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Real in a False World

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“You are a terribly real thing in a terribly false world, and that, I believe, is why you are in so much pain.”
 ~ The Caterpillar, Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carrroll

 

5050505050

“That’s it, I’m done. Give me the clip-on from the bag.” Danny said tersely, throwing the black silk bow tie on the floor in a huff.

Grace bent down, picked it up, and handed it to Kono, who chuckled as she smoothed it out with her fingers. 

“That’s not very aloha of you Danny.” She smirked as she walked over and draped the tie around his neck, adjusting the collar as she deftly folded and tied the fabric in her fingers.

“Seriously, who cares if it’s a real tie or not. No one is gonna notice and I know for damn sure that room full of people would rather I don’t strangle myself.”

“Deep breaths now. Calm down. I got you. And later, when you’re in the Honeymoon suite, tipsy and flirty, your tie hanging loose and all sexy as McGarrett undresses you, you’ll thank me.”

“Um, gross.” Grace groaned from the sidebar of the dressing room as she poured out two fingers from the Bourbon bottle Chin had brought over when they first arrived. 

“What...hey...what do you think you’re doing...” Danny lurched towards his daughter as Kono wordlessly grabbed his shoulders and maneuvered him back against the mirror. “You are not 21 yet young lady.”

Grace rolled her eyes, “Oh. My. God. Danno. I’m pouring it for you!” She said, holding out the high-ball glass towards him. Kono took it and shoved it against his chest. 

“Drink and stand still. You’re bouncing worse than September waves on the North Shore.”

Danny accepted the glass and downed it in one swallow. “Sorry,” he apologized as she kept working the folds of the tie together. “I’m glad you’re here.”

“There’s no place I’d rather be, Cos.” Since she had left Five-0, she had taken to using the shortened “cousin” term for him and Steve as well as Chin. They were the original Ohana and especially now, the four of them treated one another as if they were blood.

The door opened and Chin poked his head in. “All ready in here?”

“Just about.” Kono said. “Had a slight wardrobe malfunction.” She gave the tie a final tug and patted both hands on Danny’s chest. “There. You look amazing.”

“Well, that’s very nice because I feel like I’m gonna hurl into that potted plant over there.”

She smiled at him. “What are you nervous about? Between you and Steve, you’re the one who’s actually done this before.”

Danny shook his head and looked at the floor. “Not helping. So not helping.”

Grace wove her arm around her father’s, taking his hand. “C’mon, Danno. Time to walk you down the aisle.”

Danny squeezed her hand gently and looked from her to Kono, admiring how beautiful they both looked in their long, sleeveless plum-colored satin dresses with orchids in their hair. His voice caught in his throat as he said, “I have the most gorgeous groomswomen on this entire island.” He reached out and took Kono’s hand as well, drawing her to his other side. He kissed them each in turn, “Thank-you, both, for all you’ve done to make today special. I love you.”

They each hugged an arm and guided him out the door.

 

5050505050

 

“What God has joined together, let no one put asunder. Gentlemen, you may now kiss your spouse.” Andrew spoke the blessing as Steve and Danny kissed to thunderous applause, before walking back up the grassy aisle, hand in hand.

Once back in the huge atrium, Andrew quickly gathered Steve and Danny, along with Mary and Grace as witnesses, so they could all sign the marriage certificate. After it was done, Danny shook the chaplain’s hand. “Thanks for coming all the way from Jersey to do this.”

“It was my pleasure! Elliot and I have been needing a good excuse to take a vacation and believe it or not, he’s never been here.”

Steve clapped him on the shoulder. “From what I understand, I have you to thank for getting him to talk to me after I’d been stupid.”

Andrew had been the home health chaplain Danny had confided in last year when he’d gone home to Newark following Steve leaving Hawai’i. When they were debating who they would ask to perform the ceremony, Danny had called him and offered to fly the chaplain and his husband out as a way of saying thank-you for all the support the man had given him.

The pastor smiled and shook his head. “I did nothing but listen. Danny made his own choices.” He slid the license into the pre-addressed envelope and sealed it. “I’ll drop this at the post office tomorrow. Enjoy your reception.”

‘’You’re not going to stick around?” Danny asked, disappointed. 

“For a little bit, but then we’re catching a charter plane to Waikiki for the rest of our stay. You’re the two everyone is here to see. You won’t even know we’re gone.”

Steve nodded and said, “Well, I hope you’ll consider coming to visit next winter. We’ve both enjoyed hanging out with you guys these past couple days.”

“We just might do that. I’ve developed a craving for those malasadas you all make.”

Danny pulled Andrew into a hug. “I owe you, pal. Really.”

“I’m always just a phone call away.”

5050505050

 

Steve sat in front of his computer, absently turning the rings he now wore, engagement band on his right and wedding band on his left, while the numbers on the budget spreadsheets swirled in front of him. The final draft was due on the Governor’s desk by Friday and he still needed to cut $8,000 from the team’s budget. He heard the clipped pace of boots walking into the outer office and then clicking to rest. 

“Lt. Commander McGarrett?” A clear voice called. Steve stood up and walked to his office door. As soon as the Petty Officer 3rd class saw him, he immediately held an erect salute.

“At ease. How can I help you?” Steve asked as he returned the salute, allowing the enlisted man to release his salute and assume a resting stance as he held out an envelope.

“From the Commandant, sir.”

Steve stared at him for a moment as he immediately recognized the thick envelope emblazoned with the seal of the US Navy and his full rank, rate, and name on the front.

“Sir?” The sailor kept his arm out, waiting. Steve blinked and stepped forward, taking the envelope and stared at it for a moment before remembering the that the enlisted man would not move until he released him.

“Thank-you, Sailor. Dismissed.”

“Thank-you, Sir.” The young man saluted, which Steve returned quickly, and watched as he spun on his heel and walked at a steady clip out the office front door. 

Steve returned to his desk and sat heavily in his chair as he opened what he knew would be new orders, his heart clenching as he wondered how he would tell Danny.

 

5050505050

 

The high volume chatter filled the office as Tani, Junior, and Danny walked in with the Pad Thai take-out they’d run out to get for lunch. 

“Steve! Stop staring at those spreadsheets and come eat!” Danny called as they laid out the food in the kitchenette and he grabbed plates from the cupboard over the coffee pot. “Junior, go kick him out of his chair, will ya?”

“Hey, Commander, didn’t you hear...” Junior said as he entered Steve’s office and stopped, immediately recognizing the pages of tight tele-typed font on the pages on his superior’s desk. 

“You got orders, sir?” Junior couldn’t help slipping into his military training at the reminder of their common duty status.

“Yeah.” Steve sat back in his chair.

“Where?”

“Fortunately, at Pearl. But I’m being re-activated for 12 months.”

“Twelves months?” Junior shared Steve’s shock. The Commander had been on Reserve Status for over ten years. It was pretty much unheard of to reactivate anyone after such a long time, never mind for a full year’s duty, unless there was an active war going on. 

“What has happened?”

“That was my first thought too. I immediately got on-line to see if some kind of international incident had happened or we’d been attacked. But nothing.”

“What will be your station?”

“Pacific Theater Intelligence Operations.” Junior nodded. The most secure command center west of NORAD was located at Pearl. 

“At least you won’t have to live on base.”

“Remains to be seen what small comfort that will bring.” Steve sighed. As if on cue, Danny walked to the doorway.

“Food’s gettin’ cold babe.”

“Good luck.” Junior said quietly as he stood  and left, discreetly closing the door behind him.

“What’s that about?” Danny asked as he walked over and sat on the desk.

“I got new orders Danny.”

“I don’t...” Danny looked at him confused.

