Danny and Steve had just finished eating when Steve’s phone rang. Danny saw Steve tense as he looked at the Caller ID. He would have asked who it was if his phone hadn’t started ringing at that moment.
Danny pulled the phone from his pocket and pressed answer. He watched as Steve walked out the back door.
“Okay, I guess. About this morning…”
“No worries, brah. Anyway, that’s not why I called.”
“We’ve got a case. It’s a big one. We’re gonna need all hands on deck.”
“Chin, I don’t know if he’s up for it.”
“I tried to tell the governor that, but he’s insistent.”
Danny sighed. “Okay, I’ll talk to Steve.”
Chin went on to tell him of the anonymous tip about the drug shipment.
Danny hung up with Chin just as Steve was walking back inside the house. Steve looked tired; more so than he had in a few days.
“Hey, babe, who was that?”
“It was Joe. The Navy is conducting an inquiry into his actions. They need me to come in and make a statement. He said that they’d put it off as long as they could.”
“Tomorrow morning, 10 am.”
“And the hits keep on coming…” Danny said under his breath.
“What was that?”
“Chin called while you were outside. Big drug case. The governor is insisting that we all work the case. At least he had the decency to call the office.”
Steve nodded, and then hesitated briefly. “Well then, I guess we’re off to work.”
“Steve, you don’t have to. I’ll call the governor.”
“No. This is more important. I’ll be fine.”
Danny wanted to protest some more, but knew it would do no good. So, he watched helplessly as Steve’s walls went up; the same walls he’d worked so hard to break down that morning.
Danny did his best to keep a close eye on Steve when they weren’t at home. Before North Korea, when Steve went into ‘SEAL mode,’ it was a means to an end. It got the job done, and Steve was able to switch it on and off without much difficulty. Since North Korea, and since that phone call from Joe, Steve had been in an advanced state of ‘SEAL mode.’ Danny had started calling it ‘scary SEAL mode.’ It truly scared Danny, mostly because he never switched it off. Not even when they were at home.
Danny made sure that Steve ate, and got some sleep, but even that was minimal.
There was a moment, after he made his statement at Pearl, that Danny thought Steve’s walls were going to fall. There had been a look on his face, similar to one he had seen only one day before. Then Steve had taken a deep breath, squared his shoulders, and the look was gone.
Danny had hoped that wearing the tie to the press conference might bring out a reaction in Steve. Other than the comment from Kono during the press conference, there hadn’t been much. He did notice a few sideways glances from Steve.
Then the call came in about the kidnapped kids, and everything was turned on its head. That case hit Danny particularly hard. Many of the kids were Grace’s age, and all he could think about was how she could have been one of them.
A huge weight lifted from his shoulders when they pulled the delivery van out of the dirt pile and the kids were all okay, if shaken up. Who knew Steve could drive a school bus. Danny saw the first genuine smile come across Steve’s face as the kids were reunited with their parents.
When Steve said “Book ‘em, Danno,” Danny could see a little of the real Steve shining through. Then Steve got a phone call and took off. Danny could only stand there and watch him leave.
Steve didn’t go straight home after meeting with Joe. He climbed into his truck and peeled away, probably leaving some rubber on the street. He knew the last thing he needed was to be alone, but he couldn’t deal with anyone else at that moment. He drove, not really paying much attention to where he was going. He didn’t really care.
He looked at the clock and realized he’d been gone for over two hours. He pulled over and pulled out his phone. He had three missed calls. Two were from Danny, and one was from Chin. He’d never heard it ring or felt it vibrate.
He looked around him, and realized he had no idea where he was. There were very few places on the island that he wasn’t familiar with, and he just happened to find one of them. He decided to turn around and go back the way he came.
Danny arrived home a little after 6 pm that evening. He had tried calling Steve a couple of times, but had gotten no answer. Chin hadn’t gotten an answer either. Danny hoped that Steve would have been home already, but there was no sign of him or his truck.
As he went to unlock the front door, his phone rang. He pulled it out and sighed with relief when it was Steve’s name he saw.
“Where the hell have you been?”
“Danny?” Steve’s voice was quiet and a little shaky.
“Steve? Are you okay? Where are you?”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know if you’re okay, or you don’t know where you are?”
“I’m at the beach.”
“Babe, not to be difficult, but this island is nothing but beach.”
“Okay. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
Danny went to say something else, but he heard the click of the line disconnecting. He turned around and ran back to the Camaro.
He got to the beach about seven minutes later. He drove until he found Steve’s truck and pulled up beside it. Steve was still seated in the driver’s seat. His head was back against the head rest, and he was staring forward out the windshield.
Danny got out of the car and opened the passenger side door of the truck. He climbed in and sat down, closing the door behind him.
There was no response.
“Steve, babe, please talk to me.”
There was still no response. Danny reached over and laid his hand on Steve’s shoulder. He didn’t even twitch. Steve had completely shut down.
Danny got out of the truck and walked around to the driver’s side. He opened the door and looked up at Steve.
“Hey babe… do you think you can get out and get in the car with me?”
