We last left off with Danny ranting at Steve about where he has been for the last two weeks. Not quite ready to tell Danny yet, he stalls and then tells Danny he wants to tell him and the kids at the same time. They set a date to return the following morning. As we move on in this next part of SEAL of Approval, Steve finally makes the big reveal. After building up to it and surrounded by his other family, he turns back into a seal. What will happen next and will Danny accept it or…? Time to find out.
He paces the floor, patience never his strong suit. He turns to the front door when he hears the Camaro pull in and wipes his sweaty palms on his shorts. He has no idea how to start this, but he’ll have to feel things out with the kids. Let them take the lead.
When the front door opens, he’s surprised as Charlie makes a beeline for him, all but jumping into his arms.
“Uncle Steve!” He throws his arms around his neck. “I’m so happy you’re back. I was afraid you’d been hurt.”
Steve hugs him tight. “I’m fine, big man. Don’t you worry about you Uncle Steve.” He laughs as he puts him down. He stands straight and looks into the most hurt pair of brown eyes he’s ever seen. “Hey, Gracie.”
“I’m sorry, Grace. I had no choice.”
“Why didn’t you at least leave a note? We all thought you were dead!” She holds nothing back.
“Again, I’m sorry. I don’t know what else I can say right now. I didn’t mean for any of this to happen. But it did and I can’t change it. If you give me a chance, though, I might be able to explain it. Will you give me that chance?” He pleads with her.
Just like her father, she studies him, wondering if she’s going to get the truth. Finally, she nods, walking over and giving him a big hug. “I’m just glad you’re okay and alive.” He twitches a bit as her arms hug him tight around his injury and he hopes she doesn’t notice. He’s not quite ready for the big reveal.
He looks up at Danny and smiles. He doesn’t get one in response, but he knows they’re good.
“So, how about we go outside and hit the beach?” Steve grudgingly lets go of Grace.
“Beach? You wanna go for a swim?” Danny’s anger starts rising again.
“Maybe not a swim, but I do have something to show you.” He takes Charlie by the hand and leads him outside. He doesn’t have to turn around to know Grace and Danny are right behind him. He smiles when he sees almost all his ‘family’s’ heads bobbing above the water. The only ones missing are his eldest and his love. She did not want to be a part of this…yet.
“I knew it! I knew you wanted to tell us about the seals!” Charlie tries to run to the water, but Steve keeps a tight hold on his hand.
“Yes, that’s part of it.” He stops at the chairs, sitting down so he’s on eye level with the boy. “They are part of what I wanted to tell you. This is not what I originally had in mind, but they are persistent.”
“Per…persis?” Charlie tries to copy the word.
Steve laughs. “They’re like your dad, Charlie. It means they don’t give up.”
Charlie laughs. With that sound, the seals start barking, as if joining in. That makes Charlie laugh even harder and soon they have all joined in. That breaks through the tension and everyone relaxes.
Steve, glad no one picked up on his error about the seals, starts to formulate a plan in his head. He knows no one is to approach the seals but he has a special bond with them and he can’t stop himself. Once everyone is comfortable, he stands and walks into the water. He’d removed his shirt, wondering if anyone will notice the scar.
“Steven, what are you doing?” Danny yells at him.
“I’m going in the water. Anyone wanna join me?”
“No! My kids are not getting in the water with those wild animals.”
“They won’t hurt them, Danno. I can promise that.” He moves out deeper and the pups surround him. He still thinks of them as pups, even though many have gone off and started mating. His ‘daughters’ have all had at least one pup; his ‘sons’ not yet. Well except for his eldest. It’s just hard to realize that, due to the difference in life spans, the pups are considered full grown at about three to four years. He looks back at Grace, knowing she still has a few years to go before she’s considered full grown.
He smiles, being surrounded by his ‘family’ and wants to change but the time is not right. He wants to get Grace and Charlie, and maybe even Danny, to accept them and know they will not hurt them. He swims and plays with the seals, urging Danny to let the kids come in the water, even though they are breaking the law. Danny continues to use it as an excuse until he finally relents and allows Grace to go in with her Uncle Steve.
She slowly makes her way out, flinching away every time one of the seals comes close to her, but as she gets to Steve, she knows he wouldn’t allow anything to happen to her and she relaxes. She’d not been allowed to touch the one they found on the beach, so she’s amazed at how soft they are when she finally touches one of them. They love the feel of warm, kind hands caressing them and soon they are moving to have her pet them.
“You need to come out here, Dad. Bring Charlie! They are so tame and kind. They won’t hurt you!” She laughs and the seals join in.
