Title: The Ceremony: The Asking
Fandom: The Sentinel
Pairings: Jim/Blair, Steven/Michael, Rafe/Lee, (preslash) William/Daniel (slash)
Summary: Will he say yes?
Beta: By my sister Anna. All remaining errors are mine-with apologies.
The Ceremony: The Asking
“Steven,” William whispered softly into his son’s ear.
“Dad?” Steven asked sleepily, moving closer to his Dad’s comforting warmth.
William chuckled softly. “Yes. Are you awake yet?”
“Nope. Give me a half hour.”
William kissed Steven’s forehead. “Alright. How do you feel?”
“I’m glad. You really should have said you weren’t feeling well,” William told him, gently moving Steven’s soft hair off his forehead.
“I know. Are you mad at me?” Steven asked, hesitantly. Blue eyes darkening with worry.
Steven crinkled his nose in confusion. “How come no one’s mad? I gave plenty of reason for everyone to scream and yell at me.”
William cupped his son’s face in gently hands. “Because, son-you punish yourself enough all on your own.”
“That’s what Jim said.”
“He’s right. Steven?” William stroked his son’s cheek with his thumbs.
Steven moved into the gentle touch. “Yup?”
“Daniel would like to ask you something?”
Steven made himself more comfortable in his father’s lap, pulling the afghan off the back of the couch. “What?”
“He’ll be back in a second and he can ask you himself.”
“Okay,” Steven replied as he tucked the afghan around the two of them. “Dad?”
The suddenly innocent look in Steven’s blue eyes should have warned William. As well as the fugitive look around the empty living room. “We’re here all by ourselves…”
“You can tell me…”
William furrowed his brows. “What?”
“I’m your favorite son, huh? You can tell me. I swear I won’t tell anyone.”
William chuckled softly. “Steven. Steven. Steven.”
“Come on, Dad. I swear I won’t tell anyone. Well I might rub it in Jim’s face a little. Just enough to make him mad. I love making him crazy.”
William hugged his son close. “You’re something else, Steven.”
Steven returned the hug with one of his own. “I know.”
William was saved from responding by Daniel walking into the living room with a tray containing three mugs of hot chocolate and a plate piled high with cookies.
Awake I see,” Daniel told Steven as he placed the tray on the coffee table.
“Would you like some hot chocolate?”
Steven not willing to give up his very comfortable and loving Dad chair, sat up slightly. “Yes, please. Can I have a cookie, too?”
“You sure can,” Daniel replied, handing Steven both. “How do you feel?”
“Better, thank you. Dad said you wanted to ask me something,” Steven said, eyeing Daniel curiously.
Steven smiled at him. “Okay, I’m all ears. Ask away.”
Daniel took a sip of his chocolate before looking up. Hazel eyes meeting Steven’s shyly. “You know I care about you-all of you very much.”
“Yes. Dad, can I have another cookie?”
William gave him it to him, smiling encouragingly at Daniel. “Here you go, son.”
“Thanks, Dad.” Steven nibbled on his cookie as he continued to look at the decidedly uncomfortable Shaman. “You-what?”
“Well, I was kind of wondering… Well, I’ve been thinking about it for a long time…and well, I…”
“Wow, that’s a lot of wells in one sentence.”
William kissed his son’s forehead. “Shh, Steven. Let him say what he has to.”
Steven looked up at his father. “Okay, but is this gonna take all night? Cause I would eventually like to get to bed sometime before the sun rises.”
Daniel groaned. Placing his head in his hands. “Oh, Goddess.”
William chuckled. “Maybe asking Steven first wasn’t such a good idea.”
Daniel sighed heavily before lifting his head. “He’s the perfect one to ask first. If I can convince him my intent is good, the others will listen. Be more willing…”
Steven sat up slightly leaning his head against his father’s shoulders. “I am kinda cool that way,” he replied, giving Daniel a brilliant smile.
Daniel returned it ruefully. “And just so modest to boot.”
Steven shook his head. “Nope, can’t say I am. Modest isn’t the first thing people would say when asked to describe me. I think they’d come up with a lot of other more colorful words to describe me before they’d even think modest could possibly fits me.’
