Log in

No account? Create an account
23 October 2012 @ 10:49 pm
A Warrior’s Desire part 3  

Title: A Warrior's Desire part 3
Author: tkeylasunset
Word Count: (this part) ~6200
Fandom: Hawaii Five-0 (AU)
Rating: PG (may go up)
Characters/Pairings: pre-slash Steve & Danny
Warnings None that I know of
Summary: Steve and Danny begin their journey to find and retrieve Grace. They meet some unexpected residents and begin to discover some unexpected truths.
Written for:  H50 Harlequin.

part 1
part 2

part 3
Part 4

“Rise and shine, sleeping beauty,” Danny’s voice said the next morning, waking Steve with a start.

“What?” Steve asked as he sat bolt up right in the bed. He was visually scanning the room, trying to remember where he was.

“We need to have breakfast so we can go,” Danny said from next to the bed. Steve managed to focus on him where he stood holding Steve’s shirt and cargo pants crisply folded. “Get dressed so we can eat.”

Steve stared up at him, wondering when his brain was going to come back on-line. It currently seemed shrouded in fog.

“Here,” Danny said with a laugh, reaching over on the bedside table for a mug that Steve could smell held coffee. “Maybe this will help.”

“What time is it?” Steve asked, accepting the coffee. As he sipped it, he glanced toward the window in the loft. It showed that the sun was barely up, the day still lightly orange.

“Time for breakfast. Then time to go,” Danny said, watching Steve trying to wake up.

“Okay,” Steve finally agreed, looking up at him. “Where’s Dl’elda?”

“Downstairs. Having some tea and waiting for us.”

Steve nodded and slowly left the bed, his muscles protesting the unusual activities they had undertaken the past day. “Uhnnn…”

“I know. When you get moving, the stiffness will ease,” Danny assured him.

Steve reached over for his shirt, pausing before pulling it on to sniff it. It smelled like fresh air and grass and… clean. His cargo pants were equally clean and fresh. “How did you have time to wash these?” he asked as he pulled them on.

“I didn’t,” Danny said, waving it away.

“And it won’t do me any good to ask who did wash them,” Steve acknowledged.

“No,” Danny confirmed. “Are you ready?”

“Once I have on my boots,” Steve said, reaching over for them. He looked up at Danny as he pulled them on. “You don’t have to supervise. I’m not going to fall back asleep.”

“I know that,” Danny laughed. “Breakfast will wait until we are downstairs. They’re giving us some extra food too. You can carry it in your backpack when we send the cer-urns back.”

“Okay,” Steve automatically agreed. Once his boots were on, he followed Danny down the steps and into the kitchen, the table nearly groaning under all the food waiting for them. Steve sat next to Danny, letting the voices wash over him as he ate the delicious, filling food. Dl’elda was perched on Danny’s shoulder, flying over to him as soon as they were downstairs. Steve made sure she had plenty of fruit, watching to see that she had enough to eat.

“Thank you again for your hospitality,” Danny said when breakfast was finished. “We must be leaving you.”

“Of course,” Dyn'en said. “Your cer-urns are saddled and ready to go.”

“Thank you,” Danny said, Steve adding his thanks as well. They all went out to the stable, Steve putting the bandana over his neck, noticing that it too had been laundered during the night. More Esri mysteries. When he had it secure, Dl’elda flew into her hammock, peeking out to say good-bye to the family.

“Will you stop back on your way home?” Y’iaold asked hopefully.

“We’ll certainly try,” Danny said with a nod. After kissing all of the children one last time, Danny mounted his cer-urn as Steve did the same.

“Tell me more about these plains,” Steve requested as they headed out of town. They were going behind the houses to avoid the trip taking the better part of the day with everyone wanting to speak to Danny.

“Well,” Danny said, scratching his chin with a thumb. “They aren’t friendly. The rocks will hurl themselves and the wild shrubbery will try to grab us.”

“So the plant life and geological deposits are sentient,” Steve said, surprised it sounded so…normal. But why should he be surprised that plants and rocks attacked those who crossed over their plains?

“I told you we’d have to try charming the plains,” Danny said.

“No. You said we’d have to charm the mor-eri. You didn’t say anything about the plants and rocks.”

