Soulmates existed. Everyone knew that for a fact. What no one could explain was how one was supposed to know when they met theirs. No patterns, no marks, no simple path to take, and the lack of those things baffled Steve for as long as he could remember himself.
“Trust me, son, you will know,” he father told him when Steve broached the subject.
“When you know, you know,” his mother added, smiling.
His father leaned forward and pressed a kiss to her cheek. Steve had never seen two people more in love. Embarrassed, he looked away. It felt too private somehow, and happy as he was to know that his parents had found one another, there was nothing worse for a 15-year old boy to bear witness to it, for so many reasons.
He tried to put his father’s words out of his mind and focus on his life. Not everyone got lucky, he knew as much. Not everyone got to meet their soulmate. Some people found happiness in simpler lives, less passionate love, and were content in their own way. He saw them every day, heard them say It is what it is, and he wondered….
He never spoke of it, smiling dismissively when someone else brought the subject up. At times, he couldn’t help but feel that finding his soulmate was akin trying to win a lottery – simply buying a ticket was not enough. The luck needed to be on his side as well. And so he stopped. Stopped looking into the eyes of the passers-by, stopped trying to read into accidental touches and exchanged words, searching for the meaning between the lines. Stopped wondering and banished the idea of finding his soulmate.
It wasn’t a loss, he thought, when he didn’t even know what he was missing out on. When it felt so out of reach that the very idea felt more like fantasy than anything else.
And then the war broke out, and as it often went with those things, it didn’t bode well for ultimate happiness. It was brutal and cruel and Steve couldn’t for the life of him imagine how something as pure as love could exist in the world that had turned so ugly. Maybe it was for the best that he never got to be disillusioned, he thought as he shivered in the freezing trenches. Maybe he was better off that way, he decided when the ground shook beneath him as the bombs fell from the sky. Maybe it was never meant to be.
He didn’t have much time to ponder it, either, if he was being honest with himself. Survival and starvation and cold efficiently knocked all hope out of him before he could so much as blink. Seeing the ugliness and desperation left him with nothing to look forward to but simply taking one step after another and praying to see a new day. Making a difference in the world somehow became his priority, if not for himself but maybe for the people to come.
“You never know, Steven,” Charlie said when Steve made an off-hand comment about the whole thing.
But that was exactly the problem, he thought. He didn’t know, and deep down he still wanted to.
High up in the sky, with the German planes chasing after, as adamant as he was, and maybe even more so, he thought that it was the end. Following Ludendorff had always been a risk and he chose to take it. But it didn’t mean that he wasn’t scared. It didn’t mean that there was nothing left for him.
The smell of the smoke was rising from his plane, permeating his senses and setting off the panic that remained dormant until now. Blue water was getting closer, clearer, and then it closed over his head, swallowing him, his body trapped in the metal grip of the bend carcass.
Hands catching him and pulling him out.
A face straight out of a dream.
A battle on the beach and dead people on the white, white sand before he even caught his breath, his lung still burning from the salt of the water. Nothing felt real.
They took him to the castle, marching him up the wide stairs and into a cavernous throne room overlooking the ocean. Not scared of him, but curious. Infuriated by the intrusion and the death that he had brought with himself. Steve couldn’t blame them for either.
He expected them to toss him into a prison cell, or something that passed for one here, whatever this place was. Instead, they pushed him on his knees the moment the Queen and her daughter walked in. Steve took a deep breath and braced himself for whatever was coming next.
A golden rope wrapped across his chest was not it.
“What is your name?” One of the women demanded, and Steve answered promptly, not sure why, his tongue seemingly working on the will of its own.
“What is your mission?” They demanded.
Steve opened his mouth to respond, fighting a losing battle for gaining full control of his will. His eyes swept the crown before him and the answer died on his lips when his eyes fixed on Diana, the daughter of the Queen and his saviour.
They called it The Lasso Of Truth, and now he could see why. He looked at Diana and he knew. Everything he’d ever heard of, tales as old as time itself, stories told by his parents and his friends and the people who never missed a chance to point out the miracle that was finding their true love. He could see it now, could see it in her eyes, could feel it in the way his heart slammed hard against his ribs, knocking all wind out of him.
