I’m sorry I couldn’t be there in person to tell you this but I need to find Joe White.
I think he lied to me about the identity of Shelburn and I need to get the truth. Shelburn is the real reason my father was murdered and maybe even my mother and until I get some answers I can’t do this job right.
Danno, I’m gonna need you to hold down the fort for awhile.
I’ll be in touch
You were my lesson I had to learn
That first day, Danny was in shock. Looking back on it, he's surprised he was even able to function, let alone lead the team. He'd had run on autopilot, from comforting the victim's mother to placating Kamekona, to making this right for Max, a friend. Not the closest (not like he and Steve should be) but nonetheless, a friend that asked.
It all caught up to him, when he'd been waiting for his latest comfort food substitute—wannabe shrimp scampi—and Chin asked about Steve. Sure, he managed to fire off a witty remark with ease, but he felt the unease build in the pit of his stomach. It was almost enough to skip their celebratory meal, but Kamekona was coming with the food and his Ma told him never to be wasteful if he can help it.
So it's not until after, not until he assured Chin and Kono that he was fine and that they did great—cause they did, dammit—and told them that just because the big kahuna's gone doesn't mean Danny won't run a tight ship. They had laughed and it helped, because he could still rely on them, at least for now. As he headed back to his car, that uneasy feeling suddenly hit him and he barely managed to bring up Steve's number (not like his call log doesn't consist of Steve's number exclusively) to hit call before the nausea hit. It hadn't been that long but considering how long it was since he last saw Steve, it was enough that he's worried and pissed that there hadn't been word yet from the man. But all he got was his voicemail, again. The nausea didn't go away, so it took Danny much longer than he liked to start the car and head home.
Despite his worrying, Danny managed to conk out as soon as his head hit the pillow. The next day, a sense of calm waved over him. It was temporary, for as soon as he got to HQ and saw the shuttered door of Steve's office... Well, he was glad he was the only one in, having decided to get started early on the paperwork and instead... Everything looked normal by the time the other two came in, even if his wastebasket was now full of a shattered something, and before Kono can even complain about being foisted with the paperwork, a new case had come in.
While the second day was both calming and angering, it was the third day that really did Danny in. A lull in the new case, as there'd been nothing exciting about stakeouts (especially alone since they were spread thin for once), and Danny had plenty of time to just think. And leave messages. Keeping vigilant to the task at hand, he tried to pinpoint what pissed him off most about Steve's departure and tried not to think too hard on why it was also ached so damn much. He hadn't felt this way since Matty and he didn't want to begin to analyze what that could mean. Luckily, the stakeout didn't last much longer and he was called into action again, something he could do without much thought.
After that, he fell into a relatively easy routine—it wasn't like it was the first time he'd taken over 5-0 (like when Steve was off on a boat with Catherine for a week). With the simple cases they get sometimes, and the hanging out afterwards, he nearly filled Steve's voicemail and text inbox with messages upon messages. It's the only catharsis he got outside of his daughter during the whole matter. They varied from meaningless threats to random rants to catching Steve up with the Gang and promises of bodily harm if Steve were to come back dead or worse. He does make do on some of his threats, moved back into Steve's to house-sit, made it a disaster zone, had the dog sleep in his bed again, and ate as many malasadas as he wanted, whenever and wherever in the house.
A few weeks had gone by before he finally heard back from Steve. It irked Danny that it was via text, a simple So close, almost got him. But Danny had no idea if the him is Wo Fat or Shelburn or even Joe. Chin and Kono are relieved with the news, and Chin must've seen something on Danny's face because first chance he got, they were out on the town, getting drunk (with Malia's permission of course). And it was nice, real nice. Danny felt more like himself, a bit of the weight lifted knowing that at least Steve's still fuckin' alive and kicking and having the camaraderie of a friend at his back. So they kept on keeping on. Until...
