Night had fallen, and Maria Hill was in an office. Not her office, not really. It was just an empty space no one had been using. Her feet were up on the desk. She was drinking from a bottle of whisky and staring out the window. No one else was on this floor. Everyone was off putting out one of a million fires. Or maybe more like billion, three billion. Half of humanity had just exploded back onto a planet which had just started to move on without them. No one had officially reinstated SHIELD, but who else was equipped to deal with such a catastrophic miracle?
She took another swig. She’d been standing in the middle of the street when it happened. She’d felt it happening, felt the atoms of her body untangle and drift away. She watched her hands and arms evaporate, knew her legs were gone even though she was somehow still standing. A torso, a bust, a head, and then nothing.
And then screaming horns and the screech of tires. The street was suddenly busy again, and Fury had just avoided being crushed by an SUV. They immediately went into emergency mode, helping to get the other dazed survivors onto the sidewalk. It was clear that something had happened, but no one was entirely sure just what that was. An energy signal over Manhattan reminiscent of the Battle of New York, but no Chitauri were reported on the ground. Witnesses confirmed Iron Man, Spider-Man, Stephen Strange, and Bruce Banner responded to the spaceship’s initial arrival but they all vanished as soon as the fight was over.
Banner reported to the Avengers, who told as little as possible to Ross, who told even less to Fury. Something about a big scary alien coming to Earth looking for stones. They seemed to believe he was trying to wipe out half the life in the universe. Surprise: it seemed he succeeded. And now... it was all undone. It still wasn’t entirely clear how that happened. She had a feeling the whole story would never come to light. The important part was that the bad guy was defeated, everyone who was lost had been brought back.
Five years later.
The world had fallen to its knees when half the population disappeared. Now, right as the survivors were starting to get back on their feet, they got a second punch when the population suddenly doubled. Maria stared out the window and nursed her drink and wondered, as one of the returned, if things wouldn’t have been better off without the second snap.
Her watch beeped. She turned in her chair and placed her glass on the desktop. “You must have known we would install security to tell us when you or Scott were in the building.”
The air rippled in front of her desk as Hope van Dyne returned to life-size. Maria felt the soft breeze of displaced air brush against her face. She settled back in her chair and gestured at the bar in the corner.
“Pour me a glass and you can have one of your own.”
Hope considered the offer, then tapped a spot near her jaw to retract her helmet. She walked over to the bar and examined the labels.
“Are you just killing time until security arrives?”
“Do you see me calling security? No, not that. That.” She pointed to a bottle by Hope’s right hand. “The good stuff. We might as well, right?”
Hope looked at the bottle, shrugged, and poured herself a glass. “You could have just asked Scott if you and your father were still fugitives.”
“You’ll forgive me for wanting to see for myself.” She brought the bottle back to refill Maria’s glass. “I’m sure whoever is in charge of SHIELD these days has done worse things than lie to a suspect.”
Maria couldn’t argue with that. “Well, for what it’s worth, I promise you are free and clear. Same with your father, even if he didn’t take part in the actual battle upstate.”
“No, but he made it possible.” Hope sat down and crossed one leg over the other. It was such a casual pose in such a ridiculous outfit that Maria couldn’t help laughing. “Steve Rogers robbed his lab. And you and I wouldn’t be sitting here without Pym Particles making time travel possible. My dad’s invention saved the world. Pretty hard to arrest a guy with that on his record.”
“Saving the universe does have a lot of pull,” Maria admitted.
Hope sipped her drink. “You were right. This is good.”
They drank in silence for a bit. Maria was grateful for the company. Sirens burst to life in the street below, and Hope craned her neck as if she thought she could see the emergency. She settled back in her seat, looked down at her glass, and emptied it. Maria thought about doing the same, but she wanted to savor it a little longer.
“Scott’s daughter is fifteen. She was ten a minute ago. He missed a whole third of her life. Actually... with the three years he spent in prison, he’s missed almost half her life.” She laughed and shook her head. “Just saying ‘it’s not fair’ doesn’t really cover something like that, you know?”
“Mm,” Maria said, because there wasn’t anything else to say. It wasn’t fair, but there also wasn’t any way to fix it.
So they drank in silence, in solidarity, in the mutual knowledge that the world may have been ruined just as much by the actions of her heroes as the villain, and there was really nothing that could be done about it. Tony Stark and Natasha Romanoff were dead. Steve Rogers was retired. The world was losing its heroes at a time when it needed them more than ever.
“I respect you a hell of a lot, you know.”
