Chapter 1: Denial
Steve was good at many things, damn good really. However, not all of those things were particularly good skills to have, one of those things being denial. He spent most of his life living in it. Especially after he was shipped away as a teenager, he buried the reality of the situation to the easier conclusion that it was his fault. He was supposed to be his father’s son, his grandfather’s grandson, and yet his family had fallen apart and he had done nothing. To further escape the reality of his life, he joined the Navy in hopes of making his father proud. He had a successful career in the Navy and went beyond what any McGarrett man before him had achieved, but life in service of his country forced him to deny his sexuality.
The dark blue shroud of the Navy help him live more comfortable in denial until the point he went after the Hesse brothers and the past came crashing into the present. His father was murdered and the man behind the hit was involved with his mother’s death, or rather her disappearance as it turned out.
He was a McGarrett and there was no denying that. So he went home to O’ahu to find his father’s killer. That decision led him to the largest turning point in his life. In one startling moment he found his moral compass, his signal fire, the man he would make his partner. Detective Sargent Daniel Williams. Their first encounter together summed up Danny in a nut shell. He was short, loud, and built like a tank. Yes, Steve had broken into Danny’s crime scene, but it was still his home. Danny’s gun was drawn on Steve while he shouted orders and made threats. He was unafraid of Steve. Danny was the detective working his father’s murder and knew Steve was his victim’s son and a Navy SEAL, but that didn’t faze him. He threatened Steve would need an ambulance if he didn’t drop the evidence Steve was trying to make off with.
Steve tried to deny that he saw a spark in Danny during that first encounter or that it lit a fire in a dark cold place inside of him. He just assumed he was taken by the fact Danny had the balls to go toe to toe with him. That was something he wasn’t use to. He was always in charge, men did what he ordered. Only the enemy defied him, but he and Danny were on the same side. Danny was clearly not the type to just take orders from Steve. He denied the real reasons why he dug into Danny’s past and then hijacked him into the Five-O task force. He denied why they worked so well together and why he was willing to drop a grand on a hotel stay for his new partner and his daughter. He denied the real reason they became close. The truth was Danny’s spark started a fire that kept the darkness inside Steve at bay. Steve went above and beyond to keep Danny happy. If Danny was happy then Danny would stay and the darkness wouldn’t consume him.
Years past and Steve felt sure he was safe from the dark. Even with the drama of his mother and Wo Fat, Steve still saw a reason to keep the light inside him burning. He had a real life now with roots that were starting to plant themselves again on this tropical Hawaiian island. He and his sister were growing closer, he built a family with members of Five-O, and branched out to old and new friends. BBQ’s at Steve and dinners at Tropics were becoming common place. Chin and Kono were as much his siblings as Mary. Max, Kamakona, Charlie, and even Toast were friends he deeply cherished. Catherine was around more and it helped keep him in the biggest denial of his life. She was his best friend and lover, but there was an ache inside of him for someone else. He would never admit it because he was terrified of losing it.
Danny was the closest person to him. They had both pushed and shoved their way into each other’s lives. They argued, they fought, but they thrived off of it. They could use each other as emotional punching bags and it was okay. They balanced each other and drove each other to be better. They pulled their darkest secrets out of each other inch by inch. Danny showed he cared by screaming in Steve’s face when he did something he deemed stupid. Also by doing things like hiking and fishing, which were not Danny-like things, it was just to make Steve happy. Steve showed he cared by always being there for Danny’s daughter Grace. Picking her up from school, watching her if Danny was busy, and helping out with the girl scouts. He became Uncle Steve. He couldn’t deny that he loved that little girl. He was never close to any child before and had no idea how they could fully wrap themselves around your heart.
Steve had admitted, if only to himself, that he thought Danny was attractive. That was a fact he knew shortly after they were partnered together. He realized it when he couldn’t stop looking into Danny’s ocean blue eyes while he spoke or his need to mess up his perfect blond hair. He lied to himself and said he cared so much because Danny wasn’t just his partner but he was his best friend. Steve’s world stopped when Danny collapsed from the serine attack and cracks started to form in the walls he had built. Then Steve had to admit to himself that maybe he felt something for the guy when Steve was arrested. Danny had stayed with him even though he supposed to join his ex-wife Rachel and Grace on a flight to New Jersey. It was Danny’s chance to have his family back, and the hope of a new child that would later turn out to be as false as Steve’s murder charges. He stuck it out for Steve. Steve convinced himself he was just enamored by Danny’s loyalty.
It wasn’t until he was batter and beaten in the back of a truck in North Korea that his eyes really opened for the first time. The flap at the back of the truck was lifted and sunlight poured in hurting his eyes, but he couldn’t look away. Not when he was faced with a glowing halo of blond hair. It was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen and for a moment he wondered if it were all some sick dream. Danny, his signal fire, was there burning as brightly as ever.
Life continued and Steve denied his feelings. As long as he had Danny in his daily life, then that was all he needed. He saw Grace often, spent most of his time with Danny even after he got him to go out with Gabby. Even when Catherine spent so much of her time in Hawaii with Steve, Danny would have a way of just showing up.
Danny was his moral compass who always told him the truth about the people in Steve’s life, even if he thought it would hurt Steve. Nick Taylor, Mary, and then Doris. Steve needed Danny for that. He needed that honest, no bullshit side of Danny.
Then years after they met he could deny it no longer, he couldn’t live without Danny. When Danny had triggered that bomb and poured out his heart about how Grace got her name, Steve’s walls had crumbled down. It was a story he hadn’t told in many years. These stories were being told to Steve more regularity now, and he hung on each and every word, but in that moment he hung on to every second to try to keep Danny focused and alive. If Danny would have moved the bomb would have detonated. Steve could have moved, he could have left for safety, but he didn’t. When things got hairy and Danny begged him to leave and take care of Grace, Steve refused. His words were short, but his actions spoke volumes. It was clear to everyone there that if Danny died so did Steve.
They were both sweating and gasping for air when it was over. Steve paced while Danny caught his breath. He controlled his emotions by pacing and thing about how he wanted to punch the dead guy who almost cost them their lives. Danny stopped his pacing and they embraced. They held each other and laughed nervously as they regained their strength. There were large tears in his eyes as he watched Danny walk away. He was late and needed to pick up Grace for the father daughter dance. Steve couldn’t deny it anymore. He was in love with Danny. He would keep Danny with him always and keep him happy. Even if that meant him being happy with a woman, Steve would live with that because he would still be the only man in Danny’s life. His new veil of denial was that Danny’s friendship would be enough.
Months after the bomb, issues with his mother and sister were becoming resolved. However, issues with Catherine and his mother arouse. Betrayal and secrecy hurt him deeply. His beautiful heterosexual veil had been lifted and it left him raw.
Danny and Steve were sitting outside in those same old wooden chairs they sat in when they share their first beer. Work was going well, but they both stared in silent contemplation out at the water. Grace was good, still in Hawaii and still daddy’s little girl. Steve was good with that. He kept telling himself that was enough.
“Women, huh?” Danny said his voice clipping through the silence.
Steve snorted in agreement and took a long drink of his beer. Gabby had long since became a thing of the past, but now Catherine was no longer his ‘not’ girlfriend. She had hurt Steve and he knew that Danny was angry at her for that. Steve hoped that someday they could find their way to being friends again.
“You know what, buddy?” Danny asked, bumping his arm into Steve’s. “Women are going to come and go, but that’s the way it is for guys like us. You and me, us, were going to be stuck together forever.”
Steve smirked and risked looking over at Danny, he immediately regretted it. The moon was full and shown its silver light over the dark waves. The crests sparkled like diamonds atop the velvet water. His eye’s still had a glint of shimmering ocean blue in them, despite the lack of light, and the moon accented the most perfect angles of his face and body. It was a fitting back drop for the stunning man Danny was.
“You think you could put up with me till we’re old and grey?” Steve asked with a soft laugh.
“I’ve made it this far, so yeah. We will be here on this beach drinking beers till we are very old and grey. Sitting here waiting for Grace to bring the grandkids around.”
Steve smiled genuinely over at Danny and was warmed by his reciprocation. They clinking their beer bottles together.
“Till death do us part, babe,” Danny sighed before taking a long drink.
Steve’s heart stopped for a second. He wanted to open the flood gates and tell the truth not only to himself, but to Danny. He couldn’t. Tonight was too perfect, and he didn’t want to mess it up.
“Is that your messed up version of a marriage proposal?” Steve joked.
Danny laughed and ran his free hand through his hair, “You high jacked my life a few years ago, so I’m commandeering your future. You got a problem with that?”
Steve shook his head and took a long drink before he answered, “Nope.”
It was good. It was better than good it was great. The fire Danny started in Steve burned hotter than any volcano in Hawaii. Danny was still straight and gave no signs of being the least bit bi-curious, but he made it clear he was never leaving the island, or Steve. That was good enough for Steve, at least for now. Then a difficult case on a remote beach in Maui would change all that.
They had chased some human traffickers to the shores of this Maui beach and it turned into a knock out drag out. They wanted the main man alive to testify, but he had been injured. The man had drawn on Danny and Steve threw himself on the guy and in the struggle the gun went off. Everyone held their breath till Steve rose up from the suspect who was now bleeding from his chest. They had already called for backup and EMS, but it wasn’t going to get here in time to save this guy.
The police and crime scene team were going to work on cleaning up the mess Five-O had made. In the end, the bad guy was taken down, lives were saved, and Steve’s team was still in one piece. He considered it a win.
The beach would be quiet and beautiful spot, if it weren’t for the couple dead bad guys and the other’s in hand cuffs bitching about police brutality from the squad cars.
“I don’t know about you guys, but I can’t wait to get back to O’ahu and into some of Kamekona’s shrimp,” Chin said, leaning against roof of the rental car they had been using.
“I hear that!” Kono said, brightly. “His helicopter is coming for us as we speak.”
“That just makes me feel so much better,” Danny moaned, leaning his head down on the warm metal.
“It’s perfectly safe, Danno,” Steve laughed, slapping him on the back. “We’ve flown with him before.”
“Let’s just say, I’m done with being adventurous for one day.”
“Hey is that?” Kono asked, squinting past them. “Holy shit it is.”
She was beaming at someone behind Steve and Danny. The three men followed her gaze to see the helicopter that was several yards away. It was Hawaii Life Flight. They had been dispatched to take the serious wounded to Queen’s, since it was the major trauma center for Hawaii, but the suspect died before they landed.
Two men dressed in blue one piece flight suits walked toward them. Steve sized them up immediately since Kono took such an interest. She was like his little sister, and he wanted to protect her. He wasn’t happy about her being with the son of a Yakuza boss, but Adam saved her life. Adam was good people in Steve’s book.
Both men were as tall as he was. The one of the left may have an inch or two on Steve. Salt and pepper crew cut and a crazy thousand yard stare. He looked like a walking poster child for a stereotype PTSD patient. The guy beside him was the same height as Steve. Blond hair, brown eyes, and a warm smile; he looked harmless. He looked handsome, pleasant, and more sane then his counterpart.
“Douggie!” Kono squealed running for the dark haired man.
Steve laughed to himself thinking that naturally she knew the crazy looking one. It couldn’t be the harmless, happy fellow.
“Kono!” the man barked. “How the hell are ya? Kicking ass and taking names I hear. That’s my girl.”
“You know it! Guys, this is Doug Foster. He’s my old karate and self-defense teacher.”
Doug nodded to each of them as Kono made the introductions. She turned to the blond man at Doug’s side.
“This is my partner Josh Walker,” Doug said gruffly.
“Nice to meet you all,” Josh said, with a million watt smile.
“Seems like you guys made the trip for nothing,” Chin said.
“Yeah, but what a flight,” Doug grinned, devilishly. “We get called saying that the governor’s team needs us ASAP it was a rush. Like the good old days.”
Josh rolled his eyes, “You have to excuse my partner. He is somewhat of an adrenalin junky. Even I wanted to kiss the ground once we landed.”
They all laughed and even Doug smiled knowingly as Josh eyed him up.
“You have one of those, too?” Danny asked.
Steve’s attention snapped to Danny. He was beaming a bright smile at Josh with his finger jutting toward Steve.
“This one has been trying to send me to an early heart attack every day for years now. Thankfully, my ticker is pretty solid,” Danny said.
“That is lucky,” Josh smiled, crossing his arms. “I’ve heard a lot about your team. Doug keeps up with the news about his young protégé. I thought I was a tough guy for keeping up with old Doug here and not going into cardiac arrest, but you- you must have nerves of steel and the resolve of a saint.”
“It’s funny that you say that, because I have been put up to the Vatican as a candidate for saint hood.”
There was a pink flush to Danny’s cheeks and Steve would swear he was blushing. That couldn’t be. Chin and Kono laughed along, too. Why was everyone so chummy with this guy?
“Can I see your bird?” Kono asked Doug.
“I ask that and I get slapped,” Doug laughed. “Come on.”
Kono waved Chin to follow them and they went to inspect the helicopter while they wait for their own to retrieve them.
“You and I should get together and talk about our crazy, thrill-seeking, risk-taking partners,” Josh smiled.
“Yes, it would probably be therapeutic for us. Us sane, saintly, rocks that these lunatics cling too should stick together, for support.”
“You’ve become just as crazy as I am,” Steve grunted.
“See you just admitted you’re crazy,” Danny said pointing his finger in Steve’s face again. “Admitting you have a problem is the first step, my friend.”
Josh laughed and Steve never wanted to punch someone so much. Because when Josh laughed Danny’s eyes left Steve for Josh. Danny smirked and eyed Josh up and down like a fresh baked malasada.
“You got a card?” Josh asked.
“Card?” Danny started fumbling for his wallet. “Yeah. Uh, hey Steve why don’t you call and see how much longer before our ride gets here.”
His blue eyes flicked up to Steve and it was evident that he wanted Steve to take a walk. Steve was confused as to why he wanted to be alone with Josh. Again, he was denying himself the truth.
Steve rolled his eyes and moved away to the front of the car where he pretending to fiddle with his phone. He had no intensions of doing what Danny asked, but he put a front on like he was. He was far enough away that Danny spoke freely, but Steve could still hear the majority of what was being said. It made him sick. He wanted to vomit or punch Josh in his pretty face. Actually, he wanted to do both.
“Thanks,” Josh said, looking at the card before handing him one of his own.
Danny looked the card over, “A photographer? Nice.”
“Yeah, well. Look at the pictures first before you make a judgment,” Josh smiled. “I…um have some new pictures that I entered in a contest and won, actually. They are from the pride parade in San Diego last June.”
Steve’s ears picked up on the nervous, hesitant energy Josh was conveying in his voice. He wasn’t a player, he had no game. He sounded like an honest man who was trying to find a tactful way to say he was gay and find out what Danny thought about it, if anything. This would be the moment Steve would find out how Danny would let someone down easily when he tells Josh he isn’t into guys.
“I’ve always been a fan of photographic art. I’ll check out the web site, you know when my crazy partner isn’t running me around this island chain at breakneck speed of course.”
“I know what you mean,” Josh said, jerking his head back to his partner. “Doug doesn’t know the meaning of the word downtime. It’s insane. He’s even got my little Mike, nine, into surfing and putting people in head locks.”
“You have a kid?” Danny asked, brightly.
There was no let down. They just continued down the path of getting to know each other. Steve’s heart sank to the pit of his stomach. Fear, anger, and denial all fought together inside his brain.
“Well, no. He’s my nephew. My sister and her husband died in a car crash when he was a year so I adopted him. He’s my joy. Closest I’ll ever get to a child of my own seeing how I’m not into the whole woman thing.”
“I’m sorry to hear about your sister, but that’s good of you to keep him. I’m the proud father of a twelve year old girl. Beautiful and has my crazy ass partner wrapped around her finger.”
“You too, I’m sure.”
“Yeah,” He smiled and his voice got lower. “She’s the only leading lady in my life. I guess we have the single dad thing and the no use for women, per say, thing in common.”
That’s when the other shoe dropped. Steve jumped off the hood of the car he had been resting on, as if it had shocked him. He needed to end this now. Danny all but admitted he was into guys to this man, this stranger.
“They’re going to be here any minute, Danno,” Steve barked his lie. “We should finish things up.”
“Finish what up?” Danny yelled spinning to face Steve. “I have to get to the office to fill out all your damn paper work, in which I will have to use my colorful skills of manipulating the English language to explain the stunts you pulled here today.”
Steve was up in Danny’s space again and felt the need to mark his territory, but it really wasn’t his. He never felt so frustrated in his life.
“Don’t be dramatic.”
“Dramatic? You blew up a boat and threw yourself in front of a gun, and I’m dramatic.”
“I was going to suggest if you were finished that I could give you a lift, Danny,” Josh smiled.
Danny turned back to Josh and asked, “Who’s going to be doing the flying?”
“I’m flying back,” Josh said. “We take turns.”
“You hear that, Steven. They take turns driving,” Danny said, patting Steve on the shoulder. “Let’s go, Ace. I’ll buy you a beer for your troubles.”
“Deal,” Josh said, smiling brightly.
Steve was dumbstruck as he watched Danny walk away with Josh. He was barely aware of the fact Kono and Chin had joined him again. It all happened so fast. After years of not saying anything to Danny, keeping it all locked up, he saw where it had gotten him. With simple honesty this stranger walked up and swept Danny away.
“You okay, boss?” Kono asked quietly.
“Yeah, just a long day.”
Chin wasn’t convinced. His eyes looked sternly at Steve like he had done something wrong. There was a burning truth in those almond eyes that made Steve’s stomach churn. They couldn’t get off that island fast enough.
Chapter 2: Time for Change
Danny snatched the phone quickly, but Steve had gotten all he needed from the quick glance at the picture
A couple weeks had passed since that day on the Maui beach. Steve had brought up Josh a few times only to be sickened by Danny’s goofy smile and cryptic answers. He still got to see a lot of Danny and Grace, but he knew that Josh was getting his own time. He didn’t want to think about it. He denied that it was real, and even if it was it wasn’t serious.
He was driving the Camaro back to HQ from the Max’s office. They had a dismember body, most like cut up from a boat propeller. It was a gruesome case, but they believed they were on the verge of a break through. Danny’s phone was placed in the holder on the dash. They had just used it to relay the info Max gave them to Chin and Kono, who were on their way back to HQ from questioning a suspect. Just another day for Five-O, and Steve liked the normalcy it brought. As sick as it sounded it was true, it was a job he loved and he had Danny by his side. Sarcastic, squeamish, Danny trying to get a rise out of Max while they went over the jigsaw puzzle that was the victim’s body.
“Don’t forget you promised to teach the girls about Hawaiian folklore,” Danny said as they made conversation.
“I won’t,” Steve sighed. “In fact I have all my info together. I checked all my facts with Mamo and even got some artifacts to bring to the scout meeting.”
“Good,” Danny smiled brightly at Steve.
It felt good to be the focus of Danny’s attention again, even if it were fleeting. Danny’s phone rang so naturally Steve looked at the display. The image made heart ache again. It was a picture he had never seen before. Danny dressed down in a pale blue t-shirt with his arms around the waist of Josh, who had on a white tank. They seemed to be at a beach bar at night, both smiling wrapped in each other’s arms.
Danny snatched the phone quickly, but Steve had gotten all he needed from the quick glance at the picture.
“Hey, you,” Danny cooed into the phone. “I’m always busy, but it’s fine. Commander Badass is driving, naturally…I’m sorry about running out so early, but you know…yeah, thanks…”
Danny’s eyes went to Steve’s with a look of need of privacy. Steve shook his head and gestured for Danny to go on.
“I can’t wait for dinner. Everyone is anxious to meet you and or see you again…uh, yeah even Steve…It did make me forget. Forget to speak, breath, all of it,” Danny laughed sweetly, so contently. “Yeah, I’d say just text me when you on your way, but you’re always texting me. I’m joking…I like your need to be honest at three am…okay, baby see you soon…bye.”
They were quiet for a moment, Steve wanted to snatch the phone and toss it out the window, but he executed some self-control. Danny would have been proud of him had he known how controlled Steve was being.
“I may vomit,” Steve said, jokingly.
“Not in my car,” Danny laughed embarrassed.
“Make you forget what?” Steve asked quietly.
“What? Oh, that. You don’t want to know,” he said slyly.
“Apparently, there are a lot of things you don’t want your so called best friend to know,” Steve said, wishing he could shut his damn mouth.
“What the hell does that mean?”
“You and Josh. You and guys for that matter. I had no idea it was that serious between you two or that it was anything like...like that at all.”
He was turned in the seat slightly so he could stare down Steve with his piercing stare and scrunched irritated face.
“You didn’t think I was dating Josh?” Danny asked skeptically. “I figured you would have run a full background check on him by now.”
The thought had crossed Steve mind, but all he did was check for priors. If he went further than that he felt he would have gone insane and done something stupid. Of course the guy came back clean and it only pissed Steve off even more, so he gave up on that not wanting to read about all of this interloper's achievements.
Steve sighed staring straight ahead, “I don’t know. You never said. I just assumed you were hanging out with him.”
“Is it a problem?” Danny asked, with a dark tone.
Danny had said that Steve has a face. Meaning an expression for everything and he was sure Danny had them classified. Well, Danny had a tone for everything. Steve learned quickly to read into what Danny was saying based on his tones, which he did have extensively classified. This was the dark ‘how dare you’ tone that Steve hated.
“Is it me with guys? Or is it just Josh?”
“No, none of it’s a problem. I wished you would have told me…before.”
Danny shook his head to look out the window, but he kept his mouth shut. The next five minutes were quiet as they pulled up to their parking space at HQ. Steve killed the engine, but neither man moved.
“I’m not a homophobe, Danny. I just thought…” Steve didn’t know how to say how he felt.
“I should have told you,” Danny said quietly. “I know my first reaction should be that it’s none of your business or that it doesn’t matter, but we are beyond that point. I’m sorry… I, Daniel Williams, am bisexual and have been my whole life. It’s been a very long time since I dated a guy and honestly it never really came up after you and I met, what with Rachel and Gabby.”
Steve harbored no ill will toward Gabby, but if there was someone who made Steve’s skin crawl more than Josh it was Rachel. He was convinced now that Danny was attached to assholes, Gabby being the exception.
“It’s, okay,” Steve said, nodding looking straight ahead.
“You’re okay with this? Really?” Danny’s tone was a bit fearful. “Kono and Chin are okay with it.”
“I’m good, Danno.” Steve turned his eyes to Danny and hoped they spoke for him better than his words did. “I don’t care who you’re with. I just want you to be happy. I want you here at Five-O and I want you happy, that’s what would make me happy.”
“Good,” Danny smiled. “Then you must be overjoyed.”
Steve faked a smile not wanting to hear any more details about Danny and Josh. A cold breeze swept through the remains of his towering denial. He was in love with Danny and all this time he thought Danny was 100% straight making the point moot, but that wasn’t the case. Wasted time, frustration, and jealously wrapped tightly around his heart blocking the light that once was so bright. The darkness was creeping back in.
They all met up at the Tropics bar at the Hilton for dinner. Steve had been the first one there. He had even brought Catherine with him for support. He didn’t have to tell her, but he did anyway. He called her in a panic the night before. He had been drinking and needed someone to understand, someone to help keep the darkness from filling him. Catherine was still his best friend and never judged him. She knew he was attracted to guys, even before he did. He had denied that his quick encounters with other male sailors were out of necessity and not attraction. She agreed to help support him as they all went out to dinner. Kamekona, Max, and even Charlie Fong were going to be there to meet Josh. Steve wanted to be anywhere in the world other than at the dinner table. He just was thankful Danny had said he wasn’t ready to introduce Josh to Grace. Selfishly, Steve knew it would kill him to see Grace, his Gracie, with this other man.
Steve dressed in light green v-neck tee and jeans. The shirt was a bit tight and showed off some of his tattoos. It was a petty move, but he wanted to look better then Josh. He was being reduced to the tactics of a teenage girl.
Catherine in a lovely emerald green wrap dress and sat next to him. Kamekona followed, with Max setting at the end of the table. Charlie sat next to Max, beside him where Chin and Kono. That left one chair beside Kono and one at the other end of the table next to Steve. Danny always sat at the head of the table, Steve always sat by his side. He was so nervous and if Danny didn’t set next to him he was afraid that would be the sign that he was truly losing him. Steve wanted to slap himself. He was losing his grip on reality. Where someone sat didn’t mean anything.
“It’s going to be all right, Steve,” Catherine murmured in his ear.
Her soft high toned voice comforted him, and he leaned into her warm breath. It distracted him from seeing Danny come up on them.
“Hey, starting without me?” Danny asked.
“We just ordered a round of beers, on boss man,” Kono smiled.
“You’re late anyway,” Charlie laughed.
“I’m fashionably late,” Danny said holding up his hands.
“You are quiet fashionable,” Chin said. “Is that new?”
Danny opened his arms and spun for them. It wasn’t something anyone had normally seen Danny in. Loose worn jeans, with a brown belt, and a (too clingy for public in Steve’s opinion) dull green shirt. Then he noticed the logo over Danny’s left peck. A skull with two daggers crossed behind it. He didn’t need to read the words above and below the symbol. He now kicked himself for not going through with the background check on Josh, so he would have been prepared for this.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Steve groaned out loud.
Catherine elbowed his ribs as Danny smirked at him. He held out the shirt’s hem and looked down at the image.
“Is that the symbol for Army Ranger?” Max asked.
“Yes. Airborne division.”
