her moisture. God, she was nearly dripping, like he was. When his hand contacted the meeting of her thighs, she moaned louder, and she bucked against him. The action also meant she was grinding over his erection.

"God, Becca," he moaned, his own hips bucking against her.

"I need you, Jack," she replied in a breathy voice. "I want to feel you inside me so badly." She began to position herself over him.

But before anything, Jack pulled away to look right into her eyes. "You're absolutely sure? You won't regret this tomorrow morning, will you?"

"I couldn't ever regret you," she whispered. And she meant every part of that.

"Okay," he nodded, and then she sank down on him, their loud synchronized moans filling the room.

Dear god, finally. Finally she got to feel him inside her, and it was glorious. She felt like jelly, her own heat pulsating with a constant need for him. She began to grind slowly, getting used to that feeling. It had been so long since she'd felt that connection, and with him, it was beyond anything she'd ever imagined. It made her feel so weightless like this, so sensitive to everything, sensitive to him. He felt the same way. The way she rocked over and into him, her breasts bouncing with her, was incredibly arousing, more than anything. His hands came up to take hold of her hips and urge her to continue riding him like that. They fell into rhythm gradually, she grinding her hips, he bucking to meet her hips.

Every time she rocked around him, he filled her completely, stretching and stroking her swollen, slick walls, so firmly that she could feel every inch, every throbbing vein as he pumped up into her to meet every expert roll of her hips. He released several carnal groans, pulling her to him so he could wrap his mouth around one of her breasts. He sucked on it before taking her sensitive nipple between his teeth and pulling, while his thumb worked the other one. Her body convulsed as she curled over him, cradling his head against her to keep him there.

"Oh, yes, Jack!" she cried out against him. She was pretty sure he chanted the same thing, but she was concentrating more on how good this felt.

Becca let her eyes flutter closed, but they flew open again when she felt him reach between them to press his thumb against her engorged clit. She seethed with pleasure, even more when he began kneading the stiffened, overly sensitive nub. The woman shook with the extreme feeling, and she didn't even bother biting back a loud cry as huge bolts of pleasure rocked through her groin, down each limb and through her nipples where he kept pleasuring them.

"Oh, god, oh, god!" she nearly sobbed as he flicked out his tongue to taste her stiffened peaks in the same rhythm as their hips were moving. She writhed against his massaging fingers, the feeling of his shaft inside her as he pumped her continuously. "Oh, god, Jack, yes! Don't stop!"

"Never," he mumbled against her skin. Her fingers clawed at his back, now, her walls bearing down on him and closing around him to make sure he felt everything. He shuddered against her with each motion. "God, Becca, you're so wet, and tight!"

"All yours!" she shouted loudly. And by now she wanted him so horribly that this wasn't enough anymore, and she spread her legs wider on either side of him. "Jack, more! Harder! I need you to fuck me!"

He could only moan at her sudden surge in desire, loving the way she pleaded for more. He clung to her hips and pulled her into him, getting even deeper into her as she ground her hips even harder against him. At one point, she rode him at a new angle, and he thrust right against her sweet spot, and he began to accelerate his movements. She gasped, arching and feeling him filling every inch until he was so deep, pounding her with such ferocity, that the head of his shaft butted against her womb with each powerful inward thrust. It made her shudder and quake harder than ever, thighs jerking with each deep penetration.

Then it began, the powerful fluttering deep inside. It was the edge of the cliff she'd been hanging over by a single thread, and she started to keen helplessly, almost mindless with the magnitude of the approaching climax. Jack captured her mouth in a rough, passionate kiss. The sounds of her loud moans were smothered as he kissed her, as she raced towards and over the precipice.

The orgasm was explosive, more than she'd ever felt before. Her fingers delved into his curls and tugged as her fists clenched. Her body jerked in helpless spasms both inside and out as she sobbed into his mouth. Whatever mental capacity she had left was shattered into a million pieces in seconds while he continued to pound into her as she came so hard. She came so hard that it felt like it would never, ever end, and if it didn't, it would probably kill her.

As her slick walls clenched around him, he, too, began convulsing within her without any control. Curses fell from his lips, which she swallowed in her mouth. His whole body convulsed out of his control while the pleasure overcame him, so much so that he could have sworn he was seeing stars. His groin exploded inside her, his hot load filling her so much that it was slipping out of her and back down his length as they continued to ride out the orgasm.

After what seemed like an eternity, the intensity slowly began to fade, and finally, they pulled their mouths apart to breathe again. How they managed so long without oxygen, they'd never know. She collapsed against him, panting so hard against his shoulder. He was still thrusting, but it was erratic, until it became nothing at all. Their hearts raced as if they'd just ran a marathon. Her eyes fell closed as she relished in the feeling of her inner muscles contracting rhythmically around him despite the rest of her too weak to move. All she could do was lay there against him, unable to move or think straight as the deliciously intense spasms slowly began to weaken. His erection softened, as well, but they didn't disconnect for a long time.

When she had the willpower, she lifted her head to look at him, seeing the bliss written all over his face. There was bliss, as well as astonishment. It sent her giggling for a moment as she press as softer kiss to his lips.

"Wow," he breathed when they moved apart. "That was… incredible…"

"I can say the same thing," she replied. "I don't think I'll be able to walk for a while."

He laughed and peppered her face with kisses, sliding his arms around her even more. "That's hot."

"Knowing that you're the reason I can't walk properly?"

"Precisely."

She giggled and kissed him before resting there with him. After a while, she had to get up, reluctant to disconnect the junction of their bodies. She collected her clothes, but instead of putting them back on, she just went to put them in her room. When she returned she was wearing a robe. It was short, so if she bent over, her ass would be revealed. And she knew this, and she purposely went in front of him to bend over and pick up his clothes. He teasingly wolf whistled, and she giggled and smirked. She folded them for him and set them on the back of the sofa before sitting next to him on the couch again.

"I'm glad you enjoyed your 'dessert,'" she murmured in his ear.

He nodded, and suddenly she was in his lap again, giggling as they met for a kiss again and again. For the rest of the day, they hardly left that sofa, except at night when they retreated to the bed and made love a second time before they settled down for sleep.

Chapter Text

Hope arrived to work a bit later than normal that morning. Her movements were a bit stiffened, thanks to the events of the bank robbery the day before. Everything had been just fine. She and Scott were kicking ass together one moment, and the next thing she knew, she was on the ground with a stinging pain in her arm. She was so stunned when that happened that Scott had to carry her out of the area to get help. Before she knew it, she was in the hospital getting her upper shoulder stitched thanks to the gunshot wound she endured, with Scott by her side the whole time. She had a horrible time sleeping that night. She had to sleep on her back, because that was the only way it wouldn't hurt, and no matter what she did, she could not get comfortable. She tried propping up her arm, positioning it a few different ways, but nothing worked. The slightest movement or pressure made the wound sting. But somehow, she soldiered through it. She had to. She couldn't afford to show the pain she was in.

When Becca heard Hope walk in, she only glanced up for a split second. "Morning," she greeted her friend and boss. Her gaze dropped back down, only to shoot back up again when she noticed that Hope was walking a bit pained. She was guarding her left arm, it seemed, keeping it close to her body. "Are you okay?"

"Huh, what?" Hope tried to act oblivious, because she could almost feel Becca watching her with curious eyes.

"You look hurt. What happened? Is your arm okay?" Becca was starting to get out of her chair as she asked all the questions. That was the doctor in her talking.

Hope saw her get up and tensed a little. "I'm fine," she partially lied.

And Becca knew it. Crossing her arms, she lifted a brow as she looked at the other woman. "Bullshit. I can tell you're hurt. You're guarding your arm. What did you do?"

Hope had to think quickly. "I went rock climbing with Scott this weekend, and I slipped and fell on my shoulder. I already went to the doctor, so don't worry."

"I didn't know you rock climbed."

"It was Scott's idea."

"Scott rock climbs too?"

"He just thought that it would be a fun date idea." Not exactly smart, but quick.

"Oh, all right," Becca shrugged, thinking nothing of it for a moment. "Sorry you got hurt." The injury part still confused her. Hope was graceful from what Becca could tell, not someone who would fall like that. She began to turn back around, and when she did, she could see Hope stretch a little bit, seething. Her shirt rode up slightly, revealing what appeared to be bruises on her hip. When Hope used her arm, she writhed again, but tried to hide it. But she failed to hide something else completely.

On her shoulder, Hope had more bruises. They were more purple and yellow, completely unlike the bruises on her hip. There was also what looked like a patch of some sort peeking out from under her shirt. Becca knew what that was instantly: a gauze pad.

"Holy shit," she blurted out. "Hope, you were not rock climbing. What is this?"

"It's nothing," Hope lied.

"Hope, I'm a doctor, in case you forgot. Come on, let me see."

"Becca, it's fine."

"No, Hope, it's not."

Hope saw Becca reaching forward for her, and she went to slap her hand away. When she did, Becca grabbed hold of her wrist before anything. The CEO just stared at the other woman, who had raised her brows, as if to say "nice try."

"Let me see," Becca said. She reached up with her free hand, not releasing her grip on Hope's wrist. Hope tried to jerk away, but the motion sent pain shooting through her wounded arm. Becca peeled back the collar of her shirt in a flash. Sure enough, she found bruises and a gauze pad, which had a bit of blood on it. She peered around to look at Hope's backside. There was a gauze pad there too. Becca knew what that meant. "Oh, my god, Hope did you get shot?!"

"Shh, don't be so loud," Hope hissed. "Does it really matter?"

"Uh, yeah it matters! Hope, I know a gunshot wound when I see one. The bullet went through, that's why you have two gauze pads. What the hell happened?"

Hope didn't know how to explain this. Was she supposed to tell her what happened by revealing the whole thing about the Wasp? Was there a way around it?

Becca didn't take her eyes off Hope's. The doctor's mind ran wild with all sorts of possibilities. She came up with nothing. The only gunfire she heard of recently was during…

Suddenly, her eyes widened. She remembered seeing the news report of the bank robbery, and she remembered seeing only one person get shot in that exact same place in the shoulder. Had that been…? No, it couldn't have been… could it? "Oh, my god…"

Hope watched her expression change and she swallowed hard. Great. She was going to have to say something.

Becca took a step toward the other woman. "Hope, was that you who got shot at that bank robbery?"

A sigh escaped the CEO just then. Her gaze dropped to avoid the other for a moment, until she had the nerve to look up again. "Go close the door."

"Why?"

"Because what I have to explain to you is confidential and I need you to shut the door."

Becca nodded, finally releasing her grip on Hope's wrist so she could go and close the door. She locked it for extra precaution. Then, she went to Hope's desk and pulled up a chair. Once she'd made sure Hope could sit down and not in any pain, Becca sat down. She leaned forward to listen carefully, her eyes narrowed. "Okay, what's going on?"

Hope realized that the only way to explain this was to start at the beginning. "Okay… you know my dad, right?"

"Yeah," Becca replied.

"And you know what SHIELD is, right?" Hope made sure to whisper, just in case.

That name. Hearing it made Becca tense up, but she had to hide it as she nodded slowly. "Yeah, I do."

"Well, my dad used to be a scientist for them. While he was, he invented something… a substance that can change the distance between atoms… basically a shrinking substance. He used these particles in a suit that could make him shrink, and he began going on missions with this suit, going by the name Ant-Man."

Okay, so Hope's father was a former superhero. This was new. "No kidding?" Becca said.

"No kidding," Hope shook her head. "Fast forward to this past June, when a thief responsible for the Vista Corps incident was finally released from San Quentin."

What did a thief have to do with this? "Who was it?"

"Scott Lang."

Becca's jaw dropped. So Scott was responsible for all of the chaos with Vista Corps. Becca never would have known. She was in New York, focused on other things at the time. But she was still confused. "What does Scott have to do with the Ant-Man?"

"At the old Pym Tech, the old CEO, Darren Cross, was my dad's former protégé," Hope explained. "He suspected my dad was hiding something from his past, and Darren began to try and make a particle of his own. But over time, it was affecting his brain chemistry, and he began to lose his mind. He began to develop a suit that rivaled the Ant-Man suit, and my dad knew it would destroy the world, and he wanted to take action. That's where Scott comes in.

"Scott has a daughter, Cassie. I think I've spoken of her before. She is his world, and because of his thieving ways, and trying to find money to pay child support, he's been unable to see her. My dad found this out, and recruited Scott to become the new Ant-Man. Long story short, the heist planned almost failed, but luckily, we destroyed Pym Tech and whatever information it contained inside. Elsewhere, Darren had gotten to Cassie, but Scott saved her by deactivating Darren's suit. Now, we're here, rebuilding and picking up the pieces."

Becca was amazed. "So Scott is a hero now? For his daughter and possibly the world. That's incredible. Now, how'd you get shot?"

"I was getting to that," Hope assured her. "Now, here's my mother comes in. Remember how I told you she died?"

"Yeah," Becca nodded.

"Well, she's not. Well, we don't think she is."

The doctor's brows knit together. "How?"

"She used to be my dad's partner on his missions, known as the Wasp. She had a suit like my dads. But in 1987, an ICBM was launched at the US. My parents went out to stop it, but the only way to get into the bomb's interior was through solid titanium. My mom… she turned off her suit regulator, which kept her and my dad from shrinking nonstop… she deactivated the bomb, but that caused her to shrink into oblivion. My dad didn't tell me this until a few months ago. Now I know that she made the choice. She sacrificed herself to save everyone. She was… a hero."

Becca saw Hope's face become a little somber, and she reached out to place a hand on her wrist. Hope glanced up and smiled sadly, a tear slipping. Becca wiped that away, though. "So, is there a way she could be brought back?"

Hope nodded once. "We think there is, because Scott went subatomic like she had, but he managed to get out and come back. He doesn't remember how, though. My dad has been working ever since to find a way to get her. Now, there's another thing my dad has been working on… another suit… another Wasp suit… and it's for me…"

"No way," Becca gasped lightly. Her eyes were bewildered. First, Hope's dad was a superhero, then Hope's boyfriend, and now Hope herself was one. "So, that was you who got shot during the bank robbery, while kicking some ass?"

"That's a way to put it, yes," Hope laughed a little. "Now, you can't tell anyone about this, okay?"

"I won't," Becca agreed. "But that's incredible. My friend and boss is a superhero. That's never happened to me before. And I never would have guessed that your dad was part of SHIELD once." Her heart ached a little as she was reminded that she once was, as well. And the pain showed on her face.

"Hey," the CEO's voice pulled her into reality. "Are you okay?

"Yeah, why?"

"Your face got a bit… I dunno, saddened. Is everything okay?"

"Yeah, everything's fine, really."

Hope didn't believe her, but she didn't push the issue. Not at first. She brought up the wrist that Becca had grasped and rubbed it. "I gotta say, you have a killer grip… and quick reflexes. Did you practice martial arts?"

Becca nodded quietly. "But it was a long time ago," she mumbled, looking at her hands in her lap and twiddling her thumbs.

"Seriously, Becca," Hope spoke up again. "What's wrong?"

That was it. She had to tell her. After all, Hope had told her everything. Hiding it wasn't really fair. "Listen, I have something to confess myself… it's… it's kind of big. And it kind of has to do with the whole martial arts thing."

The other woman straightened a bit, giving Becca her full attention. "Oh? Well, you know you can tell me. What is it about the marital arts?"

"It's where I learned it," Becca uttered.

"Oh? Where did you learn it? Or when?"

After taking a huge breath, she swallowed her pride. But she didn't look up at her friend at first. "I learned it when I worked for SHIELD." There, she said it.

Hope was shocked. "Wait… you worked for SHIELD?"

"I was a medic," Becca explained. "But, uh… my husband was a field agent. He taught me how to defend myself."

The Wasp didn't know what to think. She was dumbfounded. She never would have been able to guess that Becca was involved with SHIELD. She opened her mouth to ask questions, but Becca beat her to it.

"I joined SHIELD because of my husband, Josh," she continued. "I wanted to be closer to him. And it was nice because I was working as a doctor. But I was doing mostly trauma work despite being an OBGYN. I didn't care, though. I was with my husband. All was well… until April last year, when SHIELD was compromised. While all hell broke loose in DC, there was an attack in NY, where we were. My husband was shot by a guy from Hydra while trying to get me to safety. I moved back to Cali immediately after, once I had a colleague put me in the system as deceased so I could move in peace. I refuse to be involved with anything relating to SHIELD anymore."

"Oh, god," Hope breathed. "I'm sorry to hear that. I can't imagine."

"It's okay," Becca shrugged. "It's getting better, the pain. I still hold a major grudge."

"It's good you're getting better," the other woman said. She then paused for a moment before sighing. "Look, I completely understand if you don't want to work for me anymore."

Becca's face went from somber to surprised. "What? Why would you think I wouldn't want to work here anymore?"

"I mean, you're trying to get away from SHIELD and now your boss is a hero associated with their technology and I mean, this whole company was originally my dad's so—"

"—Hope," Becca cut her off. "You don't work for SHIELD. You're independent of them, right?"

"Yes, but—"

"—But nothing. You're my friend, Hope, and like I said, I'm getting better."

"But now that you know everything, you're in danger again."

"Trust me, I've had my fair share of scrapes. I'll be fine."

Hope sighed and decided to let it go. Like herself, Becca was stubborn. There was no way her mind would be changed easily. But deep down, Hope was glad Becca wanted to stay. She was a good friend, she would hate to see her leave. On the other hand, she was a doctor, and Hope figured that at some point, Becca would want to go back into the medical field. Only time would tell.

At that moment, Becca's phone buzzed in her pocket, and she pulled it out to find a message from Jack. She grinned and replied, all while Hope watched.

"Is that Jack?" Hope asked.

"Yes, was it that obvious?"

Hope laughed. "Kinda, yeah. You guys spend a lot of time together, things must be going well."

Becca nodded. "Oh, yeah. Things are going really well." It wasn't until after she spoke that she realized that she'd said that aloud.

This sparked Hope's curiosity, and she raised a brow. "Is that so?"

"Huh? Oh. I said that out loud, didn't I?"

"You did. Wanna tell me what happened?"

"I'm pretty sure you're already thinking it."

"Mhm, but I wanna here you say it."

"Seriously? What are you 16?"

"Why don't you want to say it?" Hope raised a brow and smirked, crossing her arms.

"I didn't know you are still partially a high schooler. But fine. Yes, Jack and I had sex. Happy?"

Hope let out a victorious laugh. "Yes! Finally! Okay, tell me everything."

Becca rolled her eyes with a scoff. "Fine. We were at my place, like usual, enjoying a lazy day. He made lunch and we actually watched the news report of the bank robbery. By the way, he was amazed watching y'all. I was, too."

"Oh, Jack," the CEO chuckled. "Then what happened?"

"He lost interest once you and Scott left the scene, and then he turned to me and we started making out. One thing led to another, and long story short, once I assured him that I was fully recovered and I'm on birth control, we had sex right there on the couch. Three weeks of resisting because of surgery definitely paid off."

Hope giggled. "Oh, I'm sure. Worth the agonizing wait?"

"Hell yeah, it was."

They laughed together for a while until they remembered that they had work to do. Becca helped Hope move back to her desk without hurting her before going back to her own. It was hard to focus, though, because ever since she made love with Jack, she'd been unable to get him off her mind. Well, that had been an issue before, but now it was worse. Sure, she got stuff done, but not quickly. Too many distractions. Hope was having trouble concentrating as well, thanks to every movement making her seethe. But she powered through as best she could.


 

At the end of the day, Becca was gone and Hope was just finishing up the last of her work. Scott came to her office to get her, finding her still buried in work. "Hey," he spoke up.

Hope looked up and smiled. "Hey. I'm almost done, just gimme a second."

"Take your time," he told her, stepping inside and pulling a chair up next to her. "How's your shoulder?"

"Still hurts like a bitch, but otherwise okay."

"Aww, I'm sorry," he frowned slightly and kissed her cheek. "You're relaxing when you get back home, okay?"

Hope wasn't having it at first. "Scott, I'm fine."

"Not to me, you aren't. I want you resting. Please? For me?"

It was so hard to say no to those puppy eyes he gave her. "All right, fine. I will."

"Good," he grinned.

He waited around until she was done with her work, and he helped her get her things together and lock up before taking her to the car. He made sure she was comfortable the whole ride back to her place. At one point, he wanted to hold her hand, but it was the bad one that was closest to him. So, instead, he reached over to let his hand rest on her wrist. He stayed that way until they returned to her house.

He assisted her inside and immediately had her sit on the sofa for a while. He waited on her constantly, despite her protests. He brought her food and water, pillows for her arm, everything.

"Scott, really," she said at one point. "You don't have to do this."

"But I want to," he retorted. "Because I love you."

She couldn't help but smile. "I love you, too," she said, and he kissed her. "Now, can you help me up? I need to go take a bath."

He nodded and pulled her to her feet carefully. He stayed by her side the whole way upstairs to the master bathroom. She started for the bath, but Scott went ahead of her.

"What are you doing?" she asked.

"I'm drawing you a bath, what's it look like?"

"Oh, Scott, you really don't—,"

"—Hope," he cut her off. "I want to. Now come on, I'll help you. You'll need me to help clean your back and avoid the wound, right?"

He had a point. There was no way she'd be able to reach without causing herself pain. So, she gave in. While the tub was filling, she got herself undressed. Scott grinned at her as she looked at herself in the mirror.

"You're beautiful," he told her confidently.

She blushed. "Oh, hush," she giggled, stepping toward the bathtub now. It had been filled with nice, hot water, now, and she was ready to get in. Scott helped her get settled before kneeling by the side of the tub and taking a washcloth. While she washed what she could reach, he helped clean her back, avoiding getting the wound wet. It felt nice, and she even leaned into his hand as he continued.

There was something on Scott's mind just then. "Have you spoken to Hank since yesterday?"

This made Hope let out a sigh, and she shook her head. "No."

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"I could just… I just saw in his eyes how hurt he was when I told him what happened, that I was shot. I'm sure he regrets giving me the suit. But I don't want him to take it away just because I got injured."

Scott leaned forward to kiss her temple. "Oh, Hope," he murmured. "He's just being a dad, and because of that, there probably was some regret in his eyes. When Cassie was four, she knew how to ride her bike without training wheels, and she was good at it, but still shaky being so young. She went a little too fast and I couldn't catch up. She lost control, and she didn't know how to stop herself going that fast. I couldn't get to her quick enough when she fell off and got scraped up pretty badly. I felt so bad. I kept going over and over in my head everything that I could have done to prevent that. But it was bound to happen at some point, but that was because I was being a concerned dad. Hank is the same way. He's just being a concerned dad trying to keep his daughter from getting hurt."

Hope realized that he was right, but she still had her fears. "So, you don't think he'd take the suit away?"

"Absolutely not," he shook his head. "If he did, it would destroy the bridge he's trying to rebuild with you. That's the last thing he wants. It would be the last thing I'd want, too. I wouldn't be worried."

She gave him a soft smile, and he pressed a kiss to her temple. "I hope you're right," she replied.

"Don't worry," Scott assured and continued to clean her back.

"How is Cassie, by the way?" Hope asked.

"She's great. I'm getting to see her more now that I can pay child support. We're just trying to find a good visitation schedule for now. She asks about you a lot."

"She does?" Hope blushed. "She's such a sweetheart."

"You know, you can come with me when I see her if you want. She adores you."

She didn't know how to respond to this at first. "Really? Well, I'd be happy to if there's ever a time you want me to go."

Scott grinned. "I wish I could bring her to my place, but it's not suitable for children." He let out a few chuckles. "I love the guys, but I really need to find my own place."

"Well, you could live here if you want." The statement left her lips before she could even stop it.

Their eyes met. He wasn't sure if she was being serious. "Really?"

She nodded and smiled. "I mean, you're here all the time anyway. You practically live here already. I guess this is me formally asking you to move in with me."

His face brightened with a huge smile and he kissed her. "I accept," he stated. "Really, Hope, that means a lot."

"It's the least I can do," she returned the smile. "Welcome home, Scott."

"Thank you," he chuckled, kissing her again. "I love you."

She giggled. "I love you, too."

Soon, she got completely clean, and Scott helped her out of the bath. Ever so carefully, she got into comfortable clothes and settled on the bed, with him next to her. He was careful when cuddling her, for he didn't want to cause her any harm. They lounged there on the bed while watching TV, and soon, Hope was dozing off in his arms. Scott smiled and carefully moved out of her arms to turn everything off and help her get comfortable while she slept. Soon, he was in bed, too, curled up beneath the covers as he looked at her peaceful face. Before he drifted off, he leaned forward to kiss her forehead and whisper a goodnight.

As he drifted, he had a smile on his face. This was their bed now. The whole house was theirs. The idea amazed and excited him. It made him oh, so happy, just like the woman who had asked him did. He never imagined to be living with her, but here he was, happier than ever in their bed. He could only imagine what they would accomplish together next. He knew there'd be many more adventures between Ant-Man and the Wasp 2.0, and nothing else excited him more.

Chapter Text

It took Scott only one day to move into Hope's place with her, since he didn't have very much stuff. All he had was some clothing, and that was really it. The guys were sad to see him go, but they knew he was happy with Hope, and they also knew they'd see him around every now and again. They even helped him get his clothes to Hope's. By the time the next weekend rolled around, he was completely settled in.

Hope's arm was slowly healing, and Scott was there every second to help her while it was still sore. He helped change the dressing, clean everything, and all else to make sure she was comfortable and in the least amount of pain possible. By the time a little less than a week had gone by, she could move her arm a bit more without that searing pain. The pain was still there, but much less than it had originally been. She had Scott to thank for that.

However, something new was about to happen to her when the next weekend would roll around, and it was something that she hadn't been prepared for when Scott asked.

Somehow, he managed to talk her into having Cassie there for a weekend. Maggie and Paxton had to go away for the weekend, and they decided to ask Scott and Hope to watch Cassie while they were away. Hope was hesitant at first. It was so last minute. She loved Cassie, but she wasn't sure if she could handle having the little girl for three days when she had next to no experience with children at all. Hell, she'd barely been alone with her for more than an hour. Scott told her that she wouldn't be doing it alone, but still. How was she supposed to help be a parent for three days? How did Scott even do it? She wasn't ready. But, somehow, she gave in, making Scott extremely happy. So, when that weekend rolled around, she find herself running around the house to make sure everything was ready for Cassie's arrival.

"What do kids even like to eat?" she asked while checking the fridge and freezer. She planned on making dinner, but what? "What does she like?"

"Hope," Scott said, walking up to her and closing the freezer that she'd been holding open. "I bought chicken nuggets and fish sticks for her. She also likes pizza. We could make that tonight."

"You're sure she'll like that?" she questioned.

He chuckled quietly and hugged her waist. "Hope, I know for a fact she likes those things. Relax."

She let out a long breath. "I'm sorry. I don't know how to do this."

"That's okay," he reassured her with a kiss to her cheek. "Hope, Cassie loves you. She's been talking about this all week. Hell, just being here would make her happy. There's nothing to worry about."

To her, there was. "I can't help but worry, Scott. I've never been around kids much. I don't know what they really do, or like. I can't help but think I'll mess up around my boyfriend's kid. That's the last thing I want."

"That won't happen," Scott kissed her. "I know it."

She lifted her gaze to look at him. "You sound so sure."

"Because I am. Hope, it'll be just fine. Just relax. Be yourself, the Hope that Cassie adores."

After a moment, she mustered a smile and kissed him softly. She was about to speak when the sound of the doorbell cut her off. They glanced at each other.

"Show time," Scott spoke up. He planted one more kiss on her lips. "Let's do this."

She nodded, trying to stay calm as Scott left the room to go answer the door. She decided to stay in the kitchen while he did. A deep breath left her as she prepared for the weekend ahead. God, she hoped this would go over well. Like she said, the last thing she wanted to so was screw up with this. All she could do was hope for the best.

Scott hurried to open the front door. When he did, that familiar little girl's face lit up with excitement.

"Daddy!"

"Hey, Peanut!" Scott exclaimed and took Cassie into his arms immediately, picking her up and twirling her around. "Oh, I missed you."

Cassie's little arms wrapped around her father's neck as she hugged him tight. "I missed you, too, Daddy!"

He chuckled. "I swear you get bigger every time I see you," he remarked. "Stop growing up so fast, will ya?" His comment made her giggle, and he pinched her nose teasingly before looking at Maggie, one arm reaching to pull Cassie's bag inside. "Thanks for bringing her."

"It's not problem at all," Maggie grinned, and she looked over at Cassie. "All right, sweetheart, you be good for Daddy and Hope, okay?"

"I will, Mommy, I promise," the little girl nodded. When Scott put her down, she went over to give her mother a hug. "I love you."

"I love you, too, Cassie," Maggie replied with that same grin. "I'll see you soon. Have fun!"

"We will. Bye, Mommy!"

They waved goodbye, and Maggie returned to her car and drove home. When her car disappeared, Scott brought Cassie and her bag inside the house, setting her down on her feet. The little girl looked around. "Where's Hope?" she asked.

"She's in the kitchen," Scott replied.

Cassie immediately ran into the house to find Hope. She'd never been there before, so it took her a moment to find the kitchen, but when she did, she saw the woman and ran to her. "Hope!"

Hope turned to her and knelt down, knowing Cassie was about to hug her. And the hug was tight. "Hey, you," Hope smiled. "Good to see you again."

Cassie giggled and looked at the woman hugging her. "I missed you and Daddy!"

"I missed you, too, Princess," Hope said. And she actually did. She missed the little girl that made Scott's world so much brighter. She missed her laugh, her smile, and her voice, everything that reminded her of Scott, really. But this was still new to her, staying with a child for more than a few hours. She made a promise to herself that she'd do her very best, for Scott and for his daughter.

Scott came into the room and saw the two hugging, and he smiled. "I told you," he chuckled. "She was very excited to see you."

Cassie grinned wide up and ecstatically at the woman who was still kneeling in front of her, proving Scott's point. Hope returned the expression. "Is that so?"

"Uh-huh!" the young girl jumped up and down as she nodded. "I'm so happy!"

Hope's glance flickered up to Scott, and he gave her an encouraging smile. "I'm glad to hear it," she replied. "I'm happy you're here, too."

Soon, Hope rose to her feet, but Cassie couldn't help but hug Hope's legs. Ever since she'd learned how to punch, her admiration for the woman who taught her dad how to fight had skyrocketed. She'd look up at the woman with so much wonder, like, what else could she do? Scott smiled at the two. "Hey, Peanut, are you hungry? It's about dinner time."

"Oh, yes!" the little girl nodded.

"What would you like? We have fish sticks and chicken nuggets, or we can make pizza."

Cassie thought about it for a moment before she decided. "Fish sticks, please!"

Scott chuckled and went to the freezer and pulled out the brand new bag of fish sticks he'd gotten just for Cassie. He popped a few into the microwave and got out a paper plate. Meanwhile, Hope sat at the kitchen table, Cassie climbing into the chair next to her. It was a bit strange to Hope, having this child admire her so much. It was nice, but very, very new. All she could do was smile. What was she supposed to talk about?

Thankfully, Scott's daughter brought up a conversation before things got too awkward. "Daddy, can we watch a princess movie tonight?" she asked.

"Of course," Scott chimed. "We can watch one after dinner. Which one do you wanna watch?"

"Beauty and the Beast!" Cassie exclaimed. Then she turned to Hope. "Do you like princess movies, Hope?"

Hope gave her a smile. "I do. In fact, Beauty and the Beast is my favorite."

"Really?" the young girl's face lit up brighter than before.

The woman nodded, and Scott chuckled at them both. "Beauty and the Beast it is, then!"

Cassie smiled wide and bounced in her seat. "Yay!"

Hope giggled quietly at the girl's antics. Scott came to the table with a plate of fish sticks, and Hope took it and handed it to Cassie. The young girl dug into her food immediately. As she ate, Hope sat with her, and Scott made a quick meal for himself and his girlfriend. It was simple, just some leftover chicken they'd made the other day that he just heated up and brought to the table. Scott watched the two girls with nothing but love in his eyes. It made him beyond thrilled to get to spend the weekend with his love and his daughter, his girls. He especially loved how well Cassie and Hope got along. It was one of the greatest things he'd ever get to watch.

The three ate dinner and just chatted, and when they were finished, Hope got up and started cleaning the table. However, Scott quickly got up to stop her. "Hold on," he said sweetly. "You two go set up the movie. I'll clean up and make popcorn."

"Are you sure?" Hope asked.

"I insist," he smiled, taking the plates from her hand. He pecked her cheek, too. "You go on ahead. I'll join you in a minute."

"All right," Hope smiled, and she took Cassie into the living room, where Cassie climbed onto the sofa and Hope went to set up the movie before joining her.

When Hope sat down on the sofa, the little girl immediately scooted close to the woman and leaned against her lovingly. The only thing Hope knew what to do was let an arm curl around the girl's small body to keep her close. Cassie curled up happily with her father's girlfriend and focused on the movie that began to play on the screen.

Scott soon joined them with popcorn, and when he found them cuddled on the couch, his heart melted. He walked around the couch and put the snack bowl in Cassie's lap before kissing her cheek, as well as Hope's, before he sat on Cassie's opposite side, so the girl could be in the middle of the adults. No one spoke a word, all intently focused on the movie.

Toward the end of the movie, Hope glanced down at Cassie, finding her fast asleep. She chuckled quietly and motioned for Scott to see. He smiled, and he almost didn't have the heart to remove her from Hope. But after a moment, he stood, and he carefully scooped Cassie into his arms, making sure not to wake her. Hope watched them.

"Hey, do you mind if I finish the rest?" Hope asked softly. "I haven't watched this in forever."

"Of course," Scott grinned. "I'm going to put her bed and then go to bed myself. I'll see you soon." He bent down, kissed her, and then went upstairs to put Cassie to bed.

Hope stayed behind, smiling as the movie brought back memories of times when she was occasionally happier. She remembered being eleven years old when the movie came out, and that was one of the few things that made her happy as a child during a rough time. The movie had stuck with her ever since. So much so that when the credits rolled, Hope couldn't help but start it over again. She'd forgotten how much she really loved that movie.


 

Midnight rolled around, and Hope found herself still on the sofa, finishing the movie for the second time. She'd been so caught up in her good childhood memories that she didn't even notice what time it was until the credits rolled. Once they did, she stood and stretched out before turning everything off and heading upstairs.

As she turned the corner toward the bedroom, she heard a door open behind her, and a little voice call out into the darkness.

"Hope…?"

Hope whipped around and found Cassie there, looking terrified and clutching her stuffed bunny.

"Cassie?" she was immediately worried and rushed up to the little girl. She knelt down to get to her eye level. "Cassie, what's wrong?"

Cassie tried to speak, but she couldn't find the words. Instead, she whimpered, trembling as she stood there. She seemed too frightened to talk. Thinking quickly, Hope whisked Cassie into her arms and took her back to the guest room, where she sat on the girl's bed with her. She cradled the little girl in her lap, the only thing she could think to do. What was she supposed to do? She'd never done this before, and it made her nervous.

Cassie clung to Hope as if for dear life. "I... I had a bad dream," she let out a whimper, tears welling in her doe eyes.

Hope held onto her protectively, cuddling her. "Oh, Princess, it wasn't real," she assured her. "It's okay, now."

The young girl was crying now, still shaking as she clutched onto Hope tightly. "I'm scared!"

"It's all right, now," Hope whispered lovingly, and she stroked Cassie's hair gently. "I've got you. You're safe. There's nothing to be afraid of now."

"But… it looked so real…"

"I can assure you, it wasn't. I promise I've got you. It's just me here, okay? Daddy and I are here to protect you."

The little girl nodded slowly at Hope's words, not letting go of her daddy's girlfriend. Still, she kept trembling, whining, as she was still upset. Hope kept stroking her hair, providing her comfort in the best way she could. Hope even began humming a lullaby she remembered from when she was still a child. After a moment, Cassie was just barely beginning to calm down. Frowning, Hope looked down at her.

"Try and think of something that makes you happy," she suggested. Cassie nodded, and she did her very best to think, laying her head on Hope's shoulder. "What are you thinking about?"

"About you… and Daddy…"

"That's a very nice thought," Hope smiled softly.

A moment of silence passed between them. Now, Cassie was starting to settle. She was still sniffling, nose running from her cries. Hope reached for the tissue box on the nightstand to help wipe her nose, and with a clean tissue she cleaned the tears, as well. But Cassie was still shaking. The woman held her closer.

"It's all right, now," Hope murmured like she had before. "I'm here. Okay?"

All the girl could do was nod slowly, her head still on Hope's shoulder. After a moment, she snuggled closer than before.

The woman had no idea what to do. She'd never dealt with this before. She didn't know a mother's comfort. The only thing she knew what to do was just keep holding her and rocking her gently. That had been what she wanted whenever she was sad as a child. The last person who did that for Hope was Janet…

"Hope?" Cassie's voice was quiet and a bit broken.

"Yes, Cassie?"

The young girl lifted her head some. She was still frowning. "Do you have to go?" She knew that Hope would have to go back to bed sooner or later, but the thought of being left along terrified her.

"Not anytime soon. I'll go back to bed when you feel better."

Cassie's eyes filled with more tears just then. "But I don't want you to go at all!"

Hope felt so bad, having no idea how to respond. "I'm not going anywhere, then. Okay?"

"Okay," the girl nodded slowly. "I'm sorry for taking you from Daddy."

"Daddy can handle himself for the night. Do you want me to lay with you until you fall asleep?"

Cassie, though not wanting to cause a burden on her father's girlfriend, nodded again. "Please?"

Hope didn't let go of the young girl as she went to lay on the bed with her. She pulled the blankets up around the girl's body and tucked her in, making sure she was as comfortable as possible. She also brought up Cassie's stuffed bunny to have it close by. "You comfy?"

Before Cassie answered, she snuggled close to Hope, the bunny clutched to her little body, face buried into Hope's chest. Now she was comfortable. "Yes."

"Good," the woman smiled. Her arm went to drape over Cassie's body to keep her close, hand rubbing her back. "Now, get some sleep. I'm not going anywhere. I've got you."

Scott's daughter gave a nod and curled up. But before she closed her eyes, a question popped into her mind. "Hope?"

"Yes?"

"Do you love my daddy?"

An odd question for a child to ask, but an easy one to answer for Hope at this point. "Yes, I do."

"And he loves you, right?"

"He's told me many times, yes."

A moment of silence went by before Cassie spoke again. "Well, I love you, too. If my daddy does, then I do, too."

This took Hope by surprise. She knew the girl liked her, but she didn't know just how much, even though they hadn't known one another for very long. That didn't matter to Cassie. She knew Scott was in love with Hope, and the other way around, and that made her very happy, knowing that her daddy was happy. And that meant Hope made her happy, as well.

And that hug… there was something about Cassie's touch… the feeling of nothing but love in her arms despite being so scared that night. There was something about a gentle touch that was completely new to Hope, at least gentleness coming from someone other than Scott. It meant Cassie trusted Hope. Hope never had a child trust her so much, and it felt… wonderful. It was incredible to know that she was making Cassie feel safe and loved and warm, much like any normal mother would to a child… like Janet had been to her…

Hope's mouth pulled into a soft grin as she hugged the little girl closer than ever. "I love you, too, Cassie," she whispered, and she meant every word.

They settled, Cassie finally lying still and letting her heavy eyes fall shut. A better slumber found her quickly. Hope watched as the girl drifted off to sleep. Hope then found herself growing tired, but she didn't leave Cassie. Before she knew it, she was fast asleep, one arm around Cassie and a gentle smile on her face, as she kept the girl safe the entire night.


 

The next morning, Scott woke slowly, and he rolled over to wrap his arms around Hope, only to find that she wasn't there. Confused, he pulled himself out of bed and trudged tiredly around the house, quietly calling out to her. He was about to pass Cassie's room, and he decided to peer inside. What he found made him fall in love all over again.

There Hope was, with Cassie in her arms. The two were fast asleep, huddled close, and Hope was softly grinning almost. With a grin, he quietly walked inside and perched himself on the edge of the bed. Hope felt the bed shift with his weight, and she opened her eyes. It took her a moment to remember that she'd never gone to bed with Scott that night, and that she'd been with Cassie.

"Hey," she whispered.

"Hey," Scott murmured back to her. "Whatcha got there with you?"

Hope glanced down at a sleeping Cassie and smiled warmly. "She had a nightmare last night," she explained. "I told her I'd lie with her until she fell asleep… but then I ended up falling asleep."

Hearing this, Scott leaned down so he could softly kiss Cassie's cheek before pecking Hope's lips. "You have no idea how amazing it is to see you and her like this," he told her.

Hope blushed and glanced down at a sleeping Cassie again, reaching to stroke her hair. "I felt the need to keep her safe," she stated quietly. "She was so scared."

"You're her hero, too, now, ya know?" Scott informed her, grinning happily. "She loves you, just like I do. And it makes me so incredibly happy to see that."

She smiled and kissed him lovingly, pride filling her heart. She'd never felt like a hero to anyone. Having him explain to her that she was a hero to his daughter was a feeling she couldn't even explain. Now that she knew that this girl trusted her, Hope strived to keep it that way, making her as happy as possible. She did everything for them for the rest of the weekend, because as time passed, she got used to care taking. It was weird having someone so dependent on her at first—she'd never been dependent on anyone but herself once Janet disappeared—but now, she loved it. It made her realize that having a family of her own in the future may not be so far-fetched after all.

Chapter Text

About a month passed. Hope's arm had almost completely healed, and she was basically back to normal. She and Scott were enjoying the domestic life of living together. They got to see Cassie a few more times here and there. Everything had really settled down, running smoothly for everyone.

Well, almost everyone.

Hope woke one morning extremely early when her phone went off a few times as she was sent a couple text messages. At first, she ignored them, only stirring to adjust her position, curling up and pulling the covers up around her. Scott didn't even move. When silence came to her, Hope settled, and sleep began to come to her once more. Then her phone went off again. And again. Jesus, who was trying to contact her at that hour?

Grumbling, she sat up and fumbled around for her phone to glance at the screen. It was bright, almost burning her eyes as she tried to look at it. She gave herself a moment to adjust before glancing at the contact name. All the texts were from… Becca?

Hope.

Hope, wake up.

I know it's early but I need you at my place. Like now.

Please.

It's urgent.

Hope was immediately confused—and concerned. Why was Becca sending urgent messages before the sun was even up? She sent a reply. What happened? Are you okay?

Becca replied quickly. I don't know. Just get here. Please.

Okay, okay. I'm coming as fast as I can.

With that, Hope forced herself out of her warm bed, meaning she had to leave Scott's arms, as well. Scott noticed that she was moving away, and it woke him up. "Hope?" he mumbled tiredly.

The woman looked over her shoulder at the man she loved and gave him an apologetic gaze. "Oh, I'm sorry I woke you up. Go back to sleep."

"Why are you up so early?" Scott asked instead of settling back down.

She hesitated for a moment. "Becca needs me at her place for something. I won't be gone long, okay?"

He asked no questions. That was when he laid back down again. "I love you."

"I love you, too," Hope smiled softly. "Now, get some sleep."

She leaned down to kiss him once before getting up to get dressed. She tried to hurry as fast as she could, though due to how tired she was, her movements were a bit sluggish. Outside, the sun had not even thought about coming up. How early was it, anyway? She checked her phone. It was 5:15. Too early. Nonetheless, she brushed it off, and once she had herself together, Hope gathered her purse and was out the door, heading for Becca's place.

Becca was pacing nervously by the front door when Hope finally knocked. The former agent answered instantly, nearly throwing the door open. "Hey," she let out a breath.

"Hey," Hope replied, and she stepped inside once Becca opened the door wider to let her inside. She got right to the chase as soon as the door was closed. "Okay, Becca. What's going on? Are you okay?"

At first, Becca said nothing. She just glanced down to the floor without saying anything. Her mind raced at the same pace as her heart. She felt like throwing up. Her silence made Hope nervous.

"Becca, seriously, I can't read your mind. What is it?"

God, how was she supposed to explain this? How does one go about something like this? All she did was let out a huff and started pacing again, whispering under her breath, "How do I say this?"

It was easy to see that something was wrong once Hope got a better look at Becca's expression. She had pure terror written on her face. It seemed as if she'd been crying recently. In fact, Hope could see the tearstains. Not to mention she was breathing harder than normal. Hope stepped forward to stop her when she started pacing again. "Hey, take a deep breath," she instructed to the distressed woman. "Tell me what's going on."

Becca obeyed and took a deep breath. But she didn't say anything for a while, for her mind was still trying to come up with a way to explain the dilemma she faced. "Do you remember… my specialty as a doctor?" it wasn't much, but it was a start.

Hope thought back and then nodded. "You're an OBGYN, right?" she recalled.

The former agent gave a slow nod, bringing her gaze up to meet Hope's in silence. Nothing. She said nothing. She just waited for what Hope would say once she caught her drift.

Hope's brows knit together as she stared at Becca. "What does that have to do with any of this?"

Becca sighed. "Just think about it."

What was she getting at? Hope didn't understand. She remembered that Becca was an OBGYN, though one that didn't practice. What was she missing? "What are you trying to—?" And then, she got it. It clicked in her head just then. There was only one thing that she understood what an OBGYN does. The confusion on her face faded into complete shock and disbelief. "Oh, my god. Wait… are you…?"

The other woman glanced at her again, this time with tearful eyes. She had no words.

Hope just couldn't believe it. Could it be true? "Oh, god… Becca… are you pregnant?"

At that moment, Becca's lower lip trembled and she dropped her gaze. Her crying was silent, aside from her sniffling. Hope just stared at her, but before she could speak, Becca did first, but her voice was broken. "I haven't taken a test yet. But I'm sure I am. I was supposed to be on my period last week… it still hasn't come. I've been constantly nauseous, and my emotions are all over the place. And I have no idea what to do!"

Hope was still speechless for quite a while. "Oh, my god," she breathed.

"I can't believe this is happening," Becca whimpered. "I mean, I was on the pill, I took whatever precautions needed! I was so careful!"

Hope was still trying to gather her thoughts when Becca started yelling out of fear. The only thing Hope knew to do was put her hands on Becca's shoulders and look her in the eye. "Becca, hey… don't do this to yourself."

"God, I'm so scared!"

The other woman frowned. Who could blame Becca for being scared, after all that she'd been through?

Becca cried again. "I don't know if I can do this, Hope. Oh, god, what if I lose it? I can't—I can't lose another baby, I just can't!"

Hope immediately took Becca by the shoulders gently to hush her. "Becca, hey, don't say things like that. You won't lose this baby."

"How can you be sure? There's always a chance!"

"You had a surgery that could greatly lessen the chance, Becca. Isn't this what you've been longing for?"

Becca went silent for a moment. Hope had a point, but that didn't mean everything was completely hunky dory. Becca's blue eyes soon met Hope's green gaze, tearful and reddened, full of panic and fear. The former agent whimpered again. "I'm so scared…"

"I know," Hope sighed and hugged her friend. "But it's not all bad. Think of this as a second chance."

Becca only sighed as she held onto Hope tightly. She was sniffling, trying to recover from her recent crying. She had nothing else to say, the terror too great. So, they just hugged like that for a while in silence while Becca calmed down. Then Hope remembered something that Becca had mentioned earlier.

"So, you haven't taken the test?"

Becca only shook her head.

"Why don't we do that? You said you were on the pill. The test will see if you're right. Plus, you should know."

Becca gave her a look. "Hope, if I'm not pregnant, I'm dying with these symptoms. What else could it be?"

"Well, let's just see, okay? It'll confirm everything."

The shorter woman wasn't so sure about having confirmation just yet. "But I—"

"—Becca," Hope interrupted, but gently. "Come on."

Becca sighed again, nodding, and led Hope to the master bathroom. She already had the test box on the bathroom counter. Slowly, the frightened woman walked up to take it, removing it from the box, only to stare at it again. A long breath escaped her just then. She was already shaking.

"I'll wait outside," Hope spoke up, and she left the bathroom to give her friend some privacy.

It took Becca a while to actually take the test, longer than it should have. But eventually, she mustered the strength to take it. Soon, she finished and allowed Hope back inside. When the dark-haired woman entered, she found Becca leaning against the wall, head back, eyes closed, away from the bathroom counter. The test was lying face down on the counter.

"I can't look at it," Becca breathed. As much as she wanted to know, another part of her, for whatever reason, didn't want to.

"Do you want me to…?" Hope asked, turning for the counter. When Becca didn't reply, Hope decided to take the test in her hands. After a few seconds, she turned it. She was silent at first, as she glanced at Becca. "It's positive."

Becca released a deep breath that she didn't know she'd been holding, and it wasn't one of relief. She leaned her head back to rest it against the wall as tears filled her eyes again. So that was it, then. Becca was pregnant. "God, Hope, what am I gonna do?"

"Hey," Hope walked up to her. "It'll be okay, Becca. You're gonna be a great mother to this baby."

The other woman was about to reply, but suddenly, she tensed and gasped as another thought entered her head. "Oh, my god, what is Jack going to do?" She hadn't even thought of that. Maybe once, but then the horror took over, and she'd completely forgotten. Her mind raced again. What would Jack do? Would he run? Would he leave her? Would he even want this baby? God, she'd completely forgotten about Jack for a moment. "Holy shit, what's he going to think?"

"Becca, hey, look at me," the dark-haired woman's voice was surprisingly calm. Reluctantly, Becca lifted her gaze. Hope searched her face. "It's going to be okay. I think Jack will want this baby. He's a family man. There couldn't be anyone better, actually, to father this baby with you. I'm sure of it. Becca, it's going to be all right. You just have to believe it will be. This baby is your little miracle."

Becca sighed again, and that was when she dropped her gaze to her belly, which she swore was already thickening. Her hand came up to cradle it slowly. What Hope said could not have been more true; this was her miracle baby. Regardless, whether she liked it or not (but honestly, most of her did like it, in spite of the fear), this baby was coming. A moment passed before Becca reached out to take the test into her own hands. Sure enough, there was the result, clear as day. Pregnant.

"You okay?" Hope's voice brought Becca out of her thoughts.

She slowly nodded. "Yeah, I will be. I just… I just need to let it sink in. It doesn't seem real."

"Well, when you get an ultrasound, it will be," Hope said.

That's when Becca got a thought. "Wait, I have an idea," she stated, and then she went to kneel down to look inside the bathroom cabinet below the sink. She sifted through it for a while until she pulled out a little square machine, with a spiral cord attached, machine on one end, and something that almost looked like a mortar with a flat top. She rose to her feet once she had it in her hands.

"What is that?" Hope asked curiously.

"It's a pocket Doppler," Becca said before walking past her friend to go to the bathroom. "It's used to hear fetal heartbeats." She got onto the bed and laid flat on her back before lifting her shirt over her lower belly. "I just want to make sure the heartbeat is healthy."

Hope perched on the edge of the bed beside her, intrigued. She watched as Becca turned the Doppler on and turned its volume up before placing the probe on her stomach. Instantly, there was mostly static. But there were other sounds, too. The loudest was a slow, rhythmic sound, like a heartbeat.

"Is that it?" Hope questioned.

Becca shook her head. "That's my distant heartbeat and the sound of blood pumping in my uterus. The baby's heartbeat will be quick and very light."

They went back to listening. Nothing really changed, but Becca kept searching. She kept moving the probe around, going lower to find it. Maybe it was too early? Hope didn't know all of this. Good thing Becca knew what to look for. But the fact that she wasn't finding it worried her. Of course, she knew that it could have been that the baby was too tiny, and she shouldn't freak out. She couldn't help it.

"Come on," she whispered under her breath. "Where are you?"

Even Hope was holding her breath, now. She wanted desperately for Becca to find the little heartbeat, to hear what it was like. She wanted Becca to find peace with this, at least to some extent. Hope even found herself to be saying to herself, Come on, baby, your mother wants to hear you. Where are you?

They both kept silent. Becca focused intently, moving and adjusting the Doppler wand, hearing the static, the whooshing, and the thumping… and then finally, there was one sound that made her suddenly gasp and tear up. It was a faint, rapid thumping. It was very quiet, but it was definitely there. She adjusted her hand ever so slightly, pushing a bit harder, and the sound got louder, just enough to be heard over the other noises that the Doppler was making. A few tears slid down her face just then. It was there. It was real.

"Is that…?" Hope asked quietly.

Becca nodded, biting her lip as she tried to keep herself together for once. "Yeah, that's it." That's when it truly hit her. She would become a mother.

After listening to the heartbeat, Becca turned off the Doppler and sat up to wipe her tears and take a breath. Hope rubbed her back gently. "You'll be just fine, I know it."

"Thank you," the other replied. What she wanted to say but didn't was more along the lines of, I hope you're right. She calmed down a little more before she turned to Hope. "It means a lot that you're here. I'm sorry for dragging you here so early."

"That's okay," Hope assured her. "It wasn't without reason. I guess I should be congratulating you at this point."

For once, Becca laughed, but only just. "Thanks. Now, you can go back to bed. It's still very early. I'm sure Scott misses you. Plus… I need to tell Jack."

"Scott's a big boy, he can handle himself for a while. But… do you want me to stay while you call him?"

Becca shook her head. "No, I think I can handle this. I don't want to keep you for too long. I know it's early and you're tired."

"Are you sure?"

"I'm sure. But thank you."

"You're welcome. You take care of yourself and this baby, okay?"

"I will," her friend promised.

They got up and went to the front door. After one last congratulatory goodbye hug, Hope left Becca's apartment, hoping for nothing but the best for her and the baby. Part of her was also thrilled. With how close she and Becca had become, Hope had every reason to spoil this baby. In a way, she was becoming an aunt.


 

Once Hope was gone, Becca got out her phone, though a bit hesitantly, to call Jack. It was still early, and she felt bad for waking him, but it was way too important. The first time she called, she got voicemail. She called again. Jack answered on the third ring.

"Hello?" he sounded tired and groggy.

"Hey, it's me," Becca replied.

"Hey, you," he spoke a little clearer now that he realized it was his girlfriend calling him. But why so early? "What are you calling about so early?"

Becca bit back a whimper. "I'm sorry for waking you up, but, uh, can you come over, like now?"

Jack could hear the distress in her voice. "Is everything okay?"

"Yeah, I think. Can you just come over as soon as you can? I need to talk to you."

Uh oh. That did not sound good. "Oh, okay. Yeah, I'll be there in a few minutes, okay?"

"Thank you," Becca replied, and she ended the call, and a long sigh spilled from her mouth. Her stomach was churning, both because of morning sickness and anxiety. She hated every minute of this torture of anticipation of what he might say or do in response to her news.

Like he'd told her, Jack showed up within a few minutes, knocking on her door as soon as he got there. His heart was racing. He kept hearing the sound and tone of her voice in his head, and one of his worst fears started to sink in. God, he hoped everything was okay.

The lock clicked, and the door opened, a distressed Becca standing there. "Hey," she whispered, opening the door to let him in.

"Hey, good morning," he replied. As he walked past her, he kissed her cheek. "Is everything okay?"

"I don't even know," Becca sighed. "It's huge, that's for sure. I don't even know where to begin."

Jack frowned as it dawned upon him. "You're ending this, aren't you?"

"What?" Becca's eyes went wide. "No, of course not! It's nothing like that. Well, it might be, after what I have to tell you."

He sighed heavily with relief. Thank god. But he wasn't off the hook yet. "What do you mean?"

The woman opened her mouth to speak, but only silence came. She had no idea how she was supposed to tell him. When Hope had left, Becca had slipped the test into her back pocket, having it on hand for when she'd spill the beans to Jack. Was she supposed to just take it out and show him? She had absolutely no clue. Her face filled with fear and pain, and Jack noticed quickly.

"Hey," he murmured. "What is it? Is everything okay?"

Her eyes searched his for a moment as hers brimmed with tears yet again. There was no other way to tell him. She just had to say it. "Jack…" she breathed, looking down for a moment to collect herself before she had the courage to look at him again. "Jack, I'm… I'm pregnant."

The man froze. Pregnant? Had he heard that correctly? "You're… what?"

"I'm pregnant," she repeated a little louder.

He didn't know what to think, or even how to react, because he was so stunned. Not angry, or anything. Just stunned. He didn't know what to think or say or do. He was about to become a father, completely out of nowhere. He wasn't even sure if he was hearing right or if he was just delirious from being up so early. Pregnant. A baby. Holy shit, he was about to be a dad! His face turned into shock as it hit him.

Becca crumbled. "Oh, god, Jack, I am so sorry!" she went into a fit of shame. "I know it's only been a couple months between us. I promise I was on the pill. I swear! I was so careful! I didn't mean for this to happen, I'm so sorry!"

He jumped right out of his own thoughts once she'd begun speaking. Her eyes were widened with fear, tearful with her shame, reddened from her crying. He suddenly remembered all the pain she'd endured in the past, and he softened, though worry was still prevalent. As she was panicking, he gently reached to cup her face so he could look right into her eyes. "Whoa, hey," he stopped her. "It's okay. Don't apologize."

Becca was thankful that he wasn't upset… but that also puzzled her. A few more tears slipped. Jack wiped them away with his thumbs. She sniffled after a moment, and her face began to twist with pain and fear again, as it had when Hope was here. She couldn't help it. "I'm so scared!"

"Oh, Becca," Jack whispered, pulling her to him to hug her. "I know. I know you're scared. Who can blame you?"

She buried her face into his chest. "What if I lose it?"

"You won't," he told her straight up. "Don't think of things like that. It's gonna be okay. We'll be okay."

She finally mustered the strength to look up at him. "So… you're not upset?"

"Of course not," he shook his head. "Sure, the timing is weird, but we can manage. I'm willing to stay with you every step of the way. I'll be here for you and the baby no matter what, if you'll let me."

Oh, god it was so relieving to hear that from him, despite all the fears she had of what he might do. Out of her relief, she tightened her arms around him and held him tight. His hand came up to stroke her hair.

"We'll be just fine, all three of us," Jack murmured. Becca couldn't see, but there was a smile on Jack's face now. He was admittedly excited that he was about to become a father. He'd always longed for a family. As he thought about it, his hand absentmindedly came up and settled on Becca's belly. He couldn't believe that there was a child inside of her at that very moment. It fascinated him that she would help develop their baby inside her body. Pregnancy was always fascinating because a woman could do that.

Becca felt his hand and glanced down. He was warm, comforting. Pretty soon there would be a curve to her belly, their baby nestled within. She tried to imagine herself pregnant again, belly swollen and making her waddle everywhere. That would become her again, she just knew it.

The longer she looked at his hand there, the more relaxed she became. Her own hand came up to rest upon his. Ever so slightly, a smile began to tug at the corners of her mouth. "I can't believe it," she whispered.

"Neither can I," Jack mused. "Part of me doesn't believe it's real."

That gave Becca a thought. "Do you… want to listen to its heartbeat?"

He tilted his head in question. "How? Don't you have to go to an office for that?"

"Jack, I have a machine here that is used for finding the baby's heartbeat at home. It's called a pocket Doppler. I got it a few years back." Gotta love being an OBGYN.

His face lit up. "Absolutely, then." Becca could already tell he was into this future daddy thing right away.

She took him to the bedroom, where the Doppler still remained on the bed. Like she had when Hope was there, Becca went to lie down on her back, lifting her shirt over her torso. She turned on the machine and began searching. She tried to remember where she'd had the probe last time on her belly, which was really low when she'd found it. Hopefully this wouldn't take as long.

Sure enough, there it was. That faint, quickened sound. She held the Doppler speaker up to Jack's ear so he could hear it better. He smiled instantly. "Is that it?" he asked.

"That's it," she breathed. "Quiet, but still there."

"That's incredible," he chimed. "Now, it's real."

"Yeah, it was the same way for me."

Jack grinned and bent down to press a soft kiss to the side of her belly. "Hey, you," he spoke against her skin. "Daddy's here."

Becca watched him lovingly as he pressed several kisses to her belly and rested his cheek against it. She put the Doppler aside so he could have more room. For the first time, she was calm, and it was thanks to Jack. She didn't know what she'd do if he'd left her and ran off. There was no way she'd be able to do this alone. As Jack's hand rested there on her stomach, she brought hers up to lace fingers with him. She was a bit tearful, the hormones already swarming her. He glanced up at her and wiped a stray tear away.

"It's gonna be okay," he told her.

She nodded as she let out a breath. "Okay," she whispered.

They lay like that for a moment when suddenly, Becca jolted upright. With no time to explain anything, she nearly shoved Jack off her so she could lurch out of bed and streak to the bathroom. She barely made it to the toilet in time. Jack followed quickly and found her bent over the porcelain, coughing as the contents of her stomach spilled into the bowl. He didn't hesitate to surge toward her, bend down behind her, and pull her hair back out of the way just in time. He held the locks in one hand while he rubbed her back with the other.

"God dammit…" Becca coughed as soon as she could breathe. She was clutching the side of the toilet, shaking. She hadn't eaten anything since the day before, so she was already a bit weaker, and the fact that she was throwing up anything she had left, if anything, made it worse. Once she was finished, she slumped back into Jack's arms. In the few seconds she'd been sick, she'd already begun to perspire. Jack reached for a washcloth and ran it under some cold water before bringing it to her forehead to help. The cool cloth felt incredible. "Thank you."

"You're welcome," Jack replied as he dabbed her face all over.

When Becca had the strength, she pulled herself to her feet, using the bathroom counter for support. Jack's hands gently held her sides, just in case. Becca let out a long breath and went to wash her hands and brush her teeth. "Sorry you had to see that," she whispered to him once she was finished washing up.

"Don't apologize," he wrapped his arms around her and pressed a kiss to her cheek. "You're pregnant, it's normal, right?"

"Yeah, but it sucks."

Jack grinned softly and slid his hand over Becca's belly like before. "Hey, you, don't give mommy too much grief, okay?" He then rested his chin on Becca's shoulder, though not for long because she was so much shorter than he was that he had to bend his knees to do so. But it was nice while it lasted. "Have you eaten anything yet today?"

Becca shook her head. "I've been… way too preoccupied." Ever since she'd woken up before sunrise she'd been worrying about this whole baby thing.

That was when he took her hand and started tugging her out of the bathroom. "Come on, I'm making you breakfast. You need to feed the baby, and yourself."

Becca was too tired and still feeling too sick to even argue with him. She walked with him to the kitchen and sat at the table. She grumbled. "I'm pissed I can't have coffee anymore. Or wine."

"Aww," Jack frowned slightly. "But it'll be worth it, right? I'll be sure not to drink either, so you're not the only one."

"You really don't have to, you know?" she told him. Was he really serious?

"But I want to." Okay, so he was being serious. "It's only fair. We're both in this together, right?"

Becca nodded. He was right. Just then, Jack turned to start making her breakfast. She watched with loving eyes. He was already so dedicated to her and this baby, enough to give up the things she couldn't have so she wouldn't have to be the only one to only be drinking water or juice or milk. She didn't expect that at all. Becca was so glad Jack was around. When he was with him, she felt safe, calm, like everything really would be okay. For once, she believed it. This baby was a miracle, a blessing for them both. She wouldn't be alone. Sure, she'd always be cautious and fearful, but that didn't mean she wasn't allowed to be happy, too.

It would be a wild ride, she was sure, but Becca really did believe that everything would be okay. She had Jack to thank for that.

Chapter Text

Becca and Jack took the next workday off, at least in the morning. Once she had come to terms with the pregnancy a little more, Becca called the nearby hospital’s maternity ward to make an appointment for an ultrasound, so that they could see their baby for the first time. It would also tell Becca how far along she was. However, being an OBGYN as it is, she couldn’t help but do the math in her head to determine herself. She couldn’t have been more than five or six weeks along, considering how long she and Jack had been sexually involved. Her torso, however, said otherwise.

Ever since she found out, she’d been nonstop looking in the mirror at herself, and sure enough, her waistline was already beginning to thicken. She recalled that she once thought it to be bloating because of her cycle… but the cycle never came. It wasn’t noticeable to anyone around her (unless they took a really close look), but to Becca, she swore she was already showing. 

On the morning of the ultrasound, Becca stood in front of the mirror yet again, examining herself. She was already frustrated, because her jeans were almost too tight. She let out a huff when she couldn’t button the garment. Jack heard her and went to check on her.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

“My jeans are already too tight,” she grumbled. “I swear I’ll be in maternity jeans by next week.”

“Still beautiful.”

“And fat.”

Jack shook his head and wrapped his arms around her. “No you're not,” he replied softly. 

“Jack, I can’t fit into my jeans, but I can’t be more than six weeks.”

“Becca, you're not fat. You're pregnant. Two completely different things. You're pregnant and it's beautiful. And I will spend every day telling you that if I have to.”

She sighed and dropped her head. “You're being so sweet and here I am, Ms. Hormonal Grouch. How are you going to put up with me?” She turned to look at her reflection again, and she let out a breath. Her hand cradled the lower and very slight swell of her stomach. Two seconds later, Jack’s hand was there, too.

“Gorgeous,” he murmured.

She couldn’t help but wonder if he’d still be saying that in nine months. But she did smile and kiss his jaw. Afterward, she turned to go to the dresser, kicking off her jeans. Instead, she got into a pair of leggings. At least they fit. Once she pulled on a loose-fitting shirt, she threw her hair up into a ponytail before turning to Jack. “Okay, you ready?”

Jack nodded. He'd been dressed long before she had. “Of course,” he chimed. “Let’s go.”

They made their way outside and to the car, and soon they were heading toward the hospital. Becca's mind wandered during the drive, just the same fears going through her head. She must have had a weird look on her face, because Jack took her hand and kissed it. 

“You okay?” Jack asked. 

She smiled and laced their fingers together. “I'm okay. Just thinking.”

“Me, too,” he grinned back at her.

“Oh? Of what?”

“What our baby will look like. I hope he or she looks like you.”

She blushed but shook her head. “I don’t agree. I hope it looks like you.”

“We’ll have to see,” he winked. “But in any case, I can’t wait to see the ultrasound.”

