The air smelt of death and ruin, the sky thick with black clouds of ash. Charred earth crumbled beneath their feet, the carcass of what was the Avengers Facility spread out around them. Weary bodies breathed a collective sigh of relief, scuffling towards the center, towards the body of Tony Stark, their saviour.
He had done it. Sacrificed his life for their own, taking in the power of the Infinity Stones to stop Thanos from erasing them from existence forever. His body laid there, against pieces of concrete as broken as him, eyes open but no longer seeing. His wife, Pepper Pots sobbed, holding him tightly, Rhody and the spider kid not too far behind.
Hope gently took his hand as they stood, mourning their fallen soldier with the rest of them. Heads bowed and prayers were uttered in a whisper of voices and languages. Some bent a knee, others stood stoically, thinking upon his actions, letting the realities of the great battle sink in. It was Cap who spoke first.
“What happened here today shall not be forgotten. Today was the one in fourteen million. Thanks to your sacrifice, we have made the impossible possible. Your blood, sweat and tears will forever mark this ground. Tony, our friends and allies, they all knew how important this chance was. They gave their lives so that we may all have a chance to live ours.”
“Our time to honour them will come, but first, we must look after ourselves.” He nodded at Strange, who’s hands began to twist and turn, a ring of golden light appearing behind him. “Go home, rest. Reunite with your loved ones and hold them tight. Tomorrow brings a new day.”
Strange’s fellow sorcerers copied his movements, golden rings of various sizes popping up all over the battlefield. “Find which of my fellow Brothers brought you here. Keep your destination clear in your mind and you’ll be fine. We should have you all home shortly.”
Hope squeezed his hand slightly. Scott turned to look at her and gave her a soft smile. They had a lot of catching up to do, but now was not the time. He let her lead the way.
The sound of waves crashing and gulls screaming filled his ears. The salty spray of the Pacific ocean provided an almost cleansing feeling on his dirt strewn face. He took in the brick red Victorian before him. It looked odd and yet seemingly at home amongst the dense thicket of California Redwoods and Bishop Pine. It’s green roof and gingerbread trim were not quite as pristine as he remembered, but then again, it had been uninhabited for 5 years.
He followed Hope up the beach and onto the front porch, his muscles aching with exhaustion but his mind too weary to care.
“Oh thank God.” cried Janet, rushing down the hall and pulling her daughter into a hug. Hank joined in, holding his wife and daughter protectively. Scott watched the scene, emotion flooding him as he was reminded of his reunion with his daughter not long prior.
“Scott.” said Janet, coming towards him and taking his hand. “I’m glad to see you. When we woke up on that roof the quantum tunnel was gone and you with it. We barely had time to register what had happened when that man….”
“Yes, that’s it. When Dr. Strange arrived and asked for Hope to come with him. To fight with the Avengers.How did you get out?”
“Would you believe a rat did it?” Scott chuckled. “Seriously, I saw the security footage. Ratatouille managed to press just the right buttons and spit me back out. Of course, my return journey didn’t bring me back to where I thought it would.”
“Mhm yes.” replied Hank, clearing his throat. “We’ve been doing a little research while you two were gone. Seems like we were just three of millions who vanished. All of this because of some Thanos fella?”
“Yup. Listen, Hank, there is a lot more to the whole thing than that, but to be honest, I’m exhausted. Also apparently homeless. For now at least. Do you mind if I use your shower and borrow some clothes?”
“Of course dear.” replied Janet, taking over. “You must both be worn out. I’ll fetch you some pajamas and a towel. There is a bed and basic shower supplies in the guest room and…”
“I got it mum.” interrupted Hope, leading Scott up the narrow staircase. “I’ll show him what he needs.” Janet smiled knowingly, guiding her husband back into the house and out of sight.
She found him some pajamas and a towel as promised, laying both on the bed as he stripped off his suit and staggered towards the bathroom. She couldn’t help sneak a little peek as he removed his shirt and dropped his boxers to the floor. While she may not remember their five years apart, it was a view she almost never grew tired of seeing.
Following his lead, she too stripped off her Wasp suit, laying it next to his on the chair and grabbing a towel for herself. Padding across the hall she rummaged through her wardrobe of stuff, managing to find an old t-shirt of his she had stolen when at his place last. She grabbed a comb and some underwear to match.
Satisfied with her find, she eased her bedroom door shut. While her parents were certainly not under any illusions about her relationship with Scott, she still felt like a teenager sneaking into her boyfriend’s room. Janet was no prude, but Hank was still endlessly uncomfortable anytime he had caught the two in a romantic situation. It was best to keep up the illusion, for his sake at the very least.
Letting her sweat stained undergarments join Scott’s on the floor, Hope padded into the bathroom. Steam curled gently around her naked body as she let her brunette hair free, working the braid at her crown loose with her finger tips. Pulling back the curtain slightly, she toed her way in behind a water slicked Scott, who was standing face first into the spray. Not wanting to startle him, she slowly wrapped her arms around his waist, resting her cheek on his shoulder.