“So when we gonna meet this fly boy?” Kamekona asked. “He better get here soon or we eat without him.”
“Calm down, big guy,” Danny said, taking his usually seat at the head of the table. “He’s out there saving lives and is running a few minutes behind. He’ll be here momentarily.”
“Army?” Steve asked out loud to no one, anyone, or maybe the fates themselves.
“Army Ranger sounds sexy,” Kono purred.
Danny grinned and blushed, “What can I say?”
“Army and Navy,” Charlie laughed. “SEAL and Ranger. This should be interesting.”
Steve didn’t respond as he took a long drink. Out of all of the men in Hawaii why did he have to go for an Army man?
“It will be great to meet him, “Catherine spoke up.
Danny took a deep breath as he looked her over, “Yeah. It’s good that you were able to come out. All of us are just one big happy Ohana.”
“Wow, okay did Danny just say something in Hawaiian without being sarcastic?” Chin asked.
“Hell has officially frozen over,” Kono laughed.
“No, the island has got to him. He’s got an ipo,” Kamekona smiled.
Danny just grinned like fool at all of them but didn’t get to speak as the waitress brought them their drinks. She was delivering the last one to Max when a new voice called out.
“And he's my sweatheart, too. Sorry, I’m late,” Josh apologized.
He had been working thirteen hours and he looked amazing. Steve wanted to scream. Josh was clean and dressed right. He had vintage New Jersey Devils t-shirt on and tight blue jeans. He walked over and kissed Danny on the cheek before he sat down beside him. Steve felt his had officially died and went to hell.
“Can we get him beer, Longboard, please?” Danny asked the waitress sweetly.
“Thanks,” Josh said squeezing the back of Danny’s neck with his large hand.
“Awe, you two are too much,” Kono laughed.
They looked at her confused for a second and Max pointed to their shirts. They looked each other over and started laughing at what they saw. It was all too endearing and bile-rising for Steve.
“We didn’t plan this I swear,” Danny said. “He got me this shirt.”
“And he got me this one. I thought it would be a nice gesture to wear it here.”
“They were just a silly joke gifts we got each other,” Danny said, his eyes never leaving Josh. “It looks good, babe.”
“I was just thinking the same thing.”
“You gonna introduce or make with the sexy eyes all night?” Kamakona asked.
They all laughed and Catherine elbowed Steve again. He hid a fake smile behind his beer. The dinner was worse than having a root canal for Steve. Josh hit it off with everyone and they all asked him questions about being a Ranger and now a life-flight medic. Danny’s eyes hardly left Josh. He seemed so light, so happy. The only tense moments were when Steve caught him looking at Catherine when she spoke. He was suspicious of her, and why she was here. Steve was angry about that. Danny had no right to question or judge, not when he had the fucking God of the Army sitting next to him, sleeping next to him every night. Steve lazily draped his arm a cross the back of Catherine’s chair and told stories about their adventures at sea. Everyone laughed and seemed to be having a good time. Steve saw Danny leaning on his right arm, putting himself closer to Josh. Josh in turn reached out and ran his hand up and down Danny’s back slowly, lovingly. As Charlie told a story about Kono when they were kids, Steve looked to Josh. He saw in Josh’s brown eyes something very familiar as they lingered over Danny. It was a look of pure love. Josh loved Danny. It had been only a month, but it was clear as day. Steve wondered if he looked that transparent to others when he looked at Danny.
Catherine patted his knee and he looked down at her. There was a pitiful look on her face, and he knew the answer to his question. Everyone probably saw it. As he looked around the table he noticed that each of the other dinner mates took a second to give him the same pitiful look. All of them but Chin, he had a darker expression. There was a pained expression and Steve couldn’t help but think he was disappointed somehow.
Everyone was starting to depart from the dinner and said their goodbyes. Catherine linked her arm with Steve’s and they walked quietly to her corvette. Danny nodded to Steve as he got his car. Steve turned his head, but something made him look back up and he regretted it. He could only see half of Danny’s face from where he was standing by the driver’s side door, but he was smiling large up at Josh who was saying something. His hands slid up to Danny’s hips and his head dipped down for a kiss. It was just a simple romantic kiss, which distracted Danny enough for Josh to take the keys from his pants pocket. Shaking his head, Danny turned to go to the passenger’s side. Steve ducked his head quickly and plucked the car key out from the other keys on the ring. He went to get in the driver’s side of Catherine’s car when he felt a hand on his arm. Catherine didn’t pause; she climbed in the car and shut the door. Steve looked up to see Chin looking at him with those eyes. He hated that look.
“What?” Steve asked desperately. “What did I do…wrong?”
“Time is so short, Steve,” Chin said almost pleadingly. “I wasted so much of my time with Maila because I thought I was protecting her. We both tried to move on, but it was no use. The last few months I had with her were the greatest time in my life, but it was too short. Not even married a year. The only peace I have is that she knew I loved her. She knew she was my world and the love of my life. If something happened to you tomorrow, would the one’s you love know how you feel? Really know how you feel or will fear continue to hold your tongue until it’s too late.”
Steve now had watery eyes as he looked over the pain in Chin’s face. He felt the power in his words. Maila’s death crushed Chin, even though he soldiered on. If Danny had died with that bomb, Steve wouldn’t have been as strong as Chin. In fact he planned on not having to be strong, because he wasn’t going to let the bomb take Danny without taking himself along with it. Losing Danny had always been his fear, but he never fully thought about the reverse.
Chin walked way before Steve could say another word. Not that Steve had anything to say. He didn’t know what to do. Instead he got in the car and drove back to his house. He and Catherine drank and he leaned on her. She heard what Chin had said, but didn’t press it. He knew she could tell how shook up he was. The wheels were turning in his brain. Things had to change.
Chapter 3: Speak the Truth
Steve lifted his head from the bag sitting on the sofa and saw his front door open. He lowered his phone and watched Danny’s smile drop instantly once he saw him. Even Grace who was eagerly pushing her way in stopped had turned pale at the sight of Steve’s attire.
When Steve got the phone call his whole body went ridged. He held himself at full attention even though he was alone in his house. He knew that this could happened at any time, but after Chin’s words just a few days ago it seemed to set him on edge that much more. He needed to get this out of his system before he had to lock down his emotions.
It was barely six in the morning and they weren’t due to be at work till eight today. They didn’t have a case and Kono called the day before and begged for a late start that Monday. Adam was leaving for Tokyo and she wanted to see him off. He couldn’t hold that against her and told her to take her time.
Steve dressed quickly for work and jumped into the truck. There were many things he needed to do and he was grateful for the time he had been given today. He called the governor on the way to Danny’s apartment. He barely put the truck in park and shut if off before jumping out to run to Danny’s door. He went to use his spare key, but stopped. He didn’t know, didn’t think about, the fact that Josh may be there. He thought about calling Danny, but just pounded his fist on the door. It was quiet inside, so he grabbed his phone and typed a message to Danny followed by his fist knocking at the door again. Patience wasn’t his thing.
Finally, he heard cursing from inside and he felt better instantly. Then he had to laugh at himself for being so excited at the sound of Danny’s foul mouth. There was a time in his life were he reveled in silence, with only the sound of breaking waves in his ear. Now he found he was grounded and soothed by long, rambling rants peppered with colorful language. The door swung open and Danny had clearly still been asleep. His hair was all over the place and was in need of a shave. He had on a ratty t-shirt and boxer briefs. Steve smirked lightly at the sight of first morning Danny squinting in the bright morning sun.
“Did you honestly just text me to open my door?” Danny snapped before turning away from him.
Steve followed him in and shut the door lightly. He looked around and didn’t see Josh or any sign of him, so he hoped he was in the clear.
“What in God’s name is going on? Because something must be going on if you didn’t call me or just let yourself in,” Danny bitched as he set down at the small kitchen table.
Propping his head up in his hand, he looked up at Steve annoyed. Steve was at a loss for words for a moment, his plan had fallen apart and his backup plan was to run back out the door. That wasn’t an option because he could already see the look on Chin’s face if he found out.
“Nothing. Nothing is really wrong. Um…you’re still bringing Grace over to my house for dinner right?”
“Yes, the yellow fin thing. You came over here at six-thirty in the morning to remind me of your dinner date with my daughter?”
“Yes…no. Look I don’t know how to say this. Words are not really my thing,” Steve said shifting from one foot to the other, starting to gesture like his partner.
Danny set up and had more concern in his scowl. Then the sound of footfalls coming from behind Danny stopped them both. Steve’s mouth fell and so did his hands when he saw Josh padding out of the bedroom. He was rubbing his eyes dressed in his flannel pajama bottoms and nothing else. A ranger tattoo displayed on the right peck of his well sculpted chest. It was the same emblem that was on Danny’s shirt at dinner. Steve felt sick all over again. His mind was screaming at him to pull back, but his heart was telling him to punch the ranger in the face and through Danny over his shoulder and leave.
“Everything okay?” Josh asked resting his hand on Danny’s shoulder.
Steve’s eyes dropped to Danny. The pain he was trying to hide didn’t go unnoticed by Danny. Steve could see the pained look of pity in Danny’s face. It mirrored the look of all of Steve’s friends that night at dinner. If Danny had that look then he already knew the truth and Steve was making a fool of himself. He never knew how badly a heart could hurt when it broke over love. Heartbreak over death and lies, he had that covered. Heartbreak over love that was new and it was terrible.
“You guys got a case? I can go?” Josh said heading back to the bedroom.
“No!” Steve said a bit too loud. “Stay. I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were here.”
“Even though he is parked right next to me and your truck is next his,” Danny said.
“I wasn’t paying attention,” Steve admitted weakly.
Danny’s scowl dropped and his eyes seemed larger as he looked over his friend. Steve hated that look even more then Chin’s disappointed looked.
“It’s nothing. We can talk about it later tonight,” Steve said quickly before he ran out of the apartment like he was on fire.
He hadn’t expected to hear the sound of someone following him. He stopped by the truck door to find Danny walking in wobbly fashion to try to protect his bare feet from the rocks and small bits of broken asphalt.
“Son of a bitch,” Danny groaned at the ground as he got closer.
“Danny, go back inside,” Steve ordered.
There was no point in barking orders that Danny wouldn’t follow. Danny looked back up at him and he seemed pissed. There was more to that under Danny’s standard layer of pissed, he was hurt and confused and it was pissing Steve off.
“What the fuck, McGarrett? You’re being neurotic, more neurotic than usual. You are acting like a SEAL without a plan. You’re winging it. I don’t like it when you wing it. You have a problem with Josh. Don’t lie about it, I know you better than that.”
“I’m not winging it,” Steve mocked sarcastically as he unlocked the door.
The door wasn’t cooperating but he got it open. Once open though he didn’t make a move to get in yet. There were so many words, emotions, and questions he wanted to say. When he did open his mouth even he was surprised by what came out.
“Do you love him?”
Danny body jumped startled by Steve’s question. It came out of the blue and Steve wished he could communicate like a normal person for once when it came to his emotions. The blond, almost indecently dressed for public, took a deep breath and racked his hands through his wild hair.
Steve didn’t let him answer, “Cause he loves you. You know that? I can see it.”
“Whoa, wait. Stop. What’s happening here?”
Danny held his hands up and walked closer like Steve was a dangerous suspect with a gun.
“It’s a little too early for the love thing, don’t you think?” he asked Steve.
“Maybe, but…are you happy?”
Steve stuffed his hands in his pockets and looked down at Danny who had dropped his hands. He didn’t answer him right away as he took a moment to take in a few deep breaths.
He squared his shoulders and wet his lips then said, “Yeah…yes, we are happy. I could see us going in the direction of love. I’m happy. I’m good.”
Steve nodded and took in a breath, telling himself that was all he ever wanted. Danny was happy and he didn’t want to ruin that.
“Just like maybe you are with her?” Danny asked nervously.
Steve was lost and Danny looked pissed again. He didn’t seem to want to elaborate which wasn’t like him at all. The only reason he wouldn’t want to explain himself was if it was something that really hurt him. Danny hated being vulnerable almost as much as Steve did.
“Catherine. I saw you two at dinner. You were commiserating in private whispers and you had your arm around her. I figured you guys were working things out.”
“Commiserating?” Steve asked with a nervous laugh.
God knows he loved being able to tease Danny about his expansive vocabulary. It hurt that it was going to be a long time before they could do that again.
Danny’s laugh was nervous too as he looked anywhere but at Steve.
“No. We aren’t a happy couple. She’s just a friend.”
“So, you’re back to her being your ‘not’ girlfriend slash favor-girl. You know she’s not my favorite person in the world, but she’s a good woman. You forgave her, why shouldn’t I.”
“Danny,” Steve snapped stopping his rant. “We are just friends. No benefits. No favors. She’s just being there for me when I need her. Just a friend.”
“Okay, now that worries me,” Danny said honestly as his arms went into motion. “What’s going on? What’s happened that you need her? What have you been keeping from me? Other than the obvious and irrational dislike for my boyfriend. I thought you’d be happy for me. He’s the ‘be all you can be’ type like you. I thought you two would hit it off great. So, tell me what’s the matter with you?”
Steve pressed the heel of his palms into his eyes as he steadied himself. He hated that word come from Danny’s mouth. Boyfriend and love were terms he didn’t want Danny to be using about Josh or any other man for that matter.
“So much is wrong with me, D,” Steve sighed and instantly regretted it.
“Hey,” he heard Danny say before he felt him tugging on his shirt. “Hey. Look at me.”
Danny’s hands pulled at Steve’s arms till he dropped them from him face. Danny was only a few inches away and looked racked with worry.
“Talk to me,” Danny pleaded in almost a whisper.
“No,” Steve shook his head and tried to smile. “I mean it’s just personal Navy emotional crap stuff, you know?”
“Okay, was that an actual question, or were you just throwing words together and hoping they made sense?” Danny smiled weakly, but proud of himself for remembering that moment.
It took him a second, then Steve laughed feeling the spark inside surge at the fact Danny did remember that. He has said that to Danny a long time ago when Danny was rambling almost incoherently about a crazy plan Steve came up with for sneaking onto a ship. He was glad even in the face of this upheaval, Danny was still the guiding force that kept him from flying off into uncertainty.
“You’re in good place now. That’s where you should be. You deserve happiness more than anyone I know,” Steve said fighting the lump in his throat. “Look I got to go, but we will talk tonight. I promise. I do have something to tell you and Grace.”
“All right,” Danny said clearly not wanting to end it like this. “I’ll see you at work.”
“I’m not coming in today. I have a meeting with Denning and then I have to meet some people in Pearl.”
“Are you in some kind of trouble with the Navy?”
“No,” Steve smiled. “They love me. I’ll talk to you tonight.”
Steve jumped into his truck before Danny could say anything or look at him one moment longer with those blue eyes that will haunt Steve until the day he dies. He drove off quickly and stayed away all day. He avoided his phone at all cost. He wasn’t surprised that Danny sent him texts and voice mails throughout the day. It killed Steve when he left for Japan the first time. Danny was so hurt and constantly trying to contact him. Steve got every message and each felt like a stab to his heart. So much so when he finally could call Danny, when he heard his voice for the first time Steve lost his breath and couldn’t speak. It took a second before he could form a coherent sound.
Steve was now anxiously awaiting Danny and Grace at his house. He had already made all the phone calls he needed to and filled out all the paper work. Everything was in place. He looked inside his duffle back as he held the phone to his ear. He was checking over the contents one last time while hoping Danny would pick up.
“Look who figured out how to work his phone,” Danny snapped into the phone.
“I’m sorry. It’s been busy. Um…you still coming over with Grace, right?”
“Yes, yes. We are coming for dinner. Why are you canceling?”
“No! No, just checking.”
“Hey, babe check the front door,” Danny said quietly.
Steve lifted his head from the bag sitting on the sofa and saw his front door open. He lowered his phone and saw Danny’s smile drop instantly once he got a good look. Even Grace, who was eagerly pushing her way in, stopped and turned pale at the sight of Steve’s attire.
He tried to loosen his muscles from their ridge trained pose he had whenever he was wearing his Navy fatigues.
“Hey, guys,” he smiled.
“What the…What is this?” Danny said waving his hand at Steve.
“An old issue came up. A mission I was on a long time ago has heated up and they need me to help out. I got called back. I was hoping you could house sit as well as run Five-O while I’m gone.”
Grace’s little head dropped and she leaned against her father. Steve’s heart began to break again and this was a new pain and it hurt even more than it did this morning. Steve knelt down and called to her. She looked up and he held his hands out for her smiling sweetly. She rushed over and wrapped her small arms around his neck and held on for dear life. He held her tightly and screwed his eyes shut. He tried to memorize the sweet smell of her hair and the feel of her innocent warmth clinging to him.
He opened his eyes and saw Danny swaying lighting on the balls of his feet watching them. His eyes looked so lost and afraid.
Steve pulled Grace back to look her in the eye. She may favor Rachel’s coloring but her expressions were just like her fathers. That made it easy for him to read her like a book.
“Gracie, the Navy needs my help with a case. Just like Danno and I do here in Hawaii, the SEALs go after the bad guys. This bad guy has been someone the Navy has wanted to catch for a long time. They are so close, but they want me to help since I worked on this a long time ago. Do you understand?”
She nodded slowly, “But Danno can’t go with you.”
“No, sweetheart. He’s going to stay here and run Five-O for me. Like last time when I went away.”
“We didn’t like it when you went away last time,” Grace whined.
“Me either, but this time I get to say goodbye and spend some time with you first.”
“When will you be back?”
“I don’t know. Soon. A couple weeks.”
“You promised to teach us how to make bracelets with Navy knots,” Grace said fighting tears.
“And I will. I may miss the next meeting, but I will be back to show you. Besides, your dad doesn’t have fun at work unless I’m there.”
Grace smiled, “He’s grumpy when you’re gone.”
“I bet. Next to you I’m the light of his life,” Steve smiled and kissed the girl on the cheek, but her pained looked killed him. “Hey, you wanna swim with dolphins when I come back. I’ll take you on a boat and we can swim with wild dolphins, just us and Danno.”
Her eyes lit up and Danny let out a nervous laugh, “Yes!”
“Okay, it’s a date. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to make our yellow find, but we can improvise. So go get the menus and pick something good out for dinner. Whatever you want delivered. I need to you’re your dad about work.”
She nodded and ran off to the kitchen to find the menus. Steve slowly got up watching the little girl disappear. It was hard to tell how many different places would be delivering food here tonight, but he didn’t care.
“So, that’s what you were trying to tell me this morning,” Danny said.
“Yeah,” Steve sighed. “But I didn’t want to ruin your morning. Denning knows. Chin and Kono know. I just talked to both of them and Mary. Catherine just left.”
“She did?” Danny asked with nod.
“Yes, she is my friend and she knows what this is like. I also had things for her. Paperwork and instructions to give to Mary in case something happens.”
“Steve,” Danny whined pinching the bridge of his nose. “So I’m the last to know.”
“Yes, but everything is done so we can enjoy the time we have left and I can see Gracie before I go. Then you are in charge of Five-O and my house. Hey, don’t I get points for telling you in person?”
Danny nodded, but looked like he was going to fall over or hit him.
“I thought you were going to talk me out of seeing Josh or…I was out of Five-O or something ridiculous,” Danny said quietly as he nervously ran his fingers through his hair. “But this. This sucks too.”
“I would never make you leave Five-O because of who you were with. Danny…Josh…look it’s not about him being a guy, okay.”
Danny nodded slowly and Steve was welling up with the urge to start blurting everything out. Then a tiny voice from the kitchen asking for absolutely no pineapple or ham near the pizza made them both laugh.
When Steve look back up to Danny he seemed to be gaining his strength. He looked serious and irritated.
“Where? Don’t give me this classified bullshit. I just want to know the general area for when I watch the news. I want to see if any explosions have that McGarrett touch. So are we talking hot jungles like the one I drug you out of or hot dry sands where every sheep herder has an oozie?”
Steve’s jaw was clenched and he wanted to resist, but he didn’t, “The plan is to stay aboard the ship, but I may have to go in. I will be in the Indian Ocean, but I may have to go in to the middle east.”
Danny reeled back in shock that he was given an honest answer. His face softened and the worry lines had fallen. It wasn’t a happy, youthful look it was a tired and fearful look.
“How long we got?”
“I have three hours.”
Danny nodded and patted Steve’s arm before walking in the direction of the kitchen. They got pizza, sweet and sour chicken, and kalua pig quesadilla. So Steve shelled out for three different restaurants, but it was worth every penny. Grace sat on his lap and they shared a plate. They talked about school and their new dolphin-swimming date. Danny wanted to sound upset about it, being that it involved boats and water, but he couldn’t be convincing.
Danny was forceful in saying he would be driving Steve to the base, or rather Steve would be doing the driving. There was no way he could argue because that meant he had more time, even if it was just a half an hour. He directed Danny to park outside the entrance to the runway. There was a wire fences that marked the boundary between military and civilian access. They filed out of the car and Steve walked around to face the two who came to see him off. Danny had pulled Steve’s bag out of the back and it rested on the ground by Grace. Steve handed Danny the keys to the car.
“Don’t get use to driving it all the time,” Steve smiled as Danny rolled his eyes.
He could see Danny was looking past him at the dark figures that were boarding the plane that would take him to the aircraft carrier in the Indian Ocean.
“That your backup?” Danny asked.
“Member of the team, yeah,” Steve said looking back to the shadowed figures.
The sun had long since gone down but the lights from the base gave them enough light to see each other as they stood by the car. Steve knew it was now or never. He knelt down in front of Grace, taking her hands in his.
He looked over the precious child and memorized everything. She put on a brave face and smiled for him. Steve never felt so proud and guilty at the same time before.
“Gracie, I want you to know that I love you very very much and I will be home as soon as I can.”
She nodded and tears began to gather.
“Also, I never got to have kids of my own, but I love you like you are my own. I mean that.”
“I love you, too Uncle Steve. You can love me like a daughter, Danno will share.”
She looked up to her father for permission and all Danny could do was nod. Steve saw him do it out of the corner of his eyes but he dared not look, not yet.
“I have something for you,” Grace said sliding one of her hands away from Steve and reaching for her back pocket. “It was on your fridge. Keep it so you remember how happy we are together at home.”
Steve took the folded picture from her. He opened it with shaking hands and saw it was a picture of Grace beaming in her pink swimsuit and standing on her surfboard that lay in the sand. Her arms were slung over Steve and Danny’s necks who were knelt down on either side of her. Kono had taken that picture after a day of surfing. They did look so happy. They were happy then. It was before Josh and before Steve’s wall of denial fell.
“Thank you,” Steve said. “It will be by my heart the entire time.”
He pulled her in and hugged her so tightly that he felt her heart beat rapidly against his chest. He never had to say goodbye to anyone before when he left of a mission. He now understood how hard it was for the guys with families.
After a few minutes he stood, but not before kissing the child on each cheek and forehead. Now he faced Danny, as Grace set down on Steve’s bag gripping the straps. Danny’s eyes were large and shinning. He was fighting so hard to keep his emotions at bay. It was evident by the fact his jaw was so tight it looked like it could crack. Steve put on his bravest face and stepped into Danny’s space.
“I hate you going off on your own, or without our team I guess. I’m your partner an all,” Danny muttered.
“You tell those yahoos that if they don’t have your back out there I don’t care if they are SEALs , I’ll give them the Jersey beat down of their lives.”
Steve smiled squeezing Danny’s bicep, “Believe me I know you’re not afraid of any SEAL.”
He ran his hand down Danny’s arm and started to pull away when he got to his elbow, but Danny’s other hand grabbed his wrist and held it tight. He was hold his wrist in place, but slowly let I go. Danny smirked and a nervous laugh escaped him before he blew out a breath of air. Steve hadn’t seen him look like that since he came back from Japan with Wo Fat.
“Hey,” Steve said getting Danny’s attention. “You tell Josh that this SEAL isn’t afraid of any Ranger. He steps one toe out of line and he’ll get the Hawaiian beat down from yours truly.”
There was a deep seriousness to Steve’s tone that Danny knew was deadly true. It was all he could do to breathe waiting for Danny to do or say something.
“I will,” Danny said finally. “You just hurry up and get back here.”
There was a crack in Danny’s voice and it was the last straw for Steve. He stepped forward and took Danny into his arms. He held him tight and was relieved that Danny gripped him back just as tight. Steve moved his body in closer and pressed against him.
“I’m sorry about this, Danno, but…”
“Stop. No,” Danny said soft but firm. “I know you have to do this and I’m proud of you, always. Just…come home, okay. Blow up whatever you need to, shoot whoever you need to in the face, but just come home.”
Steve pressed his face into Danny’s neck and memorized the feel and smell of Danny. He really didn’t need too, that had long since been engrained, but he had to do something to steady himself.
“I will. I promise. I will find my way home, because you’ll guide me…You my signal fire in the dark.”
Danny went ridge in Steve’s arms, but he made no attempt to move. Then his fist drew balled up the material of Steve’s uniform. It made him melt inside from the fire that began to burn brighter again.
“I got to go,” Steve said before he moved his lips to Danny’s ear and said. “I love you, Danno.”
He pulled away quickly and saw Danny was dumbstruck, losing the battle to hold back the tears. Grace grabbed her father’s hand and held back her own sobs as large tears fell down her face. He grabbed his bag and kissed Grace one last time before he stood back up. He cupped his large hand around the side of Danny’s neck and smiled. Danny could barely return the smile, but Steve knew it was there. He walked backwards for a few steps.