“I’ve been recalled to full time active duty. Navy’s pulling me off Five-0 and stationing me at Pearl.”

“What’re you talking about?”

Steve handed him the top page. “I have to report to duty tomorrow morning at 0700.”

Danny looked at the page, searching for words he understood. “OK. You’ve had to go do ops before, though not for a couple years now. So why do you have pensive-face? What am I not getting here? Just go do the op and come back.”

“My orders are for a 12-month deployment.”

Danny hopped off the desk and started pacing. “Twelves months? As in a year? You’re gonna be all you can be for a full year?”

“That’s Army, Danny.” 

“Do I look like I care Steven?” Danny’s voice got louder. “What does this mean? Huh? Explain this to me? Are you having to leave? Will...will you... uh go out on boats or..or..”

Steve stood up and took Danny’s hands, rubbing them gently. “Easy, babe. I’m only at Pearl. I’m being posted at the Command Center. But I won’t know until I get there tomorrow what exactly they are wanting me for, so I don’t know if I will have to sail. I don’t think so.” He kept rubbing his thumbs gently across the back of his husband’s hands, trying to soothe him.

“Command Center? That room underground where Joe took us years ago?”

“Yeah.” Steve smiled, proud that Danny remembered that. 

Danny felt a bit calmer, but stepped closer, wrapping his arms around Steve’s waist. “You’ve been in the reserves the whole time I’ve known you, but it never occurred to me they could pull you back in any time they wanted.”

“Honestly, I never expected this to happen either. It’s really unusual for this to happen unless war is declared. I’m over 40 and haven’t been active duty for 10 years. But that actually makes me think I’m not gonna have to go anywhere but Pearl. The want me for a specific reason, I’m sure. I just don’t know what it is.”

“How does this work? Do you have to live in the barracks or something?”

Steve hugged him. “No, thank God. One of the privileges of my rank is that I can live off-base. But I will need you to come to base this week so we can get your ID card and register your car.”

“My ID card?”

“I didn’t see the rush while I was on reserve status, but if I’m active, I want you to be able to meet me on base easily.”

“I’m a military spouse.” Danny whispered with a twinge of disbelief.

“You are.” Steve hugged him. “It’ll be OK. And you’re gonna need to run Five-0.”

“Shit.” Danny’s hands fell loose and he stood back. “This is just massive ploy to get me to do all budget stuff isn’t it?”

“You are better at it than I am, with your economics degree and all.”

Danny shook his head at him. “It was my minor, Steve, not my degree.” He sank into a chair. “Twelve months.”

“I know. I honestly never thought this would happen or I might not have re-upped my Reserve status last December.”

“And there’s nothing in all that gobbledygook on that paper that tells you why you’ve been recalled?”

“Not exactly. I’m supposed to show up and go where they point.”

“I don’t like this.”

“I know. I’m sorry. We never talked about this because I never dreamed...”

“Stop, it’s OK. This is not your fault. Just not my experience is all. Takes some getting used to.”

“Well, let’s eat some Pad Thai and head home. I’ve got exactly 18 hours and 37 minutes before our lives change, so let’s make the most of it.”

“Hoo-rah.” Danny said unenthusiastically. 

“That’s Marines.” 

“Whatever. Take me to bed or lose me forever, Goose.” 

“Finally, a Navy reference!” Steve smiled as he pulled Danny up and out the office door.

 

5050505050

 

Since it was June, uniform of the day was Summer Whites. He was going to need to stop at the uniform shop because for close to a decade he’d pretty much only worn his fatigues for reserve duty or his Dress Blues. He hated the whites.

His first stop was the duty office, where they changed his ID from pink to green and he filled out extra paperwork because this time, he was going active as a married man. From there, he went to the Vice Admiral’s office. He sat on the hard wooden bench outside the closed door, his mind racing about why he had been re-activated. He heard the door click and immediately stood and held his salute.

“Welcome back Commander. Please come in.”

“Yes, sir.” 

“You may sit.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Nice to see the Reserves haven’t made you forget your protocols.”

“No, sir.” Steve held his cover in his lap, sitting very still.

“Very good. I admit, I was as surprised to see your orders cross my desk as I’m sure you were to receive them.”

“Yes, sir.”

“To be honest, had the request not come from the Pentagon, I would likely have submitted an alternate suggestion for this assignment. There are several current active duty officers here at Pearl who are qualified for this station, but you were specifically requested.”

Steve’s mind raced faster. Who would have requested this? After all the politicking around Joe and Doris, his side-missions to Korea and Columbia, he’d been disciplined several times. That was another reason he never expected to be re-activated, but not one he talked about. He had no regrets, but he also knew Command, especially Command at Pearl, regarded him as headache more than anything else. Thus his being “loaned out” to the State of Hawai’i for the Five-0 Task Force. 

“I’m sure you have questions Commander. I can see them on your face. However, you will have to inquire to the new Captain for South East Asian Intelligence if you want actual answers. My Chief will escort you to the Command Center. Dismissed.”

“Thank-you, sir.” Steve hadn’t expected a warm welcome from the Vice Admiral, but this reception was even cooler. Whoever had requested him had not made many friends in doing so.

 

5050505050

 

He stood outside the restricted doors as the Chief helped him enter his fingerprints and retinal scans into the local database. “Ready for the key code Commander?” The Chief asked. 

Steve blinked at him for a moment and then centered himself. He needed to pay attention because he would only hear it once and he needed to memorize it quickly.

“Yes, go ahead.”

“Alpha-Epsilon-Six-Six-Four-Whiskey-Niner-Two. Do you need me to repeat it?” The Chief was giving him grace because he was an officer, but he knew he’d lose face with the senior enlisted man if he needed to hear it again.

“Alpha-Epsilon-Six-Six-Four-Whiskey-Niner-Two.” Steve repeated. The Chief nodded at him and stepped aside so Steve could enter the code. 

“Thank-you, sir” The Chief saluted and left.

The room was full of computers and large screens along two walls. A master-at-arms stood at the door and saluted him as he entered. 

“Lt. Commander McGarrett. Welcome sir.” A Marine Captain in a light brown uniform came over, saluted, and offered an outstretched hand. The Marine ranks were different from the Navy ranks, so while the other man was a Captain, he was equivalent to a Navy Lieutenant, so Steve out-ranked him. A Navy Captain was equivalent to a Colonel in the Marines. Steve’s own rank was equal to that of a Major in the other branches. 

“I’m Captain Alexander Cho, Marine Corps Counter-Intelligence.”

“Nice to meet you Captain. I don’t suppose you can enlighten me as to why I’m here?”

“Not specifically. I’ve been serving in Washington until two days ago. I know something has happened in North Korea, but it’s red-line. I understand the new Captain will brief us. From what I have been able to ascertain, it is just the three of us who have been brought in, but beyond that...”

“Understood.”

Steve looked across the ops screens trying to see if there were any clues as to what might be happening when he heard the master-at-arms declare, “ATTTENTION!”

Everyone in the room stood and Steve pivoted to the door and froze. Catherine stood facing them, four full bars on her epaulets, her cover with “scrambled egg” oak leaves on the brim, tucked under her arm. “At ease.” She stated clearly as everyone returned to their stations.

“Good Morning Gentlemen. I see you’ve met already.”

“Yes ma’am” Cho replied and then looked at Steve, who hadn’t spoken.

“Lt. Commander?” Catherine asked.

Steve was fighting an inner tumult of panic, curiosity, and dread as he watched her gaze harden. She now outranked him and he needed to be appropriate.

“Yes, ma’am. We just met.”

“Good. Let’s go to my Office and I can explain why you both are here.” She walked past them and down between the rows of computers and then out a starboard door. 

