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21 November 2012 @ 02:00 pm
A Warrior’s Desire part 7b of 7  
This is the second half of the last part. I had to split it in half because it was too long for one post. If you haven't read part 7a, you'll need to so this part will make sense. Sorry for the confusion.

Part 7a of 7 is here.

Danny was finally able to talk Grace into taking off her new dress so she could get into bed. The next day was going to be a long one and they all needed to get some sleep so they’d be ready for the trip back.
Once he actually got her into bed, she fell asleep right away. Danny sat with her, smiling at her until Steve returned with the tea to ease Danny’s pain.

Danny drank it all, settling in the bed when Steve climbed in with him. Only minutes later, they were both sound asleep.
“Thank you again for everything,” Danny said to Kym’kl when they were ready to leave the next morning.
“You owe us nothing, Kir’rila,” Kym’kl assured him. “Alert us when next you swim through. We will meet you at the edge of the Plains to make your journey easier.”
“We will,” Danny agreed. “And you will let me know if you need us to return.”
“You can be certain,” Kym’kl agreed, unlocking the door across the main entrance. “Safe travels, Grace, Kir’rila’vor.”
“Thank you,” Steve agreed with a nod. “Your help will not be forgotten.”
“We will see you soon,” Kym’kl said. He was surrounded by dwarves as they watched Danny, Steve, and Grace start off through the Forest with In’kyn and Et’tur leading the way.
“Happy places?” Danny asked with a smile up at Steve.
“I’m with you and Grace,” Steve responded, making Danny laugh.  
“Thank you,” Danny said, holding tight to Grace’s hand. “You aren’t planning to fly away, are you?”
“Nope,” Grace assured him, reaching out for Steve’s hand. “Staying right here.”
“Good,” Steve said with a nod.
The trip back through the Forest was immeasurably easier than it had been the first time. Steve didn’t know if it was his alchemy, Danny’s magic, Grace’s presence, or having the dwarves with them. Whatever the reason, the Forest was brighter, easier to navigate, not anywhere nearly as intimidating.
It took almost no time to reach the edge of the Plains with no blizzards to slow their way. The Plains too seemed to respect their journey, very few rocks threatening to rise up, the terrain remaining mostly quiescent. No mor-eri flew over their heads, Danny not needing to cast his chameleon charm.
“Are the miners preventing the Plains from slowing us?” Steve asked.
“Partially. It’s also you and Grace,” Danny said, charming a rock to settle back down.
“The Plains feel your love and are absorbing it,” Et’tur said over his shoulder.
“That’s…well,” Steve said.
“Don’t you feel it, Steve? The Plains tasting our happiness?” Grace asked him, her hand sweeping the rocks and terrain about them.
Steve considered the question, concentrating on feeling the Plains beneath their feet and its atmosphere enveloping them. It was different from the first time. He didn’t feel the animosity that had prevailed on the trip over. He hoped that the Plains hadn’t been reflecting any of his somewhat negative emotions.
“Did I make the Plains unhappy?” Steve finally asked Danny.
“No, Babe. You didn’t upset it. It’s quieter this time because love calms it,” Danny assured him.
“Good,” Steve said with a nod. They had stopped to have some lunch and some water, the miners producing an enormous amount of food from their relatively small backpacks. One more Esri mystery he wasn’t going to bother trying to understand.
As they were picking up the last bits of their lunch debris, what sounded like horse hooves grew louder and closer. They all looked in the direction of the sound, very soon seeing four cer-urns getting closer and closer. Steve was very happy to see Ale’tin galloping toward them, Sul'ia right next to him. They were accompanied by two shorter cer-urns, clearly intended for the miners to ride.
“Hello,” Danny said to the four cer-urns when they stopped in front of them. “Thank you for coming for us.”
The cer-urns neighed in greeting, Ale’tin nudging Steve in greeting. Steve caressed his muzzle. “I’m happy to see you too.”
Sul’ia nudged Grace lightly, nodding his big head.
“Yes, I’m Danno’s,” Grace laughed, rubbing Sul’ia’s nose. “Will you let me ride with him?” Sul’ia neighed in confirmation, turning his huge eyes to look over at Danny, snuffling at him.