Becca was silent for a moment as she glanced down toward her stomach. Her free hand ran across her lower torso. “Neither can I,” she spoke, a soft smile playing on her lips. She just wished her anxiety wouldn’t fluctuate so often as it already was. Maybe it was the hormones? She’d never know, but she’d try to be as positive as she could. In fact, the thought of seeing their baby that day did make the smile a bit wider. She really couldn’t wait for it.

Suddenly, her smile faded. A sickening feeling sank into the pit of her stomach, making it churn. “Oh, god, no,” she breathed. “Not now.”

“What?” Jack tensed a bit. “What is it?”

Becca took a few deep breaths, but the nausea was only getting worse. And then it hit all at once, like a swift punch to the gut. “Oh, god, pull over!”

Jack asked no questions, quickly pulling over and stopping the car. Becca barely made it, stumbling out of the car and getting on her hands and knees just before whatever she ate for breakfast that morning came back up. Jack felt useless just sitting there and waiting for her. Thankfully, there wasn’t much, and she was climbing back into the car once she collected herself.

“I hate morning sickness,” she croaked. She was disgusted when she felt how acidic her mouth tasted. Jack came to her rescue by grabbing a water bottle from the backseat and handing it to her. She grabbed it and took a few swigs to rinse out her mouth. Having no other way to dispose of what was in her mouth, she just opened the door and spit it onto the ground. “Okay, I’m good now. Let’s go.”

He frowned some, wishing there was something he could do to help her feel better. Hell, he’d rather be sick than see her miserable like that. After he kissed her hand, he began driving again, back on the road. Becca sat leaning back, head back, eyes closed, breathing slowly to keep the nausea at bay. It was starting to fade, but only slowly. Nothing else happened, though, much to her relief. They got to the hospital without any more issues.

They walked in hand-in-hand together, and they went up to the OB floor of the hospital, mostly in silence. When the elevator opened, they went to check in before going to sit down in the waiting area. Becca was taking deep breaths by then, as she’d been doing in the car, and Jack, concerned, took her hand as he watched her. One of his hands rubbed her back.

“Still feeling sick?” he asked. 

Becca shook her head. “No, that’s mostly gone. I’m just… I don’t know… nervous?”

“I know,” he murmured and kissed her temple. “You’re not alone.”

“I just fear that we’ll get in the room and there will be nothing. It scares the shit out of me.”

“I don’t blame you. But you have to have some faith. This time will be different, I know it will be.” He brought up a hand to cup her cheek. “It’ll be okay.”

She leaned into his touch, and soon, she was resting her head on his shoulder, nodding once but sighing. “I don’t think I’ll ever be calm until I’m actually holding him or her in my arms.” And she knew that wasn’t good, being so worked up, but with her hormones all over the place and her anxiety reminding her of what she'd been through, it was hard to control. She was trying her best, though.

Jack’s gaze was soft as he gazed at her. “I can only imagine,” he replied and kissed her forehead. “You're being so strong right now. But please, don't overwork yourself, okay? It's not good for you, or the baby.”

“I'm doing my best,” she said. “I promise.”

He offered a soft smile and kissed her forehead again gently. He was so proud of her, honestly, for being so brave. He couldn't even fathom what it would be like to walk in her shoes. Somehow, he just knew this baby would be such a great thing for them. As he sat there with her, he imagined a little girl or boy that looked like Becca. Those blue eyes, that fair freckled face, that warm smile. He hoped this baby was everything like its mother. The more he thought about this baby, the more and more excited about becoming a father he became. He'd always longed for a family, and this was it. It felt like a dream to him. He really never thought that this day would come. Before Becca, he didn't ever think this would happen. He glanced at the woman beside him, who had leaned her head back and closed her eyes while she took more deep breaths, seeing that soldier in her. This soldier was everything to him. This soldier was making a baby at that very moment. He shook his head, still awed by the reality of it all. It fascinated him that a woman could develop a human being within them to bring into the world. Jack couldn't wait.

His trance was broken when their names were called, and they were taken back to an examination room. They took Becca’s blood pressure, temperature, all that jazz, and soon, Jack and Becca were waiting alone in the room. Becca was sitting on the exam table, Jack in a chair by her side. She held his hand tightly.

“It's gonna be okay,” Jack assured her. “They're gonna show us the baby, who is going to be healthy as can be. I just know it.”

“I really hope you're right,” she whispered. All she wanted was for the baby to be okay. She began to tremble a bit, so she began the deep breathing again. Calm down, Bex. Jack’s right. I’ll be fine.

It wasn’t long before the OBGYN came in. She was a small woman, no taller than Becca… and no younger. She was very friendly, as she came in with a smile on her face.

“Hello, good morning,” she greeted them. 

“Morning,” the expecting couple said at the same time.

The OB, who introduced herself as Dr. Jenna Thompson, made her way over to the machine on the opposite side of Becca’s bed, across from Jack. As she was starting up the machine, she turned to Becca.

“So, you're here to confirm a pregnancy?”

Becca nodded. “Yep.”

Jenna went down a clipboard, asking the standard questions. “Any symptoms bothering you?”

“Quite a few,” the other woman snorted. “Nausea, occasional vomiting, hormones all over the place, and tender breasts. If I'm not pregnant, then we have a problem.”

“Well, it certainly sounds like you are,” the other woman noted. “But before we see, let’s get some other things out of the way.”

They spoke of a few important things, like medical history and genetic testing, and Becca had a cervical and pelvic exam. Luckily, everything was in ship-shape. Mom was healthy. Now that it was out of the way, it was time to check and see if the baby was healthy, too.

Becca was instructed to lean back on the table. She obeyed, lifting her shirt to reveal her belly, as well. Jenna pressed a few buttons on the machine before taking a tube of gel and squeezed a little onto Becca’s skin. For a moment, she tensed, not expecting it to be so cold, but she quickly adjusted, and her attention was turned to the ultrasound monitor. Then, she brought the wand to the woman on the table and slowly placed it on the spot where she’d put the gel. In an instant, an image appeared on the screen. Becca focused intently on the monitor, and Jack did the same (although he didn’t know exactly what to look for). Jenna moved the probe around for a while and stopped when a small black mass appeared in the center of the grey ultrasound image. The mass was small, and there was an even smaller mass within it, grey in color. Becca let out a breath she didn’t even realize she’d been holding.

Jack perked up. “What is that?” he questioned. “Is that…?”

With her free hand, Jenna pointed to the screen where the masses were, particularly where the smaller grey one was. “That right there is your baby.”

While Becca stared in relief, Jack was in complete awe. “It’s so little.”

“It is,” Jenna nodded. “Measuring about six weeks.” She then pressed a button, and the same sound that they’d heard on the Doppler when they found out met their ears. “Nice, strong heartbeat, as well.”

“Good, good,” Becca breathed. Thank god. Their baby was healthy so far.

“That’s amazing,” Jack commented. “Can we get a picture of that?”

“Of course,” Jenna nodded again. She pressed another button on the machine, then moved the probe and did the same thing. She did this twice more, and the last button she pressed, the machine produced a strip of photos. Jenna handed it to Becca. “There you go. Your baby’s first picture.”

Becca smiled as she took the pictures into her hands and examined each one. “Hi, baby,” she whispered to herself, loud enough for only her own ears. 

“Looking good,” Jack grinned. “I knew it.”

Soon, Becca sat up, once her belly was cleaned off. She let Jack hold the pictures, and he was looking at them nonstop. But their attention was turned to Jenna once she sat before them, wondering if they had any questions. Jack had one that he’d had on his mind for a while.

“Uh, is, uh…” he stammered. “God, how am I supposed to ask this?” He gave an awkward chuckle and scratched his head. “Is, uh… sex safe?”

“Yes, Jack,” Becca was the one to answer. “You know you could have asked me, right?” Apparently, he forgot that his girlfriend was an OBGYN for a second.

“Oh, yeah. Sorry.” He chuckled, blushing a bit. 

Jenna laughed. “Yes, sex is completely safe, as long as you’re not bleeding or cramping.”

Becca almost shuddered at those words. Jack took her hand. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” she sighed. “Memories, I guess.”

“Has that happened before? Cramping and bleeding?”

“Yes. A few years ago, I delivered a stillborn daughter after I had a placental abruption. I miscarried another baby a year later. I had a uterine septum that caused it, but I’ve since had it removed.”

“When was the removal?” 

“Not more than two or three months ago. I didn’t expect to get pregnant this soon after, but here we are.”

Jenna nodded. “Okay, well, we’ll monitor everything to make sure there are no complications. If you have any issues, call me.” She then wrote down a number and handed it to Becca.

Becca swallowed and glanced back at the OB. “And, if I do have complications, do I come right up to labor and delivery, or go through the ER?” It wouldn’t hurt to know these things, just in case.

“Come into the ER,” the woman explained. “Tell them about pregnancy complications, and they’ll immediately get help for you and send you up to labor and delivery.”

“Okay, thank you. I was just wondering…”

They discussed a few other things before they wrapped up the appointment. There wasn’t much else that was said, just a few simple questions and information given. Next thing they knew, they were walking out of the hospital. Becca had the photo strips in her hands, tracing the outline of the baby with her finger. It was so tiny. Jenna had told her during the appointment that it was about the size of a sweet pea. Sometimes it was hard to imagine the amount of growth the baby would go through each week. It was just fascinating to her.

Pretty soon, they were back at Becca’s, and she was on the sofa, glancing at the photos again. She took a picture of them with her phone and sent them to Hope right away.

I’m six weeks. Little bean is healthy, thank god.

It didn’t take long for Hope to reply. Aww so little! I knew it would be okay. How are you feeling overall?

Relieved that it’s healthy, but still cautious. Overall, just tired… and wishing I didn’t feel like throwing up every five seconds.

Aww. But that doesn’t last the whole time, right?

No, thank god.

Good. Idk how anyone would survive if it was the whole time. But I’m so glad baby is healthy! Now, you need rest. I’m sure Jack is saying the same.

Becca chuckled. Hope was absolutely right. All right, all right, I will.

Hope’s reply was quick. Good. Also, both you and Jack can take the rest of the day off.

You sure??

Yes. Absolutely. You deserve it.

Thanks, Hope.

No problem. See you soon.


 

Hope put down her phone and went back to one of her emails she had been working on. She’d been hard at work all day long, without much contact with anyone, really. That changed when her phone buzzed yet again. It was Scott.

Hey, you.

Hope smiled at the phone and made a brief reply. Hey. 

I miss you. I haven’t seen you all day. Been thinking of you.

Is that so? Hope raised a brow and smirked at the screen. Oh, Scott. What exactly do you mean?

I think you know exactly what I mean. Are you alone right now?

Yep, it’s your lucky day. And the door is closed, bonus points for you.

Scott took a few moments to type. Lock it. And close your blinds.

Oh, god. Just those two phrases made her get extremely heated. She immediately got up to lock the door and shut the window blinds, so now she was secluded in the office. Done and done. You’re a dirty man, Scott Lang.

And you love it.

Now, tell me what about me you’ve been thinking about. You have me curious.

Scott went straight to the point. I've been thinking of you completely naked while I bend you over your desk.

Her heart jumped a little and heat rushed to her face. The thought of him doing that to her seemed incredible right then. In fact, that one text from him was enough to kindle the fire in her lower belly. She squirmed in her seat as she wrote back. Good god tell me more.

This reply took a little longer, because he'd written more. Banging you so hard you won't be able to think or walk straight. You'd definitely be sore the next few days.

Good. As she sent that, her hand slid past the hem of her skirt. Everything was closed and locked, so no one would see. And thank god that office was soundproof. She sent another text. Tell me how you'd fuck me, Mr. Lang.

Scott loved when the tigress came out of her. Are you touching yourself for me? ;)

You're damn right I am. Please tell me more.

A few moments went by before her phone buzzed once again. Scott sent several messages back to back. I'd rip all your clothes off and bend you over your desk, face down, ass and all else in full view… I'd finger you first to warm you up, but right before you come, I'd stop.

That's so evil, she responded. As she did she rubbed slow circles over her throbbing center, biting her lip and squirming. 

Not to worry, because my fingers will be replaced with the tip of my head.

Good god how was he sending all this? She knew for a fact that he was hard already and probably surrounded by people. Mmm don't get caught sending me these. But that's hot.

My door is locked. I thought ahead.

Good boy, she replied. But continue. What would you do next?

I'd drag my head over your wet slit, let you feel how hard I am for you. With that last message, he sent a picture of his hard erection, and he knew it would send her into madness.

She started rubbing faster, and she grew very needy. She needed him right now. Good god Scott get your ass to my office now.

You don't need to tell me twice. 

Hope removed her hand from her skirt and went to wait by the door for him. He knocked, and she immediately pulled him inside and locked the door again, before she shoved him against the door and kissed him hotly. His hands instantly roamed all over her, finding the hem of her skirt and slipping past it. He cupped the curve of her ass and gave it a squeeze, and she moaned in response. She opened her mouth wide so he could slip his tongue deep inside her mouth. One of Scott's hands found its way around Hope’s hips and thighs, and with one push downward, he found her opening. She was absolutely soaked. The moment he found this out another moan came from her. 

“You're soaked,” he pointed out the very obvious. 

“You tend to do that to me,” she whispered her out-of-breath reply. 

He kissed her deeply again as he continued to rub her slick folds. He pulled her closer and their hips met. Hope could feel his bulge. He knew she could, and he ground his pelvis against hers, while not stopping his ministrations on the meeting of her thighs. 

Her back arched. Her head threw back. Her skin was covered in goose bumps already. She couldn't take much more of this. “God, Scott, I need you to fuck me.”

All he did was smirk at this. With strong arms, he lifted her into his grasp, kissing and walking at the same time until he found her desk and knocked everything off before laying her down. That was when he began to strip her. “You have way too many clothes on,” he pointed out. “Let me fix that.” He began to unzip her skirt and pull it down slowly. She lifted her hips so he could get it off, leaving behind her thong and pantyhose. By now he was so painfully hard, his pants very tight as a result, but he had to resist. His attention was on her, more specifically, her pantyhose. He took little care in removing them. In fact, he simply tore them. Hope didn't care though. All she wanted was Scott. 

The thong came next, and to tease him, she propped herself on her elbows looking at him, and she lifted and spread her legs for him. When she exposed herself like that, Scott nearly came in his pants. He cracked just then, moving quickly to remove her shirt and jacket as well. But he was still dressed. Nonetheless, he pressed against her and let his hips grind against her again while he slipped his hands beneath the fabric of her bra. Her nipples were stiff and sensitive, like always. Hope especially loved when he was attentive to her breasts. So much so that she needed his mouth on her. She quickly reached behind her and unclasped the fabric before tossing it aside and revealing her pert breasts. Scott swooped down to drag his tongue over one of the nipples, making her moan loudly. His free hand came up to pinch and rub the unoccupied breast. Her back arched with the pleasure.

He took her breast into his mouth, taking the pink mound in his teeth and swirling his tongue around it. He began sucking on it, as well as nipping it continuously. Curses fell from her lips as he continued with his ministrations. “For God’s sake, Scott, I need you to fuck me! Take off your pants and fuck me on this desk right now.”

Scott’s mouth didn't leave her breast as he moved his hands down to fumble with his belt. Hope kept her other breast occupied, and Scott thought it was so hot when she pleasured her own breasts like that. He was throbbing now, his head leaking with his fluids already. He was so aroused that he didn't even want to take the time to kick his jeans off. He just rolled her onto her stomach, her ass right there ready for him, and he dragged his tip against her soaking wet slit. Hope gripped the edge of the desk and moaned. By instinct she spread her legs, tilting her pelvis so he had more of a view. After dragging one more time, his head found her entrance, and he pushed into her. 

A shout fell from her lips as he filled every inch of her slowly. He made her feel so full. One thing’s for sure, Scott Lang was very gifted. Her inner walls adjusted to his length quickly, and he began to move within her, thrusting hard and deep. A grunt came from him with every thrust. He was going so hard that with every meeting of their hips, there was a slapping noise. Hope shouted in sync with the man fucking her, and as if there wasn't enough pleasure, she slipped a hand between her thighs and rubbed her sensitive clit, making everything more extreme. God, he felt so good. She'd never felt so turned on like this.

His pace quickened as the pleasure built in them both. He pounded her faster and harder than ever. He knew she was getting close because her voice became louder and higher. In fact, she was screaming his name; he was screaming hers. It was almost hard to tell whose moans were whose at this point. All they knew is that both of them were so very close to exploding. He kept moving furiously within her, and Hope could feel herself start to throb and start to tighten around him. She wanted this; she longed for the sweet release more than anything, and it was coming up fast and sudden. And then, it hit all at once, and she moaned oh so loudly, her back arching, her toes curling. She clung to him as the pressure throbbed violently within her, making her shake, and she chokes out as he continued to thrust into her. Scott wasn't too far behind her. The extreme clamping of her walls around him was what did it. For both of them, it felt like Independence Day, because Scott’s groin exploded like fireworks. He spewed his load deep within her, a warm sensation spreading from there and throughout both their bodies. His length throbbed intensely as he filled her, so much that some escaped from her and slid back down his length, dripping onto her desk. Hope felt that and she smirked, loving the feeling. After a while, he pulled out and she turned over onto her back, keeping her legs spread.

“You made a mess,” she teased, and she took her hand and slid it down to scoop up some of his load that had slipped out and brought her fingers to her mouth. With a seductive look on her face, she licked her fingers clean. She did this a few times, including with the mess he’d left on her desk.

“Good God, that’s hot,” he murmured, leaning down to kiss her neck, nipping gently. His voice was hot and low, his breath warm on her skin. She shivered and he loved it. “Everything you do is sexy.”

“I can say the same about you,” she whispered back at him, leaning in to be closer to him. “God, I really needed this.”

“I did, too,” he nodded, but he had a reluctant expression on his face. “You know, we have to go back to work…” 

“Ugh, don’t remind me,” she grumbled, standing and collecting her clothes. She picked up her torn pantyhose and threw them away.

“Sorry about that,” he chuckled.

She just smiled. “It’s okay. I keep an extra pair around.” She pulled her thong back up and went to her desk. From one of the drawers, she pulled out a new pair of hose to show him before slipping into them. Before long, she was back into her clothes and was fixing her hair. She had some obvious sex hair, but it was easy to fix. Meanwhile, Scott got dressed and walked up behind her to kiss her shoulder.

“Best break ever,” he murmured. 

“Tell me about it,” she smirked, agreeing and leaning back against him. “This needs to happen more often.”

He nodded. “Oh, without a doubt. No questions asked.”

“I can already feel myself starting to get sore.”

“Good, that’s how I want you.”

She laughed and turned in his arms to kiss his lips longingly. “God, I don’t want you to go.”

“I know,” he spoke against her lips. “But I’ll see you tonight after work. You’ll get more then.”

Another laugh came from her. “Okay, I think I can be patient enough.”

 “Good,” Scott replied, and with one last kiss he had to step back. “Let’s say it’s a reward for getting through work.”

“I like that idea.”

“Me, too. Okay, I better go. I’ll see you tonight.”

“See you,” Hope smiled, and with one last kiss, Scott left the room.

--

The next thing Hope knew, she was lying flat on her back, naked, completely out of breath, unable to think straight. Beside her, Scott lay in the same way, dazed and panting. They stared at the ceiling, trying to recover. They were both completely covered in sweat, and oh, so blissful.

After a while like that, Scott finally got some brain function left. “Wow…” he breathed. “Best… reward… ever…”

Hope was so mind blown that she couldn't even speak. All she did was nod. Her body was shaking from the remaining pleasure. She couldn't even feel her legs.

Scott turned his head to look at her and soon turned and propped himself up on his elbow to face her. “You're so hot like that. Came so hard you can’t even move, speak, or think.”

While she still panted, she let out a breathy chuckle and looked at him amused. It took a few minutes, but soon, she was able to breathe again, and she turned over onto her stomach. “You're very good at getting me like that,” she winked. 

He grinned and bent down to kiss her all over. “We're gonna sleep so well tonight.”

“Oh, definitely,” she agreed. She then reached down to pull up the covers, curling up under them. The aftershock of the great sex had taken its toll already. 

“You’re sleepy already, hm?”

“The great sex tends to be exhausting. It's been a long day, too.”

“Yeah, you worked extra hard today, you earned it.” He then joined her beneath the covers. “Did you have to double up on Jack’s stuff? I know he wasn't there today.”

Hope shook her head. “No, he's coming back tomorrow. Both he and Becca.”

“Becca wasn't there at all today? Why?”

Hope had just recalled that she had yet to tell Scott that Becca was pregnant. At first, she wasn't sure if she should tell him. But then she realized that Jack and Becca were both their friends, and he deserved to know. “She had a doctor’s appointment today.” That was when she turned to grab her phone and pull up the pictures Becca had sent earlier that day.

“And were was Jack?” Scott asked while she was doing so. 

“He was with her,” she stated plainly. Before Scott could ask why, she had the ultrasound pictures pulled up. She turned the screen toward him. “This is why.”

It didn't take but a split second for Scott to realize what was happening. “No way…” Hope just nodded in response, and Scott looked completely shocked. “Becca's pregnant? Since when? Why didn't anyone tell me?”

“Because she just found out,” Hope explained. “Only a few days ago. That was the reason why I left so early that one morning. She was freaking out and needed support.”

“And he didn't tell me at all? Traitor.” He then grabbed his phone and texted Jack.

Before he could send anything, though, Hope stopped him. “Wait, Scott. I don't know if Becca wants anyone else knowing.”

“Why not? It's just me. And I'm Jack’s best friend, I deserve to know!” He then sent the text. Excuse me, I wasn't informed that you are about to become a dad?? 

Jack replied within a few minutes. Yeah, I am. We were waiting to tell you, when Becca feels better about it.

Is she okay? 

It took a while for Jack to respond again. She lost two babies before this. Stillborn and miscarried. She's terrified.

Scott looked at the screen in shock. Oh, shit. Man I can't imagine. Well, I'm hoping for the best. Congrats to both of you. Scott then put away his phone and turned to Hope with a somber look on his face. “She lost two babies before this.”

Hope nodded. “Yeah. I know.”

“You knew?”

“The day she didn't come to work without a word, the surgery she had… it had something to do with her fertility and she told me everything. But I'm almost certain that this time will be different, and better.”

“I hope it will be. I can't even imagine what she's been feeling. I guess only time will tell what happens.”

“Yeah,” Hope agreed. She then kissed him and settled on her side, curling up. “We should get some sleep.”

Scott nodded and turned out the light on the nightstand before pulling Hope close to him. “I love you.”

“I love you, too, Scott.”

They kissed one final time, and they went still, sleep coming to them both quickly.


 

Halfway through the night, Scott ended up tossing and turning, moaning in his sleep. Hope was still in heavy sleep, so she didn't hear him. However, after a while she began to draw out of sleep, but it was when Scott shot up out of sleep that sent Hope jolting fully awake, sitting up next to him with confusion. “Scott? Are you okay? What happened?”

Scott was dazed and shocked, his eyes a bit wide as he breathed hard. He realized where he was and calmed down, trying to catch his breath. “Yeah,” he nodded. “I'm fine. Just a weird dream.”

“Okay,” Hope said, relieved that he was okay. She went to lie back down, but Scott didn't follow. She sat back up again, wondering why he was still sitting instead of lying with her. “Scott?”

He didn't answer at first. His mind ran wild as he tried to recall the dream before it slipped away from him. All of a sudden, realization dawned upon him as he remembered what he'd been dreaming about. He let out a gasp as he froze for a moment, eyes wider, heart racing, mind in disbelief.

“Scott?” Hope heard him and saw how his face changed and was confused. “Scott, what is it?”

“I remember what happened,” he whispered, almost unable to be heard. “I remember…”

Hope wasn't following. “Remember…? Remember what? Come on, Scott, you're making me nervous.”

He just turned to gaze at her confused face and took a deep breath. This was huge.

“I remember what happened in the Quantum Realm.”

Chapter Text

Hank paced the floor of the living room, a flustered expression written clear on his face. His mind was running in circles. Scott remembered what had happened in the Quantum Realm, and he just couldn't believe it. Perhaps there had been some sort of delayed response from the shock that kept the memories dormant. So, it was possible to comprehend… just not right away. He didn't know what to think. What if Scott was fooling him?

"Are you sure?" he asked to double check. This had to be true. It just had to be.

Scott let out a breath and nodded. "Yes. There's no way I could make this up."

"All right," Hank spoke slowly, sinking into his chair, like a deflated balloon, but sitting up attentively at the same time. "Tell me exactly what you saw."

The old man could hear Scott trying to describe exactly what he remembered, the shapes and colors he saw as he was floating around, but Hank wasn't listening for most of it. He did, however, wait to hear parts of exactly how he got out.

"Okay," Scott took another breath, deeper this time. "So, I remember just floating, hearing nothing… but then I heard Cassie's voice, calling for me. It, like, woke me up. I remembered that I had some discs on me. Thank god, I still had blue ones. I put one in my regulator, and that's what brought me back."

Hank took note of the entire thing Scott had described, a feeling of hope rising in his heart. This could be it. This could be the missing piece that he had been searching for after all this time. He might be able to have his wife back. He might be able to bring Hope's mother home.

"Dad?" Hope's voice brought him back. "Are you all right?"

He snapped his attention toward her. "Yes," he said. "I'm just… trying to think. This is the key… for bringing Janet back to us."

"How?" she asked curiously.

Scott had been thinking for a moment, staring into blank space until he realized what he intended to do. "What if I go back?"

"What?" Hope didn't think she heard correctly.

"What if I go back? To get—"

"—No," Hope cut him off right away.

"No?" he questioned. "What do you mean? This is our chance—"

"—I said no," Hope repeated herself adamantly. "Absolutely not. I don't want him going back in there. No way." Was he really going to question her?

"Why not?" both men asked this time simultaneously.

Seriously? How could they not know why not? Hope's eyes glowered toward Scott. "Dad," she began, nearly hissing through her teeth. "Could you give me and Scott a moment, please?"

Hank asked no questions, and he left the room quickly, leaving the couple alone. Hope approached her boyfriend and kept her glare, which seemed a little saddened, as well. Scott still didn't seem to get it, but it was Hope that didn't understand why he wanted to do this.

"Are you serious?" she questioned him, almost in a snap. "What the hell are you doing?"

Scott stepped back once when she spoke. "Uh, I'm trying to get your mom back."

"Are you out of your mind?" she was shouting now. "Hell no! I don't want you going back in there!"

"Hope, why not?" now Scott was raising his voice.

"How can you not know why not?! What if I lose you, too?!"

Oh. That's why she was so upset. It completely went over his head. But he shook his head. "Hope, you won't lose me. I know how to get out, remember?"

"You don't know that! You can't know that! I'm going in."

Scott's eyes widened. "What? No way. I'm going. It's better if I go."

God, she just wanted to slap him. "God dammit, Scott! No!"

"You think Hank is going to let you go back in there? You think he'll risk losing the last remaining person he's ever loved? I certainly won't lose one of the only people I love."

"How do you think I feel?!" she cried. Her eyes were brimming with tears. "I don't want to lose you like I lost her!"

"But, Hope—"

"—No! You're not going back there! End of story!" She then whipped around on her heel and stormed out.

Scott followed her. "Hope, wait."

She turned to face him angrily. "No, Scott. Don't… don't follow me. I… I need to be alone." Then, she whirled around and left, not looking back. Scott watched as she even got into the car and sped away.

Scott stood there, guilty that he'd upset her… but not about the decision he'd made. He was going back, and he was doing it for her. He went back to find Hank, who had heard everything.

"She's gone," Scott told him. "She just… left." He shook his head, but the remorse wasn't there for very long.

The old man saw the look on Scott's face and sighed. "You still want to go back, don't you?"

"Yep."

"You son of a bitch."

Scott just shrugged and gave Hank a sincere, serious look. "It's the only way to possibly bring Janet back. Better me to go in than Hope. I know you agree with me on that."

"Oh, I do," Hank nodded. "But still. Maybe you should go talk with her?"

"Come on, you heard everything. She doesn't want anything to do with me going back. Plus, she didn't even want me to follow her. She's very stubborn."

"You're just as stubborn as she can be, though," Hank pointed out.

Scott agreed with that. "I know. Especially when it comes to protecting the people I love." He thought for a moment quietly, trying to come up with an idea for how to reason with Hope. There was only one way he could think of. He took out his phone and made a call.

Hank's brow lifted. "What are you doing?"

"Hope needs a friend right now," Scott explained. "And she for damn sure doesn't want me around right now, but I know someone who can talk to her."

They went quiet for a moment while the phone rang. After three rings, someone picked up.

"Hello?"

"Becca," Scott began. "I need a favor…"


Hope found herself in her living room, curled up on the sofa with her legs tucked under her. She was wearing Scott's sweatshirt as she cried quietly. It had been an hour or so since she'd stormed out of Hank's, anger brewing over the whole thing with Scott, and she was pretty sure she'd cried all her tears. She'd had moments like this before, but it had been a while. She couldn't even really remember the last time. God, she wished she could hug Scott and bury her face into his warm chest while she sobbed, but at the same time, she didn't want anything to do with him.

How could he be so reckless? Was he really so careless that he would just drop everything and go back into the void as if it meant nothing? She just couldn't believe him. Sure, she wanted her mother back, more than anything, but if it meant risking someone else she loved, going back was out of the question for her. Hell, she'd do it herself, if anything. But Scott had been right. Not only would he not allow it, but also Hank would never allow it, either. God, she hated everything about this.

As she was wiping more of her tears, a knock came upon the front door. She grumbled, but didn't get up. "Scott, I don't want to see you right now," she called. "Please, go away."

"I would if I was actually Scott, but I'm not, so not a chance."

Wait a minute… was that…? "Becca?"

"Surprise," Becca's voice called through the door.

Hope really didn't want to talk. "Not now, Becca."

"Scott told me something was wrong and wanted me to talk to you," the other woman said. "I came all the way out here and I'm not going away just yet. Wanna tell me what's going on?"

Of course. Why else would Becca show up at such impeccable timing? "No, Becca," Hope replied flatly. "Please, go."

"Hope, come on," Becca tried jiggling the doorknob, but it had been locked. "Seriously, Hope, let me in."

"No," Hope spoke a little louder. "Dammit, Becca, go away. Please. I don't want to talk to anyone right now."

"Hope, you can't do this, running from the problem, locking yourself away. It's not like you to run. Now, what's wrong?"

"Becca, I'm fine. Please, go!"

Becca was getting frustrated just as much as Hope was. "Not a chance."

"Dammit, Becca, why?" Hope yelled. "Leave me alone!"

The other woman groaned to herself. "Hope, let me in or dammit, I will kick down this door."

Yeah, right, Hope thought, shaking her head. She decided to remain quiet this time. Maybe ignoring her would make her go away. She was wrong.

A loud bang came on the door just then, making Hope jump. Was she really trying this? "What the fuck? Becca, just go away!"

Another thunderous bang came. Then another. Then another. Though the banging was harsh, nothing was happening. Hope just decided to just sit there in silence and wait for her to give up and leave. There's no way she could kick that door in.

Wrong again.

With one more massive crash, the door suddenly flew open, so forcefully that it almost came off the hinges. Becca was in the room two seconds later, staring at Hope's horrified expression. The dark-haired woman couldn't believe it. She really fucking kicked in the damn door!

"I fucking told you," Becca spoke, crossing her arms.

"What the hell, Becca?!" Hope was finally on her feet.

"Why don't you just tell me what's going on?" the pregnant woman stood her ground. Her blue eyes were piercing as they bore right through her friend. She could see the tearstains. "This isn't like you, Hope. You've never shut yourself away like this to the point where you avoid Scott. What did he do? Just tell me, okay? I'm trying to help you. I'm fucking worried about you!"

Hope tried to say something, but all that came out was a soft whimper. Her bottom lip began to quiver. More tears came to her eyes. Everything began to build up so suddenly that it became overwhelming so quickly, and she broke. She buried her face into her hands, hiding shamefully. She hated being like this in front of her friends, or anyone, really.

Becca frowned, taken aback. Up until then, it had been herself that did the crying when overwhelmed, and that was about a past event. This was happening to Hope now. Becca's heart ached to see her like this, so the one thing she knew what to do was pull her friend into a hug.

Hope instantly wrapped her arms around the other woman. She felt so useless and vulnerable, but god, she really wanted this right now. Hell, she needed this.

Becca stood there with her for a few moments before taking her to the sofa to sit down with her. She made sure to stay close. "All right," she murmured. "Tell me what's going on."

By then, Hope knew she couldn't win. There was really no way around, now that she'd shown how she really felt. She took a long, uneasy breath. "Do you remember what I told you… about how my mother disappeared?"

The other woman nodded. "Yeah. You told me she disappeared into some void and never came out. You also told me that Scott went into the same void, but he did come out. Though, he didn't remember anything. Right?"

Wow, she had a good memory. Hope was the one to nod this time, and she wiped a stray tear from her cheek. "Well, last night… he suddenly remembered."

"Really? After all this time?"

"It must have been some delayed response. Anyway, he remembers exactly how he got out, and it gave us an idea of how to get my mom back."

"Well, that's great," Becca said. "Don't you want your mom back?"

Hope nodded again. "More than anything. But there's one problem. Scott wants to go back in to find her. He's such a reckless idiot." She sighed and rubbed her face after pausing, while Becca listened intently, making sure to stay close to her friend. Hope continued. "What the hell is he thinking? He's being insane! Completely out of his mind! I mean, what if he doesn't come back?"

Becca was quiet for a second while she took in everything Hope had explained to her. "He'll come back," she stated plainly.

"How do you know?" Hope questioned.

"Because I know Scott well enough to understand that if he doesn't, you'll find a way to get him and kick his ass. And he for damn sure knows this, too."

This made Hope only half-smile. It was true. Somehow, she would find him and kick his ass if he didn't come back. "Still," Hope sighed. "I don't want to lose him like I lost my mother. I can't."

"Scott knows that, too," Becca pointed out. "Hope, I'm sure that if he doesn't find her, he'll come back. He loves you too much. He'll come back for you, and for his daughter, the two most important people in his whole world. And he'd much rather be doing this than having something happen to you or Cassie. He's smart; I know he'll come back. Scott may be a reckless idiot, but he's not that stupid."

"So… he's basically doing this… to prove his love? He doesn't have to prove it."

"He's doing this because he knows how important your mom is to you and your dad. Yes, he's doing this because he loves you, and he wants you to be happy."

Hope frowned. "I'm happier than I've ever been now that I have him in my life."

"I know," Becca couldn't argue with that. "But he at least wants to try, for you. You have to give him that."

Hope just said nothing for a while.

Becca dipped her head a bit so she could find Hope's gaze again. "Hey," she said quietly. "I know it seems like the scariest thing ever, but I know he'll find his way back to you. At least let him try."

"We'll see," was all Hope said, after she let out a defeated sigh.

"And talk to him," her friend replied. "Hope, you're the woman he loves. He's worried about you shutting yourself away and not speaking to him. And honestly, I'm worried, too."

Again, the dark-haired woman was silent. She thought about it for a moment, and then she nodded once. "Fine. I will." She glanced up as Becca gave a satisfied grin, and Hope sighed. "Thank you, Becca, for coming here. Sorry for being a bitch."

"You're not a bitch," Becca smiled as she gave Hope another hug. "You're worried about someone you love, no one can blame you for being upset that he wants to do this. But he'll find his way back, I'm sure. But, uh, yeah… sorry about your door."

"It's okay, I'll get it fixed," Hope assured her. "But seriously, you should be more careful now that you've got that bun in the oven." She placed her hand on her friend's belly.

Becca only rolled her eyes. "Trust me, I'm nonstop careful. The door thing was because of an emergency."

"You sure about that?"

Absolutely not. "Yes." Sure, Becca was constantly careful, but she knew she'd have to step up and take action if a friend was in trouble.

"All right," Hope stated, obviously not believing the pregnant woman's words. She then got to her feet, helping Becca up, as well. "Well, I guess I better go talk to Scott, then."

"That would be smart."

"And you better go get some rest."

"Yeah, yeah, I know," Becca snorted. "I'll see you at work. Oh, and you may want to dead bolt the door until you get it fixed."

Hope grabbed her purse and rolled her eyes as she headed for the front door. "Thanks for the tip."

Becca winked, and with Hope she walked out of the house, standing and waiting while Hope locked the door. The two made their way to their cars, and after waving goodbye, they both left, going in opposite directions.


Hope walked back into Hank's house slowly. No one was there in the living room at first, so Hope called out to someone.

"Scott?"

He emerged from the kitchen upon hearing her voice and the moment she saw him, she ran to him, throwing her arms around him. His arms came up to support her. Thank god, he thought, that he sent Becca to help.

"I'm so sorry," she spoke. "I didn't mean to yell and run out like that."

"It's okay," he murmured. "You don't have to apologize. You were upset. It's okay." He pressed a kiss to the crown of her head.

"I just didn't want to lose you the way I lost my mom," she restated her argument from earlier.

He pulled back to look into her eyes. "I promise I'll come back for you. Even if I fail, I'll come home. Just let me try. Let me try for you."

Hope dropped her head for a moment. "Please don't tell me you're doing this to prove your love."

"I'm doing this because I love you, and because I know how much your mom means to you. Please, let me try."

She sighed, taking a deep breath before bringing up her gaze to meet his. "Okay," she whispered. "But I swear to god, Scott Lang, if you don't come back, I'll find a way to kick your ass, you hear me?"

"I wouldn't have it any other way," he smiled softly.

She gave him a slightly tearful smile before she pulled him in for a soft kiss. Hank watched, and he let it go, just this once, instead of grumbling and making them stop. He sighed when they broke apart and glanced to him. "I have to prepare," the old man told them. "I'll find a way to communicate with you when you get there, make sure you'll have blue discs with you, and so on. But I don't know how long it will take. It could take a couple weeks… could take like a month. I'll do the best I can."

Hope liked the thought of being able to communicate with Scott while he was in the void, and it gave her a little bit of comfort, enough for her to relax a bit. The moment after, Hank left the room to go right to work, not wasting a single second. Scott turned back to his girlfriend again.

"It's gonna be okay, I promise," he assured her again, framing her face with his warm hands. "I'll do my best to find her."

She shook her head with a small grin. "You're an idiot, Scott. A reckless idiot. I hope you keep your promise."

"I will," he nodded, kissing her forehead. He knew that now, he had to do everything in his power to make his way back to her, whether he succeeded or not.

"Promise me, again," Hope whispered, hugging him tight.

Scott smiled and rubbed her back as they embraced one another. Only two words could leave him, then.

"I promise."

Chapter Text

It took a couple of weeks before Hank was finally ready to send Scott back to the Quantum Realm. The old man had created a communication device to keep in touch, fixed the old suit (he wasn't ready to send Scott back with that brand new suit just yet), and made more blue discs for the trip. He made sure to have extra on hand, just in case. So by the time all of that was ready, it had been two weeks. However, the old man still wasn't ready. He needed mental preparation as well. And he wasn't the only one, either.

Hope still had this nagging feeling in her stomach as the anticipation ate away at her. She hadn't been sleeping well, having occasional nightmares about losing him. When she'd awaken from them, Scott was right there with her, there to comfort her and hold her until she relaxed again. He was worried about what she'd do while he was gone. There was no way she would be completely calm, that's for sure.

When the day arrived, Hope was a nervous mess, though she didn't show it at first. Though it was probably evident no matter what. Who could blame her? The thought of losing someone else she loved was absolutely horrifying. Scott knew something was up deep down. He didn't even have to guess, either.

When he woke up, she was sitting on the edge of the bed, facing away from him. She didn't move a muscle, but every so often he'd hear her take a deep breath. How long had she been like that?

"Hope?" he mumbled sleepily as he sat up a little.

His voice startled her a bit, and she turned to peer over her shoulder. "Oh, hey," she whispered.

He crawled over to get closer to her. "Hey," he replied. When he got up beside her, he could catch the darkened circles beneath her eyes in the dim early morning light. "Hey, what's wrong? Did you not sleep?"

After a moment she shook her head. "No. I didn't sleep. I couldn't."

Scott frowned and kissed her shoulder once. He had no words. All he could do was pull her to him to keep her close. She leaned into him, turning to bury her face into the crook of his neck. He noticed that she was shaking a little bit as he brought his arms around her tighter. One of his hands stroked her back.

"I don't want you to go," she breathed. When she inhaled, she took in his scent, the one that she adored so much. It made her hold onto him even tighter than before.

"I know," he sighed. "But I promise, I'll come back to you. Okay?"

Hope nodded slowly, somehow still partially unable to believe him. "You better keep your damn promise, you hear me?"

"Of course. You have my word. I promise."

She brought up her gaze to meet his. Her eyes were tearful. After getting lost gazing at him, she pressed her lips to his longingly. A shaky hand came up to cup his cheek. His did the same with her cheek, and he gently stroked her skin with his thumb. They pulled away, only to go back into a tight embrace.

"I love you," she said softly.

"I love you, too, Hope. So much."

They remained like that for several minutes, not once leaving each other's arms. Hope just kept her face in his neck, enjoying his warmth for as long as she could. Meanwhile, Scott's mind was turning. He knew Hope was going to be a hot mess while waiting for him to return. Hank would be only focused on the situation at hand. Hope was going to need some sort of emotional support.

"Hey, babe?" he broke the silence.

She didn't bother looking up, but she listened. "Yeah?"

"Maybe… you should call Becca today… have her for emotional support."

That made Hope glance up. "Becca? I don't think she should be dragged into this…"

"You've been there for her in her dark times," Scott pointed out. "Now you need her."

He had a point. But still, she didn't want to have Becca worry about all of this. She already had so much. "I don't know, Scott…"

"Hope. You're going to need someone to lean on while I'm gone. I think she'd be happy to help. Just try calling her?"

Hope thought about it for a moment, and then she let out a breath and nodded with agreement. "Okay. I will." She then reached for the nightstand to grab her phone to dial Becca's number. It took a few rings, but she answered after a while, right before voicemail.

"Hello?" came a tired sounding voice from the other end.

"Hey, Becca, it's me," Hope said. She felt guilty hearing her pregnant friend so tired. She knew the woman would need as much rest as possible. "Look, I'm sorry to wake you…"

Becca cut her off. "Oh, no. You didn't wake me. I was awake five minutes before you called. Morning sickness again."

"Oh, god, I'm sorry. That hasn't gotten any better?"

"Nope. I'm afraid it'll be like that for a while. Anyway, what's up? Is everything okay?" Becca was now hearing the uneasiness in Hope's voice and became concerned.

Hope sighed. "Scott's going back today."

Becca paused for a moment. "Going back? To where…? Oh, wait… back to look for your mom, right?"

"Yeah," the dark-haired woman answered.

Hope was going to speak again, but Becca spoke up first. "Do you need me to come over and be there when he does?"

"That's… actually why I was calling…"

"Oh, wow, that was a good guess then. So I take it that you do need me over there?"

"If you don't mind. I mean, I hate to drag you into this—"

"—Hope, you're not dragging me into anything. I am voluntarily throwing myself into the mix myself. If it means it'll help you get through it, then absolutely. Just give me a time and a place and I'll be there."

God what would Hope do without this woman? "We don't have an exact time yet. I'll let you know. But I can tell you it'll be at my dad's place."

"All right," Becca answered. "I'll be there. Just tell me when and I'll be over. Now, put me on speaker, will you?"

Hope knit her brows in confusion, but she obeyed anyway. "Okay, you're on speaker."

"Scott, are you there with her?"

"Yeah, I'm here," Scott spoke up.

"Okay. Look here, I swear to god if you don't come back I will fuck you up, you hear? I don't care how short I am, I will climb up there and drag you down myself." She had to do what she had to do to protect and defend one of her closest friends. Loyalty was a huge value of hers.

"Understood," Scott answered. He had tensed while Becca spoke, not only because of the threat, but also because Hope was giving him a look that showed that she was perfectly okay with Becca kicking his ass if he broke his promise. "I'll come back, don't worry."

"Good," they just knew Becca was smirking victoriously. "All right guys, I'll see you both later today."

"See ya," Hope and Scott replied at the same time. Then, they ended the call. Hope let out a breath and buried her face in her hands.

"You okay?" Scott asked, placing a hand on her back.

She nodded. "Yeah, I am. For now. I'm just really nervous."

"I get that," he murmured. "But I promise you, everything will be fine. Okay?"

Their green eyes met for a while as she nodded again. "Okay." They kissed once more. This kiss was slow, longing, like a goodbye kiss. Hope made it that way. She couldn't help it.

Once they pulled back, Scott rose to his feet and made his way to the dresser to get into some comfortable clothes. Hope went for the bathroom and freshened up before getting dressed herself. Her outfit of choice? Jeans and one of Scott's baggy sweatshirts, over one of his t-shirts. Scott smiled as he saw this.

"You know, you look better in that hoodie better than I ever could," he told her as he approached her.

"I like how it smells like you," she responded. "And it's warm. It gives me some comfort for what's to come."

"Well, that's good. I'm glad it helps. And I'm glad it makes you look hotter than before, which I didn't even know was possible."

She just rolled her eyes, but she still blushed a little. She failed to suppress the smile coming across her face.

"There it is," he murmured, cupping her cheek. "That beautiful smile."

She tried to drop it but she failed at that, too. "You're too sweet, you know that?"

"Oh yes, especially since I know it makes you smile." When he said that, a giggle slipped from her. He was just on a roll! He stole a kiss just then. "Everything will be fine, Hope. I promise. I'll come back and make you smile all over again."

"I'll hold you to it, Mr. Lang," Hope's tone was almost one of warning.

Scott offered a signature goofy smile, and he kissed her before turning to head out. "Come on, Hank's probably wondering where we are."


They got to Hank's rather quickly, and they found the man in the lab, of course, making sure everything was set to go. When the couple walked in, he was going down a checklist. But when he heard them enter, he stopped and turned around.

"There you are," he said. "Finally."

"Dad, it's 8:30 in the morning, we still had to get up and get ourselves together."

The old man disregarded her comment and went back to his list. "All right, I think everything's ready. Are you, Scott?"

Scott was about to say yes, but Hope held up a hand. "Wait. I need to call Becca."

"Becca?" Hank echoed. "Wait, that's your assistant, right? Does she know about this?"

"Yes, Dad, she does," Hope replied.

Hank tensed. "What the hell? Why would you tell her about something like this?"

"Because, Dad, she's my best friend, and I've been with her through some of her lowest moments. Well, not the lowest, but I've seen pretty much her worst. Now, I need her, for support. I promise you she's on our side and wouldn't tell a soul."

It took a bit of arguing, but eventually, Hank gave up and agreed to let Becca come for this. Hope texted her immediately. When Becca replied saying she was on her way, Hope put her phone away. Now they were ready.

They made their way to the training room, so there was a lot of space for Scott around him. Hope was instantly nervous. Adrenaline was beginning to pump in her veins as she began to have second thoughts about the whole thing. Watching Scott put on the suit made it even worse. The men could see her anxious expression, too. Yet, they could do nothing. Scott wouldn't be backing out. Hope knew this, too, and it made her heart race even more. Thank god Becca showed up when she did.

Hope answered the door and Becca immediately knew something was up. She knew panic when she saw it. Without a word, she went up to her friend to hug her. Hope returned it tightly. Becca didn't even need an explanation for this.

"It's gonna be okay, Hope," she whispered. She knew it sounded like a broken record by now, but Hope needed to keep hearing it. "Don't keep thinking about it so much, okay? See if that helps."

Hope tried to think of something else, and that was when she noticed that since they were pressed so tight, Hope could feel something pressing against her. She pulled back to look down, and she was surprised to see Becca's belly already beginning to protrude. The shirt she wore was tight fitting, so it was obvious. "Oh, god, Becca, look at that belly."

Becca couldn't help but giggle and blush as she glanced down and cradled her bump. "Yeah, blowing my cover already. I'm nine weeks, now, by the way."

"Aww," Hope managed to smile. "But how come I didn't notice until now? I saw you like yesterday and didn't notice anything."

"Thank god for loose fitting clothing. But yep, officially showing, officially in maternity jeans already."

"It's adorable and beautiful, Becca, really. And so far, so good, right?"

The pregnant woman nodded as she was led into the house with her friend. "Yeah, so far, so good. I'm still extra cautious, though, as always."

"I had no doubt," Hope stated.

"So, where's Scott?"

"He and my dad are down in the training room, getting ready to start."

"Well, we better get down there, then."

Hope agreed, and she led her friend into the house and took her down to the room where the men awaited. After making introductions between Hank and Becca, they got right down to business.

"Okay, Scott, let's go through the plan to make sure everything's set to go," Hank began. He still gripped his checklist in his fists. "So, what do you do first?"

"As soon as I'm in there, I update you," Scott answered immediately.

"Good. Then what?"

"Update you often as I search."

"How long will you stay in there?"

"Until you call me back."

Hank sighed with slight relief. "Okay, you're ready. Let's do this." In the corner of his eye, he saw Hope trying to keep herself together. After switching glances between her and Scott, he sighed once again. "All right, just this once, I'll allow PDA. Just this once."

Hope didn't hesitate, and she surged ahead to hug Scott tightly. "Scott, I'm, serious, you better come back."

His arms embraced her and he kissed her cheek. "I will. I promise."

She pulled back slowly to look into his eyes, and without wasting another second, she kissed him, slowly, passionately, like the kiss from that morning. Only this time, it lasted even longer. They savored every second. He cupped her face, and she wrapped her arms around his neck. The kiss lasted over a minute before they went right back to hugging. Hope didn't want to ever let go. She feared that if she did, he would disappear forever. The thought of it made tears prick in her eyes.

"I love you so much," she whispered shakily.

Scott smiled softly and went to gaze into her eyes again. "I love you, too, Hope."

And then, reluctantly, they had to let go. Becca went to Hope's side instantly after. Scott took several steps back and closed the mask of his helmet. He double-checked himself to make sure he had the discs on his person, as well as making sure everything else was secure. He lifted his gaze to look at the three with him.

"All right. Here goes nothing."

"Good luck," came from all three others. Hope also whispered, "Be careful," under her breath.

The man in the suit took one long, deep breath, and he held up his thumb. With one press of the button, he was gone, standing in his micro size on the floor. Becca, since this was the first time she'd witnessed the shrinking, went wide-eyed.

"Wow," she said. "That was amazing."

"Thanks, Becca," Scott could be heard over the COM system. "Okay, Hank, are we good?"

"Yep," Hank stated. "Whenever you're ready."

Scott nodded, though he knew he couldn't be seen, and he took yet another deep breath. He then recalled what he'd done the first time he went back, and he engaged the regulator. There came a whirring, and the particles danced. The last thing he said to himself before he was completely gone was almost like what he'd said the first time.

"I love you, Hope."

And, with that, he was gone, vanishing into the void.

All was quiet, at least for a few moments before Becca, completely amazed by what she'd seen, walked forward some. She waved her hand in the space where Scott used to be, feeling nothing. "Whoa. He really is gone…"

"Well, he's there somewhere," Hank explained. "But very, very small, and getting even smaller as we speak."

"That's incredible," the woman replied, completely in awe. My friends have the coolest powers, hands down.

After a moment, they fell silent again. They'd given him a few moments to fully emerge in the Realm. Seconds turned into minutes. Very slow minutes to Hope. When five long minutes went by, Hank decided to check on him.

"Scott, how's it going in there?" he spoke through the COM system. He waited, but all he got was static. Hold on, that wasn't right. He tried. "Scott?" Nothing.

Hope's heart leaped into her throat as the seconds ticked by. Why the hell wasn't he answering?

They tried to get in touch with Scott for several minutes. Still nothing. Hope snatched the COM from Hank and tried to call Scott herself.

"Scott, can you hear me?" she asked, over and over again. "Scott, talk to me, come on! Where are you?!"

Hank had to pry the device from her hands. "Hope, it's not working," he stated. "It's useless."

She shook her head furiously. "No, it has to work! You said it would! How will he know when to come back?!"

"Something must have happened," the old man suggested, finally getting the machine away from her. "All we can do is wait. There's nothing else."

Hope had to fight to hold herself together. She refused to accept this, and yet, she feared the worst. Becca saw her friend's eminent distress and put her hand on her shoulder.

"Hope, come on," she suggested quietly. "You should come and sit down, away from here."

"What?" Hope looked at her, bewildered. "No. No, I have to stay!"

"Hope, waiting around and pacing the floor won't make him come back any faster. Come on, let's go sit down." She was completely calm when she spoke.

Hope wanted to argue, but when she looked to her father, he nodded, agreeing with Becca. "She's right," the old man proclaimed quietly. "You don't need to be here waiting around like this. Go sit, rest. Please."

The woman's heart sank, defeated. Without a word, she turned for the door, Becca following after her. They left in a hurry, and they found themselves in the living room on the sofa. As soon as Hope sat down, she hunched forward, elbows on her knees as she buried her face into her hands, letting the tears fall.

"He's gone, I just know it," her voice was already broken.

"Hope, you can't know that," Becca assured her. "Don't jump to conclusions so soon. He'll come back."

"You can't know that."

"No, but I can still keep my head up." At that moment, Becca recognized that statement. Be positive. Hope had told her something among those lines when she learned she was pregnant. What goes around comes around, she guessed. "I'm sure it'll be fine. I know this will sound like a broken record at this point, but you need to have faith. I bet you that he's in there doing everything he can."

Hope nodded, trying to believe Becca's words. But it was difficult, considering the fact that she'd already lost one person she loved to the void. She could bear the thought of losing another. "He better come back," she thought aloud.

"He will. Just give it time."


She gave it time. Six and a half hours to be exact. By then, Hope had nearly given up. Hank was close to it, as well. He sat there in the training room, partially wishing Scott had never done this, because he now had to see his daughter go through the grieving process again. Hank couldn't live with that again.

Yet another thirty minutes passed, and by then, Hank was ready to quit. But suddenly, the air in the middle of the room began to distort. It caught Hank's attention immediately, and he shot out of his chair with alarm. His eyes flickered wildly at the scene before him. The distortion of the room was growing bigger, as if it was creating an opening to a portal. The old man stepped closer, but nearly flew back when a figure sprang forward, almost hitting him. Hank knew who it was instantly.

"Scott, thank god," he sighed. Then he noticed something.

Scott wasn't alone.

Hank swallowed hard as he immediately recognized who the second person was. The suit this one wore was almost identical to Scott's, but it was feminine. Hank wanted to react, but instead he remained speechless.

Scott took off his helmet and went to help the woman with hers. It was obvious that she was dazed, not used to being on her feet again. Scott kept her standing as she managed to remove the helmet, revealing a very familiar face.

Hank's heart nearly stopped. Was he dreaming? It couldn't be… could it?

"Janet…?"

The woman turned toward the voice, but she didn't recognize the man at first glance. Her brows knit together as Hank drew closer to her, slowly, as not to startle her.

"Janet… it's me… it's Hank."

She went wide-eyed, for she knew the name. But why did she not see the same face she associated with it? Once she had her footing, she took a step forward, looking deep into the man's eyes, searching for answers. But the longer she stared, the more she understood. She couldn't miss that gaze. God, what had happened?

"Hank…?" she finally spoke, her voice a little hoarse. "That's… really you?"

Hank was in tears now, a smile stretching across his face. It was her. It was really her. "Yes, Janet, it's me."

Janet wasn't sure what to think. "Wh—what happened?"

The old man cupped her face ever so softly. "You disappeared, after deactivating the missile someone launched at the US. Do you remember that?"

It took a moment, but Janet soon nodded. "Yes… I remember. But… it feels like it was yesterday. Has it been… years?"

Hank nodded this time. "It has. But god I finally have you again."

Scott took the moment to walk up to them to whisper in Hank's ear. "I'm going to go see Hope. Don't tell Janet just yet."

"Why not?" Hank asked lowly.

"Just go with it, okay?" Scott said, just before he turned to leave the room.

Janet watched him leave, confused. Hank began to explain who he was, among other things. It was going to be one hell of a transition for Janet, but they'd get through it.


In the living room, Hope still sat on the sofa. Becca was still there as well, and neither of them spoke a word. They'd only gotten up to use the restroom or to eat something. Well, Becca was the one to get up to eat something. She was eating for two, after all. Every time she looked at Hope, she worried. Every second that passed made her lose a little more of the faith. And there were no words to fix it, as much as Becca wished there were.

Suddenly, footsteps came from down the hall. Hope glanced to the door, though not expecting anything. She just thought it was Hank, coming up after giving up. But she was shocked to see who was really coming to the living room. She sat up even more, thinking she was dreaming, or something.

"Scott?" she breathed. Emotions overwhelmed her in an instant. Most of it was relief, while some was happiness and gratitude. Then she was on her feet, rushing over to him and throwing her arms around him. She buried her face into his chest as more tears returned to her eyes. Tears of complete relief. "Oh, Scott, thank God!"

Scott chuckled lightly as he embraced her. "I'm here, Hope. I'm here." Just like he promised.

"I thought you were gone forever," she trembled. "I was starting to lose faith."

"I'm here now," he murmured. "I've got you."

Becca had gotten to her feet as they embraced, and she was very glad to see them reunited. But he noticed that Scott was alone. No woman that looked like she could be related to Hope in sight. It made her heart sink somewhat. At least he tried.

"Good to see you back in one piece," she piped up, keeping positive.

"Is Dad okay?" Hope asked.

Scott nodded. "Yeah, he's fine. Just… recovering."

Hope assumed what he meant and she sighed a little. "Oh. Well, at least you tried. I'm glad you're here again."

"Me, too," Scott kissed her forehead. "Sorry you had to wait so long."

"It's okay. You kept your promise. Thank you."

"You're welcome. Oh, I meant to tell you, Hank wants you downstairs. Let's go see what he wants."

Hope was saddened at the thought of what her father must be thinking since Scott was alone. Nonetheless, she followed, and Becca trailed behind, as well.

Just before they got to the training room, Scott stopped them and turned to Hope.

"What?" she knit her brow.

"There's something else I need to tell you," he admitted.

"Oh, god," she didn't like the sound of that. "What is it?"

Scott just smiled gently and opened the door. "There's someone who wants to see you."

Hope didn't understand at first, but she walked inside the training room, alarmed to find that Hank was not alone. There was a woman, with her back turned. But she pivoted when she heard the door behind her. At that very moment, Hope stopped breathing.

The woman was young, close to Hope's age it would seem, with short, dark hair and green eyes. She wore a suit that looked incredibly familiar. It took two seconds for Hope to recognize the woman instantly. She froze. Tears pricked in her eyes again. The memory of the last time she saw that exact face was still clear in her mind, even though it was all those years ago. Hope took one step closer to the woman, hoping she wasn't dreaming.

"Mom?"

Chapter Text

Scott just smiled gently and opened the door. "There's someone who wants to see you."

Hope didn't understand at first, but she walked inside the training room, alarmed to find that Hank was not alone. There was a woman, with her back turned. But she pivoted when she heard the door behind her. At that very moment, Hope stopped breathing.

The woman was young, close to Hope's age it would seem, with short, dark hair and green eyes. She wore a suit that looked incredibly familiar. It took two seconds for Hope to recognize the woman instantly. She froze. Tears pricked in her eyes again. The memory of the last time she saw that exact face was still clear in her mind, even though it was all those years ago. Hope took one step closer to the woman, hoping she wasn't dreaming.

"Mom?"


Hope had nearly forgotten how to breathe.

Her mother, after so many years of being lost in the void, was here. She was actually here. It had been so long. She hadn't aged from the last memory Hope had of her, and she could have passed off as a sibling. But no, Hope knew it was her mother. She couldn't believe it, but she knew it was the face of her mother.

At first, Janet's face was nothing but confusion, for she was having a hard time placing the woman in her memory, staying close to Hank. It didn't help that the room was spinning. The face was oddly familiar, she had to have seen it somewhere. There were so many faces she forgot, how could she possibly remember? Then, the woman spoke…

"Mom?"

There was only one person who had called Janet by that name. But she didn't understand. How was this full-grown adult able to call her "mom?" The confusion remained, her brow knitting even more. And yet, her eyes went wider. "What…?" she let out a breath.

Hope prayed that she hadn't forgotten after all those years. She took another step forward. "Mom, it's me," she whispered. "It's Hope."

A hand shot up to Janet's mouth. It couldn't be. How could it be? "What? Hope?" she began shaking her head. "No… no, Hope is… Hope is seven." She was seven, wasn't she?

Hope was the one to shake her head this time. "No, Mom," she said. "I'm thirty-five, now. I promise, Mom, it's me." The more she spoke, and the closer she got, the more broken her voice became. "It's Hope."

The longer Janet stared in disbelief at the woman opposite her, the more it began to click. Soon, her brows lifted as her own eyes brimmed with tears. That face was unmistakable. It really was her little girl, whose words only confirmed her conclusion as she walked closer, looking her in the eyes. "Hope?" Janet finally said out loud at a whisper.

Hope nodded slowly, tears flooding from her eyes, now. There was about a foot of space between them, a few silent moments passing between them as they realized everything was true. Just then, Hope broke, and she fell into her mother, her arms wrapping around the woman as she cried, releasing all those years of grief and pain and loneliness all at once. There was no way she'd be able to stop herself at this point. It's her. It's really her.

Janet held onto her daughter, crying as well, partially for being reunited with her daughter, and partially that she missed all those years with her. God, how much had she missed? Was Hope married? Did she have kids? Where was she in her life? But she couldn't say anything. There was too much to think about it all. All she could do was cry along with her not-so-little girl. However, after several minutes, she managed to pull away to take a good look at what her daughter had become.

Hope was still unable to stop the tears, especially when Janet brought her hands up to cup her cheeks. Was this real? There she'd been with Scott, thinking that since he'd been alone, he'd failed to retrieve her mother. But oh, how wrong she was. She couldn't believe that she was hugging, touching her mother again. Janet's hands touched her face after so, so long, making her cry even more.

"Mom," her voice was shaky and broken as she tried to keep the emotions at bay to some extent. It was almost too overwhelming. "God, Mom…" Hope couldn't find the words other than that. So many thoughts ran through her head at once that it just rendered her speechless. Her mother had come back to her. She had her mom back in her life, after all this time. She didn't want to let go. She feared that it was just a dream, that she would wake up and find that it had all been a dream. She couldn't help but hug her mother tightly again, burying her face into the crook of the other woman's neck.

Wrapping her arms around her daughter more than ever, Janet pulled her close, she, too, overwhelmed. Her soft sobbing mixed with laughs as she held her daughter. It had been so long since she had hugged someone she loved, let alone her own daughter. Even though she made a sacrifice and still didn't regret the lives she saved, she did regret leaving her daughter without a mother for twenty-something years. As she thought of that, Janet began rubbing Hope's back while holding the back of her head. "It's okay, Hope," she said quietly. "I'm here. I'm here, now."

After Hope had calmed down a bit, Janet pulled away so she could look Hope in the eyes, giving her a teary-eyed grin. Her hands came up to wipe the other's tears. "No, no," she whispered, brushing a lock of her daughter's hair out of her face. "Don't cry, Hope. Let me look at you. Oh, God, you're grown up, now. I can't believe I missed so much. God, sweetheart, I am so sorry." She cupped Hope's face gently as she spoke. Hope was doing her best to not let herself completely lose it again, but her face still twisted with her crying, more tears falling. Janet was quick to wipe them away. "Hey, it's all right. I'm here now. I'm sorry you had to wait so long."

Hope nodded with her understanding and quickly brought up a hand to swipe at her leftover tears, even if she knew that more might come. "I… I thought you were—"

"—Shh," Janet calmed her daughter in an instant. "Don't think of that, okay? I'm here now." She tried to think of a good way to change the subject, and a light smirk played on her lips. "Your dad got old." This made Hope let out a light chuckle. Finally, a smile. However, it didn't last. Still seeing how there were tears falling, Janet brought her daughter back into a hug. "I can't believe how grown up you are… I missed everything." After all, the last time they'd seen one another was when Hope was seven. "Graduations, college… everything."

"It's okay, Mom," Hope's broken voice trembled. She sniffled as well. "I'm just… I'm so glad you're back. I didn't think I would ever see you again."

"I know," Janet understood. Now that she was back, though, she could make up for some of that lost time. With a soft smile, she cupped Hope's face again. "Your dad explained everything to me, at least about Ant-Man and the creation of Pym Tech. Didn't tell me much else."

"Yeah, I'm the CEO now," Hope explained, her sentences finally a bit more coherent. "I was also… the one who booted Dad out a while ago."

Janet, confused, glanced to Hank.

Hank went to answer quickly. "I, uhm… I didn't tell her what really happened to you. I wanted to protect her, but I failed."

"He told me the truth a few months ago," Hope added. "We've mended most of the relationship."

"Well, good," Janet let out a sigh of relief. She felt bad that her decision to sacrifice herself led to so many problems, but things had gotten better, from what she could guess.

"And he also gave me… a gift… not too long ago."

"Oh?" Janet piped up at Hope's words. "What is it?"

"Well," she hesitated for a moment. What would Janet think about her daughter following in her footsteps? "He gave me the Wasp prototype you two were working on. I'm… I'm the new Wasp."

Janet gasped. At first, Hope thought it was going to be a negative reaction, but she thought wrong, because her mother smiled widely at her upon hearing the news. "Really?" she asked excitedly.

Hope nodded, a smile growing on her own face. "Yeah. I am."

"Oh, my god!" Janet exclaimed and hugged her daughter again. She moved a little too quickly, though, because she got dizzy again. Luckily, Hank was there to keep her grounded. Nonetheless, Janet didn't stop beaming. "Hope, that's wonderful! So, there's a new Ant-Man and a new Wasp around!"

Scott smiled proudly hearing the positivity coming from Hope's mother in response to the new generation. "So, your mom approves," he chimed as he trotted up to the two woman and took his place next to his love. "Bonus points for me, I guess." He then pecked Hope's cheek.

This made Janet perk up immensely. "Oh, wait, so you two are a couple? You and the burglar-turned-hero?"

Oh, so Janet had been told about that part of Scott's past. However, it didn't seem to bother her too much, thankfully. Hope blushed and nodded and took Scott's hand. "Yeah, we are," she confirmed. "I never thought it would ever happen, but here we are."