Steve stands there, smiling at how quickly they accepted her and he wants them to do the same with Danny and Charlie. “Come on, Danno!” He waves at them.
Danny, seeing how happy his little girl is, can’t hold his son back. “Okay. But we’re not coming out as far. I want Charlie to be able to stand. Got that?”
Steve nods, looking intently at the young seals.
“You all understand? You must be gentle. He is a small boy and not as strong as the girl or me.” He gets affirmatives from all of them as the swarm over to Danny and Charlie. Moving carefully, they check out the small boy, marveling at how tiny he is.
”Are you okay, my love?”
“I am fine, my dear. The pups are playing well.”
“Are you sure you should be doing this? They must know that humans are not to be around.”
“They understand that, like me, these humans are special. They will not be hurt by them and may even come to be loved.”
“Loved? By humans?”
“Yes. I love them. I love you.”
“You are special, my love. You have reason to love us.”
“They will, too. They love me so they will love all of you.”
“I hope you are right. Will I see you at next sunrise?”
“I will be there.”
Steve has the conversation in the space of moments, his focus never wavering from the seals and the fun they are having with the kids. He and Grace had moved to where Charlie and Danny are, and the two kids are having the time of their lives.
“Danny? There’s more.”
“What do you mean, more?”
“Can we go up to the chairs? This is all the big secret.” He nods for Danny to follow him. “They’ll be fine.” He walks out of the water, sure that Danny will follow.
“Okay, Steve, what else? I mean, this is pretty big, in and of itself. Other than that big male washing up injured. I never knew you had such a relationship with the seals of this island.” He sits down, eyes never leaving his kids.
“Well, these seals are special to me.” He sits down, glad Danny had chosen the chair on the left. He lifts his arm, pretending to dry off his side and wincing, loud enough for Danny to hear, as he runs the towel over the scar.
“You okay?” Danny turns his head, looking Steve over. He notices the scar and looks up into Steve’s eyes. “You didn’t say you were hurt.”
“Yeah. It was pretty nasty, too.” Steve looks down at his feet. Now that the moment is here, he’s having serious doubts. What if he doesn’t accept it? What if he never accepts it? What will I do not being able to turn? Never to be with Lilly or my pups again? He shakes his head. He knows Danny. That will never happen.
“Couldn’t have been that bad. It seems pretty healed.” Danny looks a little closer, noticing the shape. He looks up at Steve again, confusion in his eyes. “That an odd shaped scar.”
Steve looks at him. It’s now or never. He takes in a deep breath.
“Looks familiar, though. Doesn’t it?” He wills Danny to make the connection.
“It does but I know that can’t be.” He shakes his head, his attention going back to his kids. They are just at the waters edge now, rolling around and playing happily with the seals.
“Yes, it can.” Steve says. He watches as Danny slowly turns his head, disbelief in his eyes.
“No, Steven. It can’t. The only place I’ve seen an injury that matches this one is on the seal that we found here a little over two weeks ago. This just looks like that.”
“No, Danny. It doesn’t just look like it.”
He looks back at the SEAL, not sure what to think. “What are you saying, Steve?”
“I’m saying it’s the same injury.”
“You mean on this mission, you somehow got harpooned? Right? That’s what you mean.”
“No, I’m not saying that.” He stands.
“You cannot be saying what I think you’re saying, cause that would be crazy, Steve. Did you get hit over the head while you were gone?”
“No, Danny. I didn’t. I’ll prove it to you.” He heads out into the water, sending a message to HIS kids to stay where they are. He’s never changed into seal form out of water and is not sure that would be comfortable, so he goes out until he’s deep enough to change. He slips off his trunks and changes, everything taking on that wonderful glow again. Breaking the surface, he hauls himself out onto the beach, nodding his head to Danny as he makes his way up to the chairs. Barking, he moves around so that the injured side is visible and he stares at Danny.
Danny stands there, shaking his head. “Come out, Steven. This isn’t funny. It’s a really bad joke right now.” He looks around, waiting for Steve to come up from under the water. “Get out here right now!” He looks around wildly, knowing it’s been minutes since Steve went under.
Steve moves closer to him, moving his flippers. If he could get Danny to look closer, he would see the tattoos and how they mark him as a seal. He gets as close as Danny will let him, barking at him to look.
He sees Danny bend over, looking at the scar, it’s placement, and the marking above his flippers. It’s at that moment, his front turned away from the kids, he changes back.
To Be Continued...
Story by P_Street_7609
Fan Art by Becoming_Bryna