Mike resurfaced, spitting out water and flicking the wet locks of hair from his face. "I'm really beginning to hate this." He grumbled, looking around. They were a ways from shore, swimming around in the inky darkness. He wished he had a flashlight or lighter or something that would give off some kind of light so that he could hail someone onshore to come get them.

Two arms wrapped around his neck from behind and he felt a body press against him in the dark, shivering. He put a hand on the arms, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. "Nina..." He said quietly, a slight tone of relief in his voice. She didn't say anything, just hugged him tightly as they treaded water. He breathed in the scent of her, wondering what hell she had been through the past couple of days while he hadn't been himself. He remembered vague pieces of the puzzle; enough to miss her while Jack was in control and fear for her. "Where's the other two?" He asked her, just as Hannah's voice pierced the night.

"I can't find Danny. I know he was here." She said urgently, swimming towards them. Nina's arms slipped from around Mike's neck and she sunk back into the water, looking around. Mike did the same, watching for any movement other than them. He called out Danny's name and got no response.

"He has to be here. He was right me when the boat did the super speedy decay." Mike said. "Danny!" He called again, but there was no answer. Cold fingers of dread crept across his heart. "Shit! Where is he? Danny!" As his eyes adjusted to the darkness around him, he saw a small object floating not too far away. He swam toward it, only to find that it was Danny's driver's license. With a flick of his wrist he tossed it to Nina and dove under the water. It was nearly impossible to see and he was hoping that not enough time had elapsed for Danny to sink too far. He strained to see in the darkness, swimming down just a little bit farther.

Suddenly his hand hit something and he pulled back for a moment. Tentatively he reached out and grabbed for it again, feeling it. It was a human hand. His grip tightened around Danny's wrist and he swam back towards the surface.

Nina treaded water, waiting for Mike to resurface. This had to be hell. Tall tales that ended up being true and even after they'd defeated the story; they still had to struggle to survive. Hannah waited beside her, breath forming little clouds in front of her every time she exhaled. "Come on." She whispered. "Please." Nina was about to join in her prayer when a bright spotlight hit them in the water.

"Stay where you are. There are rescuers coming to your assistance." The voice boomed from seemingly out of nowhere. Nina raised a hand to her eyes and was able to just make out the Coast Guard emblem on the bow of the boat. The sputtering behind her took her by surprise and she turned to see Mike resurface, Danny in his arm. He began pulling both of them towards the boat. Nina swam out to help him despite the calls from the rescuers coming towards them. One already had Hannah in the small boat and was motioning for Nina and Mike to come towards them. As they reached the edge, Hannah darted forward to help them pull her husband in. One of the rescuers, his nametag identifying him as Tom, leaned down over Danny.

"This one isn't breathing!" He shouted, feeling for a pulse. Hannah picked up his cold hand, rubbing it.

"Come on, baby." She whispered. "Now's not the time." Her voice was firm despite the tears in her eyes. "Not now." The coast guard officer leaned down over Danny and tilted his head upward, blowing breath into his lungs and then placing his hands on his chest, pumping to simulate the heart working. Mike held Nina tightly beneath the blanket that had been wrapped around them. Another coast guard pushed by them, setting down the portable cardiac paddle kit next to Tom. Tom started it up, attaching the electrodes to Danny's chest. There was no movement on the screen except for flat lines.

Hannah bent down over him, almost as if she were looking him in the face. "Come on, Daniel." She said, her voice strong and unwavering. "You've been through all that and you're going to give up on me now?" She wanted to say more, but Tom gently moved her away. He blew another breath into Danny's mouth and started compressions again.

Suddenly Danny started coughing and gasping for air. The two coast guards grabbed him and turned him onto his side so he wouldn't choke on the water as it came up. As soon as most of it had gone from his system, they laid him on his back again. Tom unhooked his radio from his belt. "Be advised. Medical transport needed at the dock immediately..."

-------------------

"Mommy! He's moving, he's moving!" The small voice was the first thing to enter his conscious mind as he struggled to come out of the darkness. Somewhere he could hear an annoying, steady beep. He could smell chlorine and another faint odor that was a dead giveaway to where he was.

"Am I in hell?" He groaned, forcing his eyes open and snapping them shut again as he was nearly blinded by the institutional white of the ceiling and walls. Something smacked his arm and there was a mildly insulted grumble from somewhere off to his left.

"He almost dies, I save his ass, and he was the balls to wonder if he's in...ow! What was that for?"

"Could you swear anymore in front of the child Mike?" Danny grinned as Nina admonished her lover for cursing. He tried again and this time managed to keep his eyes open. The blurry figures around him slowly came into focus and he found his family staring down at him, varying expressions of joy on their faces.

Mike was the closest, his left arm in a sling and a rather large bruise adorning the right side of his jaw. Nina stood next to him, her arm looped through his good arm and her head resting on his shoulder. There were a few scratches on her face as well. Hannah sat on Danny's left side, her arms crossed on the side of his bed and her chin resting on her arms. As he looked her way, she smiled and stood up, leaning over to kiss his forehead.

"Good to have you back." She whispered as she pulled away, only to be replaced by a dark haired little girl who had climbed up onto the bed and had crawled her way over to him. She smiled brightly and lunged forward. A grunt of pain escaped him as she lay down against him, happy, with her head resting on his chest.