“Huh,” Danny said, stopping at the bank of a river. “Must’ve slipped my mind.”

“Right,” Steve said.

“Try stilling the water,” Danny said, pointing down at it. “Water charms are some of the easiest.”

“You can do,” Dl’elda cheered, waving her arms in emphasis.

“What do I do?” Steve asked, resigned to doing as he was told.

“Go down the bank. Dip your hand in and command the water to stop,” Danny directed.

Steve dismounted, wading into the gurgling stream to put his hand wrist-deep into the cool water. “Be still,” he ordered. To his never-ending surprise, the water stopped rushing over his hand, transforming into a calm, smooth pool.

“Yay Steve,” Dl’elda cheered. “Lift some rocks next.”

Steve looked over his shoulder at Danny who nodded. “Give it a go,” Danny suggested.

“Do I have to touch them?” Steve asked, eyeing the boulders on the opposite side of the river.

“No. Point at them and lift them. Like Luke Skywalker did.”

“So it’s like being one with the Force?” Steve asked.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Danny said. “And don’t even think of calling me Yoda. I will have you killed and no jury in any world would convict me.”

“Yes Master,” Steve said with a laugh. He looked down at Dl’elda who was watching them with an unmistakably amused expression on her face. “You don’t know about Star Wars, do you?”

“Grace talked about it. She likes movies,” Dl’elda said.

“So you’ve met Grace?” Steve asked as he straightened, the water moving once again.

“Uh huh,” Dl’elda agreed. “I didn’t know you didn’t know. You didn’t ask.”

Steve nodded, looking at the rocks before pointing at them.

“They can’t read your mind, sport. Tell them to rise up,” Danny said.

“Up,” Steve commanded at the rocks, watching them lift out of the water. “Over there,” he ordered, pointing at the bank that slopped up from the water. They obediently flung themselves onto the far bank, settling among the weeds.

“Good job,” Danny said. “We shouldn’t have any trouble in the plains.”

“That’s reassuring, I guess,” Steve said, mounting his cer-urn while being careful not to knock Dl’elda out. He automatically guided his cer-urn across the river next to Danny. The far side was very different from the one they had just left behind. This side seemed barren and flat, the orange and grey landscape unchanging as far as the eye could see. There were no sheltering trees but at least the sun wasn’t trying to scorch them.

“Don’t let the apparent flatness fool you,” Danny said with that spooky mind-reading talent of his. “There are twists and turns that the plains hide in order to disorient us and get us lost. I’m not really sure how long the cer-urns will be able to stay with us.”

“I thought you said we could ride them until we got to the breeding ground,” Steve said.

Danny shrugged, scanning the low lying weeds at their feet, watching the rocks for any movement.

“Why are cer-urns orange now?” Steve asked with a frown as he looked from his to Danny’s.

“So they don’t show up,” Dl’elda told him. “White’s too white for here.”

“Oh,” Steve said.

“They are like chameleons,” Danny said, pointing at a rock and demanding that it remain still. It settled back down but Steve had the unshakeable feeling that it was watching them.

Together they managed to prevent most of the rocks from rising up, a few of the shrubs catching their clothes before they could charm them into quiescence. When Steve or Danny demanded that they be released, the plants let go, laying back on the ground.

Steve was in the middle of stopping a bush from unlacing his boot when a dark shadow momentarily blocked out the sun. He looked up in time to catch sight of giant wings disappearing over the horizon. “What the hell?” he said as he tracked the creature. He could feel Dl’elda quivering in her hammock, her head disappearing as she shrunk further down.

“A mor-eri,” Danny said with a frown, scanning the horizon in the direction opposite of the one the creature had gone. “The plains have told them we’re here.”

“Swell,” Steve said. “Do they pose a danger to us?”

“They can. I don’t have enough alchemy to handle the plains and the mor-eri. And we don’t know if yours works on them.”

“What are we going to do?” Dl’elda’s tremulous voice asked from inside her hammock.

“I’m not going to let anything happen to you,” Steve promised her. He had to use a touch of magic and a soothing tone to calm his cer-urn when another shadow flew over them. “Was that the same one?”

