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Keep You Safe Till Tomorrow

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Danny doesn't know when it starts. Maybe it was always there and he just didn't realize it. How could he? He only has his own perception as a reference and how should a toddler or even a baby know that there's something different about the people he sometimes sees or hears?

The first time he realizes something is different though, is when he's three.

At least, he thinks that was it. Maybe it's just the first time he remembers.

 

He knows his parents are worried. He thinks he might be doing something wrong, but he doesn't know what it is. He knows that they talk about taking him to a doctor.

He likes Dr Bell. She's nice and has yummy treats in her office.

He doesn't like this new doctor though. He looks all stiff and stares a lot and asks strange questions and he makes mommy and pops nervous.

Danny wants to go home.

He doesn't understand what the man wants from him.

He starts crying and mommy hugs him tight and says that maybe this was a mistake. The doctor says it's normal that he cries, but they can't go soft because of a few tears, if they want Danny to grow up normal and healthy.

The nurse outside with the dark hair and nice smile looks at him with pity.

The pale boy next to the door that all the grownups ignore whispers, his voice coming from far away.

"Don't come back to him or you might be next."

 

Danny stops telling adults and most other kids about the people that seem a little bit off. He doesn't know why they are off, just that whenever he talks to the off-people the grownups look at him like he's crazy.

He doesn't want to go to the doctor or be the next, whatever that is, so he doesn't tell them about them or talk to them while other people are around.

 

Danny is five when he understands for the first time, who the off-people are.

Mrs Cooper is watering her plants on her balcony like she's done every morning for as long as Danny can remember.

"The bus hit you."

She hums. "That's right, my dear."

"Papa says you're in heaven now. Why're you here? Is heaven not nice?"

Mrs Cooper hums again.

"Some things shouldn't be known before your time."

Danny blinks.

"What?"

"I'm not going to spoil the surprise for you, my dear."

"But you're dead?"

"That's right."

Danny bites his lip.

"Are you a mummy?"

"No."

"A zombie?"

"No."

"A ghost?"

"Maybe."

"You don't know?"

"Whatever does one know anyway."

Danny scrunches up his nose. Mrs Cooper is weird.

"Are all the off-people maybe-ghosts?"

She finally stops watering her plants and looks at him. "I don't know if we are ghosts, or spirits, or wandering souls. But we are no longer among the living."

"Why can I see you? Why can't mommy see you?"

Mrs Cooper smiles. "Because you, my dear Danny, have a gift."

 

#

Danny is sixteen, when it hits close to home.

He's numb at first. He goes through his days, does his chores, learns for school, plays basketball in the yard. He goes through all the motions he always did. But it is different.

He doesn't understand why.

His parents treat him with kid gloves, look at him as if they're just waiting for him to break.

Sometimes Matt opens his mouth and starts to say or ask something, but Stella hits his shoulder and he stops. He also doesn't ask Danny to go with him to play. Stella stopped getting all up in his face for every time he misplaces her brush. He knows. He did it on purpose the last two times, but she still didn't react.

He doesn't understand why.

And then, suddenly, he does.

He cleans out his school bag, because he needs a permission slip they got before summer break started. He doesn't know where it is, but he guesses it's among the debris that's formed at the bottom of his bag.

He doesn't find the slip. What he finds is the sketch that Billy did when Mr Lawrence was droning on and on about mitochondria and eukaryotes and Danny was bored out of his mind.

He finds the stupid little sketch and his thoughts and the world just grind to a hold.

He stares and stares and stares at the sketch and he doesn't realize he's screaming until his throat starts to hurt. He doesn't stop, just starts crying as well and kicks his school bag, before gripping the strap and throwing the whole thing across the room. It crashes into something, but he doesn't care to look what it is, just keeps gripping whatever he gets into his fingers, throws everything around, ranting and screaming.

He wants Billy back and he doesn't understand why he can see the old man from up the street, can see the pale boy that sometimes haunts his dreams, can see old Mrs Cooper watering her plants and the smelly man, can see all those people just crossing his way, but Billy, Billy is not here, is gone, because he is a bastard, who just went and left and he's not coming back, he's not coming, he's gone and Danny just doesn't understand why.

#

Danny is five and three months. His parents think he's doing better, but just to be on the safe side and on the advise of the doctor he's still doing regular appointments.

But he's not talking to people anymore who aren't there.

At least not when someone else is around.

Sometimes he can't stop his eyes from following the off-people, but he's getting better at pretending like they're not there. Mom thinks they might be able to stop the appointments soon.

Pops is a bit weary.

Danny hopes he can stop soon. The pale boy keeps telling him to stop seeing the doctor. But when he tells them about it, at the beginning of the appointments they don't listen. They talk with the doctor about it, and afterward he still has to visit him.

Danny really doesn't like him.

And he hates seeing the pale boy, with the blue eyes and the dark marks around his wrists and his ankles.

But he can't stop going there, as long as the grown-ups think he's talking to people who're not there. So he stops talking to the off-people and maybe he's going to stop seeing the doctor soon.

 

Danny is five years and eight months. His parents stopped taking him to the doctor a while ago. He's happy, but he's careful not to let them see him talking to anyone again.

Matt saw him, but he promised not to tell anyone, as long as Danny always told him if there was an off-person.

Danny doesn't. Sometimes he does, but not always. Because Matt always ask how they look.

And Danny can tell him about the woman with the pretty dress and the old man with the long white beard.

But he doesn't want to tell him about the sad man with the open arms. Or about the girl with the dark neck.

Doesn't want to tell him about the pale boy.

 #

Danny is five years and nine months. He's playing outside and Stella just ran inside. She wants to fetch a shovel, so they can dig the treasure up. Matt is sleeping.

A car drives by and stops on the sidewalk. Danny looks up and smiles. It's the nice nurse that works with the not so nice doctor.

She lowers the window.

"Hey, Danny! Haven't seen you in a while!"

Danny runs over and looks through the window. "Hello Mrs Eddison!"

"Good thing I saw you, you left your book at the clinic the last time you were there."

"Oh there it was! I thought I'd lost it!"

"Yeah, I have it in the back of the car. Just pop the door and you can fetch it."

Danny nods and pulls open the door. And there it is. It's fallen into the foot space and he has to crawl in a bit to reach it.

But when his knee hits the inside of the car he is yanked all the way inside and Mrs Eddison drives off with squealing tires.

Danny screams and hits his head. The door falls shut and he tries to get up, get out, but she shoves a gun into his face, a real gun and he starts crying.

"Shut up and stay down. You move or say a word, scream for help, anything, I blow your head off, you understand me?"