William chuckled softly. “That’s true. But you have to let Daniel talk. What he wants to ask you is very important. To you. To the others. And to our future together.”
“Can’t you just ask me, Dad? Cause if I wait for Daniel I’ll be racing around the nursing home in my wheelchair with Michael hot on my trail before he can get his question out.”
Daniel groaned again. “Oh, Goddess. I am in so much trouble.”
William smiled. “Just ask. What could he say?”
“He could say no.”
“He won’t say no,” William told him. Knowing how much this meant to Daniel. How scared he was that Steven would say no. Therefore losing the rest of the boys. It would crush Daniel if Steven found him unworthy.
Yet in his heart William knew Steven would never say no. He might tease the hell out of Daniel just to make him crazy, but he would never say no.
“Yeah, just ask me. Chances are I could say no to whatever it is, but then I could always say yes, but either way you’ll never know unless you just ask me. Dad, can I have another cookie?”
William handed him it to him. Turning to look at his nervous Shaman. “Ask him,” he whispered softly. “Just ask him. He won’t say no.”
Daniel took a deep breath. “Iwanttobeyourfather,willyouletme?” can out in a jumbled rush.
“Huh?” Steven asked in confusion, about to use his cookie to scoop out a marshmallow from his hot chocolate. “You might wanna take that a little slower and in one word syllables. Cause some of us aren’t, you know-all that smart. Okay, I’m a heck of a lot smarter than Jim, but still...I couldn’t understand a word you just said.”
“Shoot me, please just shoot me,” Daniel moaned. “I deserve to die.”
Steven looked up at his father, who was quietly chuckling. “Should I help him get it out?”
William nodded. “Yes, please. He needs all the help he can get right now.” He chuckled softly.
Steven pushed off the afghan, rising slowly from his comfortable perch. “Keep my spot warm for me. I’m not done with it yet,” He told his father before making his way to Daniel. He knelt in front of the visibly trembling Shaman. “What could you wanna ask that’s got you all riled up?” he asked, more confused than ever.
“I…” Daniel couldn’t continue. He wanted to, he really did, but the words just wouldn’t come. He stared at Steven helplessly.
Steven took Daniel’s hands in his. “Ask me. Go on, just ask me.”
“I what?” Steven asked, encouragingly.
“Okay we already covered the ‘I’ part. What comes next?”
Steven shook his head. “No. No. No. I already got the ‘I’ part. What’s next?”
Steven nodded. “Good. At least that’s not another ‘I’. Love. Next?”
Steven frowned up at him. “I don’t get it.” Daniel groaned. “Well, it’s not like I didn’t already know you loved me. Geez, you’d have to be blind as a bat not to see it. I’ve been accused of many things but being blind isn’t one of them.”
Daniel swallowed heavily. “I love you,” he said, helplessly. “Very much.”
“We already covered that. And I already told you I knew that. That doesn’t seem to be the question you wanted to ask though. Unless…” Steven looked up at him. “Are you trying to ask me if I love you back? Cause you know, I kinda thought that was obvious. Maybe I should be telling you more. Like I do everyone else in the family.”
Daniel smiled at him. “I would love it if you did.”
“I love you.”
Daniel chuckled softly. Smiling down at the child looking up at him with such trust and yes-love. “I love you, too.”
“Cool. What’s your question?”
“Oh, God-we’re not going to have to go through that again are we?”
Daniel shook his head. “No. What I want to ask, terribly-I might add is…”
“I love you.”
“Yes-yes we covered that. What’s your question?”
Daniel took a deep breath, pushing forward. “I wanted to know…”
Steven lowered his head, banging his head against the Shaman’s knees. “No. No. No,” he said, despairingly. “Not again. And you were doing so much better.”
Daniel chuckled softly. Placing his hands on Steven forehead to keep him from hurting himself, he told William. “I have never in my whole life been so totally and completely unable to communicate.”
“It’s understandable. You want this very much, so you’re a little tongue-tied.”
“A little tongue-tied. I can’t even string a few words together.”