“It was an accident,” Danny assured him. “It’s feeling much better.” Sul’ia neighed in confirmation.  
The miners were talking to their smaller cer-urns, In’kyn producing the apple-like fruit Steve had gotten used to seeing. The cer-urn crunched it, eyeing the second one. But it disappeared in the other cer-urn’s mouth before the first one could snatch it.
“They good with giving you a ride?” Danny asked the miners although he was pretty sure about the answer.
“They are,” In’kyn said.  
“Good. Are we ready?” Danny asked, looking up at the saddle on Sul’ia.
“We are,” Steve said, standing just beside Sul’ia and cupping his hands. Seeing he had no choice, Danny stepped into Steve’s hands, letting him hoist him into the saddle. When he was settled, Steve hoisted Grace up behind him, making sure she wasn’t going to slide off. The miners were already on their cer-urns so Steve mounted Ale’tin, feeling comfortable and ready to go.
With the help of the cer-urns, it seemed to take no time at all to arrive at Tr’kelel where they were greeted by the residents, just as they had been the first time. Y’iaold and his family were excited that Steve and Danny had returned with Grace, and were almost as excited to greet the miners. They assured them that feeding all five of them would be no problem and there would be plenty of room in the stables for all the cer-urns. The family was delighted to talk with Grace, to hear all about her adventures. She answered all of their questions, much laughter shared.
Shortly after they had finished eating, the travelers headed for bed. Even though the trip had been much easier and far less dramatic, it had still been tiring for them all. Grace was especially feeling the effects, practically falling asleep in her dinner.
The family woke them when the sun was barely up, feeding them a delicious hearty breakfast. Danny assured the miners that if they wanted to return to the mines, it would be completely safe for them to do so. Even though they hadn’t yet seen the beholders, he was certain they would be shadowing them the rest of the way to the ocean. In’kyn and Et’tur discussed it, In’kyn ready to return to the mines. But Et’tur said they had come this far and he really wanted to visit the ocean while they had the chance. Et’tur prevailed, In’kyn giving in easily enough that they knew his protests were mostly out of form rather than a real refusal to go.
The cer-urns greeted them happily when they entered the stables, Steve helping Danny and Grace onto Sul’ia before he mounted Ale’tin. The miners were settled in their saddles, so after many thanks for the hospitality, they entered the woods, the bright trees greeting them with a soft, cool breeze.  
“Are the beholders with us?” Steve asked, looking around but not seeing them.
“Not yet,” Danny said. “They may not journey with us this time. Do you want them to come?”
“No. I was mostly curious,” Steve said. “This trip has been so different.”
“Much easier,” Danny agreed. “Not that it matters. I’d do all again 1000 times if I had to in order to get my Gracie back.”
“Love you too, Danno,” Grace said, hugging Danny from where she sat behind him.
“And I’d be right with you,” Steve said with a smile. “How’s your arm?”
“You know,” Danny said, dismissing the question. What was there to say?
“When are we swimming through the portal?” Grace asked.
“Tomorrow. It will be too late when we home today,” Danny said.
“’Kay,” she agreed, looking over at In’kyn and Et’tur who seemed to be arguing about something. She couldn’t hear their discussion but In’kyn was gesturing to make his point. “What they fighting about?”
“I doubt even they know,” Danny laughed. Steve agreed with his assessment, watching the miners with a smile.
It seemed like no time at all passed until they arrived at the ocean, the smell and sound greeting them before they could see it. Grace was so excited to be near the water, Danny agreed to allow her to fly to the beach and wait for them there.  
“Is that a good idea?” Steve asked as she flew out of sight.
“We’ll be there in three minutes,” Danny said with an indulgent laugh. “Nothing is going to happen to her.”
“You sure?” Steve asked.
“She’s the daughter of the Portal Keeper,” Et’tur reminded Steve. “No harm will come to her.”
“True,” Steve said, visibly relaxing.  
“Especially with you protecting her as well,” In’kyn added.
“Are you staying with us tonight?” Danny asked them as they approached the treehouse.
