Over the next few days I kept expecting to feel remorse over Chris's death but it never came. I began to realise the boy I'd known had died long ago. I didn't feel happy about it but knowing he was no longer around to hurt the people I loved made it a little easier to sleep that night.
I stroked my fingers up and downs Pietro's arm which was wrapped round my waist and heard him mutter something softly. I couldn't understand it so I wondered if he'd said something in Sokovian, either way he didn't wake up. I rolled over onto my back and stared up at the ceiling taking comfort in the feel of his warm body next to mine. We weren't safe now, none of us. An army of fanatic enhanced were hunting us and most of them, maybe all of them, could match my powers.
There were agents floors below us still trying to get the rest of Chris's group to talk, what would happen if they never did? We didn't know where the others were, when they were coming, or if they even knew where we were. I felt both guilt and fear take hold of me and rested my head on Pietro's shoulder. His arms tightened around me as I moved, trying to keep me safe even in his sleep.
Through the dim light I could see his face, he would have looked peaceful if it weren't for the furrowing of his brow. I traced my hand across his forehead and down his chin before coming to rest on his chest.
"Well figure this out I promise." I said quietly almost to myself "I won't let anything happen to us." His face relaxed slightly and I closed my eyes letting sleep take me.
We were woken hours later by knocking at the door. I noticed how hot it was in the room and how bright the light was behind my eyelids. I opened my eyes blearily and looked over at the clock, it was one in the afternoon.
"Crap." I said scrambling up. Pietro moved next to me and grunted as I jumped over him to reach the door. I looked through the spyglass and saw Clint's distorted head inches away from the hole. I opened it and poked my head round door.
"Finally. Thought you'd be in there all day." he said looking at me amused
"Sorry, did we miss training?"
"No." he replied confused "It's Saturday." I was the one confused now
"Oh, I guess I got the days mixed up." There was a slight pause.
"I'd have knocked sooner but I thought you might be...busy." he said looking uncomfortable. I jumped realising what he meant then remembered I was still in my pyjamas. I glanced back at Pietro who was just getting out of bed ruffling his hair so that it stood up all over the place, he was bare-chested but otherwise clothed. I turned back to Clint grinning.
"We were just asleep. What's up?"
"Right, so Hill wanted to ask if you two were still coming to the event, you know with everything that's happened."
I groaned "That's today?" He nodded "Yeah I think we're coming." I said looking back at Pietro who nodded as well "Yeah we'll be there."
"What time does it start?" asked Pietro looking at his suit like he was hoping it might spontaneously combust. I had to stop myself laughing as Clint noticed as well.
"In an hour, the hall off level one. You gonna be alright in that?" he asked directing his words at Pietro trying to keep a straight face.
"Yeah thanks old man, I'll manage." he replied rolling his eyes.
"Hey we all gotta wear em'. See you there kids." Clint said clapping me on the arm. I smiled at him as he walked away and closed the door.
I walked over to my dress bag and pulled it down off the hanger, the pain in my ankle had lessened somewhat so I thought I'd at least brave the heels.
"We should probably get ready." I said turning to the bathroom. "If you laugh, there will be war."
"Hang on." He said catching my arm and taking the bag off me before hanging it on the back of the door. "Aren't you forgetting something?" I tilted my head to the side thinking of what he could mean. He cupped my face in his hand and traced his thumb across my lips. I shivered as he leaned down very fast and kissed me. "Happy Birthday."
"Oh no." I said leaning my head back "I was hoping you'd forget."
"Why?" he asked amused at my discomfort
"Because now I'm older than you and Wanda."
He laughed at me "Blake its only for a few months, why does it matter?"
"I don't know it doesn't really, it just feels weird."
"Because you've always been the younger one?" I nodded and he slipped his arms round me "Well I don't care, you look the same to me."
"Thanks." I said sarcastically "Now can I go and get changed?"
"Not yet." he said dashing to the closet and pulling out a small box "Close your eyes." I raised my eyebrows at the tiny box he grinned "I'm not going to do anything crazy."
I closed my eyes feeling something cold and metal drop into my palm. I froze trying to stop my mind from racing. "Ok open up." I heard him say and peaked down at the thing in my hands.
I let out a sigh of relief. "Thank god." I said under my breath. It was a small green pin in the shape of a clover, exactly the same colour as my eyes. It was so well made I would have thought it was real if not for the hard texture against my skin.
