Chapter Twelve-Answered Questions

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Since it's a little dangerous to climb down the rocks on my own, I just sit in the grass near the water. As if I already wasn't conflicted enough before all this.

"Rea." Steve breathes and I stiffen.

"Don-" I stop when I remember whatever I say, he'll obey. Sighing, I start again, "Not sure if being near me is the greatest idea right now." My eyes find him when he settles in the grass next to me.

"I'm sorry. It was about the safety of the team and Earth, pretty much. He's a risk." I sigh and lean back on my hands.

"I know. I know it might seem stupid but I hate being forced into things. Especially when, no matter how dubious my conclusions may seem, I knew he wasn't going to hurt anyone." I explain and Steve shakes his head, turning towards me and letting a finger graze over the red line over my throat. I swallow involuntarily.

"Right, he didn't hurt anyone." My hand catches his, mine covered by the unfolded long sleeves so my skin isn't dangerous.

"When you and I first met...well, the second time, I was beaten within a foot of my life. You weren't nearly as concerned then." I point out and squeeze his hand before returning it to him. His blue eyes roll.

"We'd just met, sort of. It's different. I didn't have any..." He trails off and stares at my face a few moments. "I couldn't have prevented what happened." Steve finishes softly. For a second there, I thought he was going to say he had feelings for me. Which is impossible. We've only known each other for a few days, basically, and this isn't a Disney movie. Still. I'm unable to resist the tenderness in his voice, so I scoot a little closer so his thigh and my shin are pressed against one another. My fingers fiddle with the cuff of his sweater still hanging off my body.

"I know how mind control feels when you're under it." Our eyes meet before I continue. "My mom...my mom could control me. Only me. Blood relations, I guess." My shoulders lift and fall as Steve's hand gently slides up and down my calf. "The burns on my shoulder," I allow the sweatshirt to fall slightly, "she'd tell me to stay still and quiet so she could get a kick out of burning me. I screamed inside my head but couldn't do a thing. Couldn't even tell her to stop. When...when I was older, I realized what I could do and ran. She found me, of course, but I was stronger than her. Told her I never wanted to see her again. Never did. Saw her obituary in the paper a while later."

"Jesus." Steve breathes and I shrug.

"It's over. I'm grateful, in a way. I know what it's like to have someone in your head. Controlling the whole of you and I don't want other people to feel like that. Even shit-people." I explain and his hand finally catches mine to still my fiddling.

"I'm sorry." He says earnestly and his sincerity is just so apparent it brings a smile to my face. "If I had known...it's no excuse. Rea, I didn't mean to push you. Just-"

"It's your job. I get it. Just wanted you to understand." I tell him softly, encasing his hands in my sweater gloves. His brows furrow slightly and he wiggles his fingers against my hands.

"What's with these? Need me to fold them up again?" He teases good-naturedly and I half-smile.

"No, no. Science bros told me my ability could transfer through skin, so I'm hesitant to touch people now." I respond honestly. Steve nods and considers this before slipping his big hand in one of the sleeves. Giggling nervously, I grasp his hand just as tightly as he grasps mine.

"I trust you, Reagan." He tells me firmly. My head cocks slightly and I just look at his pretty face. Warm blue eyes, a soft smile on his pink lips, just the barest hint of blonde scruff across his chin. Fuck, why would I ever make him a one-night thing?

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