“If it won’t be an inconvenience,” Et’tur said.
“Not at all,” Danny assured them. “I don’t know if there will be anything for us to eat.”
“If they know you are coming home, there will be,” In’kyn said knowingly.
“Do they know we’re coming?” Steve asked. They had stopped the cer-urns, Steve and the miners dismounting. Steve helped Danny down, his arm making dismounting too awkward by himself.
“We’ll find out when we get inside,” Danny said, kicking off his sandals and removing his mmu-fum-omuu pants. He went directly into the water, letting the waves greet him, splashing him head to toe. Grace flew over to him, landing by his side and laughing as an especially large wave tried to knock them both down.
“Careful you two,” Steve called with a laugh. He watched as the miners took off their boots and their heavy work pants, wading into the ocean to stand next to Danny and Grace.
“I wish the mines were closer,” Et’tur said.
“We all do,” In’kyn said in agreement.  
Steve was content to watch from the shore. Normally he’d be head deep in the water as well but he thought it was important to give them a little space. Even though he was half Esri, this wasn’t really his world. At least not completely.
The cer-urns seemed to sense his thoughts, nudging him with their noses.
“I’m fine,” he assured them with a smile.  
“You homesick?” Danny asked as he waded out of the orange water.
“A little,” Steve admitted. “The ocean is supposed to be blue.”
“It will be tomorrow,” Danny reminded him with a smile. “Let’s go see if we have anything to feed two miners and a faery.”
“Good plan,” Steve agreed, following Danny into the woods and up the rope ladder. He was surprised at how well Danny was able to handle the climb with only one arm. Steve knew there was a time he would have been surprised at the amount of food waiting for them on the table but now he just took it in stride. “How many miners did they think were coming?” he asked with a laugh.
“You never know,” Danny said, going to the room with his bed. He quickly put on a clean mmu-fum-omuu, this one dark green. “You want one?”
Steve shook his head. “The miners kept my clothes clean.”
Danny nodded, going to the edge of the treehouse to look for Grace and the miners. It didn’t take long after he’d called for them to appear on the rope ladder, Grace flying up. “We need to eat,” Danny said.
They settled at the table, the food as delicious as it was plentiful. They all ate as though they had been without which the miners put down to the journey. “Always takes extra food,” In’kyn said to a general agreement.
“Are we getting married tomorrow before we swim through?” Grace asked as she ate more bread.
“We’re planning to,” Danny agreed. “You can wait until afterwards, right?”
“Of course,” Et’tur said. “We may stay an extra day at any rate.”
“You’re welcome to stay here,” Danny said, the miners agreeing to his generous offer.
After they had all they wanted to eat, Grace and the miners decided to return to the ocean for a twilight swim. With a sincere promise to be very careful and watch out for each other, the miners went down the ladder and raced through the woods as Grace flew off.
“What’s wrong, Babe?” Danny asked when it was just him and Steve in the treehouse.
“Nothing,” Steve said, refusing to meet Danny’s eyes.
“Seriously? You think you can pull that on me?” Danny asked, sitting next to him and putting a warm hand on his arm. “We don’t have to get married.”
“No. No, that’s not it,” Steve said, shaking his head.  
“What’s on your mind?” Danny coaxed.
“I’m just trying to absorb it,” Steve said. “When I swam through, I was a reserve Navy SEAL. No family except Mary. No idea what I’d be doing with the rest of my life. When I arrive here, I find out not only is there another universe I can visit but I’m only half Human. Then I meet my soulmate and become a step-father.”
Danny nodded solemnly, not trying to convince him that any of his thoughts or emotions were off the mark. “It’s been a lot. In a short amount of time.”
“It has,” Steve said, finally meeting Danny’s eyes, his full of something akin to confusion. “I don’t regret it. I don’t want you to ever think that.”
“I know, Babe,” Danny assured him. “And I need to remind you again – we don’t have to get married here tomorrow. We don’t have to get married once we swim through the Portal. Grace and I will go to New Jersey. We won’t contact you again if that’s what you want.”
“You know it isn’t,” Steve said, reaching out and pulling Danny onto his lap to hold tight. “I want to start our life together. I can’t imagine not having Grace around.”