“Hmm” he mumbled. He turned around to admire her, hands wandering over her alabaster flesh before settling on either side of her face. He leaned forward, pulling her in for a soft and gentle kiss. Their lips melted together, their breaths mingling into one.
She rested her hands on his chest and pulled back slightly, keeping them aligned, forehead to nose.
“God I missed you.” said Scott. She smiled.
“You’ve only been out of the Quantum Realm and back into reality for like what, a month?”
“Doesn’t matter.” he said. “Days without you are hard enough to bear. When I got out, when I saw your name on those gravestones, I….”
“Shhh.” she soothed, kissing him once more. “I’m here now.”
He kissed her again, fierce this time, possessive like he didn’t want to let her go. She moaned into his mouth, her body arching into his touch. When he eventually let go their breaths were heavy, the water suddenly way too hot.
He reached behind her for the shampoo, pouring a generous amount into his palms before lathering up her hair. She closed her eyes, relishing the feel of his fingers scraping light patterns over her scalp. He then switched their positions, placing her under the spray to rinse as he pushed back his own previously washed hair.
Grabbing the soap, Hope worked it into a bubbling lather, spreading it across Scott’s chest and arms, lingering over his abs. She worked it down each leg, feeling the sinewy muscles beneath as she gently caressed his bruised skin. When she stood up and reached to get his back he pulled her close, his arousal evident between her legs.
“I thought you were tired.” she purred. His lips fell into that easy smile of his and she knew she was done for.
Freshly showered, pain meds ingested and cuts and scrapes mended, the couple now lay in bed, entangled like a bundle of seaweed on the beach outside. The window had been cracked open to let in the breeze, the room filling with the scent of pine and salt.
“Cassie is going to be thrilled to see you again.” said Scott into her hair, as he stroked her back with his hand.
“Oh my God.I can’t believe I didn’t think to ask. Is she okay?”
“Yes.” chuckled Scott. “She’s a lot bigger now though.”
“Yah, she was one of the ones left behind. She thought I was dead. That we all were. Luckily Maggie and Paxton survived too. I can’t even imagine what would have happened to her if they hadn’t.”
“Oh Scott.” She hugged him tighter to her, her nose nuzzling into his chest. He took a steadying breath. “She must have been floored to see you again. When we found my mother after all those years I...well, you were there.”
“Hmm. I understand it better now though. Gives you perspective on things. Makes you want to hold them tight and not let go; appreciate every little moment you have with them because you know the feeling of losing them is almost too much to bear.”
Hope let that sink in for a moment. She wasn’t very used to serious Scott. Not like this anyway.
“Marry me.” It came out more of a command than a question, piercing through her thoughts.
“What?” she startled, pulling up and out from their embrace to look at him properly.
“Marry me.” he said simply. Again, not a question.
“Scott I...we just got back together and…”
“Not right now.” he said, interrupting her train of thought. “But, someday, sooner rather than later.”
“I..don’t know what to say.”
‘You don’t have to say anything right now Hope. It’s not like I’m kneeling on one knee holding out a ring. There’s no rush. I just want you to know where I stand, how I feel. I don’t need to go years without seeing you again to know what I want. I knew it before then but was too stupid to admit it. When we reunited to save your mom and got back together, I vowed to not let myself do something stupid to break us apart again. I know I have some making up to do still, that we both have some healing to do, but I don’t want to do it alone. I want to be with you, plain and simple. Until my name finds a new gravestone to adorn.”
Hope couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Her mind was busily weighing the data of the situation while her heart thudded happily in her chest, making itself known. There seemed to be only one answer that felt right. “Yes.” she breathed.
Now it was his turn to be shocked. “Wait, what? Really?” She laughed.
“Yes Scott, I'll marry you.” Matching grins spread wide across their faces as he leaned in and kissed her in a flurry of excited kisses. He peppered her mouth, her face and neck as she giggled in delight. “I expect to be getting a ring though. There is no way my parents will let you propose to me and not do it properly.”
“Anything.” he breathed, working his way back up. “I will go the whole nine yards if you want me too. Hot air balloon, tuxedo, a dozen roses, ring in a velvet box…”
“Okay, easy there Casanova. This isn’t the Bachelor. It doesn’t need to be anything that fancy.”
“Well, what do you want?”
“I don’t know honestly.” She grinned playfully at him. “But you’ve always been the sap in this relationship Scott, I’m sure you’ll figure something out.”
She flopped back down onto the bed, pulling the covers up around them. He snuggled back down as well, his arm resting behind her head. He pressed a kiss to her forehead and sighed happily. “You have no idea what you are in for Hope Van Dyne.”
She chuckled. “Bring it on Lang”.