Danny cries and nods and cowers down in the small space.

He doesn't know where they're driving. All he can see are the tops of trees and houses and street lanterns passing by.

He wants to go home. Stella will be back with the shovel and his mom and pops are going to be worried and he promised to play football with Matt. He really didn't want to play with him, but he had to promise, and now he really, really wants to be back home and play with Matt.

The inside of the car goes dark. Danny looks up and he thinks they're in a garage.

Mrs Eddison leaves the car and Danny turns and wants to open the door, but it's ripped open already and she grips his arm, pulls him out and after her.

He can't keep up, his feet keep dragging over the ground and he stumbles and can't catch himself and she pulls him up, dragging him over through a door, into a kitchen and through another door. There are stairs and she shoves him and he has to grip the banister.

"Walk."

Danny walks.

 

It's dark and it stinks and his arms and legs hurt. The rope is tight around his feet and ankles.

The pale boy sits next to him on the thin mattress.

"I told you to leave."

"I left."

"Not soon enough. She already liked you."

"She doesn't like me, she hurts me."

The boy shrugs, rubbing his wrists.

Danny sniffles. "What's she gonna do to me?"

The boy stares into at him.

"She'll kill you."

 

He's hungry. He's cold. He peed himself, twice. He doesn't cry anymore, but only because he's too tired.

The door opens and Mrs Eddison comes down.

"I wanna go home."

"Shut up, you are home."

"No, this isn't home, I want my mommy."

Danny cries again. He didn't know there were any more tears to come.

"I am your mommy."

Danny stares at her. Then he starts screaming.

"NO! Go away, go away, you are not my mommy, I want home, I wanna go home!"

His cheek stings, it hurts bad and he blinks. Why does it sting?

He touches his face and it feels kind of numb.

When he looks up at her, she has her hand raised.

"You are a bad boy and bad boys need to be punished. But mommy loves you and she wants you to be normal. You need to be punished and when you've learned your lesson, you will be nice and normal and we can go out for ice cream."

She turns and stomps up the stairs.

Danny touches his numb face and stares and stares and stares.

 

He is hungry. So hungry. And he wants some water. And his mommy.

The pale boy is sitting next to him again.

"There's a nail."

"Huh?"

Danny's tired. So tired. He just wants to fall asleep and feel how his father lifts him from the car and puts him into bed, tucking him in. And then he wants to wake up and be back home again, and everything will just have been a bad dream.

"A nail. Behind the dryer."

"So?"

"Go get it."

"Don't want to. I wanna sleep."

The boy sighs.

"Go get it, you doofus and use it to open the rope!"

Danny blinks. Then he jumps up, or tries to, but falls flat on his face and arms again, because his legs are still bound, and he's pretty weak. But he doesn't stop, crawls forwards, closer and closer to the dryer. He peers behind it and he can see the nail. It's big and rusty and bend and he shoves his arms into the small space. He can't keep looking at the nail or he won't be able to move his arms right, so he fumbles blindly. His hands close around it and he pulls it out, starting on the ropes with it.

"Stop. Hey. Hey, Danny, I said STOP!"

The pale boy makes a grab for his hands, but he passes right through him and a rippling sensation like icy fire shoots through his arms.

Danny's head snaps up and he looks at the boy.

"Get back and hide the nail behind the mattress. She's coming back."

He scurries back and his arms and legs hurt. He jams the nail between the mattress and the wall and curls in on himself.

The door opens and the sound of her footsteps comes closer.

"You ready to behave?"

Danny scrunches his eyes close. He wants to go home, but he can't say that or she'll get angry again.

"Still a brat, huh?"

She doesn't move, so Danny doesn't move.

"I'm talking to you, you little shit." She grabs him by his upper arm and shakes him.

Danny just closes his eyes.

 

It's dark when he wakes up. There's no sound from upstairs. The pale boy is sitting on the dryer.

"She's sleeping."

Danny sits up and cries.

"Stop crying and cut the stupid ropes."

He gropes for the nail and starts scratching his bindings with it, again and again, but he doesn't stop crying either. He doesn't know how long it takes, but it starts to get brighter. His legs are free, his hands almost.

Upstairs a door falls shut.

"Get behind the door."

"My hands-"

"Get behind the door, Danny!"

Danny hurries up the stairs, standing right behind the door. He hears footsteps coming closer and he wants to turn and hide somewhere, not stand here where she'll see him the moment she opens the door, any moment now, she'll see him and-

The door is pulled open and Danny sees the kitchen, sees the hallway behind that and he just runs.

He ducks the arms grabbing for him and runs, fast, so fast and he hears her behind him and he's through the hall and sees the front door. He slams against it, too fast to stop, fumbles with the door handle, can't get it open, he can't get it open, and he cries  and she'll catch him.

He looks over his shoulder and sees the pale boy.

He's standing there. Face calm but his eyes pitch black. His face doesn't betray any emotion, but Danny can feel pure hatred inside. It's not his, he doesn't know how he knows how hatred feels like.

The sideboard along the hall gives a jolt and suddenly it's askew, blocking the hall and she runs into it. Danny turns and the door finally opens and he runs and he's outside.

Inside the hate rages war with grief.

#

Danny ignores the ghosts, the spirits, whatever they want to be called. He's angry, all the time.

If he can't see Billy, he doesn't want to see anyone else. It doesn't matter how awful or alone they look. How desperate.

He learns to look right past them, how to tune them out. Like he's the same as everyone else.

Just normal.

He doesn't care. Not anymore.

 

Danny's birthday is in three days. Almost eighteen. He used to make big plans with Billy, about what it would be like to come of age, how to celebrate, what the first thing they'd do would be.

He does none of those.

He's not angry anymore. Not about Billy. He misses him, like a part of him has gone and drowned, but it's no longer a sharp pain, just a hollow ache that he forgets most of the time.

It's been over a year and he's moved on.

But he hasn't found a friend like him again. Not that he's looked all that hard.

It's not like anyone really cares about the loudmouth, the guy who gets all in your face about every little thing, who's called to the principal's office more often than not.

Well, some do care, but those are not the ones that Danny particular cares about.

So he has people he occasionally talks to, people he occasionally does something with.

But it's been a while since he's had someone he'd call a friend.

It's not unusual to find him on a Saturday, sitting in the park on his own, watching people pass by, talk to each other, laugh or fight. He's got a beer and a pack of cigarettes in his back pack, but right now he doesn't feel like finding a hideout to drink or smoke.

Right now he's almost content.

His gaze moves over a few men in suits sitting on park benches. One throws his head back, laughing loudly, his whole body moving with it. One of the others grins at him.