"I thought you could wear it with your uniform." he said
"It's from me and Wanda, we had it made in the armoury downstairs." he said picking it up and turning it round. There was a large 'A' carved into the back surrounded by a half circle.
"Avenger." I said smiling up at him.
"You like it?" He asked expectantly and I hugged him.
"I love it and thanks for not getting me chocolates."
"Why would I do that? You hate chocolate." he said letting me enter the bathroom alone.
"Try telling that to my sister." I said closing the door behind me.
I looked back at the dress and saw it was very long with a low back. A black sash cut the dress in half at the waist and a slit ran up the left leg. I thought how much it resembled my uniform and wondered if it had something to do with the event and making us recognisable to the attendees. Deciding to go all out I curled my hair loosely and when the dress was on I felt it tickle the skin on my back. I fixed the clover pin to my strap and let my hair fall over it. Finally I stepped into my heels and tested my ankle, it hurt but nowhere near as much as a few days ago. Looking back in the mirror I thought I could have looked worse but I had to resist the urge to throw on a jacket because I felt severely under dressed.
I opened the door quietly and stepped into the room. Pietro was stood against the wall fidgeting with the end of his sleeve. I watched him for a while leaning against the doorframe. Finally he pushed up his sleeves so he could move more easily and I laughed. He turned at the sound and stopped in his tracks. His eyes slid down my body and I saw his lips part slightly.
He shook his head and straightened up smirking at me. Though I could see he looked uncomfortable in his suit I couldn't deny it fit him perfectly and the deep blue contrasted with his hair in a very attractive way. I smiled in spite of myself at how handsome he looked.
I crossed the room in two strides feeling the dress flow around my legs and pressed my lips against his. When his hands pressed up against my back I noticed I was finally tall enough to reach him without standing on my tiptoes, maybe the heels weren't such a bad thing. The fabric of my dress parted around my leg as I hooked it round his and his hand gripped my thigh tightly holding it there. Ok maybe now wasn't the best time to get carried away. I pulled back and rested my forehead against his "So you like the suit?" he asked chuckling.
"Um that would be a yes." I replied smiling at him and moving away "We'd better..." I pointed back to the door trying to turn my attention away from him.
"We should..." he began reaching down and lacing his fingers through mine. I watched his eyes as they took in my appearance and coughed pointedly. He looked up "Yeah we should go."
I followed him out and down the hall. Wanda was already waiting for us. She grinned at Pietro who was still fidgeting and pulled me into a hug. I noticed she worn a knee length deep red gown. "Happy birthday." she said quietly and I groaned. When I let go I had to de-tangle my fingers from the black shawl she had draped around her shoulders.
"Not you too." I said and she gave me a questioning look.
"She doesn't want people to know it's her birthday." Pietro answered rolling his eyes.
Wanda smiled "Good luck with that."
"What do you mean?"
She grinned knowingly and held out her elbow. "You'll see."
I linked my arm with hers and we followed Pietro down a flight of stairs to the second level. I could hear chatter and music from a room at the end of the hallway and pushed open the door.
The hall was full of people, at least fifty or more. The far wall was covered in panelled windows looking out onto the forest, people milled around tables with drinks in their hands and a few danced in the centre of the room. I spotted Nat and Clint lurking near the door talking to Sam Wilson. They waved us over and Nat gave me a small hug.
“You doin ok?” she asked me and I stared round at everyone in the room. I couldn't believe how many people were here. Some I even recognized from my old recruit training days.
“Yeah. Hey Sam.” I said shaking his hand “This is not what I was expecting.” I said gesturing round “Where are all the government officials?”
“Over there.” he said pointing to a few groups of people throughout the room. They seemed to be chatting animatedly with members of the team “Think they're enjoying themselves.”
“I thought this was more of a meeting?” I asked confused looking round at the guys. Nat held up her hands and stepped forward.
“Busted, you got us. This is kind of a party...for you.”
“No Nat you didn't.” I said backing away “I didn't want a fuss.”
“I told you she'd freak out.” said Pietro pulling me back into the circle
“You knew?” I asked shocked
“We all did.” said Wanda trying to conceal a laugh “It's not officially a party though, we just made more of a deal of this event.”
