“If he asks you anything- we know each other because I used to be your body-guard.”
As soon as Chris had knocked at his door, Clint had opened up, and dragged her inside for an arm, without explain himself; Chris could only look at him quizzically, as, in his call, her friend and Avengers, Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, had been pretty vague. Only, she hadn’t cared- she had dropped everything she had been doing in San Francisco and she had gotten on the first flight for New York to help him out in whatever he had gotten himself involved into. Again.
She sighed as she allowed Clint to drag her, dead weight, through his apartment; she pouted a little, a bit annoyed- not with Clint, but with herself. First, she was a sucker for blue eyes- especially his blue eyes- and second, even after almost six years, she still thought she owed Clint something; back when they had first met, on the eve of her unfortunate wedding to her almost ex-husband, Alec, she had been too rich, too bored, too powerful and too full of herself- and on the verge of joining the Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club; thankfully, Tessa, Shaw’s second in command, had given her a lesson, and Clint had given her the speech- powers and responsibility and all that jazz- and now, a few years later, here she was. An Honest-to-God super-hero. With a secret identity. Who helped a team of outlaws. With her genius. And her money. Mostly her money, thought.
“Barton? Do you mind?” Suddenly pissed, Chris jerked her arm free from his grasp, and stood right before him; she felt hot tears burning her eyes, as Clint looked at her with sadness; she wondered- she believed it was pity. Just few weeks before, she had tried to seduce Clint- just to prove to herself that no, she wasn’t in love with Pete Wisdom (and she still firmly believed that she wasn’t)- and Clint had laughed at the whole ordeal. He had laughed. She knew he had believed that he was doing it with her, but she had never felt so stupid and naïve in her whole life.
Clint closed his eyes, and, taking a big breath, cupped her face with his big palms; Chris gasped as she saw the worry in his expression, and she felt like dying in that instant; she was a telepath, and thanks to Xavier’s training she was one of the most talented ones of the whole planet, but she didn’t need to use her powers to know that something was very wrong. And that it was serious- not just her childish crush on the archer.
“Clint?” She asked. Her voice was low and unsure- and more than a question, it sounded like a plea. Like she was begging him to tell her that not everything was lost- everyone. She had lost her birth parents; then, Howard and Maria- and now, in a way, Alec. Tony was the only real family she had left, she didn’t even want to think what losing him could do to her- what it would mean.
“Kang was manipulating him to get rid of the Avengers.”
Was- Clint was speaking in past tense. She didn’t like it. She knew it wasn’t a good sign. That it didn’t mean that Tony wasn’t any longer under the Time Lord’s hold. Clint’s eyes were telling her everything he couldn’t admit out loud- everything she needed to know.
Tony was gone. He was dead.
“Ok. Ok.” Chris crossed her arms, hugging herself; she lowered her head and stared at her feet, even if her eyes were semi-closed; Clint let it go of her, and looked at her with such devotion- so much tenderness and affection that it was breaking her heart. She didn’t need it- she needed her friend to be the hard-assed and a bit cynical trouble-maker womanizer she knew he could be. Especially now, with the guilt knocking at her soul’s doors. Had she been closer, had she used her gifts on him, they wouldn’t have been in this situation. But Chris had always refused to sue her powers on her family and her friends, and after her marriage, she had been too selfish, too mad to allow herself any real closeness to her brother.
And he had gone and fallen under Kang’s control.
She took a big breath, and, finally, biting her lips, she lifted her gaze. “Did he at least….” She didn’t end the sentence. She didn’t need to- Clint knew her well enough- and he got her well enough. Few years priors he had been in a similar situation with his own brother, after all.
“Yeah. He saved us all, at the end.” Clint sighed, and run his fingers through his blonde hair; he was biting his lips, and started to look away, not knowing how to breach the subject. There were things she needed to know. And he didn’t know how to tell her.
Clint sighed, and when he spoke next, his voice was a bit low- like he was a bit scared of admitting the truth to Chris. “We didn’t know if we could win, so we… we had to get someone who knew him- someone who could think like him. Be like him.” Clint paused for a fraction of second that lasted an eternity. “We went back in time. To a time before he fell under Kang’s control.”
Clint smirked- even if there was sadness and regret in her expression. “That’s what you meant before? He is here?”
