Okay, so you remember what I said about it all being Steve’s fault? Well, I didn’t exactly use those words, no, but believe me, they were implied. With few exceptions, almost all of my problems on this pineapple sand trap are his fault. The very few problems I have that aren’t his fault, I can lay squarely in front of Rachel’s ostentatious front gate. But since the judge extended my custody rights, and made it so that Grace is staying on the island, those problems have almost completely dried up. Me and Rach might not be talking so much at the moment, but that’s just sour grapes on her part – she’ll get over it eventually. Maybe when Gracie leaves for college. Or presents Rachel with her first grandchild, and oh my God, I can’t even believe I just had that thought about my little girl. I need brain bleach. I’m gonna have to blame that one on Steve as well, just because. What, didn’t I already say it’s all his fault?
So, the point here – and I do have a point, I’m not just flapping my gums for my own amusement, no matter what Steve thinks – is that I am content with how things are. Maybe not completely happy, but yeah, content. I’m pretty resigned to the fact that Hawai’i is my home, and that I’m not moving back to New Jersey anytime soon. And you know what? I’m okay with that. I really am. Don’t tell Steve, because he’ll be an insufferable bastard about it, but Hawai’i really isn’t that bad, despite the over-abundance of pineapple and sand. And don’t even get me started on all the pretty people here. I mean, hello, is there some law I don’t know about that’s written where ugly or even normal-looking people are barred from the islands? Jesus, they’re all around me, it’s enough to give a man a complex, you know, if he wasn’t secure in his own looks. Just sayin’, is all. I mean, I’m not ugly, at least I don’t think I am, but hell, the people here make me feel like Quasimodo after an all-night bender. And Steve is top of the list of pretty. Chin and Kono are kind of up near the top, too – have you seen Chin’s cheekbones? That man could cut steel with just one look, they’re that sharp, I’m telling you. Never seen anything like it. He’s got ladies lined up around the island, and he doesn’t even notice, not that I can blame him; poor guy is still tied up in knots over the murder of his wife, Malia. Now that was a love match, and may the bastard who killed her rot in hell for all eternity.
But I’m kind of straying off track. I’ll blame Steve for that, too. Why not, I can’t concentrate on anything for long because of him, so it makes sense to me. Even my work is suffering, I know it is. I don’t think the team has noticed anything, thank fuck for small mercies. Well, not Chin or Kono, anyway – they just think it’s bad luck. Steve though, he has probably picked up on it, he doesn’t miss much, even if I do give him hell about being clueless.
Okay, case in point; we’re at a bust, there are bullets flying (and this is new, you ask? Well, no, of course not – Steve is involved, of course there are bullets) and I’m hit twice because I’m not paying enough attention. I mean, the vest saves me, but it also leaves me with a couple of extremely painful bruises, a hell of a fright, and a sense of shame large enough to cover the island in a dark cloud for a week. It is not like me to be careless like that. The first shot is lucky, I’ll give the bastard who hits me that – it catches me high on the right shoulder as we are moving in. None of us sees the fucker, and I am just the unlucky sod who gets in the way of his shot. Takes me a bit to get up and moving again, and by the time I make it inside, the bust is in full operation. That’s when the second hit gets me. McGarrett is in the middle of a fight with one of the dealers we are after, and I am mesmerised. He is kind of beautiful when you see him in action, all fluid motion and graceful movements. Problem is, I totally blank on my surroundings, and take a hit to my back for my troubles. This one, I don’t get up from all that quickly at all, and I have nobody but myself to blame for the bruise. Well, aside from Steve. Hurts like a son-of-a-bitch, and I’m just lucky – really, really fucking lucky – that the moron with the gun is a useless shot, otherwise I’d be shorter by a head, and Grace would be without her Danno for good.
