El has been with the site for nearly two years now and has continued to prove her value. Currently, she is heading up our site event, Battle for Liberterram, on top of keeping up with her own personal plots.
Lux's posts are all wonderful to read. She has done a wonderful job of grasping the new universe and incorporating Peggy into it.
It's good to see Spidey back on the site. Watching him deal with the universe shift in his own snarky way has been nothing short of entertaining.
Eight O'Clock on the Dot!
El and Lux are making magic in this thread. Straight up fireworks, and the way they've played with drawing out the reveal is top class.
Clint was actually kinda interested in the Stark Expo, for reasons other than Tony promising that he'd be able to convince good ol' Cap to be eye candy for his booth, which had been amusing to say the least. However, Clint was there for other reasons, too. He designed his own arrows, after all, and he was always looking for new and better ideas where it came to that stuff. He might not understand half of what a lot of these people said, due to a lack of education, but that didn't meant that he couldn't figure it out eventually, or learn simply by looking.
So, Clint trailed through the pathways of the Expo, stopping whenever something caught his eyes, doing some harmless flirting, eating food from vending carts that was remarkably similar to the kinds of things you got at amusement parks and less like what you would expect from a high-end convention. He supposed that was part of the 'a thing for everyone' kinda event they had going on this year.
But it was also his job to keep an eye on things for SHIELD. With so many high-profile businessmen in one place, it was vital for them to have boots on the ground, and Clint was happy to volunteer his time to that, since he could kill multiple birds with one stone.
Of course, his day was about to get a whole lot better. Seeing the Oracle, Inc. signs up ahead, Clint smirked a bit, wondering if his good buddy Namor was there. Well, that might have been a little bit of an exaggeration. Namor hadn't seemed all that enamored with him, but that kiss...well, who's to say that they couldn't become friends at some later date?
Wandering towards the signs, Clint started looking around to see if he could spot the man in question. They could bond. Clint was great at bonding. He was great at a lot of things, but he was especially great at bonding. Maybe the douche-fish would even manhandle him some more. It could be all kinds of fun.
Wait. He would recognize those abs anywhere. Yes. Those were definitely Namor's abs, which were attached to the rest of his torso, which led to his wonderful face. What was he wearing? That was...very nice. Clint approved. Clint also went around the long way to sneak up behind him, stepping up next to him with a grin. "Hey there, buddy," he greeted, "What's with the outfit? I mean, not that I'm complaining, but usually people hire booth babes for the Expo, they don't decide to take on the job themselves."
Grinning wider, Clint leaned in to rest his chin on the weird shoulder-plate things that he had going on. "You look very handsome. Quite edible. If I wasn't taken, I'd be all over that," he added, batting his eyelashes for good measure.
• Namor aka Douche-Fish • notes: and here we go again XD
Namor was only going to briefly attend the Stark Expo. To date, he and Anthony were far from close, and Namor had no interests in better acquainting himself to him. As it was, he, unlike the Junior Stark, had a full schedule with genuine duties rather than petty vanity projects. Atlantis needed tending to even when it was more peaceful and there was Oracle itself. Ms. Marrs had attended the Expo and was slated to be the most frequent of the higher officers in the company, but even her stay was short. Namor had tasked the board instead with more important matters. The only reason he'd even bothered having Oracle make an appearance was for the more charitable aspects of the Expo, and to unveil a few of their smaller projects where they could enjoy free publicity.
This was the first of the two days he was going to attend. After that he'd have no more time to spare. With any luck he would not catch the namesake of this Expo.
Ms. Marrs had reminded him that he was attending what was essentially a business conference, and that he should be dressed for the occasion. As there were no names he was outright dealing with, same for the name of an individual he altogether did not care for, he decided that he would, indeed honor the occasion. But rather than sporting a business suit, wore something decidedly more comfortable. A form-fitting attire that allowed the whole of his torso to breathe and breathe well. He'd earned more than a few stares, but most recognized him quickly from the imposing figure he cut, the regality of his every move, and the curvature of his brow and ears.
He was speaking Japanese with a group of businessmen. Though he could claim no love of the language, or indeed the culture, the Japanese had always been perhaps more in touch with nature. Particularly after the rampant pollution of Tokyo in the 70s. Of course their most recent disaster with Fukushima and its continued, horrific radiation of the Pacific had put the country on cool terms with Namor. These businessmen, however, were brave in their inquiries as to the technology Oracle, Inc had for clean energy, and seemed to take a liking to some of what he proposed. They were still the moneyed elite, but they were more polite about it, and their investment in the natural world helped the Atlantean a bit.
<"My assistant will see to your needs."> The Emperor spoke and motioned for one of the employees at the booth to come his way. A few quick words were murmured, and the assistant left with the group of businessmen.
It was no sooner that they had departed that a voice came from behind it. Its familiarity was grating (indeed, most humans he was familiar with were grating), but turning around it was worse than he imagined. He could not claim he held any particular love for Mr. Barton. Their meeting had gone... decently, he supposed, until "Clint" had elected to treat him as he would some lady he'd purchased at a brothel. It was that that served as the abrupt end to their otherwise civility, and served to exasperate Namor now to no end.