"It started with hate, but it turned into love," Scott chuckled. "She didn't like the fact that I was getting to use the Ant-Man suit, or that I was a former thief, but I worked my charm and she turned around for me."

Hope snorted. "Charm. Yeah, right." Scott just shrugged and kissed her cheek again.

Janet was overjoyed to see this. "Hank, why didn't you tell me all of this?"

"I wanted her to be the one to tell you," Hank answered. "But thank god, you're back with us. Both of you." Then, he turned to the fourth person in the room. "Becca, you're a doctor, right?"

"Yes, sir, I am," she responded, quickly wiping a stray tear that had fallen during the reunion. She didn't expect to cry so much, but then again, hormones. "Want me to do a general physical or something?"

Hank nodded. "If you don't mind. By the way, Jan, this is Becca, a coworker-turned-friend of Hope's."

Janet looked at the other woman and grinned at the shorter woman, who had a bigger tummy, from what Janet noticed. She had a good guess as to why, but there was also a chance that it wasn't. So she didn't say anything about it. "Hi there," she said.

Becca smiled back at her and walked up holding out her hand. "Pleased to meet you, Ms. Van Dyne. I've heard so much about you. I'm glad I get to witness this."

"Pleasure's all mine," Janet replied happily. "And please, you can call me Janet. Any friend of Hope's is a friend of mine."

Becca kept the smile. "All right, Janet it is. Now, do you mind if I do a general physical on you? Make sure you came back healthy?"

"Of course. So, you're a doctor? What's your specialty?"

"I'm an OBGYN," Becca replied as she took Janet's pulse and all the basics regarding her health. "Which is convenient right now." She said that last part under her breath, but not quiet enough to go unheard.

"Convenient that you're a doctor?" Janet asked.

"Well, yes, that," the doctor nodded. "But it also helps that I'm an OBGYN because I recently found out that I'm pregnant."

The former Wasp brightened. So the little bump Becca had was what Janet thought it had been all along. "Aww, you're pregnant? Congratulations! How far along are you?"

"Thank you," Becca smiled. "I'm nine weeks. Nine weeks and already showing."

"That's so great, really. Congrats again." Janet's grin never faded. Sure, she missed a lot, but at least she was coming back to see a lot of good happening around her.

The pregnant woman giggled and thanked Janet again, just as she finished her exam on the recently returned woman. "Okay, everything seems to be in order. She's a little discombobulated, but I didn't expect it to be any different. Scott, come here, your turn."

Scott went over to her as he'd been told, and she checked over him as well. "Everything okay?" he asked after a while.

"Nothing seems to be out of the ordinary with you, either," she told him. "I mean, you're also a bit dizzy, but again, I expected that. I will say this, though: both of you need to rest, from the journey. Don't overwork yourselves, please."

"Not to be mean, but shouldn't I be telling you that, too?" Hope teased lightly.

"Ha-ha," Becca crinkled her nose. "Touché. But seriously, please rest. Like, go sit down, or something."

"We will," Scott nodded.

"Good. Now, I should be heading home. Jack's probably wondering what happened to me."

"And you need to follow your own advice," Hope piped up.

Becca rolled her eyes. "Yeah, yeah, I get it," she giggled. "Anyway, good to see you both back alive and well. I'm very glad to see you back, Janet. I'll see y'all around." With that, she gathered her things, and she left for home.

When she left, the four of them went to sit down in the living room. It was nice, especially for Janet, to be sitting. The room had stopped spinning for once. Still, she held onto Hank's arm, just in case. Once they were all settled, they began to explain to Janet what else had happened since she left, this time in fuller detail. Scott went into depth with his side of the story, mentioning his daughter as well. Janet was awed with this. In fact, she was awed with Scott in general. He'd made so many sacrifices for his daughter, faced he consequences, and then he turned himself around and was finally in a good place. He explained how he and Hope really met, and how their relationship blossomed pretty much by accident, how she went from punching him to kissing him over the weeks they trained for the heist. Speaking of the heist, they explained to Janet who Darren Cross was. It made the whole heist story a little clearer. They also explained Scott's encounter with the Quantum Realm, and how he went in and came back, how it took him a while to remember how he got out and blew everyone's minds. In fact, he was the reason Janet was back. And finally, the last thing they told her was about Hope's training as the Wasp, which made Janet very, very proud. So, all in all, things were good, despite being so tumultuous for many years. Everyone had found happiness again.

There was one thing that concerned them, and that was Janet's age. She could easily pass off as Hope's sister, and yet she was in her sixties. The quantum realm had kept her from aging. However, if Janet would go out in public with Hank, they had no doubt she would be holding his hand like they used to (she wouldn't break old habits overnight), so saying that Janet was Hope's sister wouldn't work out. This was going to take a lot of explaining.

"So, what do we do?" Hope asked.

"I can just live quietly?" Janet suggested. "After all, I'm stepping down from being the Wasp. I can enjoy the retired life with Hank."

Hope felt kind of guilty hearing that. "Are you sure? Mom, you don't have to give up being the original Wasp."

Janet smiled. "Honey, there's no need for two Wasps. You should be out there. You've waited years for this chance. Now you have it. I am perfectly fine with living quietly in retirement here. I can't change the fact that I missed so much, but I'm going to make the best of what's to come. You be the Wasp, now. I know you've got that covered."

It made Hope's heart sing hearing that coming from her own mother. "Thanks, Mom," she replied.

"Well, Janet," Hank spoke out. "No one is stopping you from making that decision. At least living here won't be so lonely anymore." He was grinning. Like, actually grinning. The sparkle that Hope saw in his eyes from when she was seven had returned.

"Exactly," Janet nodded. "See, everything will be fine."

"You know," Scott took his turn to speak. "For someone who is coming back after being stuck in isolation since '87, you're very very positive about life. I admire that."

"Well, like I said, I can't go back and change anything. I might as well make the best of everything. I'm back, and I'm glad to see that everyone's in a good place in life. Hank and Hope have reconciled. Hope is running a company. You and Hope found love. Your doctor friend is pregnant. I came back to many good things. I know many more good things will come, too. I will continue to have that faith for the rest of my days, I promise you that. I'm being optimistic."

Hank smiled again. Despite being gone for so long, Janet hadn't lost her poetic side. "And that's a great thing," he stated, kissing Janet's cheek. "I'm so glad you're back, Jan."

The woman giggled. "Me, too. I guess I have Scott to thank for that."

"We really couldn't have done this without him," Hope pointed out, lacing her fingers with Scott's and squeezing gently. "Even though I thought he was an idiot for suggesting to go back in the first place… I was afraid to lose him, too."

"But I kept my promise," Scott mentioned.

"You did, very true," she smiled and couldn't help but kiss him.

Janet watched them interact with the biggest grin on her face. Scott was so gentle with Hope, even though she could kick his ass constantly in sparring matches. And Hope seemed to melt around him. She had the same reactions around Scott that Janet had around Hank when they began dating. Janet began to reminisce a little before just beaming at the couple. She just loved seeing everyone so happy. She noticed that Hank was trying not to watch all the kissing between the two, and it amused her. Typical father. She elbowed him gently.

"Be nice," she giggled.

"Okay, okay, fine," Hank grumbled teasingly.

Scott heard this and couldn't help but giggle listening to it. It made him like Janet even more. She was on his side, thank god. "Ha! She can keep you in check, Hank."

"Don't push your luck, Lang," Hank eyed him.

"Can you guys behave for once, please?" Hope asked them.

"How long have they been like this?" Janet questioned.

"Ever since Dad caught Scott kissing me in the hallway."

"Uh, you mean he caught you kissing me," Scott corrected her teasingly.

"Scott, you're so full of shit," Hank snorted.

"Really," Hope agreed.

Scott just chuckled. "We can all agree that something was definitely happening, though."

Janet listened amused, laughing at their banter. She wished she could have been there to see that, Hank's real time reaction to finding their daughter lip-locked with the man she used to hate. She'd been told it was months ago, and now, looking at her daughter and Scott together, it was easy to see how close they were, how happy they were. It reminded Janet of a similar time in her own life.

When a break came in the conversation, Scott looked at Hank again. "Hey, what do you want me to do with the suit? It's getting hot in here."

"Go ahead and take it off and put it in the lab," the old man instructed. "Just put it on one of the tables, or something."

Scott nodded, and he began to stand. Hope was quick to get by his side the moment she noticed that he was unsteady on his feet. "Careful," she told him quietly.

"I am," Scott assured her, and they began to make their way to the lab, slowly, because Scott was still dizzy. She helped him down the stairs, all the way to the lab, where they stopped and Scott began taking off the suit. Hope had to help him so he didn't fall over. After a few minutes, he was out of the suit, back in his t-shirt and jeans. Hope watched him as he slipped his regular shoes back on, and all of a sudden, she threw herself around him, taking Scott aback. "Whoa, hey."

"Thank you," she whispered over and over again in his neck. "You brought her back… you have no idea how much this means to me, Scott."

His arm came up to wrap around her and hold her there. "You deserve every bit of happiness, Hope," he told her. "I know how much she means to you, how much you missed her. You deserve all of this."

She pulled away and smiled at him as he swiped away some tears that had fallen down her cheeks. "Thank you so much, Scott," she murmured again, just before hugging him again. "I love you so much."

"I love you, too," he replied, keeping her close. "I'm glad you have her again."

"I can never thank you enough," she replied.

"You don't have to," he kissed her cheek. "As long as she's here and you're happy, that's all I need."

They shared a loving gaze before sharing a kiss. Once they broke away, she helped him to his feet. He stumbled a bit, but thanks to her, he found his footing while clinging to her. They made their slow way up the stairs, back to the living room, where Hank still sat with Janet, the two just talking and catching up. Before Scott came back with Hope, the two others shared a tender moment.

"I spent ten years looking for you," Hank said as he took hold of his wife's hand. "Trying finding out a way to bring you back to me… to Hope… for so long, I thought I'd failed."

Janet squeezed his hand gently. "Hank, you didn't fail. Sure, you didn't make some good decisions while grieving, but that doesn't mean you're a failure."

"But… I lost you, and then I lost our daughter."

"But now you have us both back," she reassured him. "Our daughter is happy, from what I've noticed. She has a good job, she's in love, she gets to be the Wasp… I bet this is the happiest time of her life."

Hank couldn't help but nod. Janet was right; the past few months had been the happiest Hank had ever seen his daughter. Part of that was due to Scott. And since Scott was the one to bring Janet back into their lives, he was sure that Scott wasn't just part of the reason; he was most, if not all, of the reason. He sighed. "You are right about that."

"Have I ever been wrong?" Janet teased. "But really, Hank, everything is okay, now."

The old man gave her a soft gaze and a smile. "That's because you're here, now," he said.

She returned the smile, and they touched foreheads. It was a nice, sweet moment of silence, lasting a few minutes until it was broken when Hope and Scott returned to the room. Hope was holding Scott up, still, though he wasn't stumbling quite as much as he had been when he first came back. It was still noticeable, anyway.

"I left the suit hanging on the chair at the table," Scott told the old man once he approached the two on the sofa.

"Good," Hank nodded. "That's fine. Now, I can still see you falling all over the place. You need to rest."

Scott crossed his arms. "Come on, it's not that bad."

"Scott," Hope murmured. "He's right. You really do need to rest. Both you and Mom need to."

"You both deserve it," Hank added. "Go home, go rest. And Hope, that goes for you, too. It's been a long day."

Hope nodded, unable to argue with him. Though, she was hesitant. She was afraid she'd come back only to find it was all a dream. Before anything, she went over to the couch, sat down, and wrapped her arms around her mother yet again. Janet grinned and returned the hug gladly.

"I love you, Mom," Hope whispered with a similar smile.

"I love you, too, Hope," Janet replied, rubbing Hope's back like she used to when she was a child. "Now, go rest. I'm not going anywhere, okay?"

"Okay," the other woman nodded. "I'll see you soon."

It took a while for Hope to muster the strength to let go, but she managed, and she went over to Scott. She took the keys out of his hands and smiled to her parents. It was weird, thinking about her parents both being there. It was a good kind of weird, and it felt incredible.

"You two take care," Janet piped up as they stood by the door.

"We will," Scott nodded. "Glad you're back, Janet."

"Oh, me, too," she smiled.

Hope agreed with this, one hundred percent. She shared Janet's smile and opened the front door. With one final wave goodbye, she and Scott left, getting into the car and heading home.


Once they got back, Hope immediately sent Scott to bed so he could lay down. He did as he was told, getting into comfortable clothes and resting against the pillows. Hope eventually met him there, holding a bottle of water for him. She perched herself on the edge near him and gave him the bottle.

"Here," she said quietly. "Drink this."

He gladly took the water and chugged half of it, not realizing how thirsty he really was. "Thank you," he breathed once he downed another gulp. "I didn't realize how much I needed something to drink until now."

"Are you hungry, too?" Hope asked.

Scott shook his head. "No, not right now."

"Well, do you need anything else?" He'd just come back from a seven-hour journey to a shrunken realm and brought her mother back into her life. She was going to make sure he felt as comfortable as possible. He deserved it.

"Just you," he smiled. "Come here."

She smiled softly and joined him on the bed beside him. She settled against him, using his shoulder as a pillow, while his arm draped around her. Once she went still, he pressed a few kisses to her crown and forehead. Her eyes closed and a smile came to her face.

"You happy?"

"Oh, god, very happy," she sighed gladly. "Thanks to you." She lifted her head to look up at him to kiss his jaw. "God, I can't believe I have my mother back in my life."

"Feels good, hmm?"

She nodded. "It's so surreal. I feel like I'll wake up tomorrow to find that it's all a dream."

"I can only imagine," Scott said. "But it's true. She's here."

"I know. And she apparently loves you already, which is nice."

"I know! I have someone to back me up when Hank gets grumpy."

Hope let out a few chuckles. "Well, I guess that's another plus."

They both laughed with each other and held each other close as they shared a soft, tender gaze. He stroked her cheek gently. "I love you."

She snaked one of her arms around him and snuggled closer to him. "I love you, too. More than you'll ever know."

Both of them grinned, and they remained like that for the rest of the night, until they fell asleep. Hope fell asleep with a smile on her face. She had been happier with Scott around, but now, thanks to him, she was even happier. She had her mother back. She had everything she'd ever wanted in life, and she wouldn't change it for the world.

Chapter Text

The first week after Janet's return was probably the roughest she had to deal with, mainly because she had so much to learn so quickly. She had to be updated on history, technology, trends, and language. They wanted to teach her quickly, so she could easily fit in. Hope and Scott took the week of so they could help as best as they could. It was stressful, but not because it was difficult. It was just that there was a lot of information. But she tried her best, though, and thankfully, she picked up on things quickly.

Hank and Scott helped Janet with catching her up with history. They told her about the presidents in office while she was gone. They explained huge events since she was gone as well, from the Gulf War, to the creation of the Internet, to the OJ Simpson trial, all the way up to the election of Obama, among many other things. They also told her about the major tragedies that had happened, like the 1993 World Trade Center bombings, the Oklahoma City bombing, the Columbine shootings, and the attack on September 11th, 2001. Everything she learned was overwhelming. More had happened than she originally thought, which she should have guessed from minute one. From then on, she decided to watch the news more often, so she could keep up.

Janet, like most millennials around her, quickly got the hang of technology like it was nothing. Hell, when learning about smart phones, she picked it up quicker than Hank did at first. Texting became a regular thing for her to do, and her favorite thing ever was taking selfies. She and Hope texted often. It was weird at first, since most conversations were like the ones between Hope and Becca. But it's not like Janet could help it. Hope just went with it. She had her mom back. She wasn't going to complain.

Another thing Janet fell in love with was the fashion around her. Looking back at the clothes worn in the eighties, she noticed a huge improvement in the twenty-first century. Hope took her shopping quite often for clothes, and with Hope's help, Janet got a new wardrobe, comprising of mostly skirts and dresses. However, she liked wearing jeans a lot, too. With all the new clothes, a new knowledge of the world around her, among other things, Janet could fit into society quite well. It was as if she never left.

After the first week, Hope and Scott returned to work. Hope walked into the building that morning hand-in-hand with Scott, with a massive grin on her face. After all, she had her whole family now. She had everyone she loved in her life. She had every right to be happy and smiley.

She made her way to the office once she parted ways with Scott, and she stepped inside with some sort of bounce in her step. She glanced over to the other desk in the room. "Good morning, Bec—" Wait. Becca wasn't there. "Oh, not again…"

A knock came to the door, and Hope found Jack standing in the doorway. "Morning," he said.

"Hey," she smiled. "Where's Becca?"

"That's why I'm coming to talk to you," Jack replied. "She is at home, probably still asleep. She was not feeling well, so I suggested that she stay home."

Hope frowned and sat in the chair by the desk. "Oh, that's no fun. But good, she's resting. I'm surprised, she listened to some advice."

This made Jack chuckle a bit. "Yeah, she listened. But honestly, she was feeling worse than usual. Moving caused her pain. I had to put a bucket by her bed in case she got sick because she would not get out of bed."

"Oh, damn," she replied.

"Yeah. I'm kind of nervous. I don't think she should be in this much pain."

"Let me guess… she said she was fine?"

"Yep."

"Typical," Hope shook her head. "Sometimes I think that she might be more stubborn than I am. Shouldn't she be seeking help? She's a doctor, she should know, right?"

Jack sighed and just shrugged. "I don't know. I told her to call me if anything happens. I would have stayed but she would not let me. Like I said, she said she was fine. I should have stayed anyway."

"Well, if you want, you can go home if you need to be with her," Hope suggested.

"I don't know," the man let out another breath as he thought about it for a second. God, he wanted to be at home by Becca's side so badly, but at the same time, he didn't want to hover over her like a vulture over a carcass. She wouldn't want that, either, he was sure. "I'll… I'll give it an hour, and if something happens, I'll head back."

"All right," Hope nodded. "Sounds reasonable. But are you sure you want to wait that long?"

"I don't want to wait that long. But I don't want to hover over her constantly. I'm already texting her every few minutes."

Hope wouldn't argue with that any further. But still, she worried for her friend. Part of her wanted to text Becca herself to check up on her. It gave her a bad feeling in her stomach. Something just wasn't right. However, it wasn't her business, so she'd leave it alone. "All right," she spoke up after a moment. "Good thing you're checking up on her. I hope she feels better. Will you let me know if something happens?" Becca was her best friend. Hope wanted to support her if something went down.

Jack gave her a nod. "Of course, I will. Right now, she hasn't said anything, but I'm sure it's because she fell asleep, which is good. She needs sleep. But I will keep you updated when I can."

"Good," the CEO answered. "I'm hoping for the best."

"Me, too," the man agreed. He then turned to leave. "Anyway, I'll see you around. I'll keep you up to date."

"Thanks, Jack."

After that, the man left, a worried look still on his face. Hope's face had a similar expression, now. She wasn't a medical expert, but she knew that being in pain so early in pregnancy was not a good thing. Well, stomach pain, such as nausea was normal, but this didn't sound like morning sickness. It made her tense up. She really hoped that it would pass and her friend would be okay.


 

An hour passed. Jack had been in touch with Becca, and nothing seemed to have changed enough to alarm anyone. She had him believe she was fine, and the more she said it, the more he believed her. That didn't mean he was any less concerned. He couldn't keep his mind off his pregnant girlfriend. It distracted him from everything he had to do that day. Becca tried to convince him, again, that she would be okay. Little did he know that everything was about to change.

Jack was finishing an email he finally got around to doing when his cell phone rang. He quickly finished up the last sentence he'd been in the middle of before glancing to his phone. His heart dropped. It was Becca.

"Hello?" Jack answered immediately as he picked up the phone.

On the other line, he could hear Becca breathing hard. "Jack?" her voice seemed strained and broken.

Jack was put on edge in a flash. "Becca? Becca, what is it?"

She hyperventilated, tripping over her words. "S—Something's wrong!"

"What? What do you mean?" His heart shot to his throat as he nearly jumped out of his chair.

"There's—there's—blood! I'm bleeding, Jack something's wrong!" She was crying out into the speaker.

Jack acted in a split second, leaping away from the desk and sprinting out of his office. "Okay, baby, I—I'm coming," his words stumbled out of him as he ran down the hallway. "Uhm—god—uh I'll be right there, okay? Where—where are you right now?"

"I'm—I'm in the b—bathroom," she sobbed.

"Okay, don't move," Jack instructed her, trying to stay calm. "I'm on my way, I promise."

"Please hurry!"

"I am, baby, I promise. I need you to breathe, okay?"

She took in a deep, shaky breath. "Okay," she trembled.

"Good. All right, I'm coming. Keep breathing."

He hung up the phone just as he was racing past Hope's office. Hope, who was inside with Scott, saw him in a rush and knit her brows. Scott noticed and turned around. But no one was there.

"What was that?" he asked.

Hope jumped up in confusion. "It was Jack." She ran out into the hallway to see the chairman hurrying away. "Jack?"

Jack whipped around when he was called. His face was ashen, beginning to sweat, and he was out of breath. Hope came up to him worriedly.

"Jack, hey, what's going on?"

"It's Becca," he panted. "She's bleeding."

"What?!" Hope gasped, horrified.

"I—I gotta go be with her," he stammered. "I have to leave." Without any more explanation, he pivoted and ran off, trying to get to his girlfriend quickly, leaving a very terrified and shocked Hope behind in the hallway.

By then, Scott had come out to see what was going on, but all he found there was just Hope. "Hope?" he called her while approaching. "Hope, what happened?" When he glanced at her face, he saw it had blanched. She appeared as if she'd just seen a ghost. "Hey, are you okay? What's going on?"

"It's Becca," she choked out, swallowing hard.

"What about her? Is she okay?"

Hope shook her head. "She's bleeding."

"What?" Scott gasped. "Oh, god." He didn't know what else to say.

"Yeah…" Hope trailed off. Slowly, she walked back to her office and eased into her chair. She wanted so badly to rush to help her friend, but she was stuck there, work piled up. She couldn't leave. "Oh, god, she's probably so terrified right now…"

Scott reached to take her hand. He had no idea what to say. So, he said nothing. He couldn't imagine how terrified Becca was at that very moment. There was only one thought on his mind, as well as Hope's: they prayed that it wasn't what they thought was happening.


 

Becca couldn't move. She couldn't breathe. This couldn't be happening. This can't be happening.

She sat in the bathroom on the toilet, unable to stop sobbing. On the floor were her blood-soaked pants, a path of red drops leading to them. Her hands were the same shade of red, as was the water in the toilet. She was shaking, either from her crying, or worse, from shock or blood loss. And god, the pain. She knew menstrual pain. This was far from it. She should have known the minute she started the faint cramping.

Only one situation was in her head, circling over and over again like a buzzard. Everything was so similar; the blood, the pain, the fear… It made her heart race, her breathing quicken. God, this couldn't be happening.

Jack raced home to Becca with his heart in his throat. He was going so fast down the freeway that he was shocked that the police didn't pull him over. And when he tried to unlock the door, his hands were so unsteady that he couldn't get the key in the door. Just before he began kicking in the door, he finally got his hands to function, and he got inside.

"Becca?" he shouted as he raced to the bathroom. What he found shocked him. There was so much blood around a distressed, sobbing Becca. She was also pale, and understandably horrified. Oh, god. He was by Becca's side in an instant. "Becca, baby I'm here." He took hold of her bloodied hand and stroked her hair.

She fell into him and cried even harder. She couldn't stop shaking. Jack looked around them as he held onto her. The one thing he thought to do was whip out his phone and dial 911. He was surprisingly calm when he explained the situation, but god, deep down, he was screaming. The operator walked him through what to do until medics got there, including helping Becca stand and put clean pants on with a sanitary pad to keep the bleeding at bay for a while, as well as monitoring her.

To their surprise, medics were there within a minute and a half, bursting through the front door and making their way inside. They quickly came to Becca and checked her stats before putting her on a stretcher, Jack never leaving her side. Becca was dazed, so she heard none of the questions the medics were asking her. Jack had to answer for her. Tears spilled continuously. Her heart was shattering. She knew she shouldn't have gotten too comfortable, she just knew it.

Before she knew it, she was in a hospital room in the ER. Tests had been run, blood had been drawn, and she was being monitored closely. She was quiet, looking away from everyone. By then, she'd cried all her tears. She didn't have the strength to even speak for a while. However, the bleeding had gone down immensely, as had the pain. But that eased none of her worries. Not even a little bit.

Jack stayed by her side and never let go of her hand. He worried for her, as well as the baby, and it was affecting him enough to bring some tears in his own eyes. His heart ached. He'd had so much hope for this. The thought of having a family awed him for so long, and this was his chance. It was her chance, as well. Now they were here, awaiting the bad news they expected.

"I'm sorry," Becca's voice came out raspy and broken.

Jack glanced to her with a puzzled look. "What? Why?"

"I'm losing our baby, and it's my fault."

"Oh, no, no, Becca," he murmured, kissing her hand over and over. "God this is far from your fault. Please don't blame yourself."

"I should have sought help when I started cramping, I could have stopped this. But now it's too late." She began crying softly again.

Jack got closer to her and brought her into his embrace, hushing her and stroking her hair. He rocked her gently while she sobbed into his chest. He continuously told her that it wasn't her fault, but it didn't really help. So, he began to soothe her in the best way he could. "I've got you, baby… I've got you. I'm here."

Soon, she calmed down, from blubbering to sniffling, but Jack didn't let go of her just yet. She wouldn't let him go. She only let go when a doctor, who wasn't Jenna, their original doctor, knocked and came into the room to speak with them. The OB went over what had happened, asking all sorts of questions to help with a possible diagnosis. Everything pointed to Becca's worst fear. Even the OB said so. Despite this, they decided to do an ultrasound to check on the baby.

Becca was instructed to lie back as the ultrasound was set up. She stared at the ceiling, refusing to look at the monitor. Jack, however, couldn't take his eyes off the screen while the doctor searched for the baby. About a minute later, the OB found it, and she immediately began examining. She noticed something remarkable and looked at Becca.

"There's something you should hear," she explained as she pushed a button. A sound met everyone's ears.

A very familiar, relieving sound.

Becca couldn't believe what she was hearing. That was her baby's heartbeat, and it was strong. Bewildered, she focused on the monitor. Her baby was there, alive and well. Was it real? She worried. What if it wouldn't last longer?

"But I—I don't understand," Becca stuttered. "What about the bleeding? And the cramping?"

"Well, we can't know for sure," the OB said. "But the baby appears to be healthy. Strong heartbeat, developing like it should be. Nothing is for certain; we'll have to monitor it closely to see what happens. But my guess would be that it was just a threatened miscarriage. We'll just have to play the waiting game." As she was talking, she took ultrasound photos for the couple. She removed the probe from Becca before handing her the photos. "We can also run other tests to check the baby's health. If you want, we can perform a non-invasive prenatal test."

"What is that?" Jack questioned.

"It's a blood test that analyzes DNA to check for genetic disorders," the doctor explained to him.

Jack looked to Becca, who nodded. "Yes," she breathed. "Yes, let's do that. Please."

"All right," the other woman nodded, and she went to arrange the blood test.

When she left, Jack let out a relieved breath, as did Becca. However, Becca was still on edge, since she'd been told there was no way to know the baby was going to make it. The way the doctor had explained it sounded more optimistic, which gave her a bit of hope, but not that much. Jack went to take her hand.

"You okay?" he asked quietly.

"I don't know," she sighed. "I really don't know. I know the heartbeat was healthy and strong, but there's no way to guarantee that it will stay that way."

Jack kissed her cheek. "We still have to have hope," he encouraged her. "The baby is still alive and well. There's a good chance it will continue to be. I strongly believe it."

She brought her eyes up to meet his. She didn't say anything; she just gazed at him. Jack could see the remnants of fear still in her face. His hands came up to cup her face and he pressed their foreheads together. "It's gonna be okay," he whispered.

Her eyes fell closed as she listened to his words, feeling a little more at peace after a few moments. Terror was still there, and it always would be, but not quite as much as it had been. Thank god he was there with her. He was keeping her sane.

Soon, the doctor came back, mainly to tell them they could go home. Becca was put on bed rest for two weeks so the bleeding could be monitored. She was given prenatal vitamins to help the baby stay healthy, among other things. She was told that the results would come back about a week later, and then, she was discharged. Jack helped her into her clothes and to the car that would take them home. Before long, they were on their way.


 

Becca held the ultrasound photos during the ride, examining every inch of the prints. One of her hands rested on the gentle swell of her belly as she spoke in her mind, please be okay. Jack's hand covered hers on her stomach, lacing fingers with hers. He, too, glanced at the photos, a soft smile on his face while he gazed at the form of their baby there in the photo. There was a strong feeling of hope in his heart the longer he stared. He prayed everything would be okay.

They returned home, and as soon as they did, Becca went to the bedroom to lie down. She was still mildly cramping, and all she wanted to do was be off her feet. Jack followed her, but when he got to the bedroom, he found her just standing there unmoving. He found out why when he followed her gaze. The comforter on the bed was thrown back, revealing blood-stained sheets. A little bit of blood was on the floor leading to the bathroom. Becca gulped and cringed. Jack walked ahead and began to strip the bed so he could wash the sheets. He gathered her bloody clothes, as well, and he carefully walked to the laundry room. Becca went to sit in the chair by the bedroom window while she waited. Once she was off her feet, she took out the pictures again.

Her baby was alive. It was hard to believe, but her baby was alive. The heart was still strong, everything was surprisingly in order. But how long would that last? She loved this baby more than ever, and the fact that she nearly lost it made her stomach churn. Now, she was more careful, more concerned, and more terrified. She glanced down at her bump and cradled it.

"You scared the hell out of me, baby," she whispered. "But you're still there. I hope you stay that way."

Jack returned shortly after, and he heard that last statement she made. "I hope so, too," he spoke up, causing Becca to turn and glance at him. He was smiling softly as he approached her and knelt beside the chair. "You okay?"

Becca nodded. "Yeah, I'm okay. Better than earlier. That was… that was the most frightening moment in my life."

"I know," he kissed her temple. "It scared me, too, so much. But it's going to be okay. I just feel it." He went to place his hand on her belly. "This baby is a soldier like its mother."

She smiled and covered his hand. "Daddy's a soldier, too, you know? You remained so calm. I don't know how you did it."

"Don't let that outward calmness fool you," he snorted. "I was screaming inwardly the whole time. I've never been that scared, either. But we made it. We're okay." He pressed a kiss to her forehead before he got up and went to put a spare set of sheets on the bed before fixing the still clean comforter. He then patted her side of the bed. "Come on, you should lie down."

She smiled and steadily got to her feet and went to do as she was told. With his help, she laid on the bed and settled against the pillows. "Much better," she sighed.

"Yeah?" Jack took her hand. "Good. Do you need anything? Something to eat or drink? I'll make you dinner."

"If you leave this room, Jack, I will be going with you. I just want you to be here with me."

"I can certainly do that." He instantly crawled onto his side of the bed and cuddled up beside her. "This okay?"

She nodded and leaned into him. "Yes, perfect." She was about to get comfortable, but then someone rang the doorbell. She grumbled. "Ugh, come on."

Jack chuckled and got up. "I'll see who it is. Stay put. I'll be quick."

"Fine, fine. But hurry."

He smiled and left the room. When he opened the door, he found a worried Hope and Scott on the other side. "Oh, hey guys," Jack greeted them.

"Hey," Hope spoke first. "Is this a bad time?"

"Not at all, come on in." Jack opened the door wider for them so they could come inside.

"Where is she?" the woman asked once further inside.

"Bedroom."

Hope nodded and immediately went to find her friend. Becca saw Hope appear in the doorway and grinned. "Hope, hey. Come on in."

The dark-haired woman went inside to sit next to her. The first thing she did was lean down to hug Becca tightly. "I came as soon as I could," she said. "I got stuck at work, but I was so worried."

"Thank you, Hope," Becca whispered.

"What happened?" the other woman couldn't help but ask. "Is the baby okay?"

The pregnant woman sat up a little more and took a deep breath. "Long story short, I started having signs of a miscarriage. Cramping, bleeding… but when we went to the hospital, the baby was healthy. Strong heartbeat and everything. The doctor said there's no way to predict what would happen in the future. We're just playing the waiting game. And I'm praying this goes over well. I love this baby more than anything."

Thank god, the baby was still okay. "Were there any tests they could run to see if there were issues at all?"

"Yeah," Becca nodded. "Well, a test to check for genetic disorders. That's about it. The results come in around next week. The longest week ever."

"Yeah I can imagine," Hope replied. "But thank goodness so far the baby's healthy. I can't imagine how scary that was."

"The fear was undefinable. But I feel a little better. I'm just hoping for the best. How am I supposed to rest in bed for the next two weeks worrying about the future?"

"Keep your head up, Becca. I have a feeling it'll be just fine, you'll see."

Becca mustered a smile and brought Hope in for another hug. "Thank you. Really, thank you."

"There's no need to thank me," Hope shook her head.

"There is. You being here means a lot. It's nice to have a support system."

"Well then, I'm glad I could be here for you. I hope everything goes well."

They hugged once again before pulling away and displaying smiles. Becca adjusted her position.

"So, how's your mom?" she wondered. "How's she adjusting?"

"She actually picked everything up quickly," Hope explained. "It was rough, because there was so much information, but I think she's gotten the hang of it now. She fits right in."

"Oh, that's amazing."

"Yeah. It's weird, though. It's like she's my sister, not my mother. But I don't care, I have her back and I'm not complaining."

Becca smiled. "That's incredible. You look happier than ever, you know. I mean, you were happy already, but now you're just on top of the world."

Hope chuckled quietly. "Yeah, I really am happy. I didn't think I'd ever be this happy again. Here I am, now."

"I'm happy for you."

"Thank you. I'm happy for you, too, now that everything seems to be okay."

"Let's hope it stays that way," Becca thought aloud. As she spoke, her hand absentmindedly ran across her stomach, an instinct to protect the life inside her.

"I feel like it will," Hope said confidently. "Mom and baby are fighters. You can make it through."

Becca smiled softly, glancing down to her belly and rubbing a little bit. Hope wasn't wrong; Becca was a survivor. This baby was a survivor. And she prayed to god that the baby would remain a survivor. She wasn't sure what she'd do if she lost this one. But so far, everything was in ship shape. It gave her a bit of faith knowing that.


 

After a while, Hope and Scott decided to give Becca and Jack their alone time so they could rest. When they left, Becca got into some pajamas and crawled back into bed to relax. Jack came into the room shortly after with a tray of food in his hands.

"Aww, you made me dinner?" she smiled humbly. "You didn't have to."

Jack shook his head and put the tray gently in her lap. "But I wanted to. You deserve it."

Becca glanced at her dinner tray. There was a salad, some pasta, and chocolate covered strawberries (a recent craving of hers). "Aww, everything looks so amazing, babe, thank you." She kissed his cheek and began to eat. She hadn't had anything to eat all day, so this was relieving.

"Anything for you," Jack grinned gently. He let her eat for a while before a thought came into his head. "So, we have to wait a week to see the test results?"

"Give or take," she spoke once she swallowed a bit of pasta. "It's gonna be one hell of a long week."

"Yeah, I feel like it'll be that way. Will they call us or do we have to go to the doctor?"

"They'll call. I will be staring at my phone every single day, I'm sure. I have zero patience."

Jack smiled and kissed her cheek. "I know we can make it through. It'll be worth the wait."

After a while, she finished, and he took her tray and put it to the side. He was back beside her, this time on his stomach facing her belly. He moved her shirt out of the way and kissed the swollen bump. "Hey, you," he whispered. "I'm glad you're okay."

Becca giggled and stroked his hair gently. "We both are," she said.

"Mmm yes," he nodded. "That was a little scary, but as long as you and Mommy are okay."

He remained like that for several minutes, Becca watching with a soft grin the whole time. She was very glad that, despite how horrifying that day was, it ended on a good note. Now, all they had to do was wait.


 

Finally, a week went by, and as she had guessed, it was the longest week she'd ever endured. Hell, that day, one week later, dragged on so very slowly. She'd been staring at her phone all day long, just waiting for something. Jack had gone to work and come back and still, no one had called. Good god, what was taking so long?

After they'd eaten dinner, Becca had nearly given up hope. They'd probably call the next day, or something. Well, she hoped so, anyway. But suddenly, her phone began to ring. She jumped for it, and sure enough, thank god, it was the hospital. Finally. Becca answered and put it on speaker, and Jack was beside her in seconds.

"Hi, this is Cassidy, a nurse-midwife at the hospital, is this Dr. Ronan?"

"This is she," Becca answered. "Are you calling with test results?"

"Yes," Cassidy replied. "The tests came up clean. No signs of genetic disorders or mutations. Your baby is very very healthy."

Becca let out a huge sigh. "Thank god. That's amazing, thank you." Jack smiled and kissed her quickly as a celebration. "Is there anything else concerning?"

"Not at all. But there is something we have if you want to know."

"Oh? What is it?"

"We have the baby's gender," Cassidy told her. "Would you like to know now?"

Becca and Jack just looked at each other. They hadn't been expecting that.

"Do you?" Becca asked him.

"Only if you do," Jack answered, though deep down, he really wanted to know.

"Okay then," Becca said. "We'd like to know."

Cassidy took a moment as she searched for the result. "Ah, there it is. The gender chromosomes came out to be X and Y."

Becca's hand flew to her gaping mouth. "Oh, my god," she gasped.

"What? What does that mean?" Jack was so alarmed that for a moment, he forgot all concepts of science.

"It's a boy, Jack," she grinned, tears of happiness in her eyes as she cupped his face.

"What?!" he exclaimed, a huge beam across his face, now. "Oh, my god, a boy!"

Cassidy was giggling on the other line. "Yes, it's a boy. Congratulations."

"Thank you, thank you so much," Becca was unable to contain herself. Soon, they ended the call, and once they did, Becca looked at Jack, both of them smiling so wide.

"We'll have a little boy!" he proclaimed happily.

Becca was crying with joy as she hugged him tight. "We will," she giggled. "God, Jack, a son."

"I am so happy, baby," he pressed his forehead to hers and covered her with kisses before he lifted her shirt to kiss her there, too. "Hey, baby boy. Daddy's here." Becca giggled as she cradled Jack's head while he was down there. He peered up at her. "Hey, how long until he can hear us?"

"Roughly sixteen weeks," Becca sniffled, for she was still happily crying. "God, Jack, I'm so happy. We're gonna have a son. A son who is healthy so far."

Sixteen weeks? Seemed so far away. He could be patient, right? He'd try to be, anyways. His face nuzzled against her belly. "Yes, a very healthy baby boy. God, I can't believe it. Man, he's gonna be attached at your hip."

"Really? You think he's gonna be a mama's boy?"

"Yeah, I can already see it now. And I'm gonna teach him sports. Maybe he'll be a swimmer like Mommy."

"We're definitely going to try that first."

Jack beamed from ear to ear as he rested his head there against her. Becca leaned back into the pillows so he could use her as one, and she couldn't stop smiling. She was overjoyed that she carried her son within her, a son she already loved more than anything. She couldn't wait to feel him kick and move around, to feel the little fetal hiccups he'd make, everything. And god she couldn't wait to hold him in her arms. Jack couldn't wait, either.

"Comfy?" Becca asked as he settled against her belly.

"Yes. But don't worry, I won't do this when you're bigger, I promise."

She laughed. "Thank you. I bet the baby will thank you, too."

"Yeah?" he sighed happily and pressed yet another kiss to her skin. "You're welcome, baby boy, in advance. I can't believe I get to say that already."

"Neither can I. It's absolutely incredible."

He smiled up at her. "You look so happy."

"I am. I'm very happy. Do you know why?"

"Mmm I have a pretty good guess."

"It's because I have my boys with me."

Jack gave a proud expression.

"You know something else?" she asked after pausing a moment.

"Mmm what?"

With a warm smile on her face, she looked into his blue eyes, her own sparkling for the first time in a while. "I love you."

His heart leaped and soared hearing that. He sat up, and with a huge beaming face he kissed her. "I love you, too," he murmured when they broke away. His hand found the curve of her belly just then. "I love both of you so much."

She brought him into her arms and cuddled him closely. They remained like that until they fell asleep, smiles tugging at the corners of their mouths, especially on Becca's. After such a tumultuous week, she felt a lot better. Still concerned, but much better than before. Her baby was healthy as can be. Her son was healthy as can be. God, she had a son. A healthy son, whom she hoped would continue to be that way, and whom was the light of her world.

Despite all the stress, everything was happy. A bloody scare followed by a long rough week, it was safe to say that she was still frightful, and who could blame her? However, happiness made her heart soar sky high, more than anything she'd ever felt.

And that was all because of her boys.

Chapter Text

At long last, the two weeks of bed rest were over. The bleeding had completely stopped and showed no signs of returning. The baby was still healthy as can be, making Becca extremely relieved. And since she didn't have to be in bed all the time, she was able to go back to work. She was ready to be out of the house for once, and it was just in time before she would probably explode.

Early that morning, Becca woke with a start out of nowhere. And it was really early. Like, 3am early. When she woke, her heart was racing, and she was throbbing all over, for she'd just woken from a very… dirty dream. She glanced next to her and found a shirtless Jack sound asleep. She bit her lip as she looked him over. The throbbing between her legs got worse just by taking one glance at him. Good god, why now? Part of her didn't have the heart to wake him. But she couldn't control that part. The libido took over.

She took off her pants and moved over to him. First, she kissed his shoulder, just before she kissed the back of his neck. He shifted a little, but he didn't wake. She tried harder, kissing his neck even more and nibbling slightly. "Jack," she whispered. "Jack, baby, wake up." God, she felt so bad doing this, especially so early.

Jack moved again, but he still didn't wake. He had gone from being on his side to on his back. Perfect. Becca seized the opportunity. Ever so slowly, she straddled him. She tried to press her body against his, but her belly had gotten fuller so she didn't want to lie on the baby. Despite this, she managed to kiss his jaw, his ear, his neck, and his lips.

"Jack," she whispered in a singsong tone. "Come on, baby."

His eyes peeled open slowly, finding those beautiful blues staring back at him. "Mmm Becca?" his voice was raspy from sleep. "What time is it?"

"Three in the morning."

"What? Why are you up so early? Is something wrong?"

"I wouldn't necessarily call it something 'wrong,'" she smirked and kissed him. She moved her hips a little bit to get him to catch her drift.

He was confused more than anything. That, and tired, so his brain wasn't functioning. "What do you mean?"

"I need you, Jack," she murmured hotly into his ear. "Please… I can't go back to sleep."

That was one way to get his attention. Though he was tired, he had woken up enough to function for her sake. He didn't care it was three in the morning. If she wanted to be pleased, he would oblige. He pulled her down for a soft kiss, running his fingers through her hair. Her hands immediately went to work, sliding down his chest and past the hem of his boxers. He moaned softly as her fingers wrapped around his length, and he was hard within seconds. God her hands were such magic. His own hands began moving, and when he roamed the lower half of her body, he found everything to be bare. He searched for the curve of her ass and squeezed gently.

She let out a squeak, and a smirk formed on her lips. Her fingers took hold of his underwear and shimmied them downward. He helped by lifting his hips, and in turn, they met with hers, meaning his shaft was pressing against her thigh. She hissed with pleasure. Being pregnant made everything so much more sensitive, especially now. Without thought, she started grinding her hips.

"Oh, god, baby, you're soaked," he groaned in pleasure.

Without stopping with her hips, she looked into his eyes with that sultry smirk. "I had quite the intense dream," she explained. "I woke up throbbing like this for you. Now, no talking." With that, she swooped in for another passionate kiss.

They kissed hungrily for several minutes before he began moving his lips further down, tracing her jawline until he could suck on the patch of skin below her ear. His hand came up and cupped her breast. He got a bit rough with them when he noticed that they were bigger. Becca tensed a bit and he stopped.

"What? Too much?" he asked quietly. "Sorry."

"It's okay, baby. They're just still sensitive," she whispered. "Be gentle."

He nodded and continued, but much gentler. Not enough to hurt her, but enough to give her immense amounts of pleasure. She was back to moaning and moving. He bent his head and began using his mouth on her, biting gently at her nipple and flicking it with his tongue, while his hand kept the other breast occupied. After a few minutes, she was unable to control her squirming.

"Jack, I need you," she breathed.

Worried she'd put pressure on the baby lying on him like that, she carefully rolled them so he was hovering over her. He was a bit nervous being over her, for he shared the same worries. "I won't hurt him, will I?" he questioned. "Or you? Is it safe to do this despite what happened?"

She shook her head. "No, you won't hurt me or the baby," she assured him. "The doctor said that as soon as I was no longer in pain and no longer bleeding, it was safe. I'm not in pain, and I'm not bleeding. I promise you this won't hurt either of us."

He nodded and bent to kiss her deeply. The last thing he wanted was to cause her or their baby doing this, and her assurance was convincing. Becca moaned against his lips, and another purr came from her when she felt his tip against her opening in the next second.

Jack pulled back to look into her eyes. "Ready, baby?"

Instead of using her words, she wrapped her legs around him and pulled him to her using their strength. He took the hint, and with one roll of his hips, he was within her, their moans in sync, filling the room. Her back arched, her whole body writhing with immense pleasure, her head throwing back. His lips attached themselves to her neck as he buried himself to the hilt, and he pulled out almost all the way, but he left the tip in. And god, he was going so slowly.

She squirmed below him and whined. "Come on," she pouted, with a half-moan on her lips.

"I can't help it," he murmured teasingly, hovering over her lips. He'd pull away if she chased them, causing her to whine again. "I love to see you so needy." He then pulled out of her completely.

"Come on!" she pleaded as he pulled his lips away again. "Please?"

"Hmm, should I?" he pretended to think. The more he waited, the more she squirmed and begged. And then he teased her with his length, dragging it across her opening.

"Oh, god, Jack, please!" she seethed. "Come on, you're killing me!"

Suddenly, he slammed back into her, making her shout with pleasure. She tightened her legs around him to keep him deep within her. He began to move, harder and faster. Becca was so pleasured, more than she'd ever been, that she was shouting his name very loudly. Her heart raced like it would burst from her chest. This was the most pleasure she'd ever felt, all because her pregnancy was making her hormones go crazy. God, it was so incredible.

She grew louder as she approached her peak. She was dangling from the edge by a mere thread. Her whole body was on fire. Curses fell from her lips in loud cries. He was moaning, but she was much louder.

"Oh, my god, Jack, I'm close!" she nearly screamed.

"Come, baby," he murmured huskily into her ear, his breath hot on her skin.

That did it for her. Just those words, the way he said them, were enough to send her flying over the edge in an intense orgasm. She shuddered and seethed, feeling like she was flying. He came hard within her, as well, the intensity of her walls clamping around her enough to throw him into an abyss. Their moans were in sync, as well as their movements, and it was one huge explosion of extreme pleasure between them. Becca came so hard that she thought it would never end, that she was seeing stars in her eyes. Her entire body shivered. It was the best she'd ever felt with him. Thank god for pregnancy libido.

It took her a while to come down from the high. Sweat covered her skin. Her heart raced, and she was unable to catch her breath for a long time. She just lay there below him, spent and breathless. No words could leave her. She had no brain function. All she could do was stare up at him as she tried to recover.

"Wow, baby," Jack panted as he kissed her neck slowly. As he sucked on the skin below her jaw, he could feel her pulse racing. "That was intense."

She didn't say anything. All she could do was nod, letting out a loud huff.

"Are you okay?" he asked.

Again, she could only nod. She barely had any strength to hold onto him. He chuckled quietly and brushed a stray lock of hair out of her face. Several minutes later, she was a little more coherent.

"Holy… shit…" she breathed. "That… was incredible…"

"I don't think you've ever come that hard before."

"I haven't… That's pregnancy hormones for you…"

"I gotta say, I like these hormones."

She let out a chuckle. "Even though I woke you up this early?"

He smiled and kissed her chin. "I don't mind," he assured her. "Worth it."

She smiled back at him and settled on her side, facing him. "Sorry anyway, for waking you. You can go back to sleep now."

"It's okay," he said. "You get some sleep, too. I love you. Both of you."

She bumped noses with him and gave him a soft kiss before snuggling against him, sleep coming to her very quickly. Jack wasn't far behind her. They slept peacefully for the rest of the night, until the sun broke the horizon.


They got to work right on time, despite both of them being slightly groggy from being up early that morning. Nonetheless, they were in great moods, Becca especially. At eleven weeks, she was beginning to feel so much better. The urges to pee and vomit were going away, which was the best part (well, other than the skyrocketing libido). That, plus knowing she was carrying a boy and being able to be active again, put her in such a good mood. Sure, she was still tired, hungry all the time, had sore breasts, and worried about her baby's wellbeing, but she wasn't that bothered like she used to be.

She walked to the office with a bit of a spring in her step, fingers laced with Jack's. When they got there, she turned to face him. "Will I see you at lunch?"

"You know it," he smiled and leaned in to kiss her. "Now, don't overwork yourself, okay?"

"Fine," she fake-grumbled, crossing her arms. "I won't."

"Good. All right, I'll see you in a few hours." He went in for another kiss, and his hand found her belly. "See you soon, baby boy."

Becca giggled lovingly at this, and her heart melted when he kissed her swollen torso. With one last peck to her lips, he turned and left for his own office. She went inside and headed to her desk, getting right to work. She soon began humming to herself while her hand rested on the lower curve of her torso. There was a soft grin on her face the whole time, and her mind filled with images of her future son. She hoped he would have Jack's appearance. All she wanted was to look at her baby and see his father. It excited her to know that she would soon find out. She just had to wait a few more months.

Hope walked into the office right when she usually did, and she was very happy to see her friend had returned from being on bed rest. They hadn't seen each other in a while, for they'd been so preoccupied, so being in the same office again was delightful.

"Hey, stranger!" Becca greeted her.

"Becca, hey!" Hope smiled and went over to hug her. "Oh, it's so nice to have you back."

"I bet it was so boring without me," Becca teased, laughing.

The CEO released a few chuckles. "It really was. But I'm glad you got your rest. I take it the baby's okay?"

The other woman nodded, a knowing smile beginning to stretch across her face. "Yes, he's just fine. Perfectly healthy."

At first, Hope didn't notice. She just grinned. "I'm so glad. I knew it would be okay." She then went to sit at her desk. That was when she realized what Becca had said and shot her gaze up at her. "Wait, did you say 'he' just now?"

"I did," Becca gave another nod. The smile never went away.

"Wait, so… it's a boy?"

"It's a boy!"

"Oh, my god!" Hope exclaimed. "Becca, that's so amazing! Wait, how did you find out so early?"

"They gave us the results of the blood test and asked if we wanted to know. We said yes, and they told us. We're gonna have a little boy."

Hope couldn't stop smiling as she got back up and went to hug Becca once again. "I'm so happy for you, congratulations!"

"Thank you," Becca giggled. As they hugged, her belly pressed into Hope, and she laughed. "Whoops."

"Wow, belly punch," the dark-haired woman laughed as well.

"Yeah, already getting in the way." Becca looked down at her stomach and rubbed it slightly.

Hope couldn't help but notice how happy her friend was. "You're already glowing," she pointed out.

"Think so?"

"Yeah. You look happy."

"I am," Becca sighed with a grin. "Like, the concern is still there, but I feel so much better. I'm happier than I have been in a long time."

"I can tell," Hope stated. "And I'm happy for you. And happy mom means happy baby, I'm sure."

Becca nodded. "You're definitely not wrong." Her phone then buzzed and she found there to be a text from Jack, telling her he missed her. She responded immediately, and Hope watched.

"I bet Jack's very happy, too," the CEO guessed.

"Oh, he is overjoyed. Like, he would have been happy with either a boy or a girl, but I think already knowing this early made him so excited. He's really into the whole daddy thing, and I love it."

"Aww, that's so sweet. You know, if he ever needs any advice, he can ask Scott, since he's already a dad."

"Oh, I will tell him that," Becca giggled as she finished replying to an email. When she sent it off, she sighed happily.

Hope grinned at her as she went back to her own work. Some time went by before she glanced up to Becca again, and she found the woman texting… while biting her lip. Her face was flushed, too. Hope smirked. "Having fun over there?"

Becca immediately looked up and turned an even deeper shade of red. "Huh? What?" she tried to act oblivious.

Hope crossed her arms, the smirk never ceasing. "You're a bit flustered. Sexting much?"

"Leave me alone," Becca laughed and hid her face. "My hormones are all over the place. I can't help it."

"How bad?" Hope couldn't help but ask.

"I woke him up at 3am to have sex. It's pretty bad."

"Three in the morning?! Really?!"

Becca hid her face again and blushed deeply. "Yes really! Don't judge me, okay? It's my hormones!"

Hope laughed again. "I'm not judging you, I promise! I really have no room to talk, so…"

"Yeah, really," the other woman scoffed. "So hush." She then picked up her phone and continued texting Jack.


Jack tried to be discreet about texting Becca, but Scott was watching him and knew that expression all too well. He waited for a while to see if Jack looked up, but he didn't.

"Dude," Scott finally spoke up.

Jack flinched a little bit and almost dropped his phone. "Huh, what?"

"Are you having fun over there?"

"What are you talking about?" Jack asked innocently. However, he had a crinkle between his brows.

"Dude, you suck at lying, you know that?" Scott chuckled. "I know you're being dirty over there."

Jack's face flushed a deep shade of crimson. "It's her hormones, I'm helping her."

"And enjoying yourself, apparently. Is she having those crazy pregnancy hormones that leads to mind blowing sex?"

"Yep. Woke up at three this morning to… you know…"

Scott's jaw dropped. "No way."

"Yeah. It was totally worth it."

"Oh, I bet. By the way, how's she doing?" Scott wanted to stay away from details of pillow talk at that point. "Ever since…?"

Jack put his phone down for once and made eye contact. "She's doing much better."

"And the baby?"

"He's just fine," Jack smirked lightly.

Scott perked up. "Hold on… 'he?'" Jack just nodded, and Scott's lips pulled up into a wide grin. "So, it's a boy?"

"It's a boy," the future father confirmed. "They called us about the blood test and offered to tell us, so we said yes. We're having a son."

"That's awesome, congrats man!" Scott patted Jack's shoulder. "And you get to know early, that's pretty cool. I had to wait forever to find out Cassie's gender."

"Yeah, I didn't think it would happen this soon, either, but we took the opportunity when we could."

"Well, I'm glad things are better. And I'm letting you know right now, I'm spoiling the hell out of that kid. Uncle Scott is here."

Jack laughed, shaking his head with amusement. "Thanks for the heads up," he said. "I'll let Becca know, too."

Scott smiled confidently. "Good. Hope knows it, too."

That reminded Jack of something. "Hey, speaking of Hope, I didn't know she had a sister."

This confused the other man at first. "Sister?"

"Yeah, I saw her the other day with someone who looked just like her while I was getting something for Becca."

It took a second for Scott to realize that he did, indeed, know who Jack was talking about. He had to come up with something and fast. "Oh," he fought to think. "Oh, yeah! She's visiting for a while. They haven't seen each other for years."

The fact that Scott stalled made Jack suspicious immediately. But not too much. "Oh, I'm surprised Hope didn't mention her ever. Do they not get along, or something?"

"Yeah, and they're on two separate paths in life, and all." Was that good enough? Drop the subject, Jack.

There was the first flaw. "Really? They looked like they were having a good time."

"Well, uh they recently reconciled."

Jack's eyes narrowed just then as he remembered something. "Wait a minute. I remember Becca telling me at some point that Hope's an only child." What the hell was Scott hiding? "Scott, you're acting really weird. What's going on?"

"Oh, she's adopted," Scott lied. "But yeah, they get along now."

By then, Jack was eyeing him with the most suspicious gaze, not believing a single word. Not to mention Scott was a bad liar as it was. This was proving it. "That's bullshit Scott. What are you hiding?"

"Pffft!" Scott snorted. "What? What are you talking about? You're saying that's BS? Why would I lie about this kind of thing? It's totally the truth! Come on buddy, don't you trust me?"

All Jack did was cross his arms and cock his brow as he glared at his friend.

That was it. He couldn't escape this one. "Shit… Hope's going to kill me for this."

"What do you mean?"

Before answering, Scott got up to shut and lock the office door. Thank god it was soundproof. He went back to his seat and looked right at Jack. "Look, man… there's something I have to tell you. It's big, and you can't tell a soul, you hear me?"

Jack nodded, confused. "Yeah, sure. I won't tell anyone."

"Okay. Be prepared… this is a long story…"


Jack leaned back in his chair as Scott finished his story, a look of complete shock and amazement on his face. He didn't know how to comprehend. Scott watched him, relieved he had everything off his chest, but also worried that Jack would react negatively. Once a few seconds passed, Jack let out a breath.

"Okay, um… wow…" he said.

"I told you it was huge," Scott replied.

"So, let me get this straight… you and Hope are basically superheroes?"

"I could have just told you that, yeah, but I'd have to explain it. But yes."

"Wow," Jack said again. "I'm friends with superheroes, I never thought that would happen. That's awesome."

Scott sighed with relief when Jack expressed his positivity toward the whole thing. He knew Jack's parents were killed in the Battle of New York, so he wasn't sure how Jack would react to being around superheroes. "Yeah," Scott chuckled. "Now you know. But you can't tell a soul."

Jack frowned. "I can't even tell Becca?"

"No, don't tell Becca," Scott trailed off. He was aware that Becca already knew about all of this, but Jack didn't really need to know that… did he?

"Okay, fine," Jack agreed. God, how was he supposed to keep this a secret from his girlfriend, who was a friend of both Scott and Hope?

"Good. Anyway, yeah, the woman you saw with Hope is her mother, Janet."

Jack's head was spinning by now. So much information. "Wow. This is all so… amazing. And confusing."

"Sorry about that. I was confused at first, too. You get used to it. Oh, also, please don't tell Hope I told you, either. She'll kill me."

"Okay, I won't," Jack said. Holy shit, so many people not to tell. He was really going to have to try hard…


"They're what, now?" Becca stared at him, speechless, as she was pulling her jeans back up after some office lovemaking during lunch. "Are you serious?"

"Dead serious," Jack said. But he felt so guilty. He wasn't supposed to tell, but there he went, spilling it all to someone he was told specifically not to tell. "Please don't tell them I told you. I wasn't supposed to tell you."

Becca slid back into her maternity shirt as she listened to him. She had to play along. She didn't have the heart to tell him that she'd known for a while, now. Good thing she was skilled in the art of deception most of the time. "Okay, I won't say a word. That's pretty awesome though."

"I know, right!" Jack grinned. "We're friends with superheroes."

"Wow, you're such a nerd," she teased and kissed him. "Thank you for this, by the way. I wasn't sure how much longer I could take it."

He kept his grin and wrapped his arms around her. "Anytime, baby. Ugh, does this mean you have to go back to work?"

"Unfortunately," she sighed. "But I'll see you tonight, of course."

"That sounds promising."

"Good. All right, I better go. I love you."

"Love you too. Both of you."

Becca peered behind her shoulder at him and smiled, just before leaving the office. Once he couldn't see or hear her, she let out a few giggles. Boy, Hope was going to have a ball with this one. Becca hurried back to the office, just in time to see Scott leaving. They waved, passing each other, suspecting nothing, and she slipped into Hope's office and shut the door immediately.

"What?" Hope was amused as she was finishing the last bites of her salad.

"You'll never guess what Jack just told me."

"You mean other than the obviously dirty things?" Hope chuckled.

Becca blushed but shook her head. "Not the point. Anyway, he just told me that Scott told him about the whole Ant-Man thing. Like, every detail."

Hope nearly spit out her food and laughed after a second. "Oh, god. Scott and his loose lips. Did you tell him you knew already?"

"No, I didn't want to. I wanted him to feel like he was the first to know between us. I didn't have the heart, so I played along."

"God, I knew he'd find out sooner or later. Dammit, Scott. So now Jack knows about everything, including my mother."

"Our men can't seem to keep their mouth closed when it's important."

The women laughed for a while and went back to work. But it didn't last, because Scott came into the room, looking guilty.

"What did you do this time, Scott?" Becca asked, beating Hope to that question.

He ignored her and looked at his girlfriend. "Please don't kill me, babe," he said as he shut the door. "I may or may not have told Jack about the Ant-Man thing… and the Wasp thing… and everything about Janet…"

Hope couldn't pass it up. "Are you kidding me?" she hissed.

Scott tensed up immediately. "I'm sorry, Hope, I tried to keep it quiet but he wouldn't drop the subject."

"You should have told him to anyway!" she raised her voice.

"I know, Hope, I'm sorry. Please don't kill me. I swear I'm sorry." He began to sweat, knowing he was in the doghouse.

Becca behind him couldn't suppress her laugh by then, which made Hope burst out giggling as well. Scott didn't understand. Hope glanced up at him. "I'm kidding, Scott. I knew that would happen at some point."

He looked so dumbfounded. "Good god I thought you were going to have my head on a pike! Don't do that to me! I'm sorry, it just slipped. I tried to beat around the bush but I caved."

"Scott, it's okay. As long as he doesn't tell anyone else."

"I told him not to tell Becca either."

"What the hell did you do that for?"

"It's too late, he told me anyway," Becca said.

"Good god," Scott rubbed his face. "I really hope you're the only one he tells.""

Just then, the door opened. Jack stood there in the doorway. When he saw Scott he immediately dove into his point. "I'm sorry, man. I caved. I told Becca."

"I know," Scott told him. "She told me."

Becca looked at Jack. "Sorry, babe. I hate to tell you this, but I knew all along."

"You what?" he was stunned.

"Remember the day I went to Dr. Pym's place and was gone for a while because I had to 'help with something?'"

"Yeah?"

"It had something to do with the Ant-Man thing."

Scott jumped in. "That was the day Hope's mother was brought back."

Jack's head spun like earlier. "Okay, wow, I feel so out of the loop."

"How did all of this come up, anyway?" Hope asked curiously.

"I saw you shopping the other day with someone who looked just like you. I thought it was your sister. I asked Scott and he started trying to lie, which you suck at, by the way." He jerked his eyes toward Scott when he said the last part.

"Yeah, I know," Scott nodded.

"And I kept finding flaws and he finally told me. And he told me not to tell anyone, including Becca. But why? If you knew Becca knew?"

"I was honestly playing along. I didn't want you to feel bad."

Becca joined in. "I was playing along, too. I wanted you to feel like you were the first to know. Sorry, babe."

Jack shook his head and smiled after a while. "You all suck," he joked.

"Hey, we were going to tell you," Scott defended himself. "But things got so hectic that we didn't really know how. There really wasn't a good time."

"You told Becca, though!"

"She found out a while ago," Hope explained. "I got shot during a bank robbery, which she saw and wouldn't let it go."

"She handled it way better than you are right now," Scott teased lightly.

Jack remembered the bank robbery. "Wait, so that was you who I saw get shot on TV?"

"You saw it, too?" Hope asked.

"That was the night we… never mind," Becca cut herself off at the right moment. "Anyway, Jack, we're sorry we didn't tell you sooner, but so many things came up before anyone could."

The chairman sighed and looked around. "All right, I forgive you," he stated, though he'd honestly already forgiven them a few minutes ago. "And I promise I won't tell anyone else."

Hope nodded this time. "I know you won't."

"And hey," Becca piped up, standing and going over to her boyfriend and hugging his waist. "At least you know now."

"Yeah, I guess," he chuckled and kissed her forehead.

"And we don't have to hide it amongst each other now, either," Scott added.

"I think it's amazing that our son will have the coolest aunt and uncle around," Jack chided proudly, making the others laugh.

"I think it's amazing that you guys got to find out so early," Hope stated. "And that he's completely healthy."

"Trust me, we think so, too," Becca nodded.

"Any ideas on names yet?" Scott wondered.

Jack and Becca glanced at each other. "No, we haven't even started to think about names, really," Jack shrugged.

"It will obviously have to go with Lawton," Becca proclaimed. "He should have his daddy's last name." She smiled up at her boyfriend. "But we'll cross that bridge when we get to it."

Jack smiled touched by Becca's statement to let the baby have his father's last name. He brought her closer to him.

Just then, loud sirens could be heard passing by the building. They were loud, and there were many of them. Usually, one or two sirens didn't concern anyone, but there had to be more than five. Hope quickly turned on the news to see what was happening. Scott went to her side immediately.

Becca's brows knit. "What's going on?"

"Hostage situation," Hope spoke after a few seconds. She then glanced to Scott. "You thinking what I'm thinking?"

"Damn right I am," Scott nodded and pulled his device onto his ear to signal ants to bring the suits to the rooftop, where the couple headed immediately after. Of course, Jack and Becca followed them.

The expecting couple made their way up to the roof. As excited as Jack was to see his friends in action, he stayed back to keep Becca company as she slowly climbed the stairs, careful not to overexert herself. By the time they had arrived, Scott and Hope were already in their suits, checking to make sure everything was in order. Jack was so amazed, he couldn't help but run up to take a closer look. "Whoa," he gasped.

Hope glanced to them as she put her helmet on. "You can hold down the fort the rest of the day right?"

Jack had to get out of his fanboy state to nod his head. "Yep, got it covered."

"Thanks," the Wasp answered, just as she put her mask down. "Okay, Scott, ready?"

"I'm always ready," Scott spoke confidently. "Let's do this." He then put his visor on and sprinted toward the edge of the building. He suddenly did a swan dive… off the roof!

Jack tensed immediately. "What the hell?!"

"Babe, relax," Becca assured him. "I'm sure he knows what he's doing." Meanwhile, she had a major death grip on his arm.

Just then, Jack thought a bug was bothering him, and he swiped the air around his face. But he almost screamed when he heard a familiar voice.

"Jack! Hey!" It was Scott.

"What the fuck?" Jack was bewildered as he glanced around. He almost jumped when he found Scott on his shoulder. He was waving. Jack glared at him for a moment. "Don't scare me like that!"

Scott laughed and hopped on his ant and hovered nearby. "Sorry!"