An off-person, a ghost, stands a few feet away, but he barely even registers anymore.

Something moves at the edge of Danny's vision. Someone stepped up next to him and he turns around. He bites back a curse, when he realizes it's another off-person, but before he can turn away again he realizes something else.

It's a little girl.

He occasionally sees children. Not as many, but still too large a number.

He's not able to ignore them.

And this one, she reminds him of someone else. A young, pale boy, with chafed wrists and ankles and rage and grief warring inside his heart. A young, pale boy who once saved Danny's life.

He's never even learned his name.

"Hey."

The girl glances over, but turns away again.

"Yes, you. The girl with the pretty bow. What's your name?"

"Mandy. I'm Mandy."

#

Danny is still angry sometimes.

Okay, he's angry a lot.

But he decides that it's enough. He's not going to follow his anger around. He's going to use it to do better.

Danny's not a good person, but he knows that he isn't bad either. And he can use his anger and help put those really bad ones away.

It might take a while, but one day he'll be able to take revenge for all those sad and grief-stricken young eyes he's seen.

One day he'll stop people like Mandy's uncle or Mrs Eddison.

 

Danny is seventeen and ten months and he sits on one of the walls surrounding the park. There's a pale boy standing in front of him, with blue eyes and blond hair, with rage and grief inside his heart.

"Make her stop."

Chapter Text

Danny's never told anyone.

Not since he's learned that it was different, sick, not like everyone else.

Not since he's learned that talking to people that aren't there makes his mother cry and his father fret.

Not since he's learned that it means talking to a doctor who says he's helping, but is just as blind as everyone else.

Danny's never told anyone. And unless he wants to go back to being poked and prodded in the name of healing him, he'll continue not to tell anyone.

 

It's making his job both easier and harder.

He doesn't see every victim of every murder, of every homicide. But he sees some of them. Sometimes they point him into the right direction. But how do you explain to your colleagues that you know exactly who the murderer is or how they did it?

And sometimes the dead don't know who killed them or just think they do.

It doesn't make his job easier.

It just makes it different.

 

Danny sometimes thought about about telling Rachel. It's not easy to carry a secret, to hide away who you are, what you're capable of.

That you see more than the rest of the world around you.

And he loves her. He loves her so much, with all his heart. He wants to share every last part of himself with her, wants to be open and honest.

But in the end, he doesn't tell her either.

He loves her, more than anything. And he's terrified of losing her, when she, inevitably, doesn't believe him.

And he continues to hide away a part of himself, continues to lie about the nightmares he gets. Tells her, it's just the job, it's not always easy.

And that's true. He dreams of his cases, of the victims and their family. Of the madness in their killer's eyes.

But he also dreams of men and women with smashed in heads, ropes around their neck, holes in their chest, standing at the end of their bed, screaming without a voice, tearing at him, pulling him down and under and with them into the darkness, until he's one of them and no one hears him scream.

 

Grace is a miracle. She is the most beautiful thing he has ever seen in his life and he vows to protect her, with all he has.

He'll never leave her, never let her suffer.

The world is a dark place, but his Grace shines light and he'll shield her from anything or anyone who might seek to dull that brightness.

He'll die for her and become one of them.

#

Sometimes he doesn't manage to pretend. Sometimes he doesn't realize someone's an off-person, or he's just too tired to remember that he shouldn't react.

 

"Danny?"

"Huh?"

Steve squints at him, then follows his line of sight. Of course, he doesn't see anything but an assortment of bins.

"Did you see something?"

Danny shakes his head. "No, sorry, just spaced out a bit." Steve still looks a little bit suspicious with a hint of concern.

He racks his brain to find something to get him to think about something else than his partner suddenly spacing out on him and staring at random bins.

"I still don't get why you think this Moran guy will be able to help us find Baxter in any way."

Steve sighs, like Danny should have have gotten it by now.

And he's not wrong, because Danny does get it, but distracting Steve takes precedent over not appearing dumb right now.

Sometimes he hates his life.

"Because, Danny, Baxter didn't get the parts he needed in the next Walmart. And Moran has is the go-to guy for this kind of thing."

Right that moment the door of the house opens and Moran exits, strutting down the street, head held high.

Steve grins a madman's grin.

"Alright, here we go."

 

Danny slumps onto the couch in Steve's office.

"You are insane. Certifiably insane."

Steve just grins like a little school boy. "What? It worked!"

"Yeah, but only because fortune favors fools. And you are the biggest fool there is."

"You're just grumpy because you're tired."

"No, Steven. I am grumpy because you led me on a crazy chase all over the place and I got shoved into a pool."

"Alright." Steve stands up. "Come on, lets get you home."

Danny grumbles but lets himself be manhandled out of the office. He waves at Lou and Chin who're still working on something on the tech table.

"Don't stay too late, you guys."

Lou laughs. "Definitely not. Renee is making her mama's meatloaf. No way am I missing that one."

Damn he'd kill for his own mum's meatloaf.

#

The sound of his ring tone is never a pleasant way to wake up. Waking up to that instead of his alarm or even better, waking up on his own, means that either Rachel wants something or they've caught a time sensitive case.

Danny really wants to ignore it, turn over and keep right on sleeping.

But alas, that's not a thing he can do.

There might very well be lives on the line.

So Danny flops his hand around the nightstand until his hand lands on his phone, pulling it towards himself.

"Williams."

"Well, good morning, Williams."

"Fuck off, Steve."

"Not so much. Get ready, I'll be there in five."

Danny curses and drags himself out of bed. He brushes his teeth as quick as he can and jumps into the shower for at least a quick scrub down.

Steve would be proud at his showering speed. Almost within Navy regulations.

He hears the door opening just as he's pulling his trousers up.

"Be right there!"

Of course, Steve being Steve, the concept of patience is lost of him, so he enters the bedroom only a moment later.

"Not ready yet?"

Danny just gives him a flat stare, before he finishes getting dressed. He gathers his things and brushes past Steve.

"You coming?"

 

Kono throws the picture of a young boy with blond hair up on the screens.

"Ben Glockner was playing outside when his mother had to go inside to fetch the phone.

She came back out and Ben was gone. After searching the whole neighborhood, she called the police. No one had seen or heard anything. Neither the boy, nor someone who might have taken him."

Chin takes over. "The police and volunteers are still outside, searching for the boy, but they can't rule out foul play. Especially since it's not the first case like this."

He throws another picture up. Another young blond boy.

"Finn Kahue. He disappeared a year ago, but they never found him."

Danny stares fixed at the pictures. He  doesn't even want to imagine what the parents are going through, resolutely pushes memories of Grace disappearing from his mind.