“No,” Danny said with a frown. His cer-urn was dancing beneath him, not sure if it wanted to bolt or remain motionless to prevent detection. Both cer-urns were becoming increasing skittish, spooking at practically every rock and plant they passed. The constant movement of the terrain had already unsettled them. The addition of the mor-eri was the proverbial last straw.

“We need to send them back,” Danny said reluctantly.

“What about the mor-eri?” Steve asked as he guided his cer-urn next to Danny’s under shelter of a low rising cliff.

“I can put a chameleon spell on us. It isn’t strong enough to hide the cer-urns. But it will make it almost impossible for the mor-eri to see us,” Danny said as he put a calming charm on the plants and rock immediately in front of the cliff. Danny assured Steve that the cliff wasn’t sentient and had no plans to fall on them.

“All right,” Steve said although he was reluctant to consider walking across the plains with the mor-eri hunting them.

“We walk from now on?” Dl’elda asked from deep inside her hammock.

“We do,” Danny agreed. “You can come out, love. The mor-eri can’t see you. And we need to eat something before we continue on.”

“I’m not hungry,” she said in a tiny voice.

Steve peered into her hammock, using one finger to caress her brown hair. That seemed to help relax her, her wings fluttering at the touch. “Come out for a few minutes, sweets. We’ll have something to eat and some water. I’m not going to let anything happen to you.”

“Okay,” she whispered, peeking over the edge before tentatively flying up to sit on his shoulder. She held tight to his collar, her tiny hand still quivering in fright.

Danny smiled at her, touching her head which calmed her even more. Certain she was okay for the moment, he reached up to take down one of the packs from behind his saddle. They all had something to eat, Danny and Steve remaining vigilant as they rested.

Once Danny had finished his bread and cheese, he removed the rest of the supplies from the anxious cer-urns. He spoke quietly to them, calming them before he turned to the task of sorting the items. Some of the supplies he put into a rucksack he shrugged onto his shoulders. He stuffed the rest into Steve’s backpack until it was filled to overflowing.

“You can carry this still, right?” Danny asked, pointing down at it.

Steve picked it up to shrug it on, nodding after adjusting it. “Yeah. It’s fine.”

“You’re sure?”

“I’ve carried more further,” Steve assured him to Danny’s nods.

That done, Danny went to face both of the cer-urns, petting their noses. “Thank you for your service.”

“What about the mor-eri?” Steve asked in concern. He was still beneath the cliff where Dl’elda felt safer with them completely out of sight.

“They don’t hunt cer-urns. Only Esri and faeries,” Danny explained as he continued to pet both of the animals.

“Okay,” Steve said, watching Danny.

“You have my word that your journey home will be uneventful,” Danny promised, both of them nodding their huge heads in agreement. The one Steve had been riding turned to look over at him.

“Thank you,” Steve said, approaching to put a hand on his muzzle. “You are a fine mount and it was a privilege to have your assistance.” Ale’tin neighed at him, nudging him with his nose. Steve laughed quietly, rubbing over his soft muzzle once again. “Yes, I’m going to miss you too. Perhaps we will meet again.” Ale’tin neighed in agreement to that, nudging Danny before he and Danny’s cer-urn walked away, retracing the path they had followed to arrive at the cliffs.

“And they will get home safely?” Steve asked as the cer-urns began to pick up speed.

“They will,” Danny agreed. “The rocks and plants respect their presence. They only cause difficulties to Esri. Not to cer-urns.”

“Okay,” Steve said.

Danny pointed in the direction of the sun which was beginning its leisure way to the horizon. “The breeding ground is over that next rise.”

Steve looked in the direction Danny was pointing, the rise not appearing to be overly distant. But he had discovered that the plain was impossible to judge, the ground changing dimensions at a whim. “How long?”

“Couple of hours,” Danny decided. “We’ll be able to sleep in the crystal mines if the miners are agreeable.”

“That’s better than the Forest of Nightmares, right?” Steve asked.

“Infinitely better,” Danny agreed. “Watch your step. The crevices will move under your feet when you aren’t looking. And the closer we get to the breeding ground, the number of mor-eri we’ll see is going to increase. Some are more susceptible to charms than others. Give a shout if one isn’t stopped by your alchemy.”