"Gave us quite a scare." Nina responded. "Although that's never been anything new." Danny smiled slightly as he rubbed Emma's back. He still felt very foggy headed, but attributed it to the morphine in his system. The pain wasn't as bad as it had been and when he touched his stomach, he could feel the stitches beneath the cloth. He winced and drew back his hand, running it through his hair instead.

"Oh." Mike said, breaking the comfortable silence and going over to the chair against the opposite wall. "Your kids insisted on making you a card, so we brought that a long for you." He pulled a construction paper card from the satchel lying there and brought it over to Danny. Emma sat up and grabbed the card before her father could, snuggling up against him and holding it in front of him to read.

On the front of the white paper was a crudely drawn pirate waving a sword in the air. Beneath it in various colors and writing styles were different versions of 'Get Well Soon' as well as a few extended notes asking him if he would get back soon because they wanted to finish learning about the famous pirates.

"Cute." He said after he got done reading. "Hopefully I'm out of here in a few days." Before it could be stopped, he yawned widely, trying to blink back the sleep. Hannah slowly picked up Emma off of the bed and set her on the floor.

"Go with Grandpa, sweetie." She said gently and gave her a kiss on the cheek. Mike held out his good hand for her and the little girl immediately went to him, slipping her small hand in his big one. Nina took her other hand and the three left the hospital room. Hannah turned back to Danny. He took her hand in his and squeezed it tightly.

"Thank you." He said, looking up at her with love in his eyes.

"I didn't do much." She responded, moving a strand of hair from his face and tucking it behind his ear.

"You did a lot." His eyelids had been getting progressively heavier and he felt exhausted, but he fought to stay awake as long as she was there. "I love you."

She watched him for a moment before leaning down and kissing him on the forehead. "I love you too." She whispered. "Now get some sleep before the doctors have our hides." Her lips met his again one last time before she left him to sleep, but he made the kiss last for a while longer. He'd missed her during the time he'd been gone and kissing her again made him feel like he'd found love all over again. Hannah finally broke the kiss and gently laid a hand on his chest to push him back down. "You are going to sleep now." She said firmly.

"Yes, sleep." Danny said with mock sincerity. "I think I'll sleep now." She shook her head at him and walked out the door, pulling it closed behind her. He laid his head back down on the pillow, closing his eyes. "Sleep is good."

----------------

Danny rested his hand against the cool metal of the doorknob and hesitated. It'd been a week since their adventure and things had calmed down mostly. He was still unable to help out with the chores around the stable that required heavy lifting and there was still a certain amount of pain in his stomach when he moved. But he was glad to be free of the hospital as he hated the place and refused to go willingly into one.

The kids had been more than happy to see him again and he'd been happy to see them. Almost losing his life had put things in perspective for him. He'd never realized how much Mike, Nina, Hannah, Emma, his marriage, or his job had meant in his life until he had nearly lost all of it.

Taking a deep breath, he pushed the door open and walked in. "Good morning everyone." He called, setting his bag down beside the desk. However, the normal responses to his greeting never came, the children staring at him. The looks on their faces were curious and he knew that he was going to have an enthralling class. Of course, it was probably the colonial blacksmith's clothing he was wearing that had caught their attention. With Hannah's help, he had managed to find a costume in the warehouse where all the recreation costumes were kept. It matched Will's clothing almost perfectly. He'd promised his classes tales of pirates and the high seas and what better way to do it than this.

Finally the responses came. Danny sat down on his desk and carefully brought his legs up to sit cross-legged, one hand resting against his stomach as he did so. "Well, I promised you some stories if you all passed your tests. Well, since you all passed with A's, I think that deserves a special treat, don't you?" There were many enthusiastic responses from around the room. "Since you did so well, not only will you hear the story, but you'll hear it from someone who was there." There was a chorus of whispers, excited and amused. "So, let's get sta..."

He was cut off when the door into the room flew open and a pirate walked in. But it wasn't just any pirate. It was none other than Captain Jack Sparrow himself. Even Danny hadn't been expecting that and stared at him along with the kids. He hadn't known Mike was going to get involved. He had mentioned the idea, but Mike had brushed it off, saying that he had a lot of work to do around the stables.

Danny finally collected himself enough to speak. "Seems we have a visitor, none other than Captain Sparrow himself." Mike crossed the room and motioned for Danny to move over so he could sit at the desk as well. Immediately hands raised and Mike glanced over at Danny.

"There are questions?" Danny nodded in response, fighting against the amused smile that tugged on his lips. Mike raised an eyebrow and turned back to the kids, raising his arms in the air. "Hold yer questions! I'll answer 'em all after the story, savvy?" The hands went down immediately and the kids got out of their seats, coming to sit in front of the desk. The girls seemed to be just as eager as the boys, all of them staring up at the two with looks of curiosity and fascination.

This was what Danny lived for. His life was so full and rich. He had a lovely wife, a beautiful baby girl, a father he knew was watching over him from a far, adopted parents that cared for him as if he were their own, and a passion to teach, to see children wanting to learn. He couldn't ask for anything more.

Once the kids had settled into their positions, he started the story. "It all started ten years ago, when I received a strange medallion from my father..."