Expressing falling from intent to glum disinterest, he sneered and scoffed at Clint's familiarity. "That you would presume us friends marks your woefully lacking intellect." Or perhaps this was an attempt to get a rise out of him, as Mr. Barton had professed a fondness for irritating most everyone he could. Unfortunately, he had the knack for it. "I have better uses for able minds and bodies than to sit about at some booth and draw the attention of others. The attire, however, is at my pleasure." Perhaps it would be better simply to refuse answering or acknowledging the other man.
Unfortunately, Clint then proceeded to rest his chin onto the pauldron Namor's ensemble was sporting. The proximity was not agreeable to the Atlantean, who wasted no time in not only shoving Mr. Barton away, but pushing his by his face. "Even if you were the last sentient biped on earth I would not consort with you." It would be his will to take up a partner in one of the less humanoid peoples of the sea. He did have an appreciation for the scarlet hues of a certain species in the sea that he would find far more agreeable.
Clint couldn't help but pout a bit at the man's reaction, seeing as he liked to be on good terms with SHIELD's allies and he was actually a little fond of the fish-man despite his general assholeishness. Well, Clint was an aquired taste, so perhaps he simply needed to spend more time with the guy in order to get on his good side. This was a perfect opportunity, really.
"And here I thought that we ended that encounter on a good note," he replied, not really bothered much by the other man except that he did wish that he could convince him to like him. Much as Clint wanted things though, he rarely actually expected them. Expectations only meant you were that much easier to let down, and he didn't really need any more of that in his life.
Snorting a bit as he insisted that he wanted to be wearing the revealing outfit he was, Clint nodded towards where a small group of women was staring and giggling. "Yeah, and their pleasure too," he pointed out, "I was halfway expecting that little green speedo, though. I think this is nice. It's very flattering, and also very...shiny. You could attract a magpie or two, I think." Or a hawk, apparently, since he'd been drawn over pretty quickly.
Grumbling as Namor's hand closed over his face to push him away, Clint scowled a bit and tried to shove the man's hand away. "Aw, you break my heart," he replied once his face was free, "Here I was, thinking we'd had a moment." He only grinned, stepping out of the other man's personal space as that seemed to be something that the guy was aiming for.
"In all actuality, though, I just came by to check in. I'm here for Fury at the moment, so I wanted to check in and see if you'd seen anything worrisome or the like? Oh! And you can meet my girlfriend! She's around here somewhere, and I'm sure you'd like her."
"Hch," Namor exhaled sharply from his nose in a barely-audible scoff. His right brow rose sharply in the same moment, and he folded his defined arms across his exposed chest. The whole of his body language seemed to be in agreement; this man was an idiot. Even if he were attempting to simply get a rise from the Atlantean, which the monarch suspected as much, he was inane. Vapid. Shallow in both intelligence and matters of discussion. How it was that he managed to hold Namor's attention to the first time, he did not know. Likely because he had just enough sense to him to engage in more intriguing topics of conversation.
"Had you not been as audacious as you were presumptuous, I may have tolerated your existence. But you were, and I consider you little more than a nuisance, undeserving of my time." Twisting his torso, he grabbed a sheet from the table of his booth. The writings were in Latin, as he'd made it a habit to avoid any Atlantean scripts while on the surface. The less anyone could glean of his culture, the better. With the sheet in hand, his eyes flickered over the contents, as if waving away the other man's existence.
Unfortunately, it seemed the man had already gleaned one of Namor's most noticeable weaknesses. His love of flattery. Prying his eyes from the sheet he looked over to where the women were giggling and smirked roguishly. "They have a discerning eye, and know quality when they see it. You seem to share a modicum of astuteness with them, but unfortunately do not have the good sense to remain at a distance, as they do." He did not elaborate further upon why he chose the ensemble that he did. He knew that this creature was in good standing with the Junior Stark and did not care to have word passed on that he chose the outfit simply because he was undeserving of a suit.
Rather than keeping his palm cupped tightly over the other man's face, as he was fully capable of, he let his hand fall back to his side once Mr. Barton elected to try and move his arm away. "With any luck, the smarting sting of rejection will restore your faculties. Be as kintsugi, and strengthen yourself from it." The man replied deadpan, voice crisp and dry, betraying none of the humor that he held in the moment. Fortunately the blonde did seem to learn and gave the Atlantean a wider berth, earning a sharp expression from the monarch, who almost seemed impressed. At least until he spoke.
"If we had, Mr. Barton, I would have kept you where I had you. And Fury and the rest of your associates would fear for your wellbeing until you staggered back to them at my behest, haggard and wholly satisfied." Again, he was expert at the stoic delivery. Only the crease of his cheek just below his eyes suggested that he was even joking. As long as this man bothered him so openly (indeed, he could not dismiss him as easily inside the confines of this building), he would elect to treat him in kind. My irritating and unsettling him with insults and the same descriptive allusions that seemed to have him unnerved their first encounter.
At long last the source of his mild irritation seemed to arrive at a point. "Aside from this Expo serving as a gathering place of some of the most powerful and influential minds in the business world, making it ripe for attack? No." The company was grating. The intellect of those in attendance was appreciated, and many could see reason, but the air stank of greed like a strong perfume. "If I do meet here," and he'd no interest in furthering any conversation with this man. "I shall applaud her for her limitless supply of patience."
