“Jackson” was the only word that escaped her mouth. That voice. She would never forget the sound of that voice.
She could feel the worried look Scott was giving her when she tightened. Hope was frozen and she couldn’t bring herself to turn and face the now man that was standing right behind her. She could feel his eyes fixiated on her, like they were eating her alive. She hated this sensation.
Slowly, she turned around not letting Scott’s hand leave hers for a second and for the first time in twenty years; she looked at a face she tried to forget.
Couldn’t forget that name even if she wanted to.
It took her a few seconds, but she recomposed herself the best she could and acted normal.
‘Put on a smile’ she reminded herself.
“Jackson” she pronounced his name once again, this time being audible. It stung, but she held herself together.
Scott, whose hand was still in Hope's, watched the scene past by in front of him, not liking at all what he was observing. His eyes went from Hope to Jackson again and again.
“Long time no see” Jackson was going to get closer to them when a high pitched voice called his name from the corridor.
“Jackson!” He kept his eyes looking straight at Hope “Our luggage is already in our room, and Alfred has already called the driver to come and pick us up for dinner, let’s go.”
He then abruptly grabbed Hope’s free hand and placed a kiss while looking at her face.
The moment his hand grabbed hers, Hope felt her vision get a little blurry and felt dizzy; so she laid back on Scott’s side. He gave her the most worried of looks. He untangled their fingers and passed his arm behind her back and held her close. Scott could feel how her body tensed the moment this guy touched her.
‘What the hell is going on?’ that’s all Scott could think about. He’d never seen Hope like this. Not even when his father was on the verge of dying. She was the type of person who could restrain. She was strong and she was certainly not like what he was seeing her right now.
Jackson released Hope’s hand and made his way down the corridor.
Hope didn’t move. She didn’t say a word. Not even when Scott verbalised what he was thinking.
“Hope” he faced her and looked right into her eyes “What did just happen in here?” he sounded inquisitive. He was truly worried.
Hope’s eyes were still riveted on the corridor where they left through. A few seconds later she looked at him again and put on a small smile.
“Nothing. It’s okay Scott, he’s just- um…” she took a moment to speak again “he used to be around all the time. It was weird seeing him again, that’s it.” She then moved and took his hand again.
Scott wasn’t buying any of that and they both knew it. He opened his mouth to say something when Hope interrupted him “Scott, really, don’t put too much thought into it”
He sighted when she started walking towards their room but stayed silent. That was other moment’s battle.
The evening passed by and the sun started to hide.
The water was running in the bathroom as Scott took a shower, while Hope was getting dressed to go out and have some dinner. There were a million thoughts running through her head. She used to fear this day, the day she would see Jackson’s face again; but she thought it wouldn’t come. She thought he wouldn’t be invited; not after what happened, not after he was expelled and told not to bother coming back to graduate.
Hope sat in the bed and stayed silent looking through the windows. She always thought she’d overcome what happened, she actually hadn’t thought about that for years; but seeing him again, feeling his hand in hers… it awoke something inside her. Made her feel defenceless and fragile, and even though she was holding Scott’s hand as hard as she could to keep her steady, she just felt fear. Irrational and completely paralyzing fear.
Scott of course being how he is, had been trying to make her talk about what happened in the hall before for the past hour, but Hope swore she wouldn’t talk about it ever again. She promised herself she would forget and she would go on with her life.
Being tired and having a headache from the evening’s events, she lied down in their bed and slowly, she fell asleep.
“I don’t think I-” the young girl’s voice sounded in the emptiness of the room.
“Hey, what did you think’s happening here? It’s okay, you’ll have fun you’ll see” a male voice, noticeable impatient, interrupted the young girl.
“But I don’t want to” the girl got up from the couch they both were sitting on and grabbed her jacket to leave the room, when the guy grabbed her arm.
“What did you say? You don’t want to? Well that’s not how this works” he kept his grip firmly in the girl’s arm.
“Jackson this is over, release my arm now, please” her voice trembled.
He laughed bitterly “You don’t get it; this isn’t over until I say so. And you’ll do as I say.”
Jackson pushed her against the couch and put himself on top of her. “Now Hope, you’ll shut up and stop fighting or this will end up really bad for you”
All that could be seen in Hope’s eyes was fear.
“Jackson” she said again “Jackson stop, let me go!” she was screaming at this point but he tried to cover her mouth with his hand.
She kept moving and kicking and screaming, trying to release herself from his tight grip, but nothing seemed to work.
“No, let me go” she was crying, and her breathing was unsteady.
“No! Please! Please don’t do it. Let me go” Hope couldn’t stop crying.
She suddenly opened her eyes to find herself in Scott’s arms. He was holding her tight and slowly rocking her.
“Hope shh, it’s okay. It’s okay, I’m here.”
Hope felt her eyes burning and the air being unable to access her lungs.
It was just a dream Hope. Just a dream, you are fine.
“You`re safe Hope. You’re okay”
Scott was truly scared right now. He was getting dressed in the bathroom when he heard Hope scream. He run out of the bathroom to find her tossing and turning in the bed, tears running down her face. He didn’t know what was happening and felt completely hopeless while watching her suffer like that.
A while later, Hope’s breathing started to turn steadier and her body started to relax. She was looking straight out of the window, dry tears all over her face, when she said the first sentence for what felt like forever.
“I had just started my freshman year” Scott looked right at her, not knowing what to express with his face.
Hope then moved and sat straight with her legs crossed and held one of Scott’s hands.