“You’ve only known her for a day,” Danny pointed out.
“Seems like a lot longer. She’s already flown into my heart.”
“I understand that,” Danny agreed, kissing his head. “We’ll sleep on it tonight. And if you want to get married in the morning, we will. If not, we won’t.”
“I want,” Steve said. “Who performs the ceremonies here?”
“The Beholder Major will preside,” Danny said. “I preside over a lot of weddings when I’m here. I held six before you arrived.”
“You aren’t the only one who can legally do them, are you?”
“No. But there is a legend that a marriage presided over by the Portal Keeper will be long lasting and fruitful.”
“Except the Portal Keeper’s marriage wasn’t long lasting,” Steve pointed out.
“If she’d have told me she was Faery Queen, it would have lasted a lot longer,” Danny said.
“Why did you not know?” Steve asked. “Seems like something the Portal Keeper would know.”
“Their monarchy is an elected one,” Danny said. “Strange, I know. But she didn’t mention it. And faeries pretty much stay in the clouds.”
“Ah,” Steve said. “Well. This marriage will be long lasting. But not fruitful as far as kids are concerned.”
“Unless we adopt,” Danny said. “But we aren’t going there right now. Don’t add it to the list of things you can’t stop thinking about.”
“I won’t,” Steve promised. “Grace and the miners need to come back. It’s almost dark.”
“Go and get them,” Danny laughed. “I’ll pile up some blankets for the miners. Grace likes sleeping in the hammock.”
“Good plan,” Steve agreed. He stood Danny up then went down the ladder to cross over to the beach. The three strays were sitting in the sand, watching the sun laze its way down past the horizon. “Time to come in,” Steve said, looking down at them with a smile.
“I’m hungry,” Grace announced.
“You just ate,” Steve laughed.
Grace shrugged, reaching out for his hand. “I’m a growing girl.”
“Can’t argue with that,” Steve said. “You coming?”
“We are,” In'kyn said. They both stood to brush the sand off before following Steve and Grace back into the woods. Grace flew up to the treehouse as Steve and the miners climbed up the ladder.  
Danny gave Grace some fruit, the miners deciding they could do with some as well. There was much laughter as the fruit disappeared, the happy voices winding down as the night deepened.
“Go get in the hammock,” Danny said to Grace, kissing her head.
She nodded but didn’t move from where she was sitting.  
“Come on, sleepy head,” Steve said, picking her up to carry her over to the hammock. She wound her arms around his neck, snuggling her head beneath his chin. He soaked in her warmth, releasing some of the tension he didn’t know he was holding.  
He lay her gently in the hammock, wrapping her in the blankets Danny had left there. Making sure she was warm and asleep, Steve went into the room with the big bed. Danny was gazing into the cupboard, his head tilted to one side.  
“What cha’doing?” Steve asked as he approached.
“Deciding,” Danny said, glancing over his shoulder at Steve.  
“Deciding what?” Steve asked, standing beside him, their shoulders bumping.
“You know,” Danny said.
“I don’t know,” Steve said, turning Danny enough to kiss him on the mouth. “Grace is asleep. The miners are on the next level up. We could….”
“Are you trying to seduce me, sailor?” Danny asked, smiling up at him.
“What do you think?” Steve said, kissing him again. “Will anyone interrupt us?”
“No,” Danny said. “But we don’t have a door. I’d rather wait until we had one to hide behind.”
“All right,” Steve agreed reluctantly. “Come to bed at least. I’ll kiss you and give you a taste of what’s to come.”
“Mmm…sounds perfect,” Danny said, following Steve toward the bed. “Take off your clothes.”
“You certainly are pushy,” Steve said untying Danny’s mmu-fum-omuu.
“Can be,” Danny said, working on Steve’s buttons and zipper. “Take off those ridiculous boots.”
“They weren’t ridiculous when we were in the Plains.”
“Or during the blizzard,” Danny laughed.  
“Thanks for reminding me,” Steve said with a scowl.
“Oh. Stop,” Danny said, raising up on his toes to kiss Steve.  