“Right,” Steve said with a sigh. “You ready?” he asked Dl’elda who had shrunk back down into her hammock.

“Uh huh,” she agreed from the depths of the folds.

“I’m not going to let anything happen to you,” Steve promised, starting off next to Danny. “How are you going to bribe the miners? You said it will take magic, right?”

“Dl’elda will be able to take care of the miners,” Danny said, keeping a vigilant eye out for any mor-eri or rocks that might fling themselves at them.

“You will?” Steve asked, looking down at her.

“Uh huh. I have some magic. And they like having faeries in the mines. Makes the crystals shinier,” Dl’elda said.

“Shinier crystals are easier to find,” Danny said as he put a quieting spell on a rock.

“They like the brightest ones best of all,” Dl’elda confirmed. “They are easier to see with me there.”

“Is that who tried to steal you?” Steve asked. “The miners?”

“No,” Dl’elda said, peeking over the edge of her hammock. “They don’t hurt faeries. I got taken by….” She stopped when Danny cleared his throat and shook his head. “Oh.”

“No secrets,” Steve said, slowing to send a stray shrub back to the ground instead of letting it reach out to grab his pants.

“Some things you don’t need to know,” Danny told him while charming three rocks, piling them up as they passed by.

“I do need to know. How can I protect her if I don’t know who is trying to take her?”

“I’m still here, Steve,” Dl’elda reminded him, taping his chest from inside her hammock.

“I know that. But I need all the facts to be fully prepared.”

“It’s not in your best interest to know,” Danny said. “She won’t be bothered again. Stand down, sailor.”

Steve just sighed, charming two rocks and a shrub, skirting around them after they had been stilled. He had some trouble believing how many of the supposedly inanimate objects were trying to attack them or snag them. Even the ground periodically opened up in front of them, Danny having to charm it closed. Steve’s magic wasn’t strong enough to control the terrain.

“Incoming,” Steve said, reflectively ducking when the sun was blocked by huge black wings flapping over their heads. It was the first mor-eri that had seen since sending back the cer-urns. This was the biggest one yet.

Danny watched the flight of the mor-eri until it disappeared, relieved that it hadn’t paid any attention to them. “The chameleon charm is working. Which is good since we are almost to the breeding ground.”

“All right,” Steve said in weary acceptance. What else was he going to do?

“If you and Dl’elda want to stay here, I’ll go find a young one to charm.”

“No,” Steve said, shaking his head. “We stay together. I don’t know the terrain and Dl’elda is already terrified. We aren’t letting you out of our sight.”

“All right,” Danny agreed with no argument. They had taken temporary shelter beneath the overhang of a rock, Danny again assuring Steve that the cliff intended them no harm. “Put your pack down.”

Steve shrugged out of it, putting it as far under the cliff as he could while Danny did the same with his. “Why?”

“Because we won’t need them. And you can run faster without it,” Danny admitted.

“Great. From the size of them, we don’t stand much of chance if running is our only option.”

“I can slow them down even if I can’t stop them,” Danny said.  “If I tell you to run, run.”

“Right,” Steve agreed. “Are you ready?”

“Uh huh,” Dl’elda said. She was trying to sound brave even though she was quivering inside her hammock.

“Stay close and stay quiet,” Danny whispered, Steve nodding in agreement. They cautiously left the shelter of the cliff, slowly approaching the next rise in the terrain. Danny crept forward, Steve following his example and making himself as small as he could. The rocks and plants were less active here, fewer calming spells needed.

As they moved forward, the sounds of the mor-eri became louder and louder. The cacophony of sound was like a flock of crows fighting over fresh carrion. Steve could understand why Dl’elda was so frightened.

“Are they always this loud?” he whispered to Danny.

“Always,” Danny whispered back. “Let’s go this way,” he said, pointing to his left. The terrain sloped down, the path easier but steeper. A few of the rocks rose up but settled back down as Danny approached. There was a tall cliff at the bottom of the slope, a gigantic nest of orange and black limbs built in the shelter of the rock. “We’re going to check that atelier. It looks like there is a young one there.”

Steve tried to peek into the nest Danny had indicated but he could only see the sticks that made it up. He couldn’t see any signs of life within it. “You sure there’s one there?”