Now Steve, he sees me go down and his reaction is a little out of the norm, even for him. I mean, usually he’s pretty concerned when any of us are hurt. We’re a team, a family. That fucking Ohana thing everyone is always on about – well, it’s true in this case. Any one of us would take a bullet for another, because we are just that close. It’s part of what makes us such a damn good team. It’s also one of our major weaknesses, should any enterprising perp care to study us that closely. What, it’s true. Think about it – if Kono was taken, or hurt, what would Chin do to save her? Hell, what would any of us do? Our past actions alone are testament to this – the bomb around Chin’s neck, Steve in jail, Kono’s suspension, my sarin exposure, the dirty bomb, Kono hog tied and dumped in the ocean – these are all instances that show we will go to any lengths to save each other.
Steve’s reaction to my getting hit, however, is a bit more extreme than usual, and totally out of proportion considering I’m wearing a vest – and how many times I’ve been shot since I started working with him. I’m not knocked out, but I’m not up dancing the polka either, so I can hear him when I fall even if I can’t see him. What is a mildly frenetic fistfight by McGarrett/Five-0 standards turns into a bloody shark-feeding frenzy – I can hear him yelling in rage at the same time as I hear bodies hitting the concrete around me, and not a few bouncing off the odd wooden crate with a splintering crack. I think Steve turns into the fucking Hulk for a while, and you all know you won’t like the Hulk when he’s angry. Kono is running her hands over my back – that girl’s got lovely, soft hands when it counts, the rest of the time she could kill you with her pinky – checking for blood and damage, I guess, and both her and Chin are screaming at Steve to calm him down. I’m having trouble breathing – it fucking hurts, okay, a hit to the ribs from either side fucking hurts - and there is just no way I can even lift my head to tell the lot of them to shut the fuck up, because now they’re giving me a headache on top of everything else.
The sudden silence in the room when Steve stops throwing bodies is blessed though, and I have to wonder if maybe I do make a sound, like maybe a pained whimper, because next thing I know, Steve has pushed Kono to one side and has flipped me over onto my back – my aching, hurt back, I might add – and is peeling my eyelids open to check for signs of life. He’s whispering under his breath, but I can still hear him, and I got to tell you, what I hear shocks the rest of my breath right out of me.
”Danny! Jesus, Danny, no, no, not like this, not like this. You can’t die, you can’t leave me, I can’t do this by myself. I need you, D, I need you. Grace needs you—“ which, you know, just really pisses me off, because the last thing anybody, McGarrett least of all, needs to tell me is that my baby girl needs me, “—she needs you, Danno, and I need you, so you can’t die, you hear me? You can’t die. Jesus, I’ve never—“.
And then he stops. He fucking stops. Maybe I twitch, maybe his tongue swells to twice its normal size in his mouth, I don’t know, but he just stops right there. What does he mean, “he’s never…”? Never what? I want to scream my questions at him, but I still can’t pull in a decent breath, although breathing, so bonus.
”Bas-tard… Eye, see.” So I’m not at my most eloquent at this point, but really, can you blame me? Steve has dropped a potential bomb in my proverbial lap, and I’ve just been shot – twice. It’s a fucking miracle I can manage these three words at all.
”What? What do you see? Danny? What do you see?” Jesus, if I had the energy, I’d be smacking him around the head right about now. Seriously, he thinks I’m talking about seeing things? All I want him to do is let go of my fucking eyelids! I can’t see, moron. Once again, Kono comes to my rescue, because she has the smarts to pull the idiot’s hands away from my face before I recover enough to do something drastic. Maybe she could read the urge to bite his fingers off in my rapidly drying eyes.
”Steve, he’s okay. He took the hit to his vest, he’s just winded, probably bruised the hell out of his ribs, too. Give him some space, Boss.” Bless the rookie. I will personally build her a pedestal and place her on it for all eternity. When I can move again.
I am regaining the ability to breathe fairly quickly, but I’m quite comfortable staying where I am. I really don’t feel like moving yet. I can, however, pat Steve on the knee, and smile weakly – which is when little alarm bells start going off in my head, ringing louder than a five-alarm fire call at Pop’s old firehouse.