“Right,” Steve said, taking off the rest of his clothes and getting under the covers. Danny very soon joined him, pressing up against him. “I feel like I need to tell you…I… uhm… I’m in love with you.”
“Okay,” Danny said.
“That’s it?” Steve asked with a frown.
Danny laughed, reaching over to kiss him. “I know you do. Because I love you too.”
“Good. That’s good,” Steve said with a sigh. “So when I was taking Grace to the hammock, I was thinking….”
“Yeah?” Danny said.
“She’s just so perfect,” Steve said. “And…”
“Yeah,” Danny said. “We’ll keep her safe and keep her on our side of the Portal. You have my promise.”
Steve nodded, sighing. “Good. Now I can’t imagine not having her.”
“I know what you mean,” Danny assured him. “Now go to sleep.”
“Right,” Steve agreed with a kiss. He closed his eyes, moving even closer to Danny. “Make sure you sleep too.”
“I will. Stand down Super SEAL,” Danny said, his eyes closed.
“Wake up, sleeping beauties,” Grace’s voice said the next morning. Steve cracked open his eyes, looking over at Grace. She was wearing her sparkly blue dress and high spots of color on her cheeks. “Wake up wake up. We’re getting married. Come on.”
Steve sat up, watching Danny also sit. “Let’s go get married,” Steve said, Danny laughing.
“Let’s go,” Danny said. “Look at you in your dress.”
“It’s a good dress for a wedding, isn’t it?” Grace said, twirling around.
‘It’s perfect, Monkey,” Danny said. “Go get the miners. We need to put on some clothes.”
“Okay. Can I come right back?”
“Yes, you can come right back,” Danny promised, watching her flutter out. “I guess she’s a little excited.”
“Little bit,” Steve laughed. “What are we wearing?”
“Whatever,” Danny said, waving it off. “Hardly matters. Put on your ridiculous boots and cargo pants.”
“Right,” Steve said, not at all surprised to pick them up and find his clothes freshly washed and folded, back right where he had left them. “Who does this?”
“You don’t need to know, Babe.”
“Will they be washed and folded at home?”
“By you,” Danny laughed.  
“Right,” Steve said.  
“Come on. Our little girl is waiting to marry us.”
“Roger that,” Steve said, lacing up his boots and standing. He held his hand out to Danny who automatically took it, going over to the ladder. They climbed down, the miners and Grace waiting at the bottom.  
“Come on,” Grace said, fluttering a foot over the ground. “Come on.”
“We’re coming, Grace Face,” Steve said, laughing. He took her hand, Grace’s right firmly in Danny’s left. “Where are we going?”
“Beach,” Danny said.  
Steve went with them toward the beach, stopping before they got to the sand. Danny and Grace kept going, boomeranging when Steve stopped.  
“What?” Danny asked, looking up at Steve.
“Who are all these people?” Steve asked, looking over at the hundreds of people filing up the beach.
“They’re here for our wedding,” Grace chirped, fluttering off the ground.
“Oh. Well,” Steve said, looking at Danny and back to the crowd. “I guess that makes sense.”
“Of course it does,” Danny said. “Come on. They are waiting.”
“Roger that,” Steve said, going with Danny and Grace the rest of the way to the beach. The crowd moved aside as they approached, allowing them to advance toward the flower arch to their left. Under it stood a very tall Esri with long white hair. Steve was fairly certain the Esri was a woman but he was never certain with the Beholders.
“Welcome,” she said when they stood beneath the arch. “You are ready?”
“I am,” Danny said, looking over at Steve.
“I am very ready,” Steve said. “Grace-face?”
“Ready. Ready,” Grace said happily. “Isn’t my dress pretty?”
“It’s beautiful,” the Beholder said, looking down at her. “Your father got it for you?”
“Uh huh. He got it in Faeryland,” Grace said.
“It’s perfect,” the Beholder said with a smile. “Go ahead,” she said to Steve and Danny with a nod.
“Go ahead?” Steve repeated, looking over at Danny.
“She’ll preside but we’ll declare our intentions.”
Okay,” Steve said in some confusion. Well. Why should his Esri wedding be less confusing than anything else he’d experienced since he’d arrived?
