Steve watches Joe walk away in his rear-view mirror. Part of him wants to go after Joe, apologize, yell some more, hell, beg if it'll get Joe to just tell him, to not keep secrets and push him out the way Steve's father did.
Part of him wants to put his foot down, drive away with tires squealing, like a kid storming off. See how much I don't care?
He doesn't know which part's going to win out, and then it doesn't matter, because Joe's rounded a corner, disappeared into the night, and all that's left for Steve to do is go home, so he does.
The house is dark, one bowl, one coffee mug in the sink from that morning, his running shoes inside the door from the last time he had chance to go for a run. He opens the door to the beach, letting in the sound of the waves. Steve leans in the doorway, closes his eyes and lets the salt air and the noise of the surf wash over him.
Sometimes it's enough to calm the thoughts tumbling over and over each other, the rush of questions without answers and dead end paths that feels like fire ants crawling in his brain.
Sometimes, he closes his eyes and sees crime scene pictures of his mom's car after the explosion, or the blood spattered sports trophies that he cleaned, one long night after he shot Hesse.
Tonight, when he closes his eyes, he gets Jenna Kaye, falling backwards after Wo Fat shot her; finding that tooth in Mary's rental and thinking she was dead. Oswald falling away from him, and finding Joe's cell phone, the keys still in his door, like Joe was going to be one more person he had to lose, couldn't save.
He can't stay in the house, and for once he doesn't want to be in the water. Doesn't want to know what other memories are lurking, ready to surface at the wrong moment. He's got plenty that happened out in the depths of oceans he can never admit to having been in.
Steve's got a half dozen routes he likes to run, but picking one is too much thought. Instead, he steps out of his front door, turns left and follows the line of the beach. The streets are quiet, too late for the residents to be out, too far from the bars for tourists or students. Steve counts his steps, concentrates on breathing, one foot in front of the other, and tries to get lost in the rhythm. Tries not to be anything but his footfalls and his breathing and the thick night air surrounding him.
He shouldn't have let Joe walk home, not when he doesn't even know what Adam Noshimuri did to Joe. He should have called, checked Joe got home okay and doesn't need medical attention. Except he still has Joe's phone, and Joe's keys. Not that a little thing like that would stop Joe getting into his room.
Steve thinks about Shelburne until he makes himself stop. About Wo Fat demanding what Steve didn't know, and the nights when Steve wakes up shaking from dreams that are half-nightmare and half-memory. He thinks about that first night back in Hawaii, about jerking awake every time he started to fall asleep, afraid that it was a dream, afraid of what he'd dream, seeing Jenna's dead body over and over, her hands holding a gun on him. Every time, every time, Joe had been there, sitting quietly in the corner of Steve's room, watching him. Watching over him, and Steve had looked at the gun in Joe's hands, the promise of protection, until his eyes dropped closed and he started the whole cycle over again.
Maybe it shouldn't be a surprise that Joe won't trust him with this secret. Maybe Joe's telling the truth, the one he doesn't actually tell, and this is to protect Steve, to keep him safe from some threat worse than the Yakuza, worse than Wo Fat. Or maybe that's just what Joe tells himself, because Steve is the reason that Joe doesn't have a career any more, that he's not in the Navy any longer. Because Joe had to sacrifice that, for Steve's trust in Jenna, because Steve wanted to make things right for someone, and he couldn't do it for himself so he wanted to do it for her.
Steve has no idea how long he's been running for, isn't even sure where he is, except that he can still hear the ocean so he'll be okay. He's not ready to stop yet.
Steve's known Joe for as long as he can remember, his dad's old friend from the service who'd show up on the islands when he was least expected, take Steve and Mary to look at the ships, sit up late with their parents, drinking beer and making their mom laugh while Steve and Mary hid in the shadows of their open bedroom windows and listened in to stories they shouldn't have been hearing.
Joe's part of one of the few clear memories Steve has of the first days after his mom died – was killed. After the funeral, when Mary refused to come back to the house, and Steve couldn't take one more person telling him how sorry they were, Joe had sat quietly next to him, by the water, not saying anything, just there. Just like how he turned up this time when Steve needed him, and stayed because…
Steve doesn't know why Joe stayed. He wants to believe it's because Steve still needs him, to find out what really happened with his dad, to be there, to be someone Steve can trust. Someone to believe when Joe said that Steve's dad had been a good man and Wo Fat was lying when he said Steve was better off not knowing.
It shouldn't feel so much like a betrayal, the things Joe won't tell, but it does. It does, because when Steve thinks about Joe, he thinks about how Joe calls him son like he means it, he thinks about how Joe made sure they could come for him in Korea, about Joe handing him the rifle and holding onto him in the chopper when Steve thought he might just fly away, half out of it with pain.
He thinks about Joe, watching over him with a gun, making him safe, and then he thinks about Joe walking away from him, about Joe saying that Mokoto was dead because of Steve –
Steve stumbles, can't catch his balance, goes down sprawling. He's expecting to hit tarmac, but he hits sand instead, realizes the waves are closer than they should be, that he's veered onto the beach and not even realized. He's winded from the fall, the wind catching the sand, swirling it up to stick to his hot, sweaty skin, and everything rushes over him in that moment, knocks him flat in the darkness on a beach he can't even name. Every person they didn't save, every kid without a father, Nick's blood on his hands, Oswald falling to his death, the governor's betrayal, his father shaking hands with Wo Fat, sending Mary away, Jenna's death and Wo Fat's torture and being certain that he wasn't going to be saved, that he was going to die in North Korea and someone would have to tell Mary.