“Are you OK, sir?” The younger Captain whispered.

Steve nodded and followed his former lover out of the room.

 

50505050

 

Catherine’s office had the barely-moved-in look of a new command. No personal items at all and little on the shelves beyond some Ops binders. 

“Steve, Alex. Please sit down. When we are in this room, you may speak freely and at ease. You’re here because I need your candor. Understood?”

“Yes, ma’am.” Alex responded taking a seat. For the second time, Steve delayed and this time the junior officer looked at Catherine, concern visible. 

“Alex, Commander McGarrett and I have known one another for almost two decades. He was not aware until 3 minutes ago that I hold the post I do. He has also been newly re-activated, so I suspect he’s feeling a bit out of sorts.”

Hearing her talk about him this way shook him. “You activated me?”

“I requested you and the Commandant agreed.”

“You requested me?”

“I did. I requested both of you, actually.”

“Catherine, I...”

“Steve, I understand you have questions and I promise I will answer every one. But I am your commanding officer.”

Steve’s eyes darted to Alex who was curious but also uncomfortable. “Yes, ma’am,” Steve replied.

Catherine pulled a heavy file from a stack on her desk and handed it to Alex.

“Fifteen years ago, Steve and I were involved in a Black Op outside of Nampo called Operation Bluebell.” 

Steve shifted in his chair and looked at her hard. Operation Bluebell was one of his wet ops. It was brutal, ugly, and not one he wanted to remember. She looked at him with sympathy. She knew exactly what he’d had to do for that op. She’d been whispering op directives in his comm from her post on the USS Eisenhower.

She continued. “It was a joint CIA op that targeted a spy-hold that had been taking out our operatives in South Korea and Japan. We traced the leader to a compound on the inlet of Taedong. We took out 63 targets. 

Alex flipped pages and looked up. “OK. Why is this coming up now?”

“The compound was a secret militia training center. When Seal Team 6 returned, we learned that most of the targets had been between 14 and 17 years old.”

Steve stared at the wall, jaw clenching, refusing to look at either of them.

Alex handed the file back. He was 31 and had been part of ops in Afghanistan that involved enemy combatants that were even younger. But his specialty was linguistics and coding, not ops, so he knew that he had the luxury of a distance that men like Steve didn’t. He glanced sideways, understanding the man’s strange behavior in a new light. 

“As you both know, the situation in North Korea has been growing more politically complicated. Two weeks ago, four teenagers from the families of three of our counter-intelligence specialists were kidnapped from their homes. Alex, I need your expertise in code breaking and Steve, you’re the only member of the Bluebell Op still under duty status. The op to go in and get these kids is underway but I have been tasked with uncovering who was behind the kidnappings and how they knew who to target. To our knowledge, none of the operatives had been compromised, so we have no idea how their children’s identities were discovered. 

“I have set you up to share the office next door. Alex, would you give the Commander and me a minute please.”

“Yes, ma’am.” He stood quietly and left quickly, anxious to escape the heavy cloud that had followed them since Captain Rollins had arrived.

“I’m sorry I had to bring you back Steve. If I had been able to avoid it, I would have.”

“Three years, Catherine. Took me three years to put Bluebell behind me.”

“I know.”

He looked at her hard. “You must really hate me.”

She looked at him with deep sympathy, “Of course I don’t hate you.”

“Well you sure as hell don’t care about me!” His temper flared. “How could you bring me back into this? How could you tie me to that Op? Out of everything I had to do as a SEAL, that was the one...”

“I know Steve. I do. You think I don’t hear those screams in my nightmares too?”

“No, Catherine. You were on the comms but that was not even close to... Shit...” Steve put his hands to his face, pressing the heels of his palms into his eyes, hoping the flashing starbursts of pressure would prevent the memories from returning.

“Steve, one of the girls they took is Grace’s age. We have to get them back and we have to ensure no other kids are in danger.”

Steve stood up, clenching his fists. “Of course you’d bring up Gracie.” He put his hands on his hips. “You really studied Doris’ talent for manipulation didn’t you. Well, glad she was able to pass her gifts on to someone.” He gave a tired laugh. “You were the child she actually wanted but didn’t end up with.”

“This is your one chance, Steve. Give me your rage, your insults, whatever you need to say, I’ll take it. But once you walk out that door, you are a sailor under my command and any further disrespect or statements made out of turn will result in disciplinary action. Are we clear?”

He wanted desperately to hit something, run hard, or swim five miles...anything to create enough physical pain to block out the emotional pain teetering on the edge of his subconscious. She’d done this to him. She’d done this Danny. But there was nothing he could say that would change it or make her be anything other than who she was. He picked up his cover and stood at attention. 

“May I go, Ma’am?”

She studied him and he knew that she was holding him there because she could. So he would know that she could. 

“Dismissed.” She said finally. He had just opened the door when she added, “And Commander, congratulations on your marriage.”

He gave her a hard look and swallowed exactly what he wanted to say to her before shutting the door firmly.

 

5050505050

 

Steve entered the house to the sound of Danny and Charlie singing along to “Livin’ on a Prayer” in the kitchen. He placed his cover on the desk by the door and contemplated running upstairs to change first before heading into the kitchen, but the longing for his husband’s arms was too great.

“Wow, babe. Gotta admit, the uniform does things to me.” Danny said as he slid the frozen lasagna into the oven.

“Daddy!” Charlie shouted as he ran and jumped into Steve’s arms. 

Steve hugged the boy tight and spoke into his neck, “How was school today little man?” 

“Good. Only one week left!” Charlie squirmed to be put down again. 

“Speaking of school, go get your homework packet. You can do some of it while we wait for dinner to cook.” Danny pushed the boy gently by the shoulders and then walked over to kiss Steve hello. “And how was your day?” 

Now that he was close, he could see the bloodshot in Steve’s eyes. “What happened?”

“I can’t talk about it. Classified. But it was rough. How long until dinner?”

“About an hour.”

“OK. I need a swim and a shower, just to, y’know, get my head on straight.”

“Sure, babe. Whatever you need.” Danny studied him.

“Don’t give me worry-face.” Steve said, kissing Danny again. 

“This isn’t worry. This is genuine concern. But go make your muscles burn and then we can talk once little ears are in bed, yeah?”

Steve visibly sagged with relief. Danny understood him and would always be there to give him what he needed. He kissed Danny hard for another minute and then headed up stairs to change into his swim trunks.

After dinner, he cleaned the kitchen while Danny got Charlie to bed. Once the dishwasher was running, he grabbed a Longboard, went out and lit a fire in the pit on the lanai. He laid on the lounger and looked up at the stars, tracking the June constellations, challenging himself to remember all the major star names in each one.

“Make room, babe.” Danny said as he trailed a warm hand down Steve’s bare chest. Danny was also dressed for bed in his pajama shorts and nothing else. Steve shifted to make enough room so that Danny could lay half on top, half next to him. Steve ran his hands up and down Danny’s back and torso, savoring the fact that every day, even on fucking active duty, he gets to come home to this man. 

Danny kissed him lightly on the neck and up to his earlobe. “C’mon, hon. Talk.” He whispered and then sucked gently at the flesh right below his jaw. Steve moaned as Danny hit that spot that sent shivers down to his toes, inspiring Danny to suck harder. 

“Danno, don’t give me a hickey above my collar line.” Steve murmured. 

“Why not? This is the spot you like best.” Danny sucked again and ran his fingers over the rigid shaft that bulged against the fabric of Steve’s shorts in emphasis. “See? Proof.”

Part of Steve wanted to not give a shit at all, but he also didn’t want to deal with what would come if he showed up tomorrow with a visible bruise on his neck. He gently tapped Danny’s chin, pushing his mouth away. “Under normal circumstances, yeah, but now if I show up to base with one, you’ll get a cease and desist warning for damaging government property.”