Clint was pretty sure that there was something wrong with him so that being ignored only encouraged him further. He took it as a challenge more than anything, and he did so love a challenge. Even so, Namor seemed particularly disinclined to engage with him and Clint pouted in response, as he was wont to do. Perhaps not the most mature reaction, but a common one for him nonetheless. The man clearly had superiority issues, but Clint supposed that coming from a race that saw themselves as above humans of all kind would do that to you. He wasn't sure that he liked it.
"Hey, I might be a nuisance, but I'm an important one," he grumbled in response, referring to the fact that both times he'd seen the man, it had been on SHIELD business, and SHIELD was in the business of allying with people like Namor, no matter how rude they were to the employees.
Snorting a bit at Namor's reply and making note that his ego was worse than Stark's on a bad day, Clint only smirked. "Well, its not my fault that they aren't brave like I am," he shot back, "Or maybe you just give off that 'I-hate-everyone' vibe and they're not into being derided constantly. Me, on the other hand...I'm immune to derision of all kinds." It probably didn't say the best thing about him or his childhood that he'd heard enough of by the time his father had died that it had stopped really bothering him.
Only grinning in response to the man's words as he stepped away, Clint didn't feel like he really needed to respond for him to understand that the words weren't really behaving as intended and he was perfectly fine letting them bounce off him. Lifting an eyebrow at the innuendo the other man delivered despite claims to not caring for Clint, he grinned wider. "See, you can't make those kind of statements and refuse to act on them. That's just cruel," he replied with a wink, clearly not upset in the slightest even if his libido was doing sharp jumps at the suggestion.
"Yeah, aside from that," he replied, "There's a few of us on hand in case things go south. Anytime this amount of big money and big brain gathers in one place, you can bet that SHIELD will be watching just in case. But yeah, if you see anything, lemme know. I can save you and your cute little butt." He winked a bit before his grin turned into something that Nat and Bobbi described as 'dopey' and 'lovesick' and 'sappy' at the mention of Rogue. "Yeah...she's practically a saint, really."
Namor exhaled sharply through his nostrils. "Nominally so." In the grand scheme of things, SHIELD was a powerful organization. But it was not a sovereign nation, nor was it an army, but a collection of technology, spies and brilliant minds. Such an organization could hardly be ignored, but it meant that Clint, even as a relatively high-ranking individual, amounted to very little on a global level. The fact that he had any clout at all was a travesty, and further undermined Fury's choices.
That such a man could be sent on what was akin to a diplomatic mission... he wondered if Fury was going senile.
"True," the monarch sounded reluctant at that admission, but he was forced to acknowledge as much. "Your bravery is admirable. Even if it flies in the face of sense and decency alike." Ordinarily he would've taken a much quicker liking to a man devoid of fear. He was friends with Timothy, after all, who charged head first with reckless abandon into any hostile situation. But Clint's fight was not against hostile forces, but rather the King of a nation, and rather than a battle of arms, it was a test of wills. And Clint's weapon was vexation. Surprisingly, Mr. Barton earned a chuckle from the Atlantean, whose laugh was warm and deep in his chest, even for a brief thing. "I've long perfected my ambience of contempt." He remarked, though his brow was raised in contemplation.
"I imagine a thick skin would be necessary for you." The amount of abhorrence the man generated was likely legendary. In addition to a thick skin it seemed the man was nothing if persistent. His genuine, but dryly humorous rejection seemed to do little, and instead merited a grin. How frustrating. Even more so considering he could almost admire the man for his stubborn determination. And he was loath to find anything admirable in Mr. Barton.
"I can do as I please--I am King," Namor replied, expression hard and defiant. At least until he continued. "And a very cruel man." Ruthless or severe really would be better descriptors of the whole of his behavior, but where tormenting Mr. Barton was concerned, cruelty was applicable. Indeed, though he generally found the man's company to be irritating, and the man himself to be of little worth, he enjoyed tossing insults and coy suggestions his way. Likely because the man took them all in stride.
"If my... adorable backside should find itself in trouble that only you can save me from, Mr. Barton, I suspect I will have found myself inside one of your dreams." The Atlantean quipped, amused and ever so slightly irritated that his posterior was up for discussion. Had their previous encounter not ended as it had, he might've simply thought the attention to it was deserved. But alas, things had gone as they did.
Things took a turn for the more affectionate when his girlfriend was mentioned. Even more so than previously. In fact, seeing the man in such a state of sentimental bliss earned a shark-like smile from Namor. The blonde was not so grating as to not deserve love, and seeing him in such a state brought on immense amusement and elation both. "Perhaps we can petition the Catholic Church so she can be canonized after her death, mmm?"
Rogue’s eyes swept across the area, trying (and failing) to take everything in. The Stark Expo was easily the biggest event she’d ever been to - and she’d been on an entire Bedazzled tour. Swallowing past a lump in her throat, she dragged both hands over the slight ruffles in her dress, trying to smooth it out. She didn’t often wear dresses, but this had seemed like a ritzy enough occasion to warrant a slightly higher caliber of dress than she was used to.
