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Sonora had expected an argument, expected him to say he knew what was best or some such nonsense. Instead, he said, "I agree."

She shivered and wondered where to start now that she had his attention. Ian took her discomfort as a sign she was cold and laid his Tux jacket around her.

"Thank you." She needed to just start, just say something anything. "There are so many--I just can't see--" Sonora looked at the sky, the ocean, the table, anywhere but him. She raised her hand to her hair intending to run her fingers through it until she remembered it was up and sprayed into the equivalent of a brick wall. Instead, she covered her face with her hand before looking at him. "I want so much to get to know you better."

Hearing that Ian felt the little flicker, the one that had begun earlier in the evening, grow. It resisted his efforts to tamp it down. He brought a hand to the ache that had started in his chest and rubbed it. "Then let's start there."

"But there are issues, and I need answers." Sonora waved her hand.

Imagining it all falling apart, Ian took her flailing hand. "No, let's start there."

"Okay."

"Ask me, ask me anything."

"Exactly how long were you spying on me?"

Ian's eyes widened, and he ran a hand over his shaved cheek. "This is where you want to begin?"

"Yes."

Ian looked at her for a moment before turning his gaze to the ground. "I did not deal with that properly. I understand that now. I tried to fight it, I really did, but in doing so, I worked against every instinct I had. I did not have control of myself, not in that situation. It is always the same way with the Atlantian. Meet, bond, court. This was so unknown," Ian raised his eyes to Sonora's. "I had no point of reference and no one to turn to for help. Please, understand that. In answer to your question, a long time. Months. So when the opportunity came, and you needed me, I was already lost to you."

Sonora's hand flew to her mouth. "Months! Ian!" When he shrugged as if there had been nothing he could do, she almost laughed. "You do know that is creepy, don't you?" When he didn't answer, but instead looked distressed, she relented. "I don't understand, perhaps I never will. But I can understand the confusion of feelings that come with this situation." She tipped her head. "In all that time, didn't you ever want to, I don't know, say hi or something?"

"Every day. But I was trying to stop, and I did not think that would be of any help."

"No, I don't suppose that would've." Sonora giggled, then huffed out a breath. "Nothing does."

"One thing does. Being together." Even saying the words, made Ian yearn for a time when Sonora would accept that she was his Intended.

"So you planned my abduction all out. The place, regulator--"

Ian was quick and firm with his answer. "It was not an abduction! I saved your life. If you would not have been tumbled by that wave, I would never have taken you home that day. Yes, I was prepared to take you to Atlantis and hoped the chance would come, but I let you come home. Even when it broke me. "

Sonora agreed as she traced the design on the metal table with one long, painted nail. She couldn't deny that he saved her life. So if he wanted to only see it as that, she would let him. After all, he never harmed her, and everything he said or did was either for her comfort or out of his need for her to be his Intended. And he was right, in the end, he had even successfully fought against every desire he had to give her what she wanted. Her home in the air.

She nodded and bit her lip before she continued. "Another thing. I need you to--I need to be seen as an equal. Can you do that?"

"Yes. I will learn to do whatever you need. That is the way of one Intended to another."

Her brows creased. Sonora was unsure how all that worked, so she decided to shelf that discussion for another time. "What about the fact that you are eighty-three and I'm twenty-one, yet I will grow old far sooner than you. Have you thought about that?"

Ian laughed. "You still act like I have a choice about this. Yes, I have, but our eighty-three is not long out of childhood." He stretched the truth a bit on that one. "Besides, now we know you are part Atlantian. Maybe you will age slower, as we do, under the right conditions."

"I can't even wrap my head around that," Sonora said vigorously shaking her head. "And my family--I can't just leave them, we are all so close.

"I have thought of that also. I can bring you to see your family from time to time. It is not so far away." He leaned forward and folded his hands around hers.

"And how do you feel about that? Being with humans so much?"

"It would be... fine."

"Oh yes, I can tell by the curl of your lips and the way you hesitant as you say it. Pfft. No wonder you don't lie, you are so bad at it." Sonora couldn't help but laugh at his childish attempts to cover his feelings.

"I would not hesitate to do it for you. I will learn to love them, as you do."

Sonora looked down at her hands nervously twisting through his. She lifted her gaze to Ian. "Truly?"

"Truly." All Ian could see was hope starting in her wide blue eyes. He could feel her teetering on the edge of a decision, and he wouldn't do anything to jeopardize it from swinging in his favor. He refrained from breathing even though it was time for him to inhale.

Ian watched her face, looking for any small micromovement that would tell him what he wanted to hear. He stretched out his feelings to her, hoping for some little hint of what was to come. Then he felt it. A relaxing of the wall she tried to keep him behind. He saw a loosening of the tiny muscles by her eye.

It was as if he had been in a black underwater cave and burst into the bright, sunlit reef. All the color of life that had disappeared when she walked out of his life came rushing back to him. He felt blinded by the sight of her as he watched the final words fall from her full, rosy lips.

"Whatever this thing between us is," Sonora said, "I'm so very tired of trying to drive it away. Let's not fight it anymore. I want to try." 

Sonora's eyes were on her twisting hands. She wasn't nervous about what Ian would say, without a doubt, he would have a positive reply. It was everything else that was an unknown.

Ian wanted to drop to his knees in front of her but was aware such a display would only frighten her already shredded nerves. Instead, he brought her hand to his lips, gently kissed it and casually said, "Sure, my heart, whatever you would like to do."

Sonora giggled and flashed her eyes up at him. Ian and Sonora leaned toward each other, speaking in low, pleasant whispers about the beauty around them. The sky, the sea, the dolphins that could be seen frolicking in the moonlit waves. It all reflected the wonder they felt inside themselves.

Ian watched as Sonora gladly threaded her arm through his and caressed her small hand back into his large one. His heart pounded as his Intended lay her head on his shoulder. As a warm glow flared through his body, he was certain this was the most joy he'd ever felt.


A/N: This chapter makes me happy. (Action is coming for all the action fans.) I hope you enjoyed it too. :) If so, please let me know what you thought.

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