Sometimes, she thinks she married Alec only because she wanted to spite people (no one thinks she should), and she hates to admit that that’s the main reason she stays with him as long as she did (that, and the fact that he is the one asking for a divorce).
It’s not like she doesn’t care about him- she still does, and she is pretty sure a part of her always will, it’s just that… sometimes he really, really makes it extremely easy for her to hate him- but the majority of the times, it’s herself that Chris ends up resenting. Because it’s hard to admit, but when he hurts her, it’s mostly her fault.
Because she isn’t any longer the girl he fell head over heels a long time ago: that was Chrissy Stark, young and exuberant socialite, soul of the parties, technology rock star. And the fact is? She has never been truly that. But that was what she wanted for him to see. What she didn’t have the heart to tell him she wasn’t. Not until it was too late, and she had a ring on her finger and it was being a little too much (that, and Clint, just because), so she packs their things (without really asking him for a second opinion) and they move away and suddenly he discovers she is a mutant (not the problem, really, as hard as it may be to believe) and she joins a super-group (again without discussing it with her husband. Which is the problem).
And… he is alone in all of this. Who he is supposed to talk with, after all? He can’t really go to people (or get wasted in some dark bar) and tell people his wife is a damn super-hero.
She is just… too damn good- because Chris is, and always has been, a damn fixer, only, when he married her he didn’t know that, on top of that, she was trying to fix the evils of the world as well. And how the hell do you break up with a super-hero?
You can’t. So he does the next best thing- he hurts her as best as he can, he cheats and spits venom from his mouth, hoping that she would back up and just end thing there and then.
Only, again, a fixer (and a proud one on top of that), so of course he has the be the bad man of the story and go and ask for a divorce because she just couldn’t give up on him- on their marriage- and admit defeat. Admit that people were right about him and them.
“So, that’s it, uh?” He asks her, chuckling, in Genosha, where he had followed her because “Chris, let’s end this once and for all, I beg of you. You don’t even love any longer! Is it really that important to prove people wrong?”. She takes a big breath, clenches her teeth and her eyes and her fists as she signs the documents, and hates herself a little bit because this is all her fault, with her damn pride and after all, when he wants, Alec can be a pretty decent human being (and she’s been the one lying to him back when their first started dating, after all).
And then… then everything goes black, because the Sentinels destroyed everything- just to get back at Xavier, her mentor, the reason she was there to begin with – and the papers burn in the atomic fire that follows, along with what remains of Alec’s body, while she’ll hear in her mind the screams of her people for the rest of her life, one of the few survivors of such a tragedy.
She never gets to be a divorcee- she is a widow, and despite everything, or maybe because of it, she still mourns him.
(He was there because she was too damn proud to sign a damn divorce agreement, after all. He’s dead because of her.)
It’s not that she doesn’t like Pete Wisdom- it’s not even the fact that he isn’t her type (even if he could be). She joins and follows him in his mission to recreate X-Force (new look and all) because Charles and Cable asked her to, because they think the “kids” (now in their twenties) need someone to keep an eye on them, so they wouldn’t cross too many lines.
Wisdom is a jerk- nothing new there, he is the British Nick Fury, after all – but, well, it still amazes her how much of an idiot he can be sometimes. It is really annoying, like, for example, the whole “the eyepatch gives the mutant power of being sexy an irresistible” thing. It’s called pity, she tells him frankly while smoking a cigarette in their base in Frisco.
She doesn’t like him as human being; but she gets him as a spy (she’s always been the rational one, after all) and hates to admit that all too often she has to agree with him.
She does her best to not show it- any of it – until after a mission something happens, and she gets while he is always around, while he tries to push the limits, the boundaries.
Wisdom tries to kiss her- and when she makes sure it doesn’t happen, they both pretend he wasn’t going to.
And he did it because… because… she isn’t sure. She sometimes sees him looking at her with tenderness- or maybe pity- and she knows he remembers how she was back in the day, in England, when they were in Excalibur, the smile, the laughter and all that jazz, and, for some unknown reason, he wants that back.
But she isn’t that person any longer: Xavier’s dark self- Onslaught- had killed her friends, and her family. Xavier- her savior and mentor and teacher. She trusted him. And that’s the result (even if, technically, she is now where she is because he asked, so, really…). And on top of that, she and her husband are very cold. As in, he left her. For another woman (a girl, really- she is just 24, for God’s sake, and the new flame is 6 years younger, nowhere close to be a woman).
Alec never liked Wisdom. Wisdom loves- or he thinks he does- her. So, in her mind, the ration thing to do to hurt her husband back is sleeping with Wisdom (not Pete), and she knows he’ll do whatever she’ll ask him to because, as mentioned? The idiot loves her.
And in fact, he complies, asking for nothing in return, trying his best at being soft and sweet and a lover and not just some random guy she could meet in a seedy bar or whatever; a few times he tries to kiss her. She never allows him, remembering him that it’s just sex and they are consenting adults having fun because otherwise, who would understand what they are trying to do here? (Especially the part where he gets to plot his sister’s death.)
