Peregrine stopped at the edge of the cliff. The view would make a spectacular painting. Emil handed his a sketch book. He kissed Emil's fingers. "Thank you. But are we ready for a break?"
He didn't want to keep his men from enjoying themselves.
"Go ahead." Kurt rubbed Peregrine's shoulder. "I'll go explore over there."
He gestured to a patch of trees on the first flat spot they'd come across on the trail. The first half mile had been switchbacks up the cliff face.
"I could use a rest." Emil sat down on the gravel. He wasn't too tired was he? They'd kept him up a little longer then they'd planned. Peregrine opened his pack and handed Emil a water bottle. Emil took it and blew him a kiss. He drank half the bottle. Peregrine should have offered it earlier.
"It's a nice day for a hike." Emil spread his arms. "Thank you for the idea."
They weren't the only ones up here. The crunch of feet on gravel came closer, so Peregrine refrained from telling Emil just how sexy he was. He'd have plenty of time to say it later.
"Hey, Peregrine." Kurt stepped out of the trees. "There is a trail back here that leads to a bench. You could sit while you sketch."
A place to sit and a little privacy? Maybe he would do more that draw.
Kurt stuck his toes in the water. It was freezing. Snowmelt tended to be. "Will this warm up by August?"
Peregrine, his feet still tucked inside his shoes, laughed. "We are not going to have our commitment ceremony ankle deep in cold water. Even with the lovely of backdrop."
Emil stood on a rock in the water. "Not everyone Peregrine wants to invite can make it this far."
True. The climb had been steep and long. He wouldn't have wanted to supervise toddlers as they ran up the switchbacks like they family they'd seen going down as they'd gone up. Little kids were fearless.
"I don't know how many will come." Peregrine looked back down at his sketchbook. He added more lines. Was the sketch of Emil in front of the waterfall?
He stepped back up the bank. "More if we keep it close to home."
Emil bit his lip. "I thought we decided on the beach."
They had mostly, but the waterfalls were so spectacular. At least to him. Emil and Peregrine had seen them at least once a summer, so they were merely pretty to them. Kurt stopped on the bridge beside Peregrine. The Emil in the sketch wore a billowing, diaphanous gown to his knees and nothing else, his pointed toes just above the next rock in a trail that didn't quite cross the water. At least not yet. And his position the only thing keeping the audience from seeing everything.
Kurt pointed. "Give the rocks a green tint and have them appear as he needs them. And put a dragon's head over here, barely poking out of the water. He's walking on my tail."
Peregrine grinned. "I like the way you think. He'll need fairy wings."
He sketched them in.
"What are you two conspiring about?" Emil raised an eyebrow.
Kurt opened his mouth to describe the scene, but a couple came into view. The woman took off her shoes and joined Emil in the water. The man watched her for a while and then made small talk with Kurt. The guy was truly ready to move on when, three groups of people later, the woman finally put her shoes back on.
Emil made his way to the edge of the water. Kurt went down to the water's edge. Time to put his shoes back on. Peregrine turned the sketch book around. Emil studied it. "I'd have to know the dragon was there. The water is crystal clear."
"That's even better." Peregrine turned the book around. "You aren't as innocent as you look."
"And you are looking for adventure."
"And the love of a good dragon." Emil sat down on the bank beside Kurt. He pressed his hand over Kurt's.
This dragon felt very loved indeed.
Emil stopped at the dusty crossroad in the trail. "Which way?"
He could never remember.
Peregrine pointed and handed Emil the last water bottle. "Unless we want to take the long way."
"How long is the long way?" Kurt put out his hand. Emil finished his drink and handed the bottle over.
"Hours or even days. Some people camp up there."
"I can think of better places to sleep." Kurt's eyes lingered down Peregrine's backside. He had a great idea.
Emil took Kurt's hand. "The short way then?"
The trail ahead narrowed and a tree grew up the low side. Emil hurried up and leaned against the tree. His men's eyes gleamed. He sent them a smoldering smile.
Kurt reached him first. His kiss sizzled.
Peregrine cleared his throat. Kurt stepped back and Emil pretended his was prim and proper until the hikers disappeared from view. Peregrine grabbed the front of Emil's tank top and pulled him into the hollow tree trunk. His kiss was just as good.
They had to get home.
The trail went down, but not as steeply as it had gone up. The car was a few hundred yards down the road from the end of the trail, parked by a waterfall. The road had no sidewalk and the white line was drawn on the edge of the pavement, so Kurt took the lead and Emil followed. Kurt filled out his pants nicely.
The road widened into another parking lot. Peregrine leaned against Emil's back and rested his chin on Emil's shoulder. "Thank you."
"Thank you for not making me chose."
Kurt turned around and raised his eyebrows. Peregrine sprinted to Kurt and dragged him across the bridge into the short tunnel that long ago had been part of the road. When Emil got there, Peregrine stepped back from Kurt. He took Kurt's hand and Emil's. "Thank you both. I am whole and free because of you."
"And I am happier than I ever thought I could be." Kurt squeezed Emil's hand.
"And I am home, wherever I am, with you."
Two kids ran into the tunnel, trying to outdo each other's echoing shouts. The moment was broken, but not the magic. Emil had found the place he truly belonged and it was with the men he loved.
A/N: I would like to post Dan's story (Kurt's dad) at some point. It's hand written in a notebook somewhere. And Meri's story (Peregrine's sister). It is summarized. And maybe also give Hunter's snapshots as he grows up. I really wanted to get them all done now, because I'm notorious for not writing after-stories, but I've been writing this story for three years and eight months and I need a break.
My next story (I'll start posting it after the holidays) is Be My Queen. Diego sees the most beautiful woman ever while on vacation. He's only got a week to make her fall in love with him. Lavender wants to enjoy the week with a maddeningly handsome guy, but to do that is to risk her secret. He only likes her because he doesn't know.
Lavender and Diego are the couple from Zan's birthday party (Chapter 17 &18) who were standoffish to Emil (Lavender looks very like Emil) until they found out that Emil didn't know his Latino side of the family. They are also the new parents of the two babies Peregrine sketches (chapter 38-40). Plus there's lunch between the five adults and Lavender and Diego bring their new family to Kurt, Emil, and Peregrine's party.
Be My Queen is the beginning of Lavender and Diego's story.