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“I’m sorry.”

His eyes moved to you slowly, and you watched as his thoughtful expression twisted into one of confusion, uncertainty. 

“About your family,” you clarified awkwardly, nodding your head towards the ring he kept absentmindedly touching. “It must have been...I guess I kinda know what that’s like and just wanted—you know what? Nevermind. Fury probably wants me for something—”

“No, please, wait,” he quickly interrupted, his fingers wrapping around your wrist and you ignored the spike of adrenaline at his proximity. At having to battle down the instincts installed into you for years to take out the threat. “I would be honoured if you told me. If you don’t mind sharing, that is. It was...it was difficult for me to address it earlier.”

You gazed at him for a moment, trying to gauge his sincere expression but there was just something about him. There was something about Quentin Beck that didn’t sit right with you. At all.

The first time Fury had introduced you, he had looked at you with a too wide, too gleaming smile. Like somehow you standing there should be impossible. The smile had made his already handsome features even more striking but a shiver had crawled down your spine when you saw it. For it held an almost malicious, cutting edge to it when he grasped your hand in his.

“I’m...I’m sorry. I just never expected,” he had whispered then, breathless and shaky, the grip on your hand almost painfully tight. “I never dared to hope that this Earth...that you would be here too.”

And then he had lifted your hand in front of everyone and kissed it. You snatched it back as quickly as possible but the damage was done. Quentin pulled away too; awkward and apologetic, and although his words had rung false in your ears, Fury stepped in nevertheless, pacifying the situation immediately. The long look he shared with Maria after the moment was over was almost impossible to miss for a trained eye though. 

You had agreed to move past the uncomfortable first encounter to deal with the Elementals situation but things remained tense between you. 

Over the past week, you caught Quentin looking at you often. Sometimes with curiosity, sometimes with a thoughtful expression on his face. Most often than not though, his face was carefully blank. But you couldn’t help but read something close to annoyance in the subtle pursing of his lips and the tightens around his eyes whenever he gazed at you.

Fury had been clear though: whatever issues you had, you had to sort out. Beck was proving to be the best and only weapon against these destructive monstrosities. 

“My dad,” you blurted out, tugging your wrist away when he continued holding on. He let you go, fingers lingering for a moment too long, and you cleared your throat, glancing away and then back at him. His expression was mild, open, intently focused on you and you licked your lips unsurely. You hoped that by talking with him and clearing the air, you would be making your work situation easier but now you weren’t so sure anymore. “During the Blip? For me, it was a split second. Blink, he’s alive. Blink, he’s gone. He...he died thinking I was dead. I wish I could...I wish I could just let him know, you know? So, I’m sorry this happened to you. I really am.”

“You were close to him on my Earth,” he said after a beat, his words soft—like a secret. “He loved you dearly.”

“You knew my dad?” you asked quietly, unsurely, a lump suddenly in your throat. “How?”

He gave a one-shouldered shrug, almost forcefully casual before glancing down, “We were friends,” he said simply. Like that was supposed to explain everything. 

“Do you kiss all your friends upon seeing them?”

That gave him a pause, his eyes flickering back to your face, eyebrows pinching, “We were...close.”

“Close, huh?” you repeated, crossing your arms over your chest, unable to shake the sceptic sting you felt at his words, “And what did...other me and you talk about, exactly?”

This time, he moved from his spot against the wall, coming to a stop only inches away, “Well you liked my powers a lot,” he said lowly. “Give me your hands.”

“Excuse me?”

His smile was slow, almost sly, “Don’t you trust me?”

You tried not to snort at his words, eyes narrowed as you looked at him, unmoving. He waited patiently, a certain smugness about his features that said he already knew he won. Your curiosity would win out—he was betting on it. Eventually, you relented, reluctantly extending your hands his way with a small huff he was too close to miss.

Quentin cradled your hands in his carefully, turning them palms up with his own hands resting under yours, and gave you a grave look, suddenly serious, “Deep breaths. This is very important.”

Suddenly alarmed, you glanced at him sharply, “What are you—”

But you got your reply the next second.

Familiar green vapour started forming at the palm of your hands and you gasped, trying to jerk back on instinct. 

Shhh,” Quentin soothed, his grip tightening immediately, expression wavering. “Don’t move, it’s harder to concentrate.” 

Eyes wide and lips parted, you stared in mute awe as tiny green tornadoes started forming in your hands, swirling lazily into life.

“Oh wow,” you breathed quietly, staring at your hands, momentarily mesmerized. Until a moment later, an alarming thought crossed your mind. “My hands aren't going to...fall off or something, right?”

He laughed at that, one corner of his mouth curving to side as he peered at you. For the first time since you met him, the almost mischievous expression on his face appeared genuine. 

“Not unless you sneeze,” he pointed out idly, tone light enough that you knew he was joking, and you rolled your eyes at him. “Like it?”

“They’re fine,” you replied coolly with a tilt of your chin and he nodded stagily, still grinning smugly before the small tornadoes started fading from your palms. “I’m not really fond of tricks, to be honest,” you added when the last of the green mist disappeared.

Eyebrows arching, Quentin allowed you to pull your hands back, “And why not? People find them entertaining.”

Giving him a measured look, you finally replied, “‘Cause the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he never existed. Basically, it’s all lies.”  

His smile widened, all teeth, and you shifted unsurely, feeling lost at his reaction. He shook his head slightly, glancing at you from the corner of his eye. “You're still the same, huh? I’m glad this world has you. And I look forward to getting to know you soon.”

You absently wondered why the last part almost sounded like a threat. 

With one last look at you, he moved to walk past but you turned with him, “Quentin.”

He froze in his tracks, his back still turned to you and the crisp red cape only accenting the width of his broad shoulders. “Yes?”

“In your world,” you began slowly, dreading the answer you already knew. “You said that everyone died. That includes me, right?”

“Yes,” he agreed, turning to look at you, expression grievous and gaze impossibly sad. “Yes, you did. In my arms.”

And then he walked away without another word, and you tried—and failed—to fight back the sudden chill in your bones. 

And the sadness.

. . .

It would be slow. 

The unravelling. 

Tantalizingly, beautifully slow. But he could be patient if needed. 

Who was he to overlook potential right in front of him? 

He was a man who turned problems into solutions after all.

Every story needed a hero.

And every hero needed someone to love and protect. To cherish and motivate him.

He could do that. So very easily, he thought, glancing back at you over his shoulder. 

Yes. The unravelling will be delicate work, dedicated work, but the end result will be oh so sweet.