That case. That fuckin' smallpox case... He thought he had it under control, the rage, the despair, the betrayal, but then he got to see the other side of it. (It's easy to pretend everything's okay when you work in a pineapple-shaped bubble). There was a cop and SEAL, just as an unlikely pair as him and Steve but they work. They work so much better than... It was amazing and refreshing to know that crazy is a SEAL trademark, and that Steve doesn't do it solely to get on Danny's nerves.
Sure, he got along with Deeks best of all, and man did he miss someone he could rapid fire with (not that he doesn't miss the way he and Steve banter but it's not the same), and of course all the amenities that the mainland had to offer even if LA's just as weird as Hawaii. He honestly thought, even with the crazy and deadly mission him and Chin were on (at least they had each others backs), that a break from the islands would be good for him, would be like a recharge.
But no. Because he saw Kensi and Deeks, what they're on the verge of... Then there's Sam and G, and even if that Super SEAL isn't nearly as insane or neanderthal as his Super SEAL, it hurt. It hurt in more ways than he realized. And there's nothing he could do about it but focus on the case, the situation at hand. Because that was so much bigger than his petty pride and feelings and none of it would matter if they couldn't get a handle on the case. So he focused, 'cause he's a damn good detective and he had Chin by his side and the others and it worked for them. This time.
On the plane ride home, he got a voicemail from Rachel. He wasn't surprised with the message—it was bandied back and forth this might happen but he'd hope Rachel (or Stan) would put it off for another year. But things don't tend to go his way. Or... This is exactly what he needed and a plan began to form in his mind. He had no idea how much longer Steve would be, and if he's lucky (or unlucky) the infuriating man could already be back in Hawaii waiting for them. If he was, well Danny'd have to modify the plans a bit, but he would not be swayed.
With the downtime coming from that case, Danny spent most of it with Gracie, enjoying the light of his life, but he did take some time to work out his plan. One aspect of his plan was harder to implement, not finding someone else at HPD that was up to the task. Until later.
A Noelani Suon, who recently transferred from one of the other islands. He didn't find out about her until 5-0's in the middle of another case, not too dangerous but full of dead ends. Her help was invaluable and as soon as he shuffled off his paperwork to Kono ("You'll get yours, brah!") he tracked down Officer Suon, who should've been Detective long ago, and gave her an offer she couldn't refuse. Except she did. At first.
"With all due respect, Detective Williams, I'm not a publicity hound."
Danny laughed. "You think we want to be in the public eye all the time? Well McGarrett, who knows but, no. The media likes to show things way out of proportion."
She raised an eyebrow at him. "So you don't regularly blow up warehouses?"
He pondered, sticking out his lower lip as his head cocked to the side. "Well... Not regularly no. But we do what's necessary. And right now, we're one short and we really could use someone with your skillset."
This time, Suon laughed. "I'm glad someone's noticed. But you won't be one short for long. Surely Commander McGarrett will-—"
He raised his hand to stop her. "Doesn't matter when he comes back, as we're still going to need someone else. But if you don't want to help the Governor's task force to continue saving the islands from all manners of evil-doing—"
"Okay. Okay, when you put it like that. Trial basis. See if you guys can handle someone like me."
Danny beamed. "Oh I'm sure you're gonna get along great with Kono."
They were wary at first, not to Officer Suon's face of course, but after, and Kono did quickly get along with the older woman. Danny reassured them that it was needed. He didn't fill them in on his plans yet, was still getting his ducks in a row. Chin apparently noticed the wariness in Danny and probably how more subdued Danny had become since getting back from LA.
How did Danny know this? Chin tried talking to Danny about it, after their now ritual drink after work. He wanted to know if there was a bigger reason for bringing in someone else. Danny gave him half-truths: worry for McGarrett (he'd been McGarrett for a while, at least publicly), strain of leadership even if he's a natural at it, and tension with Rachel. That one, more a lie than the others, because Gracie had always wanted this and he wouldn't begrudge her the opportunity. At least this time, Rachel gave him ample time to prepare. Whatever he said to Chin that night must've worked for the short run, as he'd not asked again or questioned about the new recruit.