“I love you, both so much. I’ll be home before you know,” he said before turning and jogging to the plane.
That was it. He had done all he could. Danny knew the truth. Steve knew by the look on his face that Danny knew exactly how Steve loved him. It wasn’t just as partners or friends. Danny was his light. So no matter what happened all the people he cared about knew how much he cared for each of them. Danny and Grace now knew without a doubt what they meant to him. Chin was right and he would have to thank him. It gave him comfort to know that he had nothing left to hide from Danny. He would deal with the fall out of his actions when he came home, because he was coming home. Come hell or high water he knew Danny’s light would guide him home.
Chapter 4: Left Hanging In The Wind
That night he had a terrible nightmare that ended with his screams bringing him back to consciousness. He was covered in sweat and unable to shake get the image of Steve’s body lying in dark water surrounded by flames. That twisting knot in his stomach was back and worse than ever.
He knew he was running late that next morning, but it couldn’t be helped. His brain had been moving in slow motion ever since he arrived at Steve’s house last night to find out he was being shipped. It was an even bigger blow when the same Steve held him in his arms and confessed his love. It was all a bit too much, too fast.
Danny had mumbled some excuse to Rachel about Steve leaving and wanting to say goodbye to Grace in order just too keep her overnight. Rachel hadn’t argued. She must have heard the fear in his voice. He had used what strength he had left to put on a brave show for Grace who was still dealing with Steve’s departure. He had confessed to her as well that he loved her like she was his own daughter. That was like a gut punch for Danny, too. The weird thing was he already knew all of this on some level. He knew that Steve cared for Grace like his own and cared for him too, but he never dreamed he would hear the word love come out of Steve’s mouth in reference to him. Even when he discovered Steve’s dislike of Josh, he denied the real reasons behind it. No matter what Steve had done or said, Danny denied that Steve loved him more than a friend or brother.
After taking Grace to school, he fumbled around in search of strong coffee and missed a few turns on his drive to work. When he did finally arrive he was met by a pair of concerned brown eyes. Kono and Chin were at the tech table running what looked like system checks on the computer. Danny knew nothing about that and it was probably better that way considering his love of technology. They looked just as concerned for Danny as they did Steve.
“Hey, guys,” Danny said over his cup of coffee.
“Morning, Danny,” Kono smiled. “Did you see Steve off last night?”
“Uh, yeah. He even let me drive him to the base, well you know he drove, but...”
“That’s good. You guys have a good talk then?” Chin asked not looking up from the table.
It worried Danny, but he shook it off as just being paranoid. There was no way he would have thought Steve let them in on his secret. Although, Chin had a weird way of knowing things so Danny had to accept the possibility that he had already figured out Steve’s feelings beforehand.
“Yeah, he was more mushy than usual,” Danny baited Chin.
When he a satisfied smile crossed his lips as he look over to Danny, it was the confirmation he needed.
“I noticed that too,” Kono said anxious. “He was adamant about telling me how proud he was of me and that I was to make sure I kept up with Grace’s surfing progress. Oh, and to tell Adam how lucky he was to have me.”
“Well, he’s never really had people to say goodbye to before when left on mission. The last time he snuck off in the middle of the night and he caught hell for months, so he’s probably just trying to do it the right way this time,” Chin explained.
“In his own Tin Man-facing –emotions-for-the-first-time way,” Danny smiled.
“Oh, hey,” Kono pointed to Danny’s office. “You just missed Catherine. She said she had something for you. She laid it on your desk. Said you should look at it ASAP.”
Danny’s stomach tightened a little at her words, but he nodded and went to his office. Steve had mentioned he had given Catherine documents to hold for Mary in the event he didn’t come home. He shuttered to think of what he left for him. If it was some instructions on who to run Hawaii McGarrett style if he died, Danny was going to rip it into a thousand pieces and force feed it to Steven when he got home.
On his desk sat a plain white envelope with ‘Danno’ written on it in Steve’s handwriting. It was a deja vu moment that Danny never wanted to have. He sat down at his desk and opened it carefully. Inside was a folded sheet of paper with more handwriting. It was a letter not a list or legal papers saying ‘in the event of my death’, so Danny felt a little better. He took a deep breath and studied the words in front of him.
By the time you get this I will be betting close to my drop off point. Hopefully, I manned up and talked to you by now. But I’m not good with talking about my feelings so I’m going to try to write them down, just in case.
First, let me say I’m sorry about the way I handled myself at your apartment. I got the third degree from a certain male co-work of ours. He told me time was precious and how he wished he had more time with the woman he had loved, but at least she had known exactly how much he loved her before she died.
I never really had people to leave behind before, to say goodbye to. I honestly didn’t think everyone would get so upset when I left for Japan the way that I did. It’s new for me to have people who care, so I’m learning.
By now, I’m sure I have threatened to bodily harm on Josh if he doesn’t take good care of you. I mean that whole heartedly. I wished I hadn’t wasted so much time with you, Danno. I never would have dreamed that you would have been interested in guys, even then be interested in me, considering how I am the bane of your existence and all. I’m just your crazy ass partner that will send you to an early grave, but your still friends with anyway.
The simple truth is I love you and that scares the shit out of me, because I’ve never really felt like this. Believe me I denied it for a long time. I told myself a thousand lies about why I needed you around constantly or why I couldn’t have left you when you triggered that bomb. But, I’m done with that. If something happens to me you needed to know this. I need you. I don’t want to live a day without knowing you’re there. You’re the reason I’m alive now. You’ve kept me grounded and centered, you may think it hasn’t always worked, but believe me when I say I could have been much more reckless. You helped me want to build a family here. I have a home and friends and I never really let myself want that till you came around. Everything was so dark when I met you. Then it was like you stormed into my garage glowing like brightest fire I had ever seen, and I’ve been following your light ever since. You deserve true love and devotion. You should be treated like a king by whoever you’re with. I only wish I could have had the chance, but Josh better not screw it up.
Take care of Mary Ann and the team and I’ll be home as soon as I can. I’m sure you will want to have a lengthy discussion about all this and I can’t wait. Even if you don’t feel the same and just want to tell me off then tell me I need to find some else, that’s fine. I only ask for the truth. I’m going to miss your rants and arms flapping in the air while I’m away, so even if you’re pissed and you see me smile while you scream just ignore me.
Tell Gracie I love her more than the moon and stars and I’lI be back soon.
I love you too, Danno more than you will ever know or understand. If you can only be my partner and friend I understand, but please just don’t give up on me because of my confession.
Remember you were the one that said ‘till death do us part’.
Maholo, for everything,
Danny read the letter twice before he finally folded it back up. Opening the desk drawer he saw a letter peeking out under a picture Grace had drawn for his brother Matt, before he ran off and disappeared. He moved the picture aside with his fingertips and saw the ‘Danno’ written just like on the envelope he now held in his hand. He put the new letter on top of the old and closed the drawer. It had become a place he kept important things that he didn’t want the rest of the world to be a part of.
When he looked up he was surprised to see the cousins standing in front of his desk. They were becoming just as sneaky as their SEAL Commander.
“Everything all right, Danny?” Chin asked.
“Knew what?” Kono asked impatiently looking at both men.
Danny thought about it for a moment. He ran his hands through his hair before he opened the drawer again.
“Screw it,” he said, handing her the letter. “Read it for yourself. Apparently everyone else knows.”
Kono and Chin read over the letter quickly and Danny fidgeted in his chair wishing he could melt away into the floor. He wanted to be anywhere but here. Honestly, he wanted to be by Steve’s side despite, and because of, the insurmountable danger Danny could only assume he was in.
“Oh, Danny,” Kono said quietly, handing it back to him.
Danny stowed the letter away before he walked around the desk to his friends. Kono wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him close. He could resist and let himself be comforted. His eyes looked over to Chin.
“I guess I have you to thank for this,” Danny said as he and Kono parted. “I’m assuming you two talked about him…me?”
“No, I did the talking. He didn’t have to admit it. I knew,” Chin said. “We all saw how different he had become since you met Josh. We all saw the hurt he was going through. I knew if he didn’t say something he would regret it. I just never expected he would be shipped out so soon after our little chat.”
“Everyone saw it but me, huh?” Danny said with a guilty sigh.
“That’s not true. You kept a lot of your relationship from Steve,” Kono spoke up. “He asked me little things here and there to see if I knew anything. You just didn’t want to admit what you were seeing in Steve.”
Danny let out a heavy sigh, but didn’t deny it. He thought he had a shot at being happy with Josh, but he knew the relationship was eating at Steve. His anger began to boil and it helped to melt away the fear. Soon his hands were in the air waving them around.
“The worst part is, he dumps this on my lap and will come back thinking everything will be rainbows and ukuleles between us,” he griped. “He could be gone for weeks without so much as a call, text- or hell even a smoke signal to tell me he’s alive. But hey that’s all okay! Even though he knows I will call and text him incisively. Which is sick, I get that. Because I know for a fact he can’t answer his phone on an official mission and even if he could he probably wouldn’t. He didn’t when he decided to trip the light fantastic in Osaka! Yet I’ll still call, I’ll still worry, and yes no matter how pissed I’ll still pick his sorry ass up at the airport.”
There was a tense pause between them and Danny knew they were waiting for him to say something. Waiting for him to break down and confess his love for Steve and his fears, but that wasn’t going to happen. Not because he didn’t love the guy, but because he wasn’t some damn love sick maiden waiting for her sailor to come home from sea. He was the leader of Five-O and he needed to suck it up and go on, just like he had done each time before.
Something weighed on him though this time when Steve left. There was a sick twisting knot in his stomach. He had felt it before and nothing good had ever come of it. He denied it was happening now and pushed it aside.
He squared his shoulders and cleared his throat, “Believe me when I say psycho Steve and I will have a good long chat, with several layers of colorful profanity, about this and his screwed up ideas of communication. But for now he has a job to do and so do we. So, why don’t you guys update me on what’s going on.”
Chin sighed, but gave in. Kono even righted herself and lead the way back out to the tech table. They all looked to Steve to guide them. Danny had always been there to buck Steve when he felt he was going too far, but he needed his guidance just as much. Steve made Danny want to be even more of a fighter than he already was. Danny stood up to Rachel more than he ever had and was able to keep Grace in Hawaii thanks to Steve’s influence. He also took greater risks at work, but got results. He would never tell Steve how much he had learned from him or how much of his dark grittiness had rubbed off of him.
They didn’t get too far into their discussion when the doors opened behind them. Danny turned to find an unexpected sight. Catherine Rollins sauntered, as stoically as a beautiful woman could, over to Danny’s side.
“And to what do we owe the pleasure of your company today?” Danny asked.
“I came by earlier and you weren’t here yet so I finished some paperwork and came back. I needed to talk to all of you together,” she replied in a cold military tone.
She had his full attention now. He didn’t think he could handle anymore of Steve revelations or orders in the event of his untimely demise.
“Steve talked to the governor before he left and recommended that you guys would need an extra hand on deck while he was gone. He recommended me personally for the job since I was already familiar with all of you and the functions of the task force.”
“Look, Danny Steve called for backup,” Chin said lightly.
“Steve’s butting in you mean,” Danny grumbled.
“No,” she said holding her hands up defensively. “He wanted to make sure that you were okay with it first. In fact you have to sign off on the paper work to make it official. It’s your call.”
“It wouldn’t hurt to have the help,” Kono implored. “Especially, if we get a lead on our guy.”
At first, Danny had been perturbed by Steve’s lack of faith in thinking Danny needed help, but logic took care of that. He was thinking too much like Steve in that he could do it all without anyone’s help, but Steve was thinking like Danny and knew that an even numbered team worked best. Steve understood that a fourth member would insure that each person had someone watching their backs at all times. Catherine was a perfect choice and he knew in his heart he would have made the same call if the roles had been reversed.
“Hey, I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth,” Danny said with a confident smile. “Especially when that gift is a woman whose beauty is equal only to her deadliness.”
She smiled relieved at his words and he looked across the table to Kono with the same smile.
“I seem to have a weakness for keeping company with those types of women, and I say having two around is better than one on many levels.”
Kono ducked her head to hide a grin, “Aww, thanks, D.”
“Well, I think the Smooth Dog moniker should really be going to Danny now,” Chin laughed. “Shall we fill Catherine in?”
“Yes, lets,” Danny said clapping his hands together.
They went on with their day, but it was anticlimactic . There was no new case, but they did have a person of interest they were trying to locate for the governor. Danny was going to throw them into that search in order to keep them all busy while Steve’s gone, at least until they did catch a new case.
He dodged calls and texts from Josh. He had blown him off last night and still didn’t feel like facing him now. Danny knew the moment Josh saw him it would be game-over, he would have to tell him that he wasn’t the one. As much as Danny liked Josh, and loved having a warm body next to him almost every morning this past month, he wasn’t who he really wanted. He thought he could settle for Josh, but now he felt like a complete asshole for thinking that. Josh deserved someone who could love him with their whole heart, and that wasn’t Danny. No matter how hard he tried, it wasn’t him. He wanted so badly to forget about his unrequited love for his straight male partner and live happily ever after with Josh. Now everything had been turned on its head.
After work he headed to his apartment and grabbed everything he would need for the next two weeks. He prayed it would be no longer than that. He went to McGarrett’s home shortly after night fall. He hung his shirts on the banister of the stairs and left his bags on the floor. There was no strength in him right now to do anything with them. He walked toward the kitchen and inspected the food situation. He wasn’t hungry but he wanted to see what he would either have to use or would need for when Grace came over.
His attention was drawn to the lani. It wasn’t a full moon yet, but it was still bright out. The waves lapped gently on the shore. The crests glittering in the pale light, and it all seemed like it should be. It was all too much like that night they sat together after Steve and Catherine called it quits. Danny hated the pained look of confusion in Steve’s stormy chameleon eyes that night. His walls almost came crumbling down around him, but he managed to hold on to some of his denial. He did tell Steve it would be them till death do they part. Steve had teased him about it being a screwed up marriage proposal, but whatever it was, it was the truth. Danny never truly believed that he and Steve would be anything more than what they were, but that was fine. It was okay as long as they had each other.
He was weak and lonely the opposite of Steve who could get a woman at the drop of a hat. Every woman threw themselves at his feet. Danny found Josh and it was a chance for real happiness, but he always felt guilty. He kept the details from Steve because whenever Josh’s name was mentioned his partner’s eyes dimmed. Danny didn’t dare to believe he was jealous or envious of Josh, but when Steve showed up at his apartment babbling like a loon, Danny was convinced there was something more to it. As much as he was thankful to have been there to see Steve off last night, he couldn’t get that pained and anxious expression on Steve’s face out of his mind. Danny still remembers vividly Steve’s words in his ear. He could feel Steve’s breathe on his skin and the tight cords of muscles as they embraced. He was in such shock that he didn’t say anything in return. He wanted to laugh, cry, and scream, but instead he did nothing.
There was a knock at the door that drove Danny from his thoughts. Moving quickly he grunted in frustration, he didn’t want to see anyone tonight. Everyone was worried about him and Steve, but he just wanted to be alone with his thoughts tonight.
When he opened the door he saw the last person he had expected to find standing on Steve’s porch.
“Hey, Danny. I thought you might be here.”
The night just couldn’t get any worse in Danny’s opinion. Josh seemed worried and upset as he studied Danny’s disheveled appearance. His large brown eyes looked tired and troubled. Danny tried to school his features and pull back his shoulders.
“You’ve been ducking me all day. I went by your work, your apartment, and I thought on a hunch I would try here.”
Danny backed away from the door and let Josh in. Josh’s eyes quickly scanned the room in a fashion Danny had seen Steve do many times when he was in unfamiliar and possible hostile territory. He couldn’t take it, or standing any longer for that matter, so he closed the door and made his way to the sofa. He flopped down and waited to for the fallout.
“Jesus, Danny you moving in or something?” Josh’s tone was not pissed but wary.
“Or something?” Danny’s smartass ways crept out. “I’m house sitting.”
“What’s going on?” Josh asked looming over him. “It’s not like you to avoid me. Where’s McGarrett?”
“I’m sorry,” Danny said slumping back on the brown sofa. “I really just didn’t want to talk to anyone I’ve had a pretty shitty- well twenty four hours now.”
Josh took a deep breath and crossed his arms, “Steve got called up by the Navy I assume?”
Danny nodded and rubbed his palms nervously over his pants. He didn’t want to see the look in Josh’s eyes. He felt the sofa dip beside him and the warmth of Josh setting pressed against him.
“He wanted to tell you and Grace in person, that’s why you had to blow me off last night?” Josh asked.
Again Danny nodded, but this time he finally looked up at Josh. His dark brown eyes seemed to be so compassionate and knowing, but it was written all over his face that he was afraid. There was a twinge inside of him that thought maybe Josh, too, had been in denial about what he saw going on between he and Steve.
“Look, Danny I know what that feels like. I’m sure Steve didn’t have much notice and all, but you should have called me. I could have helped you or at least been there for you.”
“I know,” Danny said exasperated. “I don’t have my head in a good place right now because my partner is God knows where blowing up God knows what…and I can’t be there pull his ass out of the fire. I can’t be his backup. I just hold down the fort.”
Josh draped his arm around Danny and pulled him close. Letting out a sigh, he rested his head against Josh’s chest. He was warm, loving and everything Danny wanted, but naturally Danny couldn’t be satisfied with it. It was all wrong, even now because this was the wrong hard body he was leaning against. Josh was an amazing lover and a caring companion, Danny hated that this man couldn’t be enough.
“I know you’re worried, baby. I’m here now,” Josh said almost pleading with Danny.
Josh’s large hand gently lifted Danny’s chin so he could look him in the eye. It killed him to see the look in Josh’s eyes. He wondered if that’s how he looked when Rachel figured out he wasn’t enough for her. Josh leaned in and kissed Danny lightly on the check before slipping his lips over Danny’s. He kissed him firmly expressing his concern with his lips. All Danny could hear in his head was Steve’s voice saying he loved him over and over again.
Danny ducked his head away from Josh slowly. He made no other move to leave Josh’s embrace, but he couldn’t let him keep kissing him. Josh rested his forehead against Danny’s hair and steadied his breathing. He got the message loud and clear.
“I’m sorry,” Danny said in barely a whisper.
Josh pulled way and retracted his arm. Danny leaned forward and rested his arms on his legs and rang his hands together, all the while he could feel Josh’s eyes burning into him.
“Something else happened last night, didn’t it?” he asked.
Danny swallowed hard and there was a cracking in his voice when he said, “I’m sorry, Josh.”
“I knew something was different when he showed up at your place. I felt it in my gut that he was going to take you away from me. What did he say to you?”
His voice was quiet, but growing harsher. Danny was confused by his question and had to force himself too look up at his angry lover.
“He tell you he wanted you? He kiss you? Did something more than that happen? That’s the only way I can explain how the idea of touching me is repulsive to you, because you feel guilty.”
“No, Josh it’s not like that,” Danny said his face rippling with pain.
“What did he say?”
“Josh, it’s not important…”
He cut him off with a barking tone, “The hell it isn’t. I…care about you, Danny… a lot. I would do anything for you. Now I see you here in pain, because of him. The same asshole who strings you around like his man servant and now when you find a little happiness he sets out to punish you for it.”
“What the hell?” Danny said jerking back from Josh. “That is so way off…he doesn’t string me around.”
“Oh really? Then why isn’t his girlfriend house sitting?”
“Catherine isn’t his girlfriend. She’s just a friend.”
“Just like he told you she was before?” Josh asked bitterly. “I knew from the first time I met him he didn’t want you to be with anyone but himself. That was the main reason I wanted to fly you home that day was to show pretty boy that you weren’t a piece of property he could claim.”
“Wow,” Danny said getting up from the sofa.
He paced the floor as he began to speak, “The main reason. Here I thought the main reason was because of me, not Steve.”
“Don’t twist it around,” Josh said getting up. “I noticed you right away when we landed. I was trying to think of every reason to talk to you, but then when Steve butted in it really burned me. I’ve dealt with guys like him for years. I should have known he wouldn’t let you be with me.”
“This isn’t about that!” Danny shouted. “He never told me he disliked you or that I couldn’t be with you. He said that if you hurt me he would hurt you. Then before he got on that plane he told me he loved me! He wrote me a letter telling me he loved me and he only wanted me to be happy!”
Josh now stood and ran his hands through his blond hair. He was on the verge of breaking down, but then again so was Danny.
“He told you he loved you,” he said to himself more than Danny.
His dark chocolate eyes came back up to Danny’s and he asked, “Did you say it back?”
“No,” Danny said too quickly. “I couldn’t say anything. I was in shock!”
“But you do, don’t you?”
Josh wrapped his arms around himself and watched Danny closely. There was a long pause as Danny tried to form the words, but all he could do was hold his hands up and groan.
“I can’t believe this,” Josh said. “I swear to God when I see McGarrett again his ass is mine!”
“Stop!” Danny shouted with more strength. “Steve told me the truth and has never manipulated me. I know you’re pissed, but he’s out there right now serving his country. He’s a
good man. A great man. He would never do anything to hurt me.”
There was a dark, bitter laugh coming from Josh now as he walked up to Danny. The hairs were standing up on the back of Danny’s neck and his fists clenched at his side. He knew that Josh’s heart was breaking and he was bound to be mad, but there was no way in hell he was going to let him trash talk Steve. Not now. Not when he was thousands of miles away fighting to protect their country.
“You are so far gone in love with him and you have to idea. You idolize him. I should have known the first time you said his name in your sleep.”
“You would mutter his name angrily. I figured you were yelling at him in a dream and I wasn’t going to stop that. But it didn’t always sound like you were angry.”
There was another moment of silence between the two men as they processed what was happening. Danny’s voice quaked even more as he wrapped his arms around his body now. He wanted to be angry but he felt guilty too. The two emotions were fighting each other and he felt like he was losing his mind.
“I’m sorry, Josh. I’m so fucking sorry. I wanted it to be you. I wanted you to be it for me.”
“But I’m not. The man you called the ‘uncivilized Neanderthal animal’ is. You have some kind of kink for selfish beautiful people who live just to rip your heart out and stomp on it?”
Now anger was in the lead as Josh dared to speak about Steve like he knew him. Then after he had opened up about Rachel, he dared to compare Steve to her. That was the last straw.
“You know when he comes back and finds out you put me to out the curb, his story will change. Some bullshit about just keeping it sex because of the job. Like Catherine. Maybe he’ll keep both of you around so he can have the best of both worlds. Maybe make you screw Catherine for his enjoyment.”
That was all it took. Danny scrubbed his face with his and laughed darkly. A crazy, crackling laugh that came before it all goes black. Danny lunged forward and launched his fist into Josh’s face. He stumbled backwards grabbing his jaw, but Danny was on him instantly. Grabbing by the collar he pushed him against the wall.
“I never lied to you, okay. I was good to you and you were good to me, so I’m not going to take your head off tonight, but you keep Steve’s name out of your mouth. You don’t know a fucking thing about McGarrett.”
He pushed Josh away and backed up trying to control his anger as best as he could. Josh stumbled back against the wall and knocked a picture down. It crashed behind him, but he didn’t seem to notice. Josh looked down at him heartbroken and angry.
“Get out of his house. I don’t want to ever see you again,” Danny ordered coldly.
“Danny…I shouldn’t have…”
“Get. The. Fuck. Out. Now!”
With a heavy sigh Josh finally pushed himself off of the wall and out the door. He left Danny alone in the dark, unsure of what to make of what he had just done. There was a pounding in his chest and a throbbing in his head. Danny wanted to collapse on the floor and stay unconscious until Steve came home and this nightmare was over, but he couldn’t.
Danny covered his mouth and let two large tears roll down his check, but that was it. There was still pent up rage inside him and now there was a mess to clean. Without thinking he walked over to the wall and proceeded to launch his fist into it several times. There was a nice indent now were the picture hung, but he felt relieved in a way. He looked over at the broken picture frame. He knew before he looked that it was a picture of Steve and Mary posing with Steve’s grenade-shaped birthday cake. Deep down he wanted to say the hell with it and go to bed, but he cleaned up the broken glass. It was cracked down the middle between the siblings and two pieces had broken out of it. He found the imagery ironic, but easy to clean. The picture was placed back up on the wall, noting to himself that he would get new glass for it later. He pushed himself into the spare bedroom and downed a couple sleeping pills. He had a team to run and an island to keep safe; his own needs, problems, would have to wait.
That night he had a terrible nightmare that ended with his screams bringing him back to consciousness. He was covered in sweat and unable to shake get the image of Steve’s body lying in dark water surrounded by flames. That twisting knot in his stomach was back and worse than ever.
Chapter 5: My Tired Soul
The winding roads they led me here burn like coal and dry like tears So here's my hope My tired soul So here's my ticket I want to go home.
The mission had been a success. He did have to go in with the team to Pakistan, but they go there man. Everything was executed with perfect precision. Steve smiled to himself thinking about how impressed Danny would be to know how little destruction he had caused. They even managed to rescue a few hostages, members of Green Peace. Steve was going to escort them on a smaller Navy freight vessel on their way to the US consulate in India From there he was flying straight back to Honolulu and Danny. His goal was to keep that ship under the radar as much as possible. The rest of the team would be boarding a ship to head back to the aircraft carrier.
There was a great urge to retrieve his phone and call Danny, but there was so much work that needed to be done. The faster he helped get it done the sooner they would shove off. Then he would have many hours to talk to Danny, and everyone. Then go through the dozens of texts and calls he was sure, or at least hoped, Danny had left him.
