Chapter 21

That evening, after it had been decided the team would go to the base upstate, Danielle and Steve decided to walk around the city. It's not like they had anything to worry about, nobody would bother them.

It was sunset, and along the side streets children played on the sidewalks, teenagers sat on stoops flirting and talking. It was the first time Danielle and Steve felt remotely normal in a long time, even though they had no reason too.

They walked around a corner just as a small girl with dark curls scraped fell against the concrete, scraping her knee. She gasped, her face contorting as she began to cry.

Danielle crouched next to her, passing her hand over the cut, and it dissipated. The little girl looked up in wonder, her mouth open. Danielle put a finger to her own lips and stood quickly, reaching for Steve's arm.

"You don't want to give yourself away." Steve said quietly.

"She won't say a thing." Danielle said, glancing over her shoulder at the little girl, who stared after the couple, smiling widely. "I wouldn't have when I was little."

He sighed, smiling at her.

"So, these other...people. Have you met them? Who will be at the base tomorrow?"

He nodded. "A couple. There's really not too many, maybe just under a dozen here and then across in California. Not everyone wanted to come, though. But still, we're a rare thing."

"I haven't even heard of anyone else outside The Avengers, really. I mean, there's rumors and stuff that goes viral, I guess, but you guys are the only ones I really knew about."

"They stay pretty well hidden. They reappear in the news every now and then when someone calls them to help with something. There's one other that works with the military, mostly the navy, Hakim Nassar. He was one of the meteorites, I think, and he was 5 when it happened. He'd been hiking with his older sister, Aisha, on a backwoods trail in Oregon near their vacation home. His sister is a lot older than him, but I haven't met her, but I think they have similar abilities. Water manipulation - it's crazy stuff."


"And then there's quite a few from the factory explosion in Pradesh. Radioactive, like Bruce, but with varying mutations. They can do a bunch of stuff, like heat generation in beams, something with electronics, I think. There's three here in the states, and I haven't met them. And then the amazonian mutants have natural powers. They can influence animals, plants, weather. They're probably the most powerful, I'd wager, they pose the biggest threat according to the anti-hero groups. Finally, I don't think Bruce mentioned it, but I've met all of them, there's a few people from Hawaii, some volcanic eruption in the early nineties. They're all in their 30's, but they were younger when it happened, and so they're experienced in this sort of thing."

"Wow." she said again. "Who knew?"

"It's hush hush top secret government business." he said.

"And you're allowed to tell me?" she asked, and then remembered. "Oh. Right."

"Almost two weeks since you've received the serum, and already a member of SHIELD."

"I tend to rush through life." she laughed.

She stayed at Steve's again that night, and when she woke up she thought about how much she did not miss her bed. She felt her spine tingle as Steve's lips brushed against the back of her neck.

"Hi." she mumbled into the pillow, rolling over and pressing her forehead into his chest. "Last night was nice."

"It was." he said. "Have you talked to your roommate? Won't she be worried?"

"I talked to her yesterday, I think she's just relieved I finally got laid."

"Well, we have a lot a work ahead of us." he said. "And compared to some of these people, even I feel out of my element."

She looked at him in surprise. "Was that...Captain America, the original superhero, admitting to weakness?" she sat up, kissing him on the nose. He puffed his chest out and she rose a few inches.

"Of course not." he said, exhaling, smiling.

"You are but just a man." she said, rubbing his jaw with her thumb.

"You certainly make me feel that way."

"What way?" she asked.

"Normal." he said.

The flight upstate was brief, and Danielle peeked out the front of the plane as they descended on the huge SHIELD compound.

"Brace yourselves." Natasha said as she lowered the plane and guided it into the hangar. "We've got a helluva day coming."

The team walked out. The original members: Steve, Clint, Natasha, and Banner, with Tony on his way. A the newcomers, Danielle, Ana, Sam, and even Dr. Kiara, who's expertise in radioactivity would come in handy.

They walked into the main training building, greeted by Fury, and Agent Maria Hill, who Danielle had not yet met. Danielle looked around in wonderment at the high ceilings, the futuristic looking training equipment, and finally at the two people at the end of the building who seemed to be shooting strong beams of heat energy at one another.

Agent Hill looked down at her agenda. "Banner, Dr. Taylor, you'll be needed in the lab. Miss Rodriguez, Miss Shaprosa, you're wanted in the tactical center for procedural training."

"I'm sorry, what exactly are we training for?" Ana asked, interrupting Agent Hill.

"Just the usual SHIELD introductory courses, as you are both new delegates to the program. And then more advanced things, as the week proceeds."

"To fight?" Danielle asked. "Just to be clear."

"We are preparing you for what might come." Fury said. "As we are officially a government institution, and we have been directly asked to not proceed with any tactical training, your discretion is appreciated, and all activity will be kept off record."

"But we are on your side." Hill said. "That is one thing we know for sure." she turned back to the clipboard. "Romanov and Barton will be overseeing any combat training today, and as for Captain Rogers and Sergeant Wilson - you get to work on our Special Circumstances."

"What does that entail?" Steve asked.

"You get to play with them." Fury said, sticking his thumb over his shoulder at the two people still at it, launching another radioactive blast from their palms every other second. "As you two gentlemen are the most combat trained-" Natasha snorted, and Fury sighed. "The most officially combat trained, you're our experts." he glared at Natasha with his good eye. "Attitude, Romanov. Now, everyone, let's get to work."

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