See, normally, Steve’d just take something like that, and smile at me, kid me a little – now that he knows I’m okay (relatively) – and then he’d go about his business. We’re both tactile people, and even more so with each other, which is why we get so many “how long have you been married” questions and jokes. For all I’ve shoved my wants and desires for that – or something along those lines – to be true so deep it would take arctic drilling machinery to dig them out, we both just laugh about it; it’s funny. Steve’s reaction to my hand is not – funny, that is. He stiffens up like Medusa just won the Olympic staring contest, and the look on his face is not so much a smile as a grimace worthy of Oscar the Grouch after being presented with a fluffy kitten and a bouquet of fresh flowers. He stays like that for about point five of a second, and then scrambles up so fast, I can smell the scorched air behind him. Even Kono looks a little startled at his rapid departure.
I’d be pissed at him, if it wasn’t for the look on his face; it’s a near-comical mixture of fear, and loathing. I’m a little confused by the hatred thing, to be honest. I can’t think why – and then it hits me; Steve has seen my desire. Well, shit. This just throws a giant fucking spanner into my carefully crafted plans of denial. My stomach is roiling, and it’s not from the pain of taking two bullet hits to my vest; it must be obvious that all my repressed lust and want is bubbling to the surface faster than Kilauea’s lava flows downhill, and I’m a little afraid I’m going to spontaneously combust from the heat flooding my body. Kono is frantically fanning my face, obviously concerned now that she’s missed something in her rapid diagnosis of my injuries, and I can’t do or say anything to correct her assumptions.
Fucking Steve has figured out I have the hots for him, it’s everything I’ve been hiding for months, and he’s too damn scared or hates me – or the thought of me wanting him – to do anything about it. I need to talk to him, to explain myself, and the moron is running for the fucking hills, leaving me behind to suffer alone once more. Jesus, I could just kill him some days.
Like I said before, it’s all his fault.
He’s gonna say it’s all my fault, I know he is. He always does. And maybe this time he’s right, I don’t know. I mean, I’ve noticed that he seems more settled on the island, and his bitching seems to be more for show than actually meaningful, if you know what I’m saying. Well, except for the pineapple on pizza thing, I don’t think he’s ever going to let up on that. Nor the sand in his shorts, but hey, it’s Hawai’i, and we all deal with the sand, so he’s just gonna have to suck that one. It’s just since he found out that Gracie is staying, you know? He’s calmer – but don’t tell him I noticed, because he’ll only ramp up the rhetoric and be an insufferable pig around the office, or in the car.
But the blaming me thing, well, that’s never gonna change, and really, I don’t want it to. Why? Well, because that would be changing Danny, and I don’t want that. He is what he is, and I like him just the way he is. Didn’t I go over this with you before? Yeah, I’ve had to bury my feelings for him pretty damn deep, but I’ve had a lot of practice at that over the years, so it’s no big deal. Fluid, remember? At least I have Catherine to help ease the physical stress that builds. Although, yeah, it’s not fair to her, but she knows this isn’t a permanent thing between us, she’s always known. I think I might need to reinforce it again though, now that she’s stationed here on the island. She’s a little too close, too often, I don’t want her getting ideas that would require me to break her heart later. Maybe I ought to look into that ex of hers that just moved to Pearl. It could be time to pull back, and start pushing them together again. She never really was over him.
Okay, so, we’re at a big bust, and I even wait for backup, because Danny is right (sometimes), it’s better to have a few extra guns behind you than just an extra-loud and mouthy, if extremely accurate, Jersey detective. I’m not gonna tell him that though, and you better not either, not if you know what’s good for you. That argument is one of the loadstones of our partnership – pull it away and the whole thing might just crumble about our ears.
