"Scott…?" Hope asked cautiously. "What are you doing?"
The man glanced up in surprise, a huge grin spreading across his face as he spotted her.
"Hope! Hi! Check out my tractor!"
The man was indeed perched on top of a large green tractor, bouncing in the seat with a near childlike giddiness as he examined the dials on the dash.
"I can see it," she replied, glancing over the large piece of machinery with a raised eyebrow and trying to keep the fond amusement from ruining the stern tone in her voice. "What is it doing on the front lawn?"
"Oh, I'll get out of the way in just a minute, I just needed to make sure the tank was full before I shrank it."
"And why exactly are you shrinking a tractor?" she asked, crossing over to the large piece of machinery and stepping up on the running board to peek over the man's shoulder.
"Just in case."
"Just in case of what?"
"You know, emergencies."
She turned a bemused glance on the man, which he steadfastly ignored.
"What kind of emergency would require a tractor?"
"I don't know, but I figure it's better to be safe than sorry."
"It'll be off the lawn in just a minute. I swear."
"And where exactly are you going to be keeping this tractor?" Hope asked, slipping herself rather pointedly into the seat beside Scott, half in his lap. That particular move was quick to draw his attention from his new toy, and she blinked up at him in question as he turned his head, putting them all but nose to nose.
"On my keychain. With the rest of them."
Hope hummed out a soft sound in acknowledgement, tucking her head up beneath Scott's chin and snuggling herself more comfortably into his hold as he turned his attention to the machine once more. It made enough sense, she supposed. Her father kept a tank on his keychain, after all.
But then what Scott had said really registered with her, and she twisted out of his grip to give him a pointed, if not slightly horrified, look.
"Hold on, back up a second. What do you mean, 'the rest of them'?"
And Scott, with the world's most self-satisfied, shit-eating grin, fished a large, jangling key ring from his pants pocket and held it up for her to see.
In utter shock Hope reached out, gently taking hold of the little ring, her eyes on the dozens of miniature vehicles that were dangling from it.
"I've been working on my collection!" he grinned at her before returning his attention to the gauges on the tractor. "Aren't they cool?"
Hope carefully began to sort through the shrunken items, lips parted in shock. There were about half a dozen cars, something that looked rather like a riding lawn mower, a speedboat, a steam roller, a golf cart, some kind of tunneling machine, a bus, and a couple tankers.
There was even a damn Ferrari on there!
But the one that really caught her attention was tucked behind the cars.
"Is this a plane?" she asked him in mild horror.
"Yep," Scott grinned, turning some dial on the tractor. "Seven-forty-seven."
"Where the hell did you get a plane?!"
"Scott, I swear to God if you're the person I've been seeing news reports about for the past week-"
"I didn't steal them!"
"Well, I mean, I took them without really asking, but I paid for them! Kinda," the man trailed off sheepishly, and Hope pinched the bridge of her nose between her fingers in exasperation.
"And what exactly are you going to do if they arrest you again? If they throw you in jail?"
"That's why I got the drilling rig."
"Hope, I promise I'm being careful about this," he soothed, catching her hands in his and slipping the key ring back into his pocket before giving her delicate fingers a little squeeze. "If I get myself arrested again you have permission to kick my ass for it."
Hope let out a weak little scoff.
"Like I ever need your permission for that."
In reply, the man gave her a blinding grin.
"So are you gonna help me shrink this tractor or what?"
Hope shook her head at the man with an exasperated sigh.
"All right. Just make it quick, so I don't have to explain this to my father."
Scott stumbled behind the wheel of one of the airplanes to get some cover, wincing as he rubbed at the blossoming bruises from the Black Widow's punches. Hope must have really been taking it easy on him in training, cause she never hit him this hard…
Out on the tarmac, he could see the archer and the little witch in the distance, facing off against Iron Man together as the girl used her powers to pile cars on top of Stark's suit. He would have to try and remember to get Maximoff's signature or something for Cassie before they all parted ways - his daughter would never forgive him if he met her favorite Avenger and came back empty handed.
Scott let out a slow breath, trying to collect himself before jumping back into the fight, his eyes searching for nearby teammates. It only took a second to pinpoint the Captain – it was really Captain America, he still couldn't believe it! – cornered by War Machine and the panther guy.
Scott frowned a little, tying to figure out how to approach the situation. He couldn't exactly punch the armored man, and he really wasn't strong enough to take him head on either. He might be able to take the panther guy, but Cap looked like he was handling him pretty well all on his own, and for a split second, Scott wished that Maximoff was over here to deal with the guy in power armor by throwing a car at him or something.
And then he remembered his keychain.
Scrambling to dig his keys out of the suit, he fumbled through his collection for a long second, tying to pick a vehicle that he likely would not wind up needing later (the drill) or something that he would hate himself forever for destroying (the Lamborghini), and wound up with one of the tanker trucks in his palm.
This one he'd gotten from bedside the construction site for a new pool facility in his neighborhood, and hadn't bothered emptying the back before shrinking it. The slosh of liquid at that scale couldn't really be felt, anyhow. Not with half a dozen other things dangling from the ring.
Scott grinned down at the little truck, a plan forming in his head.
This would work just fine.
Scott quickly detached the vehicle, stuffing his key ring back into his pocket and running toward Captain America as he dug out one of the growing disks.
"Hey Cap, heads up!" he called, tossing the tanker to the man. Captain Rogers caught it, glancing down in confusion as Scott held up the little disk. "Throw it at this," he instructed with a grin, turning to where the Black Widow, War Machine, and the panther guy were all preparing to converge on the two of them. Scott reeled his arm back, aimed, and tossed the disk up into the air.
Captain America threw the tank, hitting the disk mid-air, and Scott watched in glee as the truck grew back to its normal size, sending the Widow and the panther guy scattering as War Machine shouted "oh come on!"
But his plan didn't work quite as intended.
Scott could only watch in shock as the vehicle hit the ground and tore open, sending billowing clouds of flame into the air as the liquid inside of it (not water, not water at all) caught fire. It rolled end over nose, screeching to a stop in a flaming heap, and Scott felt a prickling, embarrassed heat start up at the base of his neck.
"Aw, man, I thought it was a water truck…" he breathed.
The Captain turned a somewhat scolding look on him, and Scott was rather thankful for the mask that hid his bright red face as he stuttered out "uh...sorry."
The two of them turned and ran before War Machine could get his feet back beneath him, Scott following at the Captain's heels as he led the way toward the jet.
And Scott promised himself that the minute he got home, he was going to double check every one of those vehicles on his keychain and color code them with tape.