Mary hated LA, even though she loved her aunt, Mom's older sister Kate. She missed Mom, she missed their house and their beach and her school and her friends. Some days, she even let herself miss Dad, a bit.
More than anything, though, she missed Steve, which was weird, because he called her every Sunday evening. She didn't understand what he was doing at military school, how he could like it as much as he said he did. And, worse, he didn't seem to understand her any more – he sounded so disapproving, like Dad on his worst days, and nothing at all like her big brother who'd given her a hug after Dad caught her kissing another girl.
"You have to be more careful," he'd whispered.
"What, like you?" she'd asked. "I know you think Dad's partner's hot."
He'd blushed bright red, the way he did when Officer Kelly spoke to him. "You can't tell anyone."
"I wouldn't, ever," she'd promised.
Mary knew Dad didn't send them away because he caught her kissing a girl, but sometimes she couldn't stop thinking it. Sometimes, she wondered if Steve thought it as well.
Joe didn't ever seek Steve out at school, which meant that, when Steve walked out of the locker room and found Joe waiting for him, he stupidly said, "Who died?"
Joe pushed away from the wall and started walking down the corridor, the wrong direction for Steve's dorm. "No-one died. Your father called me, your aunt called him. Apparently, Mary's run away."
"Run away," Steve echoed. He'd talked to her a few days ago, and she hadn't said anything. Told him. "She likes it with Aunt Kate, why would she do that?"
"Your father seemed to think she might try to get back to Hawaii." Joe didn't sound like he agreed, which was good.
"She couldn't afford that. Aunt Kate doesn't let her have a job." Steve stopped, trying to think. Maybe she'd met someone? She talked about her new friends, how they liked to party, maybe she'd gone somewhere with them?
Steve tried not to think about what she might be doing in LA that she didn't want Aunt Kate to know about.
"Anyway," Joe said, "If she does contact you, I need you to promise to tell me."
"Sure," Steve promised.
Saturday was a visitor day, like Steve had said it was, parents and kids wandering around the campus. Mary still felt out of place in her jeans and T-shirt, her battered duffel bag over one shoulder. Steve didn't write letters, but Aunt Kate had his dorm written in her address book; the page was soft now, from being tucked into Mary's pocket, and pulled out frequently.
She pulled it out again, checked the name, and followed the small signposts pointing her through the campus.
She worried again, approaching the door, that it might be locked, but when she turned the handle, it opened for her. The corridor was quiet, her shoes squeaking on the wooden floors. Most of the doors into the rooms were closed, and she didn't dare do more than glance sideways through the ones that were open. Shared rooms, like Steve had said, two beds in each.
Mary took the stairs to the first floor, trying not to think about what she'd do if Steve wasn't in his room. He'd probably gone swimming or running or something, but maybe she could pick the lock – Robbie had taught her the basics a couple of weeks ago, how hard could it be? And she'd seen a sign for the pool, she was pretty sure, she could find her way back, meet him –
The last thing she expected was to push open the door, already ajar, and find Steve sitting on his bed, back against the wall, pressed close against another boy, his head against the other boy's shoulder.
For a stupid moment, all she could think was that Steve looked really tired, the way he'd looked at Mom's funeral when he'd held her hand so tight it had hurt.
Then Steve sprang away from the other boy, lurching towards her like he'd tripped over his own feet in the process, grabbing for her. "What are you doing here, Mary? Uncle Joe told me you ran away, how did you even get here?"
"Good to see you too, big brother," Mary started, but then Steve was pulling her close and hugging her tight, and she forgot about the rest of what she'd meant to say, forgot about running away and the other boy Steve had been cuddling with, because Steve was there.
"So, that's your sister," Mike said, after Aunt Kate had driven up to get Mary, and packed her in the car with so many hugs for the two of them that Steve wanted to beg to go with them.
"She seems nice," Mike added uncertainly. Steve, sitting at his desk, could feel Mike watching him.
"She's cool," he said.
Mike laughed. "She's something, all right. You know Anna, in G Hall? Told me Mary asked for her number."
"She does that," Steve said. She'd said, hugging him one last time, that Mike was cute, and if Steve didn't want him...
"Hey," Mike said quietly, suddenly much closer to Steve. "I'd miss her too."
Steve leaned back against Mike and closed his eyes. Trouble was, Steve did want him.
"So, 'kinda surf buddies'?"
Steve, lying on his back with his eyes closed, said, "Shut up, Mare," without looking at her. Not that he needed to – he could feel her grin, knowing and a little drunk from the sun and the bottle of wine they'd shared over the course of her first evening back in Oahu, this time without arrest for diamond smuggling.
"I tell you about my love life," Mary complained, throwing herself down into the sand next to Steve.
"Though I wish you wouldn't," Steve agreed. "I don't want to talk about it."
"Now I know there's something worth hearing about. Come on, spill."
Steve meant to say there's nothing to tell. He meant to say lets talk about something else, drop it. What he actually said was, "It's over, he broke it off."
"What?" Mary demanded. "When, why? Why didn't you tell me?"
