[EDITED: February 2nd, 2016. The mistakes I found made me cringe.]
[EDITED: December 21st, 2016. Spit and polish.]
Disclaimer: I own nothing and I never shall for I am naught but a lowly college student.
"What do you remember?"
Scott closes his eyes. It's a good question. The funny thing about good questions is that they can be so difficult to answer.
Hank's sitting on that old chair with his arm in a sling, and Scott's surprised to find that it actually does make the man a little less intimidating. It's hard to look all snappy and sharp when you've got on a plastic and polyester sling. All the same, Scott can't laugh about it. They almost lost Hank, and that's no laughing matter. Well, actually, Scott thinks that he can make just about anything a laughing matter, but there were too many parallels between himself and Hank for this to be funny. He never thought that he would have anything in common with the man, but he looks, and he sees himself. A much smarter, better dressed, grumpy version of himself, but Scott likes to think that when he sees Cassie, it's the same way Hank sees Hope. And that hits home. So, it's not funny. It's frightening, and Scott doesn't like that feeling at all.
Tell him, don't tell him. Tell him, don't tell him. Decisions, decisions. Scott doesn't know if telling Hank everything will be comforting or just upset the older man. How can he say, 'hey, Hank, I saw where your wife went after she disappeared, it was cool, though, so no sweat.' Yeah, that would go over well. So what can he say? Not that, definitely. But something. Anything. A lie, even. No, not a lie. He can't do that to Hank. He can't say that he doesn't remember what happened, or that it was skipping through a field of daisies with the sun shining down on his baby-smooth skin. He respects Hank to much for that, which is crazy, because he doesn't have a whole lot of respect for anyone. But Hank deserves it, really. Scott's not sure how that happened.
Ain't no good people, he used to say. And then there was his wife, and that turned out to be a real bust. But now there's Cassie, and she's just the goodest of people, and Hope, who is second-goodest, and Hank, who is pretty darn good.
So Scott's not gonna lie to one of his few good people.
"I stopped shrinking."
Hank's eyes flash (it's not lightning, it's just the glare from the sunlight in the window, that's all it is), and he straightens up like he's received an electric shock (that still doesn't make it lightning).
"What?" Hank says. He doesn't snap. He doesn't yell. But he looks at Scott like he holds the fate of the universe in his hands and, dear heaven help him, nobody except for Cassie has ever looked at him like that, and that's only because she doesn't know any better.
"After a little while, I stopped shrinking. I don't– it was–" Scott pauses, takes a deep breath; tries to collect himself. How can he describe this? Other than Hank's wife, he is the only person in the world who has ever even seen… that. That place. If it is, in fact, a place in the sense of a physical... whatever. That's not Scott's area of weirdness to debate. "I got smaller and smaller, like you said. I saw…" Oh, man, sometimes Scott wishes that he can be smart enough to be a scientist so that he might better comprehend, better appreciate, everything he's seen. It had been breathtaking in and of itself, but to see all of that and know what he was seeing… That would have been amazing. "I saw atoms, Hank."
Hank takes a shaky breath and involuntarily gives an equally shaky smile. There, that's it. The reverence that only a scientist can properly have for what Scott had experienced. Scott wishes that he could feel what Hank is feeling. Understand the way Hank understands.
"I saw them. I was the same size as an atom, and then I got even smaller. I passed between them, and then there was… a bunch of…" Scott makes some completely unhelpful hand gestures in the air. "It was like, y'know, those kaleidoscope things? But with glass. Lots of sharp edges. And it was red. They were everywhere, and they kept folding in on themselves and spinning. I fell into one. It didn't hurt, but I think it folded on me. Or something. I kept hearing Cassie, calling for me. I'm not sure if that was real, or just, eh... And then it got dark."
"Dark?" Scott can hear the fear in Hank's voice; the barely-restrained quaver. He can imagine what's going through Hank's mind, because all he has to think of is Cassie is lost somewhere in a dark place for years and years, and that same fear tingles up the back of his neck. He knows what Hank is thinking. My wife is lost in the dark and I can't get to her.
"That's when I stopped shrinking," Scott continues, pushing the good feels out of himself and into Hank, because Hank needs it most. "It wasn't dark for long. There was light."
Relief wilts Hank's body. Not all the way, but enough. His eyes are shining with unshed tears, and Scott's not sure if Hank will cry in front of him but he's not keen on finding out. Hank covers his mouth with his one free hand, and Scott hears a muffled noise that physically hurts him. Holy smokes, Hank Pym is crying and trying not to show it and Scott is feeling it right in his heartstrings.
From behind his hand, Hank murmurs a broken, "Tell me."
"It was beautiful. It was the most beautiful thing…" Scott doesn't know how to say how beautiful it was. Doesn't know how to describe the… everything. The light. The rightness. The world made out of lavender and stardust (that's far too poetic for a thief, although there are certainly better words, but they're the only words that Scott has). "Hank, I wish you could have seen it. It was the most amazing thing I've ever seen."
Hank closes his eyes and Scott does not look at the tear that runs down his cheek.
"Um… look, we can, uh, talk details later," Scott says, slowly rising up from his seat. Hank looks like he might do the same but doesn't seem to have the energy or willpower. "That's mostly it. I just wanted you to know."
"Yes," Hank rasps out, finally pulling his hand away from his mouth. He's crying and not even trying to hide it. Scott looks everywhere but at him.
Making a quick escape seems to be the order of the day. Scott's not gonna judge the man for crying, oh no, not at all, but if he and Hank are anything alike, then Scott knows that Hank needs some time alone. Or, maybe…
Scott slips out the door and finds Hope exactly where he was hoping she would be.
"You might wanna go in there," he murmurs, his fingers brushing against her arm.
Hope looks startled. It shouldn't be so cute but everything about her is cute, Scott thinks. It was even cute when she punched him in the nose, and getting punched is usually the definition of not cute. Oh, she's just not fair. He thinks it might be the nose. Well, it's everything about her, but she does that funny little nose-scrunch thing and he's toast.
"What?" Her voice is hoarse. Stress does that to her, apparently, and Scott shouldn't find that cute but he does, darn it. "What happened? Is he angry?"
"Nah, he's not angry." Scott pauses, chewing on the inside of his cheek. "Or, I dunno. I don't think so. But I'm pretty sure he needs you for a little while."
Hope looks at him, really looks, and in this moment it's more the eyes than the nose, because she has beautiful eyes (they see so much and he tries not to think about that because he's one of those people who never wanted to be seen before now and it feels so different).
"Okay," she says, soft and easy and not anything like she was when he met her. "I'll go in. But you're telling me about this later."
"Of course I am."
She shoulders past him and goes to Hank. Scott closes the door behind her and smiles.
He doesn't have to be a scientist or a poet to appreciate this.