As usual, I’m first in. Despite what Danny says, I don’t do it on purpose. Okay, that’s a lie, of course I do. If someone is going to be hurt, I’d rather it be me than one of the team, or any of the other officers on the scene. Especially Danny. I really don’t want to see Danny hurt. A large part of that is because of Grace, but it’s also because of how I feel about him. It took me a while to come to terms with that, you know, because I’ve buried my desire for him and all, but that doesn’t change the fact that it kills me every time he’s in any kind of danger. I have to remind myself all the time not to jump in front of him or push him out of the way when things go south, because yeah, he’d really love that. God, when I think about the sarin attack, and the look in his eyes… and the dirty bomb, I don’t even. Just, I can’t. It physically hurts to even let that memory surface for just a second, to know just how close I came to losing him.
The problem with going first though, is that you can’t see what is happening behind you. I wish to god I could, because then I would see Danny go down with a bullet to his right shoulder. I mean, I found out later it hits his vest, high and out of the way of anything vital, but I know that sort of hit hurts. It explains why I don’t see him when we enter our location – and why Chin is swearing up a blue streak as he fires at the one target none of us could see as we made our way inside. Now, I’ve cleared a warehouse or two in my time as leader of Five-0, not to mention as a SEAL, and I know all the usual hiding places, but I got to admit I’d have never thought to check the rafters – or rather, the idiot swinging from a rope like a freakin’ monkey and firing out the window above the entry. Okay, that’s another lie; I would have checked, I don’t miss those sort of details, but I was a little preoccupied by the bullets coming at us from behind the stack of crates in the middle of the floor.
Kono and I immediately make our way over to the crates, and start in on the freaks trying to take us down. The usual Five-0 mess happens; bullets, bodies, bad-assery. We can manage the guns without too much problem – Kono is coming along just fine, it’s a shame the SEAL’s don’t accept women, she’d be a total kickass – but the cockroaches just keep crawling out of the woodwork. Clearly, our intel on the number of suspects at this location was way off. It’s down to me and one other bug, slugging it out in the middle of the floor, and I gotta admit, I’m having fun. This guy is no Ali or Tyson, but he’s putting up a pretty decent fight. There’s no way he’s gonna take me down, not unless my attention wanders, but he’s not making it easy and laying himself out for me like a freshly caught fish, either.
I see Danny come in and just stand there watching me, and yeah, maybe I put on a bit more of a show for him – I can’t help it, my lo-liking for Danny is too strong sometimes to ignore. For a moment I do wonder where the hell he’s been – I don’t know at this point that he’s taken a hit to his shoulder, remember – but I do see the fucker (pardon the language) who comes up behind him and shoots him in the back. Danny goes down like he’s been hit by a truck, and that’s it, I lose it. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I really lose control. I finish the guy I’d been toying with by throwing him into the nearest crate, and god, this is embarrassing, I think I actually picked up one of the injured guys off the floor and layed into him, too. Fists and feet of fury, man.
Through my rage I can dimly hear Chin and Kono calling me, and finally it dawns on me that Kono is yelling at me that Danny is okay, he’s alive. I drop the suspect I’m working over – he makes a nice, satisfying, boneless splat when he hits the concrete – and rush over to check Danny myself. It’s not like I don’t believe Kono, but I really don’t believe her without seeing for myself.
Danny is lying face down, and I hate that I can’t see his face, that I can’t tell for myself that he is okay. Now, you know I’m a trained SEAL; in a pinch, I can act as the team’s medic if need be. Hell, we all can, so I know, I know okay, I know that rolling Danny over onto his back is a stupid thing to do, but I can’t help it, I do it anyway. I need to see his face, I need to see for myself that he is breathing, and that there is life in those baby blues of his. I also know I’m rambling under my breath, but I have no idea what the hell I’m saying, I think it’s just a plea to a God I’m not sure I believe in anymore to not let Danny be dead as I peel his eyelids back, and yes, thank all the deities his pupils react to the light. He’s breathing, but it’s very shallow, so I’m guessing, from the lack of blood on his back and on my hands, that he must be severely winded from the shot.