The dark green fabric was soft against the bare skin of her legs, each swish as she picked her way carefully through the crowds reminding her of just how much flesh was showing. Thankfully, her arms were covered in a lightweight yellow blazer that cut down to her ribs. A pair of clean white gloves donned her fingers, completing the coverage of her upper body, and keeping the people she brushed against as she continued moving safe. Her bright yellow flats scuffed along the ground in a quiet, steady rhythm, pitter-pattering every so often when she needed to hop to one side in order to avoid running into someone.
She was about ready to give up on ever finding Clint in this mess. This wasn’t her scene. Crowds, she could handle, but this… this was… a miniature city, all condensed into one small area. Her eyes swiveled down to the phone in her hand, but there were still no text messages responding to her initial “I’m here! Where you at?”. Clutching the strap of her purse, she let out a slow breath and decided to take one more go of things before finding her way towards the entrance.
Her gaze continued to dance along each vendor as she passed, each one seemingly more impressive than the last. She couldn’t help but feel a pang of jealousy - she was surrounded by veritable geniuses. Tucking her lips into one corner of her mouth in a sideways pout, she pushed the thoughts of self-doubt that had begun to creep in back from whence they’d come. Clint had invited her out here to have a good time. Apparently, he thought she’d been spending too much time training. If he thought the exercises she did on the Helicarrier were too much, it was probably a good thing he didn’t join her down at the Academy. Not only did she have the Danger Room to train in there, she also had mutants - like Professor Xavier - with whom she was attempting to work with in an effort to figure out how to control her powers.
It was exhausting, both physically and mentally, but hopefully in the end, it would all be worth it.
The sight of copious amounts of bare skin jolted Rogue out of her reverie and she halted where she was. Was that man naked? Oh, no, he was wearing pants… And she guessed that was technically a shirt, albeit an open-chested one. He wasn’t a terribly hideous creature, at least, but wasn’t this supposed to be a bit more classy?
All thoughts of whether the gentleman at the Oracle, Inc. booth was dressed appropriately for the occasion disappeared in an instant as Rogue’s eyes settled onto the man standing next to him. Her lips unfurled into a soft smile, relief washing through her body.
Yes, she decided, in the end, it would all be worth it.
Her footsteps were quiet as she moved towards the side of the booth, the sound all but drowned out by the din of foot traffic going to and fro in front of the booth. Stopping at Clint’s side, she slid one gloved hand into his own, her fingers intertwining around his own. “Who’re we makin’ into a saint?” she asked, her left eyebrow rising quizzically to meet the bright white lock of hair resting just out of her eyes. Placing a quick kiss on Clint’s cheek - not long enough to spark her powers to life - she turned her attention to the semi-shirtless man and offered him a pleasant smile.
“Hi there. Mah name’s Rogue,” she said, pulling her hand out from Clint’s in order to hold it out towards the gentleman. Although she knew she was wearing gloves, her eyes still flickered down to the white cloth covering her fingers, just in case. She could only imagine how horribly embarrassing that would be, accidentally absorbing Clint’s friend before she even knew his name.
"Rude," Clint pointed out, though he didn't drop his smile while doing so. Clint was really proud of where he'd gotten in life. From orphan in a carnival to a high-ranking member of a global intelligence agency? It was impressive; anyone could see and admit that. He was proud of himself for pushing past everything in his life that was crappy and becoming something so impressive. Not even Namor could make that pride go away.
The fact that he seemed to be getting under Namor's skin aside, he was glad that the other man seemed - reluctantly - willing to admit that Clint was good at what he did. Admit it in a roundabout way, sure, but he was admitting it nonetheless. Clint didn't let anything keep him from his duties, up to and including people with terrifyingly rude personalities. "Aw, that almost makes up for your earlier comment," he replied to the man's admission, fluttering his eyelashes for good measure.
Namor's chuckle kinda did funny things to Clint's stomach, but he wasn't going to investigate those too hard; he didn't really need the confusion that it would create to do so. "It's a very nice ambiance," he agreed with the other man anyway, conditioned as he was to keep conversations going essentially no matter what. Shrugging at Namor's further comment, he nodded in agreement, though he didn't verbally agree. Half the rumors that floated through SHIELD's halls about him were created by him, after all, as if training himself to be immune to the suppositions of others.
Snorting a little, he shook his head. "Nah, you're not that bad. You just seem to like teasing me," he replied, almost as an assurance that he wasn't going to go away simply because of the other man's behavior. Clint was pretty sure that Namor wouldn't consider it an assurance but rather an annoyance, but really that was his own fault, not Clint's. How could the guy not like him? Clint was awesome.
The man's next comment sent Clint into a fit of giggles, to the point that he didn't ever really respond, simply glanced at Namor, opened his mouth, and giggled some more. It wasn't exactly inaccurate. Clint did tend to dream about being all heroic and shit, so.
About to respond to Namor, he was distracted by the girl in question's approach. Turning to her, his grin morphing further into 'lovesick' territory, Clint allowed their fingers to intertwine and gabve her hand a gentle squeeze as she settled next to him. The kiss to his cheek only made him smile more. "You, actually," he replied to her question.
