Steve walked Danielle up to her apartment. Her roommate, Cassidy, was still awake.
"Oh my god, Dani, why didn't you call me? Your phone is off." Cassidy screamed as Danielle opened the front door. Cassidy's eyes widened as she caught sight of Steve. She crossed her arms over her braless chest, and cleared her throat. "Sorry." she said.
"My roommate Cassidy, Steve. I'm sorry I didn't call, a lot of stuff happened." she said to Cassidy.
"Hello, ma'am." he said to Cassidy, who's eyebrows disappeared into her bangs at his smooth politeness.
"Thanks again." Danielle said softly to Steve, who nodded, and finally left her. She shut the door.
"Those aren't your clothes." Cassidy said. "Did you and him f-u-c-k? Tinder? That shit's a miracle worker for some people, I guess."
Danielle rolled her eyes. "No, we didn't. Someone attacked me while I was out jogging. He fought them off and took me somewhere to get cleaned up, is all."
"Oh my god, are you serious? Are you for serious? You got SVU'ed? Are you okay?" she spoke a million miles an hour.
Danielle shook her head. "I'm fine. I'm going to take a shower and go to bed."
"Are you sure? Do you need anything? A cup of tea?"
"Thanks, Cass." she gave her roommate a side hug. "I'm alright."
In the bathroom, she let the room fog up with steam before stepping into the sweet warm water. She rinsed the dirt out of her hair, relishing the relaxed feeling she felt coming over her. She thought again of the attack, but every little bit of anxiety and fear it brought into consciousness, it was as though her brain was self-preserving, and muted the thoughts anytime one popped up.
She fell asleep quickly, but awoke after only 5 hours. Of course, sleep was intended for healing, and since she did it so quickly, she assumed she didn't need as much. The apartment was quiet, and dawn was breaking outside. She opened her laptop, checking for any emails from her editor.
After thinking a moment, she dug a phone number out of the sweats pocket from the night before, and turned on her phone. She'd left it at home that previous night, just like her cash.
He answered on the second ring.
"Did I wake you?" she asked.
"No, I've been up an hour." Steve replied. She smiled.
"Don't need much sleep, huh?" she said. "Me neither."
"It's hard to get used to. Are you alright?"
"I'd love some coffee, actually. Can I meet you somewhere?"
She could hear his smile through the phone.
She dressed in a black tank top, a peach hoodie, and a pair of light blue jeans. Her usual get up was pretty reserved.
She looked in the mirror, reaching for her foundation, but noticed no blemishes. There were no bags under her eyes. In fact, she seemed to look better than she had when she was 16. She swiped on some mascara, grabbed her keys and purse, and made her way to Joebella, a few blocks uptown.
He leaned against the side of the building, and watched her cross the street towards him. Her hair and skin shone luminously. She was beautiful in the early morning light. Hey eyes were round, bright, and a deep brown, like melted chocolate. She had a small, heart shaped face, and dimples set into her cheeks. Her noise was slightly pointed, and her lips were plump and seemingly top heavy, which made them look only fuller.
"Hi," she said softly. "How are you?"
"Good." he nodded at the place. "Can I buy you a drink?"
She giggled. He opened the door for her and followed her inside.
"Okay..." he said after looking at the menu for a few moments in confusion. "what is a Caffè...Marocchino? What is any of this?"
"Just stick with a house brew and I think you'll make it out alive, Captain." she said with a sly grin. She ordered for the two of them before he had a chance to.
She handed him a paper cup filled with coffee, and watched him try to navigate how much cream and sugar to put in it. She picked up her own Breve, and leaned against the counter, watching him fumble.
"What's Splenda?" he asked in utter desperation, holding up a small yellow packet. She laughed, and bumped him out of the way. She added two raw sugars and about 3 oz of cream, before stirring it quickly and sprinkling in some cinnamon. She secured his lid back on and handed it to him. He took a wary sip, and grinned.
"Perfect." he said. "How'd you do that?"
"I worked at Starbucks in college."
"Is that the one with the mermaid?" he asked, his eyebrows knotted together.
"You got it." she said. "Want to walk through the park?"
"Are you sure you're alright after yesterday?"
"I'm 100 percent fine." she grinned, looping her arm through his, trying to not focus on the rock hard muscles underneath his jacket.
There were more people early this morning, and they wound their way through the familiar trees, watching the sun rise over the buildings.
They crossed a bridge, and Danielle caught sight of where she'd been attacked. A police line surrounded the bushes, and she saw a body bag being hoisted into the back of a van.
Steve froze, his eyes on the scene. She turned him away gently, taking another pathway away from the cops.
"Don't kill too many people, even being a superhero and all?" she asked after a moment.
"No. But there's exceptions. He was about to-" he cleared his throat, turning to look at her. "You're fine." he said, reassuring himself.
"I'm fine." she repeated, and then smiled. "Do I get to meet The Black Widow?"
"Natasha? Probably, I don't know."
"Ugh! She is so cool. At least you have one woman on the Avengers."
"Hey now. If there's another world ending alien invasion anytime soon, I'm sure there's room for more." he said with a grin. "She's a little intense, though."
"I bet." she said, and then was quiet. "What are they going to do to me, though? Like what sort of...tests."
"They won't hurt you." he said. "They did all the same stuff they'll do to you back when I first got my juice. They'll test stuff like endurance, matter manipulation. Probably want to see what, if anything, you can do."
She frowned. "With my luck, I'll have the most boring super power ever. Like...making people itchy."
He laughed, and she pinkened.
"With how you threw Stark last night, you might have some super strength in there somewhere."
"What happened to you?" she asked. "Did you change physically or have you always been this ho-" she stopped herself, and grinned up at him. "Tall."
"No, I gained about 70 pounds in muscle, and got about 7 inches taller, I think?" He said. "Hurt like hell. You know when you're little, and you get growing pains?" he asked, and she nodded. "It was like that, only all at once and 100 times more painful."
"And it's true...about the ice?"
"Yeah." he said.
"How old are you?"
"Technically or physically?" he sighed.
"68. But physically 23, just like I was when I went in."
"Wow." she said. "That's amazing."
"It certainly is something." he said. "What about you?"
"How old I am?" she said.
"Let's see. I was raised in Albany, moved down here for college at NYU. Mom's a nurse, dad's in local government upstate. I started working for the Newsday daily blog two years ago. Mostly business stuff, actually, so I find myself on Wall Street way more often than I want to be, but that's why it's a job. I'm trying to get a big enough portfolio to move over to HuffPo, or maybe a DC paper. For now it's alright though."
"Oh, and I'm 25." she said with a laugh. "My mother is Catholic and devastated I haven't married yet."
He smiled to himself, listening as she went on.
They found themselves walking around the park for hours, talking about the most trivial things. They ended up on the block near Stark Tower, and headed up that way.
"You'll come with me, to SHIELD, right?" she asked, suddenly hesitant.
"Of course. It's my fault you ended up like this, I can at least keep you company while you go through this whole ordeal."
She shook her head. "No. It's your fault I'm alive. For which I am eternally grateful."