No one had ever told Steve that it would feel like this, like something entirely overwhelming. Like a tidal wave pulling him in, his resistance futile. He had seen her on the beach when she pulled him out of the water, held her hand as he tugged her toward the boulders and away from the course of the German bullets, fought by her side – and felt nothing. But having the glowing Lasso around him pulled the truth from the depth of his heart, leaving him breathless, his mind reeling.
He was staring, slack-jawed, and for the first time since the conversation began, he had no words.
It couldn’t be real, Steve was thinking later as the boat rocked beneath their feet, the island growing smaller and disappearing in the blackness of the night. She was not even—well, he didn’t know what she was, but she wasn’t like him. If she was telling the truth, if she was who she claimed to be… well, as far as he was aware, Amazons were a different race. The one that was meant to protect mankind apparently, insane as it sounded, and he didn’t expect his people’s rules to apply to them. Not in the slightest.
And so he chose to blame his sudden infatuation on the Lasso and waited for its effect to wear off.
Nestled beside him on a pile of blankets – the best bed that he could provide with such limited resources – Diana stared at the night sky, her shoulder pressed into his. The proximity was almost too much to bear, his stomach churning, but there was nowhere to move. Not that Steve wanted to, if he was being honest with himself.
Diana was the first to fall asleep, leaving him to stare at the expanse of the night sky in silence, puzzled and confused by their conversation, and more than a little lost.
His body was exhausted, almost unbearably so. He couldn’t remember the last time he got a full night of proper rest and it is was starting to take a toll on him. Yet, his mind was too wired, too restless. He tried to track his day back to the morning when he woke up on a German airbase, but it felt like a whole different life, the one that somehow made more sense even with all its violence and chaos. And how it took Steve to a whole different world and the woman sleeping soundly next to him.
He thought of the stories he had heard, of other people finding their soulmates and how everything was supposed to make sense. Like someone flipping a switch, his father once said. Nothing made sense to him, none of this had any logic or even a sense of reality to it.
It couldn’t be true, he decided. She didn’t feel the same way, therefore it couldn’t be real. And with that, Steve refused to think of it any more.
Not in London where he had to ignore Etta’s big eyes and unspoken questions and curiosity that he could feel with his very skin.
Not in France as he charged after Diana across No Man’s Land as though something was pulling him to follow her, an invisible string that seemingly connected them to one another. It was as though the Lasso bound him to her and he had no control over it.
Not even in Veld when the snow danced around them, landing on their clothes and making Diana smile like she never had before, her eyes crinkling in delight, so radiant that it took his breath away. There was hope and love and compassion inside of her the likes of which he never knew to exist in people, so powerful he could barely stand being around her for fear of burning in her light.
“This is not dancing,” Diana shook her head. “This is just… swaying.”
“So let’s sway,” Steve murmured, and this time her eyes found his and she wasn’t laughing anymore.
He refused to acknowledge the pull he felt, the truth burning inside of him like fire until they were standing in front of one another in a tiny room at the top of the inn that graciously agreed to provide lodgings to the people who brought peace to them at last. Until his lips brushed against hers and she gasped softly and drew away, staring at him in stunned silence, her eyes wide and full of bewilderment.
And that was when he knew that it was real. His heart slammed against his ribcage and he said a silent prayer and a thank you. Never a believer, he hoped that someone listened.
She was the first to reach for him, closing what little space was still left between them.
An odd sense of peace settled over Steve. When he kissed her again, it was like a revelation blossoming inside of him, unfurling in his chest. He understood now. He understood why people fought in wars and hoped for another breath, another day. All so they could come back to this.
Afterwards, as they lay tangled in the sheets, Diana’s cheek resting on his chest, Steve told her everything. Told her about people bound for life by the bond beyond anyone’s comprehension. About love and devotion that could transcend space and time and any hardship. How beautiful and rare it was, how cherished and treasured and precious those feelings were meant to be. How people wanted nothing more from their lives sometimes.
“Did you know it could do that?” Steve asked after a few moments, his hand running absently up and down her bare shoulder. He turned to press a kiss to her hairline. “The Lasso? When it was wrapped around me and I looked at you, it was like--” He paused, searching for words. “It was like I lived my half-blind and suddenly I could see.”