His team was loading up and Steve was helping them before he and the civilians would board the freighter. Steve moved down the narrow metal hallways after debriefing and saw the woman; maybe a few years younger than him, zipping up her back pack the sailors had given her. He stopped at her doorway and watched her. She was a taller woman, about five ten. She was curvy in all the right places and trim in all the right places. Her shoulder length black hair was wavy and loose around the bare skin exposed from her black tank top. She had borrowed a pair of olive cargos and he had to stop himself from thinking she was a female version of him, right down to the tattoo on her right bicep.
She looked up at him with her large pale blue eyes. They weren’t the same intense bright blue as Danny’s but they were just as striking. He remembered when he found her and her friends. They were dirty and huddled together, but she faced the open door and put her body in between Steve and the others. She tried to protect them however she could. He admired her selflessness.
“Commander,” she said with a country draw. “We ready to go?” “Yeah,” Steve said patting down his tack vest. “I’m Steve McGarrett by the way.” “Hey, they call me Billy,” she smiled.
“Good to meet you. You acted very bravely back there, your people back home will be proud.”
She sighed and gave him a broken smile, “Yeah, sure, but you guys were the real heroes.”
Steve just shook his head modestly, “That’s our job, our duty. I’m glad we were there for you and you’re friends. Where you headed now?”
That’s when all hell broke loose. A loud explosion rocketed through the ship and sent them both to their knees. The woman looked up panicked at Steve. Alarms rang out through the ship and running feet flooded his ears. He motioned for the woman who went quickly. Steve directed the two other male members of Green Peace, who had been captive with her, and they headed top side.
Surveying the situation he established his command and was briefed on what had happened. The deck was brightly lit with flames scattered in different places. Sailors moved methodically to put out the flames and remove explosives from the heat.
“Commander, the deck was hit with some crewed Molotov cocktail devices while some pipe bomb looking IED’s where tossed below deck,” the young lieutenant reported. “We have a detail sweeping the boat for the attackers. Many have already been caught but we have reason to believe there are larger devises on board that haven’t detonated.”
“How the fuck did this happen?” Steve growls angrily.
“I don’t know, sir.”
“The fires are almost contained. Get everyone off the ship we’ll hold up in town and radio for assistance. Get a detail on the civilians. I want them on the freight ship and out of here as quickly as possible. I’ll stay behind with my team and the crew until help arrives.” The lieutenant nodded and began issuing Steve’s orders. The two civilian men looked to their female leader whose ice blue eyes were fixed on Steve now.
“It will be, okay. They will get you to the US consulate in New Deli and you’ll be home free,” Steve reassured.
The detail of men began herding them off the ship. The woman went but hesitantly, she kept looking back at Steve like she knew something or was that fear he saw in her eyes? Steve had saved her life. He had shielded her with his body as they made their exit after the SEAL team take down. The woman felt indebted to Steve and he had no time to explain to her that she didn’t owe him anything.
He went back to work and stayed aboard until the last of the sailors, officers, and crew were off the ship. The three SEALs, including Steve, made sure everyone was safely off before they would join their team mates who were securing area on land.
Steve took a passing glance as he climbed back up onto the deck, the freight ship hadn’t weighed anchor yet. He was instantly pissed and was about to scream an order through his radio when a giant blast erupted from under his feet. He stumbled forward, but saw his fellow team mate almost fall head first overboard. Not thinking only reacting, he grabbed his fellow SEAL. The other man braced himself on the metal railing with one hand and grabbed at Steve’s neck with the other. He could feel the man pulling on his dog tags he had just put back on after the mission. Steve went to right both of them when another larger explosion hit and he was hurtling through the night sky. It only lasted a few seconds, but if felt like several minutes as he tried to process what was happening. He was cleared of the ship, so that was a small favor. The night sky and the ocean were both black with fire dancing around the boarder. As he summersaulted through the air he could tell up from down, it was all a beautiful and sick illusion. He hit the blackness hard, and then sunk deep into the water. His body came up to the surface, but something weighed on his body. Gasping for air he looked around with blurry vision. The ship’s bow was engulfed and people were scattering everywhere. He could make out two SEALs in the firelight, they were swimming toward shore. Steve was grateful they were okay, but he was concerned about how far out he had been thrown.
Steve tried to adjust himself to tread water when he realized that some netting and rope were wrapped around him. Materials that had been blown off deck with him were now entwined around him. He struggled for a second and felt a tight constriction around his neck. The rope was wrapped around his neck and laced around his left arm, waist, and right leg. The net lapped around his body in the ocean’s currant making it difficult for him to locate the edges, as well as confining the movement of his right arm. He tried to calm himself, but it only made him sink into the water, treading was nearly impossible with one arm just barely free, his legs bound up with little room to move. He tried to keep his head about water and each time he surfaced the rope tightened around his neck. The only relief he got from the constriction was when he held his breath and let his body sink into the blackness. When he was forced to come for air it was too brief as the rope dug into his neck. He tried to float on his back, but it was becoming too difficult.
He looked up at the moon’s crescent shape. His mind calmed as is began to shut down. His eyes tried to focus on the silver moon’s light. The moonlight reminded him of Danny’s calm. Those precious few moments when Danny’s light was still, unlike the flickering flames Danny usually emitted. Steve thought he associated the moon with Danny’s calm because of that night on the beach months ago. Danny was there for him as a friend when Catherine was gone. He promised to be with him forever in the only way he could be with him, a partner and a friend. That was one of the happiest moments in Steve’s life. Second only to the first time Gracie told him she loved her Uncle Steve. He was going to miss them greatly, but he took comfort in that they knew how much he loved them and that he had contingency plans to make sure they were provided for when he was gone. Selfishly, he felt good that he knew what it was like to love someone who wholeheartedly, to have an Ohana, a real family again. Even if he only knew that love for short time, it was worth it.
Everything began to slip away as the oxygen deprivation took his hold. He couldn’t tell if he had a smile on his lips, but he was smiling in his heart as the blackness of sea and sky overcame the light.
The moon appeared again, but in a pale shade of blue. The wind whispered in his ear and it sounded like a song. A haunting voice singing cryptic lyrics filled his mind. The words clear and yet he didn’t understand.
The winding roads that led me here
burn like coal and dry like tears
So here's my hope
My tired soul
So here's my ticket
I want to go home.
The churning water stilled and the coarse rope and net suddenly lifted. He was warming again and was no longer held down. It felt like he was floating in a gentle, warm embrace. The angel was singing softly to him. He let his body relax and took comfort in how peaceful dying was.
Then above the beautiful song he heard something else. Deep in his mind a rough grumble of a voice. Danny’s voice. Danny cried out from across the oceans that separated them.
“Don’t you even think about it, Steven!”
Chapter 6: Blood On His Tags
There was a collective gasp from the woman behind Danny, but he couldn’t register it. His mind was still trying to understand what the stranger before him had just said. He was pretty sure it was English the
man was speaking, but the words just didn’t compute in his brain.
The next few days went by quickly for the team, as Danny pushed to find out any leads on a known drug runner. Tang Lin was wanted by the FBI and the governor had reasons to believe he was in Honolulu, and wanted Five-O to look into it. Tang was expecting FBI or DEA not the governor’s task force.
Finally, they had made a break. Catherine was able to use her Navy connections to get some much needed equipment to check out the warehouse believed that Tang Lin was holed up in. The thermal satellite images made it possible for Danny to pin down a plan of attack. They were able to find his location thanks to Chin city tracking skills and Kono’s interrogation methods. In Steve’s absence Kono took over the role of scary bad cop. Danny was the coordinator of all their movements and was able to put a sound plan together with a sound strategy.
Five-O would take the warehouse and secure it before the waves of SWAT and federal agents came in as backup. Danny instructed everything with the precision of a surgeon and the leadership of a Navy Commander, they were ready to take this guy down. During the investigation he partnered with Catherine, and was shocked at how easy it was to do so. It was the logical move considering out the cousins worked seamlessly and almost telepathically, just as he and Steve did.
They were driving to the location and everything was in place. Danny was able to drive his own car, but the last few days he found himself behind the driver’s seat of Catherine’s classic vet.
“Why are you smiling?” Catherine asked breaking him out of his thoughts.
“I was just thinking that you have good taste,” Danny explained. “In cars.”
“Well…” Danny shrugged, knowing this wasn’t the best time for this conversation. “This isn’t weird for you?”
“What? The fact that I’m filling in for my ex slash best friend and partnered up with the man Steve loves. No, it’s not weird.”
“It’s not?” Danny argued.
“I’m desensitized too it. I knew long before Steve told me the truth. The question is, is this weird for you?”
“I mean you’ve tried so hard to be my friend and get close to me for Steve’s sake when we were together, but I could see how it hurt you.”
“I didn’t have to try. You’re great and I told him thousands of times that he was a fool for not putting a ring on your finger, but I know you guys had some hard times. I can sympathize.”
“Selfless to the bitter end,” Catherine laughed adjusting herself in the seat to stare straight at Danny.
“You love him so much that you were willing to push your own wants aside to try to make sure Steve is happy.”
Danny didn’t answer, but he didn’t have too, the white knuckled grip on the steering wheel did it for him. He felt like such a fool and felt the pain of wasted time every moment since Steve left. There was a soft hand on his wrist and he dared a quick glance at those caring brown eyes.
“Our situation is complicated, Danny but I love all you guys. You have all become my dear friends, but when Steve comes back you will tell him the truth even if I have to hog tie you and drag it out of you one letter at a time. We clear?”
There was no stopping the soft laugh and wide smile that spread on his face. It was just want he needed to hear and he was beginning to think he really did have a strange thing for kind-hearted, beautiful people who knew how to kill him a dozen ways with their bare hands.
The take down went down perfectly with minimal damage, other than the giant explosion Danny had triggered as a diversion when Tang almost slipped away in an armored vehicle. There had been no one else left in the building because Danny hadn’t called SWAT in yet due to the dangerous explosives they found in the armored truck. All of Tang’s men but three that were in the truck were dead, and Tang had winged Kono. Seeing her drop enraged Danny to new heights. He knew that she was going to be okay, but that wasn’t the point. She was his charge. Danny knew what he was doing but it took some stupid risks. In the end, the explosive materials and drugs wouldn’t end up in the wrong hands. They still had enough for evidence, Tang was in custody, and no one (law enforcement) had been killed. Sure the building was leveled and Danny had caused thousands of dollars in damages the state was now going to pay for, but all in all Steve could have destroyed way more, so he called it a win. He had to smile thinking what kind of kick Steve as going to get out of this when he got back.
The next day, Danny was looking down at the computer table and over the evidence displayed for him. Chin was standing across from him explaining the outcome of yesterday’s raid. They are soon joined by Kono who stands by Chin and Catherine who takes her place by her partner.
“You’re going to catch a shit storm from Denning on this one,” Chin warned.
Danny shrugged, “Steve taught me all the tricks to handling the Governor.”
“Boss man,” Kono said softly. “You look like hell.”
“I’m not boss man,” Danny snapped quietly, but pulled himself together. “Steve’s ninja ears probably heard that and you will be duly punished. Also, thank you for the compliment.”
“You have been the one pushing yourself pretty hard, Danny,” Chin said.
Catherine rested a hand on Danny’s shoulder, but didn’t say anything. She knew what it was like to be the one left behind when her father was in the Navy and on the other side as the one who did the leaving when she was called to duty. Her silent reassurance felt good to him, it felt like Steve.
“What would you rather me do? Sit around and chew my nails off worried about Aquaman out there saving the world. No, I’ve done that too much now, I just want to work.”
“No word then from him,” Chin guessed.
“Of course not, he never does.”
“What about Josh?” Kono asked.
“What about him?” Danny replied coldly. “Look, I’m sorry. Josh and I are done. Great timing, huh?”
They were all silent for a moment looking down at the images on the table. Catherine rested her cheek on Danny’s shoulder and it settled him down.
“He’s going to be pretty damn proud of that explosion when he finds out, brah,” Kono smiled.
“After he berates you for being in danger of course,” Chin added.
“Yeah, he would be that kind of hypocritical,” Danny huffed. “What do you say we call it a day, huh? The rest of this shit can wait till tomorrow, and I for one could use a beer or seven.”
There was a collective sigh of relief, but it was short lived with they heard the doors opening behind him. Danny and Catherine both turned to see two fully uniformed Navy officers striding toward them. Catherine’s hand dropped from Danny as she pressed herself back against the table. Chin and Kono came around the table to flank her as Danny stepped forward. He could feel the burning tension of his teammates behind him, but he didn’t share it. Denial was the primary catalyst for his ignorant bliss.
“Detective Sergeant Daniel Williams?” The tall, older officer spoke gruffly.
Both men slipped off their covers and tucked them under their arms with practiced motions. In the silent man’s other hand were two small manila envelopes.
“Yeah, that’s me,” Danny said eyeing the stone faced man.
Next to him was a younger man about Danny’s age. His face was just as stone-like but there was a red burning look to his eyes. The uniform he wore was like Steve’s dress blues and just as immaculate, but his face was battered. Burses, swelling, and burns littered his exposed skin but naturally he didn’t seem to be affected by the injuries.
“I’m Commander Henry Rack. This is Lieutenant Austin Marks.”
He couldn’t understand why his heart was beating rapidly against his ribs or why sweat now coated his palms. His brain was still in deep denial.
“You are listed as the contact for Lt. Commander Steven J. McGarrett, am I correct?” Danny nodded and was surprised by the way the room seemed to vibrate and move. He was afraid to move his head too much because it felt like it would float off of his body.
“Yeah, what did he blow up now and which world leader did he piss off?” Danny said so quiet he wasn’t sure if every word was said loud enough to be heard.
“It is with great regret we come to inform you that Commander McGarrett is MIA and after much effort he has been presumed dead. I am very sorry.”
There was a collective gasp from the woman behind Danny, but he couldn’t register it. His mind was still trying to understand what the stranger before him had just said. He was pretty sure it was English the man was speaking, but the words just didn’t compute in his brain.
“Dectective Williams,” The man named Austin said. “I am a SEAL who was under Commander McGarrett’s command during this mission. The mission was a success, but a small group of loyal rebels bombarded our small vessel with crewed bombs two days ago. A fire broke out and Commander McGarrett made sure that everyone was taken to safety. Myself and another SEAL stayed aboard with him while we made a final sweep, while the rest of our team caught our attackers.”
The man was trying to be strong but Danny had spent a lot of time seeing the cracks in a SEALs armor and this man was hurting.
“It was believed there was a larger charge somewhere on this ship, and that was correct. Two charges, the first almost sent me over and surely I would have hit the side of the ship and been too injured to get to safety. Commander McGarrett grabbed me at the last second and I was able to gain my balance before the second charge went off. Luckily I was able to clear the ship with my other team mate, but… we were unable to find Commander McGarrett.”
Austin held one of the envelopes out to Danny and he seemed so weak now. There was a look of failure in his eyes. He had failed to bring his commanding officer home, but because of Steve’s quick thinking the man was still alive.
Danny’s arm seemed so heavy, but he managed to raise his hand enough to take what was offered to him. He opened it and metal slide out into the palm of his hand.
“I pulled these off of him by accident when he grabbed me. He would want you to have them, sir,” Austin’s voice quaked some.
Danny’s eyes were fixed on the dog tags in his hand. Steve’s name and basic information pressed in the thin metal. They were cold to the touch and yet seemed to burn his hand. He clutched them tightly in his fist before he looked up at Austin again.
“He spoke of you highly, sir. He said you were the bravest, most honorable man he had ever had the privilege of working with. Your daughter Gracie was also someone who he spoke dearly of.”
The world seemed to move out from under his feet and Danny stumbled backwards until he was now leaning against the computer table. One hand covered his mouth while the other held the tags in his constricted fist. Kono wrapped her arms around Danny’s shoulders and buried her face in his neck. He didn’t hear the conversation Catherine and Chin had with the officers or that they handed Chin the official documents.
The men left silently, or Danny guessed because he heard nothing. Not until he finally heard the loud sob Catherine released when she tried to take in some air. He looked up at saw Catherine’s resolved was completely gone and large tears ran down her face, Chin too was overcome in his own silent and calm way. Kono raised her head to meet Danny’s eyes and they were over flowing with tears. He could feel the wet spot they had left on his shoulder. They looked at one another with such sorrow and lost for words. Kono went to Chin and hugged him fiercely. Danny finally broke free from his frozen stance and tugged Catherine into his arms. He held on for dear life as she sobbed loudly in his arms. She was so strong and powerful, but now she was a limp fragile creature in his arms. Danny reached out and slid an arm around Kono and Chin pulled at Catherine. The four of them stood in a huddled mass of clinging arms and tears. Danny hadn’t let his tears fall yet. Nothing seemed to be working properly, he wasn’t even sure he was breathing.
After a long moment, Danny finally spoke because he knew he had too. He was scared at how weak and strained his voice sounded.
“I have to call Mary.”
“I can do it if you need me too,” Chin mercifully offered.
“No,” Danny shook his head adamantly. “Just give me a few minutes.”
Danny slipped away from the warmth of his friends and strode off to his office not risking a glance back at them.
He collapsed in his chair and dug out his cell phone. He found her number and dialed it on the land line phone on his desk. He used his cell phone as a distraction as he waited for Mary to pick up. There were a dozen outgoing messages and text to Steve while he was gone, Danny couldn’t help himself. He moved to the pictures and thumbed through the images of his daughter. It then hit him that he would have to tell Grace her Uncle Steve was missing. MIA. That’s all the further he could think about telling her.
“Hello,” Mary answered questioning.
“Mary,” Danny said his voice cracking more than he had intended. “It’s Danny.”
It took her a second to respond and he could almost feel the dread over the phone.
“Danny? Danny, what’s happened?”
“Um…Mary two guys from the Navy just left and…”
“Oh God no!” Mary cut him off.
She cried out loudly and Danny rested his elbow on the desk holding his forehead up with the fist that still clutched the tags. He looked down at his phone. It was a picture of
Steve dangling Grace upside down by her ankles. Both were smiling and laughing like crazy people.
“Mary, I’m so sorry. They can’t find him and they think he’s…”
“Steve! Not Steve! They think he’s dead? He promised he wouldn’t leave me, too!”
A tear fell on the screen over Steve’s face just as the image faded to black when the power save mode kicked in. Danny screwed his eyes tightly shut and a shuttered gasp left him.
“I’m headed out on the first flight,” Mary’s said between her sobs.
“Yeah, okay. I’m at the house, just please for the love of God be careful, okay?”
The line went dead and the silence fell hard on Danny. The phone was dark, the image of Steve had disappeared and that’s when it hit him that’s all he had left. Images on a screen and memories in his mind, that would grow weak over time, were all he had of Steve. He hung the phone up at stared at it as he thought. Steve’s eyes were all he could see. They were a grey-blue and glistened with moisture. Thick, ridiculously long lashes surrounded them and fanned away the urge for tears to fall. Steve’s voice crept into his mind as subtle as a cool breeze.
“ I promise. I will find my way home, because you’ll guide me. My signal fire in the dark.”
Rage now consumed him like a wildfire. Steve had lied. Steve had broken his promise to him, to Grace. With a sudden and violent wave of his arm, Danny flung the land line phone off of his desk. He jumped up and screamed, grabbing the baseball in the collector’s case and threw it as hard as he could at the window above the couch. Naturally it broke, but that didn’t satisfy him. Danny picked up his chair and swong it with all his might against the windows to his left. It crashed loudly and glass exploded everywhere. Danny pounded his fists into the dry wall behind him like he was hitting the bags at the gym.
“Fucking liar!” he screamed out before slamming his forehead against the wall.
“Danny!” Chin scowled as they burst into the room.
Danny twisted his body to face them. They were all terrified and broken looking at their leader in horror. He hated that realization that he was in charge, and he was the one who was losing it. His body slumped down the wall and he drew his knees up into his chest. He clutched his left fist into his chest and balled his upper body around it like he was protecting it from being taken away, like his partner had been.
The three of them crowed down around him resting warm hands on his ridged body.
“He promised,” Danny squeaked out.
They said nothing, but he hadn’t expected them too. There was nothing to be said in that moment. They were all in shock and all reeling from the pain. Danny had lost it. His anger hid the guilt and pain he truly felt. Steve had left making sure Danny knew where he stood, and Danny didn’t give that back in return.
“Danny, your hand,” Kono said.
He looked down and saw the red dripping from his left fist. Tentatively, he opened it up and felt the stinging pull on his skin, but he couldn’t understand why nor could he make himself care. All he cared about was the red liquid that covered Steve’s name. He scrambled to his feet so quickly that he almost knocked the others on their asses.
“Blood! They got blood on his tags! Jesus Christ! It’s his blood! I have to clean this!” Danny screamed as he raced out of the room and to the sink near the coffee maker.
He frantically washed away the blood from the metal, but more just kept appearing. His friends followed him quickly and hovered around him again.
“God damn it! I have to clean these. He will have a shit fit if he finds dried blood in the edges, even if it is his own blood,” Danny bellowed.
Two firm hands gripped his shoulders and Chin spoke in his deep voice, “Danny, it’s not his blood. It’s yours. They cut you.”
Danny’s hands stopped moving and he saw the small cuts on his hand the tags had made from holding them so tightly, as well as the blood from his knuckles.
Kono grabbed his wrists lightly and said, “Let’s clean you up.”
“I have to clean these first. He’s so anal retentive you know?” Danny said gasping for air again and tears flooding his vision.
“I know, but you need to stop bleeding on them first,” Kono smiled weakly. “Give them to Catherine and she will fix them up for you.”
“No!” he growled trying to back away but Chin held him in place.
“Listen to me, Danny,” Catherine’s calm voice pleaded with him through her own tears. “I will give them right back. Let me clean them up while Kono fixes your hand.”
He let her take them from his open palm and he instantly felt the absent. When the tiny metal left his bleeding hand it felt like a one hundred and ninety pound Steve-shaped weight had been lifted. Chin manhandled him to a chair. The rest of the day went in a blur as Kono repaired his hand. She said he hadn’t broken any bones, not that he cared. Chin called Rachel and told her of the situation. Danny only wanted Grace to know Steve was still away, he wanted to tell Grace himself, but that was going to take time. Catherine took him back to Steve’s house because Danny started screaming when she headed toward his apartment. He screamed that he had to be there when Mary got there. He had to take care of Mary.
She sat quietly on the sofa next to him as they waited in silence. Kono had kept her updated on what was going on. She and Chin and made all the phone calls to those who cared for Steve and broke the news to them. They would all be over in the coming days, Danny knew they would. It was just customary for everyone to bring food and gather together in order to grieve. To grieve meant to start letting go, and Danny was nowhere near ready to do that. He stared into space, his fingers wrapped around the dog tags that now hung from his neck. They were his life line now.
A whoosh of air barely registered with Danny as the door flew open. Mary timidly walked in and was overcome with the smell and sight of her brother’s home. She dropped her bag and buried her face in her hands. She cried loudly and Catherine ran to her. He tucked the tags safely under his shirt and looked up at them. Danny watched the women embrace as he got to his feet. Mary’s green eyes looked up at Danny. He felt thankful she bore no resemblance to her older brother, but his heart still ached at the sight of her. They didn’t say anything as Danny held his arms open. Mary rushed to him and gripped him tightly. Danny looked up to Catherine who simply nodded before making her leave. She also made sure the alarm was activated and the door was locked as she left.
“Oh God, Danny! He was all I had left,” Mary muttered softly.
Danny pressed her even tighter to him, and held the back of her head with his hand. He soothed her with a hushed tone like he would do Grace.
“You have me, okay? He wanted me to look after you and you’re here in your home now.”
Mary pulled back enough to look Danny in the eyes. She kept her hands locked around his neck and he still pressed his hands into her back.
She nodded to him then said, “He would ask you to take care of his grown sister.”
They both smirked at the thought of it, but neither had the strength to laugh.
“This will always be my home, but. I sold my share to Steve a few months ago.”
“That’s okay. The house goes to you.”
“No, I have the papers Steve left me. I already know what his will says.”
“His will?” Danny’s expression scrunched. “I didn’t know he had a will.”
“He made it up around the same time you insisted that you guys make out new medical power of attorney papers.”
“That was years ago?” Danny shook his head. “After he got out of jail.”
She nodded solemnly, “He left the house to you and put money in an account to pay for the taxes and legal junk that goes along with this sort of stuff. He told me he wanted to make sure you and Grace always had a real home in Hawaii.”
Danny pulled her close and held her tightly to him. Steve had always been a selfless son of a bitch and he had just toped himself again. He could only dream about owning a home in O’ahu and now Steve has handed him over his own beach front home.
“Please, tell me there is some strong ass liquor in this house,” Mary pleaded.
“Yeah, always. I think we need it.”
They separated enough head to the kitchen.
“But don’t think you’re getting drunk, Mary Ann McGarrett! That’s not how you are going to deal with this.”
“Yes, Danno,” She whined half-heartedly.
Her use of his nickname gripped his already weak heart. He followed her to the kitchen and they drank in silence. Johnny Walker. It wouldn’t be Danny’s first choice, but it must have been Steve’s. He took the bottle away and shooed her upstairs to get some sleep. He then hid the bottle away and hoped she wouldn’t find it. He knew she didn’t have a drinking problem, but as a seasoned cop he knew that times like this could lead a person to drinking. He was in charge of Mary now and he wasn’t going to let Steve down by letting something happen to her.
