The piece of paper was wrinkled, as if it had been waded up and thrown away, then picked back up and flattened back out. It wasn’t folded. It was lying face down on Steve’s pillow.
When Danny woke up that morning, two weeks after they returned to Oahu, he knew Steve wouldn’t be there. He had been cleared to swim two days earlier. The piece of paper, at first, brought a smile to his face. That was until he started reading it. It wasn’t what he expected at all.
I’m losing myself, Danny. I don’t know how to stop it. I’m wrapped up in so much anger and guilt that I can’t find my way out. I thought that if I gave it enough time, that it would work itself out. I was wrong.
When you told me how you felt, I was truly happy. For a few days, things looked like they were going to be okay. Then, when Grace had to go back to Rachel’s, and you went back to work, my mind wandered again. Swimming isn’t helping. It always helped before.
I know I need to talk about what happened, but I just haven’t been able to find the words. I can’t even say them on paper. I just don’t know. I’m ready; I just need to find the right words.
I should have said something to you sooner, but you know me and my communication skills, and I didn’t want to scare Grace.
Please, Danny, help me.
Danny dropped the letter, and stood up. He quickly grabbed a t-shirt and sweatpants from the dresser and ran down the stairs. He knew Steve wouldn’t be in the house, but he looked anyway. When he came up empty, Danny went out the back door and down to the beach. He could see Steve making his way back to shore.
Danny stood at the point where the grass ended and the beach began. He tried to figure out what he was going to say to Steve when he got back. He kept coming up empty.
He thought back over the last week, tried to see if he’d missed any signs. He had noticed that Steve wasn’t quite as energetic as usual, but he took that as part of the healing process and had let it go. He had been wrong, at least on some level.
There was the fact that Steve’s had been sleeping more than usual. Danny kicked himself over that one. On a normal day, Steve could go on less than four hours sleep. In the last week he had been averaging seven. Again, Danny had put it down to his recovery.
He really should have seen it, especially since he was living with Steve, and sharing his bed.
He turned his attention back to the water, just as Steve stood and walked back up to the beach. Danny could still see what was left of the bruising and burns on Steve’s torso.
Steve visibly tensed when he noticed Danny standing there. Danny could tell at that moment that Steve was contemplating his options; looking for an escape plan. Danny couldn’t let him run, so he closed the distance between them. He reached out and grabbed Steve’s arms and looked him in the eyes.
Steve opened his mouth, but couldn’t say anything. He dropped his head and stared at his feet.
“No you don’t,” Danny said, as he lifted his hand to Steve’s chin and lifted his head just enough so he could look back into his eyes.
Steve tried to pull away, but Danny wouldn’t let him.
“Steve, you know I read the letter. You put it there so I could. You can’t run away from this. Not anymore.”
“I know damnit!” Steve snapped. He then pulled away again. Danny didn’t try to stop him.
Steve turned away and swiftly walked into the house. Danny followed after a moment.
The living room and kitchen were empty, so Danny went back upstairs. He went into their bedroom and heard the water running in the bathroom. He sat down on the bed to wait, but thought better of it.
He tried the knob on the bathroom door. It was unlocked, so he walked in and quietly closed the door behind him. Steve’s swim trunks were lying on the floor just outside of the shower. It wasn’t till he stepped closer that he noticed Steve wasn’t standing up in the shower. He was sitting down on the floor.
Danny pulled the curtain back. Steve had his knees pulled up to his chest and his head down. Without a second thought, Danny turned off the water and knelt down in front of Steve.
Steve didn’t respond, so Danny laid his hand on Steve’s shoulder.
He finally looked up at Danny. His eyes were glassy, but he hadn’t been crying; at least not yet. Danny could tell Steve was on the verge of losing it, but he was doing his best to hold it together.
“Steve, you’re going to have to let it go. That’s the only way you’re going to start to get past this. I understand if you can’t talk yet, but this will help. Trust me. I’m here, and I’m not going anywhere.”
Steve looked Danny in the eyes, and with a small nod, he laid his head back down and he let the tears go. His whole body shook once he allowed himself to let go.
Danny moved next to him and put his arm across Steve’s shoulders. Steve leaned into the touch and Danny’s warmth. Danny leaned against Steve, doing his best to give as much comfort as he could.
After about ten minutes, Steve had calmed down. He finally lifted his head and looked over at Danny.
“Babe, you’ve got nothing to be sorry for.”
“It’s my fault that Jenna is dead. It’s my fault that everyone around me dies. Why do you even want to be around me? You could have died coming to find me. All of you could have. You shouldn’t have come to get me. You…”
“Don’t say that, Steve. Jenna was not your fault. She did that to herself. She knew better. And don’t you dare question why I’m here. I love you. I’ve loved you for a long time. We all do. Nothing could have kept us from coming to get you.”
“You had no idea what you were walking into. Wo Fat…”
“Is a son of a bitch, and we will find him, and take him down. I’d love to shoot the asshole in the face for what he did to you.”
“As much as I’d love to see you do that; as much as I’d love to do it myself…”
“Yeah, yeah… I know. Well, I at least get to punch him a few times, maybe kick him while he’s down.”
Steve just nodded. He grinned, but his heart wasn’t in it.
“You think you can stand up? I’d like to get out of these wet clothes.”
Steve gave him an odd look. “Why are you wearing clothes in the shower?”
“Why am I...?” He chuckled. “Come on you. Let’s get you dried off and back in bed.”
Steve let Danny help him stand and then once he was dried off, Steve walked back into the bedroom. Danny pulled his wet clothes off and dried himself before following. When he walked into the room, Steve was lying on the bed. The covers were pulled back, but he hadn’t pulled them over himself.
Danny walked around the other side of the bed and noticed the letter. He picked it up and placed in on his bedside table. He climbed into the bed behind Steve. He pulled the covers up over them both. He thought Steve was asleep.
“After everything we just went through, and you ask about work? I think Chin, Kono, and Lori can handle things without us. It’s still early. I’ll give them a call in a little while.”
“Steve, are you okay? I mean, really. None of that macho bullshit.”
He hesitated. “No… I’m not. Not yet.”
Danny put his arm over Steve and pulled him close. He wasn’t going to push. Steve did things in his own time, in his own way. He placed a kiss at the base of Steve’s neck. He wouldn’t do anymore. Not yet; not now. So, Danny just held him tight. Within minutes, they were both asleep.