Maria lifted her eyes back to Hope, as surprised by the silence being broken as she was by what was said. “Me? Why?”
“It’s hard enough fighting the good fight with a super-suit. I can fly, I can shrink down, I have stingers. It can get pretty scary even with all of that. You’re going out there kicking ass with just a pistol.”
“And some killer fighting skills.”
“Okay. Fair.” Hope bobbed her head a little. “But come on. There are gods and super-soldiers and men in suits of armor. You stand up alongside them. That’s impressive.”
Maria raised her glass. “I admire you, too. People like Banner or Captain America have stuff done to them, or are born with powers. You actually helped make your suit.”
“I had help.”
“Doesn’t matter. You’re basically the female version of Tony Stark.”
“Oof. I’m not sure that’s a compliment.”
Maria snickered. She swung her chair and gazed past Hope’s shoulder. “You know, I’ve... I wore the Captain America uniform once.”
“Really? The actual uniform?” Hope leaned forward. “How’d that happen?”
“When you reach a certain level at SHIELD, they tend to leave you alone with things they really shouldn’t. I was supposed to be guarding it. But come on.”
Hope’s eyes ran down Maria’s body. She realized the other woman was picturing it, an observation that was confirmed when Hope said, “So how did it fit?”
“Like a glove.” Maria stood up and went to the bar to refill her glass. “It was the original uniform. From World War II. Howard Stark made it out of carbon polymer and something about putting it on made it feel... heavier. In a good way. It felt like armor. I tightened the straps and I felt their weight on my shoulders... And the belt. Of course I had to tighten the belt. Wearing it felt like... like...”
Maria looked over her shoulder. Hope had risen silently and was standing right behind her. Maria turned and leaned her hip against the edge of the minibar. She tried to look nonplussed, but she was certain her breathing gave her away. She held eye contact as she brought her glass up and took a long, slow drink. Hope never looked away. Maria lowered the glass and swallowed before she answered.
“It felt like I could fucking fly.”
Hope lunged forward. Maria reached out and put an arm around Hope’s waist, drawing her close as their lips met. They grappled, pulling at each other, each trying to take the lead. Maria brushed Hope’s mouth with her tongue and Hope captured it, sucked it, one hand in the small of Maria’s back. The other was between them, fighting to untuck Maria’s shirt to get at her belt.
“I thought you and Lang...”
“Lang and I have a thoughtful... mature relationship. We respect each other. And our mutual needs.” She met Maria’s eye. “Clear enough?”
“Crystal.” Maria’s hands slid helplessly across the material of Hope’s suit. “How do you get out of this damn thing?”
“Impatient, Commander Hill...?”
“I’m going to have you begging me to rip it off in a minute.”
She could see the arousal in Hope’s eyes as they resumed the kiss, tongues slipping over lips before Hope changed her tactics. She kissed the corner of Maria’s mouth and then began kissing her neck. Shivers ran from the base of Maria’s skull down through her body, and she finally gave in and let herself be pinned against the minibar. She put one hand back against the flat surface, hearing the bottles clink against each other as her pants were opened. Hope gave a breathless huff of victory and shoved the material down. Maria helped her and let the now-slack material slip down her thighs.
“What are you waiting for, hero?” Maria said. “Get to work.”
“Don’t blame me. If you want to get off first next time, you’ll have to wear pants that are easier to get off.”
The defeat in Hope’s eyes vanished at the thought of a next time, and she eagerly knelt. Her hands brushed across Maria’s breasts as she sank, pressing her lips to Maria’s stomach as she hooked her thumbs in the waistband of Maria’s underwear and dragged it down. Maria closed her eyes lifted her chin, parting her legs as wide as the pants around her knees would allow. Hope kissed the cup of Maria’s hip, ran her tongue along its curve, and then extended her tongue.
The hand on the bar curled into a fist, and Maria brought the other to the back of Hope’s head. She gripped the ponytail at its base, simply holding on. Hope’s tongue pressed against her and Maria grunted, rocked her hips forward. Hope backed off long enough to bite one finger of her glove and twisted her head to pull it off. She slipped two fingers into her mouth to wet them and looked up to see Maria watching her intently, eyelids heavy but not blinking.
Hope smiled and leaned in again. This time her tongue focused on Maria’s clit while her fingers stroked and pushed inside. Maria hissed. It had been a damn long time since she got laid, and even longer since she’d gotten attention from someone this talented. Her knees were trembling and her breath was coming in harsh, uneven puffs. Her cheeks burnt and Hope didn’t show any sign of letting up. There was no teasing in what she was doing. She had one goal, and she was about to achieve it.