“I am marrying Steve McGarrett because he is everything I need, everything I want. He brings with him half of my soul. I am now complete because he has found me.”
“Lovely,” the Beholder said. “Kir’rila’vor.”
“Marrying Danny is as natural as the rising sun and the ocean washing ashore. I didn’t know I was missing him until I found him. Marrying Grace fulfills our circle and makes us ohana. I have been without one for far too long. My loneliness has been replaced by love.”
“Perfect,” the Beholder said in approval. “Grace.”
“I want Danno to be happy. Steve makes him happy. Steve makes me happy too. We’re a family. That’s why we’re gettin’ married.”
“Yes it is,” the Beholder confirmed. “Have you any truths you must share?”
“I do not,” Danny said.
“I don’t,” Steve said, shaking his head.
“Grace?” the Beholder asked.  
“I…uhm…” She caught her bottom lip between her teeth, staring down at the sand between her feet.
“What is it, Monkey?” Danny asked gently, kneeling before her.
“I… it’s… it’s not that I don’t want….”  
Steve thought his heart might stop when Grace started to cry silently. “What, Grace-face? You can tell us,” he said quietly.
“I… don’t want… Mommytobemadatme,” Grace finally admitted.
“Mommy’s not mad at you,” Danny assured her. “She understands that you want to live on the other side of the Portal most of the time. And I’ve promised we can swim through whenever you want. You believe that, don’t you?”
“Uh huh,” Grace said. “She cried when I left.”
“I know, love. She loves you very much. Like I do. We aren’t subtracting Mommy out of our family. We’re bringing Steve in.”
“Mommy’s not mad at me?” Grace said.
“Of course not. She wants you to be happy. She knows living with me and Steve will make you happy. Okay?” Danny asked.
“Okay,” Grace said with a nod. “Okay?” she asked Steve who nodded.  
“Of course, Grace-face. We’ll swim through whenever you want,” he promised, kissing her on the cheek. “Will you marry me?”
“I will,” she agreed, her former unhappiness evaporating.
“These decisions can be difficult,” the Beholder said in understanding. “Kir’rila and Kir’rila’vor only want happiness for you.”
“I love them,” Grace confirmed, smiling tentatively up at her.
“I can see that you do. Your happiness feeds mine. It gives happiness to us all,” the Beholder said, indicating the Esri crowded on the beach. “Your marriage will be a long and happy one.”
Steve and Danny smiled at each other before meeting over Grace’s head for a kiss. They knelt in unison, kissing her cheeks and making her giggle.  
“Will you join us for the celebration?” the Beholder asked, beaming at them.
“For a little while,” Danny said. “We need to swim back.”
“Of course,” the Beholder agreed, leading them through the crowd to the table groaning under the weight of the food. In’kyn and Et’tur were just behind them, telling any who would listen about how Steve defeated the Faery Queen. If their story wasn’t a completely accurate retelling of the events, no one was going to complain.
Steve, Danny, and Grace accepted the congratulations and the good wishes for a long and happy life until Steve was sure his face was going to break. He could see Danny beginning to wilt as well. Grace was in Steve’s arms, nodding at everyone who spoke to them but long since gave up trying to respond.
“We need to go,” Steve whispered to Danny when there was a break in the parade.
“Yeah we do,” Danny agreed. “Come on.”
Steve nodded, following him into the woods and directly to the treehouse. They climbed up as Grace flew to the dining room. The silence was a relief, the open space allowing them to finally breathe.
“All right, Monkey. Go change into your swimsuit. Steve, you can’t swim over in your boots,” Danny said, directly traffic. “In’kyn and Et’tur, you’re rowing us out?”
“We are,” Et’tur confirmed.  
“I need my wetsuit,” Steve said, looking for it.
“Oh,” Danny said. “About that.”
“What?” Steve asked, frowning over at him in suspicion.
“Yeah. You’ll have to swim without it. You’ll be fine.”
“But where is it?” Steve asked, his arms crossed over his chest.
“Never mind. Just take off your boots. You’re going to swim in your pants, right?”