He climbed the stairs to go to the spare bedroom, but stop at the top of the stairs. Steve’s bedroom door was open and unchanged since he left. It was almost like Danny could feel him in there. He knew it was probably a bad idea, but he couldn’t stop himself from going inside.
The smell hit him like a ton of bricks. Not that Steve’s scent wasn’t everywhere in the house, but it seemed more personal in here. Danny laced his fingers in his hair and pulled as he fought back his tears. Everything was neat an orderly, screaming of Steve’s persona. On the night stand, he found Steve’s badge. He almost tripped over his feet, but went got to it. He rubbed his fingers over the polished metal. It flooded him with all the memories of standing beside Steve through the good and the bad times at work. He snatched his fingers away as his mind was flooded with memories of Steve driving like a maniac, terrifying suspects into submission, and running head first into danger.
Danny dropped down onto the bed on his knees and cried hard now. For the first time, despite the tears he shed at work, he sobbed heavily for Steve. Tears fell down and he couldn’t control the sounds he was making. He laid down on his stomach and pressed his face into Steve’s pillow. The smell of Steve’s hair and skin were still strong in the fabric. Danny wrapped his arms around the pillow and cried loudly into it.
Before he could react there was the presence of another person in the bed. He turned his head to look at Mary who had laid down beside him. She was lying on her side facing Danny. She too was crying but was in more control now. She reached out and rubbed her hand up and down Danny’s side.
“I’m sorry, Mary,” he whimpered. “I never told him… He told me before he left, but I couldn’t say it back.”
Mary looked at him questioningly, but still stroked his side.
“He never knew how to talk about his feelings, yet he said it and overly vocal me stood there like jackass and said nothing.”
“What didn’t you tell him?”
Danny took in a breath of air and said, “I love him.”
Finally he had said it out loud. It was freeing yet crushing all at the same time. His emotions overcame him again, but he kept talking.
“I love him so much and I never told him. He doesn’t…didn’t know.”
Mary moved closer and wrapped her arms around him, hugging him tightly.
“He knows, Danny. He knows.”
Her fingers felt the metal around his neck. She recognized the feeling of the chain and looked to see the tags hanging from around Danny’s neck.
“You want them?” Danny asked almost afraid, but obligated.
“No. The flag…” she managed to say before tears washed over her again.
Danny moved to his side and they held each other tightly. They spoke in broken sentences of how much they loved Steve, and sobbed freely.
“You can always come back here, stay here. Always,” Danny said softly.
She nodded her head and steadied her breathing, while Danny held fast to her. She softly cried herself to sleep before Danny. He laid in bed protecting Steve's tags, protecting Steve's sister. In his head though he could't give up.
'Find me, Steve. You said I was your light. I'm here. Please, see me. Come home.'
Chapter 7: Holding On To The Light
He wanted so badly to stay in the perfect denial that Steve was just being an insensitive jerk like he had before and wasn’t going to let them all he was okay until he was back in Oahu. There was nothing more in this world he wanted to do then to see Steve walk through the front door so he could remove that smug smile from his face, first with his fist then with his lips.
The morning light had barely began to filter in the room, but it was enough to wake the barely sleeping Danny. His chest hurt and eyes burned. Everything felt weak and stiff from the waves of sobbing breakdowns he had the night before. It wasn’t something he was use to or proud of. He wanted to be stronger for his team and Mary, but it hadn’t work.
The first thing he could think of as he woke that morning was the image of Steve sailing through the air and landing hard in the ocean. All along because his team, his backup, left him behind to save each other and the civilians they rescued.
Danny’s heart stopped when he remembered the civilians. Bits and pieces of conversation he overheard, but that didn’t stick at first because they weren’t about Steve, started to register. There were civilians Steve put on another ship. He had to wonder where that ship was and if Steve were on it.
He was fully awake now and needed to get to his phone. The only thing that kept him from flying out of the bed was Mary. She was curled up in a ball facing him. She looked like she had finally gotten into a deep sleep. Slowly as he could he started to slip out of bed. She needed her rest and he needed to have his facts before he got her hopes up, but moving slow was killing him. His body vibrated with a need to shake down the Navy till they gave up Steve’s location, especially now with this new lead.
After the longest two minutes, he managed to get up from bed and slip out of the room. He dialed Catherine’s number and she picked up before he managed to slip into the guest bedroom.
“Hey, Danny,” she greeted weakly.
“What happened to the civilian hostages Steve rescued?” Danny asked quietly as he closed the bedroom door.
"What? Oh, the Green Peace members…”
“Yes, there was another ship,” he said urgently cutting her off. “Where is that ship? Steve could be on it. Something may have
happened to the ship that he couldn’t contact anyone, but he could be on it.”
“Danny,” she said firmly to halt his words. “We were briefed about that the day they told us about Steve. I just got the final word on it last night. The freight ship was missing when they searched for Steve. They located the vessel using its GPS about a day ago. It sank from the damages it sustained from the explosions. It looked like they were heading for Mumbai. There were no survivors or…bodies.”
“No bodies? No body means maybe…” "Don’t do this to yourself, Danny,” She begged. “I want to believe more than anything that he’s out there, but it’s very unlikely now.”
There was the annoying sound of cracking plastic in his ear that was obstructing her voice. He quickly discovered he was squeezing his phone tightly. He woke up with hope, but she dashed it away quickly. This was Steve McGarrett for God sakes if there was a way out he would find it. The survivors could be in a dingy being towed by the human tug boat that was Steve. It wouldn’t be the first time he had done it.
“It’s early,” Catherine said with a heavy sigh. “You probably didn’t get much sleep. Try to lay down. I promise anything and everything
I hear I will let you know as soon as I do.”
Danny disconnected the call and let the silence fill him again. He wanted so badly to stay in the perfect denial that Steve was just being an insensitive jerk like he had before and wasn’t going to let them all he was okay until he was back in Oahu. There was nothing more in this world he wanted to do then to see Steve walk through the front door so he could remove that smug smile from his face, first with his fist then with his lips.
Light began to burn its way through the dark. Steve could hear Danny. He could hear him in the distance and he could tell he was chastising him. He could specifically here the words, idiot, animal, and promised. He promised Danny he would come back. He promised Grace a dolphin swimming trip. He had failed to keep that promise, because he was dying. Drowning alone in a sea thousands of miles away from his home.
Something wasn’t right about this. One minute he was fighting to breath and in the next he was letting himself float away on the words of a song. Now, he could feel aches and pains that he shouldn’t be having if he was dead. Or at least he didn’t think he should. He forced his eyes to open and the light only made his head throb. It didn’t take long for him to close his eyes again in favor of using his other senses to assess what was going on. The song had stopped in its place he heard himself groan. He realized his throat was killing him and so did his chest. A shadow blocked the light from his eyes and he was able to open them again. Ice blue eyes, surrounded by black lashes, looked down at him. It was the woman with the wavy black hair he had saved. Her hair was pulled back now, but that was definitely her stare.
“Commander, you with me?” She asked in her thick accent. “Wait, don’t talk.”
He nodded slowly not sure what was going on, but thankful to see her rather than the enemy, or grim reaper for that matter.
“Crock!” She cried out behind her. “Tat’s awake! Get Mumbles!”
She turned her attention back to Steve who eyed her quizzically.
“I remembered your name was Steve…Steve…something. I’m sorry. I’m bad with names. Fortunately, none of us go by our real names anyway,” she said with a bit of a laugh.
“They call me Billy, short for hillbilly. It’s really insulting. I prefer the term Appalachian myself, but…Anyway, I was given the honor of stripping you down since you were soaked to the bone. So I needed to call you something since we were getting damn near biblical with each other. I decided to go with the first thing that came to mind, which when I got you undressed was ‘hot damn’, but I didn’t think that was appropriate so I went with the second thing that came to mind, your tattoos…you’re Tats now.”
Her accent wasn’t one he had heard in a long time, but he enjoyed her talkativeness. It was comforting that she was so calm and nonchalant about the situation.
A slender young man with bushy brown curls and large green eyes came in followed by a lean, dark more serious man.
“I can’t…I can’t believe he made it…Hello, Commander,” green eyes stammered. “I’m Mumbles.”
“I’m Crock,” the dark eyed tan man said before muscling his way in. “I’m a doctor and I’m just going to give you the once over.”
“Wha…”Steve’s voice was broken and it burnt like fire.
“Don’t speak,” Crock said. “That rope did a number on your throat as well as the salt water.”
Steve noticed that the man was speaking with an Australian accent while Mumbles was clearly British. Crock was very cold and serious while his English friend beamed a smile despite his bashful demeanor.
“You gave specific orders for the freight ship to leave with us,” Billy said. “When the firefight started after the explosion we were forced to move. Bad part being the detail you sent with us tried to help the others leaving us with a small crew. All, a bunch of green horns.”
“Sh..sh…she…couldn’t let it go,” Mumbles grimaced at his stammer
“It’s okay,” Billy said rubbing his arm. “His speech impediment is worse when he’s nervous.”
Mumbles took a deep breath and started again, “She had the search light looking for people in the water and we found you.”
“Captain said we have to go under the radar for a while, but all the radio equipment was trashed. Even worse news was the ship took on damage in its own explosions below deck.” Billy explained. “The ship was sinking. Miraculously, a fishing vessel was near and saw we were American. It’s a crew out of Mumbai they are trying to help us, but…”
“But like the rest of this trip it’s been one fuck-tastrophe after another,” Crock interrupted. “The hull door is jammed. Our Navy friends are on the other side, but the ships communications are down. They are working on it, but the guy with a degree in such things, Mr. Mumbles, is stuck in here.”
“As far as your condition goes, you’ll live,” Crock continued bluntly. “You had stopped breathing by the time Billy and the crew fished you out of the water. You’ve been out for sixteen hours. The rope around your neck had all but crushed your esophagus. There are rope burns and lacerations on your neck, arms, and legs. I’m afraid they may scar but they are clean and, so far, infection free. You’re not concussed, but you did ingest a lot of sea water. Your ribs are hurting due to chest compressions. It didn’t take much to revive you and I don’t believe your ribs are fractured but they will be sore. I had time to get you on an IV, some pain meds, and catheter before our trip onto this lovely smelling vessel. Both have been removed because we are out of IV fluids, but you were starting to come around. So, I’m sure there is no need to tell you hydration is important.”
Steve nodded very lightly and mouthed a thank you to the doctor.
“Don’t thank me, mate. Thank her,” he jerked his head to Billy. “Come on, Mumbles. Let her to it.”
Mumbles smiled and waved before disappearing after Crock. They were alone again, but Steve was brimming with questions and a need to go into action to help, but he could do neither. His body ached and he was in shock of the fact he was still alive.
Billy took her seat next to the cot he was lying on. He could tell they were in a small storage room in the ship that seemed to be converted into a small privet quarters.
“So,” she said unsure. “How do I find out more about you?”
Steve lifted his wrist and began moving his fingers slowly trying to use American Sign Language as best he could. She looked at him oddly for a few seconds before she caught on.
“Oh! I don’t know sign language. Just a few letters.”
She leaned closer and watched his hand. He sighed and slowly started to spelling out something simple. It took about two minutes for him to gain the strength to spell it all and for her to understand. The good news, he thought was that he was getting strong with every passing second.
He grinned lightly then raised his finger tips to his chin. Pressing lightly on his chin then retracted out in front of him. He mouthed the word thank you again.
There was a bright smile on her face as she seemed pleased with herself. She copied his motion and he nodded to her.
She waved him off and smiled, “No need for that. As for those two, I apologize. Crock is a good doctor and got his nick name, well because he’s Australian. Yeah, I know his name is offensive too, but I didn’t name him. The person who did thought of the biggest stereotype they could, Crocodile Dundee, but as you can tell he has the personality of a crocodile so Crock is what stuck. Mumbles is called that because he can’t string a complete sentence half the time without tripping over his tongue. Especially in stressful situations, like being in the presence of a hot, wet naked man. Crock doesn’t like his Mumbles tripping over his tongue because of a hot, wet naked man. So, since I found you I had to take care of you. I hope you don’t mind.”
Steve tried to look down at himself but only caught a glimpse at the strange shirt he was wearing. The rest of him was covered by a dull green blanket. He hadn’t minded she had undressed him. He wasn’t modest about his body, but he was confused by his rescuers. Then he realized what he was missing as he looked down at himself, his Tac vest. His eyes became large as he tried to search for it. He tried to sit up, but she was quick to brace him down.
“Hold on there,” she said. “What you looking for?”
“Gra…c..ie..Da..dan,” he strained to say and she had no idea what he was talking about.
“Don’t talk,” she urged.
He patted his chest and mouthed the word vest as best he could. Panic was gripping him because he had lost the one thing he wanted to keep on him. Even in the face of death, he had his picture with him.
“Oh, that thing!” she got up and disappeared from view for a moment, but came right back with it in her hands. “I bagged it up because it was wet, smoldering, and stunk.”
His arms felt like lead weights, but he toughed it out and reached for it.
“Are you sure? It’s heavy.”
There was a definite scowl on his face and he wiggled fingers for her to hurry. She just rolled her eyes and mumbled to herself about him pushy. She held up over him not wanting to put the weight of it on his chest. He guided her with the motions of his hand to the inside of the vest. He picked at the stiches that he had sewn in place after he left Honolulu. It was frustrating because he felt warm, but his fingers moved like they were still numb from the cold water.
“Something in there?” she asked taking it from him.
He watched her pull something out of her pocket and flipped out a blade from her butterfly knife. She carefully cut the stitches and pulled at the clear plastic that poked out of the new hole. Steve breathed easier when she freed the item he had wanted. She tossed the vest aside and saw the picture protected in the plastic. She pulled the image out and held it up to Steve, whose weak finger took it gingerly. In order for the picture to fit he had folded the edges and only left Grace’s image front and center. He could barely hold his hand up and had to rest it on his chest till he gained the strength. She must have picked up on the fact he needed to hold this object as much as see it. He felt her small hands on his arm as she held his hand up, supporting its weight. She also opened the edges of the picture to show all three of them now.
“She is beautiful. You’re daughter? Blink once for yes, twice for no.”
His eyes blinked twice, but didn’t leave the image. There was a weak smile on his face. The photo represented everything about home. Not just Hawaii as his home but the people he loved that made it home.
“Look at you!” She laughed. “You’re even hotter when you don’t look like drown rat.”
Her attention went to the other two in the picture, “Okay, well she doesn’t look like either of you guys in this picture, but are you related to either of these two?”
Again his eyes blinked twice.
“Is she this man’s daughter?”
One blink and a pause while Billy’s brain worked. He could tell she was taking this as a challenge and worked on it like she was solving a mystery."
“Okay, but she means a lot to you?”
Steve closed his eyes tightly and bit his lip. He missed Grace so much it hurt. To love a child was a concept that crept into his brain slowly over time since he returned home from the Navy. Grace,naturally, had been the main catalist for that change in him. He knew logically that people would be looking for him, but there was a chance that he was declared dead already. He couldn’t imagine the pain and confusion Grace would feel or the burden Danny would be left with. He felt guilty that he had welcomed death earlier. It didn’t matter it was his oxygen deprived mind and he really had to say in the matter.
“Hey, Tats it’s okay. We’re going to get you back to her. I promise. It’s just going to be slow going. Now, you’re not related but you love this little girl so you must be close to this handsome guy. Her father?”
Steve blinked once again.
“Friend of yours?”
He blinked once, but smiled softly. His eyes went to her for a moment and saw the all too knowing looking on her face.
“Uh huh. More than friend’s maybe?”
Steve continued to look up at her softly then hunched his shoulders in a pathetically small shrug. His thumb softly rubbing over the image of Danny’s body being careful not to obstruct the view of his face for even a moment. The whole thing left him exhausted in more ways then one.
“I see. You love him, but you don’t know if he loves you?”
He blinked once and tried to sigh again, but it hurt to bad.
“Damn, I’m good. I should have been a detective.”
Steve’s eyes got large and he began tapping his thumb on the picture of Danny. It wasn’t much of an excited expression, but it was the best he could muster given his condition. Luckily, she seemed to get it.
“He’s a detective?”
He blinked again. She nodded and bent down closer to him to look at the picture with him.
"The SEAL and the detective,” she said with a smile.
He nudged her with her forearm to get her attention. When he had it, his free hand pointed to himself then spelled out three more letters.
“Cop? You’re a cop too?” she asked and he blinked to confirm.
“That would cover how you guys met. Were you trying to say her name earlier? Gracie?”
He smiled and rubbed his thumb over Grace’s image fondly.
“Okay, now for your surroundings," she continued with excited momentum. "Surfing at the beach. You on vacation here?”
He blinked twice.
“No, is this where you are stationed or live? I shouldn’t ask you multiple choice questions, sorry.”
Steve blinked once and made a circular motion with his fingers that he was sure she wouldn’t understand, but he tried to convey it in his face.
“Both? You live here and work here?”
He smiled and blinked once quickly. It was a relief she was catching on because he was losing strength, but wanted her to know. If there was a chance she could radio he was alive and get word to Danny since he wasn’t able to, he had to take it.
“All right, well there are palm trees in the background and crystal blue waters so that narrows it down in the US. Florida?”
He blinked twice and twisted his lips like she was insulting him.
“Okay, geez...Um... California?”
Again another stern glare and a blink, because he couldn’t believe she could confuse where this was. He had to remember she wasn’t trained to figure these things out and all she really had were a few background images to go on.
She scowled down at him trying to think. Then with the hand she wasn’t holding, he managed to stick out his pink and thumb while retracing his middle three fingers.
“What’s that?” she studied it for a second. “Hang loose? Oh! Hawaii! You're from Hawaii!”
If he could laugh he would because she was absolutely glowing with pride she had figured it out. He blinked once up at her and she squeezed his hand.
Her expression softened and she brushed her fingers through his hair. She must have picked up on the tiredness he was feeling.
She started to pull away and he tensed.
“Listen to me, jabbering away asking you questions. You need to rest.”
He blinked twice hard and tried to grab her wrist before she pulled away, but he couldn’t.
“What you like somebody to just ramble off at you while you say nothing?” she laughed.
He blinked once and then looked to Danny with a sad smile.
“Oh, man not the sad puppy eyes. What, that’s what he does? Ramble?”
Again his eyes were fixed on Danny, but he blinked once.
She laughed again and said, “Well, I’ll be sure to tell him you said that when I meet him.”
Steve looked at her confused.
“Don’t give me that look. You saved my life and the lives of many. I may have helped fish your rock hard ass out of the soup, but that don’t make us square. I plan on personally seeing to it that you get better and are delivered safely to your man here.”
He mouthed Danny’s name, but she didn’t seem to get it. With a tilt of his head and exasperated look she leaned down to put her ear by his lips.
“Dan..ny,” he said in the softest whisper.
“Danny?” she asked him and watched him blink yes.
“Okay then, Tats. I’m going to personally deliver you back to Danny and Grace. “
Steve gestured his head to the photo then pressed his thumb against Danny. He then looked up at her with arched eye brows and pushed the picture to her like he was pointing to her with it.
“Has anyone ever told you, you have the most expressive face?” she laughed.
He blinked and then rolled his eyes. Navy SEALs shouldn’t be that easy to read. The only excuse he was satisfied with was he was injured and with a civilian talking about his personal life. He had slipped out of his military persona.
“No, I don’t have anyone like that in my life. The people closest to me you just met and I’ve only known them six weeks. I’m in a restart phase. I’m from West Virginia. Divorced and…” Billy got quiet for a second and it bothered Steve. “my little girl passed away. Car accident. I kind of went off the grid after that, ya know?”
Steve blinked once and grimaced at the thought of this woman going through something like that. She had been so kind and caring in the small amount of time he’d known her, and she apparently had been the one who helped save his life.
“Anyway, that’s in the past and we are in the present so. You need to get some rest. I’ll rattle on some more and sing some more till you sound asleep. Okay? I promise to let you know when our status changes.”
He inhaled through his nose and she ran her fingers through his hair again. There was an urge to sleep, but it made him feel useless. There real goal was to get this tank functional and get them home.
"It’s dark now, but it’s going to get better. Just focus on the light. That what they are, Danny and Grace. Your light out there in the dark. It’s why you’re still here.”
Steve’s eyes locked on hers. He couldn’t have told her that he called Danny his signal fire. It may have been just a coincidence or maybe it was a sign that things were really going to be okay. Steve blinked and smiled again. She rested the picture on his chest and put his hand on top of it. He zoned in on her voice as she talked about her Green Peace experience and the complicated relationship of Mumbles and Crock. Then she started softly singing a song to him as she stroked his hair. It was the same song he heard before. About distant trains that tied to the past and had come back to take him home. It was the soothing lull he needed to drift back to that peaceful state. He relished the warmth and the mothering he was getting from her. It had been a long time since he had felt that. Somewhere in his brain he knew she was transfering her maternal instinct from her decesed daughter onto him, but that was okay. The boy who thought he lost his mother years ago, yearned to know this love again. He slipped into sleep and dreamed of home, of his Danno.
Two days had passed and Steve was growing stronger. He still had a hard time speaking and was scolded by Billy every time he tried. They were able to fix the radio and call for help, but the message was broken up. It was worse because the old fishing boats engines weren’t working properly. In the attempt to get close to the sinking ship the engines had been over heated and they stalled. This led to the prolonged advancement toward Mumbai. What Steve took comfort in was that the Indian Navy was going to respond to their distress signal.
Steve had borrowed some extra clothes from the crew. The pants were a bit short and the shirt a bit too tight, but it was something. He sat on the deck and looked out into the night. His heart was heavy with worry about the ones he left behind and the pain they must be going through. It had been four days and he was sure the team had went back to Pearl, which means by now an official visit had been made to Danny. They all must think he was dead. The image of Danny struggling with the news and having to tell Grace only prodded at his guilt. For once Steve was glad Josh was in Danny’s life. His ohana would have to lean on each other now.
Even trapped in these thoughts, he knew he wasn’t alone. Billy had quietly sat down next to him.
“What are you doing up here, Tats? What’s the matter with you?” she asked draping her blanket around him and her.
Her hands ran up and down his back to warm him as he held the blanket in place around himself.
“You’re gonna catch your death out here. How am I supposed to explain that to Danny?”
With a smug twitch of his lips and a shrug of his shoulders, he passed off her concern hoping to ease it.
“From what you say your loud New Jersey boy is already going to be ten shades of pissed at the Navy when they don’t come home with you and I don’t want to catch hell when I show up with his sick SEAL.”
They had learned a lot about each other in the last couple days, even without Steve being about to speak. He knew Billy had had a hard life and was trying to do something good with it. He also knew about her abusive ex-husband and Jamie who would have been eight next month.
“Come on. Let’s go see if we made any radio progress.”
He pulled himself up and wrapped the blanket back around Billy before they headed back, but something caught his eye. A glint of light and the sound of a motor in the distance. He looked out into the dark water and saw three motor boats flying toward them, and he assumed they were armed.
A young officer ran out and barked, “Commander McGarrett, It’s the Indian Navy. They have been trying to make radio contact with us but we couldn’t respond. They are going to board.”
Steve nodded to the young man. He was fully back in military mode now that he was up and moving. He motioned Billy to head below deck.
“Yeah right,” she scoffed.
He rolled his eyes and huffed, knowing it would do no good. With his large hands he pushed her behind him and waited for the boat. He could speak some in their native language, but most likely they knew English. Problem was he couldn’t speak in any language at the moment. He looked back to Billy, who was going to have to be the instrument he would communicate through.
The ship was boarded by several men and large guns were pointed at them while orders were shouted out. Steve raised his hands and the other U.S. Navy officers began to speak. It was a tense few minutes as they tried to establish the hostility of Steve and his ships mates. Steve had to make them see the truth. He was so close to getting word back to Danny that he couldn’t fail now.
Chapter 8: Facing The Day
He couldn’t choose flowers or songs to be sung at the funeral of the one he loved. Mainly, because he couldn’t let his heart believe he was dead. Logic said he was, but his heart was putting up one hell of a fight.
Hours before Steve was being picked up by the Indian Navy, Danny was heading into work. It was his first day back and, after he was unsuccessful at persuading differently her, he was accompanied by Mary. This was the first time they had really left the house. Yesterday people and food started showing up and Rachel said Grace was asking more questions. It all had gotten too much and he had to do something other than sit around and cry.
The absence of Steve was all around him. There was burning pain in his chest constantly now. Desperately, he wanted to believe that Steve was out there somewhere, but alive. At night the dark thoughts crept in. He imagined Steve’s last moments. He wondered if he was afraid, struggled, or if he had been in pain. The thought of his body never being recovered was horrifying. It was like Steve got on that plane and fell out of existence, somewhere Danny couldn’t follow.
Danny and Mary walked in and caught many surprised and sympathetic looks. He kept a protective hand on the small of Mary’s back. When people got too close, he put himself between her and them. He knew he was being a bit extreme, but she wasn’t saying anything about it yet, so he continued because it made him feel better. Mary was fragile and felt very alone. She was his responsibility and he would be damned if something happened to another McGarrett on his watch.
He pushed open the doors to the Five-0 offices and felt Mary slip her hand into the bend of his arm. He patted it reassuringly knowing it would be hard for her to face the others, and Steve’s office.
“Are you sure?” Danny asked her quietly.
“Yeah. I don’t want to be alone, you know?”
He nodded and rested his hand over hers. As they walked in arm and arm, Danny was surprised to see Max and Mamo at the tech table with Chin, Kono, and Catherine.
“I guess we weren’t the only ones who couldn’t stay home,” Danny announced.