He's less able to suppress memories of how the boys must be feeling. His hands start to sweat and he crams them into his pockets, hiding the way they're shaking.

"Do they have any suspects?"

"Nothing. They looked into the boys biological father, but he's in California. Has a group of scientists vouching for his whereabouts."

"Other family?"

"Mother and adoptive father. His grandparents on his mother's side are on the island."

"Alright." Steve looks at the team. "Lou, Kono, you go talk to friends and neighbors. Chin, take a look at the background and finances of the Glockners. Danny and I'll talk to the parents."

 

The drive to the parent's house is silent. Danny knows he should say something, but the words get stuck in his throat. He hates cases with children. Always has, always will. But this one is hitting close to home, like few ever do.

"You alright?"

Danny doesn't look over, just keeps staring outside.

"No, not really."

Even without looking he can practically see Steve's frown.

"Want to tell me about it?"

"Also not really."

"Danno..."

"No, Steve, just let it go. It's not... not right now, okay?"

And preferably not ever. He's talked about his experiences. Often. When he was a child he talked to the police and a therapist. A new one, because he couldn't even look at the old one.

He talked to a counselor when he was in high school.

He once, in the dark of the night, when inner walls are at their weakest, talked about it with Rachel, told her how he was terrified for their little miracle of a daughter, of the dangers that lurked out there, just waiting to snatch her, like they snatched him, right from the safety of his home.

He really doesn't want to talk about it ever again.

Steve is silent for another moment. Then he sighs and Danny takes a breath.

Questions averted. At least for now.

"Alright. So, what do we have on the Glockners?"

Danny pulls up the brief they've got on them on his phone.

"Nicolas and Anne Glockner. Married for three years. Nicolas Glockner immigrated from Germany to the US with his parents twenty years ago. He won several awards for his architecture before he even left the university.

"Anne Glockner, born Greenwood. She grew up in a wealthy family and decided to study business. She and her older brother are currently co-owners of JollyGee. They're producing baby products like pacifiers and have a manufacturing site on the big island.

"They moved into their new house only a month ago. Before that they were living on the Big Island as well."

"What about what Kono said, Ben not being Mr Glockners biological son?"

"Mrs Glockner was in a relationship with Andrew Garland before she married Mr Glockner. Doesn't seem like it was a happy relationship. Several calls of disturbance, both parties reporting the other. They split, but Mr Garland didn't get that message for a while. Mrs Glockner got a restraining order against him and two years ago he moved away. Didn't fight his ex for custody of Ben."

Steve takes a turn and it doesn't take long for the surroundings to change. The houses get bigger, the driveways longer, the walls around the properties higher.

"Any enemies?"

"Nothing that can be found in their files. We'll have to wait for Chin for more."

 

They pull up to a nice house. The fence is not as high as most of the surrounding ones, but still too high for a little boy to climb.

Or for a random passerby to easily snatch a child up.

Forensics are around, taking prints and searching the grounds.

An officer jogs over to greet Danny and Steve.

"Anything so far?"

The woman shakes her head. "Nothing. The surveillance system was still being set up."

Danny frowns and looks around. It does sound as if there's possible foul play. A very well planned, meticulously executed foul play.

On the one hand, this type of crime would suggest that it wasn't a crime of passion or opportunity, so it's more likely that the kidnapper wants something from the Glockners. Which would mean that Ben is there leverage. And as long as he's needed as a leverage, he's safe. Not from harm, both bodily and psychological, but at least he's unlikely to be in danger of being killed.

On the other hand, there's still been no contact from the kidnapper.

If it even was that. There's also still the possibility that Ben somehow left on his own.

Danny shakes his head.

It's still too early to speculate.

The officer leads them over the lawn. There are toys strewn over the grass. A ball lies at wall, separating the property from the street. A red child’s bike lying close to the gate.
They enter the house behind the officer.  There in the modern and sleek living room are Mr and Mrs Glockner. They're curled together, Mrs Glockner with her feet up on the couch, Mr Glockner with his face buried in his wife's neck.

"Mr and Mrs Glockner?" Steve's voice is soft and careful as he approaches the couple, Danny close behind him.

The two look up. Their faces are drawn and Danny can understand just too well how they must be feeling.

"I'm Lieutenant Commander Steve McGarrett and this is my partner, Detective Danny Williams from Five-0. May we ask you some questions?"

Mr Glockner takes a deep breath, before gesturing to the armchairs opposite of the couch. Danny and Steve take a seat.

"I know that this is difficult. But can either of you think of someone who'd want to do harm to either you or Ben?"

Mrs Glockner shakes her head. "No. Ben's a good boy. Sure, he has some difficulties, but who doesn't? But he's smart and kind, and he has such a good heart. Who'd want to... Why would anyone..." She bites her trembling lip and hides her face against her husband’s shoulder.

"I don't think there's anyone who'd go to these lengths. I just can't think of anyone." Mr Glockner scrubs his hand over his face. "Sure, there are people who'd like nothing more than to have me out of their way, or are pissed that I got a job they think they deserved. And I don't think that some of them wouldn't be willing to stab me in the back for it. But to take Ben? No. No I don't think so."

Danny nods. "Maybe you're right. But sometimes we underestimate what people are willing to do to reach their goal. Even if you don't think any of them have done something, could you provide us with a list of them?" He looks at Mrs Glockner. "How about you?"

She chuckles, but there's not an ounce of mirth in it. "We produce pacifiers and baby products. Sure, business is business, but that's not exactly the line of work that breeds this kind of behavior." She glances at Danny. "But before you ask, yes, I will give you a list anyway. I don't care whether it's likely or not, I want every goddamn stone turned three times. I want my Ben back!"

She sobs and Mr Glockner cradles her, rocking her from side to side.

"You said earlier that Ben has had difficulties. What kind of difficulties?"

"Ben's a good boy!"

"I am not doubting that. But every seemingly insignificant details could be of importance."

Mrs Glockner scrubs forcefully over her eyes.

She looks back up. "Ben is a good boy, but he's got trouble with his temper. Sometimes the smallest thing will set him off."

The knot in Danny's stomach tightens. He swallows and looks to the side, letting his gaze roam around the room.

As new and untouched as a lot of the room and the garden seems to be, there's a whole wall that gives it life. It's covered from top to bottom with photos of every size and form. From where he's sitting Danny can't see exactly what's on them, but there are groups of people, some portraits of single persons and some pictures don't seem to show people at all.

Three pictures stand out, due to their sheer size. Danny can see one of a laughing blond boy that he recognizes as Ben. Another shows a picture of Mr and Mrs Glockner on their wedding day and a third, the two of them with a small Ben sitting on Mr Glockner's shoulders.

