When Steve told Danny that he was sensitive, he hadn’t known how true it was. Danny had deflected, of course. He had a reputation to uphold. Well, he had a reputation in New Jersey. In Hawaii, he was a haole, an outsider. The only reputation he really had there was of being a loud-mouthed mainlander, who just didn’t fit in. In his mind, that’s how he felt, and he didn’t think he’d ever get to the point where he really belonged there. He was alone, except for his daughter.
One thing that no one in Hawaii, with the exception of his ex-wife and daughter, knew about Danny was the fact that he suffered from panic attacks. He could count on one hand how many attacks he’d had, but when they did occur, they were severe. He had been hospitalized twice. The other times, he’d had someone there to help him through.
Danny hadn’t had an attack since he arrived in Hawaii, which surprised him. Most of his attacks were situational, but with everything that had happened with Rachel, he was halfway expecting to have one at any moment. Also, he didn’t have anyone there to help him through if he ever did have another one.
He never would have expected that day, after dropping Grace off at school, to end up the way it had either.
When Steve, Danny and Chin arrived at the hangar at Dillingham, they hadn’t known what they’d find. Danny prayed that Kono and Evan, and hopefully his father, Roland, would be alright. When he had finally gotten a look at the scene, he couldn’t help seeing the similarities with another case of his in Jersey. He tried putting that out of his mind. They couldn’t afford the consequences.
The explosion had thrown the entire group to the ground. It took Danny a few moments to recover, and he slowly got up and checked himself for any injuries. Finding none, he made his way over to where Steve stood over Zankovic. Once he was taken care of, they cleared the scene and made their way back to headquarters.
Danny quietly walked into his office and sat down in his chair. He was so glad they had decided to bring their uniforms to work with them that morning. In their line of work, they never knew if they’d get any breaks throughout the day. It had been a good decision.
The adrenaline had started to leave his system at that point, and he knew he probably wouldn’t have been able to make it home on his own. He was exhausted and his tie was feeling a little tight. He had to make it a little while longer, so he pushed it all out of his mind and changed into his dress uniform. That was yet another sign that he didn’t belong. He still only had his Newark uniform.
The ceremony was short and sweet. He lost track of what was going on after he had given Kono her medal. It wasn’t until Kono had finished her oath and then gone down the line and hugged each of them that he came back to himself.
"You alright, brah?"
"Yeah, I’m great. I should be asking you that."
She smiled at him. "I’ll be okay. Stings like a bitch."
They both chuckled.
So, the day had ended up having a happy ending, but Danny couldn’t shake the feeling that something was about to happen. As soon as he was able, Danny walked back to his office, and grabbed the keys to his car. He took a few deep breaths and then made to walk toward the door. Steve was standing there in the doorway.
"You sure you’re alright, Danny?"
"Yeah, just tired. Nothing a good night’s sleep won’t cure."
Steve held his hand out. "I’ll give you a lift. You look like you’re about to drop where you stand."
Normally, Danny would have launched into a rant about how he was perfectly capable of getting home by himself, but he knew Steve was right, and he didn’t have the energy. He handed his keys over without complaint and followed Steve out the door.
He knew what was happening as soon as he got into the car. Normally, they’d hit without warning, but the situation had presented itself much like it had all those years ago. He’d actually hoped he’d gotten past it; that his mind and body had learned to deal, but apparently not. About halfway back to his apartment, Danny began to have trouble breathing.
"Damnit! No, no, no…"
Steve pulled the car over. Once the car was stopped, he unbuckled his seatbelt and leaned over and put his hand on Danny’s shoulder.
"Danny? Talk to me. Are you hurt? Are you okay?"
Danny couldn’t catch his breath. He was hyperventilating. He couldn’t talk, but he knew what he needed, and the belt buckle was being too stubborn to cooperate.
Steve saw what he was trying to do and unbuckled the seatbelt. As soon as it was free, Danny leaned forward and put his head down. He had to get his breathing under control or he was going to pass out.
Steve moved his hand to the back of Danny’s neck and squeezed. "Danny? Come on, man. You’re scaring me here. I’m turning around, and taking you to the hospital."
It took everything he had, but he was able to say, "No… home… please… Steve… now!"
Steve hesitated. He then squeezed the back of Danny’s neck again, then put the car in gear and again headed toward Danny’s apartment. He rolled both the windows down, in the hope that it might help.
By the time they arrived, Danny was back sitting up; his head back against the head rest, eyes closed.
"Hey, Danny." Steve shook his shoulder.
Danny slowly opened his eyes. He’d finally gotten his breathing under control, but he was dizzy and lightheaded.
"You okay? What was that?"
Danny opened his door and tried to get out of the car, but fell back into his seat. "Damn."
Steve got out and rushed around to the other side of the car. He kneeled down in front of Danny and placed his hand on his knee.