They all looked at them surprised to see that they were here. Mary slipped passed Danny and rushed to Mamo’s arms.
“Mary!” he called out as she crashed into him. “My little beauty isn’t little anymore, huh?”
She cried softly, “It’s good to see you.”
“And you, ipo,” he said patting her back.
“What are you doing here, Danny?” Chin asked.
“Same as you.”
Chin couldn’t argue. He hadn’t taken much time after his wife had passed. Sitting at home at home was the last thing Danny could do and he knew Chin understood that feeling.
“I came to offer my condolence,” Max said quietly.
“Thank you,” Danny said before hugging the small man.
Max stiffened but returned the hug. Danny figured he wasn’t use to much physical contact with living humans.
“How are you?” Kono asked both Danny and Mary.
“We’re here,” Mary sighed.
“Mamo had an idea if you’re up for it,” Catherine said.
Mary walked over to Catherine and rested her head on the brunette’s shoulder. Catherine draped her arm around Mary as Mamo began to speak.
“I want to honor Steven with a memorial. I want to offer prayers for him. I can arrange a ceremony at the beach on the North Shore. A great spot he loved as a young boy. Everyone is welcome. He is of the Christian faith, yeah?”
“Yeah,” Danny’s said dimly.
He didn’t want to think about planning a funeral. They didn’t have a body so he could still hold on to the sick hope that the Navy got it wrong and Steve was out there using his crazy good survival skills to get back to civilization. A funeral was the embodiment of the finality of Steve’s life. To say goodbye was to let go, Danny wasn’t ready for that.
“I think it would be great,” Mary spoke up.
Danny’s eyes snapped up to her with concern, but she offered a strong look and a small smile. He nodded to her and then to Mamo. He needed to stop thinking about his own feelings. Steve was gone and Mary needed closer. She also needed to know just because someone died in her family that she wasn’t going to be cast out again. When her mom died she and Steve were sent away. When her father died she returned only to be put in the middle of danger again and Steve had sent her back to LA. Now she was the last McGarrett, but Danny was going to make sure she always knew Hawaii was her home.
“Okay, I need to tell Grace. I’ll go over there today,” Danny said with a heavy sigh. “Also, I need someone to try and locate Joe. He should know what’s happened.”
“I’m already on it,” Catherine said.
“Very good. I already had things in motion and I just needed your blessing. Tomorrow at sunrise we will gather to honor braddah and warrior Steve. Chin and Kono I hope that you can help me with the arrangements.”
They both nodded eagerly.
“I want to help in any way that I can,” Max stepped up.
“And you can. Kamakona will need all the help he can get with the food,” Mamo smiled warmly.
Danny walked over to the older Hawaiian that Steve had told him so much about. The stories he had heard and the interactions he witnessed Steve have with Mamo made him feel such respect for this man. He was grateful that Steve had him in his life. Then it was like he could hear Steve’s suggestions in his ear. He had to act on it.
Mamo embraced Danny in a hug and as they parted Danny pulled Mamo to the side. They others worked on the details of the ceremony as well as getting the day secured by the Governor.
“Mamo, I don’t know how to thank you for this. You meant a lot to Steve and Steve means…well…”
“I know, Danny,” he older man said with a warm grin. “I know.”
“Grace is Steve’s world too, you know?” Danny choked his words and hated he still had trouble using the past tense when talking about Steve. “He wants her to love Hawaii as much as he does and he wants to share all the heritage he learned about the islands. Grace is in to all that stuff too. History is by far her forte. I was hoping that you could pass it on to her…for him. He would want that.”
Mamo rested his hands on Danny’s shoulders and smiled, “It would be my honor and privileged to teach the child Steve regarded as his kamahine.”
Danny nodded slowly. He knew what the word meant; he was picking up on things here and there. He liked that Steve loved his daughter like she was his daughter. If there was an afterlife, Danny knew Steve would be watching out for his little girl.
It was early afternoon when Danny looked back up from his computer. Mary was sitting in her brother’s office looking over some of the legal paperwork Steve had left her. He didn’t figure she was getting much done, not since she found his spare shirt he kept in the office. She put it on over her short sundress and seemed to stare right through the papers on the desk. Chin and Kono were still left in the office working on clearing things up for tomorrow. Max and Catherine left to make other arrangements that Danny didn’t know anything about. It wasn’t that he was disinterested, but he couldn’t think about it. He couldn’t choose flowers or songs to be sung at the funeral of the one he loved. Mainly, because he couldn’t let his heart believe he was dead. Logic said he was, but his heart was putting up one hell of a fight.
He got up to collect Mary and head to Rachel’s. They had talked earlier and they were going to sit down together to tell Grace about Steve. It was going to be one of the hardest things he has ever going to do, because he was going to break his sweet daughter’s heart. As he walked out of his office he saw someone standing in the hall outside the main entrance to their HQ. When he looked over, he went from concern to rage again in two seconds flat as Josh stared at him from behind the glass doors.
Without a word he storms out to the hall, where Josh lowered his head in submission. Danny could see the nice bruise on the side of his face. He had never struck a lover before and he felt like shit about it, but now was not the time to deal with that.
“What are you doing here?” Danny asked in a clipped tone.
“I came to make sure you were okay.”
Josh seemed sincere, but what he had said couldn’t be unsaid. Although he knew that this was all just an excuse. He needed someone to take the rage out on and Josh was offering himself up on a silver platter.
“Worried because my master is gone, and me being the lost puppy I am won’t know how to survive?” Danny asked loudly.
“No,” he stated softly, his large brown eyes filled with pain. “I heard and I came to offer my sympathy. This can’t be easy.”
“Can’t be easy! How would you know!”
“I didn’t come here to fight, but if that’s what you need fine. Beat the shit out of me if you need to. I just want you to know I’m so sorry about what I said. It was inexcusable.”
The fact that he was docile and wanting forgiveness only pissed Danny off further. He wanted Josh to be the angry bitter asshole he was the other night so he could beat him within an inch of his life with good cause.
Danny slammed Josh up against the wall and leered at him with the most hateful glare he could form, but he got nothing. Josh just looked at him with that same pitiful look everyone had given him. The next thing he heard were Chin and Mary coming out behind him.
“You don’t have a clue what it’s like to lose the one you love more than yourself. The one you would have followed to hell and back. The one person who would have done the same in return without hesitation. Steve gave me everything,” Danny voice was failing, but he was still burning with anger toward Josh. “No one cared for me or put me first the way Steve did. Steve loved me with his whole heart and asked for nothing in return other than my friendship. And I did nothing and now he’s gone.”
Danny dropped his hands and backed away from Josh. The world was spinning around him as he was finally telling himself the truth. He knew the truth, but he didn’t face it. It hurt so badly emotionally and physically that it was becoming crippling. All he wanted to do was follow Steve and drag him back home. The uselessness he felt weighed on him just as heavy as his guilt. It was crushing the life out of him, but he didn’t feel like he deserved to ever be free of the pain.
“Now he’s gone. Steve is dead,” Danny squeaked out before tossing his hands in the air. “He’s gone and he never knew how much better he made my life. Or how much I loved him.”
There was a soft, painful sound from behind him. As a father and a natural protected he instantly turned back to find Mary crying, under Chin’s protective arm. The next thing he knew Josh was in his personal space. If Josh was going to take a swing at Danny then he would welcome the blow. Danny felt he deserved it after what he had done to Josh. Instead he wrapped his arms around Danny, pulling him close.
“I’m sorry for hitting you,” Danny said into Josh’s neck.
“It’s fine, man. I’m still your friend and I’m here if you need me, okay?”
Danny nodded and let himself be held for a few moments longer. With that done he took Mary’s hand and they left for Rachel’s.
It was just as painful and gut-wrenching as he thought it would be. Danny, Rachel, Mary, and Stan sat together and tried to explain to the young girl that the man she adored most, next to her Danno, had died a hero. She had an eerie calm to her like Rachel does when she was upset, but this time the damn broke leaving Grace a sobbing mess in her parent’s arms. Stan kept Mary company downstairs while Danny and Rachel laid with the daughter in her bed. They stayed till she had cried herself into a deep asleep. Rachel held her ex-husband and told her how sorry she was.
It was very late before Danny was able to take Mary home. She had to drive home. That night she had to be the strong one. She made him a drink and pushed food into his face. Danny collapsed in Steve’s bed and cried just as hard as he did that first night. The sight of his daughter hysterically gripping him as she tried to stop her world from spinning out of control had broken him apart. Mary laid next to him and ran her fingers though his hair, rubbed his back, and hushed him with soft words. They slept very little and had to be up before the sun. Because come sun rise they would say good bye to their beloved Steve.
Chapter 9: To Honor Him
The air was filled with the scent of exotic flowers. A lei of plumeria flowers was draped around his neck. The petals felt soft against his skin. Normally, he hated wearing flowers but he would do it today.
The were surrouned by several members of the Indian Navy. A tall and rather nasty looking man stepped forward, clearly the authority figure for the group. He quickly gained control of the situation state who he was and why they were there.
“Who is your commanding officer?” the tall, dark officer asked.
The young man looked to Steve since he was the highest ranked officer on board, making him in charge.
“He is. Lieutenant Commander McGarrett.”
“Funny uniform for a commander and funny he cannot speak for himself.”
“The Commander was injured during a mission. We rescued him and are low on supplies, so that is the only clothing we could get him,” the young man barked mechanically.
“If you look at his neck you can see he has had major trauma and can’t speak now,” Billy said.
She pushed herself in front of Steve to face the intimidating foreign man. Steve pushed himself close to her back, keeping an eye on the men in front of them.
“And you are?”
She looked up at Steve who nodded and nudged her with his arm to go on.
“My name is Kerrie Travis. I’m with Green Peace. My two associates and I were captured by some very bad people when Commander McGarrett and his SEAL team arrived. I don’t know the who or the why. That all has remained classified, but I was there when the team was attacked, before we were able to leave. Our radios are junk, but we got a call out to our Navy. They are looking for us.”
“And there is nothing on the Commander to identify himself?”
“Anonymity was needed as far as the ship goes, sir. What little we did have went down with our ship,” the young man said.
Steve nudged Billy again and moved his hands like he wanted to write something and tilted his head at the guy disgusted.
“He doesn’t have anything on him, but he can give you a list of names and numbers of his commanding officers. Official people who can identity him and all of us,” Billy interpreted.
“That’s good. We are going to bring you back to our air craft carrier and make sure your story checks out. At which time we will get you sent on your way.”
Again, Steve nudged Billy. She looked up into his large eyes that seemed to be screaming something. He squeezed her arm and then gave her the shaka sign again.
“It will all check out,” She said looking about to the officer. “And when it does the Commander would like to arrange immediate transport for himself and I to Pearl Harbor, where he is from. We think his family has been falsely told he was dead.”
“I’m sure they have been,” the man said deadpan. “I have heard the stories of the hero, the SEAL who saved many lives at the cost of his own. They looked for your body for two days before they packed up and headed home. I’m sure we can arrange a speedy trip for you both back to Hawaii.”
A flood of relief filled him like he had never known. It would be a matter of hours and God willing Steve would be on a plan bound for home.
The tranquil blue water swirled around his bare feet. His slacks had been rolled up some, but the cuffs were wet. The water was cool first thing in the morning, but he didn’t feel it. The air was filled with the scent of exotic flowers. A lei of plumeria flowers was draped around his neck. The petals felt soft against his skin. Normally, he hated wearing flowers but he would do it today. So many people had come out, Danny could hardly believe it. News crews had also showed up to broadcast the footage, not that he really noticed that too much. Danny stood in the water staring out into the direction in which Steve had left in.
Everything from the waves to the sun reminded him of Steve. Steve, with his impossible long arms and legs that moved so fluidly. Danny could see the man’s sharp pointed facial features that could be as cold as ice one moment then playfully child-like the next. He had a smile that showed most all of his teeth and some of his gums. It was goofy and adorable; it made him so much more than a trained killing machine. Danny thought about the lines in Steve’s forehead, the tattoos on his arms, the scars on his torso, and the sound of his voice. Everything was still so clear and the thought of losing these memories terrified him. So he replayed everything he could remember of Steve in his mind constantly.
There was a tug on his right hand and he looked down to see Grace in her best pink wrap dress looking up at him. Her brown eyes filled with tears and she looked worried at her father. Danny tried to convey strength to her. He looked to his left where Mary stood beside him, draped in flowers as well. Her eyes were fixed on the horizon. Danny had gone many years without thinking about prayer or religion. When Grace was kidnapped he prayed and hadn’t seemed to stop since, not that he would admit that to anyone. In his left hand, he clutched an old rosary his grandmother had given him. He prayed even now as they stood in the water and the sun rose up around them. He prayed that like the sun, his strength would rise and pour down golden rays of protection over all those who looked to him now.
Behind them they heard the loud and powerful Hawaiian words the priest was speaking. They had already been through the other ceremony’s with the leaves, water, and touch of foreheads- breathing together. For all the bitching Danny had done about Hawaii and its customs, he took this completely serious. This was for Steve to honor him in a way fitting to the man he was. Mamo came over and tapped Danny on the shoulder so he knew it was time. The three of them lifted the ring of flowers from their necks to put them in the water.
“I love you, big brother. Go be with Dad now,” Mary said holding her sobs in.
She dropped the ring of flower into the water. Danny patted Grace on the back to indicate it was her turn.
“Goodbye, Uncle Steve. You were the best Uncle in the world and I love you.”
Grace tossed her flowers in the water and slumped to her father’s side. Danny tugged her close with one arm before Mary slipped over and took the girl. He took a few steps further out in the water and stared out into the Pacific.
“When I find you McGarrett, on the other side, believe me when I say I’m going to punch you in the face…again,” Danny laughed a touch hysterically as he ran his hand with the catholic beads through his hair.
“I’m gonna miss you, buddy. There is never going to be someone to take your place with me, but I got your six at home. Five-O, Mary, the Ohana. I got them. Aloha au iā 'oe, always and forever.”
Danny tossed his ring of flowers as far as it could go. One hand still clutching the rosary, the other now clutched the dog tags resting proudly on his chest. He turned and took Mary and Grace in his arms. They looked back to see hundreds of people. Chin, Kono, Catherine, and Max were front and center. Around them was everyone they knew. Rachel, Stan and the baby stood near Toast, Kamekona, Charlie Fong, and even Tony Archer. Duke and what seemed to be the entire HPD. Numerous military people were there and people they had helped over the years. Joe had silently slipped in and was standing near the members of the SEAL team that helped bring Steve home from North Korea.
Danny’s heart swelled as he looked out at all of those who came to honor Steve. He hoped Steve could see this. When Danny had first met Steve all that time ago, he was a lost and lonely soul. Steve felt abandoned by everyone from his young life. Since meeting Danny, Steve’s life had been filled by many people who cared for him.
The ceremony was difficult but amazing. It was perfect and Danny was satisfied with it. The afternoon brought many people to the house. Luckily, he didn’t have to play host only spectator. Kamakona and Max handled the food. There was so much food, kindnesses from everyone. It was a custom in Hawaii to come to someone’s home with an offering of food. He slipped away to the bathroom to change from his wet pants and splash some water on his face.
The image in the mirror was tired and older. There was a scowl on his face as he noticed he hadn’t bothered to shave since he was given Steve’s death notice. His hair was also a bit fuller, a bit wavier because he didn’t have the strength to tame it properly this morning.
There was a tickle of a laugh in his throat, but his heart wasn’t in it. He found humor in the fact that he had fallen so completely in love with this man, so in love that he didn’t believe he could love anyone else to the same degree, and yet he had never even kissed him. Steve had woven himself so tightly into his heart and it happened so quietly that he would never shake it.
Steeling his strength he headed down the stairs. He stopped and surveyed the scene. Soft conversations filled the home and the smell of the best Hawaiian and Asian dishes swirled all around. Mamo was sitting on the sofa with Grace and Mary curled up on either side of him. Danny could tell he was telling Grace a story that Mary had surely heard before. His soft deep voice spoke of Hawaiian ancestors who were always around them, and the bravest of Warriors that still protected their family. Adam sat on the recliner with Kono in his lap and they listened reverently to the older man’s words.
Danny walked downstairs and heard Kamakona explaining the art of cooking the Kahlua pig. Tony, Chin, Joe and Fong were outside drinking beer with other law enforcement members. It reminded Danny of wakes back in Jersey and that made him feel good.
“Danny, you need to eat,” Catherine said softly, taking him by the arm
Food wasn’t a priority anymore. In fact, he couldn’t remember the last time he actually ate a full meal. He’s been taking bites here and there, but nothing that amounted to anything. Usually, he was strong, but today he said goodbye to his love. So, he went willingly, letting warmth and presence of his friends take care of him.
Chapter 10: I'm Coming Home
He simply smiled and winked at Billy who could only laugh in return. He looked like a man who had just won the lottery rather than one who had been blown off of a ship and strangled by a rope, while drowning in the ocean.
The Indian Navy properly identified them and were able to help them rendezvous with the US Navy. It took much of Billy’s strength to hold back Steve from stealing a plane and taking off to Hawaii. He used her to talk their way onto a transport plane as soon as possible. Her friends were delayed a few days in India before going back to their homes. Billy, sticking to her promise, was glued to Steve’s side as they boarded the plane. They were able to get Steve some proper fatigues for his trip home. He sat on the metal bench tense, his whole body vibrated with anticipation. There was a time in his life were being confined in small spaces filled of cold lifeless metal felt comfortable. For the longest time, his safety and comfort came in oversized tuna cans that he traveled in for the Navy, but now these walls were sickening.
His Closter phobia was avoided by the loud foot falls of Billy as she quickly went to him, crashing down beside him. He looked at her with anticipation and rolled his wrist.
“We are four hours out of Pearl now,” she said breathlessly. “You have to see this though. We got identified, but they want to brief you upon landing before they tell anyone your alive. Rules or some shit, but you have to see this. One of these fly boys downloaded this on his tablet before we took off. They wanted to show you, but you were in such a damn hurry.”
She gave him the device and crowed close to him so she could see it again. Before he hit play she grabbed his wrist.
“I have to warn you, but I don’t know how to say it. I’ll try to be as subtle as I can.”
He eyed her cautiously and urged her on.
“Your funeral went viral,” she stated then started the video.
It was a CNN news report. They were commenting on a piece done in Hawaii. It was indeed a memorial service. He could feel the color draining out of his face as he saw the picture of himself. His ID picture for the Navy displayed on the small screen. The report cut to the footage that was aired on the local stations in Hawaii.
“Hundreds gathered in memory of one of Hawaii’s own” the young Hawaiian report spoke.
The images on the screen showed many people gathering at a beach he recognized. Everyone was somber and draped with flowers. There were so many people he knew and many he didn’t, but they had all looked mournful. They had turned out to pay respects to him, he even saw Josh walking in alone. Then he caught glimpses of Chin and Catherine walking near the camera. Kono and Adam followed hand in hand behind them. The camera’s image panned and he saw them all, everyone he cared about standing in the sand, all but three.
“Lieutenant Commander Steven J. McGarrett, a Navy SEAL was currently in the reserves when he was called to duty a week ago. He was also the lead investigator for the Governor’s special ‘Five-O’ task-force here in Hawaii. The Navy issued a statement saying that Commander McGarrett had sacrificed his life in order save the lives of his team and there rescued civilians. There is still no official statement from the Navy as to the fait of the other sailors and the civilians who have also been presumed dead. The Governor is present here today at the memorial and is expected to speak at a press conference later this afternoon. Lieutenant Chin Ho Kelly is a member of Five-O and spoke with us earlier this morning.”
Steve blinked his watery eyes as he saw Chin’s face in the center of the screen. He seemed reserved but strong as he faced the reporter. The pain was clearly visible in his eyes, but he faced the interview bravely. The fact he had to go through this at all hurt Steve deeply.
“Steve was a true son of Hawaii and a brave American who served his country well,” Chin’s words were proud and steady. “He was so much more than that, though. Steve was a son, a brother, a friend, a mentor, a father figure, and a partner. Most of all he was loved, as you can see by all who have come here today. Steve will always be loved and will always be with us.”
Steve dug his elbow into his thighs as he rested his mouth on his palm. He needed that pain to distract him and his hand clamped on his mouth to remind him not to cry out.
Images of the ceremony began to appear on the screen and the report spoke, but he wasn’t listening because he was fixed on everyone who was present. Then the report did say something that grabbed his interest.
“Three people closest to Commander McGarrett said their goodbyes at the waters edge, sending their offerings of leis into the waves. His sister, Mary Ann McGarrett, his partner Detective Sergeant Daniel Williams, and Detective William’s daughter Grace.”
Steve stayed silent and frozen as the tears formed. He blinked them away as quick as they formed so they didn’t block his view. It was the end of the video and his was frantic to pause it. He had scene the three of them, his family, in the water sending the flower out to him on the screen. When he paused the image, Danny had his arms around Mary and Grace. He looked like he hadn’t slept well or ate in days. His eyes were red and tears streamed freely down his face, just as they did on the girls. They clung to Danny and he was trying to support them. It was obvious to Steve that Danny was going to guard Mary just as he did Grace, but he looked so haunted. Steve wanted to kill someone for doing this to them, but who. He knew that wasn’t logical, but he felt helpless and rattled with guilt as he watched the one person he ever truly loved look like shell of a human being.
“You’re family is beautiful,” Billy said, rubbing small circles on his back.
He looked over to her and pointed at the crowd that stood on the beach and then back to himself.
“Yes, they all came out for you. Not many people get a chance to see who would show up for their own memorial service, but you Tats, you are blessed to have so many people love and respect you.”
He bit his lip and fought the quiver in his chin. He rubbed his hand through his hair roughly unable to process these feelings. So many people had betrayled him, left him, or died because of him. Yet hundreds stood together in honor of him. Never in his life time would he have imagened he could have touched so many.
“Steve, I know you’ve had it rough, but you’re not alone anymore. Look at this. It’s amazing!”
Her bright eyes looked up at him with admiration and he did manage to smile back at her. He was loved he saw that, but it still hurt that they were suffering because of him. Then he thought about Josh being there, and that Danny may still be with him. A selfish tug inside of him hated the fact Danny may have fallen in love with Josh because he was there for him during this time. Steve knew Josh would be there for Danny, because he was so damn perfect.
Steve got Billy’s attention and pointed to Danny.
“Danny, okay?” she nodded.
He then have her two letters in sign language and hoped he understood.
“B…F. B.F. Boyfriend? He’s you’re boyfriend? Yeah, and?”
Steve shook his head and signed the letters again and pointed to the crowd before pointing to himself and shook his head.
“Danny has a boyfriend that isn’t you?” She asked shocked. “Is it serious? Have they been together long?”
He shrugged and held up one finger.
“One year?” she cringed and he shook his head and pointed to the ground. “Lower? One month?”
He nodded slowly and felt embarrassed. Silently, he had managed to spill his heart to Billy about his love her Danny and that he had foolishly forgot that there was someone else in Danny’s life who loved him.
“Seriously? One month? Okay look, McGarrett,” her voice was forceful and griped his attention. “One month is nothing. Look at Danny’s face there, it’s plain as day that the man has lost his heart. From what you’ve told me about the two of you and seeing this video it’s clear he loves you. You’re getting a second chance, you both are.”
Steve locked his eyes on hers and clung to every word she said. Tears were now in her eyes as she became passionate about her words.
“You both have a second chance to get your heads out of your respective asses and become a real family. A family with a daughter, sister, and friends. I would kill to have gotten a second chance with my daughter. So I don’t give a rats ass who this dude is Danny has been dating, you will take this second chance and give it your all or I’m libel to put a bullet in both of you myself. We understand each other?”
He nodded with grave seriousness like he was receiving orders from his commanding officer.
“Good,” she smiled before resting her head on his shoulder.
Steve played the video two more times before he just left the paused image of Danny, Mary, and Grace on the screen. This was something that Steve was going to have to fix in person. With Billy’s help he was able to stop anyone from making contact with Danny. He wanted to face him and everyone else and gain their forgiveness. Billy had told him he was being ridiculous but she followed orders.
If she thought he was bad in India she was in for a surprise when they landed in Hawaii. She kept up with him, to his surprise. She held him back and kept him from strangling someone. He had to be debriefed as best as he could without being able to talk or include Billy on the mission. When all the ‘I’s were dotted and ‘T’s crossed they wrangled a loner car and were off.
“Okay, your little red blinking GPS thing says that Danny is here,” she held up his phone to him.
Steve stole a glance as he raced down the dark highway. A happy tooth filled grim filled his face as his foot pressed harder on the accelerator.
“Hey, okay! I liked it better when you were just a passenger like me. Don’t kill us ten feet from the finish line there, Tats. I take Danny being at this spot is a good thing.”
Steve nodded and pressed his finger to his chest and mouthed the word home.
“He’s at your house? That/s covenant. Are you sure about this?” she patted the papers on her lap.
He simply smiled and winked at Billy who could only laugh in return. He looked like a man who had just won the lottery rather than one who had been blown off of a ship and strangled by a rope, while drowning in the ocean.
“You got it bad my friend.”
Chapter 11: Back Where I Belong
Slowly, he pushed the door open and heard the sound of a body shifting in his bed. He let his eyes adjust to the light and saw the sight he’d only seen in his dreams
It was nearly one in the morning by the time they made it back to Steve’s house. Steve and Danny’s vehicles were in the driveway along with another rental car. He indicated to her that it was his sister. The house was dark and quiet. He knew that he needed to tread lightly so they didn’t spook Danny and end up getting shot.