Danny pushed back so he could look at Steve. “You shitting me?”

“No. If I am visibly injured or bruised, I have to report how it happened if questioned.”

“Have I told you how much I hate the military? You’re not government property. You’re a human being. And if anyone is going to claim you as theirs, it’s gonna be me.”

Steve clasped Danny’s hand to his chest above his heart as Danny snuggled back against him. “I am yours. But as we’ve discussed before, I also belong to the United States Navy and they get to demand dibs. For the next 12 months anyway.”

“Is that what’s bugging you?”

“No. It’s my commanding officer. This duty station is going to try every ounce of patience I have.”

“Need me to come up on him in a dark alley? Knock some sense into him?”

“Her.” Steve said.

“No shit really? Things sure have changed huh? Gotta say, I’m impressed you get to serve under a...”

Steve tensed and held him tighter. “Danny...”

“C’mon Steve. Don’t tell me you’re so neanderthal you are having trouble working for a woman.”

“Danny...” 

Something in Steve’s tone finally registered and he focused. “What?” He looked at Steve’s face and understanding hit.

“No. No!” Danny started to push like he wanted to get up but Steve held him firm. 

“Don’t be mad and please don’t leave. I need you here, man. Please. You’re the life-raft I’m clinging to right now.”

Danny felt instantly guilty for his rush of jealousy. “At least tell me you didn’t know before today.”

Steve shook his head. “Not until she walked in this morning. They made her a full Captain.”

“She asked for you, didn’t she? That’s why you got re-called. Because she made that happen.”

“Yeah.”

“Fucking bitch.”

“Danno...don’t call her that. And you don’t need to be jealous.”

“Jealous? I’m not jealous. I’m pissed off. I thought I was done watching her manipulate you.”

“Believe me, I had similar words for her today. But she also has an op that only I can help with.”

“Sorry, Steve, I don’t buy that one bit. Not one bit.”

“I can’t give you details, but I’ve got a specific set of knowledge that no one else has for this op and she knows it. And I do believe that if she could have tapped another resource, she would have.”

“Tapping your resources is exactly what I’m afraid of.”

Steve laughed. “Well then she’s out of luck because those resources have been put under deed with an exclusive title-holder.” Steve pulled Danny’s left hand to his lips and kissed the platinum wedding band that matched his own.

“Damn straight.” 

They laid out under the stars, listening to the fire crackle for a while when Steve said, “Danny, I did a lot of ops as a SEAL and with the paratroopers. Hundreds. Only one left me with PTSD.”

“Let me guess. That’s the one op that Catherine needs your expertise about.”

“Yeah.” Steve croaked, his voice breaking. “Took me years of therapy to work through it after.  I’m gonna need you. I won’t be able to tell you why, but I’m gonna need you.”

“Not going anywhere, babe. I swear. Whatever you need, I’m right here.”

 

5050505050

 

It was 0300 when Steve sat up, sweat pouring off him, huffing as his pulse raced.

“What is it babe?” Danny murmured as touched Steve on the back. Instantly, Steve grabbed his wrist and twisted, trying to force it behind his back. Danny shouted Steve’s name as he grabbed a fistful of short brown hair with his other hand and pulled. 

“Steve. Stop it. What’s wrong? Steve!”

Blue eyes blinked rapidly at him. “Danny?”

Danny shifted his hips to relieve the pressure at his shoulder as he let go of Steve’s head. “Yeah. You wanna ease up on the Kung-fu death grip there?”

“What?” Steve said, still blinking and looking confused. 

“You had a dream Steve. Come on. Come back to me. There you go.”

Steve released Danny’s wrist like it was suddenly hot. “Oh god, Danny. I’m sorry. Did I...Are you hurt? What did I...”

Danny stretched his shoulder as he pushed himself to a sitting position. “I’m fine, babe. It’s OK.”

“No it’s not, Danny.” Steve collapsed back on the bed, hands over his eyes, rubbing.

Danny pulled his hands down. “Yeah it is tough guy. Takes more than a wrist bar to hurt me. C’mon, you’re gonna see spots if you do that. Stop it.” Danny kissed his eyes, cheeks, nose, working his way to his mouth as he shifted Steve’s hands to his own hips. 

“That’s it. Focus on me. Right here, right now. There you go.” Steve’s hands slid inside Danny’s pajama shorts and cupped his ass, thrusting Danny’s hips towards himself.

Steve concentrated on the silky tongue that was now penetrating his mouth and the hands that roamed down his chest and fingertips that rubbed over his nipples until all he could see behind his closed eyes was Danny. Not Korea. Not flashbangs and screaming. Only Danny. 

“Danno, I need...”

“I know babe. I know. Flip over, shorts off.” Danny sat on his knees as he reached into the end table drawer for the lube while Steve shimmied out of his shorts and rolled over, lifting his ass up and spreading his knees apart. 

Without preamble, Danny entered him hard and fast. Steve let out a pained groan and Danny stilled, balls deep inside him while the fiery pain of the stretch and intrusion radiated through his ass and groin, blocking out all other thoughts. 

~~~~~

It had taken many hours of conversation to help Danny understand that sometimes pain was what he needed for distraction, for release. The first time Danny had heard him cry out like that, he pulled out. “I can’t do this Steve. I can’t hurt you. Not like this. You can’t ask me.”

“Danny, listen. I want it to hurt. I need it to.”

Danny shook his head. “No. That’s wrong. Sex is not supposed to hurt. Never. It’s supposed to feel good. It’s love, not...’

“Yes, Danny. Yes, most of the time, yes. But sometimes, I need it like this too. And I need you to be strong enough to help me. Please.”

Danny kept resisting but Steve kept pushing. One night, after they’d argued over this for the umpteenth time, Steve asked, “Why did you surrender to prison in Columbia?”

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“Answer the question, Danny.”

“No. You know why.”

“I do, but tell me anyway.”

Danny tensed his jaw. “Don’t do this.”

“Say it Danny. Why’d you go to prison without a fight?”

“Because I murded a man in cold-blood, motherfucker. Why do you think?”

“Exactly. Your guilt over Reyes was so heavy, you lost yourself in it. You were willing to walk away from me, from Gracie, from everyone for the chance to punish away your guilt.”

Tears filled Danny’s eyes. “So?”

“So, dumbass, a fiery-hot cock in my ass is a lot less likely to get me killed, is all I’m saying.”

Danny wiped his hands over his face. “Yeah, OK.”

“OK?”

“Not really, but I see your point.”

“It’s because you love me that it works for me, babe. Can you understand that? Please? I really need you to understand.”

“C’mere, you animal. I’m here for you. But I’m not gonna know when you need it, so you’re gonna have to ask because when we’re making love, that’s what I’m doing. You need something else, you’re gonna have to tell me.”

“No problem.”

~~~~~

The feel of a tight grip on his hips, fingers digging into flesh, brought him back to the present as Danny drove into him hard and fast, over and over. 

“Hands behind your back Steve. Now.” Danny ordered. Steve lowered onto shoulders, face to the side has he bought his hands back. Danny grabbed them with one hand while he kept up his unrelenting pace as Steve moaned into the mattress, savoring the burn and thankful for the deep soreness he would have tomorrow when he jumped down the rabbit hole that was Operation Bluebell, praying the pain would be enough to keep it from swallowing him entirely.

 

5050505050

 

“Afternoon Danny! How’s it going?” Andrew sat on a bench in the hospital courtyard as he answered the call.

“Still morning out here, pal. Did I catch you with a patient or can you talk?”

“Wouldn’t have answered if I was with a patient. We’re good. What’s up.”