Steve's voice drags him back into the conversation again.

"Alright, that's all we need for now. We'll contact you, if there's anything else we need to know." He hands over a card. "If you can remember anything else, please, don't hesitate to give us a call, no matter how unimportant it might seem."

Mrs Glockner takes the card and nods. "You'll tell us, if there's anything new?"

Danny nods. "Of course."

 

Danny knows that he's not going to get off the hook as easily this time.

And he's right. The moment he shuts the door on the passenger side, Steve asks:

"You going to tell me what the hell that was about?"

"What the hell what was about? Please, Steve, could you elaborate? Your question is pretty vague."

Steve snorts, but it resembles the sound a bull makes more than a laugh.

"You really want to go there? Alright. Why have you been completely off your game today? You've been distracted since we got this case. You flinch at random noises and you drift off in the middle of interviewing witnesses."

Danny clenches his jaw and says nothing.

"Talk to me, buddy. I can't risk having you distracted. Do I need to remind you that a young boy’s life might very well be on the line?"

Danny growls. "No you don't. You really don't. Do you really think that I can't understand exactly-" His teeth knock together painfully, as he bites down on the words that want to follow. He takes a deep breath, before continuing. "Do you really think I can't understand exactly what these parents are going through?"

Steve's eyes widen.

"Shit. Grace." He glances over at Danny. He looks back at the road, but his posture seems to be more relaxed. "I get that, Danny, I really do. But I need you to pull yourself together." He glances over again. "Ben needs you to pull yourself together."

Danny squeezes his eyes shut and nods. "Yeah, I know. I know."

 

While they wait for Lou and Kono, Chin updates them about the financials of the Glockner's, though there's nothing so far, that might help them.

He hasn't found anything connecting the Glockners to the Kahues either, but he's only just started to look into that one.

Danny frowns.

"Can you find out if Finn showed any kind of behavior that's viewed as unusual?"

Chin looks at him. "What are you thinking?"

"The Glockners told us that Ben could be very short tempered and that sometimes small things set him off."

"Bit of a long stretch though, isn't it?" He starts typing anyway.

"Maybe." Danny bites his lip. "Call it a hunch."

Steve's looking at him, but Danny can't interpret the look. Maybe he's off his game, maybe it's a new face. He doesn't know. He can't concentrate on that right now.

"Huh."

Danny whirls around, looking at Chin. "What?"

"You were right."

"Right about what?" Kono comes in, followed by Lou. Neither looks as if they've got any news.

"Ben has had trouble with his temper and Danny thought we should look into a similar problem with Finn. And he's right."

He throws the scans of some documents up on the screens.

"Meet Finn Kahue. Six years when he disappeared. He was mostly unremarkable, but there are some notes in his school records that hint that he was having problems and got into a few fights."

"Does it say what kind of problems?"

Chin shakes his head. "Just that the parents were invited to the school a few times."

Steve looks at Danny, before shaking his head.

"Alright. Kono, you and Chin go talk to Finn's parents, see if you can find out what that was about. What did you and Lou find out?"

"Nothing much. The neighbors didn't see anything unusual. But then again, so early in the morning, most where at work. And the walls and fences don't exactly help. But the family that's living right next door gave us the tapes of their security camera. It shows part of the street, so we're hoping to get something off of it. I already dropped them off with Eric."

"Anything about the family?"

"Not really. Seemed nice enough, but after only a month there's not much they can say."

Lou leans against the table. "No dirt from the friends either. Say the Glockners are happy, adore their boy. That their fights resolve around the same stuff everyone's does. Chores, the move, who's turn it is to do the shopping. That after Mrs Glockner's ex she's finally done good and that the two just work."

Danny sighs. "Good for them, but that just means we're no step closer." He throws a look at the time display. "And the clock keeps ticking."

The others look grim.

Steve straightens. "Okay, Kono, Chin, talk to Finn's parents. Lou, get Jerry and take a look if you can find similar cases. Maybe it's just a coincidence and the two have nothing to do together, but better safe than sorry.

"Danny and I'll go see if forensics found anything of use."

Danny takes a moment to appreciate the efficiency of his team. They're no closer to finding Ben yet, but he knows that they'll do anything to bring him home.

He just hopes it is enough for Ben.

Danny makes to follow Steve out of the room, but he stumbles and stops cold.

For all that he was thinking about his past almost the whole day, he really didn't want to believe that there was anything but paranoia to it. There are a lot of kidnapping cases and there's so much that's different.

And yet behind the glass doors that lead out of the office area he sees a boy that he hasn't seen in years, in decades. A face that he should have all but forgotten, but that keeps appearing in his dreams. Sometimes he won't dream of this face for years and then he'll be haunted by it night after night.

But he hasn't thought he'd ever see him again.

Pale skin, piercing eyes. He just stands there and stares at Danny.

Chapter Text

Seeing the chafed skin around the wrists, he can almost feel the rope biting into his own skin, keeping him locked to the spot.

"Danny?"

He hopes this isn't true. It's just a hallucination, brought on by his thoughts today. It's not real, he's not really there.

"Hey, Danny!"

A touch on his shoulder and he flinches and ducks away.

He blinks and after a moment he recognizes the figure in front of him. There's shock written over Steve's face, concern and hurt.

"Danny?"

He blushes, can feel the heat crawling over his skin. As much as he hates that Steve saw him like this, he's glad that it disperses the cold in his veins.

He looks back through the glass doors, but the pale boy is gone.

"You look like you've just seen a ghost."

Danny starts to chuckle and it quickly dissolves into hysterical laughter. He doesn't know when it shifts, but suddenly Steve's in front of him, hugging him tight and he realizes he's crying, big heaving sobs.

"Shit, Danno, what's going on?"

Danny just shakes his head, pressing closer, trying to hide away, trying to keep Steve from looking at him.

How is he supposed to explain this? How is he supposed to explain that he went through exactly the same thing as Ben did, as Finn probably did, that he would have died, that Finn is dead, that the pale boy is dead, but saved him anyway, that Ben could die if they don't find him.

How is he supposed to explain that he knows who took him, not that he knows a name? That he knows that voice, knows how she looks like, even remembers how she smells?

How is he supposed to explain that there are dead eyes watching him, waiting for him to finally put an end to her doings.

He can't. He can't and he doesn't know what to do.

Steve moves him carefully into his office, helps him sit down on the couch, but stays close as Danny's hysteric crying slowly tapers off.

He looks wrong footed, confused.