He guided her through the dark living room and turned of the security alarm. The sofa was devoid of Danny, but he had to be here. Using hand signals he would have used on a mission, he pointed for her to go to the kitchen. He knew she had to be starving, she had to keep a grueling pace to keep up with him and there has been little opportunity to think about food.
She nodded and smiled knowingly at him. His face began to burn from the flush of red. He was embarrassed because he had never been so nervous in his entire life. Even though Billy had reassured him that he had nothing to worry about with Danny’s boyfriend, he still did. Josh was a more stable and a better match, as if this entire incident wasn’t a shinning example of that fact. Steve checked the spare bedroom down stairs and found it empty. Going back into the kitchen he motioned to her to make herself at home and he was going to go upstairs. She nodded before kissing him on the cheek. He could see she was almost as happy for him as he was to be home. Steve signed his thanks and she signed her reply the way he had taught her.
He smiled brightly and couldn’t wait till he could speak again and would then be able to tell her how grateful he was for her. Silently he ran up the stairs. He assumed that his sister would be occupying her old room. When he hit the landing and found his bedroom door was oddly shut. Slowly, he pushed the door open and heard the sound of a body shifting in his bed. He let his eyes adjust to the light and saw the sight he’d only seen in his dreams. It was so shocking that he didn’t realize he was moving until he found himself halfway in the room. The vision before him was Danny lying on his back one arm curved above his head. His brow had worried lines and his eyes were scrunched like he was having a bad dream. The sheet was draped down just below his bellybutton on his bare torso. There was nothing more he wanted then to kiss those lines away and cradle him forever, but he didn’t want to hope for so much.
There was a smile creeping on Steve’s face as admired the sporadic mess of blond hair scattered about his pillow. Then in the pale light, a glint of silver caught his eye. Nested in his light colored chest hair of the sleeping man was a set of dog tags. Steve ran his hands over his face in disbelief. Danny was wearing his dog tags and sleeping in his bed. Tears filled his eyes and he leaned closer to Danny. He was occupying the middle of the bed, but luckily Steve was long enough to reach over him easily. Steve brushed his middle finger over the pressed letters of his name, before he lightly wrapped three fingers around it. A lightning fast movement startled him and an ironclad hand wrapped around his wrist.
“No,” a stern but muffled voice said.
Steve’s eyes shot up to meet an angry blue glare. The thought of Danny willing to fight to keep these tags made his heart flip.
“Da..nn..o,” he scratched out before he remembered that he couldn’t speak
Steve squinted from the pain deep in his throat, but forced his eyes back open to look at Danny, who was smiling weakly up at him and now caressing Steve’s wrist lovingly.
“You again,” Danny slurred sleepily.
Steve rested his hand down in the warmth of Danny’s chest. He could feel the soft thud of his heart and the warmth of his skin. It was greatest thing he had ever felt.
“I hate when I know I’m dreaming,” Danny said scrubbing his free hand over his face. “You’re not real.”
Steve shook his head urgently and pleaded with his eyes to Danny. He mouthed the words ‘it’s me’ over and over but to no avail. He sat down on the bed next to Danny hoping it would help wake him up fully. Danny cupped Steve’s face in his hands and his face looked so pained that it created large tears in Steve’s eyes.
“I’m sorry, babe. I’m so sorry I never told you.”
Again Steve shook his head and managed a weak no. Danny leaned his head up slightly, pulling Steve down to him and kissed him so lightly. Steve was shocked for a moment, he needed Danny to know it was really him, but gave in to the feeling of his soft lips and stubble chin. Just as quickly as it happened it was over, and Danny was resting his head on the pillow again
"I…re…al,” Steve grunted quietly pressing Danny’s hands to his heart hoping he would feel his heart.
“Yeah,” Danny murmured. “I wish.”
Steve was thoroughly frustrated and drastic measures needed to be taken. With a sharp tug of his fingers he pulled on Danny’s chest hair.
“Son of a bitch!” Danny cursed setting up quickly.
Steve leaned over and turned the bedside lamp on before he faced his partner again, who now had a look of pure shock on his face. Like he had seen a ghost, but in all honesty that’s probably what he thought Steve was.
“You can’ t….this isn’t…Babe?” Danny’s words were shaky and scared. “They said you…”
Frantically he shook his head no, and prayed for an end to this painful look on Danny’s face that was guilt to swell inside of him.
“But how?” he asked between deep breaths.
Steve just shrugged and rolled his hand in a circle. He was surprised and delighted that Danny was catching on to what he was trying to say. Danny was laughing in a nervous hysterical manner, but he did seem to be coming down from his panicked state.
“Long story? I bet. No call? Just show up at the foot of my bed after we all thought you were dead? You couldn’t send word?”
Steve rolled his eyes wanting to rebut so much of that, but couldn’t.
“Okay, yeah this is your room, your emotionally stunted, and your mission was so classified you had to tell me in person,” Danny rambled on rolling his eyes in return. “I don’t care right now, because you’re alive. My Neanderthal-Ninja-love-of-my-life SEAL partner is alive and home.”
Danny launched himself at Steve wrapping his arms around him pulling him close. Toughing through the pain he clung to his partners warm hold, but his body tensed enough for Danny to notice. He pulled back and searched Steve’s face. His eyes traveled down and saw the marks on Steve’s neck. Even with the dim light, Steve could tell he was shocked by the damage. It was useless now, but Steve reached up and tried to block the marks. There were probably always be faint marks there and on his wrist from that rope
“What happened?” Danny asked quietly, tugging lightly at Steve’s shirt collar to examine the injury. “Are you okay? Should we go to the hospital?”
He pressed both palms on Danny’s shoulders and smiled at him. Once he had Danny’s full attention, he waved his hand over his throat and made and OK sign with his hands.
“Sure,” Danny said skeptically, but couldn’t stop smiling. “A real doctor look at that?”
Steve nodded and wondered if Danny remembered kissing him. He got his answer when Danny was convinced there was no immediate need for medical attention, he gently reached up and cupped Steve’s face in his hands. He was smiling even as he kissed Steve again. It was better then anything he’d ever known. The smell of Danny mixed perfectly with the smell of home. His strong hands cupping his face, pressing their warmth into Steve’s skin. Steve couldn’t speak, but he hoped he could convey everything he felt in his kiss. This time they both worked together with warm heartfelt kisses. Steve finally pulled Danny closer, but it would never be close enough. Their lips moved in slowly as they exchanged deep kisses, while their tears blended together on their cheeks.
“I can’t believe you’re home. I’ve miss you so much, babe. I love you. God, I love you so much, you selfless bastard,” Danny rambled in between kisses.
The sound of Danny’s voice was music to his ears. That beautiful Jersey accent confessing his love as those ever constant moving lips moved over Steve’s. The dam had ruptured so quickly that Steve was swept away in the speeding current. In that moment he was moved to say something. Expressing himself was never easy, but now that he wanted to it was physically difficult.
Steve broke away from the kiss and pushed his finger into Danny’s chest firmly.
Steve nodded and then pointed to himself. His large dark eyes were glassy and fix on Danny because he had to understand. Danny had to know right there, right now what was going on in his mind. Steve then pointed down in a firm motion before gesturing the same firm thrust of his finger back at Danny.
“You’re here because of me?” Danny asked.
Steve smiled brightly with a large toothy grin. There were a million things he wanted to say, but the fact Danny understood him without words thrilled him to no end.
“Good thing I speak, McGarrett,” he laughed quietly.
Then he mimicked something Danny had done a long time ago, but had stayed with him ever since. He pointed to himself and drew a heart with his two pointer fingers before he pointed to Danny. It took only a millisecond for Danny to remember drawing a heart in the air for Steve in the jungle. Both were laughing, crying, and smiling like crazy people. They collided together pulling and tugging each other. They needed to feel it was real, that they wouldn’t wake up alone at any second. They kissed for several more moments. It wasn’t a lustful moment, it was one of love and thanks.
“Mary,” Danny breathed against Steve’s lips. “Grace.”
Steve nodded understanding that they now needed to spread the word to the others. Little did he know that meant now. Danny leaned to the side and began screaming. Steve flinched at the out burst, but had to laugh, even if it were silently.
“Mary! Mary! Come quick!”
He looked back at Steve who was perplexed, but amused.
Danny shrugged and said, “There is no easy way to do this. Let’s just rip it off like a band aid.”
“What the hell is going on?” Mary asked stomping into the room. “You were sound asleep when I left…”
She froze at the sight her brother. Steve got to his feet and faced his sister, Danny tugging up his bedroom pants got up as well.
“Steve?” She crocked out with tears already forming.
“It’s him,” Danny said hurriedly. “Something’s happened to his neck, probably terrifying and no mere moral could have survived it, but he can’t talk right now.”
Mary held her hands against her mouth and moved slowly like a nervous child over to Steve. He remembered that fearful look in her when their mother died. He held his arms out and pleaded with his eyes for her forgive her. That was the point in which Mary faltered.
“Steve, damn it. Stop looking like you’re in trouble,” She moaned before wrapping her arms around his waist.
Steve held her tight as she cried into his chest. The two of them had lost so much time together when they were younger, and even though Steve had a long talk with her before he left he vowed to make sure he would take more time to be with his sister.
A strong warm hand rubbed circles on Steve’s lower back. It was wonderful and flattering that Danny almost need to be physically connected to Steve right now.
“She’s right. Stopping thinking you’ve done something wrong,” he said quietly. “We know you had to do what you had to do, and we are proud of you.”
“Uncle Steve,” a quiet voice came from no where.
The siblings parted and Steve was faced with a sleepy little girl. Her expression reminded him of her father’s. Grace was almost afraid that she was dreaming again.
Steve nodded and sunk down to his knees holding his arms out to her. She looked up at her Danno who nodded as well, all while smiling like a cheshire cat. Grace took a deep breath and a wave of relief flooded her as she realized she wasn’t dreaming anymore. She ran for his arms and he scooped her up. He winced, but did nothing to stop her arms from going around his neck. Danny was right there pulling her arms to drape around his shoulders rather than his neck.
“Careful, Monkey. Uncle Steve’s neck is hurt, he’s having trouble talking,” Danny explained.
Steve rose to his feet still holding Grace in his arms. Her touch was lighter now and she looked him over with concern. This wasn’t going to do for him. He leaned in and kissed her cheek and she laughed.
“I missed you so much,” she said with large tears in her big brown eyes.
His head slowly nodded and he pulled her close. She rested her head lightly on his shoulder careful not to touch his neck. Steve looked to Danny with pleading eyes then back to Grace, hoping he understood.
“Monkey, Uncle Steve missed you so much and he loves you very much,” Danny spoke for him.
“I love you, too,” Grace replied.
In a natural motion, Danny and Mary hovered around the pair. Soon they were all wrapped together in a group hug. They laughed and cried, but mostly just relished in the fact they were all together again. They stayed that way for a long few minutes before Steve finally moved away. He put Grace back down and then motioned them all to follow. He was smiling eagerly over his shoulder as he urged them on.
They were confused, but went with him anyway. He went down the stairs and waited for them to catch up. He clicked his tongue sharply. It hurt, but not as bad as calling out.
“Yeah, I’m coming,” Billy whispered before walking in from the kitchen. “I was just looking for something for us to eat. You need to eat with your pills.”
She smiled brightly at the three people she hadn’t met but knew a lot about. Steve walked over to her and put his arm around her shoulders waving his hand to the three wide eyed faces. They looked perplexed by the stranger. Billy seemed amused at their shock and appearance. Danny was still shirtless, Mary was in a old tee that Steve recognized as his and boy shorts, and Grace being the most respectably dressed in a matching blue pajama set.
“Your family,” she stated smiling up into his eyes before turning back. “I’m Billy. I was one of the poor schmucks Steve and his team had to rescue.”
Steve dropped his arm and nudged her with his shoulder. She didn’t have to look to know Steve was scowling at her.
“I just returned the favor by bringing him back,” she shrugged. “You must be his sister Mary.”
“Yeah, nice to meet you,” she smiled shaking Billy’s hand.
“He’s told me a lot about all of you. Well, in his own way he’s told me,” She said smiling to Steve who smiled back with great approval.
She turned to Danny now grinned, “You must me the famous, Danny. You’re right Steve his is much more handsome in person.”
Danny rolled his eyes, but still grinned at Steve.
“You know,” she continued. “you are a very lucky man, Williams. Lucky to have someone who defied the laws of physics to survive then attempted to steal a fighter jet just to come home to you.”
With a scoff, Danny turned to Mary and said, “I told you it was going to be something unbelievable.”
“You can say that again,” Billy smirked. “After the explosion he decided to tangle himself up in rope and netting and tried to pull some kind of Houdini stunt in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Thus the ligature marks on his neck and various other places.”
“You tried to steal a jet?” Mary asked.
Steve just shrugged and rested his hands on his hips.
“Luckily, I was able to talk him down. There was no way I was going to fly with him in a fighter jet. Something he hasn’t been behind the wheel of in years. I’m pretty sure I made the right decision considering the way he drove over here tonight.”
“I can validate that. I’ve been in a helicopter with him, there is no way I’d let him fly a fighter jet,” Danny laughed.
“Hey, Steve taught me to drive and I think we are excellent,” Mary complained.
“God help us,” Danny laughed.
Then the little girl caught Billy’s full attention. She held Danny’s hand nervously looking at the new person.
“Now you. I would now that face anywhere,” she mused. “You must be what Steve called ‘the most beautiful girl in all of Hawaii’. Gracie.”
The small girl smiled brightly up at her then up to her Uncle Steve.
“You know the first thing Steve said when he woke up after we rescued him was your name. He clung to a picture of you and your Dad while he recovered.”
Steve pulled out the wrinkled and folded picture from his pocket and proudly showed it like a beloved talisman.
“You two guided him home,” Billy explained.
“Till he has to go away for to help the Navy again,” the girl said quietly.
He couldn’t help but to be amused at first, her cutting words that were resemblance of her father. Then he felt the fear and pain in this poor girl. Steve crouched down in front of Grace. He squeezed her shoulders in his large hands and shook his head firmly, even thought it still hurt. He looked up to Billy and motioned her to the kitchen urgently.
She nodded, “Bossy, isn’t he?”
“You have no idea,” Danny laughed.
Billy went into the kitchen but quickly returned. Steve pointed to himself and then made a sweeping cutting motion with his hand saying no to something, but she wasn’t getting it. Billy handed Danny a folded paper.
Steve reached out and tugged on Billy’s jeans to get her attention. He pointed to Grace and urged her on.
“Steve wanted me to tell you that he isn’t leaving you or Danny for the Navy again, “Billy smiled patting Steve on the back.
“This is…Steven you’re retiring from the Navy?” Danny asked.
“This can’t be real,” Mary laughed nervously.
“Really?” Grace said quietly as he looked into his eyes.
Steve held her small face in his hands. He nodded and smiled sweetly. Now she was on the same page and grabbed him carefully. Snuggling her head against his chest.
“Danny, I need to go over the care for your SEAL,” Billy said quietly to him.
“Hey, Gracie,” Mary said sweetly. “Why don’t we see if we can find some soup for Steve and Billy. I’m sure they are hungry.
“Okay,” she replied following Mary into the kitchen.
Once they were safely out of ear shot Steve stood back up to face them.
“Well, I’ve have fulfilled my duty,” Billy said. “I promised to get the Commander safely back to Danny. His pills are in the kitchen, but it’s only a small portion he will need to have the rest filled. I left the scripts with Steve’s keys on the table.”
Steve shook his head and held her arm tightly.
“I think he wants you to stay,” Danny said.
He nodded and pointed to the spare room.
“Do you have place here in Hawaii?” Danny asked.
Steve was shaking his head and wanted to explain her homeless situation, but couldn’t.
“Oh, um…no. I was with Green Peace when we got kidnapped. I’m….no I have to place.”
He hated to see her have to explain her situation without being able to articulate that she wasn’t a homeless moocher. He wanted so badly to tell Danny how wonderful, brave, and amazing she was.
“Look you brought Steve home and he apparently trusts you so the least we could do is put you up for a few days. Besides, the big guy here has a way of getting what he wants, or who he wants. I pull a gun on him the first time we met and he kept me.”
“Okay,” she laughed. “Then I should tell you that Steve is well on the mend. He was blown from the ship and landed hard in the water, but there was no concussion. He had some lacerations from the explosion, but the big problem was the rope and netting. The rope was wrapped around his neck and leg, plus he was in his full gear, so when he tried to get air he had to fight the weight of his gear and fight the constricting rope. His throat still has some rope burns, but nothing bad now. He can get it wet, but doc said no salt water for a while. No solid food. And of course he should avoid talking. He’s seen three doctors now, they don’t know how he hasn’t crushed his larynx, but there was some damage. He’s going to need to be checked out in the next few days for a better evaluation. ”
“I knew it would be some kind of amazing super hero stunt,” Danny said quietly.
“You know. I can take the rental car and get the pills and some food that Steve can eat. I’ll take Mary and Grace with me. I’m sure that you two could do with some quality time,” Billy winked. “Besides, Steve figures that this house will be filled once people start finding out he’s back.”
“Speaking of we better call Kono, Catherine, and Chin. Kono will drop kick me if I wait till morning.”
“Okay, food, pills, notify the others, then he is in much need of a shower and sleep,” She pressed.
“Absolutely,” he agreed.
Something in the dark room caught Steve’s attention. An odd reflection of light from the kitchen. It was a broken picture frame. It was an old habit, but he could pick out things that were out of place in his living area no matter how subtle.
“Steve, leave it,” Danny urged knowing what he was seeing.
The tone in Danny’s voice didn’t set well with him so he walked back over to the wall where the picture frame was hung. The glass had a crack in it and the wood seemed to be split in the frame. The was something odd behind it and as he pushed the picture aside slightly he saw a whole in the wall. A fist sized whole at that.
He spun back around and questioned Danny with his eyes who was right behind him. Danny’s hands were held up defensively.
“I was going to get that fix, but I’ve had other things going on. It will get fixed.”
Steve made it evident that it wasn’t a good enough response and pressured Danny with his Navy SEAL death stare to talk.
“It’s the remnants of the night after you left. Josh and I had a falling out. Yeah, you leave and I get dumped in the span of twenty four hours. Not that it compares to what you went through, but you know me. I can sometimes fly off the handle.”
Now Steve was fuming angry. If Josh had been the cause of what drove Danny to punch the wall that was bad enough, but if he had put his hands on Danny in anger Steve was going to kill him. Kill him slowly and with many sharp objects.
“Don’t look at me like that. He said some stupid things and I pushed him around. I feel like shit about it enough, but…I couldn’t let him talk about you like that. The picture didn’t want to go back up right so I took that out on the wall.”
Steve took Danny’s hand and looked at the rough and scabbed knuckles, then he took Danny’s chin in his hand and moved his face from side to side looking for something, anything that said Josh touched him.
“He didn’t lay a hand on me. Calm down. I’m okay. Just a bad few days, okay. My office got some of my wrath too, but that is unrelated to Josh. Also, Josh and I have hashed it out.”
Steve dropped his hands from Danny and tried to hide the pain for the knife twisting in his heart. Josh was still in the picture and he knew he shouldn’t have gotten his hopes up.
“We talked it out. We’re friends. Just friends.”
It was like Danny could read his mind, but Steve shouldn’t be surprised. He and Danny had a way of communicating without the need for Danny’s precious words.
“Uncle Steve!” Grace called out, unable to take it.
They joined her in the kitchen and let Steve and Billy eat while Danny called Chin and Kono also sending them pictures and video of Steve. He gave them instructions to notify the others and keep them at bay until at least tomorrow evening. He had said selfishly wanted to take the morning with Steve while the girls are out. There was so much they needed to make up for and promises to make for the future.
Chapter 12: In His Arms and His Heart
Steve nodded and leaned in, brushing his lips against Danny who reciprocated warmly. He was going to show Danny that he would never have to ask for permission to be close to him again.
As the adrenaline wore off everyone, reluctantly, went back to their rooms to catch some sleep. Steve and Danny both put Grace back to bed, kissing her good night. It felt like everything Steve knew it would, except for the fact he couldn’t tell her how he felt. It took the warm pressure of Danny’s hand on his back to get him to leave her. He had taken his antibiotic and painkillers, and had finally gotten to eat something substantial. A shower and bed was looking better and better by the second, but he really didn’t want to leave Danny’s side. Much to Steve’s delight, Danny had no hesitation about showing his intentions of share the bedroom with Steve. He didn’t care, in fact he was leaping up and down inside.
“Okay, clean underwear and sweats,” Danny said clapping his hands together as he exited the bathroom. “It’s all yours, babe.”
His smile was warm, but hesitant. Steve just stood there for a moment and took in the sight of his blond partner. He was broad and muscular, standing in Steve’s bedroom shirtless, proudly wearing Steve’s dog tags. It was almost too much for his tired brain to process. He took a few steps closer to Danny and noticed he didn’t move away, not that they were ever afraid to get into one another’s personal space. Unsteady, fingers reached up to the tags, rubbing the thin metal in between his fingers.
"You, um. Probably want these back, huh?” Danny asked.
For some reason that was the last thing that Steve wanted. He dropped his hold on them and pressed them with his palm into Danny’s skin.
“I’ve been wearing them since those guys from the Navy came to HQ and…you know, told us.”
Danny’s voice was no longer strong like it was down stairs. With the woman all in bed and they were alone again, Steve knew that Danny was losing the fight with his emotions again.
“I never hurt so bad in my life, Steve,” Danny said, finally looking up at Steve.
His eyes seemed larger than Steve had ever seen them. Whenever Danny was scared or hurting his eyes seemed larger, and as much as Steve loved to see the intensive, tropical blue color of his eyes he hated what Danny had to feel to make that expression. All he could do was run his hands up and down Danny’s arms to comfort him.
“I will say the fact you told me in person you were leaving, and then leaving me that much more personal note was good,” Danny said with more strength. “But the getting blown off a boat and trying to drown and hang yourself at the same time was not good. The not being able to communicate with me to let me know you were alive wasn’t good, but we will have a long talk about that and your decision to leave the Navy. My brain is shot right now. All I want now is to just be with you, if I can?”
Steve nodded and leaned in, brushing his lips against Danny who reciprocated warmly. He was going to show Danny that he would never have to ask for permission to be close to him again.
“Go on,” Danny said against his lips. “Take your shower and come to bed.”
The words swirled in his brain and wrapped around his head. He smiled, but took Danny’s hand and tugged him along as he went to the bathroom.
“What is it? You need something?” Danny asked confused as he followed Steve into the bathroom.
Again, Steve crowded Danny and answered him by wrapping his hand around the dog tags. He pulled him closer to the shower, hoping he would get it.
“You sure?” Danny asked so quiet he almost didn’t hear it.
Steve nodded and started to pull up his shirt. He felt Danny’s hands helping him after a pain groan escaped him. He was still stiff and sore in his shoulders and back, not that all the traveling back home helped any. Danny moved around him and started the shower. Not being bashful, Steve slide his pants off and turned back to Danny, who he caught staring at his backside. Steve gave him a wistful smile before moving in for another kiss. He wanted to make Danny feel comfortable with him like this and his plan seemed to work. Danny shucked his own pants and boxer briefs before guiding them under the warm water.
It was heaven and did wonders for his aching body. Steve let the water run down over his face and his front side before titling his head forward and letting the water run down the back of his neck. He braced his hands on the shower wall in front of him to help the water flow down his back. The next thing he felt were Danny’s hands pressed against his back then moving around to his stomach. Steve twisted in Danny’s arms and face him. Danny who had been rained down on by the shower had tears falling slowly down his cheeks. Without thinking about it, Steve used his thumbs to wipe away the tears. Danny kept sweeping his hands over all of Steve’s body. He knew that Danny needed that physical connection to help reassure himself that he was really here. The shower was hot, but Danny felt hotter as Steve wrapped his arms around Danny’s shoulders and pulled him close. He rested his forehead down on the shorter man’s and they stood there just touching and breathing each other in. Danny tilted his head up to find Steve’s lips. Slick wet hands moved over every inch of muscular skin they could find as their lips set a deep leisurely pace.
There was a sound from Danny like he was clearing his throat. He was trying to reset his brain to get to the task at hand. With a small laugh the two men pulled away from one another. Danny began lathering up the soap and scrubbed Steve’s skin. He hands worked methodically over Steve; inspecting and worshiping his body. The way Danny looked over him, taking such care of him, in a way that he had never known since he was a child. He’s never known this attentive love from any of his romantic partners. Danny did what he did best as he worked, talked. He chattered away about the cases and events that had went on since Steve had been gone. Then speaking of Catherine and her work.
“She’s a great girl, babe.”
Danny reached for the shampoo, but looked uncertain to how that was going to work. There was a need for Steve to comfort Danny as much as Danny needed to comfort him, so he silently fixed the problem. He wrapped his hands around Danny’s hips before gracefully sliding down onto his knees. It had silenced his companion for a few seconds as he processed the sight before him. Steve looked up at him with an encouraging smile before tilting his head back down. After a few seconds, Danny’s brain came back on line and he began to work in the shampoo as he continued to talk.
“What was I saying? Oh, yeah Cath. I thought it would be awkward or whatever, but it wasn’t,” Danny laughed his nervous hysterical laugh. “I guess she and I have a lot more in common then I thought. You know?”
