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Double timing it across the field the SEAL team spread out, making their way to the tree line, staying as low as their pace allowed. Behind them was a frieze of movement and shouting, their leader having been discovered shot dead with no one's notice. No doubt also finding the bodies of several guards taken out by the small team of five. Spotlights flashed across the area, hopes of finding the culprit or culprits responsible for the death of George Rodriguez, the man who had his hands in nearly every terrorist organization, his name only recently discovered.

Malcolm reaches the trees first, taking up root behind one of them and aiming back the way the team came, providing cover. Next to reach cover is Gomez, the man quickly following as Mal has done and taking shop behind one of the trees, but before the rest could hit the tree line the spotlight swept across the team before doubling back and landing on them, illuminating the entire area surrounding them. The voices behind shifted, the frenzied voices becoming more controlled as they began loading into jeeps and other vehicles in the area, ready to chase after the team.

Breaking the tree line the team made their way into thicker brush, too thick for anything but travel by foot, something that would work to their advantage. Steve motioned for the team to move northeast from their current heading, where the dense forest would make into even denser area, making tracking the team near impossible. They just had to get far enough ahead that they couldn't be seen.

Shots started to rip through the air, zipping by the team, nearly making home in the men. They had to make it just another two miles where the forest cuts out into another open field where they had a chopper waiting for retrieval. Malcolm took point as they made their way into the thick forest, trying to keep up a swift pace and keep footing at the same time, dodging low hanging branches and roots sticking up from the ground, looking for some unfortunate soul to trip.

The sounds of their pursuers were gaining, but they hadn't made it into this part where they too would be heavily slowed. The team of SEALs kept quite, moving a swift as possible, ten, twenty, thirty minutes passing before the spotted the break in the canopy, nearly to the field just fifty yards ahead. Nearly home free.

Breaking though the wall of trees the team saw the chopper waiting and they double timed it all the way. The team loaded, Steve waiting until the last of his team boarded before climbing up himself, as he started shots began ripping once more through the air, Rodriguez's men having caught up to them.

Pain ripped through the Lieutenant Commander's back and tore across his chest and he nearly lost his footing, the team grabbing and hauling him forward and into the helicopter which was up and out before he was fully hauled aboard. He couldn't breathe, hot searing pain lighting his chest and entire body up like a gasoline fire. Hands made quick work of his tack vest, they made quick work with his BDU jacket and there was a sound of tearing as Wesley, the team medical officer, did away with the shirt between him and the wound.

After minutes that felt like a lifetime, Steve's vision began to blur and he thought of home. Thought of how close he was to making it back alive and well to his team, to Grace and to Danny. Danny.

Danny. Oh God. Danny, who was at home. Was home. Sorry. Sorry. So sorry.

Danno...

Steve found himself no longer able to stay awake and the world went black.

 

 

Over the course of seven months Steve had called home exactly twice, both times while in between receiving orders and shipping out. The first time had been a month and a half after being recalled, they'd gotten to a base in Germany, having heard word that their target was going to be attending some big gala hosted by an Alexander Marsh, names of a few on the FBI's most wanted would also be attending.

Unfortunately it was a bust, if the man had shown they hadn't the faintest idea, the only information they'd been given was that he was a graying, bearded man, and he enjoyed dressing in light colored formal wear. It could have been any number of people, that is, if he'd even showed.

The team had been given the go ahead to call and speak to family for ten minutes before they had to get their gear together, their next flight in just over an hour. It was a much needed relief for the entire team, being able to call home and say I love you, I'm okay, and check on everyone.

Malcolm calling his little sister whom he talks about all the time, having practically raised her himself and she was brilliant. Captain of her school debate team and a mathlete. A real brilliant young woman. He was so proud of her.

Hutchski, who served with Steve back years ago, has a wife and a sixteen year old son. He'd been telling the team all about how his son is star quarterback, that his wife is the prettiest gal you'd ever lay eyes on. He passed around his picture of he and his family, telling tales of how he and his wife met, how when John was seven he thought he could fly and jumped off the barn. He'd broken his arm and told his dad he wanted to join the navy like him and jump from planes while they'd been sitting in the hospital. Steve remembered hearing the story after it happened, they'd been on R&R.