“But this is serious guys.” I looked round at the officials “We need to convince them to keep the team running-”
Nat put a hand on my shoulder “What better way to do that than let them get to know you all?” I sighed and she dropped her hand “Come on kiddo, just enjoy it, it's not your birthday every day.” I tried to shh her then remembered everyone already knew.
“Ah fine then, but don't pull this again, I don't like surprises.” They laughed and moved away.
Pietro leaned down and whispered in my ear “Liar, you love surprises.” I waved him away with a smile as Maria Hill walked over to us. She looked stunning as always.
“Hi Maria.” I said as she stopped in front of us.
“Nice to see you could make it.” she said smiling down at me. Even with heels she was taller than me.
“Couldn't really say no could I.”
“They told you then? Sorry I would have mentioned it but they said you'd back out if you knew.”
“Probably smart.” I said smiling
“How's your head?” she asked concerned pointing to my forehead. I'd almost forgotten about it, there was a still a slight bruise and cut above my eyebrow but it was healing pretty well.
“Good as can be expected.” I said touching the spot with my fingers.
“Good. If you two have got a minute there's someone I'd like you to meet.” She led us over to a tall man in the centre of a group of people. “Sir.” she said tapping him on the shoulder. He turned round and I saw he was about Fury's age with pepper grey hair. “This is Pietro Maximoff and Blake Deveraux. This is Chancellor Rodriguez.”
“Thank you Agent Hill.” he said to Maria's retreating back. “Ah you must be Wanda's twin; Quicksilver.” He said shaking Pietro's hand. It felt odd to hear Pietro addressed by his 'Avengers' title “And this charming young lady?” he asked turning back to me. Over his shoulder I caught sight of my refection looking back at me in the window, the green of my eyes and my pin glared bright against the glass.
“Clover, sir.” I replied and Pietro grinned down at his shoes.
“Fitting.” said Rodriguez nodding then his face turned a little more serious as he lowered his voice “I wondered if I could have a word?”
I glanced back at Pietro and he narrowed his eyes “Both of us?” I asked Rodriguez
“Of course.” he detached himself from the group and we followed him to a quiet corner. “Now I understand you were involved in a mission recently, one that had an assumed Hydra connections.”
“And you were injured on this mission.” he asked looking directly into my eyes. I tried to see his motive written on his face but it was fairly blank.
“That's correct. But I recovered.” I said not wanting him to get the wrong idea.
“I see that, but this is not the first time one of you or your team has been injured out in the field.” his eyes lingered on Pietro. I saw Pietro shift his weight and cross his arms over his chest.
“It's part of the job.” he said simply. I felt the corner of my lip twitch and straightened my face.
“There is always an element of risk to every job, sir. We don't let that stop us.”
Rodriguez sighed “I know my dear that is what I mean. Less so for Captain Rogers and Agents Romanoff and Barton but yourself and your friends are far too young to be putting your lives in danger in defence of the public. You weren't trained like them, and blame falls on us if anything were to happen to you.”
“With all do respect Chancellor, we are trained. But sometimes things happen in the field you can't predict or prepare for.”
“Miss Deveraux, you don't understand the outrage we would be dealing with if one of your kind was killed in action.” he said raising his hands a stern look on his face. I felt a spark of anger light inside me but kept calm all the same.
“One of our kind?” asked Pietro in a hostile tone
“Yes. And it's not only you we have to worry about. I'm told a group of the enhanced now possess the means to apply powers to their existing traits. Do you know how dangerous that makes you to the public?”
“We are dealing with that, it won't happen again. And it's just a minority, you know none of my team would do that.”
“Nevertheless, I'm still uncertain if this group should continue, especially after the disaster in Sokovia. How can you protect us if you can't even protect each other?” I gritted my teeth and held onto Pietro's hand, both of ours were shaking slightly.
“I'm sorry sir, but are you saying you want to take us out of the field for our own good, or yours?” He seemed taken aback by my accusation and replied quickly.
“Both. The public deserves the right to defend themselves. You can't always be around to protect everyone, if you spread yourselves too thin something terrible could happen, and you and your partner are too young to die with innocent blood on your hands.”
“Whether we are too young or not it doesn't matter.” said Pietro stepping forward. I held onto his wrist to stop him moving and further. "We won't back down from a fight.”