"Listen, Danny." His voice is too soft. He doesn't talk like that to Danny. He talks like that to traumatized victims, to people who're... who're acting like Danny is acting now.

"I'll talk to forensics, you stay here and rest."

Danny knows that there's more, but he doesn't care. Resting sounds wonderful.

He should be out there, doing something, helping the team, helping Ben.

Helping Ben.

Helping himself.

But rest sounds amazing.

#

Danny wakes up to a soft voice calling him. His neck is killing him, but he blinks his eyes open, finding Steve kneeling in front of him.

"You alright?"

He snorts. "I don't think it's going to fly, if I say I'm fine."

Steve looks grim and shakes his head.

"Yeah, didn't think so."

"Danny, what's going on?"

Danny groans. "Not something that we've got time to talk about right now. Ben's time is running out and I think I might know where to look."

Steve's eyes widen. "What?"

Danny stands up, moving around Steve.

As they're leaving Steve's office, Lou comes up to the table. He frowns, as he sees them, but the questions Danny expects don't come. Instead Lou gives him an encouraging smile and squeezes his shoulder.

"Have you guys found something?"

Danny looks at Steve, who nods.

"Yeah, but nothing that'll help us. Forensics found finger prints they didn't expect on the keypad lock. Apparently Ben himself typed in the code, though who knows how he got up there."

The bike.

"He climbed the bike." Steve cocks his head, looking at him. "His bike was lying by the gate, close to the pad. I didn't think anything of it, because it's not high enough to get over the wall."

Steve nods. "But it's enough to reach the keypad." He frowns. "So either he did leave on his own, or the kidnapper had something he could use to make him open it up." Steve shakes his head, before turning to look at Lou. "What did you find?"

Lou looks grim and steps to the table, standing close to Danny.

"I found more cases like this one." He pulls up several case files. "At least ten that we know of over the last forty years. Two in the seventies, then almost fifteen years without a case. The other eight scattered from 1995 till today. All blond, blue eyed boys, around the age of six. All found dead, with marks on their wrists and ankles. All died of thirst." He taps his finger on the table, his lips pursed. "There's one victim though, that escaped."

Steve's eyes snap up to him. Danny looks down instead, closing his eyes.

"There is? Where's he?"

There's silence.

"Lou? Where's the child that escaped?"

Danny tries to take a breath, but it feels weak and wobbly.

He can barely get his voice to work.

"It's me."

It's little more than a whisper.

"What?"

Danny swallows. Takes another breath and lifts his head. He looks straight in front of him, eyes glued to the little boy standing in his office.

"It's me. I'm the boy who escaped."

#

The whole team is gathered. Danny is glad that they're standing around the table, not sitting down somewhere like Lou hat suggested.

This way he can pretend it's just another case, just another briefing.

"I don't know what her name was. Well, I do, but I doubt it was her real name. I knew her as Mrs Eddison. She was my... my therapist's receptionist. I never took much notice of her. She was nice, sure, but I was way too terrified of these visits to spare too many thoughts for her."

"Why were you terrified?"

Danny glances to the side. "Not because of anything that might help us."

"Danny-"

"No, Steve." He glares at him. "Contrary to you I know exactly what happened. And it had nothing to do with any of this. I was a toddler and I had a very active imagination and I was terrified for no logical reason at all." He takes a deep breath. "Anyway. I visited him for about two years, but my parents finally decided that I didn't need to anymore.

"Some time later, I was playing outside with Stella. She went inside and this car rolled up. Mrs Eddison called me and told me she had something I forgot in the clinic. Told me it was inside the car and that I could just fetch it." He laughs, though it's really not funny at all. "Fell for that one. Once I was in the car, she drove off. Locked me in her basement, told me I needed to learn how to behave. Refused to give me food or water or let me move around until I behaved properly."

He swallows, but the thick knot in his throat doesn't disappear.

He doesn't know how much time passes, until Kono's soft voice breaks the deafening silence.

"How did you escape?"

Danny looks away.

"Sheer dumb luck." They don't believe him, he knows. Not that it's surprising. He's too tired to lie. "There was an old nail. I used it to get out of the ropes. I got out when she came down to see if I learned to behave."

Steve's hand twitches at his side, but it's Kono who comes over and pulls him into a hug. It's not as encompassing as Steve's hug was, but it's just as tight, just as secure.

"I am so sorry that this happened to you."

She hugs him until he loosens his hold on her. Then she steps back and takes her place next to Chin again.

Steve shifts closer, so that their shoulders brush. He looks at him and Danny tries to smile. He's not fine, but he won't be fine until they close this case.

He's fine for now.

Steve nods and looks at the rest of the team.

"Alright. We've got the facial composite from Danny's case and the details the police gathered then.

"Chin, Kono, go back to Finn's parents and show them the sketch. Danny and I'll do the same with the Glockners. Lou, gather people from HPD and spread in the neighborhood, see if anyone's ever seen this woman before."

#

His car is very rarely this quiet, but he can't muster up any words, any rants or complaints.

Just one more proof of how fucked this day really is. He is so ready for it to be over.

He knows that Steve wants to say something. He wouldn't even have to look at him, to know it. Yes, Danny is the one who declares his opinion on everything and everyone all the time and very loudly. But that doesn't mean that Steve isn't just as opinionated.

But he does look and he sees Steve working his jaw, sees how intently he looks straight forward, his eyes never straying from the street to, say, Danny for example. There's a look on his face that Danny doesn't understand.

"What."

Steve blinks. "Huh?"

Danny glares. "You want to say something, just spit it out."

Steve shakes his head.

"I would, if I knew what I wanted to say."

"Should I give it a try? How about 'Why did you never tell me?' or 'Why did you keep something this important about the case to yourself?'"

Now Steve does look at him and surprisingly he looks horrified.

"Do you honestly think that's what I've been wanting to say?"

Danny shrugs. He doesn't know what else it could be.

"No, absolutely not." His hands clench around the steering wheel. "Of course I would have been happy if you told me before this, because I..." He shakes his head. "But Danny, this is something... I don't... it's your past and it's a traumatic part of your past. Of course I don't expect you to just tell me. And as for the case, the moment you truly connected the two cases, you had a panic attack. Before that it reminded you of your... of that case, but you didn't actually connect them. And right after you moved past that you did tell us."

"Then what? What else is it you want to say?"

"I don't know! I want to tell you that I understand, but I can't. I want to tell you that it'll get better, but how can I know? I want to say something to make it better, but there's nothing at all that I can say, that anyone can say that can make a terrifying experience like that better."

And now Danny understands the look on Steve's face. It's helplessness. Steve's core, his very being builds on his need to protect. Protect his teammates, protect his country, protect the innocent. Protect his family, the people he loves.