Gomez has three boys, five, seven and eight. Says he's on great terms with his ex wife, that they love each other but it became less and less romantic and more like two close friends over the years. They'd both fallen for other people and decided that they would both pursue other romantic interests after the divorce was finalized. He talked about how the divorce wasn't easy since she is the mother of his children, but at the same time it wasn't difficult. The two choosing to live within a few blocks of each other so their children didn't feel passed around and they still did dinner all together at least once a week. Talked about how his wife and girlfriend spend time hanging out together and how great she is with the children, how she's a nurse. He had a picture of the kids and one of the girls when they'd gone out to celebrate his ex wife's promotion at work.

Wesley called his mom, said she was the only woman in his life but he was hoping rectify the situation and ask out a Sergeant station at Pearl, says he thinks she's the one.

Steve left them to their calls and walked to the end of the hall, pacing as he hit call. He listened to it ring, his nerves on end. What if he'd decided he didn't want to wait for Steve? What if the kiss was just a spur of the moment, not really meaning what Steve hoped it meant? He held his breathe for a few counts, hearing the line pick up.

"Babe, that you?" Steve closed his eyes, letting out the breathe, all the stress draining at once at the sound of the other man's voice. He missed this voice, a voice he'd grown custom to hearing nearly every day for the last five years. He missed hearing the rants, the shouts of 'you're an animal!' He missed late nights on the lanai, just the two of them unwinding after a long day, cold Longboards in their hands.

"Steve? Babe? Is something wrong?" Danny's voice turning worried, like the silence indicated a problem. Steve let out a small laugh, leaning against the hall wall bringing his hand up to cover his eyes. It felt so good, so good, to hear that voice, "Yeah Danny, I'm here." Not responding to the second questioning, not entire sure if nothing was wrong. Actually, everything was wrong if he thought about it. He should be home, taking cases, having a night out with the team, spending early mornings tucked against Danny, too unwilling to get up just yet and get ready for the day. Once upon a time this wouldn't have been a problem, wouldn't even need to spend time calling home, spending that time getting ready and triple checking his gear. Once upon a time he didn't have Danny or Chin or Kono or Lou or any of the others in his little ragtag team, his ohana.

He could hear Danny on the other side of the line breathing, possibly thinking just what to say next, dealing with hearing his voice after so long. "Danno..." He found his legs no longer had the strength to hold him right and he slide down the wall, "God, I miss you."

"Miss you too, Steve. We all do," the other man paused and Steve could picture his running his hand back through his hair, it was a pleasant mental image, like things were almost normal. As if they weren't half way around the world from each other. "How... how are you? No missing extremities? Haven't blown off too many shop keepers doors?" He sounded nervous about what he'd hear and like he was trying to lighten the mood by bringing up one of their early cases as partners.

The hand covering his eyes fell, dragging on his face as he thought. How was he? "I'm alive. Homesick. I miss you. I miss the beach. I miss my bed," he stifled a laughed over how stupid the last part sounded but it was true. He missed being able to fall into it after a long day, the sound of waves lulling him to sleep, "how are you? How-how's the team? Grace?" His hand went to his breast pocket and he pulled out the now well worn photo, smiles directed at the camera. He's looked at it often, sides worn from running his finger across them. Every night to help him sleep and keep the demons from his last SEAL mission at bay.

"The team is alright, sorely missing you but we manage. Grace is worried, been asking every time we talk if I've heard from you yet. Stan bought her a new phone, like the one she had wasn't perfectly functional." There was more than a fair bit of frustration in the man's voice, he was probably waving his hands about, "and me? I've been better, missing you too. Rachel has so wonderfully decided next weekend I can have both Grace and Charlie and that for once I can see my child without her having to watch over my shoulder like I'm going to drop him or lose him or whatever the hell she thinks might happen."

"I'm glad you get to spend time with him, I think the weekend of you three would be good for you and for them," a shout down the hall told Steve his time was up. He let out a heavy sigh, all the weight that felt like it been eased from his shoulders coming crashing down full force, "I have to go."