It’s a little bit of a shock when Danny croaks out a couple of words – “Bas-tard… I see…” and then stops. My mind goes into overdrive, wondering immediately what the hell he is seeing – or if he can see at all. Maybe he hit his head when he fell, and he’s temporarily blind? I don’t know, he’s still not breathing that well.
” What? What do you see? Danny? What do you see?” I’m starting to panic, which is stupid, but god, I really hate it when Danny is hurt.
And then he puts his hand on my knee, and just smiles softly up at me.
Oh hell, no. No, no, no. No way, this is a fucking disaster, language be damned. This is the last thing I wanted to have happen. Danny can “see” my face, that is what he is trying to tell me. He can see everything. He knows. Oh shit, he knows. I have to go, I have to get up and get away from him. I have to control my feelings so I don’t ruin our friendship, our partnership.
I know I move fast enough to leave skid marks on the concrete of the floor beside Danny as I scramble to my feet, but I need to get away from him as quickly as possible. Kono looks shocked, and when I look back down at Danny, it just about kills me to see the pain in his face. I know it is from the hit to his back, but I can’t afford to be near him right now. He will understand, I know he will. I just have to get my head in order before I can give him the support he needs for this injury. He needs to call Gabby, and have his woman give him some love, yeah, that’s what he needs right now.
God, it really is all my fault.
* * * * *
It’s been two days since I took those bullets to the vest, and my bruises are all kinds of psychedelic. I could enter myself in a modern art contest – “Fortunes and Misfortunes of Urban Warfare” – and clean up the grand prize right now, I just know it. Andy fucking Warhol couldn’t do better than my back and shoulder at the moment.
Oh, and pain? Yeah, I got that too. Especially the one on my back. The hit to my shoulder was from further away, and in the grand scheme of things, isn’t really that bad. More like a stray baseball from a line drive, but I was standing way past third base when it got me. My back, on the other hand, is like being hit by the baseball from five feet away by the same line drive – a hell of a lot more power, and a whole hell of a lot closer. It’s going to be a few weeks before that son-of-a-bitch clears up to a point where I don’t feel like a truck used me for target practice.
The pain from the bruises is nothing compared to the pain that McGarrett is causing me, however. Jesus, he’s making me feel like a pre-teen suffering a first crush. I didn’t go into work the day after the bust, I was just too sore, but today I managed to drag my sorry ass in to flop behind my desk like a limp rag doll. That lame-assed SEAL has been giving me both the stink eye and a look so pathetically terrified – not a good look on Steve, I gotta say – that I want to puke. Except I don’t really, because goddamn it, it’s making me angry. Mad, pissed, furious as all hell.
But he won’t come in and talk to me. Every time I get up from behind my desk and head out to the bullpen, he drops his head and stares at his computer like it’s the most fascinating thing around. I know this isn’t true – I’m the one doing his paperwork, so unless he’s surfing the web for porn, he’s looking at a blank screen. Then again, knowing his propensity for blowing shit up, he could be looking for the latest in home-use incendiary devices, or easy-to-conceal grenades. Look, my point is, he’s avoiding me, and doing a damn fine job of it.
I know I’ve screwed up by letting him see that I want him, but I’ll be damned if I let this shit continue. Our partnership is way too important. Our friendship is way too important for me to let him fuck it up just because he’s letting his own homophobic prejudices lead him around by the nose. Yeah, yeah, I’ve stuffed my own feelings deep, because I don’t do men, blah blah. That’s not the point. The point here is that McGarrett is letting one little thing – okay, one big thing, come between us, when it’s been there all along, and when he didn’t know about it, it didn’t affect our friendship.
Well, enough is enough. This is gonna get messy, I know, but it ends now. He wants to play games, I’ll fucking play games like nobody’s business. McGarrett doesn’t know what he’s in for.
I don’t care whose fault it is anymore.