“Do you know much about PTSD?”

“A little, but it’s not really my area. Basic psychology is part of becoming a chaplain but I’m not a licensed therapist. You OK?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. It’s Steve. He had a bad dream last night and for a moment, it was like he didn’t know who I was.”

“Hmm, I’m not certain, but I know part of PTSD can be reliving the trauma, where you are so overcome with it, it’s like it’s happening all over again. Has this happened before?”

“Nightmares sure. That happens to both of us, y’know, the work we do. But this was different. Steve can’t tell me because it’s classified, but something dark is happening inside his head and I’m worried about him.”

“Then you need a psychologist.”

“I like you better.”

“Thanks, but you wouldn’t want your dentist to reset your dislocated shoulder would you?”

“No.”

“Same deal. This is beyond my training. The best help I can give you is to refer you to someone else. I don’t know any providers in Hawai’i but I could ask around.”

“No, it’s ok. We actually know someone. I just was hoping to avoid it.”

“You don’t have to go to someone who doesn’t work for you. Find a trauma specialist.”

“Yeah, sounds good. Give Elliot a hug for us OK?”

“I will Danny. Peace.”

“Peace.”

Danny lifted the lid on his laptop and opened his web browser.

 

5050505050

 

Danny collapsed backwards on the bed, exhausted and irritable even as the waves of his orgasm still echoed through his body. He threw an arm over his face as he felt Steve get up and head to the bathroom to wash up. He loved Steve, but he wasn’t sure how much longer he could do this. He sat up, propping pillows behind him as Steve crawled back into bed and curled up next him, laying his head on Danny’s lap.

“Love you Danno.” Steve yawned.

“I love you too, babe. But, we gotta talk.”

Steve shifted so he could look up at him. “OK.”

“I know things are rough for you right now and I want to help in every way I can, but this is the fourth night in a row and I...”

Steve sat up, wincing a little as he moved himself on the bed so he was facing Danny. “It’s OK Danny. I’m fine, really.”

“But I’m not. This thing you need, I understand it. I do. And every once in a while, I’m happy to oblige. But this can’t be how we do this all the time. It’s...it’s unsatisfying. It makes me want to avoid sex altogether.” Steve couldn’t hide the hurt on his face and Danny immediately reached for him.

“I thought you were doing OK with it.”

“Steve, I love you. Which means I love the little mewling sounds you make when I suck you down slow and I love watching your eyes glaze over as I slide across your prostate, watching your orgasm build and then seeing you fall over the cliff with me. Sex is about me loving you.”

“I love that too.”

“You didn’t even come tonight. You realize that? Because I sure as fuck do. That’s how checked out you are. All you want is the pain and I can’t...I can’t do it anymore.”

“Danny, come here. Lay with me. You’re right, I’m not thinking straight. You’re right.”

Steve wrapped himself around his husband, chest to back, holding Danny close and kissing his tenderly along his neck.

“I’ve been reading up a little on PTSD. Have you ever blacked out? I read that’s a thing that can happen.” Danny’s voice was soft and quiet. 

Steve hugged him tighter. “Twice, way back in the year after. Happened in the middle of training exercises that were similar to the op. That’s how I ended up in therapy. But I’ve never had that happen while I was walking through a grocery store or anything.”

“What about the other night?”

“That was a nightmare, Danny. My brain just wasn’t fully awake yet. Not the same thing. Don’t worry.” Steve kissed his ear.

“Sure.” Danny tried to tamp down his anxieties, but that was a little like asking a fish not to swim.

 

5050505050

“Master-at-Arms, guard the Commander!” Catherine yelled.

“Yes, ma’am” Two members of the Navy’s military police took a hold of Steve, one at each elbow, holding him upright as he panted. The fight seemed to have gone out of him, but they held him firmly.

She turned to Alex. “Take him to my office. Stand him against a wall at parade rest. You understand what I’m asking?”

He nodded. “I do, ma’am.”

“Go.”

Alex led the way as the MP’s followed with Steve. She walked over to one of the Command phones and picked it up. “I need to be connected to outside line 808-555-6784.”