It lasts for over one year, their partnership and their time together, and when it’s almost over and he is planning to go deep undercover, faking his own death carefully (thanks to her as well), she has to admit that she cares about what may happen to him. She doesn’t want to, doesn’t want to admit that her marriage is really, really over, and that another man stole her heart- especially not one she was hell-bent on not liking.
She leaves for a few days before everything goes down, and when she is back, Wisdom doesn’t know what happened, but as she holds him like for dear life, sweaty and naked in her bed, during what’s probably going to be their last time together, she grips the back of his head and devours his lips with an angry kiss.
(Tasting her tears as well.)
The first time she sees Clint, she is irritated with him- there’s nothing wrong with him, but she is (almost) an adult, and she can’t see why Tony insisted she needed a guide/body-guard while visiting him. Also, what irritates her is the fact that the reason her brother asked this Barton guy to look after her is because Tony himself couldn’t bother taking time off whatever he was doing to spend some quality time with his little (step)sister.
Also, he is a dork. Which is not her thing. Like, at all.
But then… then, she has to use her powers to save a life, and he sees it, and understands who and what she is and they end up talking in front of coffee and tea and hot chocolate in the busy streets of New York and he- he, of all- gives the speech (powers and responsibility and defending a world that hates her and the likes of her) and she blushes and hates herself a little because it wasn’t the first time someone gave her the speech (she’s been meeting with Charles Xavier and he has been helping up, unblocking slowly her powers and teaching her a couple of tricks) but somehow it’s the first time she wants to listen to the speech at all.
Because She is not a stupid, and she gets who he is (or he may be), but Clint Barton is no Xavier or Wolverine or Super-Soldier, and yet he has an ability, he has the moral strength (sort of), and lives up to his potential. And if he does… why shouldn’t she, who’s been blessed with super-powers?
That’s how she picks up the mantle of the super-hero; she picks up a name, a costume and a mask, trains and does her best to get better and not let anyone down.
And like all the super-powered people, she doesn’t tell anyone else (even if he thinks she should talk with her brother- after all, she knows he is Iron Man, as Tony had had the brilliant idea of wearing, completely drunk, the armor at home in the deep of night, and have a little chat with his helm about the family), and as she has the brilliant idea of (sort of) lying to her boyfriend (husband-to-be), Clint is the only one she can talk to about it- it being powers and heroics and the likes.
She doesn’t love him- it’s just a crush, a sort of hero-worship, and she damn well knows it, so she doesn’t say a word about it and keeps having tea and coffee and hot chocolate (and later, beer) with him, and, later, with Bobbi too, when he marries her, and she gets in on their little “affair” (like all of his other serious relationships do as well).
Which is also why she never does anything about that crush of her; she is pretty sure than, at some point, Clint too wonders what it would be like, but none of them ever does anything, because, as they happen, one of both of them is always with someone else, and ruining their friendship and marriages over something that may or may not last it’s just isn’t worth it.
She has never been in a relationship with him, and yet, years later, she ends up being part of the support group/club made of his kick-ass exes/relevant others/soulmates (Tasha, Bobbi, Jess, Kate and herself, Carol sometimes hanging out with them just because) and one Friday evening, when none of them is busy saving the world (or being in the hospital, or running from the law) they are playing poker, and Kate asks them how they are still in Clint’s life after they’ve been sleep with him and their lives have been… well, screwed over.
Jess, Tasha and Bobbi give their answers, and then everybody moves on, until she breaks the ice and admits something she has never, ever said out loud.
“I almost had sex with him once.” She casually says, as she was talking about the weather, playing her cards. Everybody looks at her, astonished (and a little scared, because, well, she is like a dog for him, sort of, this little girl around whose shoulder he want to put a blanket, and give her tea or hot chocolate while patting her back and calling her “Oh, Honey…” like she was some naïve little girl.
“What? He was single!” She says.
“And you weren’t?” Natasha smirks. No, she admits, she wasn’t. Back then, she was sleeping on the side with Pete Wisdom, back when her world was all black and dangerous and she thought all was lost, she was getting a divorce and she didn’t want to admit that she reciprocated whatever Pete felt for her.
Hence, trying to seduce a very willing Clint- who smirked for days when he tried to kiss her and she kept her lips sealed turning on heels already half-naked grunting something about hating the both of them.
So, yeah, they keeps being… friends? Friends doesn’t even cover it. It’s like… he is her person. Like her brother, at least how she had wanted her brother to be when it came to their relationship. And they keep being around each other’s orbit, because, at the end of the day, he is the one she can talk with about anything, heroics, life, her brother(s) and even Pete. Even if he doesn’t like him at first.
Do they have their ups and downs? Absolutely. But he is family- not in blood, but where it matters, and besides, Chris always felt like such an awful person she doesn’t mind listening to him at all, and she doesn’t judge- she simply gives him good advice.