"Ah. This is Namor, King of Atlantis," he said by way of introduction as Rogue offered her hand, "Namor, this is my girlfriend, Rogue." He slid an arm around her waist at that moment, giving the other man a smile. All flirtations with Namor aside, Clint was glad that Rogue had found him in the crowd of the Expo.
"I would call it genuine," Namor's brow quirked. "Would you rather I act as a surfacer and lavish you with compliments only for you to later find the sum total of our interaction has been nothing but disingenuous?" Still, the Atlantean's expression mirrored the archer's. It was truly impressive to witness another being with an ego nigh-unflappable as his own... at least almost. Even if he was a fool. But from the sounds of things, he'd been used to his share or derision. Perhaps from his upbringing, or likely simply by having the unbearable personality that he had.
Snorting with amusement, the Atlantean's eyes swiveled to meet Clint's, coy smile pulling at his lips. "Are you counterbalancing my statements, now?" His lips parted to expose perfectly straight, albeit sharp teeth. "If I reach a perfect balance, do I get some sort of prize?" As it was, he suspected that his insults, as abundant as they were, particularly for this man, far outnumbered any grudging compliments and genuine flattery he'd given.
The monarch laughed again, this one deeper, louder and longer than the previous. "Yes, my aura of indiscriminate hatred is quite endearing. I've been told as much a dozen times over." Few people had the courage to bring up his general bigotry and disdain for the surface world. When they did, they usually brought it up as a reason he was likewise poorly regarded on the surface world. Or else just kind of danced around it, awkward tiptoeing on eggshells. No one to date, or at least no human found pleasure in his contempt for them.
Sighing aloud, the Atlantena-hybrid was uncertain how to take the other man's comments. He... supposed he did, likely because of how easily Clint took whatever was lobbed his way. There was no exasperating sensitivity that caused him to take what Namor said to heart enough for him to whine and fluster and prickle. Indeed, he did not find the other man's presence as wholly loathsome as he should have, even after his indecent conduct. Not wanting to admit anything, and not willing to lie, he focused instead on the former statement. "I think that my past and future conduct might disagree with you." He'd no reservations about his morality. Often times he had to act in defiance of his own conscience in order to preserve and protect that Nation that he embodied. But he was not sure that Clint would understand--few people did. And discussing international relations theory would likely be equally confusing.
Hearing Clint go into a series of giggles caused both of Namor's brows to raise high enough that they threatened to disappear into his hairline. Despite himself, a good-natured smirk found itself on his lips.
His eyes were suddenly elsewhere as the bright canary yellow and forest green attire of a woman with a white streak in her hair caught his attention. For a moment she simply stared at him, and then his company and she fast approached. She came up alongside Clint and placed a kiss on his cheek, causing Mr. Barton to devolve into a swooning pup. A pang of disgust came quickly then, but he quashed it under his heel, instead electing to be pleased for whatever genuine affection the archer had managed to find since they last spoke.
"Yes, I was commending you for your limitless supply of patience. It is a truly impressive specimen that could endure being in close proximity to Mr. Barton for extended durations." His voice was a little sharp around Clint's name, but the rest was a genuine compliment, complete with the almost lilting tone he took while in the presence of a woman he found worthy.
Rather than shake her hand, the King placed his fingertips against the bottom of her palm, raising her arm so that he could kiss the back of her gloved knuckles. "It is a pleasure to meet you, Rogue. And might I add that your dress is exquisite?"
Rogue was both happy and relieved to finally find Clint amongst the crowds of the Expo. She had no idea what she would have done here without him. Probably wandered around a bit more, snagged some kettle corn, and made her way back to New York. This really wasn’t her kind of gig. Science and technology were nice and all - let’s be honest, she’d be utterly lost sometimes without her cell phone - but she wasn’t the kind of person who waited in line for days on end just to get the newest version of an electronic device.
The gentle squeeze of her hand caused her own to grip his own tighter for a moment, as if he might slip away into the crowd again if she let up. One brow lifted at his response to her question and she turned the look of doubt onto the half-nude gentleman Clint had been speaking with. He would tell her if Clint was lying, the look begged.
Much to her.. chagrin? embarrassment? a bit of both?.. the gentleman only confirmed Clint’s statement and her other eyebrow lifted to join its twin. “Ah wouldn’t say mah patience is limitless...” she drawled, casting a sidelong glance towards the man who tested it on a daily basis. Her lips quirked upwards in a coy grin to show her good humor before she spoke again, though. “...especially when he don’t answer his cell phone t’ let me know where he is at these extravagant parties he keeps invitin’ me to.”
Her look of amusement disappeared in an instant as Clint proceeded to explain precisely who this man he’d been speaking to was. King? Did he just say King? The color drained from her cheeks until they nearly matched the white streak in her hair. She didn’t even acknowledge Clint’s arm around her waist or the fact that he’d introduced her as his girlfriend for a moment as that thought settled in.
The monarch’s movement towards her jolted Rogue out of her moment of shock and she watched as her hand lifted from the barest touch of his fingers. Color returned to her cheeks tenfold as a whole jumble of thoughts seemed to hit her brain all at once. A King was kissing her knuckles. Shit! Was she wearing her gloves?! Oh, thank god, she was. Shock, fear, and relief all skimmed across her face in the blink of an eye as her orbs settled on the spot where her gloved hand had stopped. “Thank ya…” she breathed, trying to will her cheeks to cease their reddening.