Clint nodded, and then, gently, he guided her in his living-room for the elbow; leaning against the doorstep, she could see a mass of rebellious black hair on the couch- and a boy playing video-games like he had never truly lived before. Like he was finally free. She remembered that Tony- from a glance, she guessed he had to be around twenty years old, if not less.
“I told the others that you deserved to know what happened- Rhodey should try to reach you in the next few days, and he’ll tell you the official story, that he died during an accident involving the Avengers. But you deserve to know the real truth.”
“Yo, Barton, sore loser! You coming or what?” The teenage version of her brother left the couch, and laughed at the Avengers; then, as soon as she registered a pretty girl at Barton’s side, the Avengers was dismissed. “Well, well, well, the guy has good taste, after all. You, not so much- wonna leave the old man and run away with me, sweetheart? I’m Tony Stark- of Stark fame.” He asked, his traveling from her breasts to her legs- and Clint couldn’t help but smirk, because he had always told Chris she had legs to die for, and she had never believed him.
She grimaced, her crossed arms, putting in more evidence her breasts in the strapless leather little black dress. “Yeah, that’s him. Without a shadow of doubt.” She barely resisted the urge to hit him. He was a pig. Even more than she used to remember. “Ever heard of respect for your elders, brother dearest?”
Tony stared at her; he was turning a little green, and he was feeling he bile rising in his stomach; he was that close to vomiting his own soul as well as his last meal. And maybe some meals gotten in the previous decade as well.
His sister- he had put the moves on his little sister. His Chrissy, that was only nine years old last time he had seen her, at breakfast, when she was wearing an Holly Hobbie pyjama and with her reddish hair in two piggy-tails, her eyes filled with devotion and admiration for her older brother. And now here she was- sexy as hell, dressed with black leather and with short black hair and heavy make-up and an attitude.
“Cri-Cri?” He looked at her eyes, and immediately recognised that dark black gleam, that unique shade that she had in common with her birth mother. There was no mistaking- she was his little sister, only, in this world- in this time- she was an adult. She was… old.
“Please, please, please, tell me you’ve got more taste than sleeping with Barton…” he begged. She could have been older than him, but he still cared a lot for her. He still felt like he had to defend her honour. Sort of.
“Uh. Looks like you were right when you said that he used to be an idiot.” Clint chuckled.
“I resent that, Barton. Not only I grew-up to be a super-hero- but I’m a billionaire genius and a tech mogul who’s extremely successful with the ladies.”
Clint chuckled again. “… too bad your little sister grew-up to be a billionaire genius, a tech mogul and a super-hero with honest-to-God superpowers and legs to die for. And, she has great taste in men. Just sayin’.”
Chris looked at Tony with extreme sadness; this young man was cheerful and enthusiast that his sister had turned out to be a super; he didn’t know the truth, that Chris had lied to her own family for years. Practically since the beginning. He didn’t know… and he couldn’t.
She lifted her right hand and touched with her manicured index fingernail his forehead, and her eyes turned glowing and red and like on fire; Teen Tony almost closed his eyes, and, as he was half-asleep, he went to sleep on the couch, without thinking about them. Like they had never been there to begin with.
Clint turned at looked at Chris, disappointed; that was her chance to be honest, finally, tell her brother who she truly was and yet, she had blown it- once and for all. “I had to make him forget, Clint. We can’t risk the time-line furthermore. We’ve already stepped onto too many butterflies. Beside, my position is too delicate to allow the public to know that Excalibur’s Lady Blackdragon is, in reality, Christine Antonia Stark-Addison.” She paused, and her eyes went to the ground, her voice suddenly low. “Besides… there are things that even you don’t know, Clint. I’m not so sure you’d like the real me.”
Clint chuckled, and, with sad eyes, took her in his arms, engulfed her in a bear-hug; Chris’ tiny frame pressed firmly against his hard body, she allowed her head to rest against his breastbone, as she allowed his heartbeat to lull her, to calm her down, like an hypnotic device.
“Still,“ She said, leaving the quickest and sweetest butterfly-kiss on the hot skin of his neck, “thanks for having told me the truth. I’ll be forever in your debt, Clint.”
Clint buried his nose in her hair, smiling; the colour and the texture weren’t what he was used to, but the exotic orchid scent was still all her. His Chris. “Anytime, sweetheart, anytime sweetheart…”