“You’re gonna make me come,” Maria said.
Hope only moaned, and the vibrations pushed Maria over the edge. She pulled Maria against her, and she was rewarded with a rapid flicker against the sensitive skin of her sex as she came.
She pushed Hope away with a moan, cupping a hand over herself as the tension released from her shoulders and spine. She sagged against the minibar and took a moment to catch her breath. When she looked up again, Hope had already shed the top half of her uniform. She wore a form-fitting black tank top underneath, but that was quickly peeled away to reveal perfect pale breasts with hard, pink nipples standing at attention.
Maria’s eyes darkened hungrily. “Stand behind the desk.”
Hope arched an eyebrow, but did as instructed. Maria stepped out of her pants. She unbuttoned her blouse as she crossed the room. She kicked her chair out of the way, pressed against Hope from behind, and wrapped both arms around her. Hope leaned her head to the side and Maria took the hint, peppering the exposed length of Hope’s neck with kisses. One hand went up, roughly grabbing Hope’s breast, while the other went down and cupped Hope between the legs.
“How do you want this, Wasp?”
“Oh yeah?” She slapped Hope’s sex with her fingers. “Hard?”
Hope grunted. “Yes, ma’am.”
Maria licked Hope’s neck, then bit as she pushed her middle finger inside Hope. She was already wet, and Maria’s ring finger easily joined the first. Hope moaned, sighed, and dropped down onto her elbows. Maria bit her bottom lip and pressed her hips firmly against the curve of Hope’s ass, rocking against her at the same rhythm of her fingers. Hope hunched her shoulders and hung her head, pushing back with each thrust, muttering under her breath.
Hope reached out for the edge of the desk for a better grip, and her hand skimmed over a glass dome. Maria knew exactly what the dome was for, and her eyes widened, knowing there was no way to stop what was about to happen.
A shimmering, holographic vision of Carol Danvers appeared in front of the desk. “I’m a little busy out here, so unless it’s...” Her voice trailed off as she took in the scene. “Un-unless it’s... an emergency...”
Maria and Hope both stared at the other woman, all of them frozen... until Maria began to thrust again. She pushed her fingers into Hope, who couldn’t stop herself from moaning and arching her back in response. Danvers blinked and reached out to end the transmission, but her hand hesitated. Her gaze lingered. She pressed her lips together, looked at Maria, and then quickly slapped her hand to the right. The hologram vanished.
“Whoops,” Hope muttered. “Sorry.”
“S’okay,” Maria said. “I don’t mind an audience.”
Hope moaned again and gripped the edge of the desk.
“Tell me when you’re about to come.”
The words were barely out of Maria’s mouth when Hope said, “Now, now... fucking now.”
Maria backed off and dropped to her knees. She put her face between Hope’s legs, angled her head back, and finished Hope off with her tongue. Hope cried out softly, biting off the sound before it could rise in volume, slapping her hand against the desk as she pushed down onto Maria’s eager lips and tongue. She muttered curses under her breath and then, finally, melted onto the desktop. Maria stood up, holding tight to Hope’s waist, still pressed tightly against her from behind.
Once she’d caught her breath, she pushed herself up onto her elbows. Maria slid her hands up and held Hope’s breasts, letting them fill her palms. She squeezed gently and kissed Hope’s shoulder.
Maria said, “We’re still putting the world back together. Someone might decide to be petty, pursue charges against old crimes regardless of the part you played in saving the world.”
“So I have to keep checking the files?”
“I’d say at least once a week.”
Hope twisted and found Maria’s lips. “Maybe I’ll just accept my punishment, if you’ll be the one doling it out.”
“And just what punishment do you think would be necessary in your case, Ms. van Dyne?”
Maria grinned and squeezed, her mind already racing with possibilities.
Hope, obviously spent from her orgasm, settled down on the desk again. She folded her hands under her cheek to act as a pillow. Maria remained propped up on her elbows, one on either side of Hope. She knew she was just riding an endorphin high from an amazing orgasm, but she felt better than she had since regaining consciousness in the street. Hell, even before that. She’d denied herself this kind of relationship for so long that she’d forgotten what a drug it could be, and how healing it could be to just fuck someone. She pressed a kiss to the back of Hope’s neck and smiled.
It may be the end of the world, but that only meant the road ahead of them was clear. They could make the future whatever they wanted.
When she thought about it that way, she supposed life in the end times might not be all that bad.