 

~~~~~

Once at the office, Alex had the Masters-at-Arms stand guard outside the door while he took hold of Steve’s left elbow and walked him to a blank wall inside, turning Steve so his back was inches from it. “Parade rest, Commander.” Steve widened his stance, knees slightly bent, hands overlapping flat against the small of his back as he stared straight ahead. 

“Who am I, Commander?” Alex asked, his voice steady.

“Lieutenant, uh Captain...” Steve paused, his eyes darting, knowing he shouldn’t look at the man speaking to him but struggling to find his bearing.

“Who am I, Commander?” He asked again.

Steve blinked, glanced at Alex, recognition fleeting across his features and then Steve looked straight ahead again. “Captain Alexander Cho, Marine Corps Counterintelligence.” The words tumbled out fast and Steve hitched in a quick, uneasy breath.

Alex stood directly in front of him, the toes of their boots almost touching. “Steve, look at me. I want you to breathe exactly as I say, Breathe in, 2, 3, 4. Now out, 2, 3, 4. Good. In, 2, 3, 4”

Steve stared into the man’s dark brown eyes, following Alex’s steady cadence. He wasn’t sure how long they did this. Ten, twenty minutes? He lost track but welcomed the focus until he realized he couldn’t remember how he ended up here.

“What happened?”

“You attacked two sailors who were roughhousing in the hallway.”

“I did what? What are you talking about?”

“We spent all morning pouring over photos and detail reports for each of the kill shots in Operation Bluebell. The three of us were heading to the mess when we came upon two young seamen who where joking around and shoving one another. You punched the first one in the face then grabbed the other, shoved him against the wall and jabbed your fist in his side.”

“That doesn’t make sense, why would I...”

“You had a blackout, Commander.”

Steve closed his eyes tight, trying desperately to remember but all he could see in his mind’s eye was the green-hue of his night vision goggles as he crouched along a wall until he came upon two Korean teenagers. They were smoking and jostling one another, play fighting the way boys do until they saw him. The first one charged at him and he sliced his carotid and watched him drop as he felt the warm, sticky ooze of blood splatter his face. The second turned to run, but Steve grabbed him by the forearm and shoved him against the outer wall of the hut and sank his Bowie under the boy’s lowest rib, angling up into his lungs and withdrew the blade out again, the hiss of air and a garbled choke the only noise before he slumped to the ground. ‘Two down’ he spoke into his comm and heard Catherine’s voice answer back, ‘Roger that. Two down, exterior building Gamma. Proceed in.’

Steve sank to the floor, pressing his hands hard into to his eyes, trying to make the white light block out the memories. Alex squatted in front of him. “Steve, you need to stay with me now. You have been ordered to parade rest. Stand up Commander. ATTENTION!” The commands echoed in the room and Steve stood quickly on pure instinct, resuming his position as Alex once again counted out his breathing.

Alex lost track of how long they had been doing this when he heard the door open. He kept repeating his cadence as he turned slightly to see Captain Rollins enter with a short, blond, civilian man who wore a police badge on his hip next to a holstered H&K P30. 

“What is this?” The man asked as he strode over. “Who the hell are you?”

Alex looked down at the man, who reminded him of the jackrabbits that would box each other in the fields back home in New Mexico. He held his position as the man tried to push him back while placing a hand on Steve’s arm.

“You need to step back.” Alex commanded. “The Commander is not safe at the moment.”

Danny kept his hand on Steve, but pivoted slightly towards him. “No, see, I don’t take orders from anyone in this room but me and I can assure you, the Commander is as safe as he’s ever gonna be right now. But you, you need to go over there before I mess up those nice, crisp folds on your shirt there after I’ve ripped it off and made you eat it. Alright?” 

Alex saw the briefest flicker of a smile on Steve’s face as this Energizer Bunny come-to-life pointed towards the other side of the room. Alex looked to the Captain who gave him a slight nod, so he stepped back two paces. 

“He had a blackout. Do you know what that means?” Alex challenged.

Danny turned and faced him, hands on his hips. “You’re just not gonna quit are ya? You wanna dance with me? Is that it?”

Alex shifted his weight and clasped his hands at the wrist, left over right, in a basic combat-ready stance, and then held still. “The Commander had a post-traumatic stress episode and assaulted two enlisted men. I am here to ensure that he remains in control.”

Danny nodded and turned back to Steve, placing a hand possessively along Steve’s neck. “That true, babe? Did you blackout?” Steve nodded.

“OK. It’s alright.” Danny slid his hands down, pulling Steve’s arms forward until he could hold his hands together in front. “We’re gonna go home. OK? You seeing me right now? Steve?”

Steve looked at him and nodded, relief visible on his face as Danny interlaced his fingers with Steve’s and he turned to pull his husband away from all this bullshit crazy. 

“Danny, you need to remember you are on a Naval Base.” Catherine said.

Danny spun on her with lightening speed, his finger pointing at her chest. Alex lurched forward but Catherine waved him off with her hand.

“No, Catherine! If I wanna walk him out of here with my hand on his cock and my tongue in his ear, I’m gonna do it because I don’t give a fuck what you, or G.I. Joe over there, or the whole goddamn Navy thinks about it. And if you don’t like it, discharge him and all our lives can be back to fucking normal. You understand me?” He tapped his finger against her chest in punctuation as they stared at one another. Then her eyes softened as she spoke.

“Danny, I understand that your particular brand of ferocious energy is precisely why Steve fell in love with you. But from the moment he set foot on the Academy campus in Annapolis at 18, Steve has lived and breathed a specific code of ethics and protocols. And while this culture doesn’t suit you, it is the culture in which you are currently standing. And it is a part of him. I am asking you to be sensitive to that until you get him off base. Do you understand me?”

“Danno.” Steve spoke aloud for the first time since his husband had entered the room. “Take me home.”

Danny dropped his gaze and turned around, walking back to Steve’s side. “Of course, babe. Whatever you need.” Danny cupped Steve’s chin and turned his face towards him. “You gonna be OK now?”

Steve nodded and drew him close so their hips were touching because nothing grounded him body and soul like Danny did. “Yeah. I’m good, now that you’re here.” Steve leaned in and kissed Danny deeply, tongues caressing, not giving any care at all for the other two people in the room. As he broke the kiss, he said, “But Catherine’s right. I don’t need to hold your hand to know you got me. Just having you at my side is enough.”

Danny smiled at him. “Whatever you say.” He then gestured at Alex with his thumb. “Your Marine over there is pretty tight though huh? Coulda bounced a quarter off that ass am I right?”

Steve laughed and pushed towards the door. “Will you shut-up? I’m in enough trouble already without you bringing sexual harassment charges down around my ears.” He looked over at Alex and then at Catherine, and paused, waiting. 

She nodded. “Dismissed, Commander.”

“Thank-you, ma’am.” Steve followed Danny out the door. 

 

50505050

 

Once they got home, Steve changed and went to the weight bench in the garage. Danny followed a short time later.

“You need a spotter, babe?”

“Yeah, sure.” Steve laid under the press bar and lifted the weights out of their holder as Danny stood over him.

“You gonna tell me what happened today?”

Steve grunted with effort as he talked. “I would. But I...I don’t remember what happened.” 

“Were you in a training op?”

Steve kept lifting in fast repetitions as his arms started to tremble.

“No, Danny, but there were other circumstances that I can’t...ugh.” Steve’s left arm gave and the bar fell. Danny caught it and reset it in the holder.

“Alright that’s enough. No more of this. Let’s go.” Danny grabbed Steve by his wrists and pulled him up. 

“Go? Where are we going?”

“Right now, the shower. Come on.”

Danny pushed him all the way to to bathroom where he turned on the shower. “Strip. Get In.”

“The water’s not warm yet, Danny. Give me a minute.”

“No. In. Now”

Steve went stepped into the shower and flinched against the cold. “What’re you doing Danny? Shit. It’s cold.”

“You think that’s cold?” Danny reached in and turned the knob all the way over to the ‘C’. 

“Fuck! Danny why are you...”

“I don’t see you washing Steven. You want out of this, show me one of those Navy Showers, huh? You wanna suffer. Fine. I can make you suffer. But you’re gonna suffer my way.”

Steve’s teeth were chattering as he poured the shampoo/body wash combo into his palm and rubbed it through his hair and down his body as quick as when he was in BUD/S, rinsing and killing the water in under a minute. He hopped out of the shower and turned to grab his towel but it was gone. Danny stood by the bathroom door, arms crossed.

“What, you’re not gonna let me dry off now?”

“No. No, I’m not Steve. You’re gonna stand there and drip in my vain hope that for once, you will listen.”

Steve shook his head, spraying water across the bathroom mirror, hitting Danny as well. 

“That was nice. Thank-you.”

Steve shrugged his shoulders. “Had water in my ears.” He stood, hands on his hips. “Now I can listen better.”

“I took the trash out this morning.”

“OK. Thank-you? What, was it my week or something?”

“No, it needed emptying, so I did it.”

They both stood for a minute, Steve’s skin pebbling in goose bumps as the water slowly evaporated off him, causing him to shiver. 

“Danny, I don’t understand...”

“There was blood on the tissues Steven! In the wastebasket. Blood. Why is there blood, Steve?” Steve looked away and then put his hands on the counter to steady himself.              

“Answer me.”

“Danny, I’m not...it’s not what you’re thinking. I’m not harming myself.”

“I don’t think you are Steve. I think you’re making me do it. I fuck you and you bleed. That’s what’s happening isn’t it.”

“Danny, I...”

“Motherfucker!” Danny yelled as he turned and punched the door two...three...four times.

“Danny! Stop it! Stop!” Steve wrapped his arms around Danny from behind pulling him away from the door and they sank to the floor. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Danny please.” 