Diana stirred but didn’t move away from him. “No,” she said, her breath warm on his skin, her body pressed close to his. “But it is meant to pull the truth from the depths of one’s heart.”
“Well, it did that alright,” Steve murmured. “I never thought it would happen to me,” he added more to himself than to her, still scared to believe. He swallowed. “That it was even real.”
Diana pulled back from him, rising on her elbow, curious and puzzled but not as disconcerted as he feared she would be. As he might have been if someone dumped that kind of information on him.
Then again, maybe not.
“So, does this mean that you and I…” she started, choosing her words carefully, and trailed off.
“Do you feel it?” Steve asked. He reached to run his fingertips down her cheek, to tuck a piece of hair behind her ear. “I mean, you’re not--”
Diana tilted her head. “I’m not what?”
“You’re different,” he said, watching her.
I could look at this woman for ten thousand years and it still wouldn’t be enough, he thought, realizing belatedly that whether or not he was right, whether or not this was possible, he was already falling in love with her, deeply and desperately and with everything that he was.
With her eyes and her smile and the slight frown that appeared to be her frequent companion in his world, and the touch of her hands. He had been with women before, but he had never felt the way he did not an hour ago when he lips were on her skin and their bodies moved together and the heat inside of them burned hotter than the fire in the grate.
There was no walking away from this, and it was such a cliché, but he didn’t care. She was the one for him.
Steve picked her hand and pressed his palm flat against hers. Her lean fingers were nearly as long as his, but her hand was narrower, more aristocratic despite a few callouses from wielding the sword and carrying her shield that he felt against his skin. Still, they fit.
“Is that a bad thing?” Diana asked, trying to hold on to the thread of their conversation.
“No,” Steve shook his head, smiling as he turned to look at her again. “It just… never happened before, I think.”
She reached for him, pressing her hand flat against his chest, right above Steve’s heart that was hammering loud and fast, her very presence setting it into a gallop. He could feel it reverberate into her, echo into her touch.
“I feel… something,” Diana confessed.
Steve felt his soul unfold at the sound of her words.
Looking back at him, she was so beautiful, so utterly breathtaking he couldn’t think straight.
He rose on his elbow until their faces were so close they were almost touching and bumped his nose against hers before finding Diana’s mouth with his.
“I can work with something,” he murmured, kissing her again, and again, and again.
“I told you you would find your soulmate, Steve Trevor!” Etta smacked him on the shoulder a tad too forcefully than the occasion required, her eyes bright and her smile giddy.
She didn’t say I knew it, but she didn’t need to. Steve could see it in her indulgent smile as he thought back to the time when he first brought Diana to London. It was like saw it then.
He eyes trailed to where Diana was standing ten feet away from them, staring at the bakery display, still rather fascinated by the food choices so different from those that she was used to.
The corner of his mouth curled up. “She found me,” he repeated the words he had said to Chief once.
A week after the armistice was signed, they returned to London, greeted by the cold weather and colder rain. Steve had never loved it more. He had stories to tell and wounds to heal and most importantly – he had future to look forward to, with the woman he was in love with. The one whose heart beat in sync with his.
He wished his parents were still alive, wished they could meet Diana, wished he could tell them that they were right all along and he was an idiot to doubt them. He knew better to dwell on the past though, his memories, however fond and cherished, belonging to the part of life that he no longer belonged to.
Etta rolled her eyes, her own soulmate long found and waiting for her at home with tea and biscuits and conversations that, according to her, they never ran out of.
“You look like a fool but it suits you,” she observed, and he knew that he couldn’t argue.
Diana walked over to them and slipped her hand into Steve’s, weaving her fingers through his like it was the most natural thing in the world.
Chief had already disappeared the way he tended to from time to time, and Steve knew better than to ask any questions, but they were meeting Charlie and Sameer to celebrate the end of the war the way it was meant to be celebrated by the people who had spent too much time smack in the middle of it. However, his question came out deeper and more meaningful than Steve expected, his eyes catching hers, searching for something he wasn’t sure how to put into words yet.
Diana seemed to have seen it though. She squeezed his hand, moving to stand closer to him.