Pietro wasn’t sure whose brilliant idea it was to have this gala at the Avengers’ Tower. He half suspected Tony “PR extraordinaire” Stark.
“Let’s have a formal party and invite all the major super groups,” Pietro mocked under his breath, “it’ll show the world that there’s no bad blood between anybody.” He rolled his eyes hard and took another long drink of his mojito. His eyes traveled the crowd, looking for the rest of the Unity Squad.
He found Rogue with the X-Men, talking with Laura Kinney and her… Little sister? Clone? Daughter? Pietro had a hard time keeping track of all of the different Wolverines and their offshoots. Hell, between Logan and his own father, there really shouldn’t have been such a scare after M Day about repopulating mutantkind.
Speaking of his father, Pietro groaned as he espied the maroon-colored suit jacket approaching Rogue toting her new husband behind him. It seemed unreal that those two had finally tied the knot; after years of running from her feelings fast enough to put the speedster to shame, though, it appears she had finally given in.
He searched next for his sister, just in case he needed to get out of an awkward situation quickly–Erik still hadn’t said anything to him about the pictures he’d posted online of him dressed as a clown– and found her chatting up Jericho and Steven Strange. Likely, they were discussing some magical something or other. He understood how his sister’s powers worked, but using magic aside from a result of genetic mutation still baffled him.
He followed a crowd of mutants passing by and caught eye of Johnny Storm halfway flirting with Medusa Amaquelin, his ex-sister-in-law. He had heard through the grapevine that they had been involved with each other a little while back; a bittersweet smile crossed his face at the thoughts of how Crystal must have felt.
“Hey, speedy, why the long face?” came a gentle voice from his left. He turned to find Emily, who was wearing the same dress she’d sported on their first “official” date. He had taken her to see the Russian ballet one evening. In Moscow. Wanda insisted that she and Jericho come along, and had proceeded to tell Emily about how he was as a child. He had been so embarrassed, but she had laughed and held his arm and asked him if it were all true. And he couldn’t bear to lie to her.
“No enjoyable company. At least, not until you showed up,” he smiled. She laughed. He loved that sound; it wasn’t often that anyone found him or his jokes amusing, but she seemed to appreciate them. He ordered a cosmopolitan for her and another mojito for himself and walked idly with her through the swathe of superheroes and reformed villains.
“Y'know, I know this little get-together is supposed to show how all of our groups like each other now, but it’s still so weird. Like, look how all the X-Men are over on one end and then there’s the Inhumans over there…” Emily’s voice trailed off and she shook her head. “Everyone still seems so tense.”
And she was right, Pietro noticed. Except for a few odd groups, the different factions were keeping more or less to themselves. He looked at Emily, noticing the frown on her face. He shrugged, “give them another hour for the liquor to kick in, that should take care of it.”
She side-eyed him with a half-smirk “still won’t take the stick out of your ass though.” She added in a light jab to his ribs when he tried to look offended.
“No, I’m afraid the stick is surgically attached.”
“We’ll have to see what we can do about that,” she smiled.
He looked at her, unsure of what she was saying. Why was she smiling at him like that? Why was she laughing? He hadn’t said– oh.
“There you go, Pietro. Y'know, for the world’s fastest man, you’re kind of slow on the take-up sometimes,” she winked.
Pietro looked down and blushed. Even after all these years, there were minute parts of having conversations in English he still didn’t understand. But that comment… He honestly hadn’t thought that she would be interested in that. Not at this juncture. Then again, she could see what was going on inside his head and probably knew him better than he knew himself.
“Well, yeah, basically. At this point, I may as well have known you for years.” She added lowly, “and yes, I am interested. But we don’t have to if you’re uncomfortable with it.”
He glanced at the hand she’d placed on his arm. Half of him was mulling over the option in his mind; the other half was astonished–and maybe a little bit aroused– by the fact that she was asking him with all of these people around. She had a confidence and a daring that he was drawn to in more ways than one, but was still considerate towards others. That was what had drawn him to Crystal as well andlookhowwellthatturnedout. He shook his head. She wasn’t Crystal. He had no guarantee that she wouldn’t hurt him, but, God, he wanted–needed– to try again. “I… I think I would like that… To share that with you…” He smiled hesitantly at her, not sure if she would believe him, even though he hadn’t been lying. He relaxed a little as she beamed at him and kissed his cheek.
Five hours and several drinks into the party and Crystal wasn’t sure what she was still doing here. It had been a lousy night so far, with her first boyfriend–a man she still loved after so much time–practically drooling over her older sister. It had hurt more than she was willing to admit to Medusa when they had started dating. She was under the assumption that her sister knew that Johnny was off limits; apparently, she was wrong. Then, Blackbolt had to keep Maximus from supercharging the pressurizers on the fountain and causing a fuss. She had tried to find decent company among the rest of her cousins, but was irritated by their incessant harsh comments about the other factions present. She rolled her eyes and walked away from them as Gorgon started up a speech on how long he thought it would take him to suppress these “half-bred clods” in the name of Inhuman superiority.
She made her way through the crowds slowly, careful not to trip over her heels as the alcohol had made walking a bit of a chore. She paused as she caught eye of Lockjaw laying beside some… Tiger woman? Tigra, that was her name. No. Greer. Greer is her name. Pietro was on a team with her during his stint with the West Coast Avengers. She shook her head as she saw the fur on the other woman’s body stand up in agitation as the Inhumans’ royal dog, larger than the woman herself when he stood, sniffed questioningly at her– “No.. Lockjaw! Dammit.” She muttered, covering her face with one hand. She heard Greer swearing and other people laughing, making her blush in second hand shame. A familiar voice teased the furry Avenger on being friendly, causing Crystal to peek through her fingers. She audibly groaned when she saw who the voice belonged to.
