This is officially the most fucked-up idea I've ever had regarding superheroes and their villains. Seriously, Marvel should put this into a comic. It is made of win. Also… interesting item of note here. Chapters one through ten of the revised version are longer than the entire original. Huh. Guess I skipped out on a lot of shit.
The slam of the front door was the first sign that Hank had not had a good day and Janet nibbled on her lower lip, wondering how to go about comforting him. His condition left him so… well, bipolar. Sometimes going to him would earn her a dismissal rather than a chance to comfort him, while leaving him alone opened up the possibility of him complaining about her lack of attention to his needs and problems. Glancing at the television again, Janet came to a decision. She'd been laughing at this for the last half an hour. Chances were it would cheer Hank up too. "Hank, honey, come here for a second."
"Listen, Janet, today really sucked and right now all I want to do is…" Hank's voice trailed off and Janet grinned as she looked back over her shoulder, watching as he slowly approached the couch with his mouth wide open. "What the hell did your daughter do now?"
"Oh? How come she's 'my' daughter when she's getting herself in trouble?"
"Uh, Janet? She's got none of my genetic material in her. She's always just your daughter."
Sniffing, Janet turned back to the television and dug the remote out from between the couch cushions. "Semantics. Hang on a second, the local NBC station has the best coverage. I was just surfing to see what other people were saying." Much like Dawn's puking incident, it was on every local news program and all three of the major cable news networks, making it very easy to catch endless presentations… in three separate languages, if she surfed around on the local, low power analog stations.
"…two members of the Young Avengers managed to apprehend Shocker today on their own after a brief but, dare I say it, hilarious fight. As best we can tell from the video, the members in question were two girls we believe to be the size-shifting Stature in yet another new costume, and the similarly empowered but far more mysterious Hornet. Who, as you no doubt remember, was responsible for the vomit incident in Central Park some time ago, part of which is still off-limits for decontamination." The camera zoomed in over the reporter's shoulder to show the slightly damaged front of a bank. "The relative lack of collateral damage was thanks to the use of one of the most comical yet brutal takedown techniques that I've ever seen. I think we just need to roll the video a bystander captured, because I can't find the words to describe it."
The picture switched to slightly wobbly footage of the same bank from earlier in the day, as made evident by the brightness. The camera panned back and forth for a moment before landing on a giant black foot and slowly tilting up. And up. And up. It took a moment for the operator to bring the camera into focus, revealing a pair of fifty-foot tall girls backlit by the afternoon sun. Two fifty-foot tall girls playing hacky sack with a yellow object. A screaming, flailing yellow object. "You know, every hero should have one of these. Just kicking back and relaxing with a bit of idle activity… it does wonders for your stress level. What do you think?"
Cassie blinked and missed the flying object when Dawn kicked it over to her, letting it plummet to the ground. "Are you serious? How the heck would you sell supervillain hacky sacks? Or better yet, how would you make them? Not everyone's as tall as us…"
"Could probably use Pym Particles to give them a one-way ticket to shrinkage. Not sure how to sell them. Would it count as human trafficking?" Dawn wandered over to Cassie and crouched down, picking up the Shocker's limp form. "And does he really count as a supervillain? He's pretty pathetic." Shaking him a bit, Dawn pouted. "Huh. I think we broke him. Guess that's our cue to leave." After dumping Shocker on the roof of a waiting ambulance, the pair turned away and began walking down the street. The camera followed them down as the two girls shrank but when they hit normal height and kept shrinking, the cameraman lost track of them. Panning back and forth wildly, he let out some manner of curse that the television station bleeped out before tilting the camera down to stare at the pavement.
The reporter was in the middle of scratching her nose when they cut back to her, but she quickly composed herself. "While the bank suffered only minor damage due to the quick thinking of the Young Avengers… their opponent suffered seventeen broken bones including a skull fracture. Personally I think it's great to see heroes who both get the job done and have a sense of humor about it, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of the newest Young Avenger in the future."