“Sure,” Steve said with a sigh. He stripped out of his shirt and boots, stuffing them into a pack Danny gave him. He also put Grace’s dress into it when she came out from behind the curtain wearing a one piece pink and white polka-dot swimsuit.
“We’re ready then,” Danny said in satisfaction. He led them back down to the ground and to the small boat. Steve waited until everyone else was piled in, pushing it into the water before clambering in himself. In’kyn had one oar, Et’tur the other as they rowed the boat into the deeper water.  
It didn’t take long for them to pull their oars up, waiting patiently.
“Thank you,” Danny said as he stood.
“Thank you, Kir’rila,” Et’tur said, smiling up at him. “Safe journey.”
Danny nodded and dove cleanly into the water. Grace followed him, Steve thanking the dwarves for all their help before he too dove into the ocean.
Danny and Grace were already several feet underwater. Danny’s legs seemed to have merged into a flipper he used to propel himself forward. Grace’s wings had disappeared and she lay on top of Danny’s back as he swam straight down. Steve followed, discovering that it wasn’t necessary for him to breathe beneath the water. There were definitely advantages to being half Esri.
It wasn’t long at all before they came to the Portal, swimming through one at the time. Danny motioned Steve to surface first, Steve swimming up toward the boat he could see above them. When he surfaced, he found the same boat that had brought him out to the portal, the same sailor getting ready to leave. A glance at his shoulders confirmed that his tattoos were back in place, just like Danny had promised. He assumed his hair was black again but that truth would have to wait a little longer.
“Hey,” Steve called, the sailor cutting the engine to look over the side of the boat at him.
“I’m back,” Steve said, treading water.
“You just splashed in,” the sailor said in utter confusion.
“I’m sure I did,” Steve said. “But I completed my mission.”
“How is that possible, sir? You just left.”
“It’s too complicated to explain,” Steve said, turning in the water to watch Danny and Grace surface. “We need a ride back to the dock.”
“Who are they?” the sailor asked, looking at Danny and Grace.
“The ones who ensured I fulfilled my mission,” Steve said, climbing up into the boat. He held a hand out to Grace and lifted her easily. He also helped Danny come aboard, making sure his arm was not sore from his swim. Steve got a towel out of his pack for Grace, wrapping her in it and kissing her head. He pulled on his polo after drying off some of the moisture from their swim. He gave Danny a towel as well, helping him dry his hair as much as possible.
“I’m fine, Babe,” Danny said, sitting down.  
“Sir?” the sailor said, frowning again at Steve.
“I know that it’s very confusing. But I did what I was sent to do. I need to return to the dock to report to the Admiral.”
“Aye sir,” the sailor finally agreed, setting the boat into motion.
Steve winked at Grace who was looking around, absorbing all the familiar sights of the Human side of the portal. “You sealed it, right?”
“I did,” Danny agreed. “We’re the only ones who can swim through to Esri.”
“Can they swim through to us?” Steve asked.
“If they know the combination. I changed it so Rachel can’t cross over. Kym’kl can but that’s all that I’m sure of.”
Steve nodded because it made sense. Surprisingly.  
The disembarked when they reached the dock, the sailor still looking at them in utter confusion. Steve didn’t bother to try and explain. How could he possibly make sense of it to anyone who hadn’t been there?
He led Grace and Danny to the Admiral’s office, his assistant alerting the Admiral to their arrival. He looked completely confused since Steve had only just left the office.
“Commander?” the Admiral said when he came to the outer office, his assistant following him.
“If we may come in, sir,” Steve said, nodding toward the Admiral’s office.
“We?” Admiral Aikman repeated with a frown for Danny and Grace. And possibly Steve since to his mind, Steve had disobeyed a direct order.
“We’ll explain everything, sir,” Steve promised. The Admiral finally nodded, turning to lead them into his office to close the door.
“Who are these civilians and why did you fail to complete your mission?” Admiral Aikman demanded.
“I did not fail in my mission, sir,” Steve said. “This is Danny Williams. He is the Portal Keeper. And this is his…our daughter Grace.”
Our daughter,” the Admiral repeated, looking down at her. “You don’t have children.”