“Pretty sure,” Danny said as he continued forward. The slope was beginning to even out, the ground flatter as they got closer. They were within five feet of it when Danny held up his right hand. Steve stopped, barely breathing. He kept his eyes trained on Danny, watching to make sure they weren’t about to be attacked. He could hear a quiet cry from the nest, not nearly as loud or frightening as the calls they had heard earlier.

Danny crept forward almost imperceptibly, Steve keeping pace. “Stay here,” Danny whispered. Steve nodded, waiting breathlessly as Danny took a couple of careful steps forward. Danny put two fingers to his lips and blew a high pitched whistle, the sound nearly piercing Steve’s eardrums. It made Dl’elda shake in her hammock, causing it to sway.

“I’m sorry,” Steve whispered down to her. “I’m sure he won’t have to do it much longer. You’ll be okay.” He kept up a steady stream of quiet words, not considering what he was saying. The sound of his voice was helping to calm her and that was all that mattered.

As he watched Danny approach the nest, still whistling, a huge head peered over the tall edge of the nest. The mor-eri’s head was black with irregular orange spotting. It looked like one of the pterodactyls Steve had seen pictured, except that its head was rounder and less angular. Its beak was shorter, and it did not have the protrusion on the back of its skull. It had huge orange eyes that were focused on Danny, staring at him in apparent fascination. Danny was whistling to it, the mor-eri tilting its head as though it was trying to interpret what Danny was saying. Danny made three short, loud whistles, the mor-eri unfolding its wings that were at least 10 feet across. And this was a young one. The wings were solid black on top, black and orange underneath.

Danny whistled again, the mor-eri settling back down into the nest, its wings folded gracefully at its sides. With one last whistle and an answering call from the creature, Danny turned to tell Steve it was safe. Before he could get the words out, the ground beneath his feet opened in a wide crevice, Danny disappearing into it.

“Danny,” Steve said urgently but quietly, still mindful of the mor-eri watching them. Steve got to the edge of the crevice kneeling to look down into it, the top of Danny’s head the only thing he could see. “Danny!”

“Took me by surprise,” Danny admitted. “The mor-eri is calmed and is going to go to the far edge of the Forest. He won’t attack either of you. I have his word.”

“Good,” Steve said, taking off the hammock and stuffing it in his pocket after Dl’elda had flown out.. “You’ll be okay,” he assured her as she hovered between them.

“Kir’rila,” she said, flying down to him. “Are you okay?”

“I’m mostly okay, sweets. I may have broken my arm. And my right foot is jammed in the crevice.”

Steve lay down on the ground and stretched his arms down, barely able to touch Danny’s shoulder. “I can’t reach you.”

“In my pack,” Danny said, panting for air. “There’s a rope. Go get it.”

“Right,” Steve said. “Are you having trouble breathing?”

“Not so much. It’s a tight squeeze but the rocks aren’t moving right now.”

“Okay,” Steve said, standing up. “I’ll be right back.”

“If you could hurry, I’d appreciate it,” Danny said breathlessly.

“Right,” Steve said, taking off at a run back up the trail. He kept an eye on the sky, not sure if the chameleon spell was working without Danny’s presence. He saw two mor-eri flying high over head but they didn’t slow or make any indication that they had seen him.

When he got to the packs, he went through Danny’s first. He wasn’t sure where the rope was but he didn’t remember seeing it in his backpack. Halfway down in Danny’s pack he found a large coil of rope and turned back at a run to where he’d left Danny and Dl’elda. He had to drop flat when a mor-eri buzzed him, coming close enough that Steve could feel the breeze from the flapping of his wings. He estimated that the wing span was at least 15 feet, its head the size of his truck tire back home. He debated about his options should the creature spot him. He wasn’t sure his knife would be enough to defeat it and he wasn’t thrilled by the prospects of killing one of them. This was their turf. They were minding their own business and while he had the right to defend himself, he did not have the right to come into their house and destroy them. Fortunately, he didn’t have to make a morally questionable choice. The mor-eri flew over him, never slowing. After watching to make sure it wasn’t going to circle back, Steve got up and ran the rest of the way down the slope.