They sat that way for a while and Danny drew his hand to his chest, cradling it. “I might have broken my hand.”

“Fuck. Let me see.” Steve gingerly took his hand, inspecting it. “You should probably get a couple stitches and an x-ray, yeah.” 

Danny nodded. “Help me up.” 

Steve stood and lifted Danny under his armpits until he was standing, then walked him to the kitchen and pulled out a bag of ice and wrapped it in a towel. “Put that on until I get dressed.” Danny looked at him, realizing he’d walked him through the house bare-assed naked.

 

5050505050

 

“Thanks, Rachel. Yeah, I’m Ok. Yes. He’s OK too. We just need to trade this one night. Let’s not make a federal case out of it. I’m not being snippy I just don’t see why this request has to lead to 20 questions. Whatever. Look, tell Charlie we love him and will pick him up after school on Monday. Alright. Thank-you.” Danny hit the end call button with his left hand, his right heavily wrapped in a bandage and soft cast. 

Steve gave him a side-glance as they drove. “She mad?”

“No. She’s not mad. She’s nosy, which is making me mad.”

“She wouldn’t ask so many questions if you were just straight with her. You give her vague details and then she doesn’t trust you.”

“I’m vague because when I give her details she give me opinions and she’s not entitled to her opinions.”

“Everyone’s entitled to their opinions, Danny. You can’t control...”

“That’s where you’re wrong, Steven. She’s not entitled to her opinions on my life and choices. Especially when she is wrong and these things are none of her business.”

“I know you don’t like it, but our lives are her business. She’s the mom to our kids. Her life is our business and ours is hers. You’re embarrassed that you lost control and you want to shut her out and I get that, but you can’t blame her for asking about it.”

“My loss of control? You really gonna say that to me right now?”

“Yeah, I am.”

“Really. But we’re not gonna talk about you having to report to the Master-at-Arms tomorrow morning? Huh?”

“I didn’t say that, man. Of course we have to talk about that, but we’re talking about this now.”

“Fine. What else you want me to say?”

Steve shrugged. “I don’t want you to say anything. I’m just saying maybe it doesn’t help to take things out on Rachel that don’t have anything to do with her. Maybe.”

Danny sighed. “I know. I will call her tomorrow and apologize.”

“Thank-you.” 

Danny looked over at his husband as they drove along the highway.

“Steve?”

“I know. I’m trying.”

“Ok.” Danny held the silence as long as he could, which wasn’t all that long. “You blacked out.”

“Yeah.”

“You said that didn’t happen.”

“I said it hadn’t happened in a long time, which was true.”

“Until today.”

Steve nodded. “Until today.”

“So what happens now.”

“I don’t know. At worst, I get brought up on charges in front of the JAG. Honestly, I don’t really see how that won’t happen. I might get dishonorably discharged.” Steve gripped the steering wheel, kneading it in his hands. 

“OK, well maybe we should put a pin in the ‘What if’ scenarios for now and focus on our other...concern.”

Steve tilted his head, keeping his eyes focused on the road. “I’m fine there too. Bleeding happens sometimes, that’s all. Not the first time it’s happened.”

“Ever, or not the first time with me?”

“Look, sometimes I bleed when there’s swelling that doesn’t go down before I bottom again or if there’s not enough lube. It happens.”

“I know you’re more, uh, experienced, at this than me, but I tend to be a pretty attentive guy and we don’t exactly live celibate lives, but I’ve never seen you bleed before. So either you’re really good at hiding it or you’re not being honest here.”

“I’m not hiding and I’m not lying. Things just got away from me a little.” He glanced over. Danny was watching him but said nothing. “Before now, occasional very rough sex was just what I said; a release. But one I didn’t need more than every once in a while. This week though, I don’t know, things got to be too much and the pain, it got me through until I could get home to you.”

“Except you didn’t come home to me so I could ease the pain. You came home so I could cause it.” Danny spoke softly. Steve said nothing. “You used me.”

“I know. I’m sorry.”

“It’s still self-harm you know. It’s no different than cutting or shooting up. In fact, from where I sit, it’s a thousand times worse than those because you took this special thing, this sacred act we do together, and made it ugly. Do you get that?”

Steve pulled over, slammed the car in park, pulled the keys and threw them on the dash. “No! God, Danny.” And he broke. Danny pulled him as close as the center console would allow and let him cry.

 

5050505050

 

Danny had driven the rest of the way home. He convinced Steve to take an Advil and lay down for a while. “I gotta run to fill my antibiotic prescription.” He lied. “You gonna be OK for a bit?”

“Yeah, Danny. I don’t need a babysitter. Go get your pills.”

Danny kissed him and got in his car, dialing the number that had called him a few hours ago.

He knocked on the door of the narrow duplex base housing with the small “12” on a brass plate. Catherine opened the door and wordlessly invited him inside.

She handed him a beer and they sat in her tiny living room. 

“So what’s gonna happen now?” Danny asked.

“I intervened as much as I could, explaining Steve’s history with the op and his previous medical history is a matter of his service record, but he will get charged with conduct unbecoming an officer, which carries mandatory time in the brig.”

“Then get him out”

Catherine looked at him. “I don’t know what you...”

“I don’t care alright? You still want to have a friendship with Steve, that’s fine, if that’s what he wants too, fine. Whatever. But this is not the way to go about it. You two want to meet for lunch every week or go rock climbing or whatever. Fine. Go do that with my blessing. But don’t do this. If you love him at all, if you ever, ever loved him, make this stop. Because it’s breaking him. You hear me? You’re breaking him.”

“Danny, it’s not that simple...”

Danny stood up. “You know what. Make it that simple. You fix this or I will. I mean it. I will not let you destroy him.”

“Danny, you can’t. You take him AOL and he’ll never...”

“Then fix it! You had the clout to pull him off Five-0, so you have the clout to put him back. Get it done, Catherine.” He stormed out, slamming the door behind him.

 

5050505050

 

Steve reported to the Master-of-Arms office the next morning in Dress Blues. They escorted him to a small room with a single table and two chairs and left him. He set his cover on the table and sat, back straight, hands folded, and waited. 

Two hours he sat, not moving save for slight flexes of his toes to keep his legs from falling asleep. When he finally heard the soft click of the doorknob, he stood to full attention. 

“At ease, Sailor.” Catherine said as she sat down across from him. “Please, Steve. Sit.”

Steve obeyed but didn’t answer her. 

“I have been authorized by the Vice Admiral to present you with two offers and it will be up to you which you accept.” She laid two brown folders with the Seal of the US Navy on the front before him and opened them.

“You can return to Reserve status and be reinstated as the head of Five-0, but you will need to serve four weeks in the brig for conduct unbecoming and 6-months reserve duty without pay, or you can fully discharge with honors and the Navy will dissolve its relationship with the Five-0 Task Force permanately. I don’t know what that will mean for your employment, but I would imagine your service to the State of Hawai’i would be enough for someone to put your skills to good use.”

“So I either stay and accept discipline or retire and lose my job?”

“Yeah. It was the best I could do.” He nodded and looked at each folder reading the details.

“What are you thinking?” She asked after he’d read through both fully.

“I think I need to make a call, so if you’ll excuse me...”

“Steve, the JAG is expecting an answer.”

“And the JAG will get an answer, but not before I talk to my husband, so if you don’t mind...”

“Of course. Sorry. Knock on the door when you’re ready.”

 

5050505050

 

“That’s a pretty amazing sunset there babe.” Danny said as he sat down next to Steve on the beach.

Steve took a swig of his beer. “I don’t make ‘em; just watch ‘em.”

“Really? Cause I’m pretty sure you’re the source of every sunrise and sunset of my life.”

“Not sure I deserve that, but it’s nice to hear. You had a case or something?” Steve asked, trying to keep his voice steady to cover his worry at what had made Danny late getting home. 

“Well, if those are my choices, I guess it was the ‘something’. Seems I got slagged with handling the second round of the budget process and with the Navy withdrawing their partnership, I needed to get creative.”

“What do you mean?” Steve sat up and rested his forearms on his knees.

Danny handed him a black box. Steve opened it. Inside sat his Five-0 badge and a department-issued SIG-Sauer. 

“The Governor agreed that Hawai’i needs the Task Force and the Task Force needs a commander. You now report fully to the Governor and we report to you. Grover, Tani, and I are dissolving our commissions with HPD and our jurisdiction now comes from the Governor’s office alone.”

“Thank-you, Danny.” Steve set the box on the ground and slid back in the chair heavily, guilt crushing his chest.

“Any regrets?”

Steve shook his head. “It was no choice at all really. Even one day locked in the brig away from you is one day too many. Navy’s controlled my life for long enough. I didn’t know what I was gonna do, but I sure as hell knew I wasn’t gonna stay.”

“You’ve never abandoned an Op before.”

“No, and I’d be lying if that that doesn’t sting a little. But the price for this one was too high. And I don’t mean just you. I had to make a clean break from Catherine too. As long as I was in the Navy, she was gonna be in my life.”

“She still could be.”

“No. That’s a thread that needs to sever permanently. She and Doris share the same...I don’t know.”

“Personality Disorder?”

Steve laughed, “Sure, let’s go with that. Whatever it is, their work, their mission, is the only thing that matters to them. No amount of love, no matter how much they care about someone: they will burn them up without question if it means securing the op. I don’t need that in my life. I don’t want that. My ohana is what matters.”

Danny held his hand out and Steve took it. “Since Charlie is with Rachel this weekend, I was thinking we could use a little bonding time. Come inside with me?”

“Lead the way babe.”