“I didn’t. But I do now. I was in Esri for a week, sir. Then Danny, Grace and I swam through the portal at which time Danny sealed it,” Steve explained.
“You left my office less than 30 minutes ago.”
“I know, sir,” Steve said. “Time is different in Esri. The SEAL who disappeared through the portal never arrived. He’s still here.”
“That’s not possible, Commander. We have a tape of him being sucked through,” the Admiral said with a stern frown.
“If I may, sir,” Danny said, taking a step closer. The Admiral frowned at him which did not deter him at all. “Might we watch the tape again?”
“To what ends?”
“You’ll see that he does not swim through,” Danny said.
Admiral Aikman frowned even more but used the remote to start the recording. Just like before, the six SEALs with scuba masks and tanks were swimming in the clear blue water. As they swam away from the camera, they came closer to the black rocks of the Pu’u Keka’a reef. One of the SEALs stopped and motioned to the others to back away. That SEAL reached out and touched the black coral, snatching back his hand and shooing the other men further away. The SEAL by the coral lowered himself and peered at the coral where he had put his hand. He seemed to considered it before turning toward the camera and motioning them all to follow him. They swam to the surface, all six SEALs returning to the boat.
“Well,” the Admiral said, glancing over at Danny and Steve. “I apologize.”
“There is no need,” Steve said. “It takes some getting used to.”
“Thank you for accomplishing the mission,” the Admiral said, extending his hand to shake Steve’s.
“I appreciate it, sir. Danny actually sealed it,” Steve said, nodding over to Danny.
“It’s my job,” Danny said with a smile that included the Admiral, Steve, Grace, and possibly all Humans on this side of the portal.
Six months after they had returned to the Human side of the portal, Danny was trying to convince Steve to swim through with him and Grace.
“Because Grace wants to see Rachel. We did promise,” Danny reminded him, reaching over to kiss Steve. Unfair tactics, sure. But whatever it takes.
“We have five active cases, Danno,” Steve reminded him. “We can’t expect Chin to handle them by himself. What would that do to our PI reputation?”
“And you know we’ll be back right after we leave,” Danny said. He propped his head on his hand to study Steve. “What’s the real deal, Babe? Why don’t you want to come with us?”
“I keep dreaming that I didn’t get you out of the crevice and the rocks crushed you,” Steve finally admitted. “I… what if…?” He stopped when Danny put a finger over his lips.
“Your alchemy is strong enough to stop it. Plus the miners will meet us at the ocean. And Grace will be with us. The Plains will respect her presence just like when we were coming home.”
Steve sighed, scooting closer to Danny’s warm, bare body. “Maybe you can convince me.”
“Oh. I need to bribe you with sex,” Danny said, reaching out to touch Steve’s familiar body.
“It’s a win-win,” Steve pointed out with a smile.
And they lived happily ever after…

The End.

Kathy: McDanno sailboatkitmerlot1213 on November 22nd, 2012 03:37 am (UTC)
This is a lovely ending to a great story--thanks for sharing it :)
Are 6 dogs too many?tkeylasunset on November 26th, 2012 03:18 pm (UTC)
I just realized I didn't reply to your comment. I'm so sorry! And thank you for letting me know you enjoyed it!
bymagajonesbymagajones on November 26th, 2012 06:23 am (UTC)
I'm not a big fan of "otherworldly" stories, so I'd been passing over this one. Finally, though, I was desperate for new and long fanfiction, and I decided to just read the first chapter. As you can see, I ended up reading to the very end! Now I kind of want to grab a copy of the book and compare to see how you adapted it - it flowed so well, like it was naturally meant for Danny and Steve.
I really enjoyed this; thanks for writing it.
Are 6 dogs too many?tkeylasunset on November 26th, 2012 03:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you for taking the chance on my story!!! I know AUs aren't so popular but it was great fun to write!!

Let me know if you read the real book. I thought about ordering it but still haven't decided if I want to read it or not.

Thanks again!!
kcs_slayve on November 27th, 2012 06:40 am (UTC)
Your 'book' is the only one I needed to read.

I'm putting it on the shelf so I can read it again.