“I’m back,” Steve said when he lay stretched out beside the crevice. “Danny? Dl’elda?” He couldn’t hear anything and got no response to his call. He could still see the top of Danny’s head but he had slipped further down while he had been getting the rope. “Danny?!?”

“I’m right here,” Danny finally responded. “No need to shout.”

“You didn’t answer,” Steve said, tension making his voice hard.

“I was charming the crevice, convincing it not to change shape or size,” Danny said. As Danny was explaining, Dl’elda flew up out of the crevice to land on Steve’s shoulder.

“He’s bleeding on his face. And his arm is behind him,” Dl’elda told Steve quietly. There were tears running down her face and her wings were quivering in fear.

“I’ll get him out,” Steve promised her. “I’m throwing the rope down.”

“Right,” Danny acknowledged.

Steve tossed it gently, trying to aim beside Danny and not directly on top of him. If he was bleeding, Steve didn’t need the rope making it worse. “Can you tie it around your chest? Just under your armpits?”

“I can’t move my right arm,” Danny admitted. “I’m going to have to hold the rope with my left hand. Maybe between us I can climb out.”

“Or it could dislocate your shoulder,” Steve said. “Can you talk the rocks into letting me down with you?”

“No. They won’t move apart or closer. We’ve reached an uneasy accord. But I’ve got to get out of here.”

“All right. All right,” Steve said, scooting more of his body over the edge. He could see most of Danny’s face, enough of it to know he was in a lot more pain than he was letting on. And that there was a cut on his head that was bleeding profusely. “Can you reach up with your left hand?”

“Uhnn…” Danny grunted, painfully raising his left hand until he could almost touch Steve’s extended hand. “That’s it.”

“Please, Kir’rila. You have to reach him,” Dl’elda pleaded with Danny, grabbing his fingers and trying to pull him up to reach Steve, her wings fluttering furiously but to no avail.

“I’m trying, love,” Danny said, trying to sound strong for her.

“All right,” Steve said. “Tie a knot in the rope. Loop it around your forearm once and then hold onto the knot. If your shoulder feels like it’s coming out of your socket, tell me to stop.” Steve stood up beside the crevice, looping the center of the rope over a sturdy boulder he charmed to remain still. When he was sure it would hold, he knelt beside the crevice. “Are you ready?”

“Yeah,” Danny replied. “I have the knot. Pull me up.”

“Right,” Steve agreed, standing and pulling the rope around the boulder. It was a tough go, his feet slipping on the loose gravel. He could hear Danny’s quiet grunts of pain and effort, knowing it had to be incredibly difficult on him. There was nothing to be done about the discomfort Steve was inadvertently causing him. Danny had to get out of the crevice while the rocks were still charmed. Steve chanced at glance at the mor-eri who seemed to be watching in fascination.

Danny’s head slowly appeared over the edge of the crevice along with his left arm that was scrapped and bleeding. But not as badly as Danny’s head. The blood seemed to be streaming down his face, soaking his mmu-fum-omuu and turning the top red.

“Help him Steve,” Dl’elda pleaded, flying from Steve to Danny and back, her wings a blur of motion.

“I’m tying off the rope,” Steve said as he did it. “Now we can get you the rest of the way out.”

“Uhn,” Danny grunted, trying to use his left hand to hoist himself higher. But he couldn’t get purchase and his right arm was laying uselessly by his side. Steve could see at a glance that his right arm was broken and he wasn’t quite sure what they were going to be able to do about it.

“Okay,” Steve said, squatting by the crevice and reaching down for Danny. He hooked his hands under Danny’s arms and pulled. “Let me do all the work.”

“Don’t have much choice,” Danny admitted, using what little leverage he could gain with his feet.

“All right,” Steve said, pulling more of Danny free. He ignored the blood soaking his cargos, Danny’s head cushioned by Steve’s thigh.

“Oh…” Danny groaned as Steve freed him completely.

“I’ve got you,” Steve assured him, pulling him against his chest and holding him steady. “Dl’elda, can you get your hammock out of my pocket?”

She stared at Danny before pulling her eyes away. “What?”