“Speak from your heart. The words will come.”
“Okay.” Daniel nodded, taking a deep breath. “We will try this again. Steven?”
“Will you be my son? Mine to protect, honor and cherish.”
Steven gave him an impish grin. “Kinda sounds like you wanna marry me? Cause if you do your gonna have to take it up with Michael and then with Dad. Though there may not be enough of you left for Dad to deal with once Michael’s done with you.”
“Steven,” Daniel chided softly. “I’m serious.”
The impish grin turned into a brilliant smile. “So am I.”
“I’m trying to be serious and you mock me, you silly child.”
Steven’s blue eyes twinkled merrily. “Yup.”
Daniel gently stroked the side of Steven’s face with a finger. “I love you and I’m very serious.”
“Hmm, nice. I know you are. I’ll quit teasing. Ask me.”
“I very much want to be a father to you. With a father’s right to protect, cherish, love and to scold when needed, above all to love. I ask for the right to be your father. I don’t want to replace William in any way. I just desperately want to be a part of your life. ”
“You already are.”
“I know, but…”
“It’s not enough?”
Daniel closed his eyes, fighting back the tears. “No,” he replied softy, shaking his head. “I want more. I want a more meaningful role in your life.”
“You’re our Shaman.”
“Yes, but I want more, much, much more. I want a father’s right. To be treated like a father. As if my blood flowed in your veins as well as William.”
Steven tilted his head as he contemplated Daniel. “You do know what you’re asking?”
Daniel tweaked Steven’s nose affectionately. “Oh, yes.”
“And you still want it?”
“It’s not going to be easy. Just look at all the grey hair on Dad’s head.”
Daniel smiled at William. “I’ve seen them and I frankly adore every one of them.”
“Gag. Way too much information.”
Daniel’s smile deepened. “Sorry. Please, Steven.”
“Why are you asking me? Jim is head Sentinel of this group.”
“As you go, so go the others.”
“Oh. I’m the head honcho of this operation, huh?”
Daniel smiled at Steven. “Always. You would know if my heart were not true. No one else has that power.”
“You’re giving me an awful lot of credit. Credit that may not actually be mine.”
Daniel shook his head. “I don’t think so.”
“No matter what I decide, you’d still have to ask them,” Steven warned. “I can be your go between, but you need to ask all of them.”
Daniel sat very still as Steven’s contemplation of him grew deeper and more profound. It was as if the youngster was searching Daniel’s heart and soul. Finally…
“Ask me again,” Steven whispered, softly. “Without the stuttering and the tongue-tied thing you had going on before.”
Daniel nodded, licking at his suddenly very dry lips. He looked over at William for encouragement, freely given as William gave him a brilliant smile, full of love and understanding.
Daniel’s glaze returned to the boy still kneeling in front of him. “Steven, would you do me the honor of becoming my son. I promise to love you with my whole heart and soul. To cherish and protect you for all eternity. I promise with everything in me to protect you to the death.”
“I’m hoping it never, ever, comes to that,” Steven replied, taking the Shaman’s trembling hands in his. “I Steven Ellison take you Daniel as my father with all the rights of a father. I promise to never abuse your love for me. And I promise to protect you to the death as well.”
Daniel’s hazel eyes filled with tears. “Oh, Steven…”
Steven smiled up at him, his own eyes filling with tears. “What, did you think the protecting thing only went one way? I can protect you and Dad as well. So can Jim. Even Blair, little as he is. Once he comes fully into his powers there’s going to be no stopping him. His powers are going to outshine ours a million to one.”
“Is this truly what you want? To be a part of all this madness?”
“You’re crazy, you know that?”
Daniel smiled at him, bending down to gently kiss Steven on the forehead. “A crazy I relish and hold onto with both hands.”
Steven chuckled softy. “You’re such a loon. Daniel?”
Daniel watched William wiping at the tears silently coursing down his face. Knowing they were entering a new phase in their lives. William still missed his dead wife deeply. But now it wasn’t nearly as devastating. He’d begun to heal. Heal with the love of his ever growing family and the deep love they shared with one another. Something he was now a part of. “Yes?” he asked, turning once again to the child staring up at him curiously.