It felt like more cases had gone by than normal, that it'd been more than a month and a half since McGarrett left. While there had only been a few extremely dangerous or dragged out ones, and he didn't know how they'd have done it without Suon, Danny was still exhausted. He was running on autopilot again. The routine was mostly the same, only some new additions, like using his contacts (cause he too has contacts, he didn't get as good as he got in Jersey without a few higher up ones), to track what he believed was Steve traipsing around East Asia and Japan. There's also cleaning, lots of cleaning. And packing.
But there was one thing Danny did stop doing, and only after he got another text from McGarrett. Two words this time: Almost done. ("Yeah, buddy? I am too.") He stopped trying to contact the man. No more voicemails (surprisingly never once having gotten the 'inbox too full' message), or texts. A small part of him hoped that would spur McGarrett to actually call his partner but he shoved that hope down with the rest of what he refused to think about for now.
With a lull in casework, mostly admin work and waiting for trials to start for testimony, Danny took the opportunity to put his office in order, what he had put off doing until last. Too bad Kono had gotten a chance to corner him that morning, as she was fresh from the waves and had wanted to take advantage of the HQ showers before anyone else.
"I thought we were ohana." Her voice cracking nearly killed him.
"W-what? Of course we are! Kono, has the seawater finally eroded your brain? Are you a surfer zombie now? This is why I don't want—"
She shoved him hard. "Then why are you doing all this?! Why are you qui—"
He shook his head. "I'm not. It's not like that. Listen," Danny pulled her close, not caring for the sand getting all over him, and gave her a reassuring hug. "I know I shouldn't have snuck around about this, but I wasn't going to leave like... When the others come in, I'll explain, okay?"
Kono nodded, hugging back briefly before she pulled away slowly, and gave him one of her rare soft smiles. "Okay. And if I don't like it, I get to kick your ass. Boss."
Danny chuckled, tucking his hands in his pockets. "You got it."
Of course they understood. Surprisingly even Noelani, and Danny wondered if there was a story as to why. If she survives McGarrett, and he's positive she will, maybe he'll one day find out. It's not a permanent situation, just a needed one. He had the epiphany when he first read the letter, but it was too much at once and then with the distractions of the cases, well you couldn't begrudge a guy for burying it all and acting like it didn't happen. He knew it would come roaring back, even before LA, he just didn't expect the slow burning, ever consuming, build of it. That it would simmer beneath the surface until it just had to get out. But not here.
No, Danny wasn't going to give Steven the satisfaction. It may have been petty, and knowing the crazy Super SEAL as well as he did (better than he knew his own family it would seem), it was this side of cruel, but the world knew that a silent, calm Daniel Williams was far worse than him firing off his mouth and throwing his fists around. He thought this way, maybe he'd be listened to for once.
It was almost five days since that last text when Danny's instincts told him it was now or never. He had a damn good feeling Steven would be home, prize won, by the end of the week. He gave his assurances to Chin, thanked Noelani for staying on, and convinced both Kono and Max that no parties were needed. Finally, everything was in place, and he let the calm settle in him again, and for the first time since the letter, he was his own man again.
Even before the whole ordeal, Steve was a huge bundle of knots, and it only finally started to loosen the closer and closer they got to Hawaii, to home. He reflected back, briefly, as watching Wo Fat was a full time job, and he was still in amazement that it had been nearly two months that he was gone. It was weeks of searching for Joe and Shelburn and Wo Fat, having all the pieces falling together, of keeping the peace and keeping them from being cut into pieces and making sense of it all. Of finally being able to make sense of the shambles that was his childhood, of what his parents had sacrificed, and in turn what he and Mary had to sacrifice.