~~~~~

They kissed their way up the stairs, down the hall, and into the bedroom, pulling off shirts, pants and shoes as they went. Once in the room, Danny flipped on the radio to some soft-rock station and they swayed together, kissing and petting for a few songs.

“This is nice, babe.” Danny smiled.

“Very.” Steve brought his hands down, fingertips sliding under the elastic of Danny’s boxers when Danny caught his hands. 

“Before we go any further, hon, we need to talk.”

Steve looked at him. “OK.”

“For a little while, I don’t know for how long, but for a little while, I don’t want to top. Don’t give me aneurysm-face. It won’t be forever. Just for now.”

“I don’t have aneurysm-face. I understand. I’m so sorry.” Steve knew he would happily live on blowjobs and hand jobs forever if it meant Danny’s forgiveness.

“And if you’re gonna top for the foreseeable future, you’re gonna need to slow down ‘cause...”

“Wait,” Steve paused him, “hold on. You not topping doesn’t mean I have to. I know that’s not been something you’ve...”

“Yeah, well, you look so beautiful when you bottom, I thought maybe I should spend some time learning what that’s all about. And it might help me understand things a little better.”

“It’s not necessary Danny. I don’t want...”

“But I do. What happened before, that wasn’t all on you. I was giving you what you asked for, but I had no frame of reference for it. So I didn’t take care of you like I should have because I wasn’t even clued in to the fact that I could do damage to you like that.”

Steve shook his head. “It’s not at all your fault. I hid it from you. You had no way of knowing...”

“Exactly. I had no way of knowing because I’ve been too afraid to really find out. I’m not anymore. You and I, we have a duty to one another, to help each other stave off our darker impulses. And we both have them. Reyes’ murder still hangs around my neck the way whatever happened in Korea hangs around yours. And maybe sometimes, we can make that a little easier for one another. But we also need to be able to see when the other is drowning so we can pull each other out. And even if none of that is ever necessary, I still want to have this be a more equal relationship. So for now, my ass is yours. 

“God, Danny, that is so fucking hot.” Steve cupped his face and drew him in for slow, savoring kiss as he steered his husband onto the bed. “On your tummy.”

Danny shifted out of his underwear and hugged a pillow as Steve cupped and kneaded his ass, massaging, licking, and kissing each part of his tenderest flesh with whispers of “mine” and promises to savor every inch that went on and on for more than an hour, leaving Danny’s cock leaking and desperate. 

“Steve,” Danny panted, “there’s slow and then there’s torture.”

“Don’t worry, when you’re good and ready, you’ll beg for it.”

Danny rutted against the bed in frustration. “I’m ready, babe, please.

Steve pulled his fingers out and tapped the side of Danny’s hip. “Roll over. That’s it.” Steve swallowed Danny down, rocking the tip of his cock against the roof of his mouth. 

“Steve, I can’t, I’m not gonna la...Fuuuuckk” Steve felt the thick cream fill his mouth and swallowed. 

“Now you’re ready.” Steve poured a generous puddle of lube in his hand and slicked himself up. The hardest part was going to be staving off his own orgasm, but that didn’t need to be any of Danny’s concern right now. Steve lined up and pushed in the tip of his cock and stopped, studying Danny’s face carefully for any signs of pain or distress, but also to sear the moment in his brain. The trust, the faith, Danny placed in him...

“More.” Danny moaned as he reached up and grabbed hold of the head board. “I want to feel...Yes!” Steve pushed slow knowing the burn his girth was gonna cause, so he stopped again.

“Fuck, Steve, why do you keep stopping?” Danny panted.

“I don’t want to hurt you.”

“You’re not, please I want all of you. C’mon babe.” Steve replied by pushing steady all the way in, reaching down, and lifting Danny’s balls into his fingers as he caressed the soft skin below with his thumb.

“Oh my God, what is that? What’re you, oh, yes...” Danny was fully erect again, his cock bouncing against his stomach as he writhed and moaned

“Danny, I...” Steve bared down, willing his orgasm to hold off. 

“Fuck me, please, fuck me, fuck me...”

Steve planted his hands on either side of Danny’s waist and thrusted, in and out as slowly as he could until he couldn’t hold back any more and his pace went faster, harder. He knew from this angle he was likely dragging his whole length back and forth across Danny’s prostate and he hoped he could last long enough to make Danny come a second time.

As that thought flickered in his brain, his control burst and his own orgasm exploded as he buried as far as he could, rocking his hips as he emptied himself. He kissed Danny lightly at first and then more desperately, as though kissing him was the only way he could take in oxygen. Danny matched his ferocity for a moment before grabbing Steve’s face and turning it so he could suck powerfully on that spot below his jaw, suckling as though he could pull Steve’s life force out of him though that very spot. Steve could feel the tender flesh bruising and a rush flooded him that made him feel like he could fly.

“Danny” Steve cried as he nuzzled his face into the soft of Danny’s neck, still buried balls-deep, pressing himself against the full length of his husband as if they could merge into one body by shear force of will. “Danny, that was...”

“Sacred.” Danny whispered. 

With that single word, Steve cried silently.

5050505050

 

“Will you settle down? You’re making me crazy.” Steve chastised as he stood next to Danny by the baggage claim carousel.

“Oh, I’m sorry Steven. Is my excitement over seeing our friends for Thanksgiving too much for your alpha-male tendandcies?”

Steve raised an eye brow at him. “I have alpha-male tendencies? I was not the one who walked in on Grace and Will making out on the couch and made the boy do push ups.”

“That is different.”

“Different? They were kissing and you made him do 45 push ups.”

“No, I didn’t. I didn’t make him do anything. I challenged him to do push ups and 45 was all he could do, so now Grace knows exactly the kind of weak-biceped string bean she’s going out with.”

“Right. And proving to her that you can do more push ups than her boyfriend has nothing to do with alpha-male tendencies.”

“It does not. It does have everything to do with if he can protect her when necessary.”

Steve rolled his eyes, “She doesn’t care if he can protect her. She cares if he can make her toes curl with his tongue.”

Danny froze and placed his hand on his heart. “Why would you say...What are you...”

Steve wrapped him into a hug. “Danny, relax, I’m teasing. Calm down.”

“That is not teasing. That is cruel and I’m, shit, now that thought is gonna fester. Steve, do you know if they are...”

“Hey Andrew!” Steve called, waving to the two men approaching. 

“You OK Danny?” Elliot asked. “You look pale.”

“He’s fine. Just a dad who can’t let his baby girl grow up is all.”

“She can grow up. She can grow up just fine. But if she wants children she better do it by Immaculate Conception is all I’m saying.”

“Actually, Immaculate Conception doesn’t refer to...” Andrew started but his husband laid a finger on his lips. 

“Shh, he doesn’t care.” Elliot smiled.

Steve clapped Andrew on the back. “Just let him rant. He’ll fizzle out by the time we get home. How was your flight?”

Danny heard that and smacked him lightly the shoulder. “You’re impossible.”

“Yup. I’m apt to do six impossible things before breakfast.”

“I’ve heard that. Where do I know that from?”

“Would it kill you to pick up a book sometime, Danny?”

“You know it might, Steven. And then where would you be?”

The two of them argued and teased their way through the airport, Steve loving every single second.