Danny sighed and a moment later, "okay, okay just... be careful." Steve's automatic 'I will' slipping in between the shorter man's words, "I love you, Steve. Call me when you can?"

"I'll try, " the response to both comments, "I love you too. The the others hi, give Gracie my love." He started to pull the phone from his ear when the other man's voice, low and tired, drifted through the phone, "Danno loves you." Pulling the phone away he hit the end call button, sad smile settling on his face. He stared at the phone for a moment before standing, he carefully place the photo backing the pocket where it takes home next to his heart, a reminder of sorts, and making his way towards the his team.

 

 

Voices drift back and forth, muffled. Was he underwater? No. He couldn't think, his head hurt. He let himself be pulled back under into sweet silence.

 

 

The second call had been five months in and only for a minute to call and make sure Danny and the team were okay. There had been news of a heavy fire fight between drug runners and HPD, there were several officers shot, one fatally wounded and two in ICU battling for their lives. He'd been in the mess hall on the base they were currently in, the team hooting and hollering, wanting to know just who was in the photo Steve was coveting. He'd kept it to himself, the team assuming he had a girl back home he was shy about. Hutchski ribbed about whether it was Catherine or not and the whole team wanted to know who this Catherine girl is and Hutch obliged, regaling tales of when the three all happened to be in the same port on shore leave.

He'd been smiling and laughing with the team over the memories when he over heard the conversation about the shootout coming from the table behind him. His heart stopped, he couldn't stand from the table fast enough. He demanded the young petty officer tell him what he'd heard before making his way out of the mess hall and into an empty hall. Damn if he shouldn't be making this call. He fumbled in his pocket for his phone, slipping from his fingers the first couple tries, his hand shaking.

Without even thinking he pressed speed dial one, the call ringing through for a minute before getting Danny's voice mail. He hung up and tried again. Voice mail. He could feel himself start to panic, suddenly the hall felt two sizes too small, and it became hard to breathe and he could see his team coming towards him. They all looked worried, the panic probably showing on his face. He called Chin and it rang and rang before he heard, "Steve?"

He took a few moments to try and get his breath back before, "I heard what happened. Why isn't Danny answering?"

There was a long pause, "it's just a graze, nothing to worry much about. He's in getting patched up right now. Both he and Kono. But hey, they're going to be all right."

He closed his eyes as relief washed over him in waves, "Thanks Chin." Danny was okay. Kono was okay. The team was okay.

"I can put him on if you want? I'm just outside the room, I'm sure the doctor will understand," Steve felt the others close by, he opened his eyes and they were just a few feet away, he gave them a small reassuring small before responding, "mahalo." He heard a door click, muffled voices in the back, one unfamiliar one and one he couldn't get enough of. He heard Chin tell him it's Steve, that he'd heard the news and was worried.

"Babe?"  Steve felt like he could sob, the other man's voice such a beautiful thing, but he couldn't, not right now, not here, "I'm good, I'm okay."

"Danny..." he took a breath, "I' m so- god I was so worried. I just- I heard- and you were answering- I," he couldn't express just how much weight lifted, he looked at the others. "I'm not even supposed to be calling but I had to make sure. Just... be safe. Give Grace my love. I gotta go."

"Hey, it's okay. And I will. I miss you, love you. Now go jump out a plane and be a super SEAL and be careful. I want you home in one piece."

"Love you too, Danno," and with that he hung up. The others were still watching, and so he smiled, finally letting his team in on his own life. He pulled out the photo and showed the other men, "Danny and Grace, Danny's my partner and that's his daughter."

The men returned the photo, smiling back, accepting, Mal piping in with a wink, "she's a cute kid and he looks like quite a catch." As he walked by he received a pat on the shoulder from the guys. The were headed out in a few hours and so they headed back to mess where he told stories of his own.