Steve's shaking, he can hear himself gasping for breath, feel the tears that he never sheds, and there's nothing he can do but let it happen. Let it pin him down and wash over him.
And then it's over, he's lying on the beach in the dark and he's not sure he's got the energy left to get up. He knows he doesn't have the strength to run home, and he's got no cash to get a cab.
He's seriously considering sleeping right there when he realizes he's looking at the sign for the Hilton Village Hotel. Danny's hotel, and Danny, when he'd moved out of Steve's, had said, Any time you need somewhere to crash, mi casa es su casa, no fifty million rules and three minute showers, yeah? Steve can't remember what he'd said in response – a joke, probably, or something about Navy showers and conserving water – but it doesn't matter. What matters is that Danny's right there, and Danny promised to take Steve in.
The guy on the front desk gives Steve a look that Steve doesn't want to contemplate as he passes through the lobby, but Steve doesn't need directions, so it's not like the guy can stop him.
Steve stops himself outside the door to Danny's suite. What if Danny's sleeping? What if Danny's got someone else there – Lori come by to use the spa facilities, or Dr Sono, Steve's pretty sure they had another date, not just the museum trip. Or Grace, except Steve knows Danny doesn't have Grace this weekend so that's out.
Then he decides that he doesn't care. Even if Danny does have someone there, even if Danny yells or sends him away, he wants to see Danny, just for a minute. He needs to see Danny. He knocks.
There's silence, and then the door opens on Danny, still in his shirt and pants and shoes, mouth open like he's going to argue. Steve watches Danny take him in, and something softens in Danny's face, the way Steve's only ever seen with Grace.
"You okay?" Danny asks.
Steve shakes his head. He thinks he should lie, that he usually would, but he doesn't know what to say.
"I figured." Danny catches Steve's elbow, pulls him gently into the room. "You want to talk about it?"
Steve shakes his head again. He likes this suite. There's nothing much in it that says Danny, but there's nothing that says death and memories either, and for now, that's all Steve wants.
"Can I sleep here tonight?" he asks. His voice is rough, makes his throat hurt.
"Of course," Danny says, so soft that Steve doesn't want to think about what Danny might be imagining has happened. "I've got two rooms, and I only need one. Plus, this place has really solid windows, can't even hear the waves with the balcony doors closed, it's great." Danny smiles, which is when Steve notices he's been maneuvered towards a bathroom. "Take a shower, okay? You look like you took a bath in sand, and this is a nice hotel, you can't be getting sand on their Egyptian cotton sheets. Go on. You'll feel better," Danny adds quietly.
Steve nods. He's not convinced, but he came here because he wanted Danny, and maybe this is what he wanted, Danny's brand of caring, learned with his baby girl, the one he uses on victims and witnesses.
"Not a Navy shower." Danny grins, turning on the shower. "In you get, or you need me to help you undress?"
Danny's maybe a little bit right about the shower, if only for the way Steve feels soft-edged and sleepy when he steps out. Danny must have been through the room while Steve was showering, because where his sand-and-sweat-encrusted clothes were there's now a neatly folded pile of fresh clothes. Steve thinks about being worried that he didn't hear Danny, thinks about being worried that these might be Danny's clothes and borrowing each other's clothes is really not something they can do. Then he decides that neither of those things matter right now, and gets dressed.
The clothes turn out to be black sweatpants, a little too long, like someone didn't guess quite right, and an 'I Love Hawaii' t-shirt. Hotel gift shop, then.
Steve can't hear Danny moving around, but he figures Danny can probably hear him, so he makes his way to the second bedroom, waiting to see what Danny does next.
He's not entirely surprised to find Danny already there, turning from watching the waves as Steve walks into the room. Danny's smile in the dim light of a single lamp might be the best thing Steve's seen all day.
"I asked for one that said 'I'm a badass Navy SEAL,' but apparently they're out." Danny waves at the bed, the covers turned back like room service has been through. "Get into bed. No offense, but you could really use some beauty sleep."
Steve obeys. It should feel weird to be climbing into bed under his partner's watchful eye, pulling the covers up and curling onto his right side, his left shoulder aching dully from holding Oswald's weight. Steve's not actually sure what he feels, but he doesn't think weird is it. He waits, since it's worked so far. After a moment, Danny comes and sits on the edge of the bed, one hand resting on the far side of Steve's body, for balance, Steve assumes.
Danny looks down at Steve, who can't look away. Whatever Danny's looking for, Steve's happy for him to see it. Wants him to. "Did you do something stupid?" Danny asks finally.
Steve shakes his head. He's done a lot of stupid things, but Danny means since they last saw each other, and Steve's pretty sure rescuing Joe wasn't stupid.
Although his team will probably disagree when they find out he did it without their help. That thought makes something in Steve crumble away, some tension that he hadn't even noticed.
"Is anyone dead?" Danny asks.
Steve shakes his head. No-one who wasn't already dead.
Danny smiles a little, and Steve wonders if this is the smile he gives Grace when she wakes from nightmares. He thinks he wouldn't be surprised if Danny kissed his forehead to say goodnight.
Danny doesn't. He pats Steve's shoulder once, leaves his hand there for a long moment. "Then we can work on it in the morning," he says firmly. "Get some sleep. Everything will look better in the morning."
Steve's not sure that's true, but right now, that doesn't matter. He closes his eyes, listens to the light click off and Danny's footsteps receding into the rest of the suite, and lets exhaustion drag him under, chasing the whisper of hope that Danny gave him.