He didn't know how big the burden was, how long he had carried it—way before his father's murder—until now, with it almost fully gone. It would be completely done soon and then he could focus on 5-0 and embrace the fact that he had a new life, a better life now.
What had transpired when he left Danno the letter had been an adrenaline rush of the best and worst kind. A part of him did long for his team, for backup that he could rely on, but he needed to do this alone. This was his battle, not theirs, and they'd already sacrificed so much for him. He couldn't risk them getting hurt, couldn't risk the possibility of losing Danny when he could barely keep himself from being lost. He's grateful he didn't need to be rescued again, though it was a near thing with the Yakuza a few times.
But now he's nearly home, Wo Fat in tow, Joe tying up loose ends, and case pretty much closed. He could go back to his ohana and start fresh. He's nervous, a happy kind of nervous though, as he went through the texts and voicemails again, saving a few and deleting others. Danny's voice was what kept him going through the ordeal, it was like a promise, a light at the end of the tunnel. When things were going sideways and beyond, he could always count on a rant or a threat, and it's hard to hold back the goofy grin of waiting to see just how messed up his house is.
It'll be worth it, he thought to himself. He'd apologize to Danny in every way possible, make it up to his partner and friend, and make it up to the rest too, already could feel the ache of a 'love-tap' from Kono on his jaw. His inner voice, one that sounded very much like Danno, reminds him how fucked up it is that he's looking forward to a dressing down from his team, but it's a type of normal he could deal with, that he's been wanting for much longer.
All he's gotta do is sign the papers as soon as they land, and throw Wo Fat into the 5-0 jails, as he's still unsure what kind of power Wo Fat holds on the island but he can trust his team. He debated going home right after, cleaning up and seeing the damage Danny and the dog have done, but he's positive his team, his ohana, was still at HQ at this hour. He needed to see them, to make sure it's real, that he really was home.
The laughter he hears from the bullpen was like a wave of relief rolling over him. He walked in, all 'smooth dog' and a greeting on his lips when Kono noticed him first and bounds into him. He almost didn't notice the distinct lack of a short blond and the addition of another woman as Kono tries to squeeze the life out of him. His gut tells him something was seriously wrong, but he tried to push it down, telling himself it's only remnants of the mission.
"Don't tell me you just came in, brah, we would've picked you up," Chin says as he clapped Steve on the back while Kono reluctantly allows Steve to breathe again.
Steve smiled at him, confusion easily written on his face. "Wanted to surprise you guys. Are we on a case?" he asked, not so subtly nodding towards the new-to-him person in the room.
The female office came forward and shook his hand while introducing herself. "Officer Noelani Suon. Detective Williams recruited me for 5-0, sir. Pleasure to finally meet you."
He grinned at her strong grip as he shook back, nodding, though his confusion still showed. "The pleasure's mine, but I've gotta say, I'm a bit surprised that Danny thought we needed a fresh face on our team. Where is he anyways?"
Chin and Kono looked at each other in shock before turning back toward Steve.
"Boss didn't tell you?" Kono asked, then shook her head. "I mean other boss, Danny," she added with a bit of a laugh.
Noelani stepped back, apparently understanding the situation as far as he could tell, even if Steve didn't. He crossed his arms. "He ranted at me via voice and text, yeah. But nothing about this. Guys, what's going on? Is he alright?"
Panic sets in immediately at the stunned silence and non-response of his team. He was about to shout at them when Kono swears under her breath.
"Sorry boss, he told us he told you. At least a message or something."
Frustrated, Steve whips his hand around. "Obviously that was a lie. Last message I got from him was almost a week ago."
"And that didn't worry you?" Suon asked, and damn, it should have. Even if Steve did have the excuse of being under fire and finishing off what Wo Fat had started.
Chin placed his hand on his arm, grounding him. "He's on extended leave, officially. Flew back to the mainland, Jersey I'm guessing but he didn't actually say."
Steve blinked at him. "Officially? Jersey?" He couldn't process the fact that Danny was gone, had left. No, he wouldn't just do that, Steve thought.