“Your hammock. It’s in that pocket right there. I can’t reach it. Can you get it for me?” Steve requested, nodding at the pocket by his left calf. He very carefully rearranged Danny so that Danny’s back was supported by Steve’s chest, Steve’s left arm firmly around Danny’s chest to hold him upright.

“Here?” she asked when she had flown over to it.

“Yes. Open the flap. You’ll see it,” he said. She pulled the flap up and crawled inside his pocket, pulling as hard as she could on the handkerchief.

“I’m getting it.”

“Okay,” Steve agreed, looking down at Danny. His face was pale, his bottom lip caught in his teeth. “We need to get back under one of the friendly cliffs. I don’t think I can charm the terrain and the mor-eri.”

“I know,” Danny whispered.

Steve held out his hand as Dl’elda flew unsteadily up to it, the handkerchief trailing in her wake. “Thank you, love. You did an excellent job.”

“Is he going to be okay?” she whispered, hovering just above Danny’s head.

“I am,” Danny answered for himself, his voice strained. “Here,” he said, holding out his left hand, Dl’elda landing on it to face him. He gasped when Steve pressed the handkerchief against the gaping wound in his scalp.

“I’m sorry,” Steve said, holding it tight.

“You don’t have any choice,” Danny acknowledged.

“Do you have a needle and thread in the pack?” Steve asked, trying very hard not to frighten Dl’elda.

“Yes,” Danny agreed. “Will you be able to do it?”

“Yes,” Steve said.

“Do what? What are you doing, Steve?” Dl’elda asked, anxiety in her voice. Her wings were fluttering behind her, her feet dancing on Danny’s hand as she tried to stay still.

“I’m going to sew Danny’s scalp closed. It’s cut open. That’s why he’s bleeding so much,” Steve explained.

“Oh,” Dl’elda said faintly. She sat down on Danny’s hand, her legs stretched out in front of her. “Will it hurt?”

“A little,” Danny said. “But we don’t have any choice.”

“Oh,” Dl’elda repeated softly.

“I need to splint your arm before we try to move you,” Steve said, looking around to see if there were any sturdy branches they could use. Mostly what was close at hand were the shrubs that had been trying to grab them on their journey. “Well. The only sticks strong enough are the ones in the nest.”

“You can’t take those,” Danny said.

“Yeah, I figured that out,” Steve said. “My backpack has a metal frame. I can disassemble it and use the pieces.”

“That should work,” Danny whispered. “The miners will give us food and water.”

“How far to the cave entrance?” Steve asked.

“An hour. Maybe a little more. The sun is going to set fairly soon. We’ve got to get started before full dark,” Danny warned.

“All right. I’m going to go for my backpack. And yours. The mor-eri aren’t going to come after you, are they?” he asked quietly. But not so quietly that Dl’elda’s eyes didn’t grow wide and terrified at the words.

“No. The chameleon charm is still working. They don’t see us.”

“Okay,” Steve said. “Hold this over the wound,” he instructed, putting Danny’s left hand over the handkerchief. Certain Danny could hold it in place, he scooted backward, carefully pulling Danny with him. He knew he was hurting Danny’s arm by moving him but knew equally well that they had no choice. He managed to prop Danny up against the boulder, Danny wobbly without Steve’s support. “Do you have any pain relievers?”

“No. But you may be able to charm some of it away,” Danny said, taking as deep a breath as he could.

“Can I try?” Dl’elda asked.

“Of course you can,” Danny agreed, nodding to Steve to leave. Steve ran back to the packs, the ground remaining mercifully quiet. Even the rocks and shrubs were leaving him alone. He wondered if they were worried about the Portal Keeper being injured. If that was the case, Steve wasn’t going to complain about their unexpected cooperation.

He put one strap of each pack over his shoulders, running back to where Danny and Dl’elda waited. As he got closer, he could hear Dl’elda singing softly to Danny. She kept up her song as Steve knelt next to Danny. His eyes were still pinched in pain but he didn’t look like he was about to pass out. He was still holding the soaked handkerchief over the cut, the bleeding slowing. “That’s a beautiful song,” Steve said to Dl’elda as he quickly emptied his backpack. He made short work of the frame, taking it apart until it was reduced to metal rods and formless canvass. The most solid part of the canvass he cut into strips with his knife, laying them across his thigh to prevent them from trailing in the dirt. He also took out the dark blue mmu-fum-omuu Danny had predicted he’d be wearing. That would never happen as Steve cut it in half, the top portion cut into strips for bandages.