Hope chuckled and shook her head, since she could see Scott as she stood next to Jack. "Scott that wasn't nice," she scolded him. "It's not good for the baby!"

Becca laughed and glanced at her friend. "Be safe, y'all."

Hope nodded. "We will. Come on Scott, let's go." She then pressed the button on her suit. The particles danced, and she was gone. She and Scott flew off together to help save whoever was in trouble. Jack watched in awe

"We have the coolest friends ever," he grinned widely. His hand found her belly. "You have the coolest godparents ever."

Becca giggled before kissing him, and then they turned to head back inside. "Come on, we have to go back to work."


Hope and Scott flew back to Hank's place to return the suits after taking care of the hostage situation downtown, growing as soon as they landed. Hank was already waiting for them, because he knew they'd be using the suits, but Hope was surprised to see Janet waiting with him. When Janet caught sight of her daughter, her heart was singing, and there was a strangely happy look on her face. Her daughter just looked so mature, so grown up, so happy. She looked the new Wasp up and down with the greatest feeling in her heart.

Hope noticed the way her mother was watching her and turned to face her. "Mom? Are you okay?"

Janet nodded quietly, the smile so wide. "Yes," she assured her. "You just… you look amazing."

It occurred to Hope that Janet had never seen her in the suit before. Knowing this made her feel amazing, especially hearing how her mother complimented her. "Yeah?" she asked, approaching her mother.

"Oh, god, you have no idea." Janet looked her up and down, seeing the past coming to life right in front of her. She couldn't believe she'd missed this part of Hope's life. It made tears flow to her eyes. "Just so beautiful."

Hope was beginning to get emotional as well. "That means a lot, Mom," she said.

In a sudden flow of emotions, Janet threw her arms around Hope in a tight hug. It made her so very glad that she could see her daughter accomplish something so huge. Hope gladly returned the hug. "I'm so proud of you, Hope."

That was what made the tears really flow. Her mother was here to see her, and she was proud. This always seemed like a dream that was so far-fetched to her. But now it was real. It was real, and she just couldn't believe it. It was so weird, too, hearing someone be so forward with approval. After all, she was so used to the opposite. She returned the hug tightly, trying to keep herself together. She was failing miserably. "Thanks, Mom," she whispered in a broken, but happy voice.

"You deserve it," Janet smiled softly.

Scott was watching with a grin. "This is amazing," he spoke up without stopping himself. "Just awesome, to see you two together again."

Hope turned away from Janet to give Scott a weird look. Janet chuckled with amusement.

Scott sighed sheepishly. "I did it again, didn't I?"

"You tend to do that," Hank told him. "But your mom's right, Hope."

"You really think so?" Hope asked. Wow, Hank had turned around since Janet came back.

"I always thought so," the old man stated. "I'm just sorry I never expressed it the right way."

"It's okay, Dad. I forgive you."

Hank gave a look of relief, and a smile. He'd never thought he heard those words from her, ever.

It felt so weird to Hope, having her whole family together again, and getting along. But god did it feel so good. Scott watched lovingly, eventually going up to Hope, taking her hand, and squeezing it. He could see how she was glowing with joy, her eyes sparkling with love. It was nice to see her so happy, and so open, as she forgave her father and shared that tender moment with her mother. There was no doubt,

Life for them was pretty damn good.

Chapter Text

That following week, Hope, Scott, Becca, and Jack, all took a few days off to celebrate the Christmas holiday. It was a nice, quiet break for them. However, Scott and Hope had been quite busy, without much time to decorate. Not to mention that Hope didn't decorate for Christmas during the years, as there'd been too many memories of her lost mother during that time. But now that Janet was back, she had every reason to be happy to celebrate, but she had no decorations. Scott just wouldn't let that slide.

The morning of Christmas Eve, Scott woke before Hope did. He opened his eyes and was already grinning as he turned over to face his girlfriend, who still slept peacefully, facing away from him. At first, he didn't want to wake her from such a nice slumber, but he eventually gave in. He scooted closer to her and draped an arm over her to pull her to him. His mouth hovered over her ear.

"Wake up," he whispered gently, getting her to stir only slightly. She made a little noise, but went still and silenced again. Scott sang her name. "Hope. Hope, wake up."

After a few times, she finally opened her eyes. She yawned and turned to look up at him sleepily. "Hey," she whispered, her voice thick from sleep.

"Hi. Good morning." He bent down to kiss her lips.

She noticed how happy he was, more than normal, and she gave him an amused glance. "You're oddly smiley this morning," she pointed out.

His smile only grew at this. "Yeah?"

"What did you do?" she asked, sitting up a little bit.

"You'll see," he said giddily. "It's a surprise."

"Oh, god, Scott, you know I don't do surprises."

"Oh, you'll like this one. Now, I need you to get up and close your eyes before following me."

She was hesitant, but she got up as she was told. Scott retrieved a bandana to use as a blindfold. Hope crossed her arms and rolled her eyes. "Come on, Scott…"

"Trust me, okay?" he assured her. He gave her his best puppy eyes.

After a grumble, she sighed and gave in. "Fine," she closed her eyes as she was told.

Scott smiled victoriously and carefully covered her eyes with the bandana. Then, he turned around. "Okay, reach for me and jump on my back. I'll carry you downstairs."

Despite her hesitation, she blindly reached for Scott's shoulders and wrapped her arms around his neck, enough to keep her up but careful not to cut off his air supply. Scott reached back and took hold of her thighs and hiked her legs up. Now he steadily held her, and he made his way downstairs. Hope was worried, but she trusted him. Finally, they got to the living room, where he gently set her down. He went to stand next to her with that huge grin on her face.

"Okay, you can take off the blindfold now," he instructed.

She nodded and slowly removed the bandana. What she found made her jaw drop and her heart lift.

The entire room was decorated. Stockings hung from the fireplace mantle, one for each of them. They had their names on them. On top of the mantle, a garland had been placed, with twinkling string lights within it. The whole area smelled like pine, and that was for two reasons: one was the candle, and the other was the tree, a perfect sized Christmas tree, fully decorated with lights, but no ornaments. There were even a few presents underneath. Hope couldn't believe it.

"Oh, my god," she breathed. "Scott… what the—how did you—oh, my god!"

"Surprise," Scott smiled widely. "You like it?"

"Oh, Scott it's so amazing!" she replied. "But, how did you—?"

"—I was up all night. Even enlisted Luis, Dave, and Kurt's help with the tree. It's been three years since I had a real Christmas like this, and I know it's been a long time for you. I wanted us to have a real, decent Christmas for once, and together."

She glanced to him with the sweetest smile, touched by everything he'd done. "That's so sweet of you, Scott, really. It's so beautiful. You got presents, and everything. I just… I don't know what else to say." A few tears formed in her eyes as she remembered the last happy Christmas she had… she was between six and seven years old. Scott was giving that back to her. Without anything else to say, she brought him into a tight hug. "Thank you, Scott."

"No need to thank me," he shook his head. He then pulled away and took her hand, walking her over to the tree. "Come on. I purposely didn't put up ornaments so that we could do it together."

Hope smiled and followed him, watching as he pulled out a plastic box from nearby. When he opened it, there were many red and green colored ornaments inside. She could see some other decorative ones through the walls of the plastic beneath the top layer of colored balls.

"When did you get all these?" she questioned.

"While you were shopping with Janet over the weekend, I went out to buy some in secret."

Hope smiled. "I must say, Scott, I'm quite impressed."

The man grinned proudly and pulled an ornament from the box, handing it to her. He held a second one in his other hand. "Ready?"

She gave him a nod, and they went right to work. They worked with the colored balls first, evenly distributing them all over the tree. Once they finished with those, Scott revealed the second layer of ornaments in the box. Hope glanced inside and saw pictures, a ballerina for Cassie, a few different Santa figures, and so on. The first one Scott pulled out and handed to Hope was a miniature photo of herself and Scott, taken fairly recently.

"Aww, Scott," she smiled. "I love this."

"I thought you would," he pecked her cheek. He then pulled out a photo of baby Cassie, during her first Christmas. The two hung up their ornaments happily.

They went through the whole box, until there was one left. However, this one was concealed in a small box. Scott picked it up and handed it to her.

She brought it into her hands. "What's this?"

"Open it," he instructed her.

After giving him a peculiar glance, she slowly opened the box. What she found made her emotional instantly.

It was a photo ornament, like the one of the couple and the one of baby Cassie. But this one was different. It was a family photo… of Hope's last Christmas she celebrated with Janet in her life. She'd been six years old. Everyone's faces in the photo were happy, bright, like the season should be… the way she'd always imagined it, but never had since that photo was taken. Thanks to him, she was getting it again. Tears brimmed in her eyes. "Oh, Scott… this is beautiful…"

"I got that from Hank," he explained. "I thought it would be a great addition to the tree this year."

"I love it, Scott," she breathed, smiling gently. "Really, Scott, thank you for this." She turned to him and hugged him tight. After pulling away, she carefully placed the ornament on the tree, finishing the decorations, aside from the star, which they put on the tree together. When they finished, they stood back to take a good look at their last-minute tree.

"I think it looks amazing," he stated. "And with only one until Christmas."

"It really is," Hope agreed. "Perfect."

He just nodded to agree as well. Then he smirked as he realize that they were standing in just the right spot. "Hey, look up."

She was confused, but she peered upward. She was not even surprised to see the mistletoe hanging above them. "Mistletoe? Really?"

"I couldn't help myself," he shrugged innocently before suddenly pulling her to him to kiss her. "I love you."

There was a giggle that came from her as she smiled against his lips. "I love you, too, Scott."

Scott perked up remembering something else. "Oh! I almost forgot. Wait here." He then dashed away, back upstairs, to retrieve two boxes. One for himself and one for Hope. He came back down and handed Hope her box.

It was easy to tell that it was a box for clothing, long and flat, and Hope tried to guess what he'd gotten her. She went to sit on the sofa and opened the box. She chuckled with amusement when she found an ugly Christmas sweater folded inside. "You didn't," she laughed.

"Oh, I did," he nodded, holding up the sweater he got to match for himself. He slipped into it, since he'd been shirtless.

"I never knew you were so into this Christmas thing," she giggled, sliding hers on over her spaghetti strap tank top, since she knew he'd ask her to do so anyway. It was surprisingly comfortable and soft.

"Oh, you look amazing," Scott chided.

She was shaking her head with a grin. "You're such a dork, you know that?"

He simply gave her a cheeky smile and pecked her cheek. "But I'm your dork."

"Very true," she giggled, bumping noses with him. "So, since I have presents I got for our friends and for you upstairs, can I wrap those? You can't be in the room, though, for yours."

"Well, go get the ones for the others so we can both wrap them, and I'll wait in another room when you wrap mine."

Hope went upstairs and brought down the presents for their friends she'd never gotten around to wrapping yet. Some of them she'd bought with Scott's help, and others she got on her own. They knelt on the living room floor to wrap them, with Christmas music that Scott turned on in the background. She hummed quietly, but Scott was actually singing. Hope giggled at this, her heart so full of love. It was the first time she was happy during the holidays.

Soon, they finished, with all presents under the tree, except for Scott's. As promised, he left the room so Hope could wrap the gift she got for him. She smiled at it, hoping it was good enough for him. Once it was wrapped, she placed it underneath the tree before calling Scott back into the room. He looked around before smiling at Hope and bringing her to the sofa to kiss her. They did that for a while, usually in between the movies they watched during a Christmas marathon, which included Christmas VacationHome Alone, A Christmas Story, and Love Actually (which was Hope's request). In fact, they spent the whole day on the sofa like that. It was a quiet evening, and they could be just themselves, without a care in the world. They went to bed curled up in one another's arms, smiles on their faces and love in their hearts. It was already the greatest Christmas they'd ever had in a very long time, even though it was only Christmas Eve.


When the morning came, Scott was awake first, as he had been the day before, and he opened his eyes to find his girlfriend sleeping with a smile on her face. He wiggles closer and kissed her lips, almost sleeping beauty style. She was already coming out of sleep, so she immediately felt the contact on her lips. Her eyes fluttered open, and her smile widened.

"Good morning," she whispered happily.

"Hey," he kissed her again. "Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas," she echoed the words back to him. She then yawned and stretched. "I can't believe I'm actually happy that it's Christmas. I have you to thank for that, you know?"

He pressed a gentle kiss to her lips with a smile. "I'm happy you're happy."

They kissed for a while, and then shared a loving gaze. Scott stroked her cheek with his thumb. "Want to go downstairs?"

"Sure," she nodded happily, just before she started to get up.

"Wait," Scott stopped her and pulled her back to him. "One more." He kissed her again.

She giggled against his lips. After several minutes making out, she broke away from him. "Okay, Scott, come on," she told him.

He laughed and got out of bed with her, and the two made their way downstairs. After cooking breakfast, they sat in the living room together and had A Christmas Story playing in the background. Scott walked to the tree and pulled out a long, thin wrapped box, and then he went to sit next to Hope before handing it to her.

She smiled and had to swallow a mouthful of pancakes before she spoke. "Aww, Scott, you didn't have to."

"Well, too bad, I wanted to," he grinned. "Go on, open it."

Hope put her plate to the side and focused on the gift. She took off the paper, revealing the box to be a velvet jewelry box. Slowly, she opened it, and she immediately smiled when she saw the necklace inside. It was gold, and the pendant it had was a wasp.

"I saw it and just could not pass it up," Scott told her.

She glanced up at him, touched. "It's beautiful, Scott, I love it. Thank you." She kissed him before turning so he could help put the necklace on immediately. It was perfect. Scott was quite pleased with himself. Once he clasped the necklace, she got up to retrieve his for him.

Scott opened the present, finding a box at first. When he lifted the lid, though, he melted. It was a picture frame, simple but also elegant, and the photo within was one of himself, Hope, and Cassie, a selfie they'd taken when the little girl stayed with them. It quickly brought on his emotions. He could not stop beaming as he looked upon it.

"Sorry it's nothing fancy," Hope said.

"Oh, hush, I love it!" Scott exclaimed. "Honestly this is the best I've ever received. Thank you."

She smiled, relieved, and kissed him softly. "I'm glad you like it. I wanted it to be special."

"You certainly got the effect," he smiled against her lips. "This is going right on my nightstand so I can look at it every single day when I go to bed and when I wake up."

The two kissed a few more times, this time more longingly and passionately. And they just kept going… and going and going. Soon, shirts went flying. Then Hope's bra, and then their pants and underwear. She found herself on her back with Scott admiring her as he hovered. Before long, they were joined together and moving with each other, slowly and sweetly. Their moans were soft against each other's skin as they made love right there on the sofa. Nothing too rough or intense, but still just as perfect as any other time. So, so perfect.

When they came down from the high, they remained in that position for a while just gazing at one another, breathless but blissful. They didn't really speak much, only smiling and enjoying each other's company until they finally decided to sit up and put their clothes back on. They didn't stay in their pajamas for too long, though. They had guests coming over.


The first knock came to the door just before 11:00 am. Scott, who was working on the turkey for dinner, had Hope keep an eye on things in the kitchen while he went to answer. On the other side of the door stood a very excited seven-year-old girl with two adults behind her.

"Daddy!" Cassie squealed and ran into her father's arms immediately.

Scott hugged the little girl tightly with a wide smile. "Hey, Peanut! Merry Christmas!"

"Merry Christmas!" she giggled when he picked her up and held her.

He kissed her cheek and looked to Maggie and Paxton standing there. "Hey, guys."

"Hi, Scott," Paxton smiled.

"Merry Christmas, Scott. Glad you could have us."

"Merry Christmas, you two, come on in." He stepped back to let them inside. He then called to Hope. "Hope, we have company!"

He let Cassie down on her feet, and immediately, she ran to the kitchen, finding Hope standing by the stove. "Hope!" Cassie exclaimed.

Hope turned to see the girl there, and she grinned and knelt down so Cassie could run up and hug her. "Hi, Cassie," the woman chuckled, returning the embrace. "Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas!" Cassie cheered.

Scott, Maggie, and Paxton came into the kitchen just as Hope was picking Cassie up into her arms. Maggie took a deep breath in. "It smells amazing in here," she stated. "Are you cooking turkey?"

"Well, Scott is," Hope pointed out.

"Really? I must say, Scott, I'm impressed."

"Well, I'm not making everything. Our friends are bringing a few things, and so are Hope's parents." He then realized that he said parents, as in plural, but no one batted an eye. Paxton only knew that Hank was the only Pym around besides Hope, and Scott knew Cassie and Paxton had seen everything that happened when Scott went in and out of the Quantum Realm. In fact, at dinner a few days after that had happened, Scott had explained to them exactly what that was, and that Hope's mother had gone through it. And a few days before Christmas, he'd called up Maggie and Paxton to explain the situation with Janet. He knew he'd have to, since they had all agreed to have Christmas dinner at Scott and Hope's place, and Janet was going to be there. Thankfully, their shock had turned into positivity, and they were happy to know Janet was okay. They just didn't tell Cassie, and for a good reason. However, everyone knew they'd have to explain at some point.

They hung around and talked for a while until the doorbell rang. Hope went to answer the door this time. Becca and Jack waited on the other side of the door, each of them holding a food item in their hands, with present bags hanging from their arms.

"Ho, ho, ho," Becca grinned. "Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas, you guys," Hope smiled and immediately went to help them with their stuff, especially Becca, who was showing a little more than she had been before. Despite her resistance at first, she eventually allowed Hope to help. The trio made their way inside to find the others chatting away.

Scott went ahead and took the food from Jack's arms and brought them to the kitchen. Jack had made an éclair cake, and Becca had brought country ham, a Southern favorite imported from Smithfield, Virginia that her parents had sent over. Once their hands were free, they hugged their friends. When Hope hugged Becca, the pregnant woman's belly pressed against the other, and they giggled.

"Sorry," Becca giggled. "It just keeps getting more and more in the way, and it's only gonna get worse."

"Oh, hush, you look amazing," Hope told her.

"I agree with that statement," Jack piped up, wrapping an arm around Becca's waist and putting his hand on Becca's belly for a moment.

Scott smiled and glanced to Maggie, Paxton, and Cassie. "Guys, these are good friends and coworkers of ours, Jack Lawton and Becca Ronan, with baby boy Lawton on the way, as well, of course," he introduced the others that had just arrived. "Jack, Becca, this is Maggie, Paxton, and my daughter, Cassie."

The expectant couple shook the adults' hands with a smile. Maggie grinned at Becca. "Nice to meet you. And congrats on the baby."

"Thank you," Becca smiled back at her. She noticed Cassie was watching her. "Hi, Cassie. I've heard a lot about you." She carefully knelt to be at eye level with the girl, still smiling.

Cassie returned the expression and blushed slightly. "You're very pretty," she complimented the new woman. "Are you having a baby?" She couldn't help but ask.

"Thank you, Cassie. And yes, I am," Becca nodded. "A baby boy, probably going to be born in July next summer."

"A boy? What's his name going to be?"

"Well, we don't know yet. We have some time to think about it, though."

"How far along are you?" Maggie asked curiously.

Becca cautiously stood back up straight after a moment. "I'm about twelve weeks."

"How did you find out the gender so early?" Paxton asked this time.

"A few weeks ago, some issues came up, and we opted to do a noninvasive prenatal blood test. When the results came back, they offered to tell us the gender. We decided to have them tell us."

Maggie smiled, although she did seem a bit worried hearing about issues regarding the baby. "That's awesome. And were the results clean?"

Jack answered this time. "Yep, everything is in ship shape. And we couldn't be happier." He went to wrap his arm around his happy pregnant girlfriend.

Meanwhile, Cassie went up to her father. "Daddy, where do babies come from?"

There was a stunned silence that came over them, at least for a moment. No one really knew exactly what to say to her, but Scott came up with something quickly.

"Babies come from Daddy's kisses on the Mommy's belly." Not smart, but quick.

"Ooh, really?" Cassie's eyes lit up, prompting everyone to release the breaths they'd been holding.

"Yep," Scott was quite pleased with his answer, and the fact that she believed him. "That's how you got here, and it's how Becca's baby got there."

"Cool!" the little girl exclaimed, bouncing up and down a little bit.

The adults watched Cassie's reaction and were glad she believed Scott's quick response to her question. Maggie glanced to Scott and mouthed a "thank you" while Cassie was distracted. Becca couldn't help but chuckle, for she'd never heard that explanation before. She'd have to use it more often.

Just then, a third knock came to the front door. Hope went to go answer it, and her parents were waiting on the other side, holding a few gifts. Both were smiling.

"Hey," Hope greeted them, waving them inside. "Merry Christmas." She hugged them both happily.

"Same to you," Janet replied. "Gosh, it smells so good in here. Is that turkey?"

Hope nodded. "Yep, Scott's roasting the turkey right now."

"Scott cooking and not burning the house down?" Hank chuckled. "I'm impressed."

"Hey!" Scott came in from the kitchen. "I heard that. Why does no one here think I can cook? I'm not that bad."

Maggie called from the den. "You almost burned down the house during Thanksgiving once."

"That was one time!"

From the entrance of the living room came Cassie's small form. She'd heard the commotion in the foyer and curiously went to investigate. When she saw Hank, she squealed and ran up to him. "Grandpa Hank!"

The old man turned and was almost knocked over when Cassie hugged his legs excitedly. "Hey, Merry Christmas, kiddo!"

Janet watched with a grin. She knew Scott had a daughter, but she didn't know how close Hank was to her. She laughed, and it caught the little girl's attention. "Hi!" Cassie greeted the new woman.

"Hi," Janet replied. "You must be Cassie."

The little girl nodded up at her. "Are you Hope's sister?" she asked. After all, there was such a striking resemblance between Hope and Janet. What other explanation could there have been?

At first, Janet didn't know what to say. Thankfully, Scott jumped into the conversation. He walked into the foyer and knelt beside Cassie, preparing himself for what he was about to tell his daughter. "Hey, Peanut," he began. "Do you remember how Daddy went to that special world, the one that Mommy, Paxton, and I told you to keep a secret?"

"Yeah," Cassie nodded.

"Well, Daddy had to go back, to go on a mission and save someone. This is that someone." He motioned up toward Janet. "This is Janet. But she's not Hope's sister."

"Who is she, then?" Cassie's head tilted in confusion, her brows knit together.

He glanced up to the others, who all waited for Scott to speak again, before turning back to his daughter. "She's Hope's mother."

At first, it didn't really click. How could she be Hope's mom? "Really?"

"Yes," Scott nodded. "But she's a secret, like the secret world. People can't know who she is."

"Why not?"

"Because a lot of people might not understand and get scared. But you and I both know that it's not scary, so to make sure she's safe, we're pretending that they're sisters. It's like a game. Do you understand?"

Cassie gave him a nod. "Yes, Daddy. I promise I won't tell. Just like I won't tell about you shrinking."

Scott grinned. "Good girl," he praised her.

Janet smiled, as well. The girl was smart, that was for sure. "By the way, Cassie," she chimed. "If you want, you can call me 'Grandma Janet,' like how you call Hank 'Grandpa.'"

"But you don't look like a grandma. What about Aunt Janet?"

"Perfect," Janet said. Hank fake-cringed, but he brushed it off.

"Yay!" Cassie spoke gleefully and went to hug Janet's legs, giggling all along.

Scott smiled proudly, glad his daughter was capable of keeping a secret, as well as accepting new family members quickly. She was one of those warm and welcoming kids, inquisitive and playful, too. And god, she had the biggest heart of anyone. He was glad she was like that.

A few minutes went by before they migrated to the living room, and they decided to exchange gifts, much to Cassie's delight. All the adults found their seats on the sofa and chairs, and Cassie sat on the floor, her gifts nearby. But she was patient, waiting for the okay to start opening. Since she was the only child around, they agreed to let her go first.

The little girl opened the gifts from Janet and Hank first, happily finding an American Girl doll and some outfits. Hope smiled at this, because she remembered when she herself had received her first American Girl for her birthday in 1987, right before Janet disappeared. She still had that doll, neatly tucked away in storage for the sake of keeping the memory. Cassie was very ecstatic to have one of her own, and she gave Janet and Hank tight hugs of her gratitude.

She opened the gifts from Becca and Jack next. Becca, who didn't know Cassie very well aside from what she'd heard from Scott or Hope, had decided to get the girl something Becca herself had once in the past: a model horse. Becca had grown up around the animals, and had many models in her old room. So, she decided to go with it, and Jack helped. Thankfully, Cassie was very glad to receive the model, and she hugged the couple with glee.

Finally, she got to open presents from Scott and Hope. From play sets to games, Cassie loved everything. The last thing she opened was a gift exclusively from Hope. Actually, two gifts from Hope. The first one made the little girl gasp and squeal; it was the Blu-Ray edition of Beauty and the Beast. And the other made her smile even wider: a Barbie doll of Belle from the film. The little girl giggled and ran to Hope to hug her, thanking her over and over again. Hope was glad that Cassie approved, and she embraced the girl. Thank god, she was scoring major points with her boyfriend's daughter.

While Cassie played with her new toys off to the side, the adults exchanged their own gifts; baby clothes for Becca and Jack, a watch and camera for Scott, a purse and another necklace for Hope, and a coffee machine and speaker system for Maggie and Paxton. Everyone had a smiling face. No one could have asked for a better holiday.

After they finished, it was just in time for their early dinner. The turkey was cooked just right, much to Scott's relief. There were mashed potatoes, casseroles, rolls, country ham, and so much more, so everyone basically had a full plate. They ate happily together, catching up with each other's lives, laughing amongst each other. When they finished, they went back to the living room to relax. The NFL football game was playing on the TV, but no one was really paying attention too much. Hank had dozed off. Becca was fast asleep, as was Cassie in Maggie's lap. The others were just talking quietly together.

After an hour went by, Becca slowly came out of her slumber, yawning and stretching out. She adjusted the way she was sitting, and that was when she felt something that wasn't too surprising at first. It felt like something was bubbling in her stomach. That was normal, just gas bubbles. But Becca realized something; these were much stronger than the usual gas bubbles she was used to. She gasped lightly, making Jack jump and everyone glance over.

"What is it?" Jack asked worriedly. "Are you okay?"

"Jack, I'm fine," she assured him. "But… I think I can feel the baby moving."

He lit up immediately. "What? Really?"

"It's very slight, and they're too weak to be felt from the outside, but they're too strong to be gas bubbles. Oh, god, he's moving." Her smile was wide, from ear to ear.

"Our son is moving," Jack grinned widely as well.

"That's his gift to you guys," Scott pointed out. "He's making himself known."

Becca sighed happily and relished in the feeling of the life that she was carrying. "The most precious gift, indeed."

Jack watched her lovingly. "I can't wait until I can feel him on the outside. That's amazing."

"Not too much longer," Becca said as she leaned against him. "We just have to be patient."

They touched foreheads for a while, with huge smiles, and the others smiled for them as well. Scott and Hope shared a loving gaze and a quick kiss.

This was by far the greatest Christmas either of them had ever had.

Chapter Text

A month and a few days went by, and everything was peaceful for everyone. Hope, Scott, Becca, and Jack all returned to work, their schedules going back to normal after the holidays. It was quiet, since it was winter, but occasionally there was crime, and Scott and Hope were the ones to jump into action every time. Meanwhile, Becca was steadily growing, and it was now impossible to hide.

At eighteen weeks, she was feeling so much better than she had before, aside from an aching back. No more morning sickness or urges to run to the bathroom. She was constantly hungry, which wasn't out of the ordinary. The libido was still high, too; Jack especially liked that. As the weeks had gone by, she could feel stronger flutters as her baby moved around, but still wasn't able to feel it from the outside. But she knew she'd be able to very soon. Jack was very excited about that.

Becca sat on the sofa watching a movie after work one afternoon, feet resting on the coffee table, a bowl of popcorn resting on the crest of her belly. Jack came into the room after cleaning up in the kitchen and joined her on the couch, their copy of What to Expect in his hands. Once he was comfortable, he opened to the page he'd dog-eared to save the spot, and he began reading.

Becca glanced over smiling. "What's happening this week?" she asked, seeing that he was reading about the eighteenth week.

His eyes scanned the page for a moment. "He has fingerprints now," he stated.

"Aww. He's becoming his own unique person." She ran a hand across the lower curve of her torso.

"He's also yawning, and he's the size of a soda can," he added.

Becca snorted. "Feels a lot bigger than a soda can."

"Always beautiful, though," he leaned over to kiss her cheek lovingly.

She chuckled and put the bowl of popcorn aside so she could sit up a bit more, letting her hands rest on her belly. "You know, he needs a name," she reminded him.

"Oh, yeah," Jack said with a nod. "Any new ideas?"

"I like the name Jackson. But it doesn't go well with Lawton, in my opinion."

"It is cute, though. Hmm, well, I'd say we could name him after one of our dads, but Bruce doesn't sound like a cute baby name."

"And Kevin has that ending 'n' sound, and it sounds weird, in the same way Jackson does."

Jack then pulled out his phone and decided to pull up a baby name site for ideas. "Noah? I'm picking ones at random in all honesty."

"Nah," Becca shook her head. "Well, pick out ones you like, too."

Jack kept looking down the list, not finding a name that he really liked. It took a while before he found one that he liked. "What about Cooper?"

"Ooh, I like it," she smiled. "But I know so many kids that have that name. I also have a cousin with that name."

"Damn," Jack said. "Okay, I'll keep looking."

Becca thought while Jack searched. Suddenly, she remembered a name she heard once or twice, and she'd loved it ever since. "How about Porter?"

"Porter?" Jack tested the name on his tongue. "Porter Lawton. I like it."

"Yeah?" she grinned at him. "It has a nice ring to it, I think."

"Yeah, it does. I really like it. It's unique."

The name ran through her head over and over. Now she couldn't let go of it. She couldn't imagine their son with any other name. "I think that's our winner."

"Me, too," he agreed. "Porter it is."

"Yay," Becca smiled and rubbed her belly. "You have a name now, baby boy." All of a sudden, as she stroked her skin, she felt something tap against her hand briefly. Not only that, but she felt it within her, too. In a sudden flash of excitement, she gasped. "Oh, my god."

"What is it?" Jack asked quickly, examining her worriedly.

Her blue eyes met his, and she smiled, just before she reached for his hand. Her grip was gentle as she brought it to her belly, right where she felt the sensation herself. A few seconds passed, and there it was again, that tapping, that fluttering. Jack gasped and smiled from ear to ear.

"Oh, my god," he breathed. "Is that…?"

She nodded. "That's him. He's kicking."

Tears came to his eyes at that moment. This was what he'd been waiting for. And god, it was so beautiful. It happened again, and it was quite noticeable. "Oh, my god, I can feel him!"

She laughed happily and pressed her forehead to his. "I think he likes his name."

"I'm glad, little man," Jack spoke to her belly. "How does Francis sound as a middle name?"

"Porter Francis Lawton sounds perfect," Becca spoke what would be her son's full name. Moments passed, and she felt another kick. She let out a giggle. "I guess he approves."

"Aww, good," he grinned, pressing a kiss to her belly. "That's one thing checked off the list."

"Mmm yes," she replied. "Now, we have to figure out where to put his crib… and then buy the crib."

He laughed quietly. "Won't he be sleeping in the room with us at first?"

"Yeah, but still," she sighed. "I mean, we can turn the guest room into his nursery. We don't have a choice, really."

Jack thought for a few moments. "Yeah, true. We can start with that. And once he's been around for a while, we can look into three bedroom houses. We'll be just fine."

She gave him a smile and kissed him. "I'm glad I have you."

"And I'm glad I have you," he returned the expression and pecked her nose. Then he pecked her belly. "And you, Porter. God, I'm so happy we found a name."

"Me, too," she nodded. "Perfect name for a perfect baby."

"Oh, yes," Jack gave her one more kiss before bringing her into his arms happily. "And I have the perfect growing family."

She let out a content sigh as she rested against him. She couldn't take the smile off her face. Her baby was kicking. He had a name, a full name. He was becoming his own unique person. Though she wasn't even halfway through her pregnancy, she wanted her baby in her arms already. She wanted to rock him and kiss him and hold him close right then and there. Soon, she'd have that, but she had to be patient until then. Both of them had to be patient.


Elsewhere, Scott and Hope found themselves at Hank's again, sparring and practicing in their suits. Scott was working with aiming practice with his discs, throwing them at shrunken objects. He was careful not to miss, because he didn't want another giant ant running around like last time. So far, he was doing well, but his mind was wandering, back to the heist. While thinking, he missed and hit an ant with the blue disc. Luckily, Hope shrank it back to normal size.

"I wonder if I could grow like that," Scott suddenly thought aloud.

"Wait, what?" Hope laughed a little bit at his random outburst.

Scott realized what he said and chuckled. "Sorry, did I say that out loud?"

"Yep," she nodded laughing again.

"Sorry. But I'm serious. I was wondering, if I could have used growing to save Janet and myself from the Quantum Realm, what about growing from normal size?"

"No," Hank spoke up from the patio chairs in the yard.

Scott turned to him. "No?"

"There are so many risks," the old man explained.

"Shrinking has risks, too."

Janet backed Hank up. "He's studied shrinking more. Who knows what would happen?"

"Come on, let me try, Hank," Scott urged.

"Scott, there's no way of telling how your body would react. Your bones could snap, or your heart could collapse, because of the new weight. It could kill you."

Scott seemed a little discouraged for a moment at the thought of growing possibly killing him. Looking at Hope, he could tell she agreed with Hank on this one. But then he remembered something. "Well, I came back from the quantum realm twice, a place where we thought had no return. I think I'll be fine."

"I don't know, Scott," Hank scratched his head. "I think it's dangerous."

"I do, too," Hope added. She smiled a bit, glad that she and Hank were finally agreeing on something.

After thinking for a while, Hank sighed. "I guess we can test it, but in very small doses."

"What?" Hope's mouth dropped a little. Well, that was fun while it lasted. "Come on, I thought we were on the same page."

Scott grinned excitedly. "Sweet! Let's do this!"

"How?" Hope asked, not liking the idea of Scott testing the enlargement thing.

"I have blue serum in the lab," her father replied. "Lucky for you, Janet and I have tested this on animals like rabbits before. And so far, they've all gone well."

"Then it'll be fine, right?" Scott asked hopefully.

"We can't be sure. But fine, I guess we can try. You two go into the training room, I'll meet you there."

Hope, Scott, and Janet made their way to the training room together and waited for Hank. Hope and Scott decided to practice sparring while shrunken, since Hank was taking his time retrieving the right amount of serum to use. He finally emerged from the lab after twenty minutes, holding very small tube of blue growing serum in his hand. The amount of serum was very tiny, difficult to see from far away.

"Okay, Scott," Hank began. "We have to be extremely careful doing this. Don't do anything stupid."

"I won't," Scott said.

"I don't believe you. Anyway, go stand in the middle of the room."

Scott put on his helmet and mask and did as he was told, going to the center of the room. Hope and Janet stood back, out of the way, just in case. Hank made his way over to Scott and adjusted the arm of his suit where the regulator was. He put the tube inside and stepped back.

"Okay, very slightly turn up the regulator. And I mean slightly."

Scott nodded and took a deep breath. As carefully as he could, he obeyed Hank's order. At first, nothing happened, so Scott, being the curious man he was, turned it up even more.

"No, Scott, don't—!"

Too late. For a split second, he was as tall as the ceiling, looking down on the others, but he was immediately taken off guard when his head hit the ceiling quite hard. Then, he felt blood rushing away from his face. His vision started to go black. There was a very thunderous crash as he hit the ground, and within seconds, he was back to normal size, crumpled on the ground.

"Scott!" Hope ran to him and knelt to his side. She helped him take off his helmet, finding him unconscious.

"He never listens," Hank shook his head.

"I'll go get some water," Janet stated and left the room quickly. She came back with a bottle of water, handing it to Hope.

Hope tossed her helmet and Scott's to the side before pulling his head into her lap. She opened the bottle and poured some water onto his forehead to wake him up. He didn't right away, but he did move and mumble a little bit. Hope let out a sigh of relief.

After a moment, his eyes peeled open, and he found himself looking right up at Hope. "Mmm Hope…?"

"Hey," she smiled softly.

He tried to sit up, but Hope pushed him back down. Good thing she did, because as soon as he lifted his head, there came a throbbing pain. He grumbled as he slumped against her. "God, what just happened?"

"You grew, for like a second," she told him.

"I did?" he smiled.

"But then you hit your head and passed out."

"Because you didn't listen to me," Hank scolded.

"Oh… well, I tried."

"You didn't listen, and you got hurt."

Scott crossed his arms. "Hey, I wanted to test it out."

Hope rolled her eyes and helped him sit up a little more so he could take a few sips of water. After he swallowed, she flicked him on the forehead.

"Ow! What was that for?" Scott rubbed the spot she hit. "Come on, I almost got a concussion!"

"For not listening. And stop being so dramatic."

"Are you okay, Scott?" Janet asked.

"Yes, Janet, thank you for asking. See why can't you two be nice like Janet?"

Janet laughed, and Hank was the one to roll his eyes this time. "Okay, Scott, you need to go home and get some rest," the old man instructed. "Hope, make sure he does."

"I will," Hope nodded, and then she helped Scott carefully to his feet. He got a little dizzy, but she kept him from falling over. "Come on, Princess, let's get you home."

Scott just agreed and walked with her out of the house once they said goodbye to Hank and Janet. When they got home, Hope helped her boyfriend to bed and got an ice pack for where he hit his head.

"Thank you," he said.

"You're welcome. You okay?"

He nodded. "Yeah. God, I can't believe I grew. How did I look?"

"Don't be so vain," she laughed and kissed his cheek. "You looked good before you passed out."

He smiled goofily, and she playfully shoved him, but not enough to cause him pain. He then curled up toward her and brought her legs across his lap. "Hi," he whispered.

"Hey," she breathed quietly as she looked deep into his eyes. "I like you much better this size."

"Me, too, I must admit. It means I can do this." He then stole a kiss from her lips.

She smiled against his lips and cupped his cheek. "Oh, yes, I agree. It also means you can do other things, but you're not doing anything with a hurt head."

"Aw, dammit," he pouted.

"When your head gets better," she gave him some reassurance.

"Okay, okay, fine," he grumbled over-dramatically.

Hope giggled and settled closer to him. "Good. Now, you take a nap. You need it."

After pressing a kiss to her forehead, he laid down a little more, and Hope put herself into his arms and wrapped her own around him. A few minutes later, Scott was fast asleep. Hope glanced up to check on him and she giggled quietly to see how quickly he'd fallen asleep. She laid her head on his chest and listened to his heartbeat for the next few minutes until it lulled her to sleep.


The next morning, Hope woke up to find Scott still asleep, so she decided to let him stay that way, considering what he'd endured the day before. She managed to sneak out of bed, slipping to the kitchen to make him breakfast in bed. After all, he did that to her often, why not make up for it and return the favor. She made him some waffles, with some strawberries on the side, and went upstairs with a tray in her hands. She'd spent about an hour making things for him, and yet, she found him still asleep. She was glad he was, but she also knew he needed to eat. Reluctantly, she sat on the edge of the bed near him, placed the tray on his opposite side carefully, and shook him gently.

"Scott," she whispered.

He moved, but didn't wake. When she shook him again a bit harder, he opened his eyes, squinting to adjust to the light of the morning. "Hey," he croaked.

"Morning," she replied. "I hate to wake you, but you need to eat something. I made you waffles."

"Aww, you did?" he was flattered, all heart-eyed now. "Thank you." He started to push himself up, but the pain came to his head again. "Ow."

"You okay?" Hope asked him. "Your head still hurt?"

Scott shook his head, albeit slow and carefully. "I'm fine, I promise." His argument sucked, though. It was obvious that he was sensitive to the light of the room, and he seemed a bit daze.

Hope immediately made him lay back down. "You're not getting up. You eat, I'm calling Becca."

"Why?"

"Because it's been a whole night after you hit your head, and you're still having pain and you're dazed. That's not good. I'm calling her." She whipped out her phone and dialed Becca's number.


The doctor was over within half an hour, mostly because she had to drag her pregnant self out of bed and force herself to look at least somewhat presentable before she got there. She knocked on the door in the middle of a huge yawn. Hope quickly answered the door.

"Hey," she said. "Sorry for waking you. I know you need your sleep, but I'm worried about Scott."

"It's okay," Becca reassured her friend as she walked inside.

Hope noticed how much bigger Becca's belly had gotten in the last week or so, and she grinned a little. "Look at you and your belly."

"Yeah," the shorter woman chuckled and ran a hand across her bump. "Getting bigger and bigger by the day."

"Nonetheless, you look beautiful."

"Thank you," Becca smiled, just in time for her to get to the bedroom and find Scott lying there with his eyes closed. She immediately sat on the edge of the bed, because she did everything in her power to stay off her feet.

"Hey, Becca," Scott greeted her tiredly.

"Okay, so what happened?"

"Scott wanted to see what would happen if he grew from normal size instead of shrink," Hope explained "But he took it a bit too far and hit his head. He also passed out because the weight and height change was too much to handle all at once like that."

"Wait," Becca's brows knit. "So, you can become giant now, too?"

Scott nodded. "Yep, it was so cool!"

"Except you may have a concussion," Hope warned him. "You never listen." He just shrugged innocently.

Becca shook her head. This actually didn't surprise her, the fact that he didn't listen and got hurt. Nonetheless, she did what she could. She tested his strength, balance, coordination, reflexes, and other things she could do without using any equipment. Then, she began asking his questions about his memory, and she also tested his concentration. When she was done, she had him sit back down.

"I have no doubt that you have a mild concussion," Becca told him. "It's not too bad, but you will need to rest. And that goes for mental and physical resting. Refrain from any strenuous activities, and from those that require you to use a lot of brainpower. That includes sex."

"Well, shit," Scott grumbled, half-joking. Hope playfully shoved him. "All right, fine, I'll rest, I promise."

"And I'll make sure of it," Hope added, crossing her arms and eyeing Scott.

Becca smiled and chuckled. "Good. Do you guys need anything else?"

"No, I think we're good," Hope shook her head. "Here, I'll walk you out." She rose to her feet and helped her pregnant friend to her feet.

They walked to the front door, albeit pretty slowly, since Becca's belly was already inhibiting her walking. When they got to the front door, she stopped short and placed a hand on her side. Hope eyed her with concern.

"You okay?"

Becca could only smile. She took Hope's hand and placed it on the side of her bump where she once had her own. There was the tapping again. Her son was kicking.

"Oh, my god," Hope grinned, marveling at the sensation she felt against her hand. "You can feel him from the outside."

"Yeah," Becca nodded and laughed happily. "I started feeling him yesterday. Jack was very excited."

"Oh, I bet. He's been waiting to feel that baby for a while. That really is amazing, Becca."

"Wanna know something else?"

"What?"

"He finally has a name."

Hope beamed excitedly. "Really? What is it?"

"Porter Francis Lawton."

"Aww, I love it. It's so cute."

"Yeah," Becca giggled. "It's so nice having a name for him. Now I can officially get monogrammed stuff for him."

Hope laughed. "Aww, yay, I'm so happy for you." She went to hug Becca, both of them smiling. "Now, you need rest. Go get some sleep."

"I will," Becca nodded, and after saying goodbye, she left.

Hope watched her car pull out of the driveway and went back upstairs to be with Scott. She found him already asleep. Smiling, she made her way over to him and sat on the edge of the bed, careful not to wake him up. She kept close to him, ready to jump to his aid if he needed it.

She never said it aloud, but she was proud of him for at least trying to be bold. Sure, he didn't listen, but he felt glad that he could do it, and he was smiling despite passing out, and that meant something to her.

Scott Lang would always be someone she was proud of.

Chapter Text

Time passed, and quite a bit. Winter made its way into spring, and now it was a week or so into June, so summer was on its way. Nothing was really out of the ordinary. The two couples were hard at work. Scott and Hope kept an eye on the news channel quite often to see if there were any crimes to stop, while also balancing work. Jack was continuing with his hard work at Pym Tech. Becca was working, too, but not nearly as much as usual. She was thirty-six weeks pregnant and basically on baby watch… and boy, was she uncomfortable now.

Within the last week, her frequent urges to run to the bathroom returned, much to her dismay. Her belly was enormous, now, and Porter moved nonstop. No longer were his movements those cute little flutters. Now they were punches and kicks to her ribs, even putting her out of breath sometimes. On the bright side, she and Jack had finished shopping for baby things, getting him a crib, a car seat, among other things. It was nice to know those things were done and out of the way. All they wanted now was to have their son in their arms. Only a month left.

Meanwhile, Scott and Hope visited Hank and Janet often, usually for lunch or for training practice for the former couple. Today wasn't any different. They sat around the living room, drinking tea and making small talk, when something strange happened. A knock came to the door. The four looked at each other weirdly, and then there was another knock. Scott, since he was closest to the entrance to the foyer, got up to go answer it. Nothing could have prepared him for who was on the other side.

There at the front door stood a man and a woman. And not just any man and woman. Scott recognized these two. He couldn't place the names, but he knew the faces. However, there was only one thing on his mind. Avengers.

The man spoke first. "Scott Lang?"

Scott couldn't find his words. "Uh, nope." Seriously, Lang?

"Liar," the woman said right off the bat.

The man, Clint Barton, glanced at the redhead for a moment before he looked back at Scott, who looked like he'd just seen a ghost. "You're not gonna pass out, are you?"

"Nope," Scott said again. God, why was that his only coherent word?

"Okay, good," Clint nodded, still giving him a strange look. "Listen, can we come in for a second?"

"Nope."

The woman started getting impatient. "Is this seriously the guy that Sam sent us to find?"

"Be nice, Wanda," Clint said.

That was when Scott could speak a full sentence. "Wait, the Falcon sent you?" Oh, no, that wasn't good.

"Oh, he can speak!" Wanda fake-gasped.

Hearing everything, Hope stood up, immediately on edge hearing the Falcon mentioned. "Shit," she whispered. "Mom, go downstairs, just in case."

Janet nodded and went to sneak downstairs, Hank going with her at first. While they were going, Hope went to the front door, shocked to see that Clint Barton and Wanda Maximoff standing there on the other side. She stayed out of sight at first.

"Look, I'm sorry about the whole break-in at the base, okay?" Scott quickly tried to defend himself.

Clint held up his hands. "Don't worry, that's not why we're here."

"Well, it sort of is," Wanda corrected, making Scott's heart leap into his throat for a split second.

"Look, we need you for a mission. Today." Clint decided it was enough of beating around the bush, so he got to his point.

Scott only stared at them. No words left him.

Wanda pinched the bridge of her nose. "God, not this again."

"Am I being punked, or something?" Scott finally spoke up.

"What?" Wanda raised a brow.

"Don't worry about it, Wanda," Clint assured her.

That was when Hope came into view. "Everything okay?" she asked.

Clint and Wanda were not expecting to see someone else there. Scott gulped. "Yeah, everything's fine," he said.

"Okay, well, do you want to come in?" Hope looked to the other two. She didn't trust them whatsoever, but she wanted them to lower their guard at least somewhat. She even opened the door wider for them.

The two nodded, and they entered the house. As they did, Hank was coming back from the training room. The second he saw who the guests were, he fumed.

"Oh, no," he shook his head. "No, no Avengers in here." He started to shoo them out.

Wanda growled. "Are you fucking serious? Now we have to deal with him, too?"

"Wanda, be polite," Clint said calmly. "Dr. Pym, we're here because we need Scott for a little."

"Hell no," Hank shook his head, continuing to lead them out of the house. "I don't want any of my work anywhere near the Starks. No. No, way."

Clint remained calm. "Well, the thing is, we need Scott because Captain America needs him. We're fighting against the Starks."

This caught the old man's attention immediately. "Wait, seriously?"

Both Clint and Wanda nodded. Hope didn't like where this was going, but Scott was really excited upon hearing that Captain America needed him. Holy shit, Captain America needed him!

Hank sighed after a moment and glanced to Scott. "Kick some Stark ass, Scott."

"What?" Hope gaped.

"Thank god," Wanda spoke under her breath. "Can we go now?"

"I'll go get the suit," Scott began, but Hope grabbed his arm. "What?"

"What the hell are you doing?" she asked him. "Are you out of your mind?"

"Wait, what's the problem?" Clint wondered.

Hope glanced at him with determination. "If he's going, I'm coming, too."

"What?" Wanda raised a brow again.

"Yeah, she has a suit, too," Scott explained.

"Well, she doesn't have clearance," Clint said.

Hope glared. "Look, I've been the Wasp for months and have been able to kick Scott's ass for an even longer time," she proclaimed.

Wanda let out a groan. "We don't have time for this. He's coming, you're staying." She then glanced to Clint. "Can I wipe her memory, or something?"

"There's no need for that," Clint had her stand down.

"No, no, no brain-wiping needed!"

Hope glowered at Scott. "What the hell, Scott?"

"Trust me, babe, you don't want to mess with her. She's got crazy weird mind-magic powers and could take us out from across the state."

"I can just take you out now and drag you with us if you want," Wanda added. "But I'd rather have you walk so your weight doesn't slow us down."

"Wait, how do you know so much about them?" Hope shot another glance to her boyfriend.

Scott gulped. "They're the avengers! Of course I learn everything I can about them… for uh, research."

She grumbled. "You're such a fanboy."

Then, she felt Hank's hand take hold of her shoulder. "Hope, let them go," he ordered. "Scott, go get the suit."

The younger man nodded and went down to get the suit as told. Clint and Wanda went to go wait in the van they had parked outside. Hope slammed the door behind them and huffed to the living room, glaring at Hank.

"What the hell did you do that for?" she hissed.

"Hope, I wouldn't worry about it," her father tried to calm her down.

"I can't help it! He's about to get his ass into a world of trouble! How can you let him do this?"

Hank shook his head. "Look, they're fighting against Stark. If it means defeating them, then I'm all for letting him go."

"Dad, he's going to lose his life!" Hope shouted. "He has no idea what he's getting into. We're talking about the damn Avengers, here!"

Before Hank could say anything else, Scott came back into the room. He saw Hope's distress and felt bad. He wanted her to go with him, but he also didn't want her getting hurt. Better him than her.

Scott glanced at Hank. "Hank, can you give us a moment?"

The old man nodded and walked out of the room, going down to see Janet. Hop refused to look at Scott.

"Hope, please…" he tried being gentle.

"Scott, this is probably the most reckless thing you've ever done. You've done some stupid things, but this may top the list."

"Hey, I went to the Quantum Realm twice."

"You were risking your life. Now you're risking your life and others'. Do you not remember all the destruction they've caused?"

He nodded once. "Okay, that's true, but they wouldn't be coming to me if they didn't need me. If I go, I can prevent more destruction. I'll be fine, Hope. I promise."

"Are you absolutely sure about this?" she finally brought her gaze up to meet his.

"Hey, Captain America needs me. If it's him against Stark, I bet it's to keep the world out of danger, and that means keeping you and Cassie and our friends safe. I'm doing this for you."

She ran her hands over her face. "Good god, Scott, you say that before every reckless thing you do."

He sighed. She was right. "Look, Hope, I really mean it. I want to keep the ones I love safe. I promise I'll be fine."

"I don't believe you," she replied. "But I guess I can't stop you."

Silence came over them as he watched her. Again, she wasn't looking at him. So, without anything else to do, he stepped forward and wrapped his arms around her. Thankfully, she returned the embrace, but she did so a bit slowly.

"I swear to god, Scott, you be careful out there," she whispered to him.

"I'll do my best," he assured her. "And I'll be sure to tell them about you and how amazing you are. So next time, they'll call us both."

She couldn't contain her small chuckle then, and then she pulled away to kiss him softly. "I love you," she told him.

"I love you, too," Scott replied, and he had to reluctantly let go of her so he could leave. "I'll be back soon, Hope."

"You better," she whispered.

Scott nodded, and he turned to the door leading down to the training room. He made sure to tell Hank and Janet goodbye before leaving with Clint and Wanda. His heart ached as he left, though. He didn't get to tell Cassie goodbye. As he rode in the van, he could only think of his goodbye to his little girl. I love you, Cassie. Daddy will be home, soon, I promise.

Hope unhappily watched as the van peeled out of the driveway and disappear into the distance. Envy filled her veins. She wanted nothing more than to join him in the fighting. But no, she "wasn't cleared" to go with him. The thought made anger bubble up in her, her blood boiling, and she whipped around and hurried to the training room. She began violently hurling punches and kicks to the punching bag, taking her fury out on it.

Janet watched her daughter sadly. She'd seen Scott retrieve his suit and leave, and she knew Hope was livid about the whole thing. But Janet didn't say anything. She only watched. There weren't any words that could fix this, that could make her feel better. Distance was best.

It took several minutes for Hope to finally calm down. Sweat covered her forehead. She was out of breath. Her knuckles were reddened from the impact on the punching bag without gloves on. But the anger was still there. Not quite as much, but still there. She went to grab a water bottle and guzzled about half of it all at once before catching her breath. Janet was still there.

"You going to be okay?" she asked.

Hope's gaze dropped to the floor. "I have no idea. God, I can't believe he went with them. He's going to get himself killed, and I'm not allowed to do anything about it."

"He'll be okay," Janet assured her.

"You can't know that," Hope sighed, taking another sip of water. After she finished the bottle, she threw it away rather heatedly, and then she wiped her forehead. "I need to go home." She started to make her way out of the training room, Janet following after her. The two went to the living room, where Hope picked up her purse. Without a single word to either of her parents, she hurried out of the house, heading home. Janet and Hank just watched in silence.

Hope got home and immediately took a shower, cleaning herself of the sweat and grime while also trying to calm down some more. Her heart ached. The house felt so empty already. She'd have to sleep alone for god knew how long. While only in a towel, soaking wet after her shower, she sat on her bed, unable to really comprehend the situation. Scott was really gone. She was alone. Again. God dammit, Scott.

Just then, her phone buzzed. She didn't want to look at it at first, but she felt bad for ignoring it so she glanced at whom the message was from. It was from Becca.

You and Scott up for coming over for lunch tomorrow?

Hope sighed before sending her reply. Scott's not here.

Wait, what?

Hope didn't know how to answer. Since it took a while for an answer, Becca had decided to call her friend.

"Hello?" Hope answered.

"What do you mean he's not here?" Becca didn't waste a second.

"He just left. He's going with the Avengers to god knows where."

There came a long pause. "Are you serious? Why the hell aren't you with him?"

"I'm asking myself the same thing. They wouldn't let me go with him."

"Who's 'they?'"

"The Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye."

"Shit," Becca breathed. "Why couldn't you go?"

Hope rubbed her face. "I apparently wasn't cleared. God, he's an idiot."

"I didn't think he was this reckless," Becca admitted.

"Yeah, neither did I. God, Becca, I don't know what'll happen to him."

"Okay, just take a deep breath," the woman on the other line tried to keep her friend calm. "I'm sure he'll be okay. He learned how to fight from you, so I have no doubt he'll do just fine."

"I know, but still…"

Becca let out a sigh. "How about this: you come over for lunch tomorrow. Maybe it'll get your mind off things?"

"I don't know, Becca…"

"Come on. Just come over tomorrow. We'll keep you entertained. Okay?"

Hope didn't even feel like arguing. "All right. I'll see you then."

"Good. See you tomorrow." Becca then hung up the phone, leaving Hope to slump back on her bed.

Her mind ran wild with thoughts of Scott all night long, so much so that she barely slept. The bed was too empty. The house was too quiet. God, what was she going to do just sitting around? She was already antsy, and Scott hadn't even been gone but a few hours. This was going to be a long wait.


 

The next day, Hope found herself at Becca and Jack's place, sitting on the sofa with them for a while before they ate pasta Jack was cooking. She didn't really say much. She tried to keep her mind off her reckless boyfriend, but that was nearly impossible. What did get her attention was when Becca groaned slightly next to her. Glancing over, she saw Becca holding her belly on her side.

"Are you okay?" Hope asked.

"Porter's new favorite thing is kicking me in the ribs. He's running out of space in here, for sure." She rubbed the spot on her side while her son rolled around restlessly within her.

Hope watched her, and she could see the baby moving around. She even saw a foot stick out. Becca tried to gently grab it.

"There's a foot," she painfully giggled. Porter responded to his mother grabbing his foot and he pulled it away.

"That doesn't look comfortable," Hope stated.

"It's not," Becca let out a huff. "I'm so ready to not be pregnant anymore. Don't get me wrong, I liked it about halfway through, but I feel like road kill, or a beached whale. I'm out of breath just sitting down. Not to mention I waddle around like a duck."

Jack bent over the back of the sofa to press a kiss to Becca's cheek. "A very cute duck," he pointed out confidently.

She giggled and kissed his lips. "Liar."

"Absolutely not," he shook his head. "I'm sticking with that story."

"I'm just ready to meet him and hold him and kiss him," Becca said. "I want him here."

"Aww, I bet," Hope understood. "Not too much longer, now, though, right?"

The other woman nodded. "Yep, not too much longer. But he can't get here soon enough."

Soon, Jack brought the two women bowls of pasta before bringing his own and joining them on the sofa. Becca used her belly as a table while she ate, and the three of them watched the news. For a while, there was nothing interesting, but a breaking news story soon changed that.

"In the middle of a feud regarding the Sokovia Accords," a news reporter said. "A fight between the famous Avengers has broken out at a German airport…"

Hope almost dropped her fork. "You have got to be fucking kidding me."

Sure enough, there came camera footage of the Avengers fighting amongst themselves. It was chaos already. Her eyes searched frantically for Scott. What kind of trouble was he in? She eventually found him… fighting against the Black Widow.

"God, Scott, what the hell are you doing?" she nearly shouted at the TV. "He's going to get himself killed."

They watched in horror and amazement, and then they got the shock of their lives. During the massive brawl, something absolutely unbelievable happened, and the next thing they knew, they were watching with gaping mouths as Scott suddenly appeared… at nearly 50 feet tall! He crushed an airplane with one step of his foot. He held War Machine by the leg. Hope just couldn't believe this.

"Holy shit," Jack choked on his food.

"Wow, you weren't kidding about him being able to grow, Hope," Becca stated.

"He's a fucking idiot!" Hope seethed. She couldn't take her eyes off the screen, and she watched in bewilderment as Scott was tied at the feet and came crashing down, returning to normal size on the crushed wing of a nearby plane. She tensed, praying he wasn't hurt too badly.

Becca cringed when Scott fell. "Jesus…"

Hope couldn't even speak anymore. She could only watch. Soon enough, the fight ended as authorities came to arrest those on Captain America's team… including Scott. Great. As if things weren't bad enough. She also noticed that Captain America and two others were missing.

That was it for her. Hope couldn't take it anymore. She shot to her feet. "I'm going to help him."

"Wait, what?" Becca sat up as best she could. "Are you serious?"

"Yes, I'm serious," Hope nodded. "He's getting thrown into jail somewhere and he won't have his suit. Not only will I have to rescue Scott, but I'll also have to make sure no one gets hold of his damn suit. My dad will flip his shit. I have to go."

Becca knew she wouldn't be able to stop her friend. "God, Hope, please be careful. Come home in one piece."

"No promises," Hope shook her head. Without another word, she was gone.

Hope raced to her father's house and let herself in. "Dad!" she shouted for him.

Hank rushed to the front of the house. He looked flustered. "Your boyfriend is an idiot."

"You think I don't know that?" Hope was nearly shouting. "I need you to be stealthy and find out where Steve Rogers went."

"Hope, wait—"

"—Dad, Scott is going to jail and Steve Rogers is not, he has to know something!"

"Hope!" Hank barked to get her to stop. "Hope, it just happened. We can't find find him or anyone else right away."

"What? Why not?"

"Because they're on the move," Hank tried to explain. "What we need to do is wait a few days until we can get an exact location."

Hope grumbled impatiently. "Jesus Christ, I knew this was a shitty idea."

"Hope, just calm down—"

"—I can't just calm down!" she snapped. "My boyfriend is out there going to some prison somewhere, I don't know where he is, and he probably lost the suit. I can't be calm about this!"

Hank held up his hands to quiet her. "We just have to wait it out, Hope," he told her. "That's all we can do."

Hope scowled and sat on the sofa, burying her face into her hands in pure frustration. Janet went to sit next to her and kept close for support. Hope, not knowing what else to do, just leaned against her mother, who wrapped her arms around her daughter.

Hope didn't speak while her mother tried to comfort her. She could only think of the madness. Her heart ached for the fact that Scott never got to see Cassie before he left. Now he's gotten himself arrested again, and who knew how long it would be before he'd be released. She knew Maggie and Paxton had probably seen the news footage, too. What an awful way to find out Scott was on the opposite side of the Atlantic. Cassie was probably devastated if she knew. Hope grumbled again. God, what was she going to do?

She did know one thing, though. She wasn't going to sit around anymore. If she wanted Scott home, she was going to have to do things herself.

Chapter Text

Thanks to a locator Hank had placed on Scott's suit, the old man managed to locate the former thief's whereabouts: in the middle of the ocean. As if things weren't bad enough, it seemed to be on the move. Meanwhile, locating Steve Rogers was a whole different issue. They hadn't seen the authorities arrest him after the battle in Germany, so they knew he was out there somewhere, in hiding. They had some major searching to do. And to do so, they needed help… help they never thought they'd ever ask for again; they hired Kurt, Dave, and Luis. Well, they hired Kurt, but Dave and Luis tagged along for the fun, much to Hank's annoyance. But they didn't have a choice. Hope needed to find Scott, and this was the only option.

They showed up the day after the battle and the arrests, ringing the doorbell before walking inside once they realized the door was unlocked. Already, they were loud. Hank heard their voices and grumbled. He'd only invited Kurt… not the other two. He reluctantly went to go greet them, and right away, they got loud.

"Man, did you see what Scotty did?" Luis asked. "It was huge! Literally!"

"I didn't know he could do that," Dave added.

"Was impressive," Kurt nodded.

They kept firing all sorts of questions at the old man. Unable to take it all at once, Hank held up his hands. "Yes, I saw what he did. Now, why are the other two here?"

"We couldn't just stay behind!" Luis answered. "We had to come!"

"Oh, god," Hank rubbed his face, already annoyed.

Without another second passing, the three men were back into their babbling about what they saw on the news the day before. It got out of hand way too quickly, and Hank was already wishing he hadn't brought them in. Before anything else, though, Hope stormed into the room, wondering what the hold up was.

Luis saw Hope and grinned. "Did you see what Scotty—?"

"—Yes," Hope snapped. "I saw what he did. But that's not important right now. I need you two to be quiet while Kurt and my dad work."

The three men immediately quieted. Without a moment to spare, Hope dragged them to the lab, where Hank kept his surveillance screens. Kurt and Hank went right to work. Luis and Dave, intimidated by Hope's presence, actually stood by to help whenever needed. Meanwhile, Hope paced the floor behind them, Janet watching her worriedly, the former wondering when they'd find him.

Seconds turned to minutes… many long, slow, dragging minutes. Hope was digging a rut in the floor by now, only stopping her pacing to check on the status… every five minutes. At one point, Kurt sighed.

"Mean pretty lady needs to chill," he whispered under his breath, loud enough to be heard, though.

Hope seethed, but Hank quickly stopped her before she snapped. "Hope, there's no telling how long it will take," he said calmly. "Waiting around isn't going to make things go any faster. Maybe you should go home, or take a walk, or something. Get some fresh air. We'll let you know the moment we find something. Okay?"

She hesitated, but she nodded and turned to walk out. There was no use in arguing. Hank was right. As she left, Janet followed after her, knowing she needed some company. Hope didn't know Janet was with her, though, until she turned around to try and eavesdrop. Seeing Janet startled her a bit.

"Oh, hey, Mom," she let out a breath.

"Sorry, didn't mean to scare you," Janet said. "I wanted to make sure you're okay."

"I don't even know anymore," Hope shook her head.

Janet frowned. "Come on, let's walk." She took her daughter by the wrist and led her outside. Hope didn't even protest. Hell, it was in desperate moments like these when she needed her mother the most when she was a kid. She wanted her mother there, and Janet was glad her daughter didn't push her away.

The two sauntered slowly down the sidewalk together. At first, Hope didn't really say much. Her mind was so chock full of thoughts, missing Scott like crazy, even though it had only been a few days. Janet watched her worriedly again. She knew she had to help get her mind off things somehow.

"How's your friend, Becca?" she asked. A random question, but whatever worked.

The other woman didn't look up from staring at the sidewalk. "She's well. She's due in a few weeks, actually. A little less than a month, I think."

"Aww," Janet smiled a little. "Getting closer."

"Yeah, I'm excited for her." After that, she stopped talking.

Janet sighed a little bit. A few minutes went by, and the silence was a bit too overwhelming. "I saw a cute pair of stilettos the other day that made me think of you," she threw a random thought out there. "Too bad I didn't find them in time for your birthday last month. Would have been perfect."

Hope soon glanced up at her mother. "How the hell can you be so calm?" she questioned. "You don't seem afraid at all. If Scott's suit is figured out, anyone could come after you and Dad, and who knows what would happen? You were in the quantum realm! They could experiment on you!"

The other woman stopped to look right into her daughter's eyes. "Honey, of course I'm scared," she took her by the shoulders. "There is that constant fear nagging at me every day. But I have faith in you and your father."

At first, Hope crossed her arms and kept her gaze downward, but then Janet tilted her chin up so they could lock eyes again.

"Hope, I'm done being the Wasp. I can't do much now, but I am doing what I can by being there for Hank and being there for you, especially since I wasn't for so many years. I want to make up for that."

Hope was touched, almost in tears. She was so thankful for her mother, that she was back in her life. Otherwise, she'd still be a hot mess pacing the floor in the lab. Janet was a saving grace. She was doing everything Hope wanted her to do. And then that reminded her of something, of someone who needed another one there for them.

Cassie.

Janet noticed how Hope's expression changed just then, and her own brows knit. "What?"

"Cassie…" Hope breathed. "Cassie probably doesn't know where Scott is or when she'll see him again. I need to go talk to her." As quickly as she could, she turned and headed for her car. Janet ran after her. Hope saw her come up next to the car. "I'll be back, Mom. Let me know if anything happens, okay?"

