Growing Pains

What happens when Hope Richards develops abilities? Well, with her mother being the Invisible Woman and her father Mr. Fantastic you can only guess. Also with Von Doom back newfound abilities might come in handy. Rated PG.

Hope Richards sat in her father's lab as he worked equations on the blackboard. She had just gotten back from school and since her mother was gone visiting her grandmother Hope spent her time either watching her father work or doing her homework. At least this was more entertaining than watching her Uncle Johnny ride his dirt bike.

"Hey, Hopie, can you get me the wrench over there?" Her father asked, turning to look at her.

"Daddy, you are aware that you can get the wrench yourself, right?" Hope asked. Hope's father, Reed Richards, had the ability to bend his body like rubber. A couple of years before Hope was born her father, mother, uncle and her father's friend, Ben Grimm, was in an accident on a space station that mutated their bodies. The accident had turned them into The Fantastic Four.

"Yes, but why would I do that when you can give me a hand, Hope?" Reed asked, his eyes turning serious. This time his question wasn't a request. It was a demand.

"Yes Sir," Hope said quietly. She stood up and walked over to the toolbox. She took out the wrench and handed it to her father.

"Thank you," Reed said, turning back to his work.

"Dad, do you think I'll ever get your abilities?" Hope asked, jumping up on a worktable next to her father.

Reed took a deep breath and turned to her, putting down the wrench. "I don't know, Hope. I ran tests on you the day you were born and every year that you get older. You just haven't developed anything yet. But it doesn't mean you won't," Reed said gently.

"Dad, I don't even know if I want them yet," Hope said, burying her face in her father's chest.

"That's not for us to say. If you get them, you get them. You just tell me if you feel any different," Reed said, rubbing her back gently. At that moment Ben and Uncle Johnny came into the lab. Actually Ben stomped into the lab. Ben was the only one who couldn't put away his ability like the others. The accident on the space station had affected him differently than the others. Ben looked like a rock quarry, but he hated jokes like that.

"Hey, Reed, Hey, Shorty," Uncle Johnny said.

"Hi, Uncle Johnny. And don't call me Shorty," Hope said, rolling her eyes. Uncle Johnny was a prankster and a goof. At one time she had loved staying with Uncle Johnny whenever her parents went out of town, but Uncle Johnny was like a big kid.

"Did Susie come back yet, Reed?" Ben asked in his gravelly voice.

"Not yet. Why do you think I'm baby-sitting?" Reed asked, a smile on his face.

"Daaad!" Hope said, rolling her eyes again.

"You know if you roll your eyes they'll stick in one spot," Uncle Johnny said.

"This coming from the Human Torch? The one guy on Earth who can't keep a girlfriend for more than a month?" Hope asked

Ben laughed at the look on Johnny's face. "She's got you there, Johnny," Ben said, wrapping his rock arm around Hope's shoulders.

"Yeah. I just don't know how much teasing I can take from her," Johnny grumbled.

"Ease up on the teasing, Hope," her father ordered calmly.

"Sorry, Uncle Johnny.," Hope said, going back to her science book. Hope had actually been glad to have a break from the science book. A lot of people never understood why she didn't really like science with both of her parents being scientists. The only sciences that really interested her was astronomy and marine biology.

"How's school, Hope?" Ben asked, sitting down next to her.

"There are a lot of words I can use to describe school, but fun isn't one of them. Actually most of the words I can think of to describe school I can't say out loud because Dad is in the room and he'd tell Mom what I just said," Hope said, closing her notebook full of chemical equations that she had just worked out.

"It can't be that bad, Hope. You're in the seventh grade, right?" Ben asked.

"It can too. I may not like science that much, but compared to Mom or Dad my science teacher is a complete nitwit. The woman has no clue how to run a Bunsen burner. She thinks that if you put whatever into the compounds that are being burned then you're okay. She'll blow up the school before anyone knows it," Hope said, picking up her world history book.

"You know about Bunsen burners?" Johnny asked, an amused grin on his face.

"I can't always ignore Dad's science talk, Firestarter," Hope said, turning to the chapter on life in ancient China.

"I need to get back to work and Hope needs to do her homework," Reed pointed out, indicating the chalkboard.

"Okay. See ya later, Reed, Shorty," Johnny said as he and Ben left the room hope got lost in her homework for the next few hours.

Reed watched his daughter as she worked on her homework. So far, besides his dark hair and Sue's blue eyes, Hope hadn't really developed his ability or Sue's. He could see why not developing either one from him or Sue would bother her. It was unknown if she ever would.

Reed had held his breath as he carefully examined his child the day she was born. He often thought back to those days as she grew older. Hope was such a tiny baby that was happy all the time. When she was born he had checked her over to make sure if she had the bone density he had or Sue's ability to disappear or put up a force field. Reed had been relieved that she would be a normal baby.

That relief had been short as she got older. Just because she hadn't developed it when she was born it didn't mean she wouldn't. When she turned thirteen in two months he would run tests again on her like he had been doing since her birth. He watched her as her forehead wrinkled in concentration as she read.

Hope was so much like him in a lot of ways. Marrying Sue and having Hope were two of the best moments of his life. A lot of people wondered how Mr. Fantastic felt about his family, but he always said that he loved his wife and his daughter.

Reed looked up from watching his daughter work at the skyline. A haze of smoke was on the horizon. Johnny and Ben came back into the lab. "Fire on the West Side, Reed," Ben said by way of explanation.

Hope looked up at him, her blue eyes understanding. "Daddy, why don't you go?" Hope asked, putting the book aside.

"I can't leave you here alone, Hope," Reed hesitated.

"I'll be fine, Dad. And I won't set one toenail outside the Baxter building. I'll even set up the security system after you leave," Hope said.

"I don't know. Do you promise not to leave the building?" Reed asked, taking his daughter in his arms.

"Cross my heart. It's not like I'm gonna follow you, Uncle Johnny, and Ben. I don't have abilities. What good am I out there?" Hope asked, laying her head on Reed's chest.

Reed hugged her tightly, running his fingers through her dark hair. "Okay. Just make sure that you don't leave the building. And if you need to contact me or your mother tell Peter and he'll place the call," Reed said, cupping her face gently and looking into her sapphire blue eyes.

"Okay, Dad," Hope said as he removed his lab coat that he wore over his Fantastic Four uniform. Since the accident in space he had developed all the uniforms for each of their abilities and he wore his every day unless he had to go out as Reed Richards. Then he wore a sport coat, khalkis, and a white shirt.

"We'll be back as soon as we can. If your mother calls tell her where we are," Reed said, cradling her face gently in his hand.

"I will. Have fun, Dad," Hope said, kissing his cheek. Reed jumped out the window, stretching his arms and legs like he always did. Johnny flew out the window in a ball of flame and Ben would come down the stairs.

Reed looked up at the balcony. Hope would be standing there. She always watched as he and Sue left. He knew that she felt left out being related to the Fantastic Four and not having any abilities, but he was hoping that sooner or later they'd know if she would. Little did they know that he abilities would surface sooner than anyone thought.