Pushing the mute button, Janet turned to Hank. "Thirty bucks says Elijah's is ripping Dawn a new one right now and another twenty says that Cassie won't be tagging along the next time the Young Avengers hit the streets."
"Do I look like a sucker?"
Rolling her eyes, Dawn leaned back on the couch she and Cassie had taken up residence on after being cornered and hauled in for interrogation by the rest of the Young Avengers. "You seriously need to lighten up. I bet that if Spider-Man could grow as tall as us, he would play hacky sack with his villains. Especially Shocker. Seriously, how did it take all seven of you to beat him last time? He's so lame."
Eli turned off the television and slammed the remote down. "It doesn't matter if he could, the problem is that he doesn't. Neither does Atlas of the Thunderbolts, or Goliath, or your stepfather, or your mother. None of them are as childish as you and Cassie, lucky for their teammates. It's bad enough that Tommy keeps using his powers to blow everything up, I don't need you two playing motherfucking hacky sack with our motherfucking villains!"
"Well, I suppose it's a good thing you weren't there then, huh? Kinda makes him my villain, not yours. Hmm…" Dawn rubbed her fingers together as she though before snapping and pointing at the other female member of the Young Avengers. "Kate's probably better than anyone else here at handling the public. Have her call a press conference and she can tell people that I'm not a member of the Young Avengers and that you're not responsible for my behavior." Leaning back, she stretched one arm out and behind her girlfriend. "And Cassie wears the Ant-Girl costume when she's with me and the Stature costume with you; tell people that the Shocker-kicking girl was Stature's evil twin. With some of the crazy shit that goes on with heroes, that won't be too hard to sell. You come out smelling like roses and any blame gets dumped on the Incredible Puking Girl. Although based on what I'm hearing on television, most of the city isn't too broken up about it."
Dawn let the others ponder that one, leaning over to kiss the top of Cassie's head and smiling as the blonde snuggled into her side. Her still armored side; it had been two weeks since the incident with Astrid and even Emma Frost had been at a loss as to how to return her skin to… well, skin. Cassie didn't seem to mind and it matched the rest of Dawn's wardrobe, so she was willing to take a c'est la vie attitude about it for the time being. "Besides, so what if Cassie and I were a little rough on him? How many times have you put him in jail, only for him to break back out and go on another crime spree? It's like a bad comic book. He's going to be in a hospital for a while after this little joy ride and maybe next time he'll think twice before he tries something stupid."
Circling the table, Eli moved to loom over Dawn as he glared down at her. "We don't do things like that. We take them down and detain them until the authorities arrive. We don't hand out punishment and we aren't supposed to hurt them just for fun. That's what separates us from them. We help take down the superhumans the cops can't. A cop breaking seventeen bones while taking the suspect into custody would be held accountable. Does the phrase 'police brutality' ring a bell?"
"I'm getting a morality and legality lecture from the guy who beat up drug dealers and then stole the drugs so he could take them." Eli flinched back at the barb and Dawn decided to give him a little help, sending a weak blast of bioelectricity into his chest. It landed him flat on his ass and Dawn surged to her feet, stretching again before extending her wings. "So like I said, tell the world I'm not one of yours, end of story. But the group I work for? We hunt things down and kill them so they don't come back to bite us on the ass. That's how you win. Right now, you guys are just burning time. Sooner or later, the villains are going to get smart and start going after your loved ones to get to you. I'll bet you'll wish you took care of them then."
Eli rubbed his chest as he rose from the concrete floor and if looks could kill, Dawn would be chilling with Tara and making fun of Kennedy right now. "We'll protect our families and if a villain does go after them, we'll handle it. I don't give a damn what you've been taught; the ends don't justify the means. And if you're intent on maiming or killing people, I don't want you anywhere near this group. Or its members. Vision can track down more teens for us. There's three dozen people listed in the files, I'm sure he can find another person with powers like yours to replace you."