"Okay," Janet nodded.

With that, Hope backed out and sped away, heading for the Paxton residence.


 

Hope got there as quickly as she could and ran up to knock on the door. It wasn't until after she knocked that she realized she was a bit harsh and hurried. Thankfully, it didn't take long before she heard footsteps to the door, and she heard the lock click before the wooden masterpiece opened. There stood Maggie on the other side.

"Hope, hi," she said, quite confused as to why Hope was visiting out of the blue.

"Hi, Maggie," Hope replied. "May I please come in? There's something I need to talk to you about."

Maggie nodded and opened the door wider. "Of course, come on in."

The women walked to the kitchen, where Hope sat down across from the other woman. God, where to even start?

Maggie gave her an odd look. "Is something wrong? Is it with Scott?"

"Yes," Hope nodded. "I don't know if you've seen the news lately? Meaning yesterday?"

The woman shook her head. "No, I haven't really been paying attention. What happened?"

Before Hope could answer, Paxton appeared in the room. He saw Hope and was worried when he didn't see Scott. "Oh, hello, Hope," he greeted her. But then he noticed how worried they both looked. "Uh, oh, what did Scott do this time?"

Maggie waved him over so he could sit with them. Once they settled, Hope took a deep breath. "So, two days ago, Scott randomly got recruited when two of the Avengers showed up," she explained. "I know that sounds a bit silly, but trust me."

"Oh, from what I've witnessed, I don't doubt it," Paxton said. "What did they want?"

"Well, they wanted him because of a feud between Captain America and Iron Man. Scott left with them, and yesterday, there was a huge battle in Germany. And I mean that literally, because Scott grew into a giant for about two minutes."

"So that's what I kept hearing about," Paxton noted. "Wow."

Hope nodded. "But it gets worse. He was arrested with Captain America's team and sent to a prison in the middle of the ocean. We don't know when he's going to be back, but I'm going to go find him."

"Wait," Maggie seemed stunned. "You're leaving to get him?"

"Yeah, I have to. I warned him against joining this fight and now he's gotten into much more trouble than ever. You guys deserve to know."

Paxton sighed. "What's Cassie going to think?"

"About what, Jim?" Cassie's little voice came from the entrance to the kitchen. All three of the adults turned to her, and when Cassie saw Hope, she brightened. "Hope!" she ran up to her dad's girlfriend and hugged her tight.

"Hey, Princess," Hope smiled softly, hugging her back.

"What are you doing here?" the little girl asked. "Is Daddy here, too?"

Hope's heart sank. After glancing to Maggie and Paxton and seeing them give her permission, Hope knelt down to get to Cassie's eye level. "I'm here because there's something very important I need to tell you," she explained. "It's about your Daddy."

"Is he okay?" Cassie asked, a little worriedly.

"I'm sure he's fine," Hope assured her, though it didn't sound convincing to her own ears. "But he's far away right now. He went to help some other heroes, and now he and those heroes are in trouble."

It didn't seem to deter the youngster at first. "My daddy is helping more heroes? Is he with Captain America?" She was bouncing up and down.

"He was for a little while," the woman replied. "But now he's in trouble, and we don't know when he's going to come back."

That was when Cassie got a bit sad. "Did he do a bad thing?"

"He didn't mean to do anything wrong, sweetie," Hope shook her head. "He tried to fight for what he thinks is right, and other people did, too. But some didn't agree, and they had to take him and his friends away. I tried to tell him to stay home, but silly Daddy didn't listen. So now, I need to save him, so I can bring him home to you sooner."

"You're going to go with him?"

Hope nodded. "Yes."

"Will you be gone long?"

"I don't know, Princess. But we'll try our best to be home as soon as we can."

Cassie hugged Hope again. "I don't want you to go," she said.

Hope sighed as she embraced the little girl. "I know, sweetie. I know. But I have a suit like Daddy does and that means I can go and help him. And then both of us will be back home before you know it. Okay?"

Big brown doe eyes glanced up to meet Hope's and she nodded. Though she didn't let go. Hope picked her up and sat on a chair with Cassie in her lap. When the girl leaned her head on Hope's chest, the woman was touched, her heart aching but warmed.

"Hope?" her little voice met the other's ears.

"Yes, Princess?"

"You're my new favorite hero."

Hope almost teared up at the sound of that. She smiled softly and hugged the little girl even tighter. "You're so sweet. I'll do my very best to save your daddy and bring him home. I promise."

Cassie nodded, not letting go of Hope for a long time. Soon, though, Hope's phone buzzed. She quickly whipped it out to read a message from Hank.

We found him. He's in Wakanda.

Hope sighed, relieved. The others were looking at her. She shared glanced with each of them before looking back at Cassie. "I have to go, now, Princess."

However, Cassie held on tighter. "Come home soon."

"I will," Hope promised.

Finally, Cassie managed to let go, and she went to Maggie. The red headed woman looked up at the one about to leave them. "Be careful, Hope," she said.

"I'll do my best," Hope replied. "I'll tell Scott you all say hello."

"Tell him he's an idiot, too," Paxton coughed.

"Don't worry," Hope gave a small chuckle. She then turned to the door. "We'll see you soon. Take care." And after saying one final goodbye, she left. But before she went back to Hank's, she had one more stop to make.


 

When Hope got to Becca and Jack's place, she was still checking her phone. She'd texted Hank to tell him where she was going, but hadn't heard back. She was in the middle of checking once again when she heard the door open.

"Hey, Hope," Jack greeted her quietly.

"Hey," the woman responded. "Is this a bad time?" If he was being quiet, she knew Becca was probably sleeping, or something.

"No, it's not," Becca called from within. Okay, so she wasn't.

Jack chuckled. "Come on in." He allowed her inside, and they went to the living room, where Becca sat lounging on the sofa. Her feet were propped up, and she was surrounded by pillows. Jack smiled walking up to her. "We have a guest."

"Hope, hey," Becca smiled and tried to sit up. "Did you find him?"

Hope nodded. "Yeah, he's in the middle of the ocean somewhere."

"What?"

"It's some sort of water prison, I think. But who I really needed to find is Steve Rogers."

"And did you?"

"Yeah, he's in Wakanda. And I'm going to go find him and try to get Scott."

Becca's brow knit. "You're going all the way over there?"

"I have to. And I don't know how long it will be before we get back. So, I'm here to tell you guys goodbye." She then walked over to sit next to her friend, who immediately forced herself up and hugged her.

"You be careful, you hear me?" the doctor whispered.

"I'll do my best," Hope nodded. "I'm hoping I can be back before that baby is born."

"Just be safe," Jack said and hugged his boss. "Come back in one piece."

"Okay," Hope replied. She hated to leave them, but she knew it was something she had to do. "And good luck, if you guys have the baby before we get back."

Becca smiled. "Thank you. Now, go save your ant in distress."

Her comment made Hope smile a little bit. She pulled away to look at her. "I'll see you guys soon." Then, she got up to her feet. Reluctantly, she walked out of their place, hoping she could keep her word and be back as soon as possible, maybe before Becca gave birth. But deep down, Hope knew it was highly unlikely. Still, she had to have some faith. Once she waved, she left, immediately taking out her phone and calling Hank.

"Hey, where are you?" Hank asked.

"I'm on my way. I had to tell Cassie and Becca goodbye. Find anything new?"

"No, but we have a plan set. You're catching a plane in two hours. Go home and pack. Then come back here and we'll explain." He then hung up.

Hope immediately went to do what she was told. She didn't spend too much time packing, because she didn't really need much. All she really needed was her suit, which was at Hank's. So, once she had herself together, she locked up the house and left it behind, without a clue as to when she'd come back to it.


 

The next thing she knew, she was on a plane to Kenya, which Hank had planned for her. She had tried to sleep on the plane to be well rested, but that didn't really work. Her mind was too wired for her to do anything at all. So by the time she got to Kenya, she was exhausted. But she ignored that. That wasn't important. However, when she landed, it was nighttime, so she went somewhere to catch at least a few winks. She didn't get much, but to her, it was enough.

Once it was possible, Hope slipped into her suit and shrank to her Wasp size, flying out of the building. Hank was in her ear as soon as she checked in.

"Okay, there should be a tourist boat traveling up river. Hitch a ride on that until you find a Wakandan naval vessel or Air Force chopper."

"On it," Hope nodded and flew overhead until she saw the Kenyan riverboat heading north. She zoomed down to hang out on the roof for a while. It took a while before she found a naval ship from Wakanda out a ways, and she flew over to it as quickly as she could. It was a slow ride. She was nearly sweating in the suit. After all, she was in Africa. Eventually, she got close enough to the isolationist country to see it. "I have visual," she told her father.

"Good," Hank said. "Head for the capitol. Steve should still be in there."

Hope did as she was told, but by the time she got close enough to the capitol, she had completely tuned out her father's instructions. She flew around the capitol building a few times. Security guards were everywhere, almost at every corner, as one would expect from a country that was a kingdom. Hope circled a couple more times until, at long last, she caught sight of Steve inside, speaking to someone. "There he is," she whispered, but Hank heard her.

"You see him?" Hank asked. "Okay, here's what to do—"

"—Shut up, Dad," she replied. "I got this." She then zoomed ahead and found her way inside: through a vent on the roof of the building. She followed the sound of people talking as she flew through the AC vents until she passed over one and recognized a man down below. Sure enough, there was Steve, speaking to a native Wakandan. Without a moment to spare, she flew down through the grate, getting to where the men were. As soon as she was able to, she grew to normal size, startling everyone.

"What…?" the Wakandan man was taken off guard, eyes widened. There were guards nearby, and they began charging at Hope.

Thankfully, she was one step ahead. Before she could be seized, she shrank, beginning to fight them off. Hank was screaming in her ear, but she ignored every word. People were shouting in Wakandan languages all over the place. Steve just watched, not knowing what to do, but then he realized something as he watched the intruder fight.

"Hold on, wait!" he barked to stop them. They did, but Hope was still small. Steve glanced around for her. "Where are you? Show yourself."

"What are you doing?" the Wakandan man Steve had been speaking with before said.

"I know someone with the similar power, T'Challa. Remember the sudden giant?"

T'Challa immediately remembered the events of the battle in Germany, and he nodded. "I do. Is this another one of him?"

Steve shrugged. "I don't know. I'm sure he knows this one, though. Come on out."

Hope chuckled. "How do I know you won't have them seize me again?"

The soldier glanced to the king, who proceeded to tell his guards to stand down. Hope watched as they cleared away, and once she felt a bit safer, she grew to normal size again. She kept her helmet on, though, just in case.

"Who are you?" Steve asked her.

"Let's just say I'm a friend of Scott's," she replied, crossing her arms.

"Are you, by any chance, his girlfriend?" the soldier raised his brow. Of course, Scott couldn't keep his mouth shut about her. Her silence spoke a lot, and Steve crossed his own arms. "He talks a lot about two things: his daughter and his girlfriend. He's only spoken about one with a suit with wings. Are you Hope?"

Dammit, Scott. With nothing else to do, Hope took off her helmet to reveal her face, shaking her hair away from her face. "Scott needs to learn to shut his mouth, sometimes. But yes, I'm Hope Van Dyne. Now, where the hell is Scott?"

"How did you find us?" Steve replied with his own question.

"I have my sources. Where the hell did they take Scott?" She asked her question a little louder.

"Hope, don't provoke them," Hank hissed in the COM system in her ear.

But she ignored him. She kept her glare on both Steve and T'Challa. "Are you just going to sit there with your mouths open or are you going to tell me where my boyfriend is?"

Steve held up his hands in surrender. "He's being kept with a few others in an underwater prison called The Raft," he finally came clean. "In the middle of the ocean."

"Perfect," Hope grumbled. "Are you just going to hide here while they sit there?"

"No. I'm actually planning to go there and get them out."

"By yourself?"

"Well, that was the original plan," Steve nodded. "But I could use an extra set of hands… or wings."

T'Challa glanced to the super soldier, a little uneasy. "Are you sure about this?"

"I've heard many things about Ms. Van Dyne from Scott. And I've just seen her skills firsthand. I think she could be useful. I wish I would have known about her sooner."

"That would be my father's fault," Hope snorted. She could hear Hank grumbling over the COM. "He gave me my suit a lot later than Scott got his. But it's okay. I have it now. What do you need me to do?"


 

The Wakandan naval submarine finally reached the Raft four days later, in the middle of the night. They could have gotten there quicker if they'd taken a chopper or a jet, but they knew that those on the Raft would see them coming, so it would have blown their cover. Once they found the prison, the submarine breached the surface, right up next to the facility. Steve glanced to Hope.

"You ready?"

"Yep. I'm going in." She nodded and closed the helmet before shrinking. Steve heard her speak in his ear. "I'll let you know when I've taken care of the guards and the security system."

He nodded, and he watched as her tiny form soared out of the submarine's opening. She circled the massive structure until she found the helipad on top just beginning to close. She raced ahead, and she slipped inside just in time. Before she began taking anyone out, she showed herself around, so she'd know where to go. It wasn't long before she found Cap's team in their cells. She saw Clint lying on his back on his bed, probably humming to himself because it looked like he was tapping his foot to a beat. Wanda sat with her back to the cell bars, staring blankly at the wall, not making a sound. Sam was pacing back and forth, watching the guards pass by slowly. And then she saw him. Scott was leaning against the wall, drumming against what looked like a stool. She'd never been so relieved to see his face, but she couldn't hover there for long. She had work to do.

As she was leaving, she could hear someone call to Scott. "Lang, I swear to god, if you don't stop that obnoxious drumming, I will find some way to bust out of here and kill you." Of course, Scott was annoying someone.

She went searching for where his suit could be, and she was lucky to come across some personnel just beginning to analyze it. There were about five scientists, one of which held Scott's helmet. They glanced at it and took notes. They were discussing something, but she wasn't quite sure what. But then she saw another of the men start reaching for the suit's belt, and she couldn't let that happen. Before they could do anything else, she swooped in and took them out. They didn't know what hit them. Once she was sure they were unconscious, she shrank Scott's suit by pressing its button, and then she signaled a few ants she'd brought inside to start carrying it to Scott's cell. That was when she began taking out security guards and frying the security system. One of the men made a call to Secretary Ross, but Hope managed to stop him from getting past "there's been a breach." Before long, the guards lay slumped over each other, unconscious. No alarms were sounding, either.

"Okay, Steve," Hope communicated to the man waiting in the sub. "Coast is clear. Come on in."

Elsewhere on the Raft, Scott still sat against the wall, drumming quietly to himself. It had been four days. Four long days of hours dragging by slower than he ever thought was possible. His mind wandered lazily, like it usually did. He couldn't see them because of the walls, but he could imagine what his teammates were thinking right now. They were probably losing it like he felt like he was. However, he'd done this before; this whole prison thing was not new. He'd learned over the years to keep himself sane. So at this point, he was fairing better than some of the others.

"Scott!" Sam's voice brought him out of his thoughts. "Quit it with that drumming already!"

After grumbling, Scott pushed the stool away, its legs making a noise as they scooted against the floor of the cell. Now, with nothing to do, he could only lie against the wall, thinking to himself in complete silence. He was exhausted, and part of him wanted to sleep, but he chose not to just yet. His mind was just too busy.

He thought of Cassie, and what she might have been doing at that very moment. He thought about Becca and Jack, and whether or not they'd had the baby yet. And of course, he thought about Hope. He just knew she'd watched everything on the news. He could imagine how she felt.

He should have listened. He should have heeded to the warnings she'd given him. Of course, his pride took the best of him, and he was kicking himself for giving into it again. Now, here he was, back in prison. Would he ever learn?

Soon, he got distracted, letting his eyes wander as his mind had. It was about the millionth time he'd examined his cell, and every time, he'd know nothing was different, but for some reason, he expected there to be a change. He knew the same thing would happen again…

Except it didn't. This time, something new caught his eye, and it was moving. When he focused on it, it was déjà vu all over again. There were ants… carrying the shrunken form of his suit. At first, he thought he was dreaming, until he saw someone moving outside the cell. Someone spoke.

"Steve?" It was Sam.

Bewildered, Scott leapt to his feet to see what was going on. Sure enough, there was Steve Rogers. But how? By his feet, the suit grew to normal size. There was only one way that could have gotten here, and it made his heart leap into his throat.

As if his heart wasn't racing fast enough, a sudden form appeared beside him, startling him and making him fall back against the wall. He couldn't believe whom he saw.

"Hope?!"

"Surprise, Scott," he could just hear the way she was smirking with her famous oh-you're-in-deep-shit face behind her mask. "Miss me?"

He was so stunned that he'd lost all knowledge of the English language. The only sounds he made were single syllables. Oh, he was in deep shit, indeed. He did manage to start once sentence at one point, though. "H—How did you—?"

"—I'll explain later when I'm kicking your ass," she cut him off. "Just put on your damn suit and get out of here." She then shrank to her tiny size and flew out of the cell to go help the others out.

Scott quickly did what he was told before escaping and joining Steve and the rest of the team in the center, who all had their suits and equipment back in their possession by then. He couldn't believe it. He was out! They were actually free! Well, at least somewhat free. He shared a puzzled glance with the others. "Now what?" he asked, out of breath.

"Go to the helipad, where they brought you in," Steve instructed. "There's a jet waiting for us. Trust me."

The others nodded and started bolting out of the area. Scott and Hope went with them, while Steve stayed in the back, making sure they weren't followed by any guards who happened to be conscious again. Luckily, they were in the clear, and he ran to follow his team. He found them filing into T'Challa's jet, which had been circling until signaled to land. Steve was the last one on. Once he was, the door was closed, and they flew off, back to Wakanda.

As soon as they realized they were safe, everyone let out huge sighs. Sam hugged Steve to thank him. Wanda and Clint slumped onto the seats nearby, thankful to be out. Scott took off his helmet, as did Hope, and the two locked eyes.

Hope stared at him for a long time. Scott couldn't tell if she was angry or not, and that frightened him. He even cowered back some, shutting his eyes, fearing the punches that would ensue in the next few seconds. However, that didn't happen. He peeled one eye open to find her still standing there. Suddenly, out of nowhere, she surged toward him, and she threw her arms around him tightly. Thankful, he returned the tight hug. As scared as he was to meet her this way, he was sure as hell happy to see her again.

God, the hug felt so good. It had only been a little less than a week since she last saw him, but it felt like an eternity. Tears began to brim in her eyes with extreme relief more than anything. She'd missed his warmth. She'd missed everything about him. And she held onto him as if she'd never be able to again if she let go.

Scott embraced her tenderly, rubbing her back, because he could hear her sniffling, as she was weeping a little bit. He wanted to say so much, but he decided, for once, to keep quiet. He enjoyed every second of that hug in the long silence before she finally pulled away to look into his eyes with her tearful green orbs.

And then, out of nowhere, the back of her hand contacted his face before he could even see it coming, and it nearly knocked him over. He glanced at her with wide, confused eyes.

"You're a fucking idiot, you know that?" she hissed. "You scared the shit out of me! Why don't you ever listen?"

"I'm sorry, babe," he replied as calmly as he could. "I didn't know it was going to be this bad."

"I tried to warn you," she argued. "I had to sit around for what felt like forever until I could find you. Cassie was even wondering what had happened to you."

He allowed her to vent, unable to fathom her stress over the last few days. When she finished and had calmed a little bit, he stepped closer to her and grabbed her arms gently and held her for a while, before they slid up to cup her face. "I'm so sorry you had to go through that," he murmured. "I know, I should have listened. I'm sorry." He didn't have any other excuse. Defending himself wasn't going to work.

Her lower lip trembled a bit as she watched him. "I didn't know when I'd ever see you again."

He could only cup her cheeks, stroking her skin softly with his thumb, also swiping some of her tears away. He knew she was upset, but he couldn't have been happier to have her there with him. And Hope, despite her anger she had bubbling within her, was so relieved to see him, more than anything. Soon, that feeling of relief took over, and she threw her arms around him in another tight hug.

"I missed you," she whispered.

"I missed you, too," he murmured back to her.

They remained like that for a few moments before she was finally calm enough to pull away. That was when they turned to the others, who met their gazes. Steve walked up to them.

"Well, Scott, you were definitely right about your girlfriend," he spoke with praise.

"Wait, that's your girlfriend?" Sam asked. "I thought you were full of shit, Scott, but you were definitely not lying. Thank you, by the way."

Hope blushed and smiled. She then raised a brow at a love-struck Scott beside her for a moment. "You're welcome," she told the group. She then locked eyes with Wanda.

The redhead studied her shoes for a moment before meeting Hope's gaze again. "Looks like I was wrong," she admitted quietly. "Sorry I was rude to you. Nicely done."

"No hard feelings," Hope assured her.

"You definitely proved us wrong," Clint added. "Sorry for doubting you."

"It's okay," Hope held up a hand. "I'm used to it. I'm just glad you're all safe."

Scott smiled and wrapped an arm around her and pulled her close. She returned the smile and leaned into him. Scott then looked around. "Where are we going, now?"

"Thanks to T'Challa's hospitality," Steve said. "He's allowing us to stay in Wakanda for a while until things calm down. You'll each have your own quarters at the palace for the time we're there. I don't know how long the stay will be, though."

In all honesty, at that moment Scott didn't care how long they'd be in Wakanda. Sure, he was sad that he didn't know when he'd see Cassie again, but he was glad that he wouldn't be alone during his stay. As long as he had Hope with him, he knew things would be okay, and Hope felt the same way.


 

Earlier that same day, back in California, Becca was again on her sofa, a pillow against her back as she took some deep breaths. She'd been having Braxton hick's contractions on and off that day, but to Jack, they didn't look like Braxton hicks. He'd seen her have one earlier in the pregnancy, and it was mild. These past couple ones had made her actually have to stop what she was doing and cringe until it passed. This current one was the third one in the last hour. Concerned, he went to sit by her and rub her back until she let out a breath as the contraction ended.

"Are you okay?" Jack asked her.

She nodded. "Yeah… just having some pretty bad back pain, that's all."

"Back pain with Braxton hick's?" he raised a brow. "Baby, I don't think that's normal."

"I'm fine Jack, I promise." As she said this, she was clearly out of breath. She refused to admit that the contraction took the wind out of her, and that the pain was agonizing.

But he didn't believe her. "Maybe we should go to the hospital?" he suggested.

She shook her head. "No, Jack, it's fine. It's back pain, that's normal."

"I don't think you're supposed to have that kind of excruciating back pain. Come on, let's at least go get checked, or something. I'm worried."

Becca smiled at him. "You're cute when you worry," she tried to act normal, but she couldn't avoid those puppy eyes. "Okay, fine, I'll go get monitored. Would that make you happy?"

"Very much, yes," he nodded. "I'm going to pack the hospital bag into the car, just in case."

"Okay, but I don't think we'll need it," she stated pretty confidently as he helped her stand up. As soon as she stood, she had another contraction, nearly doubling over in pain. Now, she was beginning to worry. That contraction was only a few minutes from the last one. Jack was very concerned, and he helped her to the car with the worried expression clear on his face.

Becca slipped into the car carefully, holding her belly, and it took a moment before she settled. Once Jack made sure she was somewhat comfortable, he jumped into the front seat and sped away for the hospital. During the ride, Becca had yet another contraction. She said she was fine, but at the same time, she was squeezing his hand pretty hard. She began doing the breathing she'd been taught in her Lamaze class to cope. God, she hoped this wasn't what she thought it was… it was too early.

The next thing she knew, she was in a hospital room on the labor and delivery floor of the building. She was hooked up to all sorts of machines, and there were a couple of bands strapped to her belly to track the baby's progression. She was in the middle of a powerful contraction. Her back was on fire, and she was even sweating. Jack never let go of her hand the whole time, and he watched her with panic and worry still.

"Breathe through it, baby," he encouraged her. "There you go."

She nodded and tried her best to do as she was told. When the contraction ended, she let out a huge breath. Now she was sure. These were no longer Braxton hick's. This was the real thing.

A nurse came into the room shortly after to check Becca's vitals, as well as dilation. At first, Becca didn't expect anything. She was probably overthinking it. This probably was just really bad back pain and she'd be sent home soon enough. But as the nurse checked her, Becca realized that she was wrong. It was, indeed, what she originally thought.

She was in labor.

Chapter Text

Becca lay in her hospital bed about two minutes after the nurse that had checked her left. She was stunned, not knowing how to react for a few moments. Once it registered in her brain, she turned to Jack, who shared the same excitedly surprised expression.

"Oh, my god," she breathed, smiling now.

"You're in labor," Jack did the same, his mouth stretching from ear to ear. He reached over to take hold of her hand and kiss it. It would only be a matter of hours before their little baby boy would be in their arms.

"We're gonna meet him soon. It's really happening. I can't believe it."

They shared a tender gaze as they pressed their foreheads together. Jack could see tears brimming in her eyes, and he wiped them away when they slid down her cheeks. They stayed like that for a few minutes, just enjoying each other's company, until Becca began feeling another contraction coming on. She took in a sharp breath as the pain radiated down her back and legs and belly. Despite the pain, she paid attention to the sound of the fetal monitor beside her, making sure nothing changed that would cause her concern.

"Breathe, baby," Jack whispered in her ear as he allowed her to take his hand and squeeze as hard as she needed to. Becca nodded and let out the breath she was holding, and she did her best to keep breathing through the pain.

When it ended, she relaxed and lied back against the pillows of the bed. She realized how hard she'd been squeezing his hand and she glanced to him. "Sorry, babe."

"Don't apologize. You can squeeze as hard as you need to."

"I don't want to break your hand, or cut off circulation."

"Believe me," he reassured her. "It's okay."

She just looked at him. "Babe… I'm not getting an epidural. Your hand is in trouble."

He wasn't deterred. In fact, he was just amazed. She was choosing to endure the pain, and he knew many women who would definitely choose otherwise. "I don't care," he told her. "I'm perfectly fine with whatever you need to do to my hand. I just want you to do what you need to cope. Don't worry about me."

She gave him a smile. "You're amazing."

"Me? I'm amazing? Have you seen what you've been up to these last nine months? You've been making a baby inside you. I think you win on the amazing scale."

Her face flushed a deep shade of pink. "You're so sweet, Jack."

He grinned and pressed a kiss to her temple. "I love you."

"I love you, too," she replied.

They shared a kiss, but unfortunately, another contraction cut it short. Like last time, Becca gripped his hand quite tightly, this contraction much more painful than the last. And she knew they would only get worse. Judging by the way she was dilated so far, only three centimeters, it was going to be a long night.


Eighteen hours went by. Eighteen long, strenuous, painful hours for Becca. The contractions were excruciating. Becca had changed her position so many times during the laboring process. She'd been on her side, on the edge of the hospital bed while leaning into Jack, on the birthing ball, and everything in between, it felt. The nurses broke her water around five in the morning, and since then, she'd been progressing faster. Thank god. But still, the pain was crippling. And just when she thought she couldn't handle it anymore, another nurse came in to check her dilation. She had some good news for Becca.

She was at a nine-and-a-half. It was time to get the room set up so she could push for the birth, because it wouldn't be long before she was fully dilated at ten centimeters. When she learned of this, the emotions hit, and she glanced to Jack with a tired but excited grin.

"He's coming," she breathed.

"Yeah," Jack smiled, getting overwhelmed with his own emotions. "We're about to meet him, I can't believe it."

Becca couldn't believe it, either. It was only a matter of time until she'd have her beautiful son in her arms, at long last. Her heart leaped at the thought of it. She was already in tears, now, because as more nurse-midwives filed in for the birth, the more real it was becoming. Oh, god, she was about to deliver her baby.

Her feet were placed up into the stirrups of the bed after a moment, just as a nurse rolled a table with medical tools into the room. Another nurse had the nearby basinet prepared. Someone else was checking her vitals. As she watched, she was still mid-contraction, and she was taking deep breaths in and out like she was taught. She glanced up to Jack.

"This is it," she told him breathlessly. "He's coming. It doesn't feel real."

"I know, baby," Jack leaned over her to kiss her, his hand still grasping hers. "You can do this. You're almost done."

"I love you," she smiled.

He pressed another kiss to her lips. "I love you, too."

Just then, the OBGYN came into the room and sat on the stool at the end of the bed. "All right, Ms. Ronan, it's go time," she said. "I want you to take a deep breath in and push as hard as you can. Give it everything you have. Ready?"

Becca nodded and prepared herself, and when she was given a nod, she did as she was told, inhaling deeply and pushing as hard as she could. The pain was explosive, and she wanted to scream, but she knew she couldn't. She didn't want the first thing her son to hear to be her screaming. But god, it hurt so immensely. Jack didn't know how she could handle that amount of pain. Hopefully it wouldn't last too much longer.


It was the slowest and most painful thirty minutes Becca had ever endured. She'd been pushing so hard, holding so many breaths, that she was now exhausted. It was so bad that part of her felt close to giving up, but she refused to do so.

"You got this, baby, push," Jack told her in her ear. "You can do it, come on. Breathe through it."

She did as she was told, and she bore down with every bit of energy she had. The pain had been like this for hours, so it was surprising to her that she had any strength left in her at all. She released a small whimper, and it turned into a moan of pain as she felt the baby crowning. "Oh, god," she trembled, pain written all over her face. Sweat beads had formed on her forehead. Her face had become reddened from trying so hard.

Jack coached her in her ear as best he could. He didn't even care that his hand had begun to turn blue from her squeezing so hard. That didn't matter now. That never mattered to him. The only thing on his mind was the woman he loved and the baby she was about to deliver. Not too much longer, he told himself, and then he repeated it aloud to Becca.

Becca wasn't sure how much longer she could take it. She'd been in labor for hours and yet her baby was not yet in her arms. No matter how hard she tried. She was pushing as hard as she could, but she felt so weak that it didn't seem like she was doing anything. Blood pounded in her ears. Tears pricked in her eyes. Her hand squeezed his so tight that her nails were embedding into his skin. She was growing frustrated. All she wanted was her son. Her strength was running out.

Finally. Finally, it stopped. The relief was sudden and swift, washing over her body in a giant flood that she was so grateful to feel. But then she realized what that meant. Completely out of breath, she lifted her head and glanced down to the OB, and there, just barely visible beyond the sheet covering her legs, was a tiny head. The doctor took a few clamps to put around the umbilical cord, while nurses used a suction device to clear the baby's airway so he could breathe. As they did, Becca got a better view.

"Oh, my god," she breathed, a small laugh on the edge of that tired voice. She was completely melting at the sight before her.

There was her son, finally making his entrance into the world. She heard people around her talking, and Jack's voice as he praised her, but the voices were all distorted. No words were coherent at the moment. She was focused only on Porter now that she could see him a little better. And when the doctor held him up and offered to lay him on her chest, she nodded just as tears were filling her eyes again. With weakened arms, she pulled her tiny baby boy into her embrace, finally getting to see that perfect face. Everything in Becca's world stopped as she took the first real glance at her newborn son. He's here. He's finally here.

"Hey, baby boy," Becca whispered and sniffled a few times. "Hey little Porter. Oh, god he's so perfect."

The nervous, first-time mother in her was a little concerned as to why he didn't cry right away. Her doctor side made her calm down, knowing that he was getting ready to cry. Nurses were rubbing the newborn to help him breathe on his own, and when he finally got it, he let out a wail. The sound brought more tears into her eyes, and they rushed down her face. They were tears of pain that had turned into tears of joy the second she got to hold him and meet him. She instantly melted, her world exploding into Technicolor. Her heart swelled with pride and joy, more than it ever had in her life. And that sound of her baby's cry… that was the most beautiful sound to her. It meant that he was alive, and breathing. That fact suddenly hit her, and more tears fell. It was at that moment that she realized that her dream had finally come true…

She had finally become a mother.

Jack was also in tears as his son entered the world. He'd been rubbing her shoulder with the hand she wasn't holding when she suddenly released her grip as the relief overwhelmed her. He couldn't help himself. He peered over at the doctor to watch as she sucked fluid from the baby's mouth and nose. Then he was handed to his mother. Jack's eyes never left that baby for any reason. One look at him, and he was completely awestruck. His heart melted instantly. His son was healthy, from what he could tell. Part of him became a little concerned as to why he didn't cry right away, but he didn't have to worry for long.

When the wailing hit his ears, he knew it was real. Tears filled his eyes more than before. A huge grin stretched across his face. Part of it showed relief. Another part displayed the pride he had. Words could never really tell how proud he was of Becca. He'd fallen in love with her all over again. She just gave them a son who made it to full term. After all that happened, Porter was finally here in their arms, healthy as could be. With that smile, he pressed a kiss to her temple.

"You did it, Becca," he whispered happily. "He's here."

Becca smiled as she glanced up at him. It was evident that she was exhausted and worn out. But the pure joy was the most obvious of all. "Thank you," she breathed. Her lower lip was trembling, but the tears that slipped as she blinked were far from being of sadness. Her gaze shifted back to Porter. "Oh, Jack, he's so perfect."

"Just like his mama," Jack pointed out.

"And his daddy."

The new father smiled and kissed the crown of her head before focusing on Porter like she had. By now, the little boy had calmed down, and went from wailing to just making small whimpers against his mother. Becca cradled him against her chest as one of the nurses put a little blue hat on his tiny head. The new mother couldn't take her eyes off him. With one hand, she kept switching between rubbing and patting his back to soothe him, and after a few minutes she kissed his forehead. Jack watched with loving, happily tearful eyes.

"I'm so proud of you, Becca. You did an amazing job." His hand was warm as he gently rubbed her back to praise her. He looked at his son yet again. Like Becca, he couldn't take his eyes off the baby. The little one had finally calmed down, though occasionally letting out a small cry here and there, all snuggled up against Becca's chest. A towel had been draped over him to keep him warm. Jack reached out to slip his pinky into his son's grasp. "Hey, little man."

"Mr. Lawton," one of the nurses caught his attention. She was holding up a pair of medical scissors. "Would you like to cut the cord?"

He smiled and nodded. "Of course," he replied. He was careful as he took the scissors into his grasp, and the nurse pointed between the two spaced out clamps on the umbilical cord. He had to be firm to cut it, but he was amazingly gentle at the same time. Soon the cord had been cut, and Porter was free. "You're your own person, now, buddy."

"Good job, Daddy," Becca breathed. She glanced up to him so he could kiss her, and right after she was back to looking at her little Porter. She was on a natural high. Despite all the pain she'd endured, it was perfect.

After Becca got to hold her new son for a while, she reluctantly allowed the nurses to take him so they could do measurements and weight. As soon as he was out of her arms, she wanted him back. Nonetheless, she watched from the bed as her son was measured. Jack, however, could walk over to see what was happening. So far, Porter had been laid in a hospital bassinet while nurses prepared whatever machines they needed. Jack took this time to just admire his baby. While on his back, Porter had his legs pulled up, hands close to his face, just like he'd been in the womb. His eyes were squinted shut, lights too bright for him. He squirmed a little as he got used to this new world around him. Jack watched in wonder, nonstop smiling at his son.

Becca curiously watched from her bed. "What's he doing, Jack?"

"He's just moving around a bit. Still adjusting to this place outside the womb." He let out a few chuckles and waved his finger at Porter. "Hey. Hey buddy." And as he spoke, he saw his baby turn toward the sound slightly, and he tried to open his eyes but it was still too bright. Still, it was good effort, and his father was proud. "Hey, you remember me? Remember my voice?" After all, he'd talked nonstop to Becca's belly the second he learned that Porter could hear them.

He continued to talk to the baby until a nurse came in to measure him. He measured to be eighteen and a half inches. He was a shorty, as the nurse had said. And to support that, he weighed in at roughly six pounds. He was a tiny baby. It was surprising to Becca especially.

"He's so tiny, baby," Jack smiled. "So perfect."

At long last, once all the measurements were made and tests were done, Porter was given back to his mother. He had his little hat, and he'd been wrapped in a blanket. Becca gratefully took her baby into her arms. "Hey, baby," she cooed lovingly. "You're such a little bitty thing, huh? You were so little but you made mama huge, I don't get it." As she spoke, she slipped a finger into Porter's grasp, stroking his little fingers with her thumb. It was at that moment when she noticed that he was trying to open his eyes again.

"The lights are so bright, huh?" Jack chuckled in awe.

After a few tries, Porter could just barely open his eyes. He could only squint, because again, everything was too bright for him. But he was trying to look around so he could adjust. Becca giggled.

"He's looking right at you, Becca," Jack pointed out. "He's like 'oh, hi, it's you.'"

"Yeah, it's me," the new mom giggled again. "And your daddy, too, of course."

He smiled and rested his head against hers while they admired their little creation, their bundle of joy. After a few minutes he became more adjusted to the light, and the one thing he instantly liked staring at was his mother, who was, of course, the closest to him. Becca noticed that his eyes were a dark blue, like all babies are born with. But Becca had a feeling that they would stay blue, but they'd get lighter. After all, both she and Jack had light blue eyes. The chances were really high. It was hard to tell since he was just delivered, but Jack could have sworn that his son had his mother's eyes, just as he'd been hoping for. He prayed that they'd stay that way. He wanted nothing more than to look at Porter and see Becca in him.

Becca brought a finger to the baby's soft cheek, and that prompted him to turn his head and open his mouth. She knew that that meant. It was feeding time.

"Someone's hungry," she laughed quietly.

"How do you know?" Jack asked curiously. He saw Porter turn his head and all, but he never would have been able to guess that it meant he was hungry. He understood when Becca explained it to him, calling it the rooting reflex.

"He's basically waiting for a boob to fall in his mouth," Becca joked. In reality, that was technically true. He was opening his mouth to find the food source.

The lactation specialist that had been called to the room after the delivery went to Becca's other side to show her how to get started on breastfeeding. Becca followed every step she was shown, and soon enough, Porter had latched on and started suckling. It was weird to feel at first, but that went away and Becca soon fell in love with the feeling. She loved that her baby was getting it right, and that this helped her bond. Jack saw how her face looked more relaxed than ever.

"You look like you're in heaven," he grinned.

"Mmm, I am," she sighed happily. She stroked Porter's cheek while he fed. A few seconds after his little hand came up to rest against his mother's chest, as if he was trying to hold on. Becca chuckled and slid her index finger into his little palm. "I've got you, love."

Jack perched on the edge of the bed so he could watch. "Lucky kid," he smirked.

"You're second in line now, Jack," she returned the teasing expression.

"That's okay. I'll be patient. But he looks so happy like that. He knows mom is where happy is."

She giggled and leaned against him. "Can you believe he's finally here?"

"And as healthy as can be. Perfection like his mom."

Becca blushed and kissed Porter's hand. "He's our perfect little accident," she breathed soothingly. "Our little miracle baby."

Soon, Porter finished eating, but he kept his latch on his mother for a while, for it comforted him. Becca eventually got him to let go, and she brought him up on her chest so she could rub and gently pat his back to burp him. She relished in the little noises that he made in her ear. Even his little burp was adorable. It lifted her heart greatly.

"Good job, little man," Jack murmured with a smile.

"Mmm yes," Becca nodded and slowly brought him off her chest and shoulder so she could cradle him in her arms like before. By then, everything had been cleaned up and the medical personnel had left the room. Nurses were in and out, but for now, the now family of three could have their alone time. Becca couldn't take her gaze away from her baby, who had slipped into a milk coma and was fast asleep.

Jack grinned again. "So, are you gonna let me hold my son, or…?" He was teasing, of course, knowing that Becca didn't like her baby being out of her arms. But then again, he wanted to hold his son, too.

"Of course," Becca mirrored his grin and lifted Porter up so Jack could take him. "Mind his head."

That was when Jack's full-on daddy mode hit. He was so cautious, so gentle as he brought the newborn into his arms. "Hey, buddy," he whispered, sitting in the nearby chair. He rocked the baby gently, admiring the new face, the face that he'd created with the woman he loved. His son was so small. Jack's hand could barely fit over Porter's entire torso. But he was so perfect, every little bit of him. Jack kept whispering and humming to him as they rocked.

Over in her bed, the exhaustion hit Becca head on. As she watched her beloved bond with their new baby, she leaned her head back to rest against the pillows. Her eyelids had grown heavy with sleep. Every blink was slow. She wanted to sleep, but she also didn't want to take her eyes off the beautiful sight next to her. "You're so good with him, Jack," she murmured.

"Yeah?" he smiled proudly.

"Yeah," she gave a tired smile and nodded.

Jack could hear the sleepiness in her voice. And it was evident in her face. "You should sleep," he told her. "You've worked hard. I've got him."

"You sure?"

"Of course," he nodded. "You sleep. You deserve it."

As she offered a tired smile, her eyes were beginning to fall shut. She was asleep in minutes, finally letting it take over her completely. There was even a smile on her face as she slept. Jack loved to see that she was so happy. He then glanced back down at Porter. "Mama's tired, like you, little man," he said. "You're her little miracle, you know that? Both of you, really. We're so glad you're here, buddy."

He held him in his arms while Becca took a nap. He knew she needed it. She had felt like a zombie, after being up and in pain for so long. She really did deserve all the rest in the world.


Becca woke after about an hour and a half, opening her eyes to see Jack still holding their son. He had his phone out and took many pictures of the baby. There would never be enough, honestly. And that baby voice he used to talk to Porter was the cutest thing ever to Becca, and it made her giggle quietly.

Jack glanced up to see that she'd woken up. "Oh, hey," he smiled, blushing a bit since he knew she'd heard the way he was talking.

"Hi," she whispered.

"Sleep okay?"

"Oh, yes. I don't feel so lethargic anymore. How is he?"

"He's awake. And if I'm not mistaken, I'm sure he needs his first diaper change." After stating this, he carefully stood and went to change Porter's very first dirty diaper. He was surprised with himself when his attempt was pretty successful. Once he was done, he went to swaddle the baby in a blanket before heading to Becca's side. "Do you want him back?"

"Mmm if you don't mind," she smiled innocently. "Besides, it's your turn to get some sleep."

He returned the grin and handed their son back to his mother, and Becca took him gratefully. "There we go. Hey, baby boy. Did he fuss at all?"

"Not at all," Jack shook his head. "He was quiet."

"Aww. You were so good for Daddy, huh?"

"Oh, he really was."

"Good," she said. "Now, Daddy, you need to get some sleep this time."

Jack didn't argue, and he went to the sofa by the window. "Will do," he nodded. "Wake me up if I sleep for too long."

"Okay," she giggled, and she watched as he laid himself down and shut his eyes.

Becca had a moment to herself with her son, now, while Jack got his chance to sleep. She had set a pillow on her lap so she could rest Porter there while he was still in her arms without having to hold him up. She spent the next hour just admiring him while he slept in her embrace. After a while, he slowly woke up, and he began to fuss a little bit. Though he didn't scream and cry. He just made little whimpers. Curiously, Becca stroked Porter's cheek, and sure enough, he opened his mouth and turned. Yep, feeding time.

She happily fed her infant son, which he did so slowly. It took about an hour for him to feed, and that was counting the moments that passed when he was done, when he remained latched for a while for his own comfort. But before Becca could help him let go, he managed to release his grip with his mouth. The mother was back to admiring him again. She was surprised to see that he remained alert for a while instead of slipping into a milk coma. She giggled as Porter made another attempt to open his eyes and look around, but it was still much too bright for his new, little eyes.

"I know, sweet boy," Becca whispered. "It's a bright world out here. It's brighter than the sun now that you're here. It may take some time for those pretty eyes to adjust to all the light." She slipped her index finger into his tiny palm for him to grasp, and that was when he began to hiccup. Her heart melted at the sound of those precious little squeaks he made. Her heart was so full of love, so happy, enough to bring more tears to her eyes as the emotions overwhelmed her all over again. "I promise I'll make the world a better place for you. Be a better person for you. I'll give you everything and teach you everything. I'll hold you so close to my heart, but I promise I'll learn to let you go when it's time, when you've grown up. I promise, baby, I'll do so much better for you, I promise."

Jack had woken up by then, and he heard every one of Becca's words to their son, and it made him smile. He sat up and stretched, making Becca turn to glance at him.

"I'm sorry, did I wake you?" she asked.

"Nah," he shook his head and made his way over to her. He heard Porter's hiccups and smiled in awe. "Got the hiccups, buddy? God that's so cute, they're little squeaks."

"Yeah, I can't get enough," she giggled quietly. She then shifted over so that Jack could sit next to her on the bed, so they could both admire their newborn comfortably together. She leaned her head on his shoulder. "How did we create something so perfect?"

"Love tends to do that," he smiled, kissing the crown of her head. "He really is perfect."

Becca nodded as she stroked Porter's cheek. "I don't think I've ever been this happy," she sighed contently. "I have you to thank for that."

He glanced down at her happily and pressed a kiss to her lips this time. "You make me so happy, too. You gave me love, you gave me a son, a family… everything." He then trailed off, in a trance as his mind began to circle with so many things as he gazed upon his love. This woman was absolutely everything to him. She really had given him everything he wanted in life. His love for her was so great that he might burst.

When he was silent for a while, she met his gaze again. "What?" she questioned him gently.

The next thing he said came out of him before he could even stop it.

"Marry me."

She froze. "W…what…?"

From his pocket, he pulled out the ring box he'd been keeping for a while and opened it, revealing a dazzling ring. Becca was in tears within mere seconds as she marveled upon it. Jack looked at her with loving eyes. "Marry me, Rebecca Ronan."

Her free hand came up to cover her gaping mouth as she began to cry. She nodded over and over. "Yes," she breathed. "Yes, Jack, a million times, yes!" She was weeping now, happiness overwhelming her as she watched him slip the ring onto her left hand. It was a perfect fit.

Jack couldn't stop grinning as he kissed her once the ring was on. "I love you so much, and I can't imagine life without you and our beautiful son. I hope you don't think it's too soon."

"Oh, Jack," she pressed her forehead to his. "It's not too soon. I feel the same way. God, I love you so much."

He brought his hand up to cup her cheek before he kissed her. She was the love of his life. Every word he said was true, and he meant everything. This woman was his life, his everything. She'd given him love; she'd given him a family. She was all he wanted. And now he had her. For life.

As they kissed, Porter made a little sound while in Becca's arms. She grinned against Jack's lips and looked down. The baby's eyes were still closed, but he was squirming around. "Is that okay with you?" she giggled. "Mommy and Daddy are getting married. Don't worry, I'll make sure to share my kisses."

Jack chuckled and rested his head against hers. One of his fingers stroked Porter's soft cheek. "I think that's fair," he smiled. "Yeah? Will you share Mommy's kisses with me?"

Becca laughed quietly. "I think he can," she said, just before she brought the little infant up to kiss his little button nose. "There. Now you both have one kiss from Mommy." When she placed him down, she sighed with content.

She had everything she'd ever wanted in life now. She had a man to love, a child to raise, a family of her own. And now she was about to marry the man she loved so much, and it added to the complete happiness in her heart. Jack felt the same way. He never thought he'd ever acquire these things, this family, and here he was, with his fiancée and his newborn son. And god, this baby was his everything, just like Becca was. What started by mistake couldn't have been more perfect now. He really was their perfect little accident.

This was everything they dreamed of, and neither of them could have asked for anything better.

Chapter Text

When they landed in Wakanda, it was late, and everyone was completely wiped and exhausted. Hell, some of them had slept for part of the trip. The jet landed, and everyone groggily made their way out and into the capitol. Steve decided to let them sleep, since they were too out of it to pay attention to anything he was saying. T'Challa had one of his guards to show them to their rooms. Hope led Scott to the one she'd stayed in during the days before the escape from the Raft. She stayed close to him as they walked, with her arms wrapped around one of his. They didn't speak. The only sound they could hear were their footsteps echoing off the walls of the hallway until they reached her quarters and went inside.

Once she closed the door behind them, she tossed her helmet to the side before she stripped out of her suit. It felt so nice to be out of it after working her ass off to save her boyfriend and his teammates. She made it a goal to take a shower when she woke up the next morning. In the meantime, she got into a tank top and some shorts before crawling onto the bed. Scott stayed standing, but he went over to the bed to lean over her.

Once he'd sat down, he looked into her eyes. "Hi," he whispered.

"Hi," she replied. "You have no idea how scared I was to not know how long it would be until I would see you again."

"You? Scared? The Hope Van Dyne, scared?"

She snorted. "Shut up, Scott, I was really terrified."

"I know," he kissed her forehead. "I was, too. But now I can be with you again."

She gave him a soft smile and sat up to kiss him on the lips. They kissed for a while, but then Scott pulled away. She gave him a weird look. "What?"

"Before anything else, I'm going to go and take a shower. I need to, especially being in the Raft for so many days."

"Good point," she nodded. "Okay, go ahead. I'll wait for you."

He grinned and pecked her lips once more and pushed himself off bed. After stretching his sore muscles, he went to the bathroom connected to the room. He started up the shower and stripped off his clothes before taking a look at himself in the mirror. All over his body were cuts and bruises, and a few deep gashes, too, which a medic on the Raft had poorly stitched. His skin was caked with dried blood around the wounds, and a single touch stung like hell. He just knew Hope was going flip when she saw the wounds, especially the shape they were in. He hoped he could hide them well enough.

Once the water was hot, Scott got into the shower, and he relished the feeling of hot water pelting his skin. It kind of hurt when the droplets slid over the wounds, but he didn't care. He took his sweet time washing his hair and body, taking extra care of his torso. He made sure to clean the dried blood gently, and he kept cringing, but he knew he had to clean them so they didn't get infected… and so Hope didn't worry too much if she saw them.

Hope lay in bed, just relaxing with her eyes closed while Scott was taking his shower. She noticed that he was taking a while, but she just assumed he was enjoying the hot water. Eventually, she heard him turn off the water, and soon, he came into the room clad in a towel.

"Hey," she smiled. "You enjoy your shower?"

"That was the most glorious shower ever," he replied. "Now, I have to find some clean clothes."

Hope got out of bed and went to retrieve some clean boxers and a clean t-shirt that T'Challa had put in the room for them. "Here," she handed the clothes to him.

"Thank you," he smiled and kissed her. "Okay, now I can go dry off some more and put these on. I'll be back."

She laughed some and went back to bed while he returned to the bathroom to change and hang up his towel. He emerged after a few minutes and immediately went to join his girlfriend in bed.

"Okay, I smell and feel better now," he said. "I'm all yours."

"Good," she giggled and went to kiss him. She kissed him again… and again… and again. Each kiss got deeper and deeper, but staying slow. His tongue slid deep into her parted lips. She let her teeth drag over it, and a little moan escaped her. That was when she began to scoot closer. Then she was hovering over him while kissing him, and she was starting to straddle him. Ever so easily, she lowered her body to his, their chests touching, and she allowed her hands to slip beneath his shirt. That was he cringed.

She immediately pulled away. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine," he nodded.

Just then, as she was pulling her hands down and out from his shirt, she felt something on his skin. It was a raised area, and he cringed as she touched it again. Her brows knit and she lifted his shirt. She was shocked to find all the wounds on him.

"Holy shit, Scott!" she gasped as she examined him. "What the hell?"

Scott just shook his head. "Battle scars. Nothing more."

"Scott, these are huge gashes," she said. "They're horribly stitched and they're going to get infected! Wait here, I'm getting a first aid kit."

Before he could protest, she leaped off the bed and rushed out. He just lay there, rubbing his face. The wounds on his torso still throbbed and stung, but he didn't want to show he was in pain. Too late now.

Hope returned a few minutes later, a decent-sized first aid kit in her possession. She went to sit by him on the bed, and she got out some cotton pads and rubbing alcohol. Scott shook his head like he did before.

"Babe, I'm fine," he assured her. "I promise."

"Scott, these have to be cleaned and re-stitched," she argued, not really in the mood for this. "Just hold still."

"But I already cleaned them."

"If I'm re-stitching them, they'll need to be cleaned again."

"Hope, really, I'm—"

"—Scott, stop," she clenched her jaw. What was he not understanding?

"But honestly, I'm fine—"

"—Why the hell won't you let me take care of you?!" she snapped suddenly. "I just got to see you after not knowing if I ever would again. I'm finally with you, I want to help you. Why do you keep pushing me away?!"

He watched her with guilty eyes. "Oh, babe, I—I didn't mean to push you away."

With tears pricking in her eyes and her face growing hot, she just huffed. It took five seconds for her to drop everything that she was doing and storm out of the room. Scott was left behind with his heart sinking. God, now he'd really done it.

Hope hurried down the hall to find a spot to have to herself, but there were no corners. There were no unoccupied rooms with easy access. With no other way to turn, she just sat curled up on the floor, right in front of one of the massive windows of the building, and without warning, she began to cry. Once the dam broke, there was no stopping the flood of tears, and she had to bury her face into the crooks of her elbows as her arms wrapped around her legs to keep the attention away from her. And she just bawled. It had been a long time since she really sobbed like this, out of despair. It was all of the stress built up over the past few days finally crashing down, and she couldn't stop it.

Scott had gotten up to follow her as soon as she'd slammed the door behind her. Since she'd gotten a head start, he didn't know which way to turn. He kept going in circles trying to find her. Finally, he caught sight of her curled up form by the window. It ached to see her like that, and as he got closer he could hear her sniffling and letting out shaky breaths as she cried. It immediately concerned him. He'd never seen her cry that hard before.

At first, he didn't know what to do. He feared that if he went to comfort her, she'd push him away. Or if he decided to stay behind, she'd feel even worse, like she was being ignored. It felt like a double-edged sword, but in all honesty, he just wanted to be there for her. So, with one deep breath in and out, he made his way up to her cautiously. He then got onto the floor with her. She didn't seem to react, so he took it a step further by wrapping an arm around her and pulling her close to him. All at once, she crumbled into him, burying her face into his chest while she continued to sob. He did what he could, rubbing her back and cradling her close, anything to make her feel better.

"I'm sorry," he whispered to her, and that was the only thing he promised himself he'd say. No more useless conversation right now. She was all that mattered. All he could really do then was just hold her. Sometimes, letting it out was the best anyone could do.

Hope slowly began to calm down after several minutes. Her sobbing turned into slight weeping, and then just sniffling as the tears came to a stop. During this time, she didn't let go of him at all. She wasn't ready to leave his warm embrace just yet. She didn't want him to stop stroking her hair or rubbing her back to soothe her. That was all she wanted, his touch. Despite snapping at him, she didn't want to be away from him.

Finally, she was completely calm, and she was ready to sit up to look at him. "I'm sorry," she murmured.

"No, don't be," he shook his head, wiping away the last of her tears. "I can't imagine how stressful these last few days have been for you. I'm sorry for being so hard headed."

"I just… All I want right now is to be with you and take care of you."

"I know," he sighed. "I'm sorry for pushing you away. I didn't mean it that way. I'm sorry."

Her eyes searched his face for a moment, and then she kissed him softly. "Will you let me fix those wounds?" she asked.

"Yes," he answered without hesitation. "Come on, let's go back."

She nodded, and they stood together. They laced their fingers and began their walk back to their room. When they got there, Scott immediately eased onto the bed, lying on his back, with his head resting on the pillow. Hope reached for the first aid kit again and pulled out the tools she had earlier: cotton pads, needles, and rubbing alcohol. She felt bad that the alcohol was all they had, rather than hydrogen peroxide. Alcohol wouldn't be fun.

When she poured some of the fluid onto the pad, she glanced up at him. "This will sting a little."

"I'm a big boy, I can handle it."

"Okay," she chuckled, and then she went to work undoing the first sutures so she could fix them. He winced. Occasionally, she'd look up at him. "Sorry. I'm trying to be gentle."

He shook his head. "No, no, it's fine," he assured her. "Keep going."

"I'd let you hold my hand," she said. "But I kinda need both to work here. You can hold onto my ankle or foot, or something if you want." She then sat with her legs folded to the side, her feet within reach for him.

He chuckled. "Oh, you're being serious," he said.

"Yeah, I am," she replied with a nod. "Go ahead."

He didn't waste a second. As she continued caring for his wounds, he let his hand rest on her ankle closest to him. But after a while, he just let his arm drape over her legs. She smiled as she felt his thumb rubbing gentle circles into the skin of her thigh. Eventually, she had taken away the sutures, and he watched her as she cleaned the gashes as gently as she could. She finally finished, ready to repair the stitches, so she reached for the suture kit.

"I'm really sorry but this will sting again," she warned him.

"Like I said," he replied. "I'm a big boy."

Hope smiled softly and began to sew up his skin, as gently as she could. He winced as the needle kept piercing his skin, but he managed to just focus on her. His eyes flickered over her body, catching a few bruises on her here and there, but nothing out of the ordinary. He was sure she was sore, as he was, but that's what happens when one works so hard. He was so proud of her for making that sacrifice. Now she was with him, and it was all either of them ever wanted.

As she was working, she let out a breath. "Why didn't you mention these sooner?"

He couldn't help himself. "Because 'tis but a scratch.'" She glared at him in response, and he gave her a meek smile. "'Just a flesh wound?'"

"If you weren't bleeding already, I would stab you with this needle."

"Sorry," he said.

Finally, Hope finished and tied off the last suture before putting everything away, except for a few bandages, which she placed over the stitches and other wounds. When she finally had her hands free, she went to wash them, and when she came back, she took hold of his. Their fingers entwined with each other, and Scott squeezed gently.

"Thank you," he spoke softly.

She lay down next to him and rested her head on his shoulder. "You're welcome."

"You feel better?"

"Yeah, I do now. Sorry about that. I just… I guess all that stress needed to be let out somehow. But yeah, I feel a lot better."

"Just needed a good cry?"

"Yeah, pretty much. I'm better now."

He smiled and kissed her forehead. "I'm glad. That's good."

They settled again, back into silence. Hope had to fight everything not to start making out with him again, to straddle him and celebrate their reunion. But she couldn't. He was wounded, so she wasn't taking that risk. Scott was next to her feeling the same way, but not for the same reason. He thought it was too tender a moment to do anything more intimate than a few kisses. They managed, though, both content with just lying there.

After a while, however, Scott had a thought. "When do you think we'll get out of here?" He hated to ruin the silence, but he had to ask.

She shrugged with a long exhale. "I don't know. Not soon enough, I'm sure. Could be months. I think Steve is going to discuss that with us tomorrow morning."

"Months?" he didn't like the sound of that. "God, I didn't even get to say goodbye to Cassie."

"I went to talk to her before I left," she told him. "She's under the impression that you're fighting for what you think is right."

"Yeah?" he smiled. He never expected Hope to go out of her own way to speak to Cassie for something like this. "How did she react to you leaving?"

"She didn't want me to. But then she realized that you needed some help, then she seemed somewhat okay about it."

He let out a breath. "I'm so glad Cassie is so understanding about serious things like this."

"She's a good kid," Hope stated. "I'm sure you'll get to see her again soon. Hopefully not too long."

"Yeah, I hope so," Scott nodded. Then he realized something else. "You know, Becca and Jack will probably have the baby by the time we get back."

She agreed, sighing at the thought that they wouldn't get to meet the baby right away. Who knows how old he'd be when they'd return? "I know. But you know what? I know we'll come home and they'll have a beautiful, healthy baby that they'd waited so long for. And that's what matters."

"True. I wish them the best of luck."

"I do, too. More than anything."

They spoke of other things, and then, in mid-conversation, Scott yawned. Hope stopped her sentence and chuckled quietly.

"Maybe we should sleep," she suggested. "It's been a crazy day. And your body needs rest, anyway."

Scott had hit "the wall," and he was so tired at that point that he didn't even protest, not once. Instead, he nodded. His eyes were already beginning to flutter shut. "You should sleep, too," he said sleepily.

"I will," she told him as she pulled the blankets over their bodies. "Don't worry." Then, she turned out the lamp nearby and settled down next to him. At that point, she realized how exhausted she really was, and she was out cold the moment her head hit the pillow.


The next morning, Sam knocked on their door to wake them up. He was still very groggy, having not slept enough, and his eyes were heavy. He knew the others were like this, too. In fact, he swore he could hear Scott grumbling inside the room when Hope shook him awake. Then, there came light footsteps, and then a door lock clicking. The door opened.

"Oh, good morning, Sam," Hope greeted the man.

"Hey," Sam hoped he didn't sound too obviously tired. "Sorry to wake you up, but Steve wants us in a conference room somewhere."

Hope nodded and brushed some of her hair out of her face. "Okay, give us a minute." The woman then turned back inside. "Scott, get up, Steve wants us for something."

He groaned, still in bed. "Can it wait?"

"No, because we're not the only ones he needs right now. Get out of bed before I have to drag you."

Sam couldn't help but chuckle at their banter. One thing was for sure: he never expected Scott to be the one to have a badass girlfriend who could easily kick his ass. It almost gave him a newfound respect for the Ant-Man.

Within two minutes, the couple was out of bed and ready, though still in their sleep clothes. Scott trudged his way to the door. Hope was already standing there waiting for him. Once he reached them, the trio went down the hallway, not really sure where to go, until finally, they turned a corner and found the others waiting for them. Every one of their faces had sleep-deprivation all over. When he noticed this, Steve felt a small hint of guilt for waking them this early.

"Okay, I promise you can go back to sleep after this," he said. "I'll try and make it quick." He then stepped aside and motioned for them to enter the room they were near.

One by one, they went inside, finding chairs to sit in around a large table. Well, not so much sitting, more like slumping. Steve sat at the head of the table, examined all of their faces, and then sighed.

"All right, look," he began. "I'm sure you all know that we'll be staying here for a while, in hiding. I don't know for how long, but my guess would be probably more than a month. A month would be the least amount of time, I'm sure."

"Why?" Wanda asked.

"Because you all just broke out of a maximum-security ocean prison? Plus, there's that whole mess at the airport. Guys, I know it's early, but still, isn't it evident? Anyway, we're going to wait for the dust to settle with the Accords. Until then, we have to stay here."

Hope raised a brow. "What about Scott and me?" she asked, and everyone turned to glance at her.

Steve's eyes narrowed a bit. "What do you mean?"

"Well, for one, Scott was recruited out of the blue, so he's the least known. And no one even knows about me. Shouldn't we be in the clear?"

"Scott wasn't least known the day he turned into a giant," Sam argued.

"He's still involved," Steve added. "Like it or not, we're under government watch. But I'm sure you could leave if you want, but Scott would have to stay."

"I'm not leaving without him," Hope stated plainly. "Scott's barely joined you guys, and the government doesn't even know about me at all. We should be able to go home."

Steve shook his head. "It's too dangerous. If you leave now and they find you, they could track your travels all the way back here and capture us again. You need to stay, at least for a while." He pointed to Scott.

"Well, how long is 'a while?'" Scott questioned.

The super soldier thought four a moment. "Four months."

"What?" Scott gasped. "That's way too long, man, come on."

"One month," Hope protested.

"Three," Steve pressed.

"Two, or we leave now," Hope raised a brow and crossed her arms, her voice full of that boss tone of hers. She held her stare, never tearing away from Steve's.

Finally, he put his hands up in surrender. "Fine, two months. No less."

"So, wait," Clint chimed in tiredly, not at all caring about the current conversation. "What are we supposed to do here? Sit here and twiddle our thumbs? None of us really 'do' vacation."

"There's plenty to do around here, you know? This isn't a prison; this is Wakanda. There's some entertainment around." Around him was silence at that point. He could see the discontent on their faces. "Look, guys, it's not the end of the world. I know it's an adjustment, but it's not permanent, okay? With their military prowess, I'm sure you can get some training done, or something."

They all nodded slowly. Their responses came as quiet mumbles.

Steve just sighed. "All right, you guys need more sleep. Go back to your quarters. You need it."

The first one to jump up was Scott, of course, completely ready to flop back into bed and sleep in the warmth of the blankets and sheets. Hope was right behind him, mainly to get him to slow down. The others got up and followed the couple out, all of them slowly making their way back to their beds.

As soon as Scott got back to the room, he immediately got back into bed, curling up under the covers. Hope did the same, but she was in no hurry like he was. When she settled down, he looked at her and snuggled closer to her.

"Hey," he whispered.

"Hi," she giggled quietly. "Feel better now that you're back in bed?"

"Oh, yes," he nodded. "Much better. Bonus points for you being here."

She smiled and kissed him. "I can say the same thing. I hate to do this to you, but I need to shower. I won't be gone long."

He gave her a fake pout and puppy eyes. "I guess I can be patient."

"Good. I'll be quick." Then, she got up out of bed again and went to the bathroom to take a brisk shower. By the time she came back, she found him fast asleep again. He was in such a deep sleep that his mouth hung open and he drooled a bit. Hope failed to suppress her giggle as she walked to the bed and laid beside him, only clad in a towel. She admired his sleeping face and couldn't help herself from kissing his nose softly. "I love you." With that, she put her head down close to him, and sleep soon overtook her as well.

At some point in her sleep, Hope got closer to him and wrapped her arms around his waist. Her legs entwined with his, and she was tucked under his chin for warmth. God, he was so warm. Sometimes, she didn't even need a blanket when she was sleeping with him. And to think that she was going to have to go without that warmth for a long time, it was scary, in a way. Hell, she barely got sleep when she was without him, not knowing where he was or when she would see him again. Now they were in hiding together, and honestly, Hope was perfectly okay with that, and so was Scott.

As long as they had each other, this whole hiding from the government thing didn't seem so bad.

Chapter Text

The two months that Scott and Hope were in Wakanda were a lot more relaxing than they expected. They managed to keep themselves entertained with things like sight-seeing, training they wouldn't get to do anywhere else, meeting new people, building friendships with the teammates, among other things. And of course, they kept themselves entertained with intimacy… lots and lots of intimacy. All in all, it wasn't so bad.

Before they knew it, it was the end of their stay. They'd made it through the two months, and now they were in bed, ready to sleep, because they'd be leaving for home the next morning. However, they weren't exactly heading to sleep just yet.

Hope was lying on top of Scott, her legs straddling him, as they kissed deeply. Their tongues danced together in each other's mouths. His hands roamed her back under her tank top, and they came up to unhook her bra expertly. It loosened around her, and she had no other choice but to sit up and take off both articles of clothing. She now sat above him completely bare from the waist up, so he had a perfect view of her supple breasts. He was instantly mesmerized.

