Steve is too late. He's too late and he knows he's too late, and if he took the time to sit down and think about it, he'd tell himself it's not such a disaster, because this is his team and they're perfectly capable of taking care of themselves. Kono would have gotten loose (again) and grabbed somebody's gun, or Chin would have met fewer thugs coming in from the other side and gotten to them already, or Danny would have done... something. It might still be all right. The fact that he just heard shots and a scream from up ahead where Kono and Danny are being held doesn't necessarily mean anything at all. Not necessarily.
He can't think any of that, though, because he's too busy kicking the door open. And maybe that's a good thing, because behind the door there's a room, and in the room Kono is holding a gun on Jenkins, who looks completely freaked out, and two of Jenkins' guys are lying on the floor with their hands on the the back of their heads, and Chin is just bursting in through the door on the other side, and Steve somehow registers the glazed, shocked look in Kono's eyes before he registers that that's Danny lying on the floor, in a pool of enough blood Steve can tell there are only a very few things this could mean.
Maybe Chin also sees Kono's expression first, and maybe his brain is still working after Steve's has stopped, because he yells, "Don't --" Just as Kono makes a sound Steve can't put a name to and shoots Jenkins in the shoulder.
The rest of it is a blur, muted and distant. They sit together answering questions and they sit together and stare at paperwork. Someone hands Steve some coffee. Steve drinks it, or maybe he hands it to Chin; he can't remember.
The first time he snaps out of it is when someone mentions they're trying to track Rachel down.
Steve stares, until it sinks in. Then he turns to stare at the others. Kono is looking sick. Chin just looks horribly fucking sad.
"No --" Steve says. He lurches up to stand. "I'll, I'll talk to her. She's --" He swallows, because he wants to say she'll want to hear it from him, but that might not be true; he's the one who got her kid's father killed, after all. Maybe she'd rather hear it from anyone else but him.
He can't do anything else, though, because want to or not, she deserves to hear it from him. And -- Danny would have wanted that. He's almost sure Danny would've wanted that.
They find Rachel in fifteen minutes. He knows all of them are glad to have something to do, even just for a bit. They want to come with him, and Steve thinks again how maybe that's better, but it feels right to do it alone.
She looks suspicious even before he says anything (or course she does; what else would he be here for?). When he does say it, there's a moment when she just stares at him, that bit where suspicion turns into reality but it's not a reality you can take in, and Steve looks at her and knows her face is about to crumple, that she might be about to cry or scream. If she hits him he'll let her, of course he'll let her; he'll be glad if she does, he thinks. He doesn't know what to do other than that.
Instead of any of that, she takes a half-wobbly step back away from him, and her eyes go distant. "Tell me exactly what happened," she says.
There are a lot of ways of dealing with grief. Steve's seen most of them some time or another. He's the last person who'll blame someone if their mode of dealing with things is lockdown. Still, though - he's lived with held-in grief for years, saw it in his dad and in himself. He guesses it's not too weird that Rachel seems to deal with it the same way, but it's not -- she's asking him about decapitation, and she actually seems relaxed once he answers, like the fact that the bullets that got Danny dead didn't somehow separate his head from his body makes it all okay. Actually like it makes it all okay, and Steve -- Steve likes Rachel, okay, as much as he knows her, likes her when she isn't trying to tear Danny's life down, he's glad that they have this truce that makes it okay for him to think she's all right. Had this truce. But she's relaxed, she's almost smiling, and grief takes a lot of forms but Steve doesn't think he can deal with hers. Not just now.
They stand there in silence for a few seconds and Steve just wants to get away from this, from her, from how she's almost vibrating with some kind of -- something, but he knows he can't; he needs to make sure Stan can come be with her, needs to, fucking hell, needs to find out if she needs help breaking this to Grace. He should --
"I need you to do something for me," she says.
He can't tell if he's feeling more relief or more dread. He nods at her to continue, and she says, "I need you to get me to Danny."
He stares at her, then understands. "You don't need to do that. We already identified him."
"No, no," she says. "It isn't that. I..." she looks at him, uncertain, then shakes her head and says, "Look, just -- let's say I need this for the closure, all right? I need... to see him again."
And Steve is about to say that yes, okay, when she adds, "some time when there's no one around. I need... privacy. To say goodbye." She's giving him a steady, decisive look, and Steve is somehow almost convinced she's lying to him but he has no idea why. "Can you get me in after hours?"
Steve opens his mouth, closes it, tries again. "Rachel," he says, carefully, "I don't think this is a good idea. You should --"
She cuts him off before he can say anything else. "That's okay," she says. "I think it'll be best if you go now. I need to think about this."
She listens to him offer to call people with that same inappropriately calm look on her face, and before he knows it he's out the gate, staring inside. He has no idea how that happened. Everything is still... off, wrong (of course it's wrong), but this is somehow more and he wishes he had it in himself right now to do something about it.
Chin and Kono sleep in his house that night. He's not sure if it's for him or for them or for everyone or what, but he's grateful either way.
He wakes up in the middle of the night, and it takes him a beat to realize the phone just rang, another beat to realize he should get it before it wakes them up, too.
"You know," somebody says, and Steve sits bolt upright, because it sounds just like the one person it can't possibly be, "I can't believe you got me shot again. I mean, it's not like you ever stopped getting me shot at, but there's still a slight but noticeable difference there, you know what I mean? And by slight but noticeable I mean the part where I'm bleeding --"
Steve is dreaming, of course; he knows he's dreaming, and that cuts all the way through him, because this feels real, because it sounds just like Danny. He says, mostly to remind himself, "You're dead."
The voice on the other end of the line -- the phantom voice his brain came up with -- sighs. "Yeah," it says, "sorry about that."