Chuckling incredulously, Cassie rose from the couch and stared at Eli with wide eyes. "I'm sorry, I don't think I heard you right. Did you just order my own girlfriend to stay away from me?" He nodded and Dawn winced; bad move. She'd learned quickly that ordering Cassie to do something usually ended with her doing the complete opposite. "Well then I have only one thing to say to you, Elijah Bradley: fuck you and the horse you rode in on. Vision, I think you're going to need to replace two members."
"As you wish, Cassie." The robot looked, dare she say it, almost sad. Dawn looked back and forth between Cassie and Vision, wondering what the story was. Maybe she'd ask the blonde later. Or not. Maybe she'd wait for it to come up. Or ignore it entirely. It really wasn't her business. "It was an honor to serve with you. I will miss your company greatly."
Holding her hand out, Dawn waited until Cassie took it before pulling the unresisting blonde in and planting a kiss on her forehead. "Oh, and don't bother looking for others like us. Hank went on an obsessive search after I showed up and checked as far out on each user's family tree as second cousins. And children and such. Cassie and I are the only two of our kind unless Hank offers up some Pym Particles and after this… yeah, the phrase 'ice cube's chance in hell' springs to mind."
Eli just shrugged at that. "Like I said, we're the good guys. I'm not going to allow that kind of shit on this team and if being corrupted by you is more important to Cassie than living up to her father's legacy, then that's not my pro…"
"You son of a bitch!" Moving with a speed that impressed someone who lived with dozens of Slayers, Cassie pulled herself out of Dawn's grasp and slammed a red-clad fist into his face. The punch rocked him back on his heels but Cassie's follow-up knee to the crotch dropped him, the muscular boy curling into a fetal ball in an attempt to protect himself from further harm. "You leave my father out of this! He was a good man! Better than you could ever hope to be! And after that utterly disgusting attempt at emotional blackmail, I am now officially done with you people. Kate, call me sometime when Samuel L. Jackass isn't around. We can get together for coffee or something. Dawn, I changed my mind. Paintball sounds like a great way to spend an evening."
Rock on! Paintball! Nothing worked better than a bit of violence using brightly colored projectiles for a bit of catharsis. Dawn grinned widely as Cassie grabbed her hand and stomped towards the door, allowing the blonde to pull her hovering form along. Just before passing through the door, Dawn pulled her wings in and dropped to her feet, digging in her heels to force Cassie to stop. Almost hidden in the shadows with her mostly black costume, Astrid stared back at her with curious green eyes. After hesitating for a moment, Dawn jerked her head in Eli's direction. "If you get tired of playing in the minor leagues and don't mind apologizing, we've already got a bit of a theme going here. Ant, hornet, spider, and all. Not to mention we all have costumes that are black with another color. Team up potential is obvious."
Astrid's lips quirked up at that. "I'll keep that in mind. Enjoy your paintball. And… well, if you two want to try some 'existing in the same location as Astrid without trying to kill her' practice, I need to pick up a few things from Janet. Say, one 'o clock tomorrow afternoon?"
"One 'o clock, eh?" Peering suspiciously at Astrid, Dawn poked the redhead's chest. "You don't want to talk to us, you just want free breakfast. Don't think I'm not on to your wily ways."
"Curses. Foiled again."
Slipping onto Hank's lap and shedding another inch or two of height to make snuggling with him a bit easier, Janet offered up the glass of rum and Coke she'd retrieved from the kitchen. While mixing alcohol and Hank's psychotropic medications could be disastrous in larger quantities, she'd seen him drink socially since going on the new pills and was hoping a drink would help him unwind a bit. "So, wanna talk about whatever's got you in such a funk?"
Hank snorted, taking a long pull from the glass before leaning his head back against the couch. "Oh, you know, same old same old. Go in for a meeting with the Secretary of Defense and get stabbed in the back by Tony fucking Stark so I walk out with half a sale. Although why he wanted my old powers and not my new ones…"
"Um, okay…" Janet blinked, utterly confused. She'd known he'd been working with Tony and Reed on some big projects, but the Secretary of Defense? Sales? His powers? What? "Wanna fill me in on what you've been up to, or should I sit here guessing?"