And he can't protect Danny, not from this. It's happened, long in the past to a young and terrified child that had to get out on his own, no Steve there to protect him.

But he's here now. He's here for Ben and he's here for Danny.

Something inside of him, relaxes, lets go of the tension. For the first time, since this case begun, he feels able to breath.

He closes his hand around Steve's forearm and gives it a light squeeze.

"Thank you, Steve. But I'm okay, I'm safe. And we're going to do everything we can to make sure Ben's safe, too."

#

There's a break. There's finally a break.

The facial composite is old, and in contrast to photographs, aging technology doesn't work that well with sketches, so Danny had tried not to get his hopes up.

But Mr Glockner has recognized her.

They had a name and a place of work. 

Steve has the accelerator pedal practically on the car floor, but for once Danny doesn't feel the slightest urge to complain about him driving like a mad man. He almost wished the car would go faster.

He needs to see this case finished. He needs to see her, locked away for the rest of her life, see her done.

Maybe then this nightmare will finally be over.

 

Steve comes to a stop in front of a pediatrician clinic, one wheel of the car on the walkway, completely in the no standing zone.

Danny jumps out, striding into the clinic, Steve close behind him. He slams his badge onto the reception.

"Margaret Flint, where is she."

The receptionist, a young guy with huge doe eyes, stares at him. Danny growls. "Did you swallow your tongue?"

The man flinches and pulls up a document on his computer.

"She's... eh, she's got today and tomorrow off."

"Fucking surprise."

Steve squeezes Danny's shoulder and steps forward. "We need her home address."

"I can't just-"

Danny shoves the badge into his face.

"See this? This means you can and you damn well will, or you'll find yourself up on the charges of obstruction of justice."

The man swallows visibly, clicks on a few things and then hands over a printout.

"Thank you."

They hurry back to the car and Steve floors it again. Danny informs the rest of the team of the address and tells them to meet up there. He doesn't ask Steve to wait for backup though when they reach the small unassuming house. He barely even spares the time to put on his bullet proofed west before entering the building.

The front door opens into a narrow hallway. There's no sideboard in it, but other than that it reminds him of a hallway many, many years ago.

Danny's heart grows heavier with every shouted 'clear' as they move slowly through the rooms.

Steve joins him in the empty living room, his face grim. Danny doesn't want to stop though. This is it, this is her place, she stayed here, she has to be here. The place is lived in, not just a fake address given to her place of work.

"We must have overlooked something. There has to be something..."

Danny hurries through the rooms again, but still, there's nothing there.

"Danny. Danny stop!"

Steve grips his arm, pulls him to a stop.

"Steve! She has to be here!"

"She's not. Danny, we're wasting our time. We'll look through everything, see if we can find a hint or anything about her whereabouts. I'll call Jerry, see if he can find out anything else."

Danny nods, but he's numb, his heart is racing.

They're going to be too late. She'll be gone again and she'll hurt Ben and she'll continue hurting little boys.

He turns, starts searching, not too careful handling her possessions. But there's nothing, nothing there, nothing to help them find her.

"Damn it!" He slams his hand on the bedside table, the lamp clattering.

He wants to cry. This can't be. He's so close, so close.

He can hear Steve entering the room, but doesn't turn.

"Anything?"

"I'm sorry."

Danny hits the table. Again. And again. A warm hand closes around his wrist before he can do it once more.

"Stop. Please stop."

"She's going to kill him."

Steve pulls him up and to himself, his arm closing around Danny. He wants to sink into the embrace, but he can't. He's shaking and his hand grips the sleeve of Steve's shirt.

"I don't know what to do."

"I do."

Danny's head whips around. It's been years since he last heard this voice, but he's never going to forget it. He stares at the pale boy standing next to the large window.

"What?"

Steve pulls back a little, frowning at him. "I didn't say anything."

Danny knows he should do something, say something, pretend that nothing's happened, but right now he can't, he's not up for pretending, not now.

"I know what to do. I know where she is."

He pulls back a little, turns to the boy. "Where?"

"Danny? What's going on?" There's concern in his voice and he's probably thinking that Danny's finally lost it, but that doesn't matter, not right now.

"Not far. Three streets down, another house. Blue walls. She's got a basement there."

Danny shudders and turns back to Steve.

"I know where she is."

He stares down at him.

"How could you possibly know that now?"

Danny pulls back completely, walks up and down, his hands gripping his hair, too tight.

"I just do, okay?"

"No, not okay. Danny talk to me, what's going on?"

He laughs, a hollow sound. "I can't tell you. You're not going to believe me, you'll think I'm insane!"

"Well, it's not like you're appearing all that sane right now either." He crosses his arms. "And you've been declaring me insane for years now. So maybe you won't sound as mad as you think you do."

He snorts. "Yeah right." He takes a deep breath, raking his hands through his hair again. "Alright, yeah." He bites his lip. "You know how I said I escaped thanks to dumb luck? That was a lie. There was a..." He can't. He can't tell Steve. How could this make any sort of sense? It barely makes sense to Danny and he's the one living it, day in, day out.

"A what?"

"A boy. There was another boy in the basement. But he wasn't... not real. I..." He stops moving, closes his eyes. "I never learned his name. But I knew he wasn't real. I knew he was... he was dead. Pale skin, sunken eyes. Blue eyes. Blond hair. He was the first one she killed. He told me about the nail, told me when she came back, told me what to do.

"Stopped her from going after me."

He can't look at Steve, doesn't want to see his face, his expression.

Not enough that his partner was traumatized in his childhood and can't keep it together when a case reminds him of it. No, now Danny's also admitting to having hallucinations and dreaming up dead people.

Steve's silent and Danny has trouble breathing in.

He knows how it sounds. He wants Steve to react, wants it to be over.

Wants to go out and find Ben.

"I..."

Danny's eyes flicker up. Before he can lower them again he recognizes something that he didn't expect on Steve's face.

Understanding.

"Part of..." He grins, but it doesn't seem to mock Danny. It almost seems self-deprecating. "On the one hand, you do sound slightly insane. And my brain tells me that you're probably past your breaking point and that I should have pulled you off this case the minute I learned about your connection."

Danny waits. Well, he wants to wait, but he can't stop himself from asking. "And on the other hand?"

He barely recognizes his own voice. He wants Steve to believe him, wants him to go with it, wants him still at his side.

Steve sighs, his whole body heaving with it.

"On the other hand I... I know that there are sometimes things that can't be explained. On the other hand I saw my dad and officers Keoki and Ookala after we took down Curt Stoner. And not just... I really saw them. They were there, I know it."