"I see you're enjoying the view," she smirked.

"Oh, hell yes," he nodded, pulling her down for a heated kiss. His teeth took hold of her bottom lip and tugged gently, drawing a moan from her immediately. An even louder one came when one of his hands cupped her breast.

As they continued, Hope couldn't ignore the bulging in his pants. When she rolled her hips to grind over him, he moaned. She took it a step further and sat up. Again, she ground her hips. Since she was sitting up, she could change the angle of her pelvis so she could feel his length sliding over her clit, his boxers and her panties blocking them. She smirked at him again.

"I think you're overdressed," she stated, her hands taking hold of the waistband of his underwear. "Let's get rid of these, shall we?"

He was so entranced that all he could do was watch as she slowly backed up and removed his boxers. One of her hands slipped into them and wrapped around his throbbing shaft. He moaned, throwing his head back when she started stroking him. Soon, his boxers were gone, as were her panties, both garments tossed carelessly aside. She found herself straddling him once again, not letting go of his manhood. Her thumb dragged over his tip, getting some of his fluid onto her finger.

"Good god, you're killing me," he moaned as he studied the way she sucked the fluid from her tongue. He wanted to do something with his hands, but he couldn't function, so he held onto her thighs.

Hope's eyes never left his as she began sliding her slick folds over his erection in a steady rolling motion. Scott's entire body was on fire. The pleasure was so good that he was digging his nails into her thighs without realizing. She continued this motion over and over. Scott wasn't sure how much longer he could take it. He was ready to explode.

However, just before he lost control, Hope suddenly stopped. Out of nowhere, she removed herself from over him and went to lie on her stomach. There Scott was, eyeing her with bewilderment, cock still throbbing.

"That was mean," he pouted.

She just peered over at him with the corners of her mouth tugging into a suggestive smirk. "Do something about it," she challenged him. That was when she spread her legs.

When he realized it was an invitation, he was instantly upon her, his hips settling against her. She could feel his length pressed against her and she shuddered, and she did again when he bent down to suck on her neck. It was like electricity mixed with fire against her skin. Desire continuously pooled in the pit of her stomach. She squirmed below him as her patience began to wear thin. When his hand slipped under her and found her engorged clit, that was it for her.

"For god's sake, fucking take me, Scott," she nearly whined.

He decided to tease her a little more by dragging his tip over her opening, and she moaned. She pushed back a bit, urging him to be inside her finally. She spread her legs wider, and she began demanding more from him. When his tip met her slit, she thought she was finally getting what she wanted, but he didn't enter her. She hissed in protest.

Finally, he obeyed, and he began pushing himself into her. Hope moaned loudly as she felt him slowly stretch her soaked walls, and she swore she could feel every throbbing vein of his cock. Before long, he was buried fully inside her, and he began to move within. As he started forming his rhythm, thrusting in and out, his shaft never lost contact with her oh, so sensitive spot there. With every thrust, he groaned, feeling her wetness covering his shaft.

He held himself up over her with his hands and went harder, faster, and deeper. She was shouting now, but into the pillow because they weren't the only ones in the building. Sweat covered both their bodies, now. Their hearts raced. Hope realized it wasn't enough, so she reached between her legs and rubbed her overly sensitive clit, and she thought she was going to explode. The pulsating around her groin was almost unbearable, so much that her knuckles were turning white as she gripped the sheets.

"Harder, Scott!" she shouted. "Fuck me harder!"

And he did. He was slamming into her now savagely, grunting and groaning. He was pounding her so hard that there was an audible slap when their hips met. He had one hand on her hip, and he was gripping so hard that he was sure there would be a bruise there. Hope was unable to keep herself quiet, now, but honestly, she didn't give a damn who could hear her. She didn't give a damn about anything except for Scott in that moment.

Her orgasm was so explosive that she almost screamed. Her back arched, and her toes curled. She gripped the sheet tighter than ever. Her body jerked uncontrollably as bolts of pleasure rocked every part, her walls clamping around him. Curses flew from her mouth left and right as she keened below him.

"Oh, yes, Scott!" she cried. "Yes, yes, yes!"

He wasn't far behind her, and his climax was just as explosive. Heat burst from his groin and spread throughout, and he pushed himself deep within her, making occasional thrusts, as his hot load filled her to the brim. He could have sworn he saw stars as he lit up like fireworks. He could feel it slipping out of her, and she could, too. And it was absolutely amazing.

When she came down from the high, she lay flat on her stomach below him, covered in sweat and fighting for air. She felt as if her heart would burst from her chest. The meeting of her thighs still throbbed with the remnants of the orgasm, and she could feel his shaft doing the same before he began to soften within her. She had her head turned, so if she glanced at the corner of her eye, she could see him just as spent as she was.

Soon, he pulled out and flopped down next to her, his chest rising and falling heavily. She managed to find the strength to roll over onto her back, and she glanced at him again with a blissful grin.

"Wow…" he breathed, his eyes fixed on the ceiling, he was just so mind blown.

"I know," she agreed. "Incredible."

"That's one way to celebrate our last night here."

She let out a few breathy chuckles and rolled to her side so she could press a kiss to his shoulder. "A perfect way."

He finally found the willpower to face her with a smile on his face. "I'm sure everyone heard us."

Her face flushed a deep shade of red at that comment. "Oh, god."

"Hey, at least they didn't bang on the wall like they did that one time," he pointed out.

"True," she giggled. "Still, that's embarrassing. But it's okay. I don't really care that much. It's our last night. We deserve it."

"Exactly."

She smiled and scooted closer, finding comfort in the hold of his arm, which he slipped around her shoulders. He pulled her close, and she buried her face into his neck while one leg tangled with his. She took a deep breath in to relish in that amazing trademark scent of his. He brought her head close to him and leaned so he could kiss her forehead, and that made her grin wider.

He eventually pulled away to look at her. "Happy to go home?"

"Oh, god, yes," she nodded. "I liked it here, but I miss our bed, my parents, our friends, Cassie… I want to be home."

"I do, too. Less than twenty-four hours."

"I'm so glad we have a morning flight, too. I want to get home as soon as possible."

He smiled and brought the blankets over them for warmth. "Well, the sooner we go to sleep, the sooner we wake up."

Hope let out a chuckle and settled close to him, close enough for him to feel her breath on his skin. She pressed a kiss to his skin. "I love you."

"I love you, too, Hope," he murmured, just before he closed his eyes.

Hope did the same, letting out a happy sigh as her eyelids fell closed. She went to sleep with a smile, for she dreamed of home. Wouldn't be long, now.


At long last, they landed in California the next day, after saying goodbye to their friends, after a long day of flying. Thanks to T'Challa, they were flown home on a Wakandan jet, so they could avoid being spotted in customs. It was also helpful because they had to travel home with their suits on. Everything was private so they could avoid being recognized, just in case.

It was still daylight when they landed in the US, about noon Pacific Time. Soon, they left the airport discreetly and were on their way home, after being away for so long. Seeing their house after two months never felt so good. They crossed the threshold of the front door, and Hope took a deep breath. God, she missed the smell of their house. She missed everything. "Oh, finally."

"Oh, yes," Scott agreed with a nod. "And we get this place all to ourselves now. No one to bang on the walls… except for us… with the headboard."

She laughed and stepped closer to him. "Welcome home, Scott," she spoke softly, and she then wrapped her arms around him to kiss him.

He smiled against her lips and swayed with her for a little bit. After they enjoyed that moment, Hope turned to head to the living room, where she purposely left her phone charging so she could come back to it. She picked it up and sat on the couch. He followed her curiously. "What are you doing?"

"Making a call," Hope smiled, putting her helmet beside her. The first person she dialed should have been obvious.

Someone answered on the first ring. "Is this who I think it is?"

"Hey, Becca," Hope chuckled. "Yes, it's me."

"Oh, thank god!" Becca let out a massive sigh of relief. "Good lord, I was getting worried."

"Yeah, we had to stay for two months just in case the government was hunting us. Luckily, Scott wasn't well recognized, and the government has no idea who I am. It was safe for us to come home."

"Oh, that's awesome. Did you just get home?"

"Yeah, just now," Hope replied.

"Well," Becca began, "Once you guys have gotten some rest, why don't you come over for a late lunch? My parents are coming, too. We all need to catch up, big time."

Hope scoffed. "Yeah, no kidding. Well, let us shower and stuff, and we'll be right over."

"Sounds good. See you then. Glad you're home."

"See you," the other woman smiled and then ended the call. She glanced up to Scott. "Let's go shower."

Scott hadn't heard much of the conversation. "All righty then," he nodded.

She darted up the stairs with him close behind. She wasted no time turning on the shower and cleaning herself off, Scott doing the same to save time. They were in a bit of a rush for more reasons than one. They missed their friends, yes, but there was something else.

They were sure there was someone new they had to meet.


They got to Becca and Jack's fairly quickly, once they showered and got themselves together. They were both excited, anticipating the new arrival that had come into their friends' lives. When they got to the door, they knocked gently rather ringing the doorbell. It wasn't worth taking the chance.

Footsteps could be heard, and the door opened to reveal Jack on the other side. "Oh, Scott, Hope, thank god." He immediately brought his friends into a hug. "Finally."

"I know," Hope chuckled. "We're thinking the same thing."

"Good to see you, man," Scott patted his friend's back firmly.

"Come in, guys, come in," Jack said, motioning them inside.

As they walked into the home and into the living room, they noticed Becca wasn't around, and neither were her parents. "Where are the folks?" Scott asked.

"They should be here soon," the other man said. "Their plane is about to land, and they're taking a cab here."

Meanwhile, Hope was glancing around. "Where's Becca?" Hope asked.

Jack smiled. "She's in the bedroom. She's expecting you, so go ahead in."

"Scott, are you coming?"

"You go ahead, I'll catch up with Jack first," Scott grinned.

Hope nodded, returning the grin, and then she headed to the bedroom. She knocked on the quietly. "Becca? It's me."

A quiet voice came from within. "Come in," Becca said.

Slowly, Hope peeled the door open, poking her head in and looking around. Immediately, her eyes fell upon the woman sitting on the bed, upright against pillows and the headboard. She was giving her a knowing smile. Then Hope saw something she couldn't ignore. There was a baby in Becca's arms.

"Oh, my god," Hope whispered, smiling wide. "Becca… you have a baby!" She knew that by now, her friend had been a mother for a while, but seeing it in person was something else.

Becca's smile was the happiest Hope had ever seen. "I have a baby," she giggled. "This is Porter."

Hope couldn't stop beaming as she approached Becca's side of the bed and peered over to finally see this baby's beautiful face. Becca smiled and held him up some so she could get a better look. "Oh, god," Hope was awestruck. "Becca, he's so beautiful. Look at that face, those pretty eyes. Oh, hi Porter." The new mother looked down at her son, watching as he gave Hope a big smile, making the woman melt even more. "Oh he's already smiling! God, how old is he?"

"A little over two months," Becca replied.

"What?" Hope was shocked. Wasn't he born just a month ago? "Oh, god when was he born?"

"Five days after you left. Born a little early, but he's perfectly healthy."

"He's beautiful, Becca, really."

Becca patted the spot next to her, beckoning for Hope to sit down on the edge of the bed. Hope obliged, and she was unable to take her eyes away from the baby boy in her friend's arms. Becca noticed this and giggled. "Do you want to hold him?"

Hope lit up and she nodded. "If that's okay."

"Of course," the other woman said. "You are his godmother, after all."

"I'm his godmother?"

"Yeah, I meant to ask you sooner, but it kind of slipped my mind. Pregnancy brain for you."

Hope was so flattered that her smile wouldn't go away. "You don't even have to ask."

Becca sat up a little bit and prepared to hand Porter over. Hope grinned and held out her arms, ready to hold the miracle baby. Ever so carefully, she supported Porter's little head and held him close to her, so that he was resting comfortably in her arms. He was awake and looking around with big blue eyes. Becca watched proudly.

"Hi, Porter," Hope whispered. "Hey. God, he's so cute. You're so cute, you know that?"

Becca giggled as she observed them interacting. "Yeah, buddy, that's your Aunt Hope. And Uncle Scott is here, too."

Porter made a few noises as his hands moved around. He was at that baby-talking stage, and Becca had been loving it. Hope was, too. "Oh, you got lots to say, huh?"

"He really does. He's such a happy baby, too. He sleeps through the night most nights, and he doesn't really cry. All he does is whimper."

"Aww," Hope smiled, though her eyes didn't falter from Porter. She could tell Becca was right, because at that moment, Porter was nonstop smiling and cooing, and moving his arms and legs around. Hope let him hold her finger, and somehow, he managed to bring it to his mouth, but Hope didn't care. He didn't have any teeth, so it was fine.

"You're not supposed to eat her," Becca laughed. "He likes to do that with his fingers all the time, especially when he's hungry."

The other woman giggled. "Aww, that's so cute. You're just the cutest thing ever." She smiled and tapped Porter's nose. "And Becca you look amazing."

Becca rolled her eyes chuckling. "I probably look exhausted."

"No, you look amazing. And very happy."

"Thanks. And oh, god, yes I'm so happy, and for more reasons than one."

Hope glanced up at her with curiosity. "Really? How much happier can you get?"

The new mom gave a cheeky smile and held up her left hand, revealing the dazzling ring. "Well, a lot."

The dark-haired woman's eyes widened, just like her current smile did. "Oh, my god. No way!"

"Yes!" Becca nodded. "I'm getting married!"

With the one hand she had free, Hope reached over and brought her friend into a hug. "That's so amazing! Oh, my god, when did he propose?"

"The day Porter was born. It was absolutely beautiful, every bit of it."

"Aww!" Hope grinned. "That's amazing, really. I'm so happy for you!"

"Thank you," Porter's mother giggled. "And I need a maid of honor… would you be that for me?"

"Of course! Aww, Becca yes, absolutely. God, you must be in heaven right now."

"Oh, god, yes," Becca sighed contently. "I have my baby, I'm getting married. If you had told me about a year ago that this would be my life, I wouldn't have believed you. Now, I'm here, and… I'm just so happy."

"I can't believe I missed all of this," Hope said as she stroked Porter's cheek.

Becca smiled and reached to stroke the back of her son's head. "Well, you didn't miss too much other than that. You didn't miss the wedding."

"But I missed the birth of your son and the engagement. It's been like, two months."

"It's insane how much we missed," Scott's voice came from the doorway, causing both women to glance in his direction. Jack was there, standing with him. Both men were smiling.

Becca grinned back at them. "Hey, Scott," she said. "Glad you're in one piece."

"Me, too," Scott laughed. He then noticed that Hope had something in her arms. "Oh, whatcha got there, Hope?"

Hope was beaming as she glanced down at the baby in her arms. "The cutest thing in the world," she said.

"Come here, Scott," Becca waved him over. "You still have to meet your godson."

The two men walked inside, Scott going to perch on the edge of the bed beside Hope, and Jack going to Becca's side, peering over at his son. Scott was in awe immediately. "Oh, god, he's so little but he's so big! How old is he?"

"Just over two months," Jack told him. "He was born five days after Hope left."

"So the day after I got you from the Raft," Hope explained.

Scott's reaction was like Hope's when she learned of this. "Wow. Hey, big guy. It's your Uncle Scott." He began baby talking to Porter, getting him to smile and make noises. "Wow, smiling and trying to talk."

"Oh, yeah," Jack replied. "It's the cutest thing."

They all smiled and gushed over Porter for a while when Becca realized she had other people coming over soon. "Hey, guys, I need a favor."

"What do you need?" Hope asked.

"Okay, so, my parents don't know I have a baby. I meant to tell them but things got stressful, so I'm going to surprise them when he gets here. So don't say anything, please."

Scott's eyes widened a bit. "You haven't told them? They're in for a huge surprise."

"Yeah, they don't know we're engaged, either," Jack added.

The other man's gaze snapped to his friend's in alarm. "I'm sorry, what? You're engaged? What the hell, why didn't you tell me, man?"

Jack shrugged innocently. "Sorry. But you were going to find out sooner or later anyway."

Becca giggled as she leaned against her fiancé. "Hope just learned, too," she informed her friend's boyfriend.

"Yeah, Scott," Hope nodded. "It's okay. Now we both know."

"And now I need to ask if you'll be my best man," Jack said. "Since I'm almost positive Becca already asked Hope to be the maid of honor." Becca gave him a nod to confirm this statement.

"Dude, are you kidding?" Scott grinned. "Of course. Was there ever any doubt?"

"Better safe than sorry," Jack gave him another shrug before laughing.

Just then, Becca's phone buzzed with a call. She glanced at the caller ID and gasped a little before answering. "Mom, hey," she spoke as she shot up off the bed. "Are you guys here?"

"Just now, yes," Colleen answered. "You're home, right?"

"Yep, right here waiting for you," her daughter responded. "We'll see you when you get here in a few seconds."

The call ended, and Becca glanced to her friends. "Okay, they're here. Jack, will you stay here with Porter for a few? I'll tell them you're just freshening up. And once I introduce Hope and Scott, I'm going to tell them I have a gift for them, and I'll come in here. You can go out to see my parents and I'll bring in Porter. Have them close their eyes, too."

"Sounds good," Jack nodded, and he carefully took his son into his arms. "All right, you guys go."

The other three all got up and went to the front door, in preparation of the Ronan's arrival. They could hear the couple walking up to the door, and then they knocked. Becca took a deep breath before answering, and she beamed. "Hey!"

Colleen and Kevin brightened immediately when they saw their daughter in person for the first time in what felt like forever. "Becca, hi," Colleen chimed and went to hug her. "Oh, it's been so long."

"Too long," Kevin corrected, joining their hug. "Good to see you, Bex."

Becca was almost emotional as she reunited with her parents. Their embraces were warm, comforting, as they always had been since she was a child. Whenever she saw them, she hated that they lived so far away. Her parents had been her rocks during her times of grief. It was nice to see that they were visiting during a time of happiness. "I missed you guys," she smiled. "Come in, please." She brought them inside, where Scott and Hope waited, and motioned to both. "Mom, Dad, these are my good friends and coworkers, Scott Lang and Hope Van Dyne. Scott, Hope, these are my parents, Kevin and Colleen Ronan."

"Nice to meet you," Hope smiled as she shook her friend's parents' hands. Scott had said the same thing.

"Likewise," Colleen smiled brightly. It was obvious from where Becca got her smile at this point. Colleen then scanned the room. "So, where's the famous Jack? He's here, right?"

"Oh, yes," Becca nodded. "He's freshening up. He'll be right out. But Mom, Dad, I have a gift for you."

"Oh, sweetheart, you didn't have to get us anything!" Colleen said. "The gift is seeing you and meeting your friends."

Becca shook her head. "But I did. Consider it a thank you for everything you've done for me. I'm gonna go get it. You wait here."

The older couple nodded, staying put and conversing with Scott and Hope while Becca left the room. The woman went into the bedroom to find Jack bouncing with his son. He heard the door open and smiled. "Ready?"

"Yep," she replied. "Go out and meet them."

Jack gave her a quick kiss before going out to the living room to meet Colleen and Kevin. He immediately noticed that Becca was Colleen's mirror image, by far. She was short, had the same blue eyes and fair skin, except her hair was a dark brown. Kevin had similar blue eyes, but he was tanner and his hair was Becca's shade. He smiled. "Hello!" he greeted them. "Sorry I took so long! You must be Mr. and Mrs. Ronan!" He went to shake each of their hands. "I'm Jack Lawton. It's nice to finally meet you."

"Oh, we can say the same," Kevin shook his hand firmly. "We've heard a lot about you."

"We're glad you've made our daughter so happy, all of you," Colleen stated with a grin.

Just then, Becca called from the other room. "Okay, guys, you ready for your gift?" she asked.

"Yes, Bex," Kevin said.

"Okay, then, close your eyes! And no peeking!" Her parents did as they were told, shutting their eyes tight. They told her they were closed, and that was when Becca walked into the room holding her son in plain view so they'd see as soon as they opened their eyes. Once she was standing right in front of them, she grinned. "Okay, open them."

Slowly, they opened their eyes, and it didn't take long for their eyes to find the baby in Becca's arms. Their faces turned to complete shock and disbelief. Kevin was speechless. Colleen's hands went over her gaping mouth. "No way." She was laughing and beginning to tear up. "Are you serious?"

Becca giggled and nodded. "This is Porter," she said smoothly. "Your first grandson."

"Oh, my god," Colleen said under her breath as she stepped closer to get a better look at the baby, her grandson. The smile never faded. "Oh, god, how could you keep this from us?"

"Things have been so stressful that we didn't want to get our hopes up too much," Becca admitted. "But he's here, now. And he's healthy as can be." As she spoke, Becca herself was starting to get emotional.

Both her parents couldn't look away. Colleen reached out and slid her thumb into Porter's little hand. "Oh, he's so precious," she cried softly, but happily. "Hi, handsome. Oh, when was he born?"

Becca quickly swiped some of her stray tears away. "A little over two months ago."

Kevin looked so proud. "Wow, Becca," he grinned. "He's beautiful."

"Thank you," the new mother returned the grin. "You can hold him if you want."

Colleen nodded immediately and opened her arms, taking Porter into them and holding him close. "Oh, hi, sweet boy," she whispered smiling. Her grin widened when Porter smiled at her. "Oh, look at that smile! You are just so cute."

Becca went to stand by Jack and took his hand, and both them and their friends watched as Kevin and Colleen got to meet their first grandson for the very first time. Everyone was full of emotions and smiles. After a few minutes, though, Becca glanced to Jack, knowing they had more news to share. He motioned for her to be the one to say it.

"Also, Mom, Dad," she began. "There's something else."

"There's more?" Colleen lit up.

Instead of coming up with some clever way to say it, she just held up her left hand as she had when she showed Hope. Her parents' jaws dropped yet again, and their daughter just beamed oh, so happily.

"Are you serious?" Colleen squealed, though trying to be quiet because of the baby she was holding.

"Yes!" Becca giggled. "Jack and I are getting married."

Kevin let out a jolly laugh and went to hug his daughter and future son-in-law tightly. First they gave him a grandson and now more happiness to his daughter. He knew Jack was a good man from the beginning. "Oh, congratulations, y'all," he said happily. "That's so amazing."

"Thanks, Dad," Becca smiled oh, so wide.

Colleen then jumped in to hug her daughter, though with one arm because of Porter. She then went to hug Jack, too. "Welcome to the family, Jack."

"Thank you, ma'am," Jack said politely.

"Please, just call me Colleen. Or Mom, if you want."

"And you can call me Kevin or Dad. I'll take either one."

Jack smiled and nodded, taking note of that in the future. Becca then pointed to Scott and Hope. "Also, these guys are best man and maid of honor. So, they're all part of the family."

"And we welcome each of you," Colleen grinned, then nuzzled her nose against Porter's chubby cheek.

Becca laughed. "I see you like your gift."

"Oh, yes. I love him very much. You may not be getting him back." She giggled as she cuddled her grandson. "I can't believe your mama kept you from us."

"Best kept secret," Becca winked. "And our little miracle. Honestly, we thought we were going to lose him at the beginning."

Colleen looked up. "I can't imagine, after everything you've experienced… but he made it. You're a mom now."

"I'm a mom now," her daughter nodded, smiling and leaning into Jack. "I'm happier than I have ever been in a very long time. I have a few people to thank for that." She met the gazes of her friends and fiancé, who all smiled back at her. And it couldn't have been more true. Becca was in heaven.


The couples ate lunch together, chatting and laughing as they did, and afterward, they found themselves in the living room again, watching a baseball game on TV. Porter was back in Becca's arms, sitting in her lap, while her fingers were in his grasp. The woman was laughing in a conversation when she felt her fingers start getting warm and wet. She glanced down and giggled when she found her son to be sucking on her fingers.

"Is he hungry?" Hope asked when she noticed this.

"Well I just fed him not too long ago," Becca said. "But maybe he's hungry again. Jack, can you get one of his bottles for me?"

Jack nodded and immediately got up to retrieve a bottle of milk from the fridge, and after hearing it up, he brought it to his future bride. "Here you go," he smiled and kissed the crown of her head.

Becca situated herself so that she was comfortable with Porter in her arms, and once she was ready, she started feeding her son lovingly. He fed hungrily, and even his hands were trying to grab the bottle. "Wow, you were hungry. You have mama's appetite, huh?" Becca grinned. "You're so chunky, you know that?"

Jack came back around the sofa and sat next to his fiancé. "He really is."

"I want to pinch his cheeks," Colleen chuckled. "They're so chubby and cute."

"One of my favorite parts," Becca smiled happily.

Scott was watching them and he was reminded of a time when Cassie was little like that. She was so small and helpless, but smiley and happy all the time, like she was now. Scott missed those days. Seeing his friends and their new baby made him a little baby hungry, but he chose not to say that out loud. Still, the thought put a smile on his face, and Hope couldn't ignore it.

"What are you thinking about?" she asked.

"I'm just remembering when Cassie was a baby."

"Aww, you're adorable."

"Who's Cassie?" Colleen wondered.

Scott turned to look at her. "Cassie is my daughter."

"Oh! I didn't know you two had a child, too."

Hope blushed and shook her head with a chuckle. "Oh, no, Cassie isn't my daughter with Scott."

"Yeah, Cassie is my daughter with my ex-wife," Scott explained. "But Hope counts as a mother figure, so in a way, it's true."

His girlfriend's face blushed even deeper. "Aww."

Colleen giggled. "How old is your daughter?"

"She just turned eight," Scott said, trying not to show his guilt when he remembered that he missed his little girl's birthday.

"Oh, that's a good age," Kevin said.

"Oh, definitely," the man agreed. "So is the age of zero to one, too. I miss those days."

"Well, you get to see them with your godson," Jack pointed out, just before he glanced over at his happily feeding son.

The rest of the day was spent like that, with all of them in the living room, content and relaxed. They all took turns holding Porter, watching him smile and hearing him make those little baby noises. Soon, though, he slipped into a milk coma and fell asleep on Becca's chest, where he liked best. After that, they all quieted down, watching TV, and just enjoying life. Scott and Hope glanced at one another with smiles on their faces.

It was so very nice to finally be home.

Chapter Text

After about a month, things had settled down again. One of the first things Scott and Hope had done when they'd returned after seeing Becca and Jack and Porter was go to see Cassie. The little girl was so ecstatic to see her father and his girlfriend again, after so long. She went on and on about how much of a hero that both of them were, and it made them both flattered and proud. Janet and Hank were glad they were back, too. After their reunion, Scott and Hope had to return their suits so they could be patched up for whatever damage they'd endured, meaning the younger couple had some time to rest, which meant all they could do was work and train when they wanted. Everyone was back to work, now, except Becca, who wanted to stay at home with Porter more often while he was this young. Everything was back to normal for the most part.

Well… almost normal, anyway.

Hope had been feeling off for a few days now, probably for the last week. Today was no exception. She woke up that morning with her stomach churning, and the first thing she did was streak to the bathroom, only for nothing to come up. All she'd do was stand there, gripping the edge of the bathroom counter, waiting for the illness to pass. Once it had, she washed her face with cold water to wake herself up, and to make her feel not so hot anymore. By the time she was done, Scott was at the door, knocking and pushing it open.

“Are you okay?” he asked softly. He'd noticed that she hadn't been feeling well, and after a couple days, he'd begun to worry a little.

She nodded slowly. “Yeah,” her voice croaked, thick with sleep. “Yeah, I'm okay.”

But he didn't believe her. “Babe, maybe you should take the day off to rest, today.”

“Scott, I'm fine,” she protested. “I feel better already.”

He crossed his arms as he lifted a brow. “I don't believe that. Come on, babe. Please stay home and rest. I'm worried about you.”

It took some coaxing, but finally, Hope grumbled. “All right, fine,” she said.

“Good,” Scott smiled with his satisfaction. “I promise it'll be worth it.”

“You sound so sure.”

“I am,” he nodded, kissing her forehead before luring her out of the bathroom. “Here, you lie down. I'll make you some breakfast. Okay?”

She smiled tiredly as she slipped back into bed, pulling the covers over her body while looking at Scott. “You're so sweet, you know that?”

He pecked her lips. “I try. All right, wait here. I'll be back.”

She watched as he left before settling back down, her head on the pillow. It was at that moment when she realized that she was exhausted still, and she was out before she knew it. When Scott came back up with some waffles for her, he was surprised to find her fast asleep again. With a chuckle, he made his way to her side and sat down, putting the tray of food to the side before he shook her.

“Hey,” he whispered. He felt bad for waking her, but he knew she had to eat something. “Hope, wake up. Breakfast.”

Hope made a little noise as she drew out of sleep. “Mmm?” One eye peeled open and glanced up at him. “Hey… shit, did I fall back asleep?”

“You did,” he answered. “I didn't want to wake you, but you need to eat something. I made you waffles.”

She gave him a tired grin before sitting up slightly. “You're amazing,” she told him as he put the tray of food in her lap. “Thank you.”

“You're welcome. Now, you eat. I'm going to get dressed.”

She began eating, albeit a little slowly, watching as Scott made his way around the room as he got ready. Every five minutes, it seemed, he'd check on her and ask how she was feeling, to which she would always answer that she was fine. Obviously. Would she ever be honest about how she really felt? Probably not.

Soon, Scott had finished getting ready and went back to Hope’s side. To his astonishment, he found that Hope had wolfed down the waffles, nothing else left on the plate. Odd. Hope wasn't really a fast eater. Must have been super hungry. He smiled as he placed himself next to her.

“They must have been good,” he chuckled quietly. “Were you really hungry?”

She blushed but gave him a nod. “Yeah, they were. I was apparently starving. Thank you.”

“You're welcome, beautiful,” he smiled and kissed her. “Okay, I better get going now. Please rest, okay?”

“I'll try,” she told him.

Scott gave her one last kiss and stood, taking the tray with him. “I love you.”

“Love you, too,” Hope replied, just as she settled back against the pillows. She was asleep within seconds.

She woke up a few hours later to the sound of her phone ringing. It startled her, so she shot up with a jolt. She glanced at the clock and gasped. God, how long had she been sleeping? After yawning, she grabbed her phone. It was Becca.

“Hello?” Hope was horrified by how thick her voice sounded. She cleared her throats before she said it again.

Becca chuckled. “Tired much?” Becca chuckled slightly. “Sorry to wake you up.”

“No, no, it's okay,” Hope rubbed her sleepy eyes. “I slept for too long anyway. What's up?”

“I was wondering if you wanted to stop by for lunch? I'm making chicken burgers, and I know how much you like those.”

“Oh, god, yes,” Hope loved the sound of one of her favorite meals. So much so that it made her stomach growl at the thought. “You had me at chicken burger. When?”

“Anytime, really,” Becca replied. Just then, Hope could hear cooing in the background, followed by Becca’s baby talking to her son. “I see you, baby. Want Aunt Hope to come over? Yeah?”

The other woman chuckled. “I'll come. I'll be there soon, okay?”

“Okay. Hey, no rush, though. See ya.”

Hope ended the call and put her phone to the side. She was still puzzled as to why she slept so much. She wasn't even up that late the night before! But she had to admit, she was so exhausted, and she honestly wanted to go back to sleep. But chicken burgers were calling her, so she forced herself out of bed and to the dresser to change. Once she slipped into a comfortable shirt, she went to grab a pair of jeans. It was a pair she wore yesterday but not for very long. Wearing them again wouldn't hurt. When she pulled them on, though, she was surprised yet again.

Her jeans weren't fitting.

What the hell? These jeans had fit yesterday, she was certain. How much had she eaten this morning? Apparently, it was a lot, because she couldn't fasten the button. Her mind was spinning. What was wrong with her?

After fighting with the jeans, she decided to wear a pair of nice leggings, with a long shirt over it, so she was comfortable. But while she was changing, she glanced at herself in the mirror, turning to the side to examine herself, to see if she'd put on weight. It didn't seem so, unless she looked really close. God, maybe she was starting to pack on the pounds. She promised herself that she'd go easy on the lunch today.

Once she tamed her hair and put on some makeup, she left the house for Becca's. She got there rather quickly. Becca had heard her friend’s footsteps down the hall of her floor and was already waiting by the door. Hope knocked once and Becca opened immediately. She held Porter on her hip as she stood there.

“Hey,” she grinned.

“Hi,” Hope prayed she didn't sound too tired. Her eyes fell upon Porter. “Hey, handsome.” She reached out to take his little hand, and he smiled.

Becca brought her friend inside and immediately noticed how exhausted the woman appeared. “Are you okay?” she asked.

“Hmm?” Hope hadn't really paid attention.

“You look exhausted. Are you okay?”

At first, Hope nodded. “Yeah, I'm fine. Just… didn't sleep very well.”

Becca didn't believe her, but she didn't push the issue. Instead, she brought the other woman to the kitchen, where their food was waiting. “I literally finished just before you got here.”

“It looks amazing,” Hope piped up. But then, her stomach rumbled, and not with hunger. It wasn't horrible, but still noticeable. What was that smell? Whatever it was, it wasn't agreeing with Hope at all. She hoped it would pass. She felt bad for feeling ill around Becca.

The new mother put plates on the table, taking a few trips because of Porter in her arm. But since there were only two plates, she didn't take long. Once the table was set, the women sat down. Becca continued to hold onto her son while he was in her lap.

Hope didn't notice them at this point. Instead, she was focused on the churning in her stomach. She now realized what was making her feel so nauseous. It was the chicken burger! But how? Hope loved chicken burgers. Now, she couldn't smell them without grimacing, which made her feel guilty.

Becca saw how ill Hope had suddenly become, and she tensed. “Are you okay? Dude, you look sick.”

“I'm fine,” Hope tried to swallow whatever was trying to come up, but it wasn't working.

“Okay, that's bullshit, you're sick,” Becca shook her head.

But Hope didn't answer. She shot out of her chair as the nausea was getting the better of her, and she ran for a bathroom. However, she knew she wouldn't make it, so she frantically searched for a trash can or something. Just before her time ran out, she lurched for the sink, just as she was violently sick. She coughed and cursed the whole time, clutching the edge of the counter tightly.

Becca wasn't far behind her, because she'd seen how Hope’s eyes had suddenly widened just before she shot up. Becca was up instantly, and she was behind Hope in seconds to hold back her hair as best she could with one hand. This was so not like Hope.

After a while, Hope was done, and she nearly slumped back into her friend, but she was careful not to because of the baby. Still, she felt wiped. In the few seconds she was vomiting, she'd broken into a sweat. She grimaced as the acidic taste lingered in her mouth. She rinsed it out right away. Meanwhile, Becca was standing there, watching her, confused. Hope felt guilt wash over her.

“I'm sorry,” she croaked. “I promise that was not because of your cooking. I don't know what came over me.”

“Maybe it's one of those bugs that makes you so sensitive to everything,” Becca suggested. “Nevertheless, you should come and sit down on the couch.” She then took Hope’s arm and led her to the living room, where they both sat down. Becca's gaze didn't leave her friend’s. “You should have told me you were sick. You could have stayed home.”

“But I was feeling just fine,” Hope protested. “It came out of nowhere.” She then ran her hands over her face. “God, what is going on with me? This is insane.”

Becca’s brows knit. “Wait, how long has this been going on? How stubborn are you?”

“A few days. But honestly, it's off and on, and it's not even the only thing. I've been sleeping a lot more than I should. And I swear to god I've put on some serious weight, because I haven't been controlling how much I've been eating. I couldn't fit into a pair of jeans this morning that fit yesterday. It's so weird.”

“Well, maybe it's your period coming?” Becca guessed while bouncing Porter on her lap.

Hope shrugged. “Yeah, maybe.”

Then Becca let out a few chuckles. “Either that, or you're pregnant,” she said, completely joking, of course.

Hope laughed, too, but as she did, her mind was at work. She was counting the days. She knew she was on the sugar pill from her birth control pack, so her period was coming. Or… it should have already. Hope’s eyes widened as she realized something that horrified her in an instant.

Her period had yet to come.

Becca saw the way her friend’s expression drastically changed, and she tilted her head. “Hey, are you okay?”

Meanwhile, the other woman was doing the math in her head, putting two and two together. It was all adding up; the sleeping, the nonstop eating or hunger, the nausea and vomiting. But no, it couldn't be… She was on the pill, it wasn't possible… was it? The more she thought about it, the more she began to panic. Her heart dropped, and her pulse quickened. There was just no way…

The new mom glanced at Hope in a peculiar way. That was when realization struck her. Her jaw dropped some.

Hope’s hand flew to her gaping mouth. “Oh, no…”

“Oh, god, I was completely kidding!” Becca claimed. “Oh, my god.”

“No, this can't be happening,” Hope breathed. She began hyperventilating.

Becca reached with her free hand to take Hope by the wrist. “Hey, hey. Breathe. Okay? Just breathe.”

“Oh, god, Becca, it can't be possible!” the woman was on the verge of tears. “No, I can't be! It has to be something else.”

“Well, there's only one way to find out,” Becca stated. “You should take a test.”

The thought of that made her heart leap into her throat. It almost made her want to throw up, so much so that she had to cover her mouth when she gagged. “Oh, god…”

“Hey, take a deep breath,” Becca squeezed her wrist gently. “Breathe.”

By then, Hope was tearing up. She did her best to listen to Becca's words, but it was nearly impossible. She was so overwhelmed that no words came to her at the moment. Becca just watched her, wishing there was more she could do to ease the fears that her friend had. But she did know one thing; Hope would have to take a test.

“Hey, you sit here for a minute,” the former agent murmured smoothly. “I'm going to go see if I have an extra unused test lying around. I'm sure I have one left over. But you stay here and breathe for a moment, okay?”

Sniffling and trying to put on a tough face, Hope nodded, but she didn't look at her friend.

Becca gave a small sigh before she stood and went to the master bathroom, Porter still in her arms and playing with the fabric of her shirt. It kept him occupied while his mother knelt before the cabinet beneath the sink to search for a test. With one hand, the woman blindly sifted through the items she kept in the cupboard. Finally, she came across a box and grabbed onto it. She was careful not to knock anything over when pulling it out. To her relief, it was, in fact, a pregnancy test, one that she never used, never opened. She tucked that under her chin while she found her pocket Doppler as well, and then she called her friend into the bedroom.

Hope almost sulked into the bedroom to meet Becca, who held the unopened box in her hand. Becca handed it to her. “Here,” she said.

Hope was trembling as she took the box into her hands. She read the words “pregnancy test” on the box, and her stomach churned. This couldn't be happening. After a deep breath to keep calm, she silently went into bathroom to take the test. She locked the door behind her, turned on the fan for background noise, and took the test and the instructions out of the box.

Hope stared at the test’s box for the longest time, suddenly hesitant to touch it. She was slower when she took it out with the instructions this time. She didn't know what to do. Part of her wanted to take it just to get it over with, but the other part didn't want anything to do with it.

Her hands shook as she slid the plastic test out, the instructions with it, as well. She found herself doing some deep breathing exercises to the best of her ability, which seemed to be the only things keeping her going for the time being. Her eyes scanned the instructions; they were pretty straightforward, and yet, she still read it about three times over before actually putting them down and starting the procedure. She did what she had to do, exactly what the paper said to do, and when she was done, she put the test face-down on the bathroom counter, hiding the results, before getting up to wash her hands. Now, all she had to do was wait five minutes, and then she’d finally find out whether or not her worst fear was true.

Becca waited a few moments for Hope to do what she needed to, keeping herself busy with Porter, before knocking softly on the door to check on Hope. “Are you okay in there?”

Instead of calling through the door, Hope opened it, allowing Becca access to inside. The latter walked in, and she saw the test on the counter with the screen down. Her eyes flickered to Hope, who met the gaze for a second before she shook her head. She hadn't looked yet.

“I can't look at it,” Hope breathed. But at the same time, she wanted to know. Her brain and her heart started having an argument over that.

Becca glanced at the test again. “Do you want me to…?” Hope just shrugged in response, prompting Becca to go ahead and take a look. Slowly, she ventured to the counter, taking the test into her hand. Her heart was racing a bit out of the anticipation. Once she composed herself, she turned the test over. Without saying a word, her eyes fell back on her friend.

“Oh, god, what?” Hope asked nervously.

“It's… it’s positive.”

Hope nearly forgot how to breathe just then. For a moment, everything was still, but also shattering into a million pieces. What she feared the most was true. It was positive.

She was pregnant.

All at once, Hope lost it. Her hand covered her gaping mouth as tears began spilling almost immediately. She slumped back against the wall and slid until she was sitting curled up on the floor. Becca watched as her friend sobbed quietly while covering her face to hide her shame and despair. She couldn't be pregnant. She just couldn't be! How could it be possible? Sure, she'd thought about maybe having kids with Scott, but this soon? Absolutely not! This wasn't right.

Becca knelt down to her panicked friend quickly to be by her side, but she had to be cautious with Porter in her grasp. “Hope, hey,” she spoke smoothly. “Take a deep breath. Look at me.” It was hard, but Hope did as she was told, revealing her reddened, tearful eyes. Becca did her best. “It's going to be okay.”

Hope could only shake her head. More tears fell. “I don't understand,” her voice was shaky and broken. “We've been safe! I'm on the pill, it shouldn't be possible!” She then dropped her head.

Her friend frowned. “The pill is 99% effective. There's still that one percent.” She hated having to say this to Hope, but it was her doctor side speaking.

Hope was aware of this, but some part of her still wouldn't believe it. “God, what am I going to do?” she whimpered. Then her eyes widened. “Oh, my god, what is Scott going to do?” She hadn't thought of that.

Becca frowned and took Hope’s wrist. The former agent knew Scott had a daughter. This wouldn't be a first for him. In fact, from what she'd seen from Scott and how he was around children, Becca thought that Scott wouldn't be so upset about this. Sure, it would be a surprise, since they were being safe, but not the end of the world. “Hope, he has a daughter,” she murmured. “Becoming a father isn't new to him. I think it'll be just fine.”

Had this been happening to anyone else hope would have probably been the one to say that, however with all the fears and emotions sending a hurricane through her, she was panicking and hadn't even heard Becca speaking to her. Every negative thought came flooding into her mind and each terrifying possibility brought forth new tears.. “Oh, god, what if he ditches me? What if he runs? I can't do this. I don't remember what it's like to have a mother. How am I supposed to be one?”

“Hope, hey,” Becca spoke. “Don't think like that, okay? Scott won't ditch you. He won't run away.”

“How do you know?”

“Because he already has a daughter. He's a great father. He loves his daughter, and he loves you… he loves the both of you more than life itself, I'm certain. Why the hell would someone like Scott leave you at a time like this?”

Hope didn’t answer that time. She just kept her gaze fixed on the floor, and she hugged her knees close to her chest. Becca watched her with a frown. She fought hard to come up with some way to keep the mood a little more positive. Then, there was her son, babbling and playing with his mother’s long hair and sucking on his fingers. He made a loud babble, and Hope looked up to him and offered a sad smile before letting the baby hold her finger for a while. Somehow, when she looked into his big blue eyes, she could hear him telling her it’s okay.

How could there be someone like him within her at that very second? Someone so small and fragile that he can’t lift his own head, or doesn’t know that his fingers aren’t food. Someone who can just smile and make the world brighter. The world is so dangerous, and it almost seemed worth it to have a baby, at least when she looked at Becca’s case. Were there any heroes with kids? What about being the Wasp? Would she give this baby up for adoption? There were so many questions that had no answers.

Becca could hear this, too, watching as her son held onto Hope’s finger. As the baby and the panicked woman shared a gaze for a moment, somehow, the latter of the two calmed a little. She even smiled again, albeit still a bit sadly, of course. That was the first time she didn't feel like she was going to explode. While sniffling, Hope leaned forward to kiss Porter’s little fingers.

“I see you,” she uttered quietly.

“He's worried about you,” Becca stated. “Both of us are.”

The other woman wiped away some more of her tears. “I'm sorry. It's just. It's all happening so fast.”

“Well, you know, you do have options… if you don't want the baby.”

Hope froze. She hadn't planned this baby, but she'd never thought about abortion. She was pro-choice, but this baby wasn't just hers. “What if Scott wants it?”

“Well, it's your choice,” Becca pointed out. “He can't make the decision for you. Only you can do that. But I will say this; talk to Scott. Tell him. Communicate with him because he's worried sick about you. You should tell him the truth.”

“I know,” she sighed.

Becca watched her for a few minutes before turning and fetching something from the cabinet below the bathroom sink. Out she pulled her Doppler. She held it up. “Do you want to hear…? See if we can find it?” She wasn't sure why she suggested this to Hope. Maybe hearing it would be good for her. However, Hope hesitated, remaining completely silent.

Soon Becca just stood and had Hope do the same. The former led the latter into the bedroom, where Hope laid on the bed flat on her back as Becca instructed. Becca gently laid Porter down beside Hope, so she could have both of them in her sight. While Becca set things up, getting a small towel and some gel, Hope turned her head to look at the baby next to her, who was kicking his feet and bringing them up to try and get them in his mouth. Hope couldn’t help but chuckle at this.

Becca heard the small giggle and glanced over, and she herself let out a laugh. “He thinks his feet and hands are food,” she stated. “I’ll have to feed him after this.”

Hope chuckled again lightly, and she allowed a hand to come up near Porter. Eventually, he got hold of the hand nearby and tried to bring it to his mouth. Hope decided to allow it. Soon, her fingers were in Porter’s mouth. “Yummy, huh?” she whispered.

Porter’s mother smiled at this. “Fingers apparently are his favorite snack,” she joked. “Okay, can you lift your shirt for me?”

Hope gave a nod and did as she was told, lifting her shirt to expose her stomach. Once she did, Becca put a bit of gel on her friend's skin before turning on the Doppler. Once that was done, she went right to work. She maneuvered the probe around, hearing nothing except the typical sounds like Hope’s heartbeat. Becca went lower, pressing a bit hard but making sure she wasn't causing pain. She was determined to find this heartbeat.

Meanwhile, Hope lay there just listening. Her finger was still in Porter’s grasp as he kept cooing. He even started sucking her finger. She looked at him and smiled softly. It helped take her mind off some of the panic while Becca was searching.

When it took more than five minutes, Becca was beginning to figure that it was too early to hear the heartbeat. However, she went even lower, and a faint sound intrigued her. She gasped softly. She knew that sound by heart now. She'd found it.

“There,” Becca told her friend. She pushed slightly harder to make it a bit louder.

Hope gasped. That was it. She remembered hearing the same thing nearly a year ago now, but it had been Becca’s baby. Now she was hearing her own baby. At that moment she knew that it really was real. She was having a baby, and her eyes filled with tears at the thought. She didn't mean to cry, but she couldn't help it. Becca immediately took to Doppler away and wiped the gel off Hope’s belly. That was enough for now.

Hope was about to sit up but her hand was still occupied. She turned to lie on her side while facing the baby. He had his head turned to look around at Hope. Becca walked to the other side of the bed and situated herself on Porter’s opposite side. She immediately began baby talking him, letting him hold her finger with his other tiny hand. She absolutely doted this baby of hers, and for good reason. Hope watched her interact with her son. It was almost the same way Scott acted around Cassie. Would it be the same with this baby? She didn't know, and that fact made her heart race a bit.

“You know,” Becca said quietly. “Having a baby may sound scary. You remember how scared I was. It wasn't for the same reason, but I was still terrified. But now I have him and I wouldn't change it for the world. Maybe it isn't so bad.”

Hope had no reason to doubt Becca's words, really. “But I wanted to be the Wasp,” she said. “I'm not ready to give up the freedom.”

“I know,” her friend replied. “But this doesn't have to be the end of the Wasp. It's just a little speed bump. No pun intended. But Hope, I know Scott loves you. I've seen what he's like with his daughter. I'm almost positive he'll love this baby just as much. I really believe it. Actually you can't ask for a better father-to-be. He has experience and he's so loving.”

“You're not wrong,” the dark-haired woman agreed. “I'm just… I'm scared. What if I'm not a good mother? I didn't have my mother's guidance. I had no one to learn from.”

“Oh, Hope, don't say things like that. I have faith in you. You're not alone. Plus, if you need anything, you can ask me.”

Those words actually got Hope to calm down a little more. Her friend was right. She wouldn't be alone in this. She had Scott, a father already. She had Becca and Jack, new parents themselves. She also had Becca around for pregnancy help. It was a bonus of having and OBGYN as a friend. She had her mother, something she never thought she'd be able to say anymore. She really wouldn't be alone at all.

Becca reached over to put a hand on Hope’s shoulder. “It'll be okay,” she said. “I know it.”

After letting out a breath, Hope just nodded. Nothing else. She then just kept her eyes on the baby next to her. He'd let go of her finger to suck on his. Becca giggled and went to kiss his chubby cheek.

“I think someone's hungry,” his mother said, and she picked him up and laid against the pillows before feeding him. He latched right on and started eating. Looking at him, she could see his eyes fluttering as he was falling asleep. Her finger stroked his cheek softly, her eyes loving and sparkling.

Hope watched her friend as she fed the baby. She just looked so… serene, happy. Baby bliss had completely taken over. Hope recalled the fear Becca experienced when she found out she was pregnant. Now, she was here, feeding her healthy baby, completely content. Hope began to wonder.

Would this be the same outcome for herself?

Chapter Text

Hope paced the floor of her room that evening. She'd just returned from Becca's place, and she knew Scott would be home very soon. And that terrified her more than anything. Sure, she was calm to some extent while still at Becca's, but now that she was alone and letting all the what-ifs and worst case scenarios run through her head, she was back to panicking. She tried practicing in the mirror and rehearsing, but everything she said sounded so stupid when said out loud. Good god, how was she supposed to do this?

Her phone buzzed with a message from Becca, saying Remember to breathe. It'll be okay.

Hope didn't answer her. She honestly had no response to anything now. Internally, she was screaming at the top of her lungs. Nothing put her at peace, now. There was nothing.

Suddenly, the front lock clicked. Hope tensed, and she wanted to burst into tears with all the emotions and fears. Thankfully, she maintained her calmness, putting on a semi-relaxed face as she sat on the sofa just as Scott opened the front door.

"Hope?" he called into the house. "Babe, I'm home."

"In here," she replied, sounding a bit weak.

He walked in and found her on the sofa, just lounging, still seeming a bit ill. "Hey," he said, walking up behind the sofa to bend down and kiss her cheek. When his lips met her skin, her face felt… damp? Had she been crying? Or had she gotten sick again? She looked as if she'd just seen a ghost. "Hey, you okay?

She simply nodded. "Yeah, I'm fine."

"Did you get sick again?" he asked quietly. He felt her forehead. No fever.

"Yeah," she lied. "I'm okay, though."

He would have said something, because he didn't believe her, but he knew better than that. Instead, he kissed the crown of her head. "You hungry?"

Again, she nodded. Okay, this was weird. She'd been sick. How did she have an appetite? Maybe he was just imagining it all? Anyway, he offered to make her something to eat. She didn't really hear what he'd offered to make her, so she just agreed with it. Scott watched her with a bit of concern, wondering if it was something he did to upset her. But she obviously didn't want to talk so he decided to respect those wishes… for now.

Instead of eating dinner at the table, he brought her some pasta to the couch so they could eat there. He sat next to her, but he kept his distance. The whole time, he watched her while she avoided eye contact. The silence was awkward and uncomfortable, the only sounds between them being the clinking of silverware on the ceramic bowls. Scott couldn't take it anymore.

"So, how was your day?" he asked.

Hope swallowed her mouthful of pasta, which she hadn't noticed that she was wolfing down so hungrily. "It was okay," she murmured. "I just went to see Becca for a while."

"Yeah? How is she?"

"She's good."

"And the baby?"

"He's so cute. He's doing well." God, did they really have to talk about a baby right now? She immediately fell silent as she continued to eat.

As Scott tried to continue conversation, she only gave short, one-worded answers. Scott knew something was wrong. She'd never been this short with him. Well, except for when she hated him in the beginning, but that wasn't the case anymore. She wouldn't even look at him; she was just so distant and uninterested. Before he could ask, though, Hope stood all of a sudden.

"I'll do the dishes," she announced, taking his bowl and walking to the kitchen, without another word.

Scott got up to follow her, noticing that she was walking really fast. Was she… trying to avoid him? What the hell was going on? "Hope, what's wrong?" he finally asked. "Is everything okay?"

"I'm fine," she lied right through her teeth.

That was when he crossed his arms. He tried to be as gentle as possible. "Hope, something's wrong. You can tell me, you know?"

She shook her head, swallowing the lump in her throat. It felt like she was trying to swallow an apple whole. "Scott, really, I'm okay." She continued to avoid meeting his gaze as she washed the dishes.

"No, you're not," he said worriedly. He went to put a hand on her arm gently, but she jerked away.

"Scott, don't," she hissed. She immediately felt bad for saying it that way. "God, I'm sorry."

Without another word, he slowly took her to the bedroom and sat her down. He shut the door while she sat on the edge of the bed for a few seconds. When he turned around, she was standing again. He looked at her in the eye. "Babe, why won't you tell me what's wrong? Please. Have… have I done something wrong?"

The innocence in his voice was almost enough to make her cry. "Oh, Scott, no," she shook her head. "Not at all. I just—I think we need to talk."

Uh oh. That was not something any man wanted to hear. Nonetheless, he was ready to listen. "Of course," he told her calmly. "What is it? I'm all ears."

"I think you should… probably sit down," Hope cleared her throat. She paused quickly, pressing her lips into a line as she studied him. "Please. Then we'll talk." She then went to sit as she'd said to do.

He did as he was told, perching on the edge of the bed, his eyes never leaving her. He studied her in the dim light, his brow knit with concern. "Is this about Hank? Or your suit?" he asked nervously. God, he hoped not. The last thing he wanted was to see her dreams crushed. Little did he know how ironic this thought would be.

She shook her head slowly. Heat pricked in her eyes just then. God, how was he supposed to tell him this? She blinked, and tears fell. There was no stopping them. Without warning, she crumbled right in front of him, sobbing without a sound escaping her except for her occasional whimpers and sniffles. No, she wasn't ready for this yet!

Scott's eyes snapped wide open as he watched her. His immediate response was to pull her close, comforting her while she cried. He couldn't even find the words to calm her. He just rubbed her back as she had her face buried into her chest. He did manage to get something out. "Hey, shh, I've got you," he hushed her as gently as he could.

The dam had broken, and there was no end in sight. Her breathing became rapid as she tried to keep calm. Every exhale had whimpers with it. How was she supposed to tell him something like this? It wasn't planned. They hadn't even spoken of having kids. She thought Cassie was enough. Now this. How the hell could anyone be calm? Becca wasn't. This was absolute hell and she couldn't do anything about it.

It took a very long time before she had even begun to calm down even slightly. When she'd quieted some, he brought her up and cupped her cheeks while looking into her eyes. His thumbs swiped away every tear that slid down her cheek. Her eyes were red. Her cheeks were swollen, stained. Her lower lip was trembling still. His worry was at an all time high. "Please tell me what's wrong," he eventually whispered.

There was no going back after this. Things would have to change no matter what, but now it would be overwhelming… more than anyone could have expected. Her vision blurred yet again, and she had to use every bit of strength she had left to swallow the lump still in her throat. Her bottom lip quivered. She didn't want to do this. But she had to. She had to tell him. "Scott… I… I'm pregnant…"

Scott's eyes went wide in an instant at the news. This was far from what he expected. He hadn't even prepared for it. So, he gulped slightly. Did she really say what he thought she had? "You're… what?"

Her face twisted with pain and guilt all over again. "I'm pregnant."

She really did say what he thought he heard. Pregnant? He was about to have another kid? But he didn't understand. They'd been safe. As these thoughts circled his brain, he realized how silent he'd become. Come on, man, say something! He swallowed his pride, not looking away from her. "How long have you known?" his voice came out quietly.

"I learned earlier this afternoon," she breathed. "When I was with Becca." She then searched his face. His silence in response made her heart drop. Oh, god, now I've done it. What have I done? She cried even harder.

"I am so sorry!" she sobbed, unable to keep herself together at all now. "I didn't mean for this to happen, I swear! I know we've been safe, it was an accident! I've ruined everything!" She kept rambling on as she blubbered to him. She was a mess.

"Whoa, hey!" he stopped her quietly, bringing her back into an embrace. "Hey, shh, it's okay. I'm here. You haven't ruined things."

She nodded. "Yes! I have! Didn't you hear me? I said I'm pregnant! Out of nowhere! And we were safe! I have ruined every single thing we had!"

"No, no, Hope," he replied calmly. "Please don't talk like that. Just breathe, okay? I've got you." What was he supposed to say at a time like this? All he could think of was her… and the baby she apparently carried. God, was this really happening?

Instead of words, cries left her. She couldn't force them to stop. Several minutes went by before she could actually do what he'd suggested, though every breath was shaky. At least she was trying. But she did have one thing on her mind… how could he be so much calmer than her? All he'd done was get wide-eyed and asked for clarification. That was it. No yelling, no anger, no resentment. How could he be like this?

He held onto her tightly until the full-on crying had stopped and she was just sniffling. She felt like an idiot after sobbing so hard like that. This was way worse than the time she cried in Wakanda, by a thousand times at least. She didn't even want to show her face to him. Nonetheless, she felt his hand find her cheek, and he tilted her head up so she could look at him.

"Hey," he whispered. "It's okay."

"I don't get it," Hope sighed. "You're so… you're so calm about this. You're not upset at all?"

"Well, I am shocked," he assured her. "But I'm not upset. Why would I be?"

Her green eyes flickered across his face. "Because it's a baby. We never even spoke of having a baby. We'd been safe. This was not in our plan."

He stroked her jaw tenderly. His gaze never faltered. "We'll adjust," he murmured. "It's okay. We'll be okay."

"How can you say that?" she asked him with that broken voice of hers. "Scott, we're talking about a baby here. This is… a huge thing. We've never talked about it. We don't lead average lives. This will change everything."

He let out a sigh just then. "Well, if you don't want the baby," he began, very reluctantly. "You have options."

For a while, she dropped her gaze. First, Becca had been talking about options. Now, Scott was, too. Not once did she think that he would bring it up. She wiped her face a bit before locking eyes with him again. "Do you want the baby?"

He didn't answer, but Hope could it see it in his face. The look was so obvious. He did want the baby. He didn't need to say it for her to know it. And since she did understand this, her heart was torn. She was so afraid, but she didn't want to take this from him.

"Hey," he finally spoke up. "It's your choice. No one can make it but you."

"Oh, god," she covered her face with her hands. "I don't know what to do."

Seeing her distress, he pulled her closer one more and kissed her forehead. "Hey, you don't have to make that decision right away. You have some time. Don't rush it. I don't want you feeling pressured about any aspect of this, okay?"

She gave him a small nod before wiping her face again with her hand. He rocked her gently and rubbed her back to comfort her. It was just like how a parent would comfort an upset child. His touch was just so soft and tender and warm. It was all she really wanted and needed at that moment. All she wished for was his warm embrace.

"I'm so sorry," she whispered.

"Sorry?" he lifted a brow. "Why are you apologizing?"

"I'm sorry I caused all this."

"Hope, don't say that, okay? This isn't your fault. It isn't anyone's fault. Please don't blame yourself. It breaks my heart when you blame yourself like that. You haven't caused anything. You hear me?"

She nodded once again, but she still couldn't stop blaming herself inwardly. "I'm just… I'm so scared."

He brushed a lock of hair away from her face. "I know. And that's completely okay. Being scared is normal. I'm here for you, okay?"

"Okay," she replied quietly.

After a few more minutes like that, Scott carefully thought her up the bed and pulled the covers over her. "You need some rest," he told her. "I can't imagine how rough the past day has been, so I'm doing all that's possible for you to feel a little more at ease."

Instead of arguing, she curled up and pulled the covers up even more. Scott went to change into some pajamas and went to cuddle up behind her. His strong arms came around her as he pressed one soft kiss to her shoulder. "I love you."

"I love you, too," she whispered.

Soon, they settled to sleep. But Hope didn't sleep. She couldn't, not right away. Scott, on the other hand, was out like a light, still cuddling her while he was in his peaceful slumber. After a while, he shifted, still holding her close, but something had changed that Hope couldn't ignore; the placement of one of his hands… it was resting on her belly, where their developing baby was growing. She immediately tensed with the discomfort of that feeling. She knew he wasn't doing it on purpose, but still. It only made it more real. She'd seen the test, she'd heard the heartbeat, and yet, she wasn't ready to make it real just yet.

Before Hope could adjust to move his hand, he did so first. He went from resting it on her belly to just wrapping it around her waist again. When he did, Hope let out a breath she didn't know she'd been holding in. As best she could, she pushed the nagging thought of this baby out of her head so she could get some sleep. It only worked for a little while. She spent the rest of the night awake, unable to stop thinking about what was going to happen to them.


 

The next morning, Scott woke up to find Hope wide-awake. She looked completely exhausted as she stared at the ceiling and played mindlessly at her wasp necklace that he'd gotten her for Christmas. Occasionally, she'd let out a sigh. Scott lifted his head a bit.

"Babe?" he whispered.

She glanced at him but didn't say anything. She could see his concern and instantly looked back to the ceiling.

Scott frowned and took her hand. "Hey, did you sleep at all?"

After a moment of silence, she shook her head sadly. Another sigh left her. "I couldn't…"

He leaned into her and kissed her cheek. "I'm sorry," he whispered. "I wish there was more I could do. Is there anything you need?" He wrapped an arm around her and pulled her close. When he did, she turned into him and buried her face into his chest, shaking her head. He rubbed her back softly. "If there is, please let me know. Okay?"

"Okay," she whispered, keeping herself close to him, enjoying his warmth. But a few seconds later, she felt the churning begin in her stomach. "Oh, no…" She lurched out of his arms and sprinted to the bathroom. She barely made it to the toilet in time.

Scott had hurried to follow her, and he went to hold her hair out of her face until she was done. Once the sickness had passed, she slumped back into him, sweaty and out of breath. Scott frowned and held her close. "I've got you," he said quietly.

"God, I hate this," she croaked.

"I know," he replied. "Come on and lie down. I'll get you some ginger ale."

She shook her head. "No, that's okay. I'm fine." She then pushed herself to her feet, just as her phone rang in the bedroom. With a grumble, she sulked to the nightstand, Scott behind her, and she glanced at the phone. It was Janet. After hesitating, she eventually answered. "Hello?"

"Hope, hey," Janet chimed through the phone. "I didn't wake you up, did I?"

"No, no, you didn't," Hope said.

Janet immediately noticed there was a strange tone in her daughter's voice. "Okay… are you okay?"

"What?" Hope hadn't really paid attention.

"You okay?" her mother repeated herself.

"Oh, yeah, yeah," Hope replied. "I'm okay. What's up?"

"Oh, I was wondering if you and Scott wanted to stop by for breakfast. It's a Sunday morning. Remember when we'd sit down for breakfast like that all those years ago?"

Hope chuckled lightly. "Yeah," she said. "Yeah, I do. That sounds amazing. We'll be over soon." She really hoped she didn't sound horrible like she thought she did.

"Great," it was obvious Janet was smiling by the sound of her voice. "We'll see you soon."

"Okay, Mom," the other woman spoke, just before ending the call and putting her phone down. She rubbed her face and let out a big breath.

Scott's hand found her back. "Everything okay?"

She nodded. "Yeah. She just wants us over for breakfast. We used to sit down as a family on occasionally Sunday mornings. I guess she wanted to recreate that today. But please, let's not tell them about… this… okay?"

"Of course," Scott replied, kissing her forehead. "We better get ready, then."

Hope gave another nod and turned to go take a quick shower before getting changed. Again, she couldn't fit into her jeans, so she wore leggings and a loose-fitting shirt. She dried her hair, put on a little eye makeup to conceal the bags under her eyes, and made sure she didn't look like she hadn't been sleeping before she was ready to go. Scott showered after Hope, and he got into a comfortable outfit, and his hair was a quick fix. He was ready before Hope was. When she had herself together, they left the house to go to Hank and Janet's.

In the car, Hope's phone buzzed with a message from Becca.

Everything okay?

Hope sighed. No. He knows. He told me about having options, but it broke his heart to say it, I know it. I don't know what to do and now we're going to my parents for breakfast. Idk if I can do this, Becca.

Just breathe, Hope. Keep breathing. You don't have to tell anyone anything now. Take it at your own pace.

Hope chose not to reply that time. Becca didn't send another text after that, anyway. Another sigh left her before she put her phone down and stared out the window. She only looked away when she felt Scott's fingers lace with hers. He squeezed gently and pulled her hand up to kiss it once. That was all he did. He didn't speak or anything otherwise. They just kept quiet.

Eventually they made it to the Pym residence. Hope remained in the car for a few extra seconds as the worst case scenarios began to play. Scott had to pull her from her thoughts for her to finally get out of the car. They walked up to the door and it opened before they could knock. There was Janet, smiling. Hope had to quickly put on a fake smile.

"Good morning," Janet greeted them, waving them inside.

"Morning, Janet," Scott smiled.

"Hey, Mom," Hope did her best to not sound exhausted.

Janet was immediately suspicious. But it didn't show. "You are just in time. Breakfast is almost ready."

Scott was very pleased that Janet had made them breakfast. He took in a deep breath and smiled even wider. "Wow, it smells amazing! Is that bacon?"

Janet let out a giggle. "It is. Hank is working on that as we speak."

"I'm gonna go see if he needs any help," the man offered, just before he headed to the kitchen to find Hank. The girls were left alone.

Hope really didn't like this, already. She knew her mother had noticed something was up. Janet stepped closer. "Hey, are you sure you're okay?" she asked. "You look exhausted."

Crap. She didn't cover her eye bags well enough. "I'm fine, Mom," Hope lied.

"Hope, really, something doesn't feel right," Janet replied.

"I promise, Mom, I'm okay."

Janet decided not to push anymore, so she took Hope into the kitchen to find Hank and Scott finishing the cooking together. Both women found it funny to see them like that. Scott just gave a goofy smile. Hank pouted and tried to defend himself. Janet simply went to kiss his cheek.