“Ah thought this was kinda a swanky affair,” she explained, tearing her eyes away from the Atlantean as a pair of young men strolled by in jeans and polos. “Ah guess it ain’t…” She seemed to realize that Clint’s arm was around her then and she smiled before leaning into his half-embrace some. With her gift as potent as it was, this was about as close as they could get, so she tried to enjoy every moment she could. Her arm slipped under his own, wrapping around his back so that her hand rest gently against his hip.
"I dunno. Depends on the kind of prize you want," he replied with a smirk as he leaned in a little closer for a brief moment. Winking, he shoved his hands in his pockets and glanced away in order to take in the area around them for a moment. It was importatn that he stay in tune with their surroundings, as that was his entire reason for being at the Expo in the first place.
Clint grinned a bit at his conversation companion, pretty sure that the man's prickly exterior meant that he was't used to people like Clint coming along and insisting they be friends with him. Whether by design or by accident, he likely didn't have many friends on the surface world, despite his status as royalty in Atlantis.
Namor's reaction to Rogue wasn't exactly what he would have expected, as there was a flicker of something uncomfortable in the man's face, as if there was an inner battle that he didn't like going on. Clint decided to file the observation away for the moment, as it wasn't really immediately important, and instead focus on his girlfriend - he was still kinda amazed that that was even a thing he could say.
Having the presence of mind to look suitably bashful at Rogue's small complaint towards his ability to ignore his phone, he shuffled a bit, scratching the back of his neck as he ducked his head a little. "I got caught up," he protested, gesturing to Namor slightly.
He couldn't help but grin at the adorable blush that made its way across Rogue's face as Namor complimented her. He was pretty sure the man had that reaction from essentially everyone that he interacted with, but Rogue looked especially adorable when she was flustered, something that Clint found fortunate since she could become easily flustered much of the time.
"You look amazing," he assured her, "And I've seen plenty of people all dressed up, so it's not like bein' all swanky makes you out of place." Kissing the top of her head, he turned back to Namor with a grin, trying to figure out what he should say next. He'd gotten distracted by her arrival and now he wasn't even sure that he could pick up a coherent line of conversation again.
"So what is it exactly that your company is showcasing?" he asked, figuring that it was the likely question to ask, especially since he didn't really understand most of this tech stuff. If it exploded or was otherwise combat-issued, he could pick it up, but it wasn't like he was an engineer or anything.
For a moment the former Invader was silent as he seemed to savor the offer and proximity in an extended period of contemplation. His eyes swiveled down ever-so-slightly, as if in deep concentration before he looked back up, continuing the charade. "If I asked politely, could I gag you?" His lavender eyes pressed heavy upon the blonde as if conveying some dirty little secret in the inaudible exhale that came. But almost immediately he continued, face shifting into an impish, unbearably smug expression. "Permanently?" The arrival of the object of the blonde's affections shifted the conversation, however.
"If you're willingly spending your free time with him for any duration, it's limitless." Namor raised a broad, but surprisingly well-maintained palm is a gesture to quell any argument of modesty she might have on the matter. Hearing her objection to her... significant other's activities caused the Atlantean to look between them for a moment. And his look at the blonde was quite sharp once his head was angled far enough away that Rogue could not glance at his features, but the expression was fleeting. One that seemed to suggest given the contents of their earlier discussions, what he might have been doing at some of these parties. "You would be out of place at them, my dear." His baritone thrummed smoothly in his throat after his eyes returned to her. "They are dull and sycophantic and the attentions that you garnered would not be worthy of someone so genuine."
Watching the woman blanch and turn white as a sheet just merited a sharp, sardonic smile from the monarch, who looked rather like the cat that swallowed the canary. "Please. I prefer Prince. It makes me sound every bit as eligible as I am." And the title had no affixed translation, so he chose whatever he pleased between King, Prince and Emperor. "Although, to save time, 'Namor' will simply suffice." After that, the Southern Belle reacted to his touch as though she would react to lava, and seemed to have a difficult time no leaping from her mortal coil when he grabbed her hand. For a moment he contemplated letting go, but she steadied herself and the fluster of her cheek insinuated it was more embarrassment than anxiety. "You're very welcome, my sweet."
Hearing her supposition, Namor chuckled low and rumbling in his chest. "This is an Anthony Stark affair. Real class is left at the door."
The displays of affection between them were perhaps more expected now, so he was expert at stymieing the disgust before it even materialized. It was true that the emotional drivel of others could be taxing, even as a romantic, but the reaction hadn't been one he'd anticipated. And its enduring presence was filed away and promptly ignored as he kept his face neutral, except for the vaguely bemused arch of his eyebrow. "As warming and picture-perfect as the two of you are, if all this drivel persists I might retch." He teased.
When the conversation shifted to what the company had on display, a certain rigidity returned to the King. The briefly loose and casual demeanor (not that it was significantly different), ebbed away, and in its place was no less than the full regality that a CEO and monarch demanded. Turning to it, he motioned. "It's only a display for the initial specimens of our bioengineering program. Oracle, Inc has been in the process of creating microbial lifeforms whose sole purpose is to remove inorganic impurities from the water. Of late, we've had tremendous success with polyurethane--one of the more common components of plastic. Testing is still in its infancy as we're attempting to increase the speed of the reactions, while simultaneously insuring that life forms, oxygen levels and water purity are not compromised in the process."