As if on autopilot, Steve climbed down out of the truck, walked around to the passenger side of the Camaro and got in. He even fastened the seatbelt. His movements were sluggish, but at that point, Danny would take anything. He quickly pulled the keys from the ignition and locked up the truck. He got back in the car and backed out of the parking spot.
He laid his right hand on Steve’s thigh and glimpsed over at him several times on the way back to the house. Steve was still and quiet.
Danny had been worried that something like that could happen. Steve would bury himself so deep that he wouldn’t be able to find his way back out. He thought that things had started normalizing after they found the kids, but something had happened to erase all the progress.
He knew something must have happened when Steve had gone to meet Joe, but he’d been unable to reach him as well. What the hell was going on? If only he could get Steve to talk to him.
When they got to the house, Danny had to unfasten Steve’s seatbelt and practically manhandle him out of the car. Once he’d locked the car, he stood in front of Steve. He placed his hands on either side of Steve’s face, much like he’d done a few days prior.
“Steve? What happened to you? What is going on in that head of yours?”
Danny was slightly relieved when Steve’s eyes focused on his. He still didn’t say anything, but he held eye contact with Danny until he looked away.
“Let’s get inside, okay? You think you can do that on your own?”
Steve turned and followed Danny to the front door and into the house. Danny went to put his keys down on the coffee table and turned around just in time to see Steve disappear out the back door.
Danny followed and found Steve standing in front of one of the chairs, staring out at the ocean. Danny walked up beside him and stood there quietly, his right arm barely touching Steve’s left.
Without warning Steve turned and grabbed onto Danny’s shoulders. He leaned down and pressed his lips hard against Danny’s. The kiss wasn’t gentle, and Danny tried to pull away, but Steve was holding on too tightly.
Steve abruptly pulled back. He looked horrified.
“Oh God, Danny… I’m so sorry… I didn’t mean to…”
Danny stood there stunned. He knew that Steve was in a bad place, and he’d never mean to hurt him.
“Steven, you aren’t thinking straight. Its okay, I’m not upset or mad at you. Just don’t ever do that again.”
Steve looked like he wanted to run. So as slowly and gently as he could, Danny approached him and placed his hands on Steve’s shoulders.
“Look at me!” He said, forcefully.
Steve jumped slightly, but looked down into Danny’s eyes.
“Talk to me, please. What the hell happened to you today?”
“I don’t know… I just went for a drive, and then I didn’t know where I was. I never heard the phone ring. The next thing I remember is talking to you on the phone. Then being here. How’d..?”
“Don’t worry about that. I think the last week was too much, too soon. You shouldn’t have gone back to work yet. You still haven’t worked through everything yet.”
“I was stuck. I couldn’t… get out of my head.”
“Yeah, I noticed. You, my friend, went into scary SEAL mode. I really don’t like scary SEAL mode.”
“Scary SEAL mode?”
“I’ll tell you about that another time. Just… try and relax. That’s a lot of your problem. You get wound up so tight. Tell me… what do you need? I want to help, but I can’t if I don’t know how?”
“I just need you… to be with me. Please.”
“I don’t think that’s such a good idea right now.”
“You don’t want to…”
“Whoa there, babe. I never said I didn’t want to. Of course I do, but you aren’t exactly yourself.”
“I’ll be okay. I want this. More than you know. I just need…”
“Okay… I’ve got you.”
Danny reached up and kissed Steve. He pulled away then gently pushed Steve toward the chair that was behind him. He fell into it and Danny climbed on top of him. He kissed Steve again, as he worked his pants open.
He pushed Steve’s boxers down and wrapped his hand around Steve’s cock and started to slowly stroke him. He felt himself getting hard, and Steve must have noticed too, because he had reached down and was unbuttoning Danny’s pants.
Before long, Steve had Danny’s pants open. Danny stopped stroking Steve long enough to line up their cocks and grab them both. They both started thrusting together, building up friction.
Steve’s breath became erratic, and after about three more thrusts, he came with a grunt. Danny continued to pump him through his orgasm, and five thrusts later, his back arched and he came, also with a grunt.
Danny collapsed on top of Steve. Neither of them moved nor spoke for several minutes. Then Steve wrapped his arms around Danny and held on to him as if he were a lifeline. Danny was the first to speak.
“Do you mind if we move this somewhere more comfortable?”
Steve didn’t say anything, but he started to move. Danny stood up and helped Steve out of the chair. They made their way upstairs and into the bedroom. They stripped off their clothes and climbed into the bed.
Steve wrapped his arms around Danny again, as if his life depended on it.
“It’s okay… I know. Just rest now.”
They fell asleep in each other’s arms. It was the best sleep either of them had had in a long time. It was also the first night in a long time that Steve hadn’t suffered a nightmare.
Danny woke the next morning, alone in the bed. He was worried for a minute, but then he saw a flat, clean piece of paper sitting on Steve’s pillow. He picked it up and turned it over. He smiled as he read it.
I don’t know what I’d do without you in my life. You have been a lifesaver.
I don’t feel so lost anymore. I’m still not great, but I’m getting there. I’ve thought about it, and I think I may need to talk to someone. You may be surprised, but it won’t be the first time.
You brought me back from the brink, and for that I will forever be grateful to you.
I love you.