Xander looked around in confusion and then turned to the man standing next to him, “I’m not invisible, right?”
Steve looked him over and confirmed, “Nope, still here.”
“Then why in the name of Twinkies is it snowing in Hawaii in June?” Xander’s voice held a part of the confusion he was feeling.
“I think, I have to admit I’m completely clueless….unless…Xander, what was that girls name at the luau last night?” Danny asked.
“The black haired one that had streaks of red in her hair with the sarong that had a fire pattern on the bottom. The one that looked ethereal and yet…not.”
“Oh! She said to call her Pele. Why?”
There was total silence as Steve looked at Danny for a minute. Steve cleared his throat then said carefully, “Pele, as in the Hawaiian Goddess of Fire and Volcanoes? That Pele perhaps?”
Xander just gaped at Steve and Danny then shut his mouth with a click. “Is she evil?”
“She’s not good or evil, she just is. And apparently, you need to apologize to her.” This time Danny spoke up, since becoming partners with Steve he had picked up some interesting information on local customs and deities.
Xander hung his head for a bit then looked up with a familiar look of determination on his face. “Ok how do we find her?”
Steve smiled, “Probably by checking with one of the priestess I know. Give me a few.” Pulling out his cell phone Steve called a good friend of his. “Aloha, sister. How have you been? Really, that’s good news! Yes I do have a slight dilemma; one of my friends needs to apologize to Pele and doesn’t know where to go or what to do, think you could help? Thanks.” He listens to the directions and then turns to Xander. “There is a cave on the side of the mountain and she says that you should bring a gift for her. Something meaningful that shows your respect.” He returns to the conversation on the phone and says, “Thanks sister, hopefully this will be sorted out quickly. Aloha!” He shuts the phone and turns to Xander again. “I can show you where you should go but you still need to find a good present for an angry Goddess.” He looks at Xander and chuckles. “Good luck, my friend!”
“Hmm. I think I have a pretty good idea of what to give her.” He walked over to one of the shops on the boardwalk that he had visited earlier in the week and bought something that was put into a bag before he walked over to a flower stand and buying an arrangement with red orchids, pink carnations, and white hyacinth all framing a single yellow rose in the center. He looked over at the two men and smiled. “Ready?”
The three men climbed up the mountainside until they reached the cave Steve’s priestess friend had mentioned. Danny looked at Xander and smiled, “We can’t go in unless she calls us. This is for you to do. Good luck Xander, you’re going to need it!”
Xander smirked at Danny, “Thanks man, I’ll remember this.” Then he turned to Steve, “Take care of yourself and him too.” As he turned and walked into the darkness of the cave he heard both men wishing him luck.
The darkness deepened as Xander walked, using one hand against the wall of the cave to help balance and guide him deeper. He still wasn’t sure what he had done to upset the Goddess but that didn’t matter, the only thing that mattered was fixing it. He continued deeper into the cave until he could see something glowing in the darkness. As he got closer, the light brightened and he could make out more details. The Goddess sat on the edge of, from what Xander could see, was a river of fire. She had an air about her that made her seem as though she was sad. What really caught Xander’s attention was that the red streaks in her hair were subtly moving as though flickering like flames.
“Miss Pele? Is that you?” Xander called out cautiously, he didn’t want to upset her any more than she already was and he certainly didn’t want to startle her. He watched as she looked over at him in surprise and then stood up and began to walk over to him.
“Xander? I, I didn’t expect to see you, especially not here! How did you find me?” Pele looked over at Xander and smiled a little at the young man. He smiled at her and chuckled.
“Some friends of mine told me you might be here. Oh! I have something for you!” He blushed as he handed her the bouquet, “I hope you like the flowers. I have something else for you as well.” He grinned at her and handed her the bag he had been carrying as well. “Just a small token of thanks for helping make my first luau a wonderful memory.”
Pele looked at Xander in surprise, this she had not expected. She looked at the flowers and smiled. The flowers chosen were lovely and the hidden message was an interesting one. She looked at Xander and asked, “Do you know the hidden language of flowers?” He shook his head in the negative and she smiled again, “Would you like to know what this bouquet says?”
He looked a little nervous and replied at almost the speed of Willow-babble, “As long as I didn’t insult you and if so I really apologize and didn’t mean it that way at all! But if I did please let me know so I can never do that again!”
