Chapter 23

Danielle followed Steve towards the back door, making their way to the dining hall. They walked across the tarmac, the wind blowing across the blacktop and smelling of late summertime.

"The Hawaiians should be here about now." he said. "They're all telepathic, if I remember correctly." he said.

"Whoah." Danielle replied. "Will they read my mind?"

He shrugged. "Is that telepathic? Like psychic?" he said.

"I don't know, I guess we'll find out." she replied, frowning.

In the dining hall, a group of 5 people sat around a table, two women and three men. The women and one of the men had traditional Hawaiian features. One of the other men was hispanic, with a shaved head a heavy chain, and the other was tall and lanky and reminded Danielle of a Greek frat member.

As they walked up, she felt the eyes of all five of them scan them both. She felt a warm buzzing against her skin, and a shiver went up her spine.

"Hi," one of the women smiled, standing, and extending a slender hand. She wore a floor length patchwork skirt and a blue tank top. "I'm Kailei. This is Uma, Larkin-" she nodded at the native Hawaiians, and then indicated the two others across the table "and Jesse and Richard."

Everyone nodded in turn, still eyeing the couple.

"And you guys-" Danielle began

"Read minds." Larkin interrupted her. His eyes were lined with heavy makeup, and his hair stook up in every direction. "The ancient guardians blessed us."

She saw the frat boy looking one roll his eyes. She sensed tension between them.

"Go, eat." Kailei said, as Steve hungrily glanced at the food behind them. "We shall talk in a moment."

Danielle hadn't realized how starving she was, and happily loaded up her tray with the chicken, rice, and salad they'd put out buffet style. She glanced over at Steve's tray, to see he had three times as much, and she laughed. He grinned over at her, his mouth full of a handful of french fries he'd snatched up.

They sat with the Hawaiians, who were still finishing up their own meal. Danielle felt at a slight disadvantage, as they couldn't discuss much that the five people didn't already know. Everything they said at Danielle or Steve was a statement, not a question.

"You are powerful." Uma said, smiling, popping a cherry tomato into her mouth. "Both of you. But you are naive."

Jesse scowled at her. "I wouldn't go that far. Under-experienced."

"Where are all of you from?" Danielle said as she sensed Steve getting offended.

"Us three were born and raised on the Island." Uma motioned toward herself and the other two, just as Danielle had expected. "Waimea."

"Nevada, but I went to college in Iowa." Jesse said. "Been like this for nearly 15 years now." he said, tapping his forehead. Danielle assumed he was talking of his powers.

"And what do you guys do?" Danielle asked, genuinely curious.

"Jess and I work with the police force in Hawaii. We'd transferred work at the volcanic studies center, but it's our home now." Richard explained.

"We work with the natives, most often. We're trying to keep the ancient culture alive, as we are a living embodiment of so many traditional stories." Larkin explained with an air of superiority. Steve and Danielle exchanged a glance.

"They're so in sync." Uma whispered to Kailei, who smiled and nodded. They both had kept their eyes on the couple, smiling like sisters with a secret. Danielle tilted her head, looking at the pair of women curiously.

"Steve and I?" she asked. "What do you mean?"

"I'll show you." Kailei said, reaching for Danielle's hand across the table. Danielle took it, but Steve looked at her hesitantly. "Don't worry, Captain, I won't cast a spell on you. I'll show you something incredible. What we can do." she smiled.

With each of their hands in one of hers, Kailei's eyes shut.

Danielle felt a deep tug in her own chest, and suddenly felt unattached from her own body. She couldn't see anyone now.

She was in central park, and she was watching herself being stabbed. She opened her mouth to say something, but was unable to speak. She saw Steve run up, and she watched him kill the man and scoop her up from the bushes. She watched his face as he whispered his promise to her, and he watched her react as she sat up on the table in Bruce's lab, seeing her for the first time.

She was conscious of his feelings, she could feel them like they were her own. They mirrored her own, she realized; fluctuating and growing when hers did.

She saw herself and him together, and could feel their synchronized heart beats, feel his elation when he looked at her, feel the pleasure and excitement between her legs. She watched their lives the past few weeks flash back, she watched herself healing him and kissing him, she watched their battles and then sensed darkness. Scenes flashed by in a blur, all things she hadn't witnessed yet. She saw Natasha screaming hysterically, she saw herself falling and then it was dark for a moment.

A great of peace washed over her. The images came faster, flashes of laughter, of tears, of surprise. Images of fighting for her life, of fighting beside Steve. And then they all stopped, and faded. Through a haze, she saw herself looking slightly older, standing on a beach. The sky was overcast, and she stared out at the horizon, at the crashing waves. She was holding a toddler, maybe 2 years old, with light blonde hair, whose face was buried in her shoulder, sleeping. She rocked back and fourth, rubbing the back of the child absentmindedly. She could smell the ocean, even feel the breeze on her cheeks. It was the realest dream she'd ever had. She felt an arm around her shoulder, looking up at Steve, who looked unchanged save for the slightest hint of wrinkles at the corners of his eyes. He held her and the child against his chest protectively, and she was warmed from the inside out.

Everything stopped. She returned to the dining hall. She gasped for air, her heart racing, looking across at Steve who was reacting similarly.

"You are meant to be." Kailei said. "What a beautiful thing that is, isn't it?" she smiled brightly.

Steve looked at Danielle in astonishment. He'd felt everything she had, and couldn't believe her sense of awe and desire. Like it was too good to be true. They couldn't take their eyes off one another, as they sat there in suspended silence. The rest of the table began to laugh, and Danielle snapped from her trance.

"Was that real?" she said.

"I can not show you lies." Kailei said, laughing. "It is real. It will be."

"Your guys' faces are hilarious, though." Jesse said, giggling.

"Seriously, every time she does that it gets me." Richard choked, wiping away his tears.

"Well," Steve said quietly, opening his mouth to continue, but words wouldn't form. Danielle smiled at him, glowing, and he felt something click within him.

And finally his world began to make sense.

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