She watched as her ex-husband mocked terror at the threat that Greer made. She watched with even further intensity as he retreated back to the arm of a very pretty–young– girl with black hair and a dazzling smile. Who was *she*? Oh right. The Unity Squad’s “token Inhuman”. She was an Inhuman?
Crystal racked her brain trying to remember. She knew the Unity Squad had an Inhuman member. She knew that member had been to New Attillan.
“Hi,” came a voice in front of her, “I don’t think we’ve met. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting your sister, Queen Medusa, but I’ve never met you. My name is Emily.”
Crystal looked up at the woman. She was wearing a pewter colored dress that perfectly showed off her skins natural tanness and her physical strength. On one of those sculpted arms was her ex, trying his best to stay calm. She knew him better, though. She knew he was nervous. He usually was. It was his one constant. She forced a smile on. “Hello, Emily. It’s a pleasure to meet you; my name is Crystal.” She paused and looked over to her former husband. “Hello, Pietro.”
“Hello, Crystal. How’s Luna doing? I heard she withdrew from the Braddock Academy.”
“She’s doing fine. My sister has requested that she resume her education amongst her peers in New Attillan, but she hasn’t decided yet.”
“If she wants, we can find her a different school; one that’s safer and has courses that she’s interested in–”
“The schools in New Attillan are perfectly safe,” the princess defended, narrowing her eyes at the mutant. “And she should be taking courses that pertain to her future station. No schools outside of our capitol have classes on Inhuman history or political structure.” He should know that, she thought.
“With the social climate of New Attillan changing with the influx of new Inhumans, your political structure and her ‘future station’ may lose relevance before she gets a chance to apply her knowledge,” Emily interjected, causing Crystal and Pietro to look at her with disbelief and surprise accordingly.
Crystal smiled knowingly. “The Inhuman political structure hasn’t changed since it’s founding. It has stood for countless centuries and it hasn’t failed us. It won’t be changing.”
“But it has failed. It caused your gene pool to flounder and go basically extinct. And that caused you to unleash the terrigen cloud that killed all those mutants. It may have stood for centuries, but it has failed. And, without changing, it will fail again. I believe I told your sister that, but I think we’ve just agreed to disagree,” the Avenger stated, shrugging.
“That’s probably for the best,” Pietro added, “besides, it’s over now. And who knows what the future holds. Maybe things will change, maybe they won’t. There’s no reason to argue about it now.” His head shot up as Wanda called him over to where her and Lorna were standing by the fountain. He looked visibly relieved. “Emily, I think my sisters require your good judgement. God knows they aren’t going to find any with me.”
Emily nodded, taking the hint, and followed his lead over to the fountain, laughing as Lorna took a picture of the four of them by levitating a camera with her powers. Crystal grimaced and shook her head. How dare that little upstart try to insult her own heritage? She made her way over to the bar and ordered another round. How many did this make? Seven? Eight?
As the party was nearing it’s conclusion, Pietro found himself rather impressed. He had managed to have a brief conversation with his ex-wife without too many problems, although he imagined that she hadn’t taken Emily’s bluntness as well as she acted, especially considering Emily’s confidence walking away from their talk. He’d spent time with his sisters and had even managed to say a few words to his father without throwing up. That was probably just Emily calming his nerves, though. He hadn’t even made a comment about him being with an Inhuman and had chuckled–actually chuckled– when she had made a magnet pun in front of him. If he hadn’t been convinced that she was amazing before tonight, he certainly was now.
The evening was winding down, now, though, and they were both ready to be alone. Together. And at this point, Pietro didn’t care if they just had takeout at the same table away from everyone else or if she wanted him to make *her* his last meal of the day. She could probably ask him to do anything for or to her and he would; he was in awe of her and would do anything to show it.
She seemed to catch on to his emotions as quickly as he experienced them, smiling softly at him. She pulled him down for a kiss, placing her hands on the sensitive spots just under his ribcage, making him sigh and his shoulders drop as he wrapped his arms around her.
They parted suddenly as they were met with gale-force winds and a torrential downpour. He rushed back and looked around to see his ex-wife levitating in the air, bringing her elemental powers down on them. And only them. “What the hell, Crystal?!” He shouted over the collective gasp of the remaining attendees. He rushed Emily, who was already soaked, over a bit, away from the mini storm before lightning could hit her. He looked her over and asked if she was okay. He took her nod and half-hearted smile under ruined mascara as affirmation before looking for the source of the storm again. He was relieved to find her entangled in her sister’s hair. He took the kerchief out of his suit pocket and offered it to Emily, apologizing to her.
“Why are you sorry? I ought to make her pay to have this dress dry-cleaned,” she stated, wiping the remaining make-up from her face. She didn’t have to have someone else pay for her dry-cleaning– if nothing else, Pietro would have gladly offered to pay–but she was rather upset. It wasn’t often that she wore make-up or dressed up. Hell between Avenger-ing and working out, she didn’t have the time or energy to most days. But she did like this dress; it held special memories now. And Janet helped her so much when she was trying to pick one out.
Pietro frowned. “I know it’s not my fault, but I’m sorry anyway. I do like that dress; I hope nothing’s been damaged.”
Medusa approached them tiredly. “I apologize for my sister’s behaviour. It seems she had a few too many drinks tonight and was not acting with discretion. I do hope you’ll forgive her.”
Pietro gave a proper Inhuman bow as Emily assured her it would be alright and all would be forgiven. “I think this would be an opportune time for us to take our leave, though, don’t you,” she inquired after the Inhuman queen was out of earshot, running her hand over the lapel of his suit.
Pietro blushed, eyes widening slightly. He nodded, letting her lead them to the elevator.