She laughed and smiled at him, “You did not insult me; it’s actually quite complimentary to me.” Xander immediately relaxed at that and smiled back. “You see in the language of flowers orchids represent delicate beauty, carnations represent pride and beauty, hyacinths represent constancy, and yellow roses represent friendship. If I read this it seems to send a message that you think I am beautiful, delicate, constant, and that you would be proud to be my friend. Does that sound right?”
Xander gaped a little and smiled a huge smile at her. “Yes that is exactly what I meant to say…if I had meant anything that is. But it does tie in to my other gift which is a combination of thank you and I’m sorry. I hope you like it just as much.” Pele turned to a niche that Xander hadn’t noticed with his attention on Pele and placed the flowers into an obsidian vase sitting there. Then she turned her attention to the bag Xander had handed to her earlier. She reached inside and pulled out a small jewelry box. She smiled at Xander in confusion and then gasped as she opened it. Inside lay a set of pendants made of pure untarnished silver. One pendant was sculpted into an image of a woman made of flames and the other was a double bladed axe. Both pendants were about an inch and a half long and there were two silver chains in the box as well, one looking heavier than the other. She looked up at him and asked, “Which one is mine?”
Xander smiled at her and stated calmly, “Whichever you choose, one represents you and the other represents me. I keep one and you keep one, that way no matter what happens we know that there is one person out there that cares. I just thought you might like it.”
“Oh I do! No one has ever thought to give me a gift like this before!” She looked at him, then picked the bigger chain and put the fire-woman pendant on it before reaching up and slipping the chain over his head. He smiled and returned the favor with the axe pendant. Then he got a mischievous look on his face, bent down slightly to hug her, then picked her up and twirled her around as she laughed.
He carefully put her down and smiled as he held out his arm in a gentlemanly manner and asked lightly, “Have you ever seen snow before?” She looked at him in puzzlement and then her eyes widened in shock.
“Yup! Wanna go see?”
“Yes!” She placed her hand in the crook of his arm and allowed him to guide her to the entrance, her inner glow lighting the path before them as they walked. Soon enough they came to the entrance and Xander cleared his throat slightly as he preformed the introductions.
“Steve, Danny, this is my friend Pele. Pele these are two of the officers that help protect the islands, as well as being some of the only guy friends I have, their names are Steve and Danny.” He snickered at the gob smacked look on both the men’s faces as he introduced each of them before Danny shook his head slightly and elbowed Steve as he responded.
“I’m pleased to meet you Miss Pele and if you have any troubles please let me and my partner know how we can help” Danny bowed to the beautiful Goddess and held out his hand bringing hers to his lips as he gently kissed the back of her hand. He smiled at her look of pleased surprise and moved over a little so that Steve could have his turn.
“Miss Pele, this is truly an honor, if we can ever help you, just let us know.” Steve said as he knelt in front of the Goddess he had grown up hearing stories of. Bowing his head he waited until he felt her delicate touch signaling him to rise. He looked up in time to catch the pleased smile she graced him with.
Xander had walked over to the light covering of snow and picked up enough to create a snowball while his friends were greeting Pele. “Pele, catch!” He called out as he gently tossed the snowball to her.
She looked over startled and caught it then exclaimed in surprise, “its cold!” she then inspected it from all angles and then started poking it with her fingers. “What is this?”
“That is snow, Pele.” What do you think of it? Xander asked with a smile on his face at the childlike curiosity the Goddess showed.
Pele got a look of intense concentration on her face before answering, “It’s very different from lava, I can’t manipulate it the same way, it resists somehow. Interesting.” She looked at Xander and asked, “Does it change like lava does?”
“In its own way, yes it does. Snow melts into water, which evaporates into mist, which collects in clouds, which fall as either rain or if it is cold enough snow.” Xander explained. “I’m not the best person to explain it, I’m not exactly the sciency type, but I think you get the idea.” Pele nodded as she continued exploring the snowball as it melted in her hand from the warmth of the June sunshine.
She smiled at the men, “I think I will rest now, thank you for taking the time to come help Xander cheer me up. Xander, I’ll see you the next time you come to a luau! Don’t forget me!”
“Pele, I could never forget you.” He gently touched the pendent on his chest. Then he leaned down and hugged her again. “Take care and if you need me, the boys have my number.” He smiled his lopsided smile at her and watched as she walked back into the cave, waving her hand at the three men.
Steve and Danny looked at each other and then back at Xander. In unison they called out as they began the trek back down the mountain side, “You’re buying the first round Harris!”
“What…But! *sighs* Fine!”