The fact that Clint was smart enough to look ashamed for his inattentive behavior lessened Rogue’s irritation somewhat. He’d been the one to invite her out here, after all. It would have been a shame to get all dressed up like this, only to get lost in the crowds and miss hanging out with him. They were both usually fairly busy these days - him with the saving with the world, her with the training to help do the same - so finding time to actually spend time together was getting more difficult. She didn’t mind, though. Even if all their time together involved one of them falling asleep on the other (sometimes literally), she was perfectly content.
“Aw, he ain’t that bad, yer grace,” she smiled, turning a bashful smile towards the man in question. Any glances cast in Clint’s direction by the Atlantean monarch were missed as she shook her head at the archer.
At the sound of Namor’s voice, Rogue’s head turned back so that he could see she was listening to what he had to say. Both eyebrows lifted, but she waited for him to explain himself before passing judgement. Without explanation, she could easily find herself offended, but certainly a King wouldn’t be so rude. Then again, what would a King care about the opinions of some lowly girl like herself? Needless to say, she was glad to pass judgment on the monarch’s words.
“Thank ya…” she managed, biting her lip. She wasn’t entirely certain what ‘sycophantic’ meant, but used in such a context, she imagined it was meant to be insulting to the people who attended those swanky affairs. With a shrug, she tried her best to ease the weight of such a compliment off of her shoulders. “Ah don’t see a reason to be anythin’ less than who Ah am. If people don’t like it, that’s their problem, not mine.”
Clint’s reassuring intonation from beside her also helped to alleviate some of the tension slowly building up inside of Rogue. Seriously, if these men didn’t stop fawning over her like the people in Namor’s hypothetical statement, she was going to lose her shit - but, in a good way, if that were possible? “Thanks, Clint,” she sighed, her body finally relaxing after the Kingly compliment, the kiss, and the altogether awkwardness of the conversation she’d thrust herself into. She even managed to chuckle at the insult dropped by Namor.
“That’s one thing the two of y’all have in common, huh?” she responded lightly, her attention zeroing in on the man whose arm was currently wrapped around her waist. There was no venom in her voice, but Clint would know precisely the reason for her comment. He was well known around the Helicarrier as a less-than-monogamous guy, and recently he had gotten married to his ex… while dating Rogue. She wasn’t quite so bitter anymore, but she didn’t hesitate to prod him for his foibles whenever the opportunity arose.
Her head whipped back around at Namor’s next comment and the blush returned. Realization struck home and she instinctively slipped out of Clint’s embrace. She wasn’t entirely sure she could have embarrassed herself more if she’d tried. Both hands slipped in front of her, clutching at the strap of her purse. Were they visible, she was certain her knuckles would have been white as the streak in her hair as she let out a nervous chuckle. She’d never been a fan of PDA, and yet, here she was, being just as obnoxious as high school kids.
Thankfully, Clint was quick to alter the topic of conversation, and Rogue’s attention flitted towards the display at the booth proper. Rogue was not scientifically or mathematically inclined, but she understood the basic gist of what Namor was saying. “Wow… That’s awesome! Do ya think it’d help clean up oil spills an’ the like real quick? Ah hate seein’ pictures o’ birds an’ other sea creatures stuck in that gross stuff. Ah mean, ya’d think by now, there’d be a safer way t’ get oil - or that we’d have cars that don’t need it. I mean, Tony Stark can fly around in a jet suit fer hours on end fightin’ aliens - why can’t normal people get to an’ from work without havin’ t’ rely on somethin’ that hurts animals an’ causes stupid economic wars? It’s just one more thing fer people t’ get all riled up about. Oil, religion, mutant rights… Err… “
Rogue realized long after (too long after) she began speaking that she hadn’t stopped at “That’s awesome!” like she’d planned. Swallowing down a lump that had magically formed in her throat, she bit her lip and ducked her chin in apology. “Ah should really stop now…”
Just when she thought she couldn’t embarrass herself anymore… Clearly, Clint wasn’t the only class act in this little relationship of theirs.
Studying the man's face, still with a slight smirk, at the question, he only chuckled a little. "I'll have to think on it," he managed before becoming incredibly distracted. It wasn't like it was the first time he'd been asked that question; he did tend to bring out people's desires to gag him with his general obnoxiousness. He wasn't unused to it, nor entirely opposed to it. Permanence, however, was another story. He was pretty certain that part wasn't serious though. If any of it was serious. Just a bit of harmless flirting between acquaintances, really.
He was actually a little quelled by the look that Namor sent him in relation to the comment on fancy parties. He had a flirtations nature, and he often found himself holding such conversations with multiple people, even if his girlfriend was around in the vicinity. Occasionally even while she was on his arm. Sometimes he didn't even really notice that he was doing it. Turning away from Namor's look to smile at Rogue, he placed another kiss on her cheek. "You're perfect," he reminded her, "If people can't see that, its their loss."