Meanwhile, the smell of the bacon, a smell that used to bring Hope such delight, was revolting to her now. Shit, not now, she thought. She did everything she could to hide the fact that she was feeling sick. Luckily, nothing happened, but god, that smell was nagging.

They talked for a while, and soon they ended up at the table eating the meal together, everyone seemed to be getting along, especially Hank and Scott. Hope remained pretty quiet as she did her best to eat what she could. She was starving, but she didn't like how she'd been uncontrollable recently. She didn't want to stuff herself. Janet watched her worriedly. Something was really wrong and she knew it. But Hope wouldn't talk. Janet felt bad that she couldn't help her own daughter.

Suddenly, the nausea returned when Hope smelled the bacon on her plate. Oh, no. This time was worse. It felt as if she'd been hit by a truck. In a flash, she forced herself out of the chair and quickly excused herself. Scott wanted to run after her, but Janet had already done so. She told the two men to stay put. She'd be the one to handle this.

Janet found her daughter in the bathroom, bent over the toilet as she was violently ill. Her knuckles were white as she gripped the sides of the porcelain. Janet quickly went to be by her side, shocked by the suddenness of it all.

"Whoa, honey," she said as she supported the sickly woman.

Hope finally got done and wiped her mouth, breathing hard, her forehead clammy. "I'm fine," she croaked.

Janet shook her head. "You are not. You just threw up out of nowhere. You can't tell me you're fine. Come here." She helped Hope to her feet, and while the younger woman rinsed out her mouth and washed her hands, Janet had flushed the toilet and put the lid down so Hope could sit. Once her daughter obliged, Janet looked her in the eye with the most worry. "Hope, you could have told me you were sick." She said this as she got a cool washcloth for her forehead. "I would have let you stay home and rest."

"I feel better now, I swear," Hope responded. She was disgusted by how she sounded.

Janet cupped her daughter's cheeks. Strangely, her cheeks didn't feel warm, like they would if she were truly sick. "Hope, something's up. Why won't you tell me?" Her voice was gentle and soft. Her eyes searched her face.

Hope opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out. She looked up at her mother as the tears began to fill her eyes. Without warning, she started to cry silently, and she hung her head in shame. Her hands came up to cover her face.

Her mother watched in confusion and even more worry. Her instant instinct was to pull her daughter close to her. "Oh, Hope," she whispered. This was worse than she thought, she knew it. "It's okay, I'm here." She said this in the same fashion as she always had when Hope was upset as a child.

Hope continued to cry into her mother, clinging onto her for support and out of fear. She had to fight to speak. "Mom… I… I'm not… I'm not sick…"

The other woman shook her head. So stubborn. But then again, maybe she was telling the truth. Janet could only listen.

Finally, Hope had the courage to glance up and look her mother in the eye. She knew she had to say it, and that thought made her lower lip tremble again. She shook from crying, sniffling, but she knew she wouldn't be able to get away from this. Just say it! "Mom, I… I'm pregnant…"

Janet's eyes went as wide as saucers. "What?"

"I'm pregnant," Hope repeated herself sadly. She then looked at her hands in her lap, trying not to start crying again.

Her mother was still shocked. But there was no anger. In fact, she was pretty happy about it. She was going to be a grandmother! It was so exciting to her. But she frowned when she realized Hope's dismay and knelt to be at eye level with her. "How long have you known?"

"Since yesterday," the other woman replied. "Becca was with me. She gave me a test." After rubbing her face again she let out a long breath. "I don't know what to do."

"Well, have you told Scott?"

"Yeah. He knows."

Janet noticed that she seemed reluctant when she said that. "So you have talked about it?"

Hope nodded. "He was so… calm. I don't understand it. And when I told him I didn't know what to do, he told me I had options, but then I asked him if he wanted the baby. He didn't answer but I could just tell by the look on his face… he wants this baby."

"And what about you?"

"I don't know… I mean, we haven't spoken once about maybe having kids. I mean, hell, we're not even married! I wasn't planning on this at all. I just want to keep being the Wasp. Now that's all over."

"Oh, Hope, you and I both know that isn't true," Janet said quietly. She lifted Hope's chin to get her to meet her gaze. "Honey, I didn't stop being the Wasp when I got pregnant with you. I mean, yes, I took a break during the pregnancy and took a year off so I could be at home with you. It's not the end."

"But Mom, you and Dad were married," Hope responded. "Scott and I have only been dating for a year! I mean, what if he decides to leave, or something?"

Janet frowned and took Hope's hand. "Hope, that isn't true, either. He has a daughter. He's a great father from what I've seen. Why do you think he'd leave you? You even said that he seemed to want the baby."

Hope let out another sigh and covered her face again. "I know. I'm just…" she glanced up to her mom. "I'm scared!"

Her mother brought her into a close hug. "I know, honey. I know. Just breathe, okay? You're not alone. You have Scott. You have Becca. You have me and even your dad. But whatever happens, it's your choice. I'll support you in whatever you choose."

"You really mean that?"

"Of course, I do," Janet gave her a nod and wiped some stray tears from the tear-stained face she was looking at. "I mean every word." Then, she hugged Hope once again, as she finally began to calm down.

"I don't know what the hell I'm doing," Hope spoke quietly.

"I didn't either," Janet assured her calmly. "But again, you won't have to do this alone."

Just then, a knock came to the bathroom door. "Hope?" it was Scott from the other side. Once a few minutes had passed without Hope returning, he'd decided to go check on them. "Hope, are you okay?"

Hope sighed when she heard his voice. "Yeah," she said. "I'm fine."

Janet glanced to her daughter. "He's worried," she whispered. "Can I let him in?"

Hope hesitated, but eventually she nodded, and Janet proceeded to open the door. Scott stood there, and standing behind him was a concerned Hank. Hope froze when she realized that her father was there, too. The old man saw how upset his daughter was and it gave him even more cause for worry.

"What happened?" Hank asked.

Scott was already by Hope's side. "Did you throw up again?"

She nodded, and Hank was troubled. "Throw up? Are you sick? Hope, you could have stayed home if you are." The old man backed up a bit, worried that whatever sickness this was could be contagious. However, he couldn't ignore the way her eyes were reddened and her face was swollen. She'd been crying. It had been a very long time since he'd seen her that upset. He wished he could do something more to help. When he looked at his wife, she seemed sympathetic and worried. What was going on?

"I'm not sick," Hope tried to tell him when she saw him step back. "Trust me, you can't catch what I have."

Hank was confused. "What do you mean? Hope, what's going on? If you're not sick, how come you're throwing up?"

"That kind of happens when a woman is pregnant," she mumbled under her breath.

"What?" Hank hadn't heard what she said. Well, he had heard parts, but it wasn't all coherent to him.

"I'm pregnant, Dad," Hope finally blurted it out without thinking. Shame overwhelmed her immediately.

Hank was so caught off-guard that he didn't know how to react. His daughter really wasn't sick. She was pregnant. He was about to become a grandfather? All he could do was switch glances between Hope and Scott a few times before finally landing on Scott. "You son of a bitch." He didn't say this angrily, though.

Scott shook his head. "Hank, please don't start," he said calmly. "Now isn't a good time to get angry or start yelling."

"I'm not angry," Hank claimed, which was the truth. He was a bit disappointed, but not angry at all. "I'm just… shocked. I wasn't expecting that."

"You're not alone on that one," Scott replied, keeping his eye on Hope, who was wiping more of her tears.

Hank cleared his throat. "When did you find out?"

"Yesterday," Hope uttered. "I'm still trying to wrap my head around it. But I'd appreciate it if we didn't have a huge lecture about this, okay? I don't know what the hell I'm doing about all of this."

"Well, whatever happens, we're here for you," the old man told her.

She glanced up, almost in disbelief. She never expected to hear this from her father. "Really?"

Hank nodded his head. "Of course. Just take care of yourself, okay? Please?"

"I'll try," Hope was the one to nod this time. Despite all the pressure and shock that was going through her, there was some happiness, because of all the support she had.

She could tell, however, that this wouldn't be a very easy decision to make.

Chapter Text

Roughly two weeks went by, and Hope was still trying to come to terms with the pregnancy. She had yet to make an appointment with an OBGYN, or anything of that sort, despite Becca's suggestions to do so, just in case. No matter what, Hope refused to acknowledge it, at least, not right now. In the meantime, her friends and family decided not to rush her or force anything upon her. Scott was the one trying the hardest. But he couldn't help but lie in bed at night and wonder what the baby would look like. He had to fight hard not to put his hand on Hope's belly. He was trying so hard not to convince her of anything, and he intended to keep that promise. But he didn't realize how difficult that would be.

Meanwhile, Becca and Jack were still enjoying the parenting life. Porter was just over three months old, now, and he was probably the happiest baby anyone had ever seen. He was all smiles, with occasional giggles in there, too. Becca completely doted her son every second she could. Since she was still taking time off, she was with Porter every second of every day. He got all the cuddles and kisses in the world. Sure, Jack loved him, too, more than anything, but it was Becca who absolutely spoiled him with all the love she could. She absolutely loved being a mother, and it definitely showed constantly.

One day, the morning had started out normal. Becca and Jack had just finished breakfast together, Porter on Becca's lap during the meal, when it came time for the baby's first nap of the day. She got to her feet, kissed Jack's cheek, let him kiss their son, and she then went to the bedroom. She changed his diaper and put on a new outfit before she just lay with him on the bed for a while. She was baby talking him, making all kinds of faces to get him to smile. She'd play with his hands as they reached up, and his feet when they kicked around. Little noises left him, and he smiled those big smiles that Becca adored so much. She could only imagine what his laugh would sound like. Her hope was for him to sound like Jack. She giggled and kissed his baby cheeks.

"Hey, baby," she cooed, bumping her nose against his face. Porter's hands came up to touch her face, making her giggle again. She brought up her hand to caress the back of his head. "You sweet boy." Porter started babbling and kicking around again, and he smiled up at his mother, that sweet, innocent smile that made her melt. That was his daddy's smile.

She lay there with him for a few more minutes before she started to get up. "It's time for your nap, baby boy," she murmured, picking him up and cradling him in her arms, pressing her forehead to his. She began to walk around the room slowly while gently bouncing him to simulate rocking. A song left her mouth in the form of a quiet hum. Porter was situated upright, to one side while his head rested upon her shoulder. Her hand stroked his hair to give him even more comfort. Soon, he'd fallen asleep, his breathing slow against her neck. Her humming didn't stop, though. She continued as she carefully made her way to the crib and laid him down. She made sure nothing was around him that could cause issues, and when she was satisfied, she stroked his cheek one last time. After kissing him, she backed away and left the room, leaving the door open.

Jack was on the sofa watching TV when Becca came into the room. She went up behind the back of the furniture and leaned down to hug him. "Hey, Daddy," she smiled kissing his head.

"Hey, gorgeous," he returned the expression and glanced up at her. "Is he asleep?"

"Mhm, he is," she nodded. "Fast asleep in his crib."

"Good," Jack grinned still. He watched as his girlfriend walked around the sofa and joined him. "Supermom to the rescue again."

Becca let out a few giggles and kissed his cheek. "You're Superdad, too, you know? He loves his daddy."

"Not quite as much as he loves his mama, though."

She rolled her eyes and laid her head on his shoulder. "You have the monitor in here right?"

"Of course," he nodded pointing to it. "Always."

"Okay, good," she relaxed, curling up with him.

Jack glanced down at her and pressed a kiss to the crown of her head. "Take a nap, babe. I'll keep an ear out."

Little did he know that she was already halfway there. When he didn't get an answer, he looked back down at her and found her drifting off into a peaceful slumber. He let her lie there on him.


She didn't take that long of a nap, though. Something woke her up. She didn't know what or why, but she was on edge. Something was nagging at her. Jack saw her awaken and sit up and he glanced at her.

"You okay?"

She nodded, yawning a bit. "Yeah, I'm fine. Could you go check on Porter? I feel like one of us should go peek."

"I'll go," Jack nodded, and he immediately got to his feet. "I'll be right back."

She kissed him, and then he left for the bedroom. She remained on the sofa, lazily watching TV for a few moments. But deep down, something didn't feel right.

"Becca!"

She knew something was wrong when she heard that. She knew it. Something had been wrong. But she didn't know just how bad things were. She knew it was worse than she thought, because Jack never had that tone. In an instant, she was on her feet, running for the bedroom. She stopped in her tracks when she saw him rush out with Porter in his arms. There was a look of terror in his eyes. What Becca noticed about her baby horrified her.

Porter was completely blue, his entire body, as it lay limp in Jack's arms. He was limp, lifeless… Becca had seen dead bodies before. This was a dead body. "Oh, god, no!" she screamed and took her son quickly. He was so cold already. Her eyes filled with tears and her heart raced. There was another thing she noticed… he wasn't breathing.

She thought she was going to throw up. "Oh, baby, come on," she whimpered as she propped him onto her chest. She tried patting his back, jolting him, calling his name. It wasn't working. "No, no, no, no, Porter, no! Jack, call 911 now!"

Jack didn't hesitate, and he went for his phone to call the ambulance. "Our baby stopped breathing," he explained as calmly as he could. But there was no way he could stay that calm. His voice was shaky as he tried to hold it together while his heart raced in his ears. "He—he's completely blue, not breathing… he didn't respond when we shook him…"

As he made the call, Becca was shaking and sobbing and screaming. "No, no, no, Porter, come on, no!" she kept repeating these things over and over again as she shook him gently. She poked and prodded and jolted him, but to no avail. She started to hyperventilate. No, she could not lose her baby.

She kneeled onto the floor immediately, laying Porter along her forearm on his back so she could begin CPR. There was never a more horrifying and awful scene she'd seen in her life.

Ten seconds of CPR left her with nothing. She kept trying.

Everything Jack was saying behind her was distorted. Fear surged in her veins, her blood running cold. Fifteen seconds. Nothing.

"Come on, baby, come on!" she cried.

Twenty seconds. Still nothing.

"Come on, Porter!" She was back to screaming for him.

Becca refused to give up, but the length of time it was taking for the CPR to work frightened her more than anything else. It would only be a matter of time before he'd lose too much oxygen. God, how long had he been like that? Her body trembled. Tears fell down her face in a nonstop stream. She pleaded for something to work, begging her baby to come back to her.

Finally, after twenty-five seconds, Porter took a breath. The blue color faded, but he was still awfully pale. Becca released a loud cry of relief, her sobbing becoming more intense as she brought him up to cradle him against her chest. "Oh, god, my baby…" she wept as she held him. "Thank god."

Jack was beyond relieved as well. He informed the operator that Porter had begun breathing again, and then he was given some good news. He knelt beside a still-sobbing Becca, pulling her to him. "The ambulance is a minute away, baby. They'll be here soon, okay?" He looked down at his son. The image of how blue he was would haunt him forever. That, and the image of Becca screaming and crying trying to rescue their baby.

She nodded, and she cried into his chest, clutching her baby while shaking. Porter was starting to wake up, finding consciousness again. Though he didn't make a sound. Becca could feel his breath on her chest, thankfully. After a few, he was more awake, looking around and moving. His little hand came up to rest on Becca's chest, and it made her cry even more. Slowly, she brought an uneasy hand up to slide her finger into his grasp, even bringing up his hand so she could kiss his little fingers. They were warm, now, thank god. She started nonstop kissing them, and his head as well. Then, he could be heard whimpering. Outside, they could hear sirens getting closer.

A few seconds later, paramedics came bursting into the room. They went to assess the woman and the baby, escorting them to the ambulance outside once the baby was in his car seat. Jack followed closely behind once he'd grabbed the diaper bag and other necessities. They were loaded onto the ambulance, and within seconds, they were on their way to the hospital.

The whole ride there, Becca would not release her son's car seat. He was still pale, and his movements were slow. The noises he made were quiet, but still there. She wanted nothing more than to hold him and feed him and never let him go. She stroked his little cheek, and that was when he looked up at her. She gave him a tearful smile and took his hand.

"Hey, baby boy," she whispered, sniffling. "Hi, I see you."

Porter flashed his little smile just then, and it made his mother's eyes blur even more with tears. Jack rubbed her shoulder and was tearing up as well. "Hey, little man," he spoke quietly. "You see Mommy? Mommy saved your life."

Becca looked up at him with her reddened tearful eyes. "We almost lost him…" she whimpered.

"Shh," he pulled her to him. "He's okay, now. You saved his life." He pressed his lips to her temple and rubbed her back some more. She was still shaking in his arms.

"I never should have left him," her voice was broken, her lower lip quivering.

"Becca, it's not your fault. Please don't do this."

Nonetheless, she didn't pay him any mind after that. She remained a quiet, broken mess the rest of the ride to the hospital. Jack couldn't do anything else but hold onto her for support.

Before they knew it, they were on the pediatric floor of the building, in a room while nurses were hooking Porter up to a bunch of machines. Heart monitor, breathing monitor, and everything else of that sort. Becca hated seeing him with all those wires around him. What amazed her was how he was still being his little happy self. After everything that had happened, the smile was still there. Becca had a hard time paying attention to the doctors and nurses, who wanted to do tests on him to see what happened. Jack had to help answer the questions, because he knew she wasn't going to be able to focus on anything else the rest of the day. They ordered an EEG, EKG, chest X-ray, sleep study, among so many other tests. Soon, the personnel left the two alone with their baby. Becca immediately went back to Porter's side and took his hand. Jack stood behind her and rested a hand on her back.

"They're gonna do everything they can," he told her. "Hopefully we can get some answers."

She nodded once, not looking away from Porter. The image of her nearly dead son in her arms was haunting her nonstop. "He was just so… lifeless," she breathed. "And cold… oh, god…"

Jack wrapped his arms around her immediately so he could pull her close. Her hands weakly gripped his shirt as she fought back her flow of tears. She never took her eyes off her baby, who was drifting to sleep now. His heart rate on the monitor was steady, which was relieving, but Becca paid close attention, fearing that it would change. Jack rubbed her back. Deep down, he was so fearful, haunted, worried. He had been the one to find his son like that, the one to pick up his cold, blue baby thinking he'd died. Just thinking about it gave him chills and made his blood run icy cold. And god, watching Becca's sheer panic and despair would never be forgotten.

He remembered how Porter had opened his eyes after regaining consciousness. The first thing that baby looked at was his sobbing, horrified mother, with her reddened eyes and tear stained face. Jack could almost imagine Porter talking to her as the two met eyes. "What's wrong, Mommy? Why are you crying?" Because despite being almost dead, looking pale and breathing slow, it was almost as if he didn't notice what had happened. He might as well have been waking up from a simple nap. That thought would stick with him forever.

Becca calmed down a bit and wiped some of the tears away while checking over Porter again. His monitor beeped steadily, and his breathing was steady, too… just like it was when he went to sleep before all this happened. Already, the mother knew she wouldn't be sleeping ever again. As long as her baby was safe. With a shaky hand, she reached out to caress Porter's soft head while he slept. As she stroked, he smiled in his sleep.

"After everything he just went through, I don't understand how he's the same happy, smiley baby he always has been," Becca murmured, sniffling. "He's definitely stronger than I am."

"Both of you are so strong," Jack corrected her soothingly. "His mother is a warrior. He gets it from her. You're both fighters, baby."

She simply nodded, snuggling closer into Jack's warmth. His strong arms never felt so safe and welcoming. "You're strong, too," she managed to get out. "He gets the warrior from both of us."

He mustered a smile and kissed the top of her head. "Either way, I know he'll make it through. He's still with us."

After wiping away some more tears from her face, Becca nodded slowly. Then she glanced up at him. "We're never gonna sleep again," she said, looking back to her son after she spoke. "I'll never be able to leave him alone again."

"I know," Jack stated; he was thinking the same thing.

The longer Becca stared at her baby boy, the more she didn't like him being out of her arms. "I want to hold him so bad," she whimpered.

"I know, baby," he replied, kissing her temple. "I know. You will soon."

"Not soon enough," she murmured, reaching to slip her finger into his little hand. She ran her thumb over his little fingers. She continued to watch him, resting her head on the side bar of the crib.

Just then, her phone rang. But she didn't react. Jack walked to where she'd put her phone and saw who was calling her. "It's Hope."

"I… I can't talk right now…"

Jack sighed, but he decided to answer. "Hello?"

"Jack?" Hope hadn't expected Jack to be the one to answer Becca's phone. "Jack, where's Becca?"

The man ran a hand over his face and sighed. "She's uh… she's not in the mood for talking right now."

Hope immediately noticed how somber he sounded. "Why? Is everything okay?"

"Uh… no… we're in the hospital right now."

"What?! What happened?!"

"It's, uh… it's a long story," Jack hesitated.

Becca glanced to him. "Jack," she whispered. "You can tell her."

"Are you sure?" Jack murmured back to her.

Hope was worried sick on the other line. "Jack, what's going on?"

"Porter stopped breathing in his sleep—"

"—Oh, my god, what? Oh, please tell me he's okay." She sounded like she was beginning to cry.

"He's fine," Jack assured her. "We caught it just in time."

Hope let out a sigh of relief. "Oh, thank god."

"Yeah. He's okay. But we're having some tests done over the next couple days to see what caused it."

"Oh, god, can I please talk to Becca? Just for a second?"

Jack glanced to Becca and held up the phone. Becca nodded and held out her hand and took the phone when he handed it to her. After clearing her throat, she brought the phone to her face. "Hey."

"Becca, hey," Hope replied. "How are you holding up?"

The other woman sighed. "I don't know. I'm still trying to process. But he's okay. He's still breathing. I'm never going to sleep again."

Her friend frowned, wishing she could be there during this scary time. "It's gonna be okay," she assured her friend. "Please keep your head up, okay? I wish there was more I could do."

"No, it's okay," Becca stated. "But I'll keep you updated."

"Okay," Hope replied. "Please do. I'm worried."

They spoke for a little while longer before they ended the call. Becca put her phone aside and went right back to watching her sleeping son. Her hand hadn't moved away from his. As he slept, he even tightened his grip a few times. She mustered a soft grin but as the images of what had happened began to circle her mind she began to tear up again. Jack was by her side in an instant, pulling her to him.

"Shh," he hushed her soothingly. "Shh, it's okay. It's okay." She couldn't help but weep silently into his chest while he rocked her ever so gently. He rubbed her back and spoke soothing words to her, anything to make her feel better.

When she calmed down a bit, she pulled away and wiped her face. Jack noticed how exhausted this whole ordeal had made her, so he motioned to the sofa nearby.

"You should try and sleep, baby," he whispered.

She looked up with saddened eyes. "I don't want to leave Porter alone…"

"I'll be up watching him," he assured her softly. "I promise. Please sleep."

She nodded slowly and went to lie down on the sofa near the crib. It wasn't long before she fell asleep. Meanwhile, Jack situated himself in a chair right up next to the crib where his son slept. He saw that the baby was starting to stir a bit. With a soft smile, Jack watched the infant boy open his eyes and look right at him… and then he flashed that little smile of his that melted Jack's heart.

"Hey, buddy," he whispered to his son, reaching to caress his little head. "Hey. Oh, you're so happy, huh? It's like nothing happened, huh?" He smiled wider when Porter did as he spoke. "I love you, little man."

As Jack kept talking to him, Porter became more animated and smiley, which made Jack's heart sing. To think that he was almost taken from them… he couldn't imagine life without that baby. This baby and his fiancée were the lights of his world. They owned his heart. The thought of losing either of them… no… he didn't want to think about that.

Porter continued with his smiling, and he even began making little noises. Jack let him hold his hand and suck on his finger. "You're so happy, huh?" the man grinned. "You scared us, buddy… Your mama saved you. We almost lost you." As he spoke and thought about it, his voice began to break… he began to break. Tears pricked in his eyes and flowed down his cheeks. "I'm so sorry this happened, Porter. I'm so glad you're okay." By then, Jack was fully crying, still holding his son's little hand. Every time he glanced at this baby, he found those big eyes looking right back at him. "Don't cry, Daddy," they seemed to say.

After a few minutes, Jack began to calm down, sniffling and wiping his tears. Porter was still looking at him with those innocent eyes. Jack gave him a sad smile. "It's gonna be okay, sweet boy. We'll all be okay. You're safe."

He glanced between the baby and his future wife, and he let out a breath. He would make sure that everything would be okay.


Hope hung up the phone after speaking with Becca and ran her hands over her worried face. Scott was nearby; he'd rushed to her side when he heard Hope's tone change once she learned of her friends being in the hospital. Once she put the phone down, he looked right at her.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

While burying her face in her hands, she huffed sadly. "Porter is in the hospital."

"What?!" Scott gasped.

"He stopped breathing while he was sleeping," Hope explained. "They found him just in time. God, Scott, they almost lost him…" That was when she began to tear up. Goddamn hormones.

He brought her to him, still trying to process what he'd just learned. Meanwhile, Hope cried. She just cried. On top of all the stress with her own baby, she'd just learned that her friend almost lost her baby. It felt as if the world was falling apart around them. As she sobbed, her hand covered her belly instinctively. She didn't notice this. However, Scott did.

He saw this and wanted so bad to cover her hand, to help protect their baby. When things like this happen, he wanted nothing more than to hold his family close, and that included the baby Hope was carrying. He wanted this baby with her; he wasn't afraid to admit this. He really wanted to raise this baby with Hope by his side. It was safe to say that if Hope decided to terminate the pregnancy, he would be devastated deep down.

As Hope sat there with him, she realized where her hand was, and she glanced down quickly. That was new… most of the time she did everything in her power to avoid touching her belly and be reminded of the situation. And as she looked upon the position of her hand, she actually hesitated. She had to admit that because she heard about her friend nearly losing her baby, it made Hope want to protect her own.

Scott noticed the expression on her face. "Hey, are you okay?" he asked.

She was silent for a moment, and then she met his gaze. "I don't want this baby to be harmed."

It was so sudden that he needed clarification. "What?"

"I… I want to protect this baby…" Her hand still had not left her torso. "Hearing that my best friend nearly lost a child made me want to protect my own even more."

"So…" Scott trailed off some. "You're going through with it?"

After a few moments of hesitation, she gave him a slow nod. "Yeah, I am. I don't know what will happen after the baby is born, but I know I want the baby to live."

Scott couldn't help but smile gently, made up of relief and joy. He leaned forward to kiss her forehead. "I want it to live, too," he told her. Finally, he had the confidence to cover her hand on her belly. He did so slowly, so he didn't startle her. When his hand contacted hers, she didn't even flinch. She simply glanced down at their hands over the vessel of their unborn child. She had to admit, seeing that before her actually felt nice. It didn't seem so bad with Scott around. Maybe it would be okay, somehow.

She just prayed and hoped that it would be the same for her friends and their son.

Chapter Text

It was a very long night that night after Porter's near-death scare. Becca and Jack hardly got any sleep, and for good reason. Becca never left her baby's side, and rarely did her hand leave him. Jack remained very close to them both, no matter what. Doctors and nurses were in and out while they performed all sorts of tests. Becca absolutely hated seeing all the wires covering the infant in the crib. She wanted nothing more than to pick him up and take him home. But at the same time, it felt so much better to be in the hospital where, if anything happened, it would be quickly taken care of. But the fact that she couldn't hold him stressed her out.

Twenty-four hours went by, and so far, all the tests had come up clean. It was relieving… and yet, it was so frustrating. They wanted answers. They'd spent a day checking to see what was wrong, and there seemed to be nothing. Becca sat by Porter's side once again and stroked his head.

"I don't get it," she sighed. "Everything's clean. I know we should be happy about that, but I'd like some answers."

"I know," Jack replied, stroking her back. "But we still have a few more to go. Maybe one of those will come up with something."

Becca let out a breath, just as her son was kicking his feet and babbling. She glanced at him and giggled softly. "Someone's happy and has no idea what's been happening," she spoke to him and tickled his feet. He kept on smiling, and even let out a half-laugh when he was tickled. Becca leaned down to kiss his nose. "We'll get some answers soon, sweet boy."

"Yeah, we will," Jack nodded, kissing Becca's head before doing the same to Porter's.

A knock came to the door gently, causing the couple to turn their heads with curiosity. "Come in," Becca called.

The door opened, and a familiar face was revealed. Then another. Scott and Hope slowly stepped into the room. In an instant, Becca and Jack went up to them to hug them tightly.

"Hey," Becca smiled softly while hugging Hope.

"Hi," Hope replied. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah, we're making it. So far, all the tests have come up clean, and it's so frustrating."

"I'm sure they'll find answers soon," Scott tried to keep it positive. "Where is he?"

Becca brought the other three to the crib and smiled at her son. "You have visitors, sweet boy," she murmured to him.

Scott and Hope peered over at the baby, who was wide-awake, and when he saw his godparents, he smiled at them. Scott began baby talking to him, getting him to smile again and again and laugh. Hope couldn't help but watch this, and she was enamored while studying this fatherly side of him. Jack began doing the same with Scott, and the girls stepped aside.

Becca had her friend sit down. "How are you holding up?" she asked.

Hope sighed and ran a hand through her hair. "I'm okay."

"Still trying to decide?"

"Actually… I have made a decision. I'm going through with it."

Becca smiled gently. "Yeah?"

"Yeah. I realized that… I don't want this baby to get hurt. I want it to live. I don't know what'll happen after it's born, but I know I want it to live. I want to protect it."

"Aww, good," Becca replied, and she brought her hand into a hug. "I'm proud of you."

"Thanks," Hope breathed. "Now, I can get an ultrasound. That's one of the reasons why we're here."

"Oh, really? I hope it goes well."

"Me, too," Hope nodded. "I'm nervous."

"That's normal," Becca reassured her. "It'll be okay."

That was when Scott came up to them to get Hope's attention. "Hey, we better go," he stated. "We have the appointment."

Hope nodded and got to her feet, her friend doing the same. When they were standing, Hope looked at Scott and took a huge breath. "Okay, let's go."

"Good luck, you guys," Becca told them. "And let us know."

"We'll keep you updated about Porter," Jack added.

Scott nodded. "Thanks, guys. We'll stop by afterward if we can."

The four of them hugged, and after that, Scott and Hope left, holding hands. Hope took a few deep breaths as they walked, trying not to freak out. Scott squeezed her hand.

"It's gonna be okay," he said soothingly. "I'm here for you, babe."

She let out another breath and kept walking to the waiting room, where they sat to wait to be called. It took about ten minutes before a nurse called them back. They were led to an exam room, where Hope sat on the bed, Scott in the chair beside her. She was instructed to undress from the waist down before the doctor got there, which she did. Then, she draped the table blanket over her legs and just waited, holding Scott's hand. She let out a few more deep breaths, yoga-style.

A few minutes passed, and then there was a knock and the door opened. In came a small, blonde woman, with her name clear on the badge: Jenna Thompson… the same woman who was Becca's OB when she was pregnant with Porter. "Good morning," she greeted the two, shaking their hands. "I'm Dr. Jenna Thompson. You must be Hope Van Dyne?"

"I am," Hope nodded. "And this is my boyfriend, Scott."

Scott shook the woman's hand once he was introduced. "Our friend recommended you," he spoke up.

"Oh, yeah?" Jenna asked. "Who?"

"Rebecca Ronan?" Hope replied.

"Oh, yes!" the other woman nodded. "I remember her. She had her baby a few months ago."

Hope nodded. "Yeah, she did," she had to hold back a sigh, knowing that this baby they were talking about was back in the hospital. That didn't come up, thankfully.

They began talking about Hope's symptoms and the fact that she'd taken a test. It was just like Becca's first appointment, when they spoke of medical history and gave Hope a pelvic exam, and so on. When it was determined that Hope was healthy, she was instructed to lie back and lift her shirt so they could start the ultrasound. Jenna put gel on Hope's skin, and after pressing buttons on the machine, she took the probe and put it over the gel, moving it around.

Hope turned her attention to the screen nearby, holding Scott's hand the whole time they both watched. Jenna searched for about half a minute until she caught sight of a small black mass in the center of the grey ultrasound image. The mass was small, and there was an even smaller mass within it, grey in color. The OB smiled and pointed to the grey mass with her free hand.

"There's your baby," she said. "Looks around six-ish weeks to me. That puts your due-date around May 19th of next year."

"Aww, a little May baby," Scott chimed with a grin. "Wow, it's so tiny,"

Jenna nodded. "Mhm, and you'll be surprised how much growing it goes through. Oh, and listen to this." She pressed a button and the heartbeat sounded. It was louder than the first time Hope heard it. "Very strong heartbeat."

The sound actually brought tears to Hope's eyes. She didn't expect to cry like this. Sure, she'd heard it before, but hearing it along with seeing it was something else. This baby was alive, and growing within her. She was amazed by how that worked. And that was enough to send her hormones overboard and she started to weep silently. She was just letting the tears fall as she watched and listened.

Scott heard her sniffle and glanced to her. He squeezed her hand and kissed it once. "You okay?" he whispered.

She gave him a simple nod. "Yeah… yeah I'm okay. I will be."

Scott kissed her lips this time, then looked to Jenna. "Can we get some pictures of that?" he asked quietly.

Jenna smiled and nodded, and then she went to print a strip of photos. Once that was done, she handed the strip to Scott. The man smiled gently looking at the pictures.

"Wow," he whispered. "So little."

When he glanced at Hope, she was wiping the tears away. Scott showed her the pictures when she sat up. Hope sighed and finally decided to take a look. And there it was. The little grey mass in the picture. Their baby. Scott was right; it was very small. She could only imagine how big she'd get while the baby grows.

After a moment, her attention was turned to the OB again as they discussed what would happen next. Hope was pretty distracted the whole time, paying more attention to the pictures she now held. Before she knew it, she and Scott were walking back down the hallway, back toward where Becca and Jack were staying with Porter. The entire time was spent looking at the baby and thinking about what was to come.


Becca was with Porter yet again, as if there was any doubt about that. He was asleep in his crib, and his mother stroked his soft belly while watching over him. She'd just gotten the results of the sleep study, and the whole ordeal was stressing her out. Jack sat nearby, also watching their son sleep.

"I just want to take him home," Becca whispered.

"I know," Jack sighed, kissing her forehead. "We'll be going home soon, I know it."

She let out a huff and rested against him. "Not soon enough."

A knock came to the door then, and Scott and Hope came in. Jack waved them further inside. "Come in, guys."

Hope saw how tired her friend looked and immediately went to hug her. "Anything new?" she asked.

"Central sleep apnea," Becca stated.

"What?" Hope asked.

"He was diagnosed with central sleep apnea."

"What is that?" Scott questioned.

"When your brain forgets to tell your body to breathe."

"Oh, god," Hope said. "That sounds terrifying, I can't even imagine. So, what can you do about it?"

Becca ran a hand through her hair. "Well, you can't prevent it from happening. There's no way to tell. But until he's one, he'll have to be on a monitor that warns when he's not breathing when he sleeps. Not to mention I will be nonstop watching him. But at least we finally have an answer."

"Yeah, we're relieved about it," Jack added. "The doctor—actually, several doctors have told us that if we had found him thirty seconds later, he wouldn't be with us. We got very lucky, thank god."

"Yeah," Becca nodded slowly, but she didn't want to relive what happened. She decided to change the subject, and she glanced to Hope. "How'd the appointment go?"

"It went well, I think," Hope replied. "I'm six weeks, and the baby's healthy. Due date is in May. We have pictures." She made her way to the other woman to show her the ultrasound photos.

Becca took them into her hand and smiled as she glanced at them all. "Aw, so little," she stated. "And it's healthy, that's good."

Jack peered over Becca's shoulder and smiled as well. "Wow. Brings back memories."

"Isn't six weeks when your first appointment was?" Scott recalled.

"Mhm, it was," Becca answered with a nod. "Hard to imagine it was almost a year ago since then, now." She turned to glance at her sleeping son. "That means our babies will be about eleven months apart. I'm sure they'll be best friends."

"Yeah," Hope chuckled lightly. The thought of raising a baby was still a bit uncomfortable to her, but the thought of raising a kid while Becca was raising hers, too, sounded kind of nice. "Only time will tell, I guess."

Jack couldn't help but grin. "Imagine little play dates together, that would be adorable."

Scott nodded with his agreement. "Oh, yes." He glanced over at Porter with a soft smile. "God, that is one cute kid. Gonna break a lot of hearts."

Becca had to stifle her chuckle as she, too, glanced at her baby boy in the crib. "Ain't that the truth," she uttered. "I'm so glad we still have him." She reached into the crib to stroke his little cheek, and it made her heart ache when he turned his cheek and opened his mouth. He was hungry, and she couldn't pick him up to feed him. Sighing, she reached behind her to take the bottle of milk she'd kept on hand and proceeded to feed him that way. The whole time, she was stroking the back of his head. To think that she nearly lost this little miracle… god, what would she have done?

She was lost in this trance for a while until she heard that Scott and Hope were leaving. Since she was still feeding her son, she couldn't stand, so Scott and Hope went to her so they could hug. Scott went first.

"Take care, okay?" he said.

"We will," Becca replied. "Y'all, too."

He gave her a nod, and then he stepped back so Hope could lean down to hug her friend. "I'm glad he's okay," Hope whispered.

"Me, too," the other woman said. "Thanks for coming, by the way. It means a lot."

"Of course," Hope answered. "Get some rest."

"Hey, you, too," Becca piped up. "You're the one who needs the most. Take care of that baby."

Hope only nodded, tensing a bit at the sound of the word "baby," but nonetheless, she gave Becca one last hug, and then, she left with Scott. The two headed home.


As soon as they got home, Hope went upstairs to lie down, because she felt tired, and at this point in her pregnancy, all she wanted to do was lie down and sleep. She got into some comfortable clothes—Scott's hoodie and some shorts—and climbed into bed, setting the strip of ultrasound pictures aside on the nightstand. Once situated, she couldn't resist taking the strip again to take another look. Her finger traced the form of the little baby within her. It was hard to believe that by the end, it would be who knows how many times bigger. It amazed her, and it terrified her. After a few more seconds, she put the paper back on the nightstand and before she knew it, she was out like a light.

Scott had been in another room straightening up while Hope had gone to lie down, and when he got to the bedroom, he found her fast asleep, propped up against the pillows. With a soft grin on his face, he made his way over to her, and carefully settled beside her. He lay on his stomach, perpendicular to her position, facing her stomach. Without waking her, he pressed a kiss to her belly, and then his hand slowly went to cover it. He kept an eye on Hope to make sure she didn't wake up. Then, he focused on her tummy.

"Hey, in there," he whispered softly, making sure he wasn't waking Hope. "It's your daddy here. You'll be hearing from me a lot. I already love you, kiddo. I love you, your mom, and your big sister more than life itself. I know we may seem scared, but trust me, we love you so much. Your mom is so strong, so I know you will be, too, but I promise that I'll be a better man for you. I'll do better for you, better for your mom. I'll do better for our little family."

What surprised him was when Hope's hand joined his over her belly, and it made him jump and blush. He glanced up and saw that she was in tears. She'd heard everything he'd said. And every word touched her heart more than she ever expected. "Oh, Scott," she whispered.

"Hey," he murmured and reached up to wipe her tears. "No crying."

"Do you really mean it? What you said?"

He was taken aback for a moment, but he nodded. Why would she think he didn't mean anything he said about this? "Of course, babe. I meant every word. One hundred percent. I still don't know what's gonna happen after this baby is born, but no matter what, I promise to do better."

It was at that very moment that she realized something she never thought was possible. As Scott kept being so loyal and kind to her, and supportive during such a tumultuous few weeks, she realized more and more that she couldn't have anyone better to raise a baby with. As she thought of this, she recalled the thoughts she had when she was watching Scott with Cassie the first time she met the little girl, how she thought that maybe one day, she'd want a child with Scott. And this became that "one day." At that moment she knew.

She really did want this baby with Scott.

When she realized this, she cried even more, and Scott was a bit confused for a second. He scooted close to her. "Hey, what's wrong?" he asked as he pulled her close.

"Nothing," she choked out, shaking her head. "Absolutely nothing. It's just that… I… I realize that I… I want to have this baby with you."

"You do?" Scott couldn't keep himself from smiling lightly. When she nodded, his smile grew wider, and he cupped her cheeks so gently. "You really do?"

"I really do, Scott," she nodded again, more tears slipping. "I've been such a mess, and yet you've been so sweet and loving. You've been so supportive of this. I've seen how you are with Cassie, and I know it'll be the same with our baby. I really want to have this baby."

By now, his smile was from ear to ear. Out of his joy, he kissed her softly. "I'll be the best I can be for you and this baby. I promise."

Hope searched his face and even mustered a small smile herself. "I know you'll keep that promise. And I'll promise the same."

"That makes me so happy, babe," he pressed his forehead against hers just then. "You make me happy."

"You make me happy, too," she replied softly. After a moment of silence she took a deep breath. "I'm so scared."

"That's okay. It's okay to be scared. I was scared, too. Don't be ashamed of being scared, okay?"

She gave him a few small nods before she sniffled again. "I have no idea what I'm doing."

"Oh, babe, that's okay," he kissed her softly. "I didn't either. It's normal. But you're not in this alone. We're in this together; we can both be scared and learn together."

She nodded, and then she threw her arms around him to hug him. "I love you."

He held her close, stroking her back, still smiling. "I love you, too. So much." Then, his hand found her belly, without even thinking. "And I love you, kiddo. I love you both more than you'll ever know."

She just held onto him, unable to control the hormones as she cried happy tears this time, in response to his touching words. She knew that he'd be there for her and this baby. He'd try hard for her and this baby. And she promised she'd do the same.

She knew they would be okay.

Chapter Text

Jack, Becca, and Porter spent the entire weekend at the hospital, and on that Tuesday, three days after Porter's scare, they were finally cleared to leave and go home. Porter was given a monitor to track his breathing during his sleep, which was a sigh of relief for his parents. But that didn't mean it was going to make sleeping for them any easier. Nevertheless, they were beyond ready to go home with him.

That morning, Jack had opted to take an infant CPR class, because he realized that as he watched Becca saving their son, he didn't know CPR at all. He wanted to rectify that as soon as possible. What would he do if something were to happen while Becca wasn't around? He wanted to be prepared. Becca was proud of him, and she could relax if she were to ever have to leave Porter with Jack for something. But she couldn't help but wonder… what would she do when she'd go back to work?

As they were preparing to leave, waiting for discharge papers, a nurse came in to remove the wires from the baby. Becca was by Porter's side in an instant, taking his little hand. They locked eyes and she smiled softly, and he gave her that wide smile that always made her fall in love all over again.

"Hi, baby," she whispered. "You're so happy, huh? I sure as hell am now that we can take you home."

After a few minutes, Porter was free, and immediately, Becca brought him into her arms and let out the biggest breath of relief ever. She held him close, cradling the back of his head as she carried him. She nearly started crying now that she had him back. "Oh, finally…" she whispered. "I've got you, baby. I'm here." And now that she had him back in her arms, the first thing she did was find her seat on the nearby sofa, lifted her shirt, and cradled him. When she stroked his cheek, he turned and opened his mouth. Gently, she guided him to her breast. He latched on immediately and began to feed, which relieved Becca all over again. He was feeding like a champ, like he usually did, and his little hand rested on top of his mother's breast. Her thumb found its way into his grasp, and her eyes never left the baby in her arms.

The door opened, and Jack came inside. When he found his fiancée feeding their son—free of wires—and looking blissful for the first time in days, his heart melted and he fell in love with them both all over again. Becca glanced up and smiled at him, and he did the same in return. "Hey," he whispered.

"Hi," she replied.

He made his way over to her and sat down, looking right at their son she held before glancing at her. "You look like you're in heaven again."

"I am," she nodded. "Finally. I missed this so much. I'm so glad I can hold him and feed him again."

He pressed a kiss to her temple just then before resting his head on her shoulder while watching the baby. "I can imagine," he murmured. "I like him better when he's in our arms, not hooked up to a bunch of wires."

"Me, too," Becca agreed. "I mean, I glad he was monitored every second, but I agree, I like him better right here with us."

Jack had a blissful grin on his face as he stroked the back of Porter's head. "He must have been hungry," he chuckled a little.

"Oh yeah," she stated. "He was apparently starving. He's taking huge swallows."

"It also looks like he likes being with you way better than in that crib. Going home makes everyone happy."

"Mmm yes," the woman nodded. "And soon I'll get to curl up in bed and just cuddle him. Cuddle both my boys."

Jack grinned still, and he kissed her. "Sounds perfect. I approve of this idea."

"Good," she let out a giggle. "Not too much longer."

It wasn't long after that when a nurse walked in with discharge papers, which were signed. As soon as that was done, the couple immediately picked up their things and left. Becca had Porter against her chest, using a carrier to baby wear him, while Jack took hold of the car seat with one hand. In the other, he held their new monitor, and the bag with their things was slung over his shoulder. Becca walked close to him, quietly humming to their son. She did this until they got to the car, and once she got the baby secure in the seat, she took her place next to him. Her eyes were to remain on him at all times.

When they finally returned home, they each went to take a shower. Jack went first, because Becca wasn't ready to let go of the infant. Jack was quick, and he came back to keep an eye on Porter while Becca took her turn. When she stepped out of the bathroom, she instantly melted at the sight she found.

There, on the bed, was Jack. He was propped against the pillows, very relaxed and dozing off, and on his chest was their sleeping son, which Jack supported with his arms, just in case. Never before had she seen such a beautiful sight. She approached the bed, trying not to wake them, but Jack wasn't fully asleep so he could hear her and opened his eyes.

"Hey you," he greeted her quietly. "Feel better?"

"So much better," she nodded. "Refreshed."

"Good," he whispered.

She sat on her side of the bed. "Whatcha got there?"

Jack grinned down at their baby boy and pressed a kiss to his little head. "Just the most amazing miracle baby in the world."

She smiled back at him and got closer to lean against him and look at their son. She spoke to him quietly. "You cuddling Daddy? He's comfy, isn't he?" Jack let out a few chuckles at this. Becca then released a happy sigh. "God, he's so cute on you like this. So content and warm."

"It's amazing," he stated happily. He started stroking the baby's back softly, and he glanced down. "Can you believe we made something this perfect?"

"Sometimes, I don't even think he's real. All of this feels like a dream, like I'll wake up to find that it wasn't true."

"Need a pinch?" Jack joked. "But I agree. So surreal."

Becca smiled as she continued to admire their baby. "I've got my boys. My two perfect boys."

Jack returned the smile and craned his neck to give her another soft kiss. "And these boys love you."

She chased his lips after he drew back, landing a few more kisses upon his lips. "I love you, too, Jack. Both of you."

For a moment, Porter started to whine in his sleep, and Becca's heart melted, because it was a sweet, innocent sound. Immediately, Jack rubbed his back and hushed him, and he pressed a kiss to his head again. "Shh, it's okay, little man," he whispered. "Shh."

Becca held her son's little hand as he began to calm down. She smiled as Jack's words soothed their baby, and eventually the little one fell right back to sleep. Her eyes met Jack's. "You're a natural. I love seeing you with him."

"Well, I'm sure he'd rather be with his mama," Jack replied. "For many reasons."

"He still adores his daddy," Becca retorted. "I'll never stop saying that."

"And I'll never stop saying how amazing you are. You'll see what else I have to say when we exchange vows."

Becca beamed at the thought of their upcoming wedding. "God, I can't wait for that," she stated. "You know, we should get crackin' on the planning."

"Yes, I agree," Jack nodded. "Where will we have it."

"Well," she began. "I was thinking we could get married on my parents' property. My sister had her wedding there."

"Whoa, wait, you have a sister?" Jack's eyes shot wide open.

Shit, she thought. She let out a sigh. "Yeah, I do. Her name is Rachel. She's four years younger than me."

"Why haven't you mentioned her before?"

"Because we haven't spoken in over a year and a half," Becca admitted with a sigh. Remorse began to fill her. "Rachel and I were close as kids, but as we grew up and went our separate paths, we grew apart. I went off to med school and she remained here in San Fran. We tried to stay in touch, but it didn't work. After Josh was killed, Rachel wanted so badly to help me, but I wouldn't let her. Hell, I didn't even want my parents helping me, but they're way more persistent. Rachel gave me space and time to grieve. Somehow, she found out my mental state was worsening, and she came to my apartment to talk to me. We argued. She was upset I wasn't letting her help me. I told her I was fine, which made her more upset because she knew I was far from fine. When I couldn't take it anymore, I shut myself in the bedroom and locked her out. It wasn't until I screamed for her to go away when she finally gave up and left. I haven't seen her or spoken to her since."

Jack was still surprised to hear this, and a bit saddened. "I'm sorry to hear that, Becca. I'm sorry, I shouldn't have asked."

"No, Jack, it's okay. You didn't know." She sighed again, looking at her hands in her lap. "She doesn't know about the suicide attempt. Or about this baby, or about you. She knows nothing. Looking back, I realize how stupid that was of me… stupid and selfish."

"Come on, baby don't say that. You were at a low point, it's not like you could really help it."

"Maybe so, but acting out of unnecessary anger? That's stupid."

Jack reached with his free hand to hold hers. "Maybe you should call your sister and meet. Tell her everything. Make amends. You have changed since you last saw her. Maybe she has, too."

"Yeah, you're right," Becca nodded. "I'll do that soon. But right now, all I want to do is cuddle with my boys."

Jack gave her a bright grin and leaned over a bit to meet her lips again. A little noise escaped from Becca's throat as he did. She couldn't help but giggle. Jack began peppering kisses all over her face and she laughed. She had to force herself to quiet down when she remembered the baby with them. Once everything fell quiet, Becca rested her head on Jack's shoulder again, and her hand came up to rest over his on Porter's back. She watched their son with a soft, loving, motherly grin on her face. Jack had the same expression. They both shared the same thoughts, too. They had their son. They were home. They were happy. Neither of them would change it for anything.


 

Two weeks later, Hope stood in front of the mirror again, looking at herself from the side and sighing as she ran a hand across the underside of her thickening torso. The jeans she was trying to wear were on, but they wouldn't zip or button. Part of her wondered why she even tried anymore. This was the fourth pair of jeans she'd attempted. Might as well give up and wear more leggings. Or invest in maternity pants. Out of frustration, she huffed and stepped away to fetch her leggings. Scott watched from the bed.

"Maybe we can go maternity shopping soon?" he suggested.

"I know," she sighed. "But do I really need full on maternity jeans this early? I'm only eight weeks. Maybe not yet. I'll just wear larger pants until I absolutely have to get maternity jeans. Though I feel like that won't be much longer."

He got to his feet and approached her once she had her leggings on, putting a hand on her arm. "No matter what, you're gorgeous."

"Yeah?" she blushed. "I certainly don't feel it. I feel like roadkill."

"Well, when we get home, I'm pampering you." He pressed a few kisses to her cheek. "Now, are you ready to go?"

She nodded once she fixed her hair. "Do you have the gift?" she asked.

Scott had nearly forgotten, and once she reminded him, he went to the nightstand to retrieve a gift bag with pink tissue paper. The name on the tag was Cassie's. Scott smiled as he approached his girlfriend. "Got it. Ready?"

"Yep," Hope replied, and she switched the keys for the gift, and she walked with Scott to the car. It wasn't long before they were heading to the Paxton household.

They'd texted Maggie and Paxton ahead of time, but only told them that they had something to tell them, and that they had something for Cassie. Nothing more. The Paxton's didn't think much of it, and they gladly invited Scott and Hope to their place. The expecting couple arrived right when they'd said they would, and knocked on the door. Maggie appeared on the other side.

"Hey," she greeted them with a smile, and then she hugged them both. "Long time, no see. Come on in."

After hugging, the couple followed Maggie inside, holding hands, and they found themselves in the living room. Paxton was there to greet them when they got there.

"Hey, guys," he said. "How are you?"

"We're well," Hope replied, though in her mind she wasn't really sure.

"What about you?" Scott asked.

Paxton shrugged. "Can't complain. Can I get you anything to drink? We have wine?"

Hope nearly said yes, but then she remembered the baby, so she kindly refused. Scott did, as well. Paxton went to sit next to Maggie, and the two glanced at Scott and Hope expectantly.

"So," Maggie began. "What did you have to tell us? Is everything okay?" She was eyeing the gift, and she could see Cassie's name on the tag, but she didn't ask about that yet.

Hope faltered a bit, and even more when Scott glanced at her, expecting her to be the one to say it. "Well…" she trailed off. "I, uhm…"

"Hope, if it's personal," the redhead interrupted for a second. "You don't have to say."

"Well, if I don't tell you now, it'll be obvious later on down the road," Hope gave a light chuckle.

"What do you mean?" Paxton asked.

"I mean… I mean I'm pregnant. Scott and I are having a baby."

Maggie gasped immediately and smiled. "Are you really?"

Hope nodded. "Yeah. Not exactly in our plan, but it's happening. I'm due in May."

"Oh, congratulations!" the other woman exclaimed. Meanwhile, Paxton was looking at Scott with a face that clearly said, of course, you couldn't keep your damn pants on. Nonetheless, he smiled, congratulating the two as Maggie had.

"Thanks," Scott smiled back at them, taking Hope's hand and squeezing.

"Thank you," Hope said. "It was not expected, that's for sure."

"How far along are you?" Maggie asked.

"Eight weeks. It's early but we wanted to tell people before it became too obvious."

Scott smiled at his girlfriend, and then he remembered the gift between them. "Oh, and this is for Cassie," he explained, putting the gift on the coffee table. "It's our way of telling her."

"That's very sweet of you," Maggie grinned and checked the watch on her wrist. "And you're just in time, because she should be home any minute."

Sure enough, not couple minutes went by before the front door opened, and a little girl's voice called out into the house. "Mommy! Jim! I'm home!"

"Hey, Cassie, some people are here to see you," Paxton called back in response.

Her footsteps got louder as she ran to the room hurriedly. When eyes fell upon her father and Hope there, she squealed. "Daddy! Hope!"

Scott immediately stood up and ran to meet her in a hug. "Hey, Peanut! Surprise!"

She hugged him tight, giggling gleefully, and when she was let go, she went to Hope, climbing on the couch and hugging her, as well. "Hi, Hope!"

Hope chuckled as she brought her arms around the little girl. "Hey, you. Good to see you."

Scott grinned and went to sit next to Cassie, who still held onto Hope. The man pecked his daughter's cheek. "Were you surprised?"

"Oh, yes!" the girl nodded excitedly. "I'm so happy you're here!" Then, her eyes fell upon the gift bag. "What's that?"

"That, Peanut, is something for you," Scott winked.

Cassie gasped and her eyes lit up. "For me? But it's not my birthday or Christmas!"

"It's still something very special," Hope added.

"Can I open it?" Cassie asked eagerly.

Scott leaned forward to bring the gift to her. "Of course. Go ahead."

Her little hands went right to work, quickly sifting through a bunch of tissue paper until she found what was really waiting inside for her: an article of clothing. She proceeded to pull it out of the bag, and it was revealed that it was a t-shirt. It was pink, of course, and the way it was folded made it clear that it had a design on the front. When she unfolded it to see, she found the words in big letters across the front. She looked at it with puzzled eyes, tilting her head. When she glanced back up, she saw all the adults smiling at her.

"What does it say?" Paxton asked her.

"It says…" Cassie began, but stopped for a second to read the words. "It says 'World's Best Big Sister' on it."

"Yeah?" Scott gave her a knowing look.

The little girl's nose crinkled in confusion. "But… I don't have sisters or brothers."

"Not yet, anyway," her father winked at her.

It took another moment before Cassie's eyes went wider than saucers. The first thing she did was glance to her mother. "Mommy, are you gonna have a baby?!"

Maggie giggled and shook her head. "No, I'm not." She then glanced to Hope with a bit of a smirk.

Cassie caught on and whipped her head toward the woman beside her. "Hope, are you having a baby?!"

Hope couldn't hold back her chuckle, and then she nodded, letting a hand rest on her belly. "Yeah, I am."

"You're gonna be a big sister, Cassie!" Scott exclaimed.

Hearing this sent the young girl into a happy fit of squealing and bouncing around as she lunged forward to hug her father first. Afterward, she ran over to Hope and hugged her, too. She jumped up and down with excitement. "I'm so happy!" Cassie giggled, putting her hands on Hope's belly. "There's a baby in here!"

"That's right, Peanut," her father nodded.

"When is the baby coming? Is it a boy or a girl? Does the baby have a name?" She just continuously fired away with questions, almost too fast for them to keep up with.

"Easy there, Peanut," Scott chuckled, reaching down to tousle the young girl's hair. "You're gonna have to wait a little while before the baby comes, but time flies, so it'll be here before you know it."

"We also don't know if it's a boy or a girl," Hope added. "But we'll know very soon."

"I want a sister!" Cassie exclaimed. "But if I get a brother, I'd like that, too."

The adults laughed sweetly at her remarks. Hope was especially smiling since Cassie kept particularly close to her belly. Her little hands never seemed to leave it, and she'd even press her cheek against it. She was so sweet with this kid already. She then sat up and crawled to Scott when a question popped into her head.

"So, Daddy, you kissed Hope's belly and that's how my brother or sister got there?"

"Exactly," Scott was very glad Cassie remembered what he'd told her about where babies came from, and he winked. "You're exactly right." He then smiled and picked her up playfully. "So, what do you think? You excited?"

"Yes!" she nodded quickly, excitedly. "I can't wait! I'm gonna be the best big sister ever!"

"Oh, we can already tell," Maggie added with a grin. "Better practice a lot with your dolls."

"I'm gonna start tonight after dinner!" the young girl said happily. After finishing her sentence, she crawled out of Scott's lap to go and give Hope another hug. "I love you." Then, she bent down to peck Hope's tummy. "And I love you, baby."

Hope smiled down at this, allowing her fingers to run through the girl's hair. "I know he or she already loves you, too… so much."

"Really?" this made Cassie smile wider than ever. "I'm so excited!"

"We're glad you are," the pregnant woman said kindly. "We are, too."

After that, Cassie snuggled close to the woman, her arms wrapped around Hope's belly, where her little sibling rested. Hope's mind began to fill with images of Cassie with her future baby sibling. She kept thinking of how sweet the little girl would be with this baby, and it made her view on the whole thing a little bit better.

Meanwhile, Cassie was daydreaming, too. She imagined that the baby was already there, able to play and laugh with her. But she knew she'd have to be patient for that. Babies took time to grow, but Cassie promised herself she'd be able to wait. It would be hard, though, but she'd definitely try, and that's all anyone could ask of her.


 

Scott and Hope returned home after having a bite to eat with the Paxton family, and the first thing Hope did was get into one of Scott's t-shirts and a pair of her underwear before crawling into bed, slumping onto the pillow. She hated feeling so fatigued all the time. Scott was by her side within a few seconds, rubbing her back.

"You okay?" he asked.

"I am," she nodded. "Just tired, and I hate it. But I'm happy."

He offered a soft smile. "She was so excited and happy."

"Oh, definitely. She's such a sweetheart. I can't wait to see her with this baby."

"Mmm yeah? Neither can I. It'll be worth the wait."

"Mmm," she nodded again, and she let her eyes fall closed.

After a few seconds, Scott bit his lip. "Hey, babe?" he said quietly, and it made her open one eye and glance up at him. "Do you mind if I call the guys? We still haven't told them."

She shrugged. "Sure, go ahead." Her eyes fluttered shut again.

Scott grinned and pulled out his phone, dialing Luis' number quickly. Luis was quick to pick up. "Yo, Scotty!"

"Hey, Luis," Scott spoke as he turned on the speaker.

"Hey, whaddup, bro? We haven't heard from you in, like, forever!"

"I know," the other man said. "Things have been kind of crazy. But anyway, I'm calling because I have to tell all three of you something. Go get Dave and Kurt, and put it on speaker."

Luis obliged, and he could be heard calling for the other two guys, who noisily entered the room and nearly yelled into the speaker when greeting their friend. Luis quieted them down. "Hey, shut up, Scotty has to tell us something. Go ahead, bro."

Scott stifled his chuckle, shaking his head. "All right, I'm just calling to tell you guys that you're going to be uncles soon."

"What? Uncles?" Luis questioned. "Yo, is Maggie pregnant?"

Even this made Hope laugh. Scott shook his head, chuckling again, as well. "No, she's not."

"Then what do you mean?" Scott's former cellmate asked in confusion.

Kurt could be heard scoffing. "He means Hope is pregnant. Why else would Scott be the one to call and tell?"

"What?! No way!" Luis was going insane, as was Dave.

"Are you for real, man?" Dave asked. "Are you really having a baby with Hope?"

"Yeah, I'm for real," Scott laughed. "Like I said, you three are gonna be uncles."

"Congrats, man!" Luis shouted gleefully. "When's the baby coming?"

"In May. Hope's only eight weeks, so it's early, but I wanted to tell you guys because you should know."

There was a ton of commotion on the other end. Scott and Hope listened, shaking their heads and trying not to laugh. Hope rolled her eyes a few times in amusement. She watched and listened as Scott spoke with his friends a little longer before finally managing to end the conversation, quiet coming to the room for once. Scott could only laugh before snuggling close to his girlfriend and wrapping an arm around her.

"They're happy," he stated.

"No, really?" Hope's voice oozed with teasing sarcasm. "I'm glad they are."

Scott kissed her gently. "Don't worry, I'll make sure they stay tamed about the whole thing."

"Good," she laughed. "But anyway, yeah, I'm glad they're pleased."

"Me, too. I'm glad that everyone knows now. No secrets to keep."

"Mmm yes," she nodded. By then, she was beginning to drift off.

Scott decided that it was enough conversation for the night, so he turned off the light and went right back to cuddling her, finding that she was already sleeping. He felt bad, knowing how she hated being so sleepy all the time. But he was pleased that she was getting rest; he'd been worrying about her overworking herself, but so far, since he was there to help ease whatever stress she had, things were going smoothly. She seemed to be much better about the whole baby thing, and that made him very happy. He went to sleep thinking about this, and it put a smile on his face. As he drifted, his hand found its way to her belly, and there it rested, as if protecting the baby they'd made together.

It was finally safe to say that things were okay once again. Everyone was happy again.

Chapter Text

Scott and Hope continued with their lives as best they could despite the baby situation. They continued working like normal, though Hope's days were usually interrupted with occasional distracting bouts of nausea, and sometimes vomiting, but that was about it. None of that interfered with the work they had to do. Jack was working hard, too, now that his son was out of the hospital and Becca was home with him. She still wasn't ready to leave her son with someone else during the day.

Since she was home now, she had some time on her hands to start arranging plans for the wedding, and since she wanted to get married in North Carolina, that meant she had to plan a visit. Her parents offered to let her, Jack, and the baby stay with them for a weekend, which was gladly accepted. They arranged the flights and bought tickets, and it was settled for the second weekend in October, which was coming up at the end of the week. By the time that Thursday rolled around, everything was packed to fly the next morning. However, Becca wanted to do something before she left… something that wouldn't be easy, but she knew she had to do it.

That morning, she drove to work, but in a separate car than Jack, with Porter in the backseat. In her purse that she had in the passenger's seat, there was a white business envelope, sealed and ready to be delivered. She parked the car in the staff parking lot, took Porter and placed him into the wrap she used to baby-wear him, and she headed inside. After taking a deep breath, she went into Hope's office. The dark-haired woman looked up and was very pleased to see her friend.

"Becca!" she smiled and stood up to go and hug her. She was careful, though, since Porter was situated on Becca's chest. "Hey, sweet Porter. What are you doing here?"

"I came to give you something," Becca replied and reached into her purse, removing the envelope and handing it to Hope. "Here's this."

Hope took the letter, her eyebrows knit. "What is this?" she asked, opening it to read the letter inside. When she saw the first line, her expression completely changed, and her eyes flickered up in surprise. "Are you…?"

Becca gave a slow nod. "Yeah… I formally tender my resignation," she admitted. "I need to stay home with my baby. I can't bear the thought of him being in someone else's care while he's got this monitor. I want to be home with him."

"I understand," Hope nodded. "I don't blame you at all. Just promise you'll stay in touch."

"Well, duh," Becca winked. "What, did you think I'd just stop visiting altogether? No."

Hope laughed some. "Okay, good. As long as you and little Porter are happy. How is he doing, anyway?"

"Things are going pretty smoothly. We had one little scare, but right away, he started breathing again. Still makes me nervous, but he's still here."

"Good," the other woman smiled, holding the baby's little hand.

"What about you? How are you holding up with baby Lang?"

"Everything's going okay. I still feel sick all the time, and all I want to do is sleep and eat, but that's normal, I guess. Also, I can't fit into any of my pants anymore." She couldn't help but run a hand across her belly.

Becca glanced down and smiled. "You're starting to get a bit of a belly there, I see."

"Not funny," Hope blushed. "Should I be showing so soon?"

"Every pregnancy is different. From what I could tell when I was looking for the heartbeat for you, you're carrying low. That could be one reason. But don't be ashamed of it."

Hope let out a sigh. "I know I shouldn't be, but when I look in the mirror it looks more as if I've gained weight, not having a baby."

"Oh, I get that. But hey, you know that it's because of a baby, that your body is working hard to create inside of you. Forget what others have to say. Just take a deep breath, Hope. You'll be just fine."

Hope nodded, taking a breath as Becca had said. Then, she had to sit down, as she started to feel nauseous and dizzy.

"Take it easy, there, mama," Becca warned lightly. "Please don't overwork yourself. Not good for you or the baby. I probably sound like a broken record saying that. Scott probably says it enough."

"You're right, he really does," Hope chuckled. "I'm doing my best, I promise." She then glanced up to Becca, looking a bit sad. "I wish you didn't have to leave."

"I know. It was really hard to come up here to do it, but I had to. After what's happened with the scare and everything, the thought of being away from Porter scares the crap out of me."

Her friend nodded. "I can imagine. Gotta do whatcha gotta do, I guess. You'll be a good stay-at-home mommy, I'm sure of it."

"Thanks," Becca giggled and pressed a kiss to her son's head. "I will say, I'll definitely miss this place. Lots of memories."

"We'll miss you," Hope said. "But this is more of a see you later thing."

"Mhm exactly," Becca agreed. "Honestly I'm sure we'll see each other again by the time next week rolls around. I would say weekend but I'm going out of town."