 

 

He slowly woke, eyes too heavy to open, and the feel of something warm tangled in his hand. He felt like he knew he should be in pain but it was numbed, muffled, kept at bay. Morphine. He felt groggy and wanted to sleep more only he didn't want to. His head was a strange place. He shifted, his butt feeling numb, which means he'd probably been laying for a while. He tried to recall what happened but his mine was failing at grabbing strings. He shifted again but this time a voice accompanied it, a voice he knew but couldn't place. He squeezed what was in his hand and felt it squeeze back. Another hand.

He tried to force his eyes to open, tried to place the voice but it was like his body was working against him. He stopped fighting it, hoping a few minutes would turn new results. He listened to that voice, becoming clearer as time goes on. His mind reached for names, desperate to place it. He knew that voice, knew it was special and wonderful and he wanted to hear it often. An image filled his mind. Ties. Button ups. Patent leather shoes. Blonde hair and a smile that lit a fire in his chest. Or maybe that was the phantom pain he was feeling. Something he knew he should be feeling but wasn't. No no it was the man who's voice was speaking to him, "Da-" his throat was hoarse, like he'd been screaming too much or maybe not at all, that he'd hadn't been using it for a long while, he tried again, "Danny." It hurt his throat but the name felt right.

His hand was squeezed in response and he tried to open his eyes again, wanting to see if the image in his head was the same as the voice speaking. This time they opened and he was assaulted by blinding light and had to scrunch up his face and squint, hoping to take away some of the light. He saw a hand rush out over his face and taking the strongest of the light with it. He let his eyes adjust enough before turning his head to look at the owner of the voice, just as he pictured, though the man looked warn and the tie was loosened and just hanging from the man's neck. He felt a warm wave of affection roll over him and he felt his lips lift. He tried to sit up and the other man came to him, helping him. When he was up right enough he tried again, voice still hoarse and needing water, "Danno."

Hushing him, the man moved to the other side of the bed and grabbed a cup, filling it with water and placing a straw in it. He placed it to his lips and Steve sucked, the cool liquid soothing and he couldn't get enough. Before he knew it the cup was empty and taken away before being replaced. He downed that one too.

"Whoa, slow down there tiger. You can have more in a bit, don't want to make you sick babe," the man sat down the cup and came back round where the seat was. There was a chair farther back where a young girl was huddled, sleeping. Grace, his mind called. And then suddenly his mind called up a lot more. The man before him, the arguments, watching the sunset with cold beers, the calls. Getting shot. Suddenly it felt like he couldn't breathe, could feel the bullet shredding and lodging itself somewhere in his chest. He could hear Danny shouting and other voices come into the mix but he couldn't breathe. He couldn't. His lungs wouldn't work, his throat felt like something was blocking his air way.

As quick as it came it was gone and so was everything around him, the last thing he recalls seeing is Danny, his face distraught, and Grace clutching her father's hand like a life line, looking half awake but entirely worried.

 

 

The third time he woke there was the weight of Danny's hand in his, and another weight just to the side. He opened his eyes, the room dark, only the lights in the hall providing any visibility. Looking down he saw Danny, one hand threaded with his, the other tucked under his head where it rested on the bed. Steve felt a smile cross his face and he reached out and brushed his hand across the other man's brow, traced it down his cheek before coming up the bridge of the smaller man's nose and finding it stroking the other man's hair, usually so well kept but sleep doing a good job of disturbing it.

The blond shifted, eyes shuttering, hand tightening, as he woke. Eyes fluttered open and all Steve could say was, "hey," smile settling on his face as he watched his partner fully come to, "hey yourself."

He sat up and Steve pulled him by the hand, pulled him forward and the other man followed, placing his lips against his. The kiss as slow, nothing more than lips against lips, more could come later, this was just to reassure they are there, no tricks, no phone between them. Just them, together. Pulling apart Steve scooted sideways, making room for the other man who took the gesture and climbed up. They turned to their sides, one arm tucking up and the others draping across hips. It was intimate without anything sexual hanging over head. They had time yet to make the best of their time together. Years.

With a brush of lips the men found themselves pulled under, sleep setting over them like a blanket.

Whispered 'I missed you's fluttered through the air. Yeah, they definitely had time.