“Would it be too weird if I were to ask you to give me away?” She drops as they are on his couch, looking at Cop Dogs and drinking beer from the bottle, her ankles crossed on the coffee table. “Because, you know, Pete dear had the brilliant idea of arguing with Brian, so now he had to ask Hunter to be his best-man, and I get it could be awkward, what with him dating Bobbi and all.”
(She doesn’t need to explain him why she doesn’t want her brother at her side; she can’t choose between Tony and Arno, and even if her heart would go to Tony, she still can’t look at him without remembering when he had been inverted by the Scarlet Witch’s magic and tried to kill her when she had discovered his crazy plan.)
Clint only smirks, and without having to she reads his mind. “Oh, yeah, I tried to picture Bobbi with pink taffeta, but I really like being alive, and Tasha and Carol would look too good at my side, so I decided to go with Hope instead. She still hates taffeta, but she likes me too much to say anything about it. And there’s no risk of her running away with the best-man as she is just a teen.”
They cheers, the necks of their bottles hitting each other and he smirks. “’sure I’ll give you away, Princess. Wouldn’t miss it for the world. But, just for record- If I’ll ever get married again, you will be my best man.”
“Ooh, that’s so sweet, Hawkeye! And here I thought it would have been Kate!” He blushes, and she laughs.
Daimon Hellstorm is everything she knows it’s wrong for her and yet she finds him irresistible; it’s like when she looked at Doctor House and wanted to be the woman who is there to heal the main character of the show.
But, apart from that… there’s not really a lot to say about their story: he was good-looking and powerful, she liked his dangerous and dark side, they ended up in bed together, and the sex was very, very good (ehy, she is a person with needs, after all); she didn’t want for him to mean anything- it was a very good one-night-stand trying to get over the fact that she had broken up with her boyfriend because she has refused to move back to Britain in a stable way.
Then… then, a lot happens. Because she got pregnant, only she wasn’t really pregnant because that wasn’t really Damon but just one of his “shadows” and then she had to fake her death because of the mandarin and then… then… well, Damon Hellstorm ends up being a footnote in her romantic life. He was there- but he wasn’t that important after all.
She seeks him out after Genosha- mostly because she is mad with everyone, the Avengers mostly, because, why didn’t they come to the rescue? She knows that no one could have saved the doomed Island, but… where were they afterwards?
That is what she doesn’t accept.
“Uhm, thanks, but not thanks”, he says when she straddles his lap while he is sitting on his couch trying to look at TV (after she again broke into his place- just like their first time together). She looks at him quizzically, a little… disappointed and hurt “Petal, with all due respect, I always feel a little used when you jump me, so, really, if you want to... I fear I’ll have to go the old fashioned way. Dates and all.”
He smirks, and she laughs (against the hot skin of his neck), and they end lazily kissing and doing nothing else.
They date and they keep it secrets (not because of shame, but for fear of making it too real, that if it’s real they’ll get hurt, they’ll be abandoned by the other) and then Clint finds out, and since she knows she starts telling people if they ask what she doing and whether she is in a relationship or not.
She likes Pete, because he gets her. He is like her and he doesn’t judge her- nor she does him; they are the ones making the hard choices, knowing all too well that the good of many is more important that the safety of few, and they know many others don’t get it.
She doesn’t know if she loves him. She knows he is in love with her- that’s why he keeps telling her that she should be free, do what feels right. For years, they live on opposite sides of the world, he a spy in Britain, she an Avenger (or an X-Man) in the US; they are together, they are not; she dates other women, she dates other men (only Hellstorm. Well, and two dates with Peter “Spiderman” Parker. And one with Ian Rogers. And, ok, she flirted with Peter Quill, all right, but it was only because he is Tony’s friends and she just loves unnerving her big brother, and besides, it wasn’t like he was already dating Kitty Pryde back then).
And then… then, the world is about to end, and Captain America (Steve, she corrects herself, even if to her he will always be Captain America) asks her to join him in his quest to bring the Illuminati- and her brother with them – down. And it’s in that moment that she gets something: that’s not what she wants to do with the last hours, days of her life.
She wants for them to matter.
She wants to be with someone she really cares about.
And there’s only one name coming to mind- Wisdom. Pete.
“Would you give me happily ever after? For as long as we have?” He asks her in the minutes before the final incursion, because he too still cares about (loves) her, and was waiting for her to take the next step (because this is so her thing, because she was the one setting the pace in their whole relationship).
She kisses him as he slips a ring on her finger (a black diamond for The Black Dragon), and then… then, she doesn’t know what happens, she just knows that the world isn’t over and suddenly Von Doom is a good guy and working with her and Tony. And obviously, she and Pete starts their dance again, here and there, on and off, until he almost dies because of the Terrigen Mists and she gets that she has to take a decision once and for all.
So, she decides that yes, she is giving him “Happily ever after, until death does us apart”, and asks Clint to give her away and Hope and Kate are her maids of honor (and Kate doesn’t run away with the best-man, AKA Lance Hunter, AKA Bobbi’s boyfriend, but with the guy who gave her away).
And their life never stops being a big, huge adventure.
(Especially not when the twins arrive.)