“Is there a Shaman type of ceremony you wanna do to make it all legal-like?”
“Y…you know about that?” Daniel asked, surprise widening his hazel eyes.
Steven smiled at him mischievously. “Course I do. I know everything.”
Daniel returned the smile. “I guess you do. Yes, there is.”
“Is it going to hurt?”
Daniel cupped the side of Steven’s face. “A little. Are you up for it?”
Steven moved into the touch. “Yup. Bring it on.”
“So brave,” Daniel whispered softly. “My son.”
“No really, to the brave part, but it’s a secret between us. Okay?” Steven replied, yawning hugely.
“Alright. Are you tired, Steven?”
Steven nodded sleepily. “Yeah, it’s been a he…” he caught himself. “A heck of a day.”
Steven turned toward his William. “Dad?”
“You remember what I asked you earlier about keeping my spot warm?”
William nodded. “Yes, son.”
“Can you keep it warm for me a little longer? I wanna give my new Pop’s lap a spin.”
William chuckled softly. “Not a problem.”
“You’re not going to get jealous or anything are you?” Steven asked worriedly. “Cause if you are… Oh, boy-I shoulda asked if it was alright with you that Daniel wanted to be our father too.”
“We discussed it earlier, Steven. I am more than fine with it. I think it’s great that he want to be a part of the madness.”
“We can all go crazy together, huh?”
“You could say that.”
Steven looked down at the floor, before looking up to met William’s eyes. “You will be at the ceremony tomorrow right?”
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
“Good, because I think it’s time that we make our commitment to you as well.”
“Steven, that’s not necessary.”
Steven tilted his head. “It is,” he insisted. “My commitment to you is just as deep as it is to my Sentinels and Guides. I will protect you to the best of my considerable abilities and it’s time to put words into action. Tomorrow we commit to both our Dads.”
Daniel interrupted. “I think it’s a great idea.”
Steven looked back at forth at his two Dads. “Cool, everyone knows each other’s name.”
“Steven,” Both William and Daniel said reproachfully.
Steven cringed. “Ouch, that stung more than when just one Dad says it. Daniel?”
Steven’s eyes lit up. “That sounds so cool coming from you.”
Daniel’s hazel eyes held their own type of twinkle. “It does, doesn’t it?”
“Yup. I know that tomorrow is to make our commitment before the powers that be, but are you gonna make us legal before the law?”
Daniel blinked. “I…I hadn’t thought of that.” He turned to William. “Will? Please, I want them as my sons in every way that is possible.”
William nodded. “I’ll talk to the lawyers in the morning.”
While they were talking Steven had climbed into Daniel’s lap. Burying his head against his neck, fell asleep. Exhausted by the days events.
Daniel wrapped his arms around the slight body, Eyes glistening with tears. “Will. Oh, Goddess, Will.”
William had gotten to his feet, carrying the blanket with him. He covered them both. “I know. There’s nothing in the world quite like the love and trust of a child.” He smiled. “Your child.”
“Thank you for giving me this, Will,” Daniel whispered softly.
William sat next to them on the couch. “I did nothing. You earned his love, Daniel.”
“You let me into their lives when you really didn’t have to.”
William moved closer, wrapping his arms around Daniel and by default Steven. “It was your beautiful green eyes. They held such remorse at what Naomi was doing. I knew you didn’t want any part of it. But when the remorse was gone your eyes held such warmth and tenderness. I knew my sons would benefit from it.”
“My sons, now too.”
William chuckled. “Yes, your sons too.”
“What if the others don’t want me?”
William kissed Daniel’s brow. “They will. How could they not? Daniel?”
The Shaman rested his forehead against William. “Hmm?”
“How does your son fit into your life?”
Daniel looked at the youngster sleeping soundly in his arms. His son. He felt his eyes fill with renewed tears. His son. Oh, Goddess-his son. “He comes first. In all things he comes first. They will all come first. Always,” he replied, unable to hide the overwhelming emotion coursing through him.
William sighed, softly, contentedly. “That is just as it should be.”