Carefully placing the pieces on the bottom half of the mmu-fum-omuu, Steve sat close by Danny’s right arm. It lay on the ground, bent at an unnatural angle. Steve had to take a deep breath to even look at it. At least the bone had not pierced the skin. That would have been so much worse.

“I’m going to have to straighten it,” Steve said as gently as he could.

“I know,” Danny said. “Give me a folded strip of cloth.”

Steve nodded, carefully folding one of them until it fit into the palm of his hand. Understanding its purpose, he placed it between Danny’s teeth. Danny bit down on it and nodded.

“Dl’elda,” Steve said gently but firmly. “I need you to fly to the top of this rock. You are look-out. If you see anything coming, you fly down here and tell us.”

“No Steve. I need to stay with you and Kir’rila,” Dl’elda protested.

“I understand, love. But I can’t guard us while I bandage Danny’s arm. You have to be the brave one and guard us all,” Steve said in coaxing.

“Please Steve,” Dl’elda pleaded, tears falling.

“I know you’re scared, love. We all are. But I need to tend to Danny. I need you to be look-out. I promise it won’t take me longer than five minutes. And if you sing while you’re guarding us, it will help Danny feel better.”

“I… uh… I don’t think I’m that brave,” she said, her voice shaking from her tears.

“Of course you are. You helped charm the mor-eri. You told me I could charm the water. And you charmed the rocks. You are the bravest faery I know,” Steve told her.

“I’m the only faery you know,” she said, sniffing loudly.

“That doesn’t matter,” Steve told her with a smile. “You’d still be the bravest. Fly to the top of the rock. Sing for Danny. I won’t be long, I promise.”

She tentatively nodded, slowly flying up to hover over the rock. “Should I sit on it?”

“That would be fine. Or you can stand. Will you sing for us?” Steve requested, squatting next to Danny. “Beautiful,” he said to her when she started. “Are you ready?” he whispered softly to Danny.

Danny closed his eyes and nodded once.

Steve took a calming breath, firmly grasping Danny’s wrist and elbow. As quickly as he could, he realigned the bones, a wave of nausea hitting him as he heard them grind against each other. That Danny’s screams were barely muffled by the cloth clinched between his teeth only made Steve’s stomach roil harder.

They were both drenched in sweat by the time Steve had Danny’s arm straightened, bandaged, and bound to the metal pieces. Steve wasn’t surprised that Danny had passed out during the process, his hand falling away from his head. The blood was beginning to congeal beneath the handkerchief so that it was no longer streaming down his face.

Steve slowly stood, hoping the world would stop spinning soon. This wasn’t the first time he’d had to tend someone’s wounds but this time was infinitely worse. Hurting Danny, even though he had no choice, was the hardest thing he’d ever done.

“Dl’elda,” Steve said quietly. She stopped singing, flying over to him to land on his shoulder.

“He okay?” she asked softly.

“He will be. Can you sit with him? I need to…uhm…” He waved in the general direction of the backside of the boulder.

“I’ll stay with him,” Dl’elda assured Steve.

Steve nodded and went to the far side, falling to his knees and retching onto the orange ground. He only hoped that Danny was awake and talking to Dl’elda so she wouldn’t hear as he lost everything in his stomach....


landrewslandrews on October 24th, 2012 11:43 am (UTC)
Hey! Still really enjoying this fic!! I love the concept of the Mor-eri and that the Plains are basically sentient. You did a nice set-up for the crevasse opening under Danny. And Danny!whump, always good, lololol- poor Danny :-)
Are 6 dogs too many?: camo stevetkeylasunset on October 24th, 2012 10:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!! I'm having a great time writing it - which may be why isn't gotten so freaking long!!!

Danny-whump is always handy, huh?

Thanks again!!!
Abbeyrd: S3 danny with shirt openabbeyrd62561 on October 25th, 2012 04:36 am (UTC)
I am really enjoying this AU. i love your imagination and what it's come up with. Can't wait for more.