Steve opened his eyes, resigned to actually having this conversation, and found Mary watching him with wide, upset eyes. "It's not like that," he said. "It's not like we were dating."
"Okay," Mary said slowly, obviously unconvinced. "So tell me what happened."
"He decided he was straight after all."
"Steve," Mary said impatiently.
"What, Mary? He's not interested in guys, he experimented and it didn't work for him, he mistook being good friends for being in love with me, he wanted a family after things fell apart with Rachel again, is that what you wanted me to tell you?"
Steve got as far as sitting before he lost the burst of momentum that had started him towards standing up, maybe walking away. They were fine, him and Danny, back to being the good friends they'd been before he became Danny's experiment in gayness – before Danny met Gabby and remembered how much more he liked women than he liked Steve. They had to be fine, because Danny'd been so awkward, so apologetic, telling Steve, and Steve couldn't risk the possibility of the awkwardness turning into avoidance and Danny drifting away from them.
"Being in love with you?" Mary parroted softly. Then, "Oh, Steve," and her arm around his shoulders, sand gritty between the two of them.
"He's my best friend," Steve said, not sure why he was saying it.
"At least he wasn't your only friend."
It took Steve a second to realize what she was saying, but when he tried to look at her, she pressed her face to his arm. "I didn't realize," he said instead.
"Neither did she," Mary said, a bitter laugh under her voice.
It took a bit of wriggling, and Steve nearly elbowing Mary, but he got his arm free and returned her embrace. Mary leaned into it, and didn't say anything when Steve rested his cheek against the top of her head, the two of them quietly watching the sun go down over the waves.
After a while, Mary sniffed and pulled away. Her eyes were a little red, but she looked determined. "Screw 'em, right?" she said. "If they can't see how totally awesome we are, they don't deserve us anyway."
"I'll take it." Mary grinned. "Come on, up and at 'em."
"Up and at who?" Steve asked, letting her pull him to his feet.
"Up and at whatever gay bar is open right now. I'm going to find a hot surfer chick to take back to my shiny I'm-an-air-stewardess-living-in-New-York hotel room, and you're going to find some buff army guy to bring back to your beach house."
"Navy," Steve corrected automatically.
"Whatever, he'll be hot, who cares what uniform he wears?" Mary jogged a few steps up the beach. "Come on, big brother. Time and expensive, brightly colored drinks wait for no man."
"Oh, God," Steve groaned, and followed her into the house for a shower and a change of clothes.
"I can't believe I let you talk me into this," Steve said, ducking his head so Mary could hear him over the sound of the gathering crowd on South King Street.
"You'll have fun," Mary said, since she kind of couldn't believe she'd talked him into it either, even if she had lost the argument over him wearing his uniform – well, half-lost, he was wearing a Hawaii State Pride Fest t-shirt. "You're a well-known person in Hawaii, it's good for people to see you and your team in the parade."
"Don't –" Steve held both hands up, but he was grinning. "Spare me the lecture on all the benefits to Hawaii's young gay population and the campaign for same sex marriage already, I just got it from Cress again this morning."
"Woman's committed." Mary resisted the urge to look for her girlfriend, especially since she was nowhere close to tall enough to see over the crowd. "Where's Mike?"
To Mary's semi-amazement, Steve actually blushed. Unlike Mary, he was plenty tall enough to pick someone out of the crowd; she knew he had when he looked over her shoulder and his smile softened. "Talking to Chin and Kono. I think he's avoiding Danno."
"Danno threatened to set Catherine on him if he hurt you, I'd be avoiding the man." Mary gave in to the buzz of community and excitement and belonging and gave Steve a hug. "I'm glad you're here," she said into his chest.
"Me, too," he said, hugging her close and ducking enough to rest his chin on the top of her head for a moment.
"I'm glad Mike's here too," Mary added. Steve groaned, the way he always did when she mentioned the guy, especially when she called him Steve's boyfriend, even though Steve had been plenty happy enough with her referring to him that way when the two of them were in military academy.
"Hey, Mare." Cress tapped her shoulder. "We're about to start the parade moving."
"On it." Mary swooped in to kiss Cress, breathing in her coconut shampoo, then twisted to go corral the surfer girl contingent.
As they passed King Kamehameha, the parade loud and discordant, Cress pressed a little closer to Mary and nudged her. "You see your brother?"
Mary turned, spotting him with the rest of Five-0. Danny was holding Grace's right hand, Kono holding her left and leaning down to say something to her. A step or two behind them, Chin was talking to a woman Mary didn't recognize – not Malia, who was working, so probably one of the Kelly-Kalakaua clan. In front of all of them, though, Steve was walking – "Is he holding Mike's hand?"
It was difficult to see, the people around them shifting and blocking Mary's view, and the two of them were projecting Navy-officerhood like a shield, but she was pretty sure she was right.
"He is," Cress said gleefully. "Man, where's a camera when you need one?"
"I'm pretty sure we'll pass one." Mary hesitated for a second, then reached for Cress' hand, curling their fingers together. She felt Cress looking at her for a moment, then squeezed her hand back.
Mary grinned, warm and happy, right where she wanted to be.