"Hey, you with me?"
"Yeah. Um… a little help?"
Steve helped him up, and they slowly made their way into the small apartment. Steve helped him over to the sofa bed and they both sat down.
"You can go now. I just need some sleep. I’ll be fine."
"No way, Danno. After what I just witnessed, I’m not going anywhere. Not till I know what happened, and that you really are okay."
"Steve, just… let it go. I don’t want to talk about it. I just want to go to bed."
"Fine, but we are going to talk about this. You get some sleep."
Danny had enough energy to strip down to his boxers and crawl under the covers of the bed. He was asleep almost before his head hit the pillow.
Steve sat down in a chair nearby and sat vigil over his friend.
Danny woke up sometime early the next morning. It was still dark out. He felt much better than he had the night before, but still not quite right. He contemplated going back to sleep, but found that he was too restless.
There was enough light streaming in from one of the streetlights outside for him to see around a bit. He lifted his head and looked around. He stopped on the figure sleeping in the chair near the door.
Steve looked uncomfortable. Danny figured, if he couldn’t sleep, neither could Steve, so he grabbed his pillow and threw it at Steve’s head. He startled awake when the pillow hit him square in the face. It took him a moment to get his bearings.
"If I remember correctly, I told you to leave last night."
"No, you said I could go, and I told you I wasn’t going anywhere till we talked."
"You aren’t going to let it go, are you?"
"No, I’m not. So you might as well start talking."
"I hate you so much right now. Can I at least get a shower first?"
"I’ll be here when you’re done."
Danny took his time in the shower. He was not looking forward to the conversation that was about to take place. He had hoped to avoid the situation altogether, but when had his life ever gone the way he’d hoped. He was sure that this was probably going to drive a wedge between him and one of the few people on the island that gave him the time of day.
He got dressed and then walked back into the main room of the apartment. Steve was still sitting in the chair.
Danny sighed loudly, and then sat down on the end of the bed.
"Fine. I had a panic attack, okay."
"A panic attack?"
"Yes, Steven, a panic attack. It’s really embarrassing okay, and…" Danny trailed off, and then looked away.
"Hey, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. It happens."
Danny looked back at Steve, a look of shock on his face.
"It happens? That’s all you have to say?"
"Well, I might as well tell you the whole story then. This was the sixth one I’ve had in the past… five years. They are triggered by certain… stressful situations. The first one, five years ago, happened after an explosion. A ten year old boy was killed, and I couldn’t do anything to save him. I wasn’t injured, but I couldn’t breathe. By the time anyone got to me I had passed out. I woke up in the hospital. That was the first of two times I was hospitalized."
"Yeah… me too…" He looked down at his feet and continued. "So, yesterday… the explosion. I’m surprised it didn’t happen sooner. I actually thought… maybe it wouldn’t happen, but I started feeling it after we left the scene, and then I zoned out during Kono’s graduation."
At some point while Danny was talking, Steve had moved from his spot in the chair, and taken a seat next to him on the bed. Danny startled slightly when Steve put his arm across his shoulders.
"Steve? What are you doing?"
"I’m trying to be a good and supportive friend."
"So, we’re friends now?"
"Well, I thought…"
"Yeah, okay. I know we haven’t known each other for very long, and you aren’t exactly that great with the communication, but you are probably the closest thing to a friend I have on this pineapple-infested island." He hesitated. "Did you mean what you said at HQ? The whole family thing?"
Silence fell over the pair as they sat there. It was at least five minutes before Danny spoke again.
"Thank you… for being here. This was the first one I’ve had since being here. The last one I had before this was bad. No one was there. I thought I was gonna die."
"It was the day that Rachel and Grace left for Hawaii."
Steve didn’t say anything. He just squeezed Danny shoulders. Danny leaned into the hug.
"I’ve got your back, no matter what. Don’t you forget that."
Danny nodded. "I didn’t picture you as the type to be into chick-flick moments."
Steve couldn’t help the laugh that escaped.
He looked Danny in the eyes and smiled. "You’ll find I’m full of surprises. Once you get to know me."
Danny chuckled. "Thanks, really."
Steve pulled his arm back and then stood up. He turned around and looked down at Danny.
"Um… could you give me a lift back to HQ?"
The following week had been uneventful, until the football game, and then Rachel’s freak out. Danny was close to having another panic attack, but then Rachel’s lawyer informed him that she was no longer going to change their custody agreement. The weight in his chest released, and he could breathe. He grabbed hold of Grace with everything he had and held on for dear life.
He knew Steve had done something. He wasn’t stupid, he had seen the governor’s SUV leaving the house. When he had finally made it to HQ and talked to Steve, he was finally starting to believe that yeah, maybe he wasn’t alone on the island. Maybe there really were people here who cared about him.