A burst of anger flickered across Hank's face but it disappeared as quickly as it came. "With some of the problems that have been going on lately, the government wants to expand the number of trained and monitored superheroes. So I offered them two different combat suits: the General Infantry Ant-Man and the Winged Aerial Superiority Personnel."
It took her a figure out what the two names acronymed to, which made Janet profoundly ashamed of herself. "G.I. Ant-Man and W.A.S.P.? Giant-Man and Wasp? Cute, Hank. And… wait a minute, old powers? The government took the Giant-Man suit but not the Wasp?" Hank nodded. "What the hell? My powers are your powers and then some. I could see them not wanting to pay for two different suits and saying no to just growth, but to pick just growth over growth, flight, energy bursts…"
"Yeah, and it was on Tony's recommendation, too. Hence the whole 'stabbed in the back' thing. I know we've had our differences, but considering I've been serving as Yellowjacket for years now, the tech is obviously just as stable as the Pym Particles themselves." Hank shook his head before taking another sip of his drink. "Doesn't make sense. Well, at least as far as I can see. Unless he's got some grand plan that even I'm being kept in the dark about, but with how many other things he's got me dipping my hands in…"
Janet knew from experience that asking about the projects Hank was working on would only earn her a standard 'national security, need to know' brush off and so she elected to pursue a different path of conversation. "So… now what?"
Shrugging, Hank brought his free arm up to wrap around her waist and tapped his fingers against her hip. "I keep going and resist the urge to fly down his throat and drop off something explosive or poisonous? The real question is what am I going to do with the parts I assembled for the W.A.S.P. project. There's a lot more work there and so I made one G.I. Ant-Man but six W.A.S.P.s so I could turn it over for trials faster. Now I'm just stuck with six sets of spare parts for if anything in my costume breaks down." There was a soft clicking and then a rattling sound as a key slid into the front door's knob and Hank looked back over his shoulder. "Unless…"
The front door opened and Dawn stumbled in, her black armored skin glistening with… "Dawn? Is that red paint?" The dark-haired girl nodded and Janet slid off Hank's lap, reverting to full size as she approached her daughter. There was no real pattern to them, just random splotches of red scattered all over the chitin plates that formed Dawn's armor. "Do I even want to know?"
"Paintball. Cassie got tossed off the Young Avengers for our little hacky sack experiment and vented her anger with bright pink projectiles." Dawn glanced down at herself before meeting Janet's gaze again and smiling. "If you think this is bad, you should see the other guy."
Janet sighed. Her daughter was so odd. "Right. Well, go take a shower before you end up rubbing any of that off against the furniture. I don't know how hard it is to get paintball paint off of fabric and I don't really want to find out."
Sticking out her tongue, Dawn turned away and headed for the back of the apartment but before she could make it too far, Hank hopped up off the sofa and circled around, calling out to her. "Dawn! Hang on a second, I just had a thought." The dark-haired teen paused, turning to face Hank, who set his glass down and smoothed his hands against his pants uncertainly. "You started training with your superhuman powers so you could take them back to fight demons and vampires, right? That's what you told Janet?" Dawn nodded and Janet frowned; where was he going with this? "Do you think others in your group would take advantage if I offered to give them powers too?"
"Hank…" Janet stepped towards him uncertainly, hoping he wasn't implying what she thought he was. "You can't possibly be suggesting…"
Nodding, a wide smile split Hank's face, full of mischief and joy. It was a look she hadn't seen in a while but, given the circumstances, she wasn't entirely happy about seeing again. Mostly because she knew what he was about to propose was insanity. Insanity that she'd go along with anyways because she wanted to see him happy."What else am I going to do with six complete W.A.S.P. systems? Let's round up a few of her friends, show them how to use the suits, and if the military doesn't want to have a Wasp Corps, we'll give the Watcher's Council one!"
Dawn blinked. "Are you serious?"