“He was so smart. Funny, always nice to everybody. He failed computer technology and the teacher asked me to give him some particular lessons so he could graduate. I acceded obviously, because I didn’t have a choice actually.” Hope stopped for a second, thinking about what to say next.
“We spent two hours studying every evening for three weeks. He was really nice to me, and he was cute at that time. So I got infatuated by him. I was just seventeen and I had no real experience with relationships. But he got really close to me, so touchy and all and I just thought it was how these things worked like.” Hope laughed bitterly and then looked down to her feet “I was in love with the idea of love. I was naive and let him take control over me. And it was fine most of the time, but then one day he- uhm…” She stopped to take a breath.
Scott could see tears forming in her eyes and squeezed her hand. Hope’s watery eyes raised and looked straight into Scott’s.
“We were in the library and he asked me to have sex with him. I told him I didn’t want to because I wasn’t ready, but he wouldn’t take no for an answer” Scott’s face hardened and her neck vein started to get more visible.
Tell me this is not what I think it is.
“He grabbed my arm and forced me to stay in the couch while he placed himself on top of me and ah-“She couldn’t hold her tears anymore. “He covered my mouth and started to unfasten my belt to take my skirt off. Luckily I could kick him hard enough to release myself from his grip and run out of the library.”
Scott’s mind was full at that moment. He was completely blinded with rage.
That bastard tried to rape my girlfriend.
“I’m going to kill that son of a bi-” Scott started, but was interrupted by Hope.
“Scott. Please, let it be” Hope was looking down to her feet. “I spent that whole year being hated by everybody because I got Jackson expelled. And I’ve been trying to forget what happened for the past decade. He already got his punishment” she raised her gaze and looked at him in the eye. “Is just… it was weird seeing him again, and when he touched my hand I just… I felt everything coming back to me; the fear, the impotence…” a silent tear fell down her cheek.
Scott was more enraged than he’s ever been in his life after what he just learned. Seeing Hope suffer like that was breaking his heart in a million pieces. He then gently brushed the tears away and held her as close as humanly possible.
“I promise you no one will ever hurt you like that again, Hope. I’ll make sure of it”
They ended up falling asleep in that exact same position.
Hope opened her eyes and stretched herself out in the bed. She looked around and saw Scott working on the desk, going through some plans. She slowly got out of bed and walked to Scott. She put her arms around him and kissed his cheek with fondness.
“Hey you” he said, turning to face her
“Hi” she smiled at him “what are you doing?” she moved her eyes to look at the papers in the table.
“Oh this, I’m just going through some of the plans for VistaCorp. We have the meeting with the CEO next week” she was paying attention to the papers. Scott then looked at his watch.
“Hey it’s already 7pm, what about you and I go grab some dinner? Maybe have a nice walk in the beach?”
Hope looked at Scott and tenderly smiled “yeah, that sounds amazing”
They both got changed and left the school to go to the town centre.
After an amazing meal, they drove to the seaside. Hope rushed out of the car and took her heels out, allowing herself to feel the sand in her feet. She breathed in the scent of the sea and closed her eyes, a smile forming in her face. Scott, who was observing her, couldn’t help but feel at peace. It was something only she was able to do; make him feel like this only by being herself, by being happy.
Scott took his shoes off and ventured himself into the beach, going next to her.
They spent the following hour taking a nice walk, their feet being slowly caressed by the shore’s water, and when they got tired, Scott unfolded the towel they had in the car, and they both sat down, watching the wave’s movement.
Hope’s head was resting on Scott’s shoulder and their fingers were intertwined together.
“Ah, this is so nice” he said, breathing in the salty air closing his eyes.
Hope turned to watch him, a small smile forming in her face, and suddenly she could feel that –now- familiar feeling. It was like a strong wave of heat past through her and flood her with calmness and this feeling she couldn’t quite describe.
And, for the millionth time now, a thought hit her like a wave. –I love him. I am completely and undeniably in love with Scott Lang- It made her head spin. They still haven’t said the L word yet, and thinking about it made Hope shiver.
Scott, always paying attention to her, offered her his jacket. “Here, take it” and carefully placed it on top of Hope’s shoulders. She felt her cheeks turn bright red.
-what am I, fifteen?- Scott had that effect on her, even with the small things. She always feels butterflies; she’s felt them since the very beginning and they never go away.
After a while and when it started to get colder, they drove back to the school.
Tomorrow was going to be a hell of a day, and they needed rest.
They made their way back to the dorms, but when Hope opened the door, she placed herself against the corridor’s wall and looked up at Scott.
“What’s up, Hope?” Scott said, looking at her, silently asking why she didn’t get into their room. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, yeah I just-” she said sighing “I just wanted to thank you; for everything. For being understanding and patient with me, for taking good care of me, and for taking me in such a wonderful evening. You truly are from another world and I don’t know how I’ve been so lucky to find you”
Scott stayed silent, shocked because of the sudden honesty. He knew Hope’s feelings for him, but she wasn’t the kind of verbalising things. He smiled.
“Well I could say the same thing about you” he placed both of his hands in her lower back; and pulled her close to him. “You continue to amaze me every day.”
Hope placed her arms around Scott’s neck and kissed him gently, expressing with kissed what she couldn’t with words. Scott gladly reciprocated the kiss, and lifted Hope from the floor, making her giggle in the process, his lips still on hers, and carried her inside the room, closing the door with his leg.
There’ll be plenty of time to rest later, but for now, they just needed each other.
Meanwhile, in the corridor, Elizabeth emerged from the shadows, a surprised expression in her face.
“Well, well, isn’t that Hope Van Dyne, huh” she said turning around when the door closed “Well, since she dared to come, we might as well greet her like she deserves”