It's Danny's turn to stare now. It doesn't sound like Steve's seen ghosts before or after this, but he has seen them, has seen what Danny sees.

Has seen enough to believe him.

"So, you might still be slightly insane", he grins wide and boyish, "but I guess so am I."

#

When they reach the little house with the painted blue walls, Kono and Chin are there as well. Grover pulls up while the two of them are suiting up.

Kono checks to see if all her gear sits right. "Okay, what do we know about her?"

"She has one hostage, probably being bound and held in the basement. She works alone and while she's not known to use fire weapons against people, we cannot rule it out, since she did own one and used it to make Danny comply."

The team nods, their faces grim.

Kono's hand brushes Danny's arm, as she walks past. Chin and Grover finish gearing up, throwing Danny an encouraging nod, before positioning themselves behind him.

Steve steps up, the grip on his shoulder strong and reassuring.

"You ready to do this?"

Danny nods. His words have left him, but with his team around him he knows he can do this.

He's going to put an end to this, once and for all.

They move through the rooms of the house, but there's nothing on the ground floor, nor on the one above.

In the kitchen is another door. The pale boy is standing next to it. His face is hopeful.

Danny's never seen it anything but sad or furious.

His heart beats faster, his grip around his weapon tightens. He's ending this. No more terror, no more pain.

No more nightmares.

He moves in front of the door. At Steve's touch on his shoulder he pulls it open, starting down the wooden stairs.

It's like walking into his nightmares all over again. His breathing speeds up and sweat is gathering on his forehead.

Then he hears the soft treat of someone above him. Chin, he thinks.

The nightmare still flickers in his mind, like a bad photo montage, layered over reality. It's still there, but it's not overwhelming.

He's not alone.

Danny reaches the bottom of the stairs, but it's not opening into a big room.

The layer of his nightmare shreds even more, barely holding on to reality. Still there, but almost gone.

He can breathe again.

Two doors.

Kono pulls one open, Chin following her in. They return a moment later, still silent.

Then Danny hears it.

Low murmuring, a voice that makes his blood run cold.

He doesn't notice his team, isn't aware of his own body moving.

He's outside, listening to a cruel voice and then he's past the door, a room with low ceiling, the walls dark gray, the air freezing.

His gun is up and pointing at a woman. Her hair used to be dark. It's gone gray now, only a few locks of her old color remaining. Her mouth hard, her eyes blue, as piercing as another pair of eyes that keep haunting him.

Her claw-like hands gripping the shoulder of a young pale boy, pulling him in front of her, hiding behind the frail body.

She's got a knife in her hand.

"Five-0! Let go of the boy!"

A voice reaches him, like it's traveling through water.

Steve. That's Steve's voice.

People fan out besides him, moving into a half circle around the woman.

His team. He's here with his team, he's not alone, his hands are not bound, he is not five anymore. He's not cold and thirsty, and desperate to get home.

He breathes in deep. The nightmare disappears and he sees a woman, lines from long years past marring her face. Her eyes as cold as he remembers them, but she's not as big. She isn't looming over him, not taking up all the space around him, no longer taking away the air he's breathing.

She's grown old.

Danny straightens, his gun pointed unwavering at her head.

"It's over. Let Ben go and you can leave this building on your own two feet."

She snarls and pulls the boy up. Her eyes flicker around, but she's cornered.

Then she smiles.

"And what if I don't?"

She pulls him higher, so he's in front of her torso and covering most of her face.

Not even Steve or Kono could make this shot without risking Ben's live.

She moves slowly a few steps to the side, the knife close do his throat.

She looks at them, her eyes flickering from one to the other, over and over until they come to a stop on Danny.

He's not sure, but his heart might have stopped. No, it hasn't. Instead it's doubled its speed.

Her gaze moves on. He should feel relieved, should be happy that her focus isn't on him.

But he isn't.

"So you don't remember me then?"

Her gaze snaps back to him. She cocks her head.

"No. Should I?" She laughs. "I would guess that you might be a cop that got close on my tail. But no one ever-"

"New Jersey."

She goes still, her gaze boring into him.

"You remember New Jersey, don't you?"

Her face contorts, a mix of rage and terror.

"You!" Her fingers dig into the boy’s side and he lets out a quiet whimper, but the knife moves. A tiny bit more space between vulnerable throat and sharp blade.

"What did you do?"

Her arm starts shaking.

"Why, what happened?" Danny smiles. He can see more than other people. He doesn't know how it must appear to them if suddenly reality stops making sense, if furniture moves, if storms rage inside a house.

"I don't know what you did, but you did something! You almost killed me!"

He raises his brow.

"You mean like you almost killed me? Like you killed your son? Like you killed all those other boys?"

"You needed to be punished! You weren't right, you didn't behave, you needed to learn how to behave!" Her eyes are wide, her whole body shaking. The knife moves away and closer. Away and closer.

Danny doesn't notice that he's moved until Steve's quiet voice reaches him.

"Don't go closer."

He nods, but he can't take his eyes of her.

"You failed. You didn't teach me anything, you didn't teach any of the boys anything either."

She snarls and lets go of Ben. She's fast, faster then he'd thought, but maybe he's just slow or closer than he'd thought. She's shoved his arm away, the knife bearing down towards him and he can't move, he's frozen all over again, there's no air to breath anymore.

A shot tears through the static in his ears and she jerks and falls to the ground, moaning, clutching her shoulder.

Danny stares down at her, then to his left where Steve is lowering his gun, keeping it pointed straight at her.

#

He's not comprehending what's going on. His insides are in knots, his fingers are shaking. Steve steps close to him as Chin and Kono haul her to her feet. Lou moves past them and takes off the bindings around Ben's wrists and ankles. Picks him up, holding him close.

They maneuver her up the stairs. Once she's out out sight Lou follows.

Steve's still standing next to Danny.

"Are you alright?"

Danny shakes his head, slow from one side to the other.

"I don't know."

Steve pulls him in and Danny leans his head against his collarbone. Now he's able to sink into the embrace, now he's able to relax a bit.

He's still weary, but he feels like he can breathe again.

Danny doesn't know how much time passes, but he manages to pull free. Only then does Steve let him go.

He takes a deep breath and follows the rest up the stairs.

Outside he sees Kono load the woman into the car, handcuffed, her wound haphazardly bandaged.

Danny is pretty sure that's more for the sake of the upholstery then the health of their killer.

Danny stares at her, as the door closes between them. Then he turns back to the house.

There's a pale boy standing next to the door. His wrists are whole, his ankles healthy. He looks at Danny and smiles.

 

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