As much as he wanted to process what Danny was saying, it was hard with ten firm square finger tips massaging into his scalp. Steve’s own hands began to flex against the wet skin it gripped. He slid his hands up and down Danny’s thighs, then growing bolder he moved them closer, but purposefully avoided Danny’s cock. He only got a few brief glimpses of it, and even now that it was right there in front of him he kept his head down so Danny could wash his hair. Still, it was a hard temptation not to take it in his mouth no matter how badly it would hurt.
“Um…that’s nice,” he groaned. “She’s a lot like you, a bit more sane. Just a bit.”
The more he talked about her the more Steve wanted him to shut up. He’d been dreaming of Danny’s voice since he left, but this was not a topic he wanted to discuss.
Danny worked in the conditioner as he spoke, but Steve’s roaming hands seemed to slow him down. Taking it a step further Steve moved his hands around to cup the large, firm mound of Danny’s ass. It was thicker and firmer than he dreamed it would. Steve brushed his nose against Danny’s stomach and felt the muscles clench in his abs. He nosed his way down to the indented line on the muscular curve between Danny’s stomach and hips. His tongue drug a small line up Danny’s skin, before he pressed his lips against the indentation. He was rewarded for his actions with a quiet moan from Danny and hand his fingers that now clutched Steve’s hair.
With his hair washed, he looked back up at Danny. His erection looked painfully hard and red against his taunt stomach. Danny was breathing heavily and his eyes were large and bright. Steve smiled up at those eyes that seemed so much larger now than normal. He loved those eyes and was proud of himself for finding a positive way to create that look in his lover’s eyes.
Another graceful motion and Steve was back on his feet looking down at Danny. He let his hands drag up Danny’s stomach and chest as he rose, but their eyes never lost contact.
“I don’t know how you could let her go,” he said quietly. “She is brave, tenacious, and stunning. A ten.”
Steve cupped Danny’s face in his hands, rubbing his thumbs over Danny’s cheeks. Steve’s heart was thudding nervously because of the out Danny was giving him. Danny was willing to be there for him tonight, but give him to Catherine if that would make him happy. It also angered him that Danny thought so little of himself. That he was perfectly fine with being second best. That’s all he was to Rachel not once, but twice. He didn’t want to think about the others in the past who may have done the same to Danny. All he could do was shake his head no and press his body closer.
Danny’s hands wrapped themselves around Steve’s wrists and smiled up at him. It was like he was looking for validation from Steve. This was going to be frustration because Steve wasn’t good about communicating deep feelings and Danny had been hurt so much that he need constant reassurance.
Panic and guilt hit him for thinking about being with Danny as anything other than positive right now. He almost lost this chance and it doesn’t matter what challenges they face in the future. Even if he has to declare his undying love in detail every day, he will just to make sure Danny knows how important he is to him.
He pulled Danny in and crushed their lips together. Their bodies were pressed tight together and it was evident that they were both aroused. It only intensified their kissing as they grappled to pull each other closer. The water was becoming cooler and finally helped part them.
“I bet you can’t remember the last time you stayed in the shower long enough to run out of hot water,” Danny laughed shutting it off.
They climbed out of the shower and toweled each other off. There was still a deep need inside both of them, even as they moved around each other calmly. Steve grabbed his tags still around Danny’s neck and lead him back into the bedroom.
“Don’t you think we should get dressed?” Danny asked, trying to play it cool.
They went back into the bedroom and Steve locked the door before returning to Danny. He strode back over to Danny exuding all the confidence in the world and reveled in the lustfully look in Danny’s eyes as he looked over his body again. This time he wasn’t cleaning or looking for injuries, he was just enjoying all of what was his. That’s what Steve wanted. Steve was Danny’s and vise versa, since day one. Danny slipped his arms around Steve’s waist as soon as he came close enough to reach. Steve squeezed Danny’s shoulders and rubbed their noses together lightly. He pulled his head away just enough too look in Danny’s eyes, while preparing himself for what he needed to do. Danny need to hear this even though he will be pissed.
“What’s wrong?” Danny asked concerned and self-conscious.
With one hand he cupped Danny’s face. The other took the tags and wrapped the chain around his fist bringing them closer.
Steve took a breath and in a rough dry voice he said, “On…ly Dan..no. Al…ways.”
“Babe, don’t you’re hurt.”
His protest was weak as was his resolve.
“I love…you,” he tried harder to make it sound clearer. “Mine.”
The pain in Steve’s throat was bad and burning, but it was worth it to see Danny smile. The brightness in his eyes was almost too much to take. Steve never thought he could make some one look that way at him.
“Yeah, all yours and you’re mine.”
They came back together kissing again pulling each other to the bed. Falling together, Danny was extra careful, but Steve didn’t want that. He wanted to feel Danny with him one hundred percent. Long arms and legs wrapped around Danny and put him on his back. He stretched over top of Danny, who moaned with pleasure as their body’s line up together. Steve kissed way lips down his jaw line to his neck, rutting himself gently against Danny.
“Steve, shit. Babe, I missed you,” Danny rambled beautifully. “I hated not telling you before you left. But I do love you. I love your, eyes, smile, body. I even love your crazy ass ways. Oh fuck…”
Danny trailed off as Steve rolled his hips against him. His lips moved down Danny’s neck to the his chest, while Danny’s hands tugged at Steve’s short brown hair. Just like the night he left Steve was working to memorize every inch an aspect of Danny. His tongue worked over Danny’s nipple, catching it between his teeth. A deep animalistic groan escaped his partner and strong fingers dug into his scalp.
Steve leaned up and slid off to Danny’s side, their eyes never leaving each other.
“Steve? You okay?” He said worried rolling on his side to mirror Steve.
Tilting his head forward a little, he whispered, “Sorry.”
Danny shook his head and pressed his hands against Steve’s bare chest.
“Don’t say that. Ever! Nothing to be sorry about. You kept your promise, you came home.”
He pulled Danny back to him and pushed his knee between Danny’s. Steve kissed him, licking his way into Danny’s mouth and explored every inch with his tongue. Danny got back with the program and wrapped his leg around Steve’s waist bringing him closer. One large hand drifted from Danny’s shoulder as Danny made a feast out of Steve’s neck. The hand drifted down his side and cupped that round full ass he’s been wanting to push into for many months. Danny pressed back into Steve’s hand and he took that as the encouragement he needed to trace his fingers teasingly along the crack before palming his way to Danny’s thigh. Adding further torturer, he slid his hand back up the length of his thigh, to the curve of his ass.
"Steve, babe,” he pleaded.
Danny had Steve’s face cupped in his hands kissing, panting, and moaning together. Steve’s hand made it’s way between their legs wrapping around the rock hardness of Danny’s cock. He rubbed his thumb over the head swirling the beads of precum that have already appeared. Steve was breathing just as hard as Danny, getting off of the pleasure the other man was feeling. His stormy eyes watch the face of his new lover. His mouth slack and eyes screwed tight shut as he rocks his body into Steve’s hand. Steve’s eyes drift down his body and watches his hand pump the thick shaft Danny’s been hiding in those tight slacks. He’s glorious and Steve could cum from watching Danny and listening to his soft string of curses, but he had other plans.
He captures Danny’s mouth again and pushed his tongue in. A full scale invasion of Danny’s senses. He dropped his hand from Danny cock and gentle glides over his balls before giving them a dug, just to hear Danny moan against his lips. The sound and the hot breath Danny emitted was intoxicating, and Steve was now hopelessly addicted. He returned his hand, but time wrapped both of their painfully hard cocks together. Bringing them as close together as he could he jacked both of them simultaneously. He watched pleased as Danny opened his eyes needing to see.
“Fuck, Steve,” Danny called out softly before he bit his lip.
Danny had to bring his lips back to Steve as they both rocked into Steve’s hand. The heat, the sounds, the smell was all too much, too visceral. In a flash, Steve wanted everything and he wanted it now. He wanted to be buried deep inside of Danny, to taste him and have him return the favor in kind.
“I want you to fuck me so bad,” Danny said in a rushed breath. “We don’t have what we need.”
Steve already had plans to resolve that later, but even if they had what they needed he couldn’t wait. The hand wrapped around their cocks worked harder. Twisting and firm in all the right places that made both men speechless as their foreheads and noses were pressed together, panting like wild dogs against each other’s mouths. Danny’s fingers dug into Steve’s shoulders as they rocked together. The feeling of their erections pressed together, liquids blending as Steve slide his hand up and down.
He removed is hand and wrapped it around Danny’s waist, squeezing his ass just on the good side of painful. He thrust them together suddenly, causing them both to gasp. Danny’s tightened his leg around Steve as they coordinated their movements. The rocked against each other. Their equally hard cocks sliding perfectly against each other pressed tightly together between the hard walls of sweat slick muscle.
“Look at me. I want to see you,” Danny mumbled.
Steve did as he was told and they kept their eyes on each other as they moved closer to the edge. Their movements were becoming more erratic as their climax neared.
“Steve…love you,” Danny groaned just before he released.
He held his breath and made a face of pure erotic euphoria Steve will never forget, as he feels the hot stream of come spilling over his hand. Steve followed a second behind him, with a gasping breathe and tremors that make his toes curl as his own come now flows over Danny’s skin.
The lie just trying to breath for a few moments before they look back into each others eyes. Swirling blue grey eyes under a hood of thick long lashes look over at endlessly deep and bright blue eyes. They smile and share lazy kisses. Their hands and legs tangled even more together. It was more than Steve could have ever dreamt for and he would kill to keep this feeling.
Danny’s hand cradled the side of Steve’s face. He let his thumb trace of the kiss swollen lips. Steve couldn’t take his eyes off Danny. He never wanted to look away again, afraid it would disappear again.
Danny’s quiet voice almost didn’t register with him when he asked, “Did I really guide you home?”
Steve nodded slowly and squeezed Danny’s back.
“You’re really not leaving anymore, with the Navy?”
A smile started to spread on Steve’s face as he nodded. He was willing to give Danny whatever he wanted if it helped him feel secure.
“Good. I don’t want anyone else to be your backup,” Danny said smugly, brushing their noses together. “Till death do us part, remember?”
They were both grinning like fools again and kissed. Steve reached up and took Danny’s left hand from his face, watching the confused expression on Danny’s face. He took Danny’s hand like he was going to kiss the top of it in a chivalrous manner, but instead he kissed the top of this left ring finger never letting his eyes leave Danny’s. He wanted the message to be clear. This was it and it was forever.
Danny took a deep breath and let it out in a slow as he watched Steve. He pressed his nose against Steve nudging his way back to his lips so he could kiss him hard.
Chapter 13: Ohana
He looked down at the long tan body stretched out over him. Intricate tattoos and sculpted muscles that were all now his territory exclusively. It was a gift from the heavens, of course Steve being home was a gift and Danny would forever be thankful for that.
When he woke up to the golden sun filtering through the drapes, Danny was pleased that he had slept in. Nine in the morning on a Sunday and he was just waking up in a warm soft bed with a warm hard body next to him. He pushed back his wild hair. The movement must have waken Steve, who stirred rolling from his back to his side. One long arm and leg wrapped around Danny’s body, and his head nestling into his chest. Danny grinned and held his arms up by his head until Steve has gotten comfortable. A week ago, Danny was at the lowest he had ever been in his life. Had it not been for Grace he didn’t know how he was going to get through it with his sanity intact. Now Steve has been home for six amazing, mind-blowing days and it’s been the highest Danny’s ever been. Every morning he had waken up like this, even those mornings he had to wake up early and go to work.
Danny draped his arms back down over Steve, running his fingers into the wet brown hair. This weekend, Danny had been able to sleep in and Steve would go for a swim or run, shower, then return to bed. The moment Danny would move Steve would be all over him instantly. This was a morning ritual that Danny could definitely live with.
He looked down at the long tan body stretched out over him. Intricate tattoos and sculpted muscles that were all now his territory exclusively. It was a gift from the heavens, of course Steve being home was a gift and Danny would forever be thankful for that.
“Morning,” Danny said softly, kissing the top of the damp head on his chest.
Steve’s voice as still rough and very quiet. He had made major improvements and the doctors were confident he would be able to fully recover. Naturally, Steve had told the doctor Danny did enough talking and yelling for the both of them.
“I guess we better get up so we can get things ready for your welcome home party.”
A groan emanated from the hulk and he snuggled deeper into Danny.
“We have a lot to do even thought everyone is bring food. Now that’s a Hawaiian tradition I can get behind. Plus, we need to pick up Grace from her sleep over. Rachel is letting us keep her tonight, remember? We need to take her to get the bedding you promised she could pick out.”
“Okay, but only for Gracie,” Steve sighed.
“Who knew you would be the type to laze about in bed. You must be twitterpated.”
“What?” Steve asked, leaning up to face him.
"It’s from Bambi. It’s better, yet not inaccurate, than saying I’ve over sexed you.”
“I could never be over sexed by you, babe. I think it’s become an addiction.”
“As long as you keep coming back for more,” Danny smiled up at him getting the same bright smile in return.
"Always, babe,” he kissed Danny’s chest. “I think I need another hit.”
“Well, let me help you with that.”
Steve’s lips had just made it to Danny’s neck when a cell phone began to ring. Both men groaned in frustration, but Danny grabbed the phone.
“Hey, Monkey,” Danny answered. “Yes. I’m picking you up in a few hours…Really? Oh okay. No, don’t call mommy I’ll be right over.”
His tone was calm, but the words he said had Steve sitting up and alert now. All thoughts of morning sex were replaced with concern. He started to reach for his pants when Danny hung up the phone.
"Gracie, okay?” Steve asked.
“She’s fine. The slumber party got interrupted early because the girl’s mother is going into labor. Their oldest son is watching them till the kids can be picked up. We need to go get our girl.”
Danny slid off the bed and began to shuffle his way to the bathroom when he noticed the apparent lack of movement coming from behind him. He turned to see Steve looking up at him with an apprehensive smile.
“You said ‘our’,” Steve said quietly pulling up his jeans. “Like she was mine too.”
With a sigh and a stretch, he walked back over to Steve and kissed him lightly.
“I know what I said. She loves you like a dad anyway and I don’t feel comfortable sleeping with someone she calls Uncle.”
The men hurried to collect Grace. She helped them get the house ready for their guests, staying close to Steve’s side. Steve would often look to Danny worried that he was over stepping his bounds, but Danny would always wave him off. He was more than happy to see the two people he love the most in this world together.
“Danno!” Grace said bounding into the kitchen with Steve trailing behind. “Kamekona just called. He and Max are on their way over to start the food.”
Danny was mixing up the second of two large pitchers of Tea to go with the wine and beer that was already sitting in the fridge.
“Good. I talked to Aunt Catherine and Charlie Fong, you remember him?” Danny asked and she nodded. “They are getting the ‘you know what’.”
“What’s the ‘you know what’?” Steve ask curiously.
“It’s a secret,” Grace beamed up at him. “And it’s my idea.”
“Your idea, but I executed it.”
“So now you two are keeping secrets from me, huh?” Steve asked.
“It’s not a bad one, it’s a good one and you’ll find out soon enough. Patience,” Grace said.
There was no stopping Danny from laughing at that. He loved how much his daughter sounded like him and how she could put Steve in his place better than he could.
“Patience,” Steve growled before picking the girl up and putting her over his shoulder. “I know ways to make you talk.”
“Never!” she giggled.
“Sit the child down on island, Steven,” Danny ordered. “We need to share a surprise with her.”
“Oh yeah,” Steve plopped Grace down on the island. “We are selling you to the gypsies.”
“You are not!” she continued to laugh.
“We’re not?” Steve asked Danny perplexed.
“No, you animal,” Danny smiled, before standing beside Steve in front of Grace. “Grace, honey, Steve and I have something we want to talk to you about. First of all, I don’t think you should call Steve your uncle anymore. I'm not sure what to call him yet, but we will get to that later.”
Her face immediately dropped and she looked like she had been punished.
“Why?” her sad brown eyes looking up at Steve.
He could see his partner faltering under the stare of his daughter, so he needed to make this quick.
“Because, baby. Steve isn’t going to be just your uncle anymore. You see, I kinda like Steve…a lot and he likes me a lot too.”
“Are you in love?” She asked.
“Yes,” Steve said quietly putting his arm around Danny. “Is that okay? That I share your Danno with you?”
She nodded brightly at him, “Are we still going to live here?”
“That’s the other thing I wanted to talk to you about. I know it seems sudden, but yeah we are going to live here with Steve. How do you feel about that? About me having a boyfriend?”
“It’s great,” She smiled. “Steve makes us happy and I love him and he has a private beach.”
Both men laughed and hugged the small girl. They had already spoken to Rachel and Stan about this and things had been great between the four of them since Steve had returned home. Danny knew that life wouldn’t always be this warm and fuzzy, not in his line of work, but he’s learned to hold on to each day like it was his last.
Later in the afternoon, Kamekona and Max were grilling away with Steve observing nervously. Danny and Chin were caring out coolers filled with beer and ice for the drinks. Kono and Adam had just finished setting up the couple tables and chairs needed to fit everyone. They were sitting on either side of Grace at one of the tables. Mary and Mamo came from inside with the pitchers of tea.
“Looks like we got almost everything,” Mamo said before taking a seat.
“It’s smells great out here,” Mary announced getting a grin from Kamekona. “Steve stop hovering.”
He looked back to Grace who was watching Adam fold paper into an origami swan. He and Kono were teaching his daughter and she seemed enthralled. He was happy she was giving Steve a break for a few minutes. Not that Steve mined, but Danny was worried that it would become a bit overwhelming.
“Hey, you two look awful comfortable with a keiki,” Danny called out.
The pair looked up and blushed before exchanging their own private glance.
“Just passing on an old art,” Adam said.
“By all means. She loves all art,” Danny said grabbing a beer.
He saw that Steve was watching him with a curious look. Danny raised his beer to him before taking a long drink.
“Make a path!” Catherine called out from the kitchen.
She and Charlie appeared carrying a large cake box outside. Mary made them a spot on the food table. They sat it down carefully, and everyone gathered around. Grace was off like a shot and practically pounced Steve.
“It’s my surprise!”
Catherine opened the lid to reveal a large cake that had a picture in edible icing on it. Steve’s long arm held the girl close her. It was the image he had clung to while he was away. The same picture of Danny, Grace, and himself. The words piped on in icing said, ‘Welcome Home Big Kahuna’.
“Thank you for getting that,” Danny said, slapping Charlie on the back.
"No problem,” he said. “Thanks for sending the help.”
Charlie smiled sweetly up at Catherine who seemed genuinely bashful. It had to be an odd situation given her past with Steve and everyone in the room, but Danny could see she was taken by the Asian man.
“I knew I could trust her with a job like this,” Danny winked to her.
“It was a very good idea, Grace,” Catherine praised.
“You like it, Steve?” Grace urged Steve who had not said anything yet. “It’s butter-cream icing, too. You‘re favorite.”
He sucked in a breathe of air, getting better again at hiding his emotions again.
"It’s the best surprise ever, sweetheart. I love it, I love butter cream, and I love you, too. ”
He knelt down and hugged the little girl and kissed on the cheek.
“I love you, too.”
“Gracie, let’s take some pictures of the cake before Steve eats it all,” Mary smiled.
Steve got up and clapped Charlie on the back before giving Catherine a kiss on a cheek. That was his way of communicating his thanks and way of putting them at ease with his approval.
“Hey, sorry I’m late,” Billy said walking outside only to trip over the cooler.
She tried to catch herself, but stumbled forward into Chin’s agile arms. He had lunged for her as soon as he saw her hit the cooler. She had her arms around his neck and his were around her waist. He hand her bent down like a dancer who had just dipped his partner.
“You, okay?” Chin asked, making no attempt to move them.
Her eyes were fixed on the man above her and Danny hide a smile by drinking from his bottle.
“Yeah, just making a jackass out of myself,” she laughed nervously. “Oh, yeah and everyone was here to see it. Hi!”
Chin put her back to her feet and smiled at the young woman.
“It’s okay, Danny put that a little too close to the door,” Chin explained.
“Yeah, I’m not coordinated. Hard to believe I saved a SEAL, huh?” She laughed nervously again and looked for Steve. “I need a beer. Definitely.”
Chin pulled one out from the cooler before pushing it away from the door with his foot.
“There you are,” he smiled. “I’m Chin Ho Kelly. I work with Steve.”
“Billy,” she smiled back. “Thanks for not letting me face plant and for the beer.”
“Everyone,” Steve said in a rough voice. “This is Billy. The lady who helped bring me home. Billy this is everyone.”
They went through the introductions and everyone was anxious to talk to the hero. Steve heard a pop and whoosh of flames from the grill and was quick to it.
"What is going on?” Steve asked, with Danny right behind him.
“It’s culinary art. I’m trying to pass it on to the good doctor.”
“Yes, he is teaching a wealth of valuable cooking skills that will help me with the ladies,” Max smiled slyly.
“Ladies love a good cook,” the big man said.
“Kahuna is lolo. You guys keep up the good work,” Danny said, before pulling on Steve’s arm.
“Just don’t burn my place down, not now when I have my own family living with me.”
There was a collective awe and good natured laughs from everyone at Steve’s declaration. Danny just rolled his eyes and waved them off.
“Yes, yes, he’s Lieutenant Commander Teddy Bear, I know,” Danny joked, pulling Steve inside the house.
Everyone went back to their conversations as Danny started to grab the extra napkins he had came in the house for.
"So when did you start medaling in our friends and ex’s love lives?” Steve asked from behind him.
“I don’t know what you mean, Steven. I was in charge of them for a while so I may be pointing them in the right direction, but not meddling. Besides, I didn’t even have to use my brilliant plan for Billy and Chin. My ill place cooler did that for me.”
He was smiling pleased with himself as he gather the last of the items need, but once his words ended he felt the sudden rush of Steve pressed up against his back. Strong hands gripped his arms and a hot breath brushed against his left ear.
“Along with meddling in personal lives, you seem to have starting speaking more like a native.”
“You like that, huh?”
Danny teased by pressed his backside against Steve’s front and the grip on his biceps got tighter.
“Say something else,” Steve ordered in his ear.
“Aloha au ia 'oe, big kahuna,” Danny said in a low rumbling voice.
Steve groaned dropping his head on Danny’s shoulder while his hands slipped under his shirt.
“I love you, too and you're killing me here,” Steve said in between kisses on Danny’s neck. “Later, after we take Grace back...”
There was a knock at the door that broke off their chain of thought. It was weird because everyone Danny had invited was there. He wanted to keep the party to a small intimate group. The knock happened again and louder this time. They both walked to the front door to see who their next guest was. Danny looked out the window and was shocked by who he saw. He turned to Steve who was going for the door. That left Danny with little time, so he jumped in front of him.
“Let me,” Danny said. “And please don’t freak out.”
There was a stern and confused look on Steve’s face and Danny said a silent prayer. He opened the door to find Josh standing behind it, holding a bottle of wine. The sight made Danny feel so guilty. He had been dishonest to Josh from the start, because he was in love with Steve. Then he pushed Josh away and used him as his punching bag when Steve was missing. After all that Josh offered his support and even came to the memorial service.
“Hey, Josh,” Danny said, feeling Steve standing possessively pressed against his back.
“Hey, Danny. Steve, it’s really good to see you.”
“Come in,” Danny offered.
He stepped inside and was definitely wary of Steve.
“I’m not going to stay. I know you’re have a family thing. Catherine told me.”
“You and Catherine are good friends now?” Danny asked.
“Yeah,” Josh said, looking away.
There was a definite connection the two shared that may be a little too embarrassing for Josh to reveal aloud, but Danny knew. The pair had been dumped by two guys who were now a couple. He wouldn’t put it past Catherine to have reached out to Josh in a show of support. Danny really like Catherine.
“I just wanted to come over and bring this,” he held out the wine to Steve. “I know it’s not much, but I just wanted to say I’m glad you’re okay. Danny was a mess, he tried to hide it, but…I’m glad you guys are together. It just makes sense that way.”
In a shocking display, Steve reached out his hand to Josh. He seemed to be just as surprised, but shook Steve’s hand.
"Thanks for being there for him. I heard he was a handful for you,” Steve said.
“No need to thank me.”
“Yeah, I’m sorry, Josh. For everything. I put you in a bad spot and just kept making it worse.”
Danny’s words were earnest and hopeful that he would be forgiven. It was hard for him to admit something like that and Steve knew it. In a supportive move, he wrapped an arm around Danny’s shoulders.
“Don’t apologize,” Josh urged. “It was a tough situation and no one acts like themselves during a time like that. I just hope we can all be friends.”
“Definitely,” Danny smiled.
With that they said their goodbyes and Steve and Danny were left alone in the living room. The bottle of wine had been sat down on the coffee table. They stood there for a few moments composing themselves before they would return to the back yard.
“You okay?” Steve asked.
“Yeah, just surprised in a good way. Josh doesn’t hate me for how I acted and you didn’t punch him in the face. Not how I saw this going down.”
Steve enveloped him in his arms and kissed his temple, “Let’s get back to our family, huh?”
“Yeah, our family.”
“Danno…you deserve this. I know that you think you don’t and you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop and something to go wrong, but it’s not like that. You deserve this happiness more than anyone. I’m going to make sure you know that ever single day for the rest of our lives.”
“Promise?” Danny asked quietly.
They held each other a little tighter before exchanged a few deep heart felt kisses. Arms still draped around one another they headed back out to their guests, their ohana. They would have their good days and their share of bad, but Danny wasn’t going to think about that now. He was just going to hold on to the words Steve had said and enjoy the time he had with the ones he has come to love here in Hawaii.