Kono looked upwards as she sighed. "Officially, yes, he's on leave. Unofficially... We're not sure when he's coming back to Hawaii and if he'll be coming back to 5-0. But he promised..."
Steve was already shaking his head, trying to focus on breathing and stamping down the panic that was rising. Kono's voice seemed distant, Chin's touch not even there. He swiftly turned around and went to Danny's office, the ringing in his ears growing louder as he slammed open the door. It wasn't exactly empty, but that didn't give him any hope. Everything looked to be boxed up in the corner, desk and shelves cleaned off, dust cover over the leather couch.
"Did he say why? What about Grace? He wouldn't dare—Is there something wrong with—" He can barely get the words out, almost ashamed at how his voice was cracking as he braced the door frame, not able to look at his team.
"Grace is fine." Steve could feel Chin's presence behind him, but Chin didn't try to touch Steve again. "Better than fine. She's in London visiting her relatives for the summer."
The amount of relief from hearing that Grace is okay isn't enough against the panic and worry of where Danno was, how he was coping not seeing his daughter for at least three months straight and why he thought it was best to up and leave. This obviously wasn't last minute. It had to have taken time for Danny to plan all this, to even bring in a new member to the team. Either Danny thought Steve was going to be gone much longer or maybe he wasn't planning on coming back.
"—McGarrett!" Chin's voice cut through the ringing and Steve's thoughts. Startled, he finally turned around, but unable to school his face into anything neutral.
"Sorry, what?" He tried to subtly get his breathing together, to not show how much this was affecting him, even if it seemed too late.
"What happened to Shelburn and all that? I figure if you're home now...?" Leave it to Chin to try to change the subject to something more palatable.
Steve nodded, quickly explaining to the team what had gone on, where Wo Fat now was. Both Kono and Suon went to the table to ensure that was still the case, as everyone knew how slippery the man could be. "It's all pretty much taken care of now," Steve said absentmindedly, going to his own office, and dismayed that it looked exactly as he left it.
There's no letter either, as he'd half hoped there would be. It still didn't seem real to him, the sudden lack of Danny everywhere. He couldn't even understand how his team was so calm about it. They wanted to know more about his personal mission and how he was doing since, while he did take time to see to a medic, he still looked pretty beaten up. But all his mind could wrap around was that Danny was not here.
Shaking his head, he began to stride out of the office, as he was not going to run. "Later guys, promise. I gotta find Danno."
He barely registered Kono calling out for him, calling out that he was too late.
It's not too hard to commandeer a squad car and he took advantage of the lights and horns to drive to Danny's latest hellhole of a living situation. Even though he's called Danny's phone five times by the time he arrived, he's still shocked in hearing: This number has been discontinued. New people have already moved in and the building admin confirmed that 'Mr. Williams had moved out over a week ago.'
He ignored his phone, Chin constantly calling, and took several deep breaths as he settled back behind the wheel. Maybe it's all an elaborate prank, he desperately thought. He deserved it after all. Maybe Danny's moved in to my place. Would make sense financially and we could try being housemates again, at least for a little while. That thought calmed him enough to try and drive again. Although this time he took care to get to his house. He wanted to delay the inevitable, not wanting to trust his gut this time, or how familiar this feeling was. The house was dark, though it usually is even when he's there.
Steve went through the front door this time, a small spark of hope that he hadn't ruined the best thing in his life. But, it seemed like he had. His house is pristine, even more so than when he left it. He walked through and couldn't find a single trace of Danny or the stupid dog. This was Danny's statement. After all the threats and rants left, it was what was unsaid that Steve never understood. The air rushed out of him and he falls to his knees in the living room. For once, Danny's right and the waves outside were deafening.
It'll be much later when he finds the letter, but even that only worsens the pain he feels at this moment. Gutted, empty. And he's never felt more alone or lost.
There's no greater power, than the power of...