"Are you insane?"
"Jury's still out there."
"Just checking. Let me shower and then I'll start making calls."
"…and now we add the chicken to the bowls of rice… pour the sauce over it… add some cashews and green onions… and BAM! Who needs take out when you've got General Dawn?" Grinning proudly at her culinary accomplishment, Dawn continued to dish out the night's dinner into ten bowls, six noticeably larger than the remaining four. "Can you go knock on the master suite's door and shout that food's up? And remind them that we're about to have company? I think Hank and Janet are, uh, reconciling but they should be coming up for air and food soon."
Cassie wrinkled up her nose in disgust. That was one of the unintentional bonuses of the havoc her superhero career was causing at home: with her mother and stepfather fighting about her life choices, the romance was essentially dead and the days of accidentally walking in on them were a thing of the past. Creeping down the hallway, Cassie listened carefully but didn't pick up the trademark noises of anything that would send her scrambling back down the hall in full blush. Knocking lightly on the door, she waited a moment before calling out. "Mr. Pym? Mrs. Pym? Dawn says dinner's done and guests are on their way."
There was low chatter on the other side of the door, too quiet for Cassie to make out the words, and then the door swung open. Cassie's eyes went wide at the sight: Dawn's mother was standing there with her hair in pigtails, a pleated blue skirt riding low on her hips as she buttoned up a white blouse. "Company? Is Astrid coming… oh wait, we're meeting the girls from the Council tonight, aren't we?" It was clearly a rhetorical question, Janet looking down at herself instead of waiting for Cassie to respond. "Maybe I should change."
"Erm, yes please? And now I'm going to go back to the kitchen before I see something else that I can never unsee." Turning away, Cassie shuddered as she hurried back towards Dawn. Janet was dressing up as a schoolgirl for Hank. What exactly did that say about his proclivities? Huh. Now that she thought about it, it went a long way as far as explaining why he was willing to give away his toys and train the new users to boot. They were all teenage girls. This sounded like a job for Chris Hansen…
And oh God, he'd seen her in her underwear when wandering in and out of Janet's workroom while the blonde was letting Astrid redesign her costume. Eww!
Doing her best to think about anything but what the adult Pyms had just been up to, Cassie reentered the kitchen and watched as Dawn carried bowls of food out to the dinner table, doubling back for a two liter bottle of Coke and a bottle of wine for her parents. "If I were you, I think I'd take fighting parents over that." She shuddered again. Was Dawn going back up to Xavier's a third time? Could she tag along to get her brain scrubbed clean of the last few minutes? "Ugh."
Dawn snorted as she fiddled with the place settings, unfolding and refolding napkins before straightening silverware. "Why do you think I sent you instead of me?" Suddenly there was a loud thump and a groan from the living room, followed by a few words that made Cassie blush, and Dawn grinned. "And there's our first guest now. Do me a favor and go say hello while I check on the chocolate cream brulee?"
While she wasn't quite sure what that was, Cassie was a fan of anything with 'chocolate' in the name. And so, not wanting to risk the possibility of something yummy and chocolatey being ruined, Cassie did as she was told, wandering out to the living room. Much to her surprise, a blonde girl in jeans and a black tank top was crouching in the middle a scorched circle on the floor. "Um, hi? I'm Cassie Lang. Welcome to the Pyms' house."
"Evenin', Cassie. I'm Sophie. Sophie Johnston." British. Unexpected but cool. The now-named Sophie pushed herself to her feet and turned around, only to freeze. The blonde's eyes went wide in surprise as her jaw dropped. "Fucking Hell!"
Cassie knew exactly how the other girl felt. They shared the same blue eyes, the same blonde hair - only the length differentiated them, with Cassie's being slightly longer and braided while Sophie's was a simple ponytail - and even the same bone structure. Sophie's teeth weren't quite as straight and her skin was a bit paler, but all in all, their twin-like similarities were too much to ignore. "What the heck?"
"Why do you look so much like me?"
"Stop copying me!"