“Then you'll die.” said Rodriguez sadly and walked away
I gazed after him speechless “Who does he think he is?”
“Entitled.” said Pietro pulling me into a one armed hug
“I should go and talk to him, try to convince him.” I said trying to push down the boiling feelings inside me. The man thought we were untrained, dangerous, naive, and freaks of nature, at least he'd been polite about how he'd said it.
“No don't ruin your birthday arguing with him, he's obviously made up his mind.” said Pietro glaring after him.
“Do you think the others feel the same?” I asked him looking round at the crowd. No one seemed to be in a bad mood but then neither had Rodriguez.
“We'll find out.” he said
I rested my chin on his shoulder and slipped my arms around his neck before closing my eyes. I don't think my body could deal with any more stress, my head ached and my feet were beginning to pinch in my shoes. I breathed in and felt his arms encircle my waist, I noticed then for the first time the music playing over the crowd.
“Dance with me.” he said quietly in my ear.
I moved my head and looked into his eyes “What? Now?” I saw that glint in his eyes and knew he meant it “But there are so many people.” I said looking back at the room and cringing. He looked over his shoulder and then back at me.
“We've been standing here alone for over a minute and nobody has even noticed, they aren't watching.”
I smiled gingerly as he moved his hand down the back of my arm, along my wrist and fitted his fingers into mine. I gently placed my other hand on his shoulder and grinned as he pulled me so close I could feel his breath on my neck.
“Relax.” I let his voice was over me and dropped my shoulders trying to calm myself.
“You make it look so easy.”
“There is a trick to that.” he said chuckling and kissing my jaw just under my ear “Act like no one else is here.”
I took my arm off his shoulder laughing and stepped back “Well then if no one else is here, that means I can go.” I'd only moved back a pace or so when he pulled my arm and span me into his chest. He looked down at me smugly.
“A little warning next time.” I blurted out “Where did you learn to dance?” I asked impressed
"Believe it or not, there are good dancers in Sokovia. Wanda always wanted to learn but we didn't have enough money." He said gazing behind me to where she stood chatting to Nat and Steve. "We figured it out."
"Aren't you just full of surprises." I said and he flashed me a smile
"You have no idea." He lifted my arm up and guided me under it, my dress whipped around and I felt a soft breeze as it floated down around my legs. His hand was on my back then and I could sense the heat under my hair. "I don't think I told you how beautiful you look." he said moving his hands to my waist and stepping forward. I mirrored his movements without hesitation thinking that we weren't so awful at dancing. When you spent so much time with a person and fought back to back with them every day it made sense that our bodies just seemed to know where to move, reacting instinctively to the others.
I caught my breath as he lifted me off the floor and turned, then set me down slowly so our faces were inches apart and I dug my fingers into his arms to steady myself.
"You waited until now to show me this, just for maximum effect?"
"I thought it would be dramatic." he whispered against my skin. I laughed quietly and looked across the room. Like he said no one seemed to have noticed, no one but Nat. She winked at me and mouthed 'My turn next'. I rolled my eyes at her. 'Nice try'
Suddenly the music stopped and all the lights in the room went out.
Pietro shook me slightly and raised his head looking out the window “Blake.”
A shiver went up my spine and I turned to stare out of the window. Dark figures were darting out from the tree line and running towards the building. One stopped right in front of the window and stooped down to pick something off the ground. I wondered what they were doing until they launched it directly into at the window. The force of which they threw it was so strong I'd only ever seen one person do it before, me.
“Get down!” I yelled and threw my hands over my head bracing myself as the window exploded with an enormous bang. Screams and shouts echoed around me and I looked up. Pietro had grabbed me and dashed to the other side of the room before I could breath. I spun round "Wanda!?" I shouted looking around for her. A huge red aura was spread across the busted window and shards of razor sharp glass were suspended in the middle of it. She stood crouched at the very centre holding her arms out like a shield.
We ran forward and she dropped her hands so the glass tinkled to the floor and one tiny rock bounced off her boot. Luckily she'd stopped the most of the blow out from hitting everyone else. Pietro looked her over frantically but she wasn't hurt.
"I'm alright." she said waving him away and taking a defensive stance "It's them you need to worry about." she pointed to the gaping hole in the wall where around a dozen bodies were clambering through.
The man at the very centre got to his feet brushing glass from his hands. "I think you're expecting us?"