"Oh, really? Where?"

"North Carolina to visit family. I haven't been back in a very long time. It's where Jack and I plan on getting married, so a visit is necessary."

Hope smiled at the thought of her friend getting married. It excited her. "Aww, that'll be fun."

"Yeah, I'll get to see my parents at their place after so long. I haven't been in god knows how long now. I think the last time I was there was in 2012."

"That long ago?" Hope gasped. "I bet they're happy you're the one visiting them this time."

Becca nodded as she ran a hand through her son's wispy hair. "Oh, definitely. And I'm happy, too. I miss it. It was where I was raised for most of my life before I turned fourteen. We moved that summer and I started my freshman year here in San Fran. When I graduated college and my sister graduated high school, they moved back to NC."

"Makes sense," the other woman replied. Then, she stopped for a second. "Wait, you have a sister? I didn't know this."

"Lots of people don't. We, uh… we had a falling out. I haven't seen her in a while."

"Aw. I'm sorry about that." Hope knew all too well about falling out with family members. "I hope you two reconcile."

"Me, too."

They talked for a while, and soon, Becca headed out to be home with Porter. There wasn't much of an emotional goodbye, because she wasn't walking away from that building for the last time. She'd be visiting, considering two of her friends and her future husband worked there. She'd be back for sure. In the meantime, now she could officially stay at home without worrying about leaving her son.


The next morning, bright and early, Becca and Jack forced themselves out of bed, changed, got Porter, packed the car, and drove to the airport. Before they knew it, they were in the air, on their way to Becca's old home. Porter was surprisingly quiet on the flight (he slept the whole time), much to everyone's relief. After a few hours, they landed, and when they walked out of baggage claim, there was Kevin to greet them. He hugged them both.

"Hey, Dad," Becca smiled as she embraced her father.

"Welcome home, Bex," the old man returned the grin. He then hugged Jack. "And to you, too, Jack. You're family. This is one of your homes now, too."

Jack was touched. "Thank you, sir," he replied. It was still weird to call him 'Dad,' even though it was allowed and encouraged. He'd only met her parents once or twice, so he was still getting used to it.

Kevin kept his grin as he glanced to Porter and kissed his cheek. "Hello, sweet boy," he said. "I'm glad y'all are here. Come on, Colleen is waiting for y'all."

The men got the bags into Kevin's truck while Becca installed Porter's car seat. Before long, they were on the road, headed for the ranch. Becca sat in the back to keep an eye on her son, since the monitor was packed away, and the men exchanged banter up front. Even Porter took part in some of the conversation with his random babbling. That was kept them entertained for most of the ride, and before long, they made the turn down the long dirt driveway leading to the main house.

Jack glanced around as they drove. On either side of the driveway were stretches of white fences, which surrounded the lush, green pastures they enclosed. Shrubbery lined the fence, adding some color and decoration to the path. When Jack looked past the fence, he could see some horses dotted across the fields. Everything was well kept, it was as if it was a huge professional equestrian center. He could even spot an arena far back behind the main house.

The car tires crunched the gravel and dirt below as they pulled up to the house, and Jack was already staring. It was like a traditional farm house he'd seen in movies, but way nicer. It was two stories, and enormous, covering a lot of space. The outer walls were of cream-colored vinyl siding, and the columns that held up the awning above the front door and the rest of the front porch were of stone. The foundation was stone, too. It was absolutely beautiful.

"Wow," Jack said in awe. "This is amazing."

"Thanks," Kevin said. "Home, sweet home." Then, he shut off the car and got out, the others following.

Colleen had heard the truck pull up and rushed outside to greet Becca as soon as she got out of the car. "Hi, honey!" she exclaimed. "Oh, I'm so glad you're here."

"Me, too, Mom," Becca smiled as they hugged. "It's been so long. Here, let us get our stuff and get inside."

Colleen shot Kevin a quick, knowing glance before she shook her head. "Hold on, come inside real quick I have to show you something." Before Becca could even react, Colleen was pulling her inside the house.

Jack was curious, and he went to follow, but Kevin urged him quietly to stay outside with him. "Just wait," he said.

"What?" Jack asked.

"You'll see in a few minutes."

Inside, Colleen led her daughter into the living room, the latter very confused. "Mom, what's going on?"

Finally, they stopped, standing in the center of the room. Colleen offered a smile. "There's someone here who wants to see you."

Becca's brows knit. "What? Who?"

That was when, in the corner of her eye, she caught sight of movement from the kitchen, so she turned her head to look. Immediately, her eyes widened, and her jaw dropped. She thought her heart had stopped. There in the doorway stood a short brunette, looking similar to Becca, with the same blue eyes and freckles. Those blues were fixed on Becca with the same surprise she had. Becca couldn't believe what she was seeing, to the point where she had no words… except for one. "Rachel?"

"Becca…" the other woman breathed.

They stood there for a while, silent, disbelieving. Rachel watched her sister with a tiny bit of resentment, remembering the last time they saw one another. Becca could see that in her eyes, and remorse filled her immediately. Then, out of complete guilt, as well as gladness to see her sister again after so long, Becca couldn't help but approach her sister and wrap her arms around her. Rachel didn't hesitate to do the same, and feeling that hug returned made Becca's heart lift.

"God, it's so good to see you, Rach" she let out a breath of relief.

"You, too, Bex," Rachel grinned. "It's been so long."

"I know," Becca sighed with guilt, realizing it had been maybe two years since they last spoke. "And that's my fault. I'm so sorry."

"No, don't apologize," the younger woman shook her head. "It's my fault for acting like such an ass while you were grieving. I should have known better."

Becca pulled away to look her sister in the eye with the glassy blues of her own. "I was the one to shut you out. And I should have called you sooner once things got better. I'm so sorry for that. I'm just glad I can see you again."

Instead of arguing, Rachel just pulled Becca into another tight hug, both of them a bit teary-eyed now. All at once, those two years of bitterness were released and faded away. "I missed you. All of us did, actually."

The older of the two drew back again to wipe the tears that had slipped. "I missed y'all, too. Wait, are David and Olivia here, too?"

"They are," Rachel nodded. "They're in the back. Want me to get them?"

"No need," a man's voice spoke from the doorway leading to the kitchen. Becca glanced up to find a familiar blond man standing there, smiling at her. "Hey, Becca."

"David," Becca smiled and went to hug her brother-in-law. "Oh, it's so good to see you."

David grinned as he hugged her, bending down to do so, because Becca was so much shorter than he was. "You, too. It's been so long."

"I know, I know. I promise it won't be that long again."

Just then, behind David came a little girl, about five years old. Her big hazel eyes locked with Becca's and the girl's face brightened with glee. "Aunt Becca!" she squealed, running toward the woman.

"Olivia!" Becca exclaimed, kneeling so she could hug the girl and pick her up. "Oh, you've gotten so big!"

"I missed you so much!" the girl said as she hugged her aunt tightly.

"I missed you, too," Becca responded happily, and then she placed the girl back down. "So much. You've grown up so much."

Olivia smiled proudly. "I'm a big girl now."

Her aunt ruffled her hair. "Oh, I'm sure." After that, Olivia went to play with a toy by David's feet. She then glanced up and looked around at her sister and her family. God, she was glad everything was okay between her and Rachel. She'd missed everyone. "I'm so glad to see all of y'all."

"Well, you haven't seen all of us yet," Rachel stated.

Becca tilted her head. "What do you mean?"

Instead of speaking right away, the brunette turned to look at David, who also turned to look behind him with a smile. Colleen was coming into the room, so he stepped out of the way. Becca was about to greet her mother, but she stopped before she even started, because she couldn't believe what she saw. In her mother's arms, there was a baby.

"Oh, my god," Becca whispered with a gasp. "What?"

Rachel grinned and went to stand by her husband and mother. "Becca, meet your youngest niece, Addelyn, or Addie."

Becca could only stare for a moment before she could manage to speak again. "What?!" she repeated herself, her voice muffled, as her hand was covering her mouth, now. She approached them slowly.

Rachel couldn't hold back her giggle. "Surprise."

"Oh, god, she's so beautiful!" Becca had a smile from ear to ear. A hand reached out to take hold of Addie's, and the baby smiled when her aunt said hello to her. "God, how old is she?"

"She's just over a year," David answered.

So this was what it felt like to not know about a baby. "Wow, she is adorable," she replied.

"Wanna hold her?" her sister asked her.

"Uh, duh!" Becca giggled, and she gladly took Addie into her arms. "Hi baby girl. Oh, you're so friggin cute." Then, she chuckled a bit. "Wow, so now I don't feel so bad. This makes us even."

This got Rachel's attention. "What do you mean?"

Becca handed Addie back to David before she called for her father, who was still in the foyer with Jack and the baby, to come in. Kevin came in first, and he stood near the doorway. The man waved to the other who was still hidden behind the wall. "Come on in, Jack."

As he was told, Jack entered the room, holding his son with Becca at an angle so his face could be seen. As soon as she caught sight of them, Rachel's jaw dropped. She was the one to gasp this time with disbelief. "No way…" she spoke under her breath at first.

Becca went to stand beside her fiancé. "Rachel, this is Jack, my fiancé… and our son, Porter, your first nephew."

"You've gotta be kidding me!" Rachel's hand flew to her now-gaping mouth. "Are you serious right now?"

"Yeah, I am," the older sister giggled. "You're an aunt."

The youngest woman couldn't resist giving a little excited squeal, and she ran up to hug her sister to congratulate her. "Oh, my god!" she laughed happily. When she pulled away, her eyes fell upon her nephew. "Oh, Becca, he's so cute! Oh, can I please hold him?"

"Of course," Becca nodded. Jack smiled and handed the baby to his future sister-in-law, just before sliding an arm around Becca's waist.

Rachel immediately showered her nephew with kisses, and it drew a few little happy noises from him. "Oh, my god, he's so cute! When was he born?"

"June seventeenth," Jack told her. "He'll be four months on Monday."

"Oh, you're so little," Rachel giggled as she spoke to Porter, who was all smiles. When she heard that it was Becca's fiancé who had answered her question, she blushed, realizing that she had yet to shake hands with Jack… actually, she hadn't really acknowledged him yet. She gave a light, nervous chuckle. "Oh, god. Sorry, Jack."

"No, it's okay," Jack laughed. "It's nice to meet you, Rachel."

"When did you two meet?"

"A little over a year ago, now," Becca admitted. "Porter's timing was early, but he brought us closer together, I think." She glanced up to her future husband and smiled, knowing his face was one of agreement. "He proposed the day our son was born, and we want to get married here. That's why we're visiting, actually."

Jack grinned and brought his future bride closer to him. "Checking things out to get them arranged for the big day. I've heard many good things about this property. Rachel, you got married here, right?"

Across the room, David grinned and approached the others, still holding Addie. "Indeed, we did," he was the one to respond to Jack's question. He then held out one hand, not letting go of his daughter. "I'm David, by the way, Rachel's husband."

"Nice to meet you, man," Jack shook his hand firmly. He then noticed the baby girl in David's arm. "And who is this beauty?"

"This is Addie," David grinned at his youngest daughter.

The other man went to let the baby girl hold his finger for a moment. "Hi, Miss Addie," he said in that baby-talking voice of his. When his eyes moved away, he noticed that David's oldest daughter happened to be there, too. When Jack first went into the room, Olivia had been distracted with her toys, but when David went to walk forward to the other man, she wanted to follow him. She was a daddy's girl, it was easy to tell. Jack grinned down at her. "Oh, and who's this?"

"Oh, this here is Olivia, our oldest. Say hi, Olivia." David had the same smile as he glanced to the girl by his feet.

At first, the young girl was a bit shy, not sure what to think of this big man looming over him. Jack noticed her falter, and he knelt to be at her level. His smile was soft and gentle, welcoming. "Hello, Miss Olivia," he greeted her warmly and held out his hand. "My name is Jack. I'm gonna be your uncle, soon."

David watched his eldest daughter's hesitation. "Don't be shy, sweetie. He's family."

"Yeah," Jack nodded. "I don't bite. I promise."

Becca chuckled and stood behind Jack. "It's okay, Olivia. He's a good man."

After a moment, Olivia eventually held out her hand, and a shy smile appeared on her face. "Hi."

"There you go," Jack returned the smile, and he shook her little hand. "It's nice to meet you, Olivia."

"You, too," the girl giggled quietly. After a moment, she noticed her mother preoccupied with a baby she hadn't seen before. "Mommy, who's that?"

Everyone turned to Rachel. The woman walked up to her daughter and knelt down carefully with Porter in her arms. "This is your baby cousin, sweetie. Can you say hello to Porter?"

When she learned that this baby was in fact her cousin, her fact lit up all of a sudden. "I have a cousin?" she gasped. "Oh, yes, yes, yes! Hi, cousin Porter!" She was bouncing with excitement, now, as she gushed over this new cousin of hers. In response, Porter cooed at her.

Rachel giggled. "He's Uncle Jack and Aunt Becca's baby. See how little he is? Remember when Addie was this small?"

Olivia nodded. She didn't take her eyes off the baby in front of her.

Nearby, Becca smiled at this, loving how much her son was adored already. She let out a happy sigh, looking up at Jack for a while and sharing the same smile before glancing back to the rest of her family. Colleen was beaming, too.

"Hey, Bex, you have someone else to reunite with," the older woman stated.

At first, Becca was puzzled. "Who?" she asked. But when Colleen jerked her head toward the back door, leading out to the back part of the property. The oldest Ronan daughter suddenly gasped in realization. "Bowie?"

Colleen nodded, and she laughed as Becca flew past her and out the back. The others followed her outside. Jack took Porter back in his hands as Rachel offered to return him, and once her hands were free, she ran out after her older sister. The two women headed down a path that led to a building that was obviously a barn. Jack looked around in awe. This place had facilities that a professional equestrian center would have. There was a large barn, an outdoor arena, an indoor arena, and lots of pastures, some of which had horses dotted across the grass. Jack was very impressed. Becca hadn't been kidding about her parents working with horses.

Everyone followed the older women to the barn, Becca entering first. She rushed down the aisles, around a corner, and right to a particular stall. As she approached, she made a clicking noise, and a horse poked his head out, ears pricked in interest. Becca stopped and gasped happily. "Bowie…" she giggled. In response, the horse nickered. The woman approached the stall gleefully, and she let the horse sniff her hand before going to hug his neck. "Oh, hey, big boy. Oh, I missed you so much."

Soon after, the others made it into the barn, where they found Becca reuniting with her horse, Bowie. She was very happy, all smiles and laughs, as her beloved horse recognized and remembered her. Colleen and Kevin chuckled. "He really missed ya, Bex," Colleen stated.

"Oh, the feeling is definitely mutual," Becca said, stroking Bowie's neck. "Oh, I'm definitely taking him out. Rachel, go get Ziggy."

Rachel laughed, and she went off to do as told. Kevin led the others outside, and they all stood behind the fence surrounding the outdoor arena. After a few minutes, the barn doors opened, and Becca and Rachel came out leading their horses together. As soon as she was in the center, she hopped atop her horse. No saddle, no bridle, nothing. She even kicked her shoes off. Rachel had done the same, and before long, the two were riding together all over the arena. After a while, they went to leave the arena and run around the property instead. Becca rode Bowie up to her fiancé and their son. Jack drew out of the trance he'd been in. He had watched his future wife ride like a pro, and he couldn't take his eyes off the way she moved her hips. He struggled to focus on anything else. But when he noticed she was coming up to them, he blinked and smiled. Meanwhile, Porter was watching with big, curious eyes. He'd never seen an animal so big before.

Jack chuckled. "What do you think, little man? See Mommy?"

"Hi, baby boy," Becca grinned from above the animal. "Look at the look he's giving Bowie. He's like 'Mom, what is that?' He's so confused."

"It doesn't seem like he's fazed, though," Jack pointed out.

"Bring him closer, babe," Becca said with a smile. "Bowie is very gentle around kids."

Jack nodded and stepped forward, standing beside the horse and letting Porter touch it. Bowie turned his head in curiosity, but he stayed very calm and relaxed. Porter's little hands seemed to like the feeling of the animal's coat, and he smiled and babbled.

"What do you think, huh?" Becca smiled. Her voice got her son's attention, and he looked up and smiled again. "When he's a bit older, I'm definitely gonna teach him to ride."

"That'd be so cute," Jack grinned at the thought. "You'll have to teach me, too."

"I will," the woman giggled.

After that, they decided to put the horses away and head back into the house. Colleen went to cook some snacks for everyone while they relaxed in the living room. Becca washed her hands before taking Porter back into her arms. "Come here, my sweet boy," she smiled, spinning him around and kissing his cheek. The baby was all smiles and babbles as his mother doted him.

Rachel nearby went to take Addie into her own arms and kissed her cheek as well. "I just realized something," she said. "Addie has yet to meet little Porter."

"Oh, you're right," Becca grinned. When she glanced at her son, she found him to be staring at Addie. Becca giggled. "Ooh, who do you see, huh? You see your cousin?"

Meanwhile, Addie had spotted Porter and was watching him with curiosity. She even reached for him. "Aww, who's that Addie?" Rachel giggled, and she stepped closer to her sister with the baby boy she carried. "Be gentle. You really want your cousin, huh? Can he sit up on his own?"

"Not for long periods," Becca shook her head.

This made Rachel laugh. "Addie will probably knock him over since she's quite the crawler. Gotta wait to put them on the floor together."

The elder sister laughed in return. "Yeah, we'll wait a few months."

The women went with their families further into the living room, where Becca and Jack sat together on the couch, Porter in Mom's lap. It wasn't long before Becca found her fingers in Porter's mouth while he sucked away. Rachel was sitting in a living chair, David on the floor by her feet while he played with his girls. Well, he only played with Olivia for a little while, because she was soon distracted when she saw Porter. With curiosity, she edged toward the couch, eyes fixed on the baby. Becca saw her, smiled, and patted the couch beside her to invite her up. When she was given permission, she climbed up, and she crawled up to her aunt.

"He's so cute," Olivia stated once she'd settled down. Her small hand reached out to hold Porter's. "And small!" She then giggled when she noticed that his hand was wet. "And wet."

"He likes to think that either his fingers or Mommy's are food," Jack chided. "We don't know why babies do that."

Olivia giggled again, playing with Porter for a moment. She got the baby to let out a few small laughs and lots of big smiles.

"He likes you, Liv," Becca smiled. "Look at how big those smiles are."

"Really?" the little girl's eyes lit up when she was told this. She was very happy to hear that her new and only cousin liked her. "I like you, too, Porter. I'm gonna be the best cousin ever."

The adults chuckled at this, and the couples all looked at one another, sharing smiles. David and Rachel laughed, proud of their daughter's words. Becca glanced to Jack, both of them happy that their son was so loved. Becca let out a happy sigh. She was very, very pleased and content and relieved that she was with her family again, and during a time of happiness for everyone. No one was grieving. No one was upset. And Becca was very grateful for it.


The family spent the rest of the afternoon together, eating dinner and playing with the kids. Soon, it was time for the kids to head to bed, and the adults decided to call it a night as well. That was when Becca and Jack actually got to take their bags to the guest room they'd be staying in. When they got inside, they shut the door, and Becca went to lie down on the bed with Porter so she could change his diaper and clothes. Jack, meanwhile, went to set up the pack and play that Becca's parents got for Porter whenever they visited. When he finished, he joined his future bride with their son on the bed.

"Your family is very nice," he told her, pecking her cheek. "I'm glad you and your sister reconciled."

"Oh, I am, too," she replied. "I missed her a lot. She was my best friend growing up. No more avoiding each other, thank god. Now I get to see her, David, and both my nieces. I can't believe she had another baby."

Jack chuckled. "She couldn't believe you had one, either."

"I don't think she expected so much to have happened since the last time we spoke," the woman quipped. "A lot can happen in two years, but she probably wasn't thinking a new relationship and a baby. But hey, Aunt Rach loves you, sweet boy." She then nuzzled her nose against her son's. "As do your nieces and Uncle David. But then again, who wouldn't love you, beautiful boy?"

"Good question," Jack smiled, kissing Porter's nose. "But hey, I'm gonna go take a shower. I need to clean up."

"I plan on taking one after you," Becca nodded. "I'll put the baby to bed while you're showering."

He nodded, and after kissing Porter's nose and cheek once more, he got up off the bed and headed to the bathroom attached to this guest room. Becca got up, too, holding her son, and she walked with him for a while, humming to him until he was fast asleep. She laid him down in his crib, stroked his cheek, and hooked up his monitor before slowly backing away. Luckily, he remained sleeping, much to her relief.

At first, she was going to relax in bed while waiting for Jack, but after a moment of listening to Jack humming to himself in the shower, she smiled and went into the bathroom. She left the door open a little bit so Porter could be heard, and headed to the shower. The shower was also a tub, with a curtain closing it off, so Jack couldn't see her as she walked in and stripped out of her sweaty clothes. It wasn't until she opened the curtain and stepped in when he heard her and turned around with a grin.

"Hey," he murmured.

"Hi," she matched his smile with one of her own, and she went to slide her arms around his waist.

His hands occupied themselves by cupping her face just then, his grin remaining as he captured her lips softly. "You happy, beautiful?"

She nodded. "I am. I'm very happy."

"So am I. And lucky to have such an amazing person I'll soon call my wife."

She giggled and pressed a kiss against his jaw. "You're such a sap, and I love it."

"You should hear my vows," he smiled proudly. "They're like, over-the-top sappy."

"So are mine. I guess that makes us even."

"Amazing," he grinned. As he spoke, he bent down to reach for the shampoo and put some into his hand before having Becca turn around so he could wash her hair. She did as she was told, and he immediately went to work. His fingers worked their magic on her scalp, massaging tenderly, just how she liked it. She leaned into his touch, making a little pleased noise. He kissed her shoulder once he finished and had her rinsed off. She conditioned her hair quickly before turning back around.

"Thank you," she murmured at him, kissing his jaw once. "I'm gonna go lie down. You enjoy your shower."

He smiled. "I'm right behind you, don't worry," he stated as she stepped out of the shower and reached for a nearby clean towel. He turned off the water and followed her out shortly after.

Becca threw her wet hair into a separate towel before she dried off her body and wrapped the cloth around her and ventured into the background. She had to tiptoe, because the baby still slept in his pack-and-play, and she was as quiet as ever while opening the suitcase they brought and slipping into a t-shirt and a pair of shorts. Jack changed into his long, plaid pants at the same time, and before long, he was in bed, watching as his future bride braided her hair and went to join him. Immediately, she went to wrap her arms around him and snuggle close.

"Mmm hi," she breathed quietly.

"Hey," he whispered, pressing a kiss to her forehead. "Feel better now that you've showered?"

She nodded with a smile. "Oh, yes. Showering after riding always feels incredible."

"Oh, I bet," Jack stated. "By the way, you looked amazing while riding. I know you told me you ride, but you didn't tell me how good you are at it."

"You think I'm that much of a bragger about that stuff?" she stuck out her tongue. "I'm not as experienced as I used to be as a kid, I will say that."

"You're still amazing," he pointed out matter-of-factly. "I will continue to defend that statement forever."

She giggled. "Like I said, you're a sap."

All he did in response was bump his nose against hers gently before landing a kiss on her lips. "You love it."

"You're damn right, I do," she stated as her eyes flickered from his lips to his eyes. She couldn't resist. She kissed him again.

He let her kiss him for a while before he pulled back teasingly, and she chased his lips before pouting. He chuckled. "You're so cute."

"And you're a tease," she retorted. "Come on, kiss me again." Again, she pouted, trying not to laugh.

Jack pretended to think about it before he shrugged. "All right," he said, just before obeying her request. Instead of teasing again, he let her do as she pleased and kiss him as long as she wanted, until she was the one to pull back. When she did, she rested her head on his shoulder for a while. Soon, they slipped further under the covers before cuddling again. He had her turn over so he could spoon her, and he kissed her shoulder once they went still. "I love you."

She smiled and snuggled into his arms. "I love you, too. So much."

"I'm glad you're so happy," he responded. "I'm happy you're happy."

She only grinned, and he tightened his hug around her. She felt so warm and safe, and she wouldn't have it any other way. "I'm happy you're happy, too."

"Aww," he smiled, and he kissed her shoulder once more. "You're so sweet. Now, get some sleep. You deserve it, baby."

"You, too," she yawned. In fact, she was already drifting off. He wasn't far behind.

Soon, they were fast asleep, smiles on their faces, love in their hearts. It was all they'd ever want or need in their lives, and they were very pleased that they were so lucky to have it that way. Sometimes, it all felt surreal, like in the blink of an eye, it would disappear. But no, thank god, it was very real. Their dreams were realities for once, and they hoped it would remain that way for life.

Chapter Text

Three weeks went by. Life was normal. Scott, Hope, and Jack were still working. Becca was enjoying the stay-at-home mom life more than anything. It was just the usual grind for everyone, really. While in NC, Becca and Jack had gotten many things for the wedding together, like invitations, venue, catering, procession members, and so on. They were officially getting married in North Carolina, on her parents’ property. Her mother’s friend would cater. Another friend would make the invitations by hand. Becca had chosen her bridesmaids, and at first, she was worried that she’d be conflicted about who to have as her maid-of-honor, now that her sister was back in her life, but then she realized something: Rachel was married, and Hope was not. Becca could have a matron and a maid-of-honor. Problem solved.

Meanwhile, Hope was obviously pregnant, now. She was officially in maternity jeans, despite only being twelve weeks along. Thankfully, she wasn’t so nauseous anymore—in fact, most of her annoying symptoms were beginning to subside—but her appetite and fatigue still prevailed. Ever since she realized that she was packing on the pounds, she'd been doing things like walking, some jogging, and other things to keep her in shape, and it made her feel a bit better. But it was when she was in the process of eating that she felt like she was eating too much (despite her weight gain actually being healthy like the doctor had told her). And that mixed with constant napping made her feel worse. Sometimes, she would go from sleeping to eating ice cream right out of the tub while sitting on the sofa within five minutes. Scott and Becca told her that it was normal, but still, Hope wasn’t having it.

One morning began no differently than most. Hope and Scott were over at Hank and Janet’s for lunch, and they even had Becca and Jack there, too, with Porter, of course. It was the first time Janet had seen the baby in person (she’d only seen pictures), and she absolutely gushed over him. It had been so long since she’d seen any baby like that. Memories of when Hope was that small flooded back to her, and it was like nothing had changed. And soon, she would see a tiny version of Hope again, and it excited her greatly. At the some, Hope watched her mother and the baby, and it made her heart lift as she recalled when she herself was a child and Janet was like that with her. She missed those days.

They all ate at the table together, Scott, Hope, Hank, Janet, Jack, and Becca. They laughed and chatted, everyone surprisingly getting along. Hope ate hungrily, like usual, on her second helping by now, a hand discreetly resting against her belly. Scott would occasionally reach over to rub her belly gently. He'd been doing that a lot, since she was showing more. Across from them, Jack and Becca had Porter between them, his car seat resting on a spare chair (Hank and Janet didn't have any high chairs), the baby sleeping peacefully in it, having already been fed. Becca often glanced down to check on him, because they'd left the monitor in the car. Thankfully, she'd see him move around every time she looked.

“So, Becca, Jack,” Janet quipped, getting the new parents’ attention. “You guys went to North Carolina a few weeks back?”

“We did,” Jack answered first with a smile.

“How was it?”

“Oh, it was so nice,” Becca replied. “It was so refreshing to be out in the country, away from the city, for a few days. I got to see my parents, my sister and her family… it was amazing. And we got lots of the wedding planning done.”

Janet grinned. “That's great!”

Hank piped up after her. “Sounds like a dream. It's been so crazy around here with robberies.”

“Oh, really?” Becca asked. Things had been so busy with everyone's lives that she hadn't really been kept up with everything.

Scott nodded. “Oh, yeah, he's been keeping tabs on police radios and telling me when there's a robbery I can stop.”

Hope listened to all of this and grumbled inwardly. Did they really have to talk about this stuff, the things she couldn't do? She wanted nothing more than to hop into that suit and help her boyfriend fight crime and save lives. She must have had some scowl on her face, because Scott squeezed her hand, and he gave her an apologetic look. She just shrugged, quickly wiping the scowl off her face. But god, did she wish she didn't have to be on the sidelines, not stuffing her face or sleeping all the time.

Between his parents, Porter made a little sound and smiled in his sleep, causing his mother to beam down at his sweet face. “Aww, sleepy smiles,” she giggled, stroking his cheek.

“Happy dreams?” Janet smiled.

“Oh, yeah,” Becca nodded. “He has lots of them, always smiling in his sleep.”

Janet couldn't resist leaning to the side to get a peek at the baby, her smile widening. “Aww, he's so cute. You guys made one cute kid, for sure.”

Becca returned the grin. “Thank you,” she replied. She loved how much attention her son was getting. After all, you can't have too many people love your child. “Hope, Scott, I know that'll be the same for you.”

Hope stopped mid-bite, her face flushing. She swallowed whatever she had in her mouth and smiled softly. “Thanks, Becca.”

Scott smiled and pecked Hope’s cheek. “I agree with Becca.”

After a while, they'd all finished their meals and were just chatting, and Hank had gone to check the police radio. He came back quickly. “Scott, there's a robbery in progress,” he stated. “Just outside of downtown.”

“Here we go again,” Scott said, shooting to his feet. “I’m on it.”

Hope had habitually gotten up as well, completely forgetting about her situation. It wasn't until Scott placed a hand on her arm to stop her when she sighed with disappointment. While Scott went to suit up, the others went to the lab to view the ant cams they'd be sending with Scott, as they had during the time Scott had battled the Falcon. Hope slumped into a chair beside Hank, the others taking their place in chairs they'd pulled up. Soon, Scott was out the door, flying on his ant to the location.

As Hank was keeping his eye on the feeds, the views of different parts of downtown could be seen. Police were already all over the place, gunshots going off and flying past the cameras. Smoke from a fire billowed through the street from inside a nearby warehouse. Everyone kept their eyes on the different screens, especially Hank and even Becca.

“Update us, Scott,” Hank spoke through the COM.

“I don’t know what’s going on yet,” Scott managed to reply as he weaved through throngs of fleeing civilians. He flew closer to the warehouse entrance, where three masked gunmen were in the middle of a shootout with police trying to get inside. His ears were already ringing from the sounds, but he could detect yelling from inside despite the loudness.

Hope could hear the commotion and was immediately on the edge of her seat. Her heart raced. This was nothing new for Scott to be dealing with… but he was doing it alone, without her, and that scared the hell out of her. She had a very bad feeling in the pit of her stomach as she watched Scott get further inside the building.

The man on the ant searched fervently to find out what was going on inside. Pipe bombs had been detonated earlier, so fires blazed, smoke everywhere. As he got to the back part of the building, he could make out a small group of people through the smoke. “I can’t see anything,” he spoke back to Hank. “This whole place is on fire! I think I can see someone.”

“Scott, get the hell out of there!” Hope demanded suddenly.

“No, wait, hold on,” Scott responded, getting closer instead of listening. He could make out at least three guys, all surrounding a case and trying to open it. He perched on a nearby crate, unseen. “There are three dudes trying to break into something. I can’t see much else.”

Hope watched nervously, her heart thumping in her ears. God, what the hell had he gotten himself into? “Scott, you’re gonna get yourself killed,” she thought out loud. “Get out before something happens!”

“Hope, I’m okay,” Scott assured her. “I’ll be fine. Hank, I’m moving some of the ants closer so you can get a better look at who these guys are.” 

Everyone watched as a few of the cameras got closer to the trio of men, all pairs of eyes fixed on them to see if they could recognize any of the three. Immediately, Becca felt off about these guys. Her eyes flickered across every monitor to see if she could make out some of the faces. There was one in particular that had her the most intrigued. God, who was this guy? Why did he look so familiar? Had she seen him before?

Then, it clicked. She gasped suddenly, eyes wide open and jaw dropped. She had seen this man before. In fact, she couldn’t even get that face out of her head. “Scott! Get out, now!”

Everyone had glanced to her in shock and confusion. Scott was frazzled, too. “What? Why?”

“Those are Hydra men!”

This brought chaos to the room. Hank turned to the woman. “How do you know?”

Without even thinking of her answer, Becca, in an obvious state of distress, just shouted. “One of those men is responsible for the attack on SHIELD that ended up killing my late husband in 2014! He was the one who shot me! Scott needs to get out right now!”

This sent a shock to the room. The only person at the time who had known about this was Hope. Not even Jack had an idea. Now, everyone knew, and for only a moment, they stared at her in bewilderment. But right now, that was the least of their issues.

Hope thought she was going to throw up. “Scott, go now!”

Hank backed her up. “Scott, really, get the hell out of there right now! You’ll get yourself killed!”

“No, it’s okay,” Scott spoke confidently. “I can take them. I fought the Avengers, this should be a snap.”

Hope couldn’t believe him. “Scott, you lost that fight! Get out of there!”

But, rather than heeding to the commands, Scott leaped off the crate, flying toward the men. Before the three Hydra operatives could do anything else, Scott surged into action, and he knocked all of them off their feet quickly. Guns started going off, the men trying to kill whatever was attacking them, which they couldn’t see. Those watching were frantic, especially Hope. Every time he went off screen, her heart stopped.

“Scott, what the hell are you doing?!” Hank nearly screamed. “God, you son of a bitch!”

Becca couldn't look away from the monitors as she watched Scott fight. She was used to being in the line of fire every now and again. And now, there she was… on the sidelines. She looked over to Hope, remembered that she couldn't go out to help. Becca started trying to think of some way she could help. What was she doing there? She needed to go help him!

“He can’t do this all by himself,” she stated, rising to her feet. It was first instinct, to get up and fight to protect a friend. That was one thing that everyone remembered about her; she was fiercely loyal.

Jack saw her begin to stand and he was bewildered. “Whoa where are you going?” he asked her, taking hold of her arm.

“What’s it look like?” she sounded shaky and panicked. “I’m going out there to help him.”

“What?? No!” her fiancé protested immediately. “You’ll get hurt!”

Becca crossed her arms. “Come on, there’s no way in hell Scott is going to make it out there alive, especially alone against Hydra!”

“You’re not going out there,” Jack shook his head. “Not by yourself. I won’t have it.”

“Well then, who the hell is going to help Scott?!” she snapped. Her heart raced faster than ever, and she was starting to hyperventilate as memories of what she experienced during Josh’s death came flooding back to her all at once. Suddenly, she was back in New York that day. Everything was still so clear; the acrid smoke that filled the room, the smell of her own blood, the pain in her torso and shoulder, and all up and down her arms… her heart raced. She was there again.

Jack, still holding their son, was quick to have her sit back down. “Hey, breathe,” he urged her gently. “Come on, breathe.” In his arms, Porter was crying a little bit—well, more like whimpering. He was already uncomfortable with the frantic yelling around him, but it was when his mother became distressed that he began to fuss. He didn't like it one bit.

Becca completely forgot about her own distress as soon as her son started to fuss, the sound bringing her back to reality. She opened her arms, and Jack handed him over instantly. The woman held the baby close, hushing him gently and trying to calm him down. “It's okay, baby,” she murmured to him. “I've got you.”

However, despite her panic, Becca couldn’t keep her eyes away from the monitors. She could hear Scott yelling as he fought, the other men shouting in confusion and fury. She noticed Hope, the way she watched in sheer terror as her boyfriend completely ignored every order to get out. The pregnant woman was in worse state than Becca, now, hyperventilating, sweating, and even in tears.

“Scott, please!” she begged through the COM. “Get the hell out of there! Please!”

But by then, he couldn’t hear her. He was far too busy fighting his best to stop the robbery from happening any more. He kept switching sizes to dodge every punch and bullet thrown at him. Thankfully, he was getting the better of them, and he had two of the guys knocked unconscious.

Then, the unthinkable happened. A single shot rang out just as Scott grew to full size, and his cry of pain followed. A camera nearby caught him as he fell to the ground, writhing in pain as he clutched his leg. Hope’s heart lurched.

“Scott!!” Hope screamed. “Scott, no!!” She grabbed the COM and started crying into it. “Scott, answer me! Please!” All she got was his pained groan, followed by his grunts as the only man conscious began beating him, still holding a handgun. Hope was unable to breathe, the others scrambling to figure out a way to help.

As he was being beaten, Scott got one swift kick to the head, dislodging his helmet a little, and making his COM system go dead, and no longer could he hear the panic on the other end. He groaned, just as the world around him began slipping away, fading to black. It was quiet as the once distorted sounds became evanescent and completely disappeared.

“Scott!” Hope called again, desperate. “Scott, answer me! Please!” But all she got was nothing.

Suddenly, the perpetrator, out of nowhere, was knocked off his feet. He flew backward into a wall, the gun flying out of his hand. He was discombobulated immediately, flustered, because he didn’t see his attacker. Neither did those watching at Hank’s. Everyone fell silent as shock fell upon the room. The man was just being thrown around, as if a ghost was hitting him. At first, they thought it was Scott, but he was still crumpled on the ground. Then, they could catch glances of someone else changing sizes like Scott has. They glanced to Hope, but she was still there, just as confused as every other person in the room. Wait… if she was still sitting there, then who was with Scott? Hank took a closer look at one of the screen. Wait… was that…

“Janet?!”

It was at that moment when everyone realized that Janet was no longer in the room with them. Turns out, while they were focused on Scott and figuring out what to do, she’d managed to slip away, and there she was, kicking ass and protecting Scott.

Hope couldn’t believe what she was seeing. Actually, no one could, but still, she was in complete shock. Never before had she seen her mother fight before, and it was a sight to see. But she didn’t focus on that for long. Her main worry was of her boyfriend lying slumped on the ground.

Janet threw punches left and right, dodging others, and it wasn’t long before she had disabled the man previously attacking Scott. She rushed to Scott’s aid quickly. “Scott, hey,” she shook him gently. “Hey, talk to me, Scott, are you okay? Can you hear me?” He shifted, but he didn’t speak to her. She could see the blood seeping through his suit where he’d been shot. She spoke through the COM in her own helmet. “He’s unconscious. I don’t know what damage has been done, but I’m gonna take him to the hospital.”

She then proceeded to take off their suits (both of them wore dry-fit clothes for maximum mobility beneath the suits). When she did, she saw that his leg was bleeding badly, and he had bruises all over. Without a moment to spare, she used red discs to shrink their suits and helmets and scooped Scott into her arms before running him out of there, making it look like he was just a civilian caught in the crossfire.

Meanwhile, those still at Hank’s watched with jaws nearly brushing the floor. They couldn’t believe what they’d just witnessed. Janet Van Dyne had just blown their minds, sneaking out and returning as the original Wasp for the first time since 1987. And her fighting skills seemed to be unchanged despite all that time. Hank’s heart filled with immense pride as he thought of this, but his attention was quickly brought back to reality when her voice informed them of Scott’s condition. When he saw Janet shrink the suits, he quickly signaled ants to retrieve them and bring them back.

Beside the old man, Hope was a mess, worried sick about her boyfriend and mother. It wasn’t long before she bolted out to the car, Hank following with Jack and Becca and Porter behind him. Soon, both Hank’s car and Jack’s car were on the road, heading right for the hospital.


 

Hope didn’t speak a word during the ride, and as soon as they arrived to the hospital, she ran to the front desk, asked for Scott, and was led to his room. The whole time, she was fighting to breathe, her stomach churning. She spotted her injured boyfriend, who was asleep, pale and weak while Janet remained close by. When Hope took a good look at Scott, she nearly fell, and she rushed to his side.

“Scott!” she called his name. “Oh, god…” She reached for his hand and squeezed it gently.

“He was shot in the leg, and he has a concussion,” Janet informed her gently. “He’ll probably be on crutches for a while… basically he’s gonna have to rest a lot.”

Hope nodded slowly, her eyes never leaving Scott. “God, why don’t you ever listen,” she whispered to him. “Idiot…”

“The doctor did say he’d be okay,” Janet reassured her. She then glanced to the others and jerked her head to the door, urging them to leave Hope alone with Scott for a while.

But as Janet passed her, Hope took her arm. “Good job out there, Mom,” she said quietly. “Really… that was amazing… you saved his life, too.”

Janet smiled and nodded slowly, pecking Hope’s cheek. “I knew I had to do something,” she said. “I know how much you care for him, and I couldn’t just sit there.”

“Really, Mom, thank you,” Hope replied, and then she released her arm. “That was incredible.”

Janet simply gave a small grin again, and then she left with the others. Hope pulled up a chair beside the bed and sat down, just watching Scott as he slept. She could see the bruises and the dried blood, and she shivered a bit. Her heart felt like it was still racing, recovering from the whole ordeal. Once she settled in her seat, she let out a long breath, leaning back.

As she let her mind calm down, she ran a hand across her belly, and then she glanced down. “Daddy never listens,” she whispered, finally being direct with their baby for once. “He scared the hell out of Mommy today. You have some crazy parents, that’s for sure.”

“Well, Daddy more than Mommy,” came a croaky voice nearby.

Her eyes shot up, and she straightened. There on the bed, Scott’s eyes had opened, and he’d turned to look at her. There was a soft smile on his face. He’d woken up to the first time she had acknowledged and spoken to their baby. Up until now, he’d been the one to speak to it. It was amazing hearing her. “Hey, gorgeous,” he said.

“Oh, Scott, thank god,” she sighed with relief and scooted closer to take his hand.

He winced a bit as his eyes adjusted to the light. “Ow… what the hell happened?”

“You were shot in the leg, and you were beaten. You have a concussion. But you’re gonna be okay. You have to rest a ton.”

“I was afraid of that,” he sighed. He then noticed the look on her face, that face of dismay and concern, and almost some disappointment. “What?”

“What the hell were you thinking?” she uttered. “You almost got killed.”

“Come on I've fought stronger guys with way more training than that and won… can't think of any right now… but—” he cut himself off when he caught her threatening glare. “Okay, sorry…”

She huffed and rolled her eyes, crossing her arms. “You're so reckless. You scared the shit out of me! You never listen!”

“I'm sorry, babe,” he sighed.

“What if something had happened to you? What if you'd gotten killed? I mean, you got shot! You were beaten! If something worse happened, I…” she cut herself off for a moment or two. “I can't raise this baby without you. Cassie would have been devastated.” She dropped her gaze for a while. “I would have been devastated.”

“I know,” Scott let out a long breath again. “I'm sorry.” Those two words were all he could get out. There were no words to make this better, really.

As she sat there and thought about the possibility of losing Scott, her heart ached more and more. Heat formed behind her eyes, and tears soon fell. She wept softly as she sat next to him. It didn't last long though, and she took a quick breath before wiping them away. “I fucking hate these hormones,” she sighed.

He brought her hand up to kiss her knuckles, feeling bad that he couldn't sit up and hug her. “It's okay, babe,” he assured her quietly.

She huffed and forced herself to look at him. “Why do you do things like that? You have a family to think about, you know?”

“I know,” he nodded. “I just… knowing they were Hydra, I wanted to stop them before anything worse could happen. I mean, Cross was negotiating with Hydra, and I wanted to prevent a similar situation, to protect my family. It was very reckless and I’m sorry. But I'd rather get a few scratches than see you, Cassie, or our growing baby harmed.”

She let out a breath. “I know you're trying to protect us,” she whispered. “But you don't have to constantly throw your life on the line. I want you to be around for your daughter and this baby.”

“And I intend to be,” Scott told her. “I'll be here for Cassie, I'll be here for the baby, and of course, I'll especially be here for you.”

“You promise?” she asked as she looked at him.

“You have my word,” he nodded and kissed her hand. “Now, come here so I can cuddle you.”

She hesitated for a moment. “I don't want to hurt you.”

“You won't,” he scooted over to give her room. “Come here.”

After faltering for a moment, she nodded and carefully went to lie down beside him. She made sure not to put pressure on him, and he wrapped an arm around her to keep her close. His other hand came over to stroke her arm, but soon, it found the gentle swell of her belly, beneath which their child was nestled. After a moment, her own hand went to cover his. She thought for a moment before sighing.

“My mom was the one who brought you here,” she informed him.

“She was?”

“Yeah. She… she put on her old Wasp suit and saved you.”

“No way. Really?”

She nodded. “It was… amazing. I wish I could have seen her in action more often. She’s just… she’s incredible.”

Scott was impressed. “Wow… I wish I could have seen that. I can definitely tell where you got the badass side. I hope that our baby inherits that from you, too.”

Her face flushed a bit. “I hope he or she has your eyes.”

“And let’s hope he or she isn’t as reckless as Daddy. One can only hope.” He tried to stay lighthearted about the whole thing. She didn’t say anything in reply. She just settled closer to him and stroked her belly a little. He sighed. “Sorry…”

“It’s okay,” she murmured, letting her eyes fall closed. She breathed in his scent, and it gave her comfort. Soon, she fell asleep, the sound of his heartbeat against her ear a lullaby to her, surrounded by the safety of his arms.

Scott held her close, stroking her belly gently. He glanced down to find her asleep, and a small grin tugged at the corners of his mouth. He then thought about the baby she was carrying, how he or she would have to probably deal with this a lot. “I’m sorry Daddy’s so reckless. I’m just trying to protect you and Mommy, your big sister and your family. I promise to be better about it, baby… I promise…”

This time, Scott meant every part of it. Of course, he did his best to keep his promises, but he made it an especially personal goal to be better about the recklessness. He had to be around for his family. It was just too precious to risk anymore.

Chapter Text

By the time a month had gone by, Scott was back on his feet, almost fully recovered from his injuries sustained during the Hydra run-in. His concussion had healed, as had his leg. There was some scarring, and he had to keep it clean still, but he was up and walking now, and almost ready to get back into training. He had to thank Hope for most of the help during the recovery. She was by his side every second of every day, helping him as much as she could, from getting up and down the stairs, cleaning his wounds, and helping him with his rehab exercises. By the beginning of December, he was feeling so much better with every day that passed.

Hope was sixteen weeks pregnant by then, and thank god, all of her horrible symptoms had tapered off. Nausea was almost nonexistent. She wasn’t constantly tired all the time (sure, she was tired, but no where near as tired as she was at the beginning), and she just felt great for once. However, her appetite was still there, and her breasts and belly were still growing steadily, especially her belly. But much to her delight, she actually looked pregnant and not just gaining weight from a big appetite. All in all, she did not feel like road kill anymore. The only bothersome thing she had to complain about was some back pain, but otherwise, she felt better.

While he was laid up, Scott got himself a What to Expect book to read during all the spare time he had now. He was the one who told Hope what was happening each week of the pregnancy, so both of them were learning together. Hope thought it was incredibly attractive, how paternal he was and how excited about the baby he was. It was the main reason why Hope was becoming more and more comfortable about the whole situation.

Now that Hope was this far along, there was a big day coming up. It was another prenatal appointment, which she’d been going to about once a month, but this wouldn’t be just any checkup. That day, she’d be getting another ultrasound. She was lucky to be getting that, because she’d learned that lots of women don’t get ultrasounds at that point in their pregnancies, but Dr. Thompson was a doctor in the area who did offer the option at the appointments, and of course, Scott and Hope answered yes to getting one. It had been a while since she’d gotten one, so both of them were pretty excited about it. It was amazing for them to think that their baby would actually look like a baby this time around.

The morning of the appointment, Scott was awake before Hope, and the first thing he did was grab his book that he kept on the nightstand. He’d read about sixteen weeks already, but he’d only skimmed through it. This time, his reading was more thorough. Everything he read excited him. He found out that their baby’s eyes were functioning, and its skin was translucent. But there was one thing that really, really excited him: the baby could hear, now. He didn’t read much further than that. As soon as he finished that sentence, he put the book back and turned to face Hope, who slept on her side while facing him. He bent down and inched his face closer to her belly without waking her.

“Hey, you,” he whispered, unable to take the smile off his face. “It’s your daddy, here. I know you can hear me, now. “I promise I'm gonna do everything to keep you safe and happy. Mommy and I are gonna love you so, so much… well, we already do love you that much.” He edged forward and kissed her belly every so gently.

It was when she felt his lips meet her belly that made her slowly draw out of sleep. She peeled one eye open to find Scott there, face so close to her swollen torso, as he kissed it and spoke to their baby. It made her heart melt instantly, and a soft smile grew on her face.

“You are so sweet,” she murmured, causing him to blush and turn to glance at her.

“Hey,” he chuckled quietly.

“Hi,” she replied as she stretched and yawned. “Talking to the baby again, huh?”

He nodded with a grin. “Yeah. I just read that he or she can hear us now!”

“Really?” she brightened. Now, she knew he’d be talking to her tummy even more. Not that she minded that. “That’s amazing.” She slowly sat up to lean back against the pillows, and once she settled, she folded her hands on her stomach, resting comfortably there. She noticed how he was looking at her with the biggest love-struck gaze and she blushed. “What?”

“You’re so beautiful, you know that?” he stated with a big smile plastered on his face.

Her face went crimson. “You’re so sweet.”

“I try,” he chuckled and moved closer to kiss her lips. “Now, let’s eat something before we have to go to the appointment. I’m sure you’re hungry.”

“Aren’t I always?” she teased, beginning to push herself out of bed. The first thing she did was walk to the dresser and pull out a comfortable shirt and a pair of maternity jeans. But before she got changed, she looked at herself in the mirror, like she did most mornings. “Getting bigger and bigger every day…”

“And more and more beautiful,” Scott added as he, too, changed into his day clothes. “You know, every single day you get more gorgeous than before, which I didn’t think was possible.”

Once again, her face flushed. “Scott, stop, you’re making me blush,” she giggled shyly, slipping into her pants and pulling her shirt down over her stomach.

“It’s true, though!” he stated as he trotted up to her to peck her cheek. “I mean it, one hundred percent. I always mean it.” He then wrapped his arms around her before peppering her face with kisses, and he relished in the sound of her giggle. “I love you.”

“I love you, too,” she smiled, leaning into him.

They remained like that for a few moments before Scott let go. “Okay, let’s get some breakfast. Then, we can go.”

She smiled again and nodded, and then he took her hand to lead her downstairs to the kitchen. They didn’t spend too much time on breakfast, though, because they wanted to get on the road so they’d be on time. After eating some pancakes Scott made for her, the two got themselves together, and they left for the hospital.

The next thing they knew, they were sitting in the waiting room, having just checked in for their appointment. Scott kept himself entertained with a magazine, while Hope just let her eyes wander around, her mind doing the same. She thought of how their baby would look on that monitor screen, what the heartbeat would sound like when the Doppler would turn on. Would it be moving around and kicking? What features would be obvious? Her mind filled with all these questions, and her hand involuntarily stroked her belly as she got lost in thought.

Scott's mind wandered, as well. He was thinking the same things Hope was, but he also had something else on his mind that he hoped might happen during the appointment, and that was whether or not they'd find out what they were having. After all, lots of people have been told about genders around sixteen weeks. But it was also around twenty weeks that people find out, too. He wanted to know what they were having. He wanted to be able to shop for all the things for a boy or a girl, to spoil the kid rotten from the start. He wanted to choose a name and get things personalized. Whatever the case, he guessed he could wait another four weeks if he had to. But boy, he really wanted to know that day.

They left their trances when someone called Hope’s name, and the two stood up and followed a nurse to an exam room. She took Hope’s weight, temperature, blood pressure, and so on, and soon, Hope and Scott were alone in the room, Hope on the exam table, Scott in a chair next to her, while they awaited the doctor. Hope was taking deep yoga breaths on the table.

“You okay?” he asked as he took her hand.

“Yeah,” she nodded. “I guess… I don't know, I'm kind of nervous. No idea why.”

He kissed her hand just then. “Just take deep breaths. I'm here for you.” He knew better than to tell her not to be nervous. That usually never worked. “I love you.”

She offered a smile. “I love you, too. I know I shouldn’t be nervous. I’m sure everything’s gonna end up fine.” She then decided to heed to his advice, and she took a few deep breaths.

“You think we’ll get to find out the gender today?” Scott thought aloud.

Hope hadn’t really thought about that possibility. “Oh, god, I don’t know.” Could they do that this early? Now that he’d mentioned it, she was hoping that they would. “I hope so. I want to find out.”

“Me, too,” Scott replied.

“What do you think it’ll be?”

He thought for a moment. “I think it’s a girl. I hope it’s a girl.”

This surprised her. “Really? You want a girl?”

“Yes,” he nodded. “I want a miniature Hope.”

She blushed and giggled. “I think it’s a girl, too. I’ll be happy either way, but I have a good feeling that it’s a girl.”

“Ooh, maybe that’s mother’s intuition and it’s right!” he guessed with a chuckle. He then leaned over to peck her cheek. “I’ll be so happy no matter what it is, though.”

It wasn’t long until there came a knock to the door, and Dr. Thompson poked her head inside with a bright smile. “Good morning,” she greeted them, walking into the room with a chart in her hands. “Long time, no see.”

“Hi, Dr. Thompson,” Hope replied, shifting her position on the table.

“How are you feeling today?” the doctor asked as she sat in her wheeled stool next to the ultrasound machine, on Hope’s opposite side.

“Much better than I did at the beginning of the pregnancy,” Hope answered, very happy to confirm that she didn’t feel like a sick, bloated zombie anymore. “I feel like a normal human being for once.”

Jenna smiled. “That’s good,” she stated just as she was turning on the machine. “Most women feel better during the second trimester, so that’s definitely no surprise. All right, lean back and lift your shirt for me.”

Hope did as she was told, and once she went still, Jenna started prodding her belly on the top and bottom, measuring her growth. Jenna had to be a little firm, and Hope had to fight not to squirm with the discomfort. When Scott saw her face twist and her fist clench, he quickly moved to take her hand so she could squeeze it. Luckily, the prodding didn’t last too long. The doctor moved away and went to write something down.

“Measuring right where you should be,” Jenna announced. “Your weight is good, blood pressure is good. Everything is great with you.”

“Oh, good,” Hope nodded, letting out a breath that she hadn’t realized she was holding in.

“Now, we gotta check that baby,” the doctor chimed as she started setting things up for the ultrasound. “And maybe, we’ll be able to tell if it’s a boy or a girl. It all depends on if the baby decides to cooperate and not have its legs crossed.”

Hearing this made Scott become very excited, a big, dopey grin on his face. God, he hoped the baby would cooperate. Hope smiled at this and squeezed his hand. She absolutely loved the way he was about this pregnancy and their baby. He was always so positive, so excited, and so loving, and it gave her a warm, fuzzy feeling in her heart. She had to admit, with the way he was so eager for this, she really wanted to know, too.

Hope watched as the doctor squirted gel onto her stomach, just before applying the wand. In an instant, an image appeared on the screen. All eyes fell upon it, admiring the outline of the developing baby on the screen. It was so much bigger now, obviously, but it was something else to see the reality of it in person. It, indeed, looked more like a baby this far along, and so far, Jenna was telling them everything looked great with the baby as she was examining. There was something Hope noticed after watching long enough that had her almost in tears. Her baby was moving.

She had yet to feel any kicks, aside from what she thought were gas bubbles. Now, she believed she’d been feeling flutters all along. And sure enough, there the baby was, moving around on the screen like it was dancing, and Hope was mesmerized.

“Oh, my god,” Scott’s voice broke the trance she was in. “It’s moving!” He, too, was completely in awe at the movement he was seeing. “Look at it go!”

Hope chuckled, but then she focused on the monitor again. Jenna continued to move the wand around to check out the baby as a whole, measuring it, as well. Hope didn’t pay attention much to that part. Neither did Scott. It wasn’t until Jenna spoke up again with a specific key word that they paid attention again.

“All right, you ready to see if we can find out the gender?” Jenna asked.

“Yes,” Hope and Scott answered simultaneously.

Jenna giggled at their responses, and she immediately went to work. At first, the angle of the camera wasn’t right, so she had to adjust. This took a few tries, because no view was good enough. For a moment, she began to think that the legs were crossed, but then she moved the camera again, and sure enough, she was wrong. The legs were open. Within seconds, she had a perfect view.

“Looks like baby’s cooperating,” the doctor stated. She remained silent for a moment, seeing if they’d be able to tell on their own.

Scott stared at it for a while, but he was no doctor, so he had no idea how to tell. “Well, what is it?” he questioned after a few more seconds. Next to him, Hope was wondering the same thing. “You can tell what it is, right?”

“I can,” Jenna nodded. “I was just seeing if you could tell. I mean, she doesn’t have her legs crossed, and there’s a perfect view of her.” She had a knowing smirk on her face, now.

“Yes, but I can’t tell—” he cut himself off when he realized what Jenna had just told them. “Wait…”

Hope had noticed this, too. “Did… did you just say ‘she’ and ‘her?’”

The doctor nodded once again. “I did.”

“Oh, my god,” Hope breathed, her gaze shooting to Scott.

His jaw had dropped and a huge smile was stretching across his face. “It’s a girl!”

Hope’s hand flew to her mouth, tears forming in her eyes as she looked back to the screen, the image of their little baby—their little girl—still before them. Oh, god, a little girl. She couldn’t believe it. A happy laugh came from her as she began imagining life with a baby girl in the future. A little girl, attached to her daddy. A little girl, a baby sister for Cassie. It was so surreal. She couldn’t stop smiling.

Scott didn’t care what gender the baby would have been—he would have adored a boy or a girl—but knowing that he would have another little princess in his life with Hope just made his heart become so full it was close to bursting. And god, the thought of Cassie having a little sister made his heart leap with joy. He looked to Hope, a twinkle of a tear gathering in the corner of his eye. “A mini Hope, it is,” he grinned and laughed. He then leaned in to give her a celebratory kiss.

Meanwhile, Jenna began taking pictures of the baby for them to have, and on one of them she’d typed the words “It’s a Girl!” beside the baby. Once she thought she’d taken enough, she printed them, and she handed the strips to Hope. The woman on the table couldn’t stop grinning as her eyes examined each and every detail in the pictures. Scott leaned over her shoulder to take a look, too, his expression matching his girlfriend’s. They just couldn’t believe it. They were having a girl!

What happened afterward was kind of a blur. Hope was so full of happiness that she didn’t pay too much attention to anything else, and the next thing she knew, she was back home, lying in bed and propped up against the pillows, looking at the pictures again. Scott went to join her and planted a kiss on her cheek. She grinned at him.

“Can you believe it? We were right!”

Scott nodded and let out a laugh. “It doesn’t feel real! God, Hope, we’ll have a little girl running around here.”

“I know!” Hope chimed. “God, now we can shop accordingly. We’ll need lots of pink.”

“Yes, and we can decorate the nursery,” he pointed out. They’d been holding off on the nursery stuff for a while, and now that they knew they’d be turning one of the guest rooms into the nursery, and that they knew the gender, they would be able to start making some order for the baby’s arrival. That thought alone made Scott all giddy inside. “I’m so glad we know, now.”

“I am, too,” she replied.

He beamed, and then he went to lie on his stomach, facing her belly. Hope giggled and put the photos to the side so she could lift her shirt for him. As soon as she did, Scott pressed a soft kiss to her skin. “Hey, baby girl,” he murmured against her stomach. “Daddy’s gonna spoil you rotten.”

“For sure,” Hope let out another giggle.

“And she’s not dating until she’s thirty,” Scott proclaimed. He was partially joking… partially. He didn’t want to be too overprotective as a father. Knowing how independent Cassie was, he could only imagine what this baby would be like. He promised himself to be lenient… to an extent. “Well, unless it’s Porter.” That last part was a joke this time.

Hope laughed once more. “I feel like she’ll be a daddy’s girl.” She then tried to imagine their daughter with Scott. She could see him holding her nonstop. She dreamed of waking up in the mornings to find their baby girl all snuggled up between them, both of them safe in Scott’s arms. Hope adored the idea.

“We’ll have to see,” Scott quipped. It was easy to tell that he hoped their daughter would be Daddy’s little girl. He kissed her belly again. “I love you, baby girl. Both you and your mom… my girls…” As he finished his sentence, he turned onto his side, facing Hope, but with his head resting against her tummy. “Hi.”

“Hey,” she whispered. “Comfy?”

“Oh, very. Is this uncomfortable for you?”

“Oh, no, not at all. Don’t worry. I’m not at that point yet. I’ll let you know when I do get there.”

He smiled and decided to stay put. His mind wandered for a bit. “How are we going to tell our friends and family?”

Hope had yet to think about that. “Oh, god, I don’t know. Should we just announce it, or something? Like, post a picture?”

“Nah,” Scott shook his head. “I want to see people’s reactions.” Two seconds later, he gasped. “Oh! What about a gender reveal? Have everyone come over so we can surprise them at once?”

She couldn’t help but smile at the thought. “Aw, yeah, we could do that. Sounds fun. But how would we do that?”

“I’ve seen so many different ideas, honestly,” Scott admitted. “Balloons flying out of a box. Cutting open a cake that’s either pink or blue on the inside. Piñatas with pink or blue confetti inside. There are so many ideas out there.”

“I like the balloon idea,” Hope stated. “Simple, but fun.”

“We can definitely do it that way,” he grinned. “And it doesn’t have to be an all out giant party. We can just get, like, a chalkboard to have people mark their guesses in either pink or blue, and then do the whole balloons in a box, thing. We could do it on Sunday.”

“Sounds good to me,” she answered. “I think two days is enough to prepare, right?”

“Exactly. I’ll get balloons and a box tomorrow. And a chalkboard, too.”

She nodded with her agreement, a soft smile on her face. “Perfect. So, it’s a plan?”

“It’s a plan,” he grinned, and he sat up to kiss her quickly before going to cuddle her beneath the covers. They couldn’t stop beaming with extreme happiness.

Baby girl Lang was on her way.


 

Two days later, on that Sunday, all of Scott and Hope’s family and friends gathered at their place in the afternoon for the reveal, as well as a barbecue, since it was pretty close to dinner when they planned it. Scott had done most of the decorating for the home. He had pink and blue streamers hanging from the ceiling, pink and blue confetti on the kitchen table, where he’d set out cupcakes with either pink or blue frosting, as well as the chalkboard he’d bought, where people would be putting their guesses in tally marks. And, at the front of the living room, by the fireplace, was a large, closed box, inside which the balloons awaited.

Their home was bustling with activity fairly soon. Becca sat with Porter on her lap in the den, where Cassie was getting to know the baby. Janet, Hope, and Maggie were perched on chairs nearby as they watched. Hank was speaking to Paxton. Luis, Dave, and Kurt were behaving themselves, surprisingly. Jack was outside with Scott, both of them by the grill, cooking burgers and hot dogs for everyone. And thank god, everyone was getting along.

Scott came in from outside to get some burger patties from the fridge when he passed the chalkboard. At that point, people had been over for about an hour. In that time, the chalkboard had been filled. The majority of the tallies? They were on the girl’s side. There were only two votes for it being a boy. Scott couldn’t help but chuckle at this. He wondered what it was that had everyone guessing that it was girl. But after a moment, he shrugged it off, returning outside and handing Jack the patties.

“Everyone’s voting girl,” Scott informed him.

“Oh, yeah,” Jack nodded as he flipped a few burgers. “I think it’s a girl. You can’t produce anything masculine.”

Scott clutched a hand over his chest. “Ouch, man. So harsh!”

“I’m only slightly kidding,” the other man laughed. “But seriously, I can only see you and Hope with a baby girl. Nothing wrong with it.”

“True,” Scott chuckled along with him. “All right, what else do you need?”

“Nothing, I’m good. Thanks, though.”

The men continued grilling for a while until they had enough for everyone, and it wasn’t long after they finished that people had begun eating. They began talking about their guesses of the baby’s gender, and thankfully, it wouldn’t be long before they’d find out. And sure enough, within thirty minutes, everyone finished eating, and Scott and Hope went to stand at the front of the room. All eyes were upon them.

“Okay,” Scott began. “It’s finally time. Any last minute guesses?”

“Girl,” Becca said immediately.

“Oh, yeah, definitely girl,” Janet nodded.

“Girl!” Cassie exclaimed.

“Girl,” Maggie added.

“Girl, there’s no doubt,” Paxton stated.

“Yeah, girl,” Hank spoke up.

“Girl,” Kurt proclaimed.

Luis and Dave just looked at their friend. “Really, man?” Luis asked. “You think it’s a girl? It’s gotta be a boy!”

“Yeah, I think it’s a boy,” Dave agreed.

“Well, at least someone has faith in your ability to produce anything masculine,” Jack snickered teasingly. This drew a chuckle from Paxton, as well.

Becca rolled her eyes. “Jack, be nice,” she giggled before glancing to Hope and Scott again. “All right, y’all, get on with the reveal. The anticipation is killing us.”

“Yeah, come on, Daddy!” Cassie pleaded.

“Okay, okay,” Scott laughed, taking out his pocket knife. Hope held the flaps closed while he cut the packing tape. Then, he took hold of one, Hope holding the other, prepared to open it. “Ready? On three.”

“One… two… three!”

And on three, Scott and Hope finally opened the box, and in an instant, pink balloons flew out in a giant bundle, with one saying “It’s a Girl” on it. The sight of that color made everyone cheer with excitement and joy, happy for the couple and proud that most were correct. Janet was almost jumping up and down. Hank was grinning. Maggie and Paxton were grinning, as well. The guys, though two of them had been incorrect about the baby’s gender, were whooping loudly in celebration. Becca and Jack were laughing happily. The loudest of all the cheering came from Cassie, who was squealing with her immense joy. She ran up to her father and hugged him while also jumping up and down.

“I’m gonna have a little sister!” she cheered. Scott picked her up and twirled her around happily, causing her to squeal with laughter. “I'm so happy!” When she was put back on the ground, she was jumping around ecstatically. After a few moments she ran up to Hope and hugged her before kissing her belly.

Hope giggled and stroked the little girl’s hair tenderly. “You know, she can hear you, now,” she informed the child.

Cassie's face lit up. “Really?”

“Mhm,” Hope gave a nod. “Say something to her, if you like.”

The little girl thought for a moment of what to say. She wanted to be perfect when talking to her new sibling. “What do I tell her?” she asked.

“Anything you want,” the woman said. “Maybe say ‘hello.’”

“Okay,” Cassie giggled a bit. “Hi, baby sister