Clint rolled his eyes at all the charm Namor was laying on his girl, but aside from being sure that Rogue deserved all the affection in the world, he was pretty cure he'd get more amusement from watching the interaction than he would from shutting it down. He snorted a bit as Namor joked about how disgusting their affection was, but again there was something in the other man's voice that gave Clint pause; something that he'd need to file away to investigate further later. This entire interaction was quickly becoming odd for very different reasons than originally.
The topic change was really a relief, which was why he had done it. An engineer he was not, but he could understand... well, some sciency stuff. It was a thing that he was working on, with all the time that he'd been spending with Tony and the time that he hoped to spend with Bruce, eventually. They hadn't quite warmed up to each other yet, but they were getting there.
He did actually understand most of what Namor said in this instance, and thought that it sounded like a really good idea; he was actually kinda impressed. About to say something, he paused when Rogue's enthusiasm bubbled over next to him, grinning a bit at her excited babble. She was so cute. "You're adorable," he mentioned, "And other people can't because Stark is a little selfish and a lot businessman and hasn't figured out how to get his tech to the public in a way that doesn't compromise it."
It was really kinda hilarious that she'd let herself ramble on about oil spills in the presence of the King of Atlantis. Turning his attention back to Namor, he tilted his head a bit. "So this plastic stuff is just the first success? You're hoping to essentially be able to clean most of the bad stuff out of the ocean water to help marine life? That would be cool, really. And I'm sure good for Atlantis."
"Perhaps I've a lower tolerance for grating foolishness, then. Or just as likely and simultaneous a factor, your relationship with him has afforded you a degree of bias that I do not yet possess. And hope never to." Tolerating the Agent seemed a Sisyphusian task, did he know anything of himself. And he certainly did. To give him an inch would have him take a mile, and he would wriggle about as some hook worm in soft tissue, begging to be torn out and crushed. Considering how limited his patience for the man already was, it seemed likely that extended periods of close proximity would result in a grizzly murder and an incident with SHIELD. Likely a reprimand by Captain Steven Rogers.
Other than the brief joy that would come with the murder, the rest did not sound particularly appealing. Better to maintain their respective distances and continue to find the man obnoxious than even attempt to tolerate him.
"Mmm, well said." He nodded his head ever-so-slightly in acknowledgement. "It is unusual for one so young to have learned so valuable a lesson. Particularly while remaining modest. Ordinarily those that have learned it are more like myself in demeanor." And thus either never were modest to begin with, or abandoned it after realizing how little the perceptions of others mattered. Either someone would like you, or they wouldn't. And though base interactions could manipulate and alter someone's opinion, if you were too untrue to yourself you had to keep a mask affixed in their presence, and it was far more trouble than it was worth. And that was if you dismissed the dishonesty and wretched desperation of such an act.
And then she insulted Clint, which rather put her on the map. "Well, well," he drawled, lips curving at the end in a rather appreciative smile. "Perhaps I overestimated your tolerance for this contemptible creature," he motioned with a vague, almost dismissive wave of his hand in the blonde's direction, not even bothering to look at him.
Namor was delighted that Rogue stepped from the archer's side. There really only was so much affection that he could withstand. Particularly when the affection seemed as unreal as theirs. Perhaps they truly did care for one another, but from what the Southern Belle had insinuated and from what he'd observed (including the almost sheepish look the archer gave when he stared him down earlier), their relationship hardly seemed pure. Rather it was passion--fleeting passion that already bore kernels of corruption which would soon take root and crack it at the foundation. Or perhaps he was wrong, and theirs was a love that would go the distance, and his skepticism was unfounded.
When the endearing young woman took to speaking on political matters, specifically the politics of oil and clean energy, Namor was left to step back and bask in the moment. Pro-environment, and without the informed decision making that someone like Clinton, who was already aware of him, would make. The genuine article. Concern for the future of the earth, the sustainability of the energy source, the economic impacts, and the general smack of cynicism in relation to the investment in weapons technology over what the world could actually need. Even though she was quick to silence herself when she babbled, he smiled, equal parts amusement and warmth.
"It's perfectly alright, my dear. It was, perhaps, a bit rushed and disorganized, but I can frankly say that you've fully earned my attention." Now he really was certain that Barton was undeserving of her. "To answer your question, that is the eventual goal. Polymers are a derivative of oils, and both represent the greatest threat to marine life as we know it. It seems the engineers had greater luck with oil byproducts, but that means success with oil in its purest form is likely inevitable. It will simply require patience. It will be the chemicals beyond that that will prove significantly more difficult, and likely require political or economic measures." Perhaps even physical.
"Stark is paralyzed by fear of his board and loss of his decadent lifestyle. He was not willing to consider more substantial solutions to the world's energy problem." Truly, he was ever bit the Defender of Earth that he claimed. Every bit the reformed, compassionate man. How it was that Steven managed to stand the man, let alone enter a fraudulent relationship with him for some reason that yet eluded Namor, he was uncertain.
"It will help everyone. The humans that depend on fish for sustenance. Those that want rain that is something other than acidic. Unfortunately, most of you do not possess the foresight or understanding to concern yourselves with anything beyond your limited scope. If filth is not raining down upon the heads of your politicians, what do they care about the creatures of the sea, my people, or their future?"