Steve was exhausted. He’d been running on adrenaline for what seemed like weeks, and probably was. It had been three days since he landed back in Oahu, and after debriefs and a short hospital stay, he was finally at home.
Danny had been unusually quiet since Steve returned. Sure, they’d talked, but it had been far from what Steve had expected. He’d actually wanted Danny to yell at him. At least then, he’d know what Danny was thinking and feeling. The quiet, civil conversations they’d been having were starting to drive him crazy.
Then there were those moments before they went to bed each night. Danny would give him a chaste kiss and then turn over and fall asleep, barely giving Steve the chance to say or do anything. They’d barely touched, and it was killing Steve. He needed Danny.
Every time he tried to bring it up, Danny would change the subject. Things had been going so well before he left. Had he really screwed things up that much? They were broken, and he needed to fix it.
Friday finally came, and Grace would be staying over. Steve hadn’t seen her since before he’d left, and he was anxious for Saturday morning to get there. He was laid out on the couch, barely paying attention to the game that was playing on the TV. He was waiting for Danny, who was in the kitchen cleaning up from dinner.
The next thing Steve knew, he was being shaken awake. His eyes flew open to the sight of Danny standing over him.
“Hey, babe. You fell asleep.”
“Uh, yeah. How long was I out?”
“Not too long. I’m gonna go take a shower and get ready for bed.”
“What? I thought we were going to watch the game.”
Danny hesitated, and then pulled an envelope from his back pocket.
“I’m tired, and I’ve got to get up early to pick up Grace.”
He handed Steve the envelope and then said, “Read these… I’ll be upstairs.”
Steve grabbed the envelope. “Wait, Danny…”
“We’ll talk later. Just, read them, okay?”
Steve watched Danny turn and walk up the stairs. He then looked back at the envelope that was in his hand. There was nothing written on the outside of it, but the corners were worn, like it had been stuffed in more than one pocket.
He opened it and pulled out two folded pieces of paper. One was a full sheet of lined paper. The other was a page of Grace’s pink stationary that she kept at the house. So, both Danny and Grace had written him letters while he was gone.
He hesitated before unfolding the lined piece of paper. The letter was written in black ink, in Danny’s unmistakable handwriting.
I’m really trying to understand how you could just leave like this and not say anything to anyone. I still can’t believe you left me a Dear Danno letter. I know that’s kind of our thing, but not for something like this.
I get that this is something you feel you had to do on your own, but I thought we were beyond this lone wolf crap. Don’t you remember what happened the last time you decided it was a good idea to go somewhere without backup? I pulled you back from the brink, and I was hoping I’d never have to do that again, but I will if I have to.
I am so angry with you right now, but I’m also worried. I have no idea where you are or what you are doing, and that scares the hell out of me more than you know. I just wish you’d have talked to me. I know what you’re going to say, that I would have either tried to stop you or tried to come with you. Well, you’re damn right I would have. We are in this together now. Forever and always.
As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve stopped with the voicemails. Didn’t really have a choice, as you clearly either aren’t listening to them, or you keep them to listen to regularly, because there is no room left in your voicemail box. I hope it’s the latter, as at least you’d know what you are doing to me. You better come home in one piece.
I know I can’t send this to you, because obviously I don’t know where you are, but I have to say this now before I burst with it. I’ve already taken things out on others, and I can’t keep doing that. So, you need to hurry back. I need you here.
Don’t make me have to tell Gracie that you aren’t coming back home to us.
P.S.: You know I love you, and I always will, but I can’t say that I like you very much right now.
Steve dropped the letter on to the coffee table and ran his hand down his face. The contents of the letter hit him full force, as if Danny was standing there saying them to him. It’s what he’d expected from Danny the moment they’d laid eyes on each other.
He suddenly understood the folded edges on the envelope. Danny had been carrying it with him for the last few days. Why hadn’t he given it to him sooner?
He looked back down at Danny’s letter and then over to the smaller piece of pink stationary. He slowly picked it up and unfolded it.
Why did you leave us without saying anything? That wasn’t very nice. Danno told me that you were off trying to find someone, but you really shouldn’t have done that by yourself. What if you get lost or hurt?
I think I understand why you did it. You didn’t want anything to happen to Danno, right? What about you? He’s your backup and if he’s not there, you might get hurt, or worse.
I know he’s been trying to hide it from me, but Danno’s really upset. He doesn’t smile like he usually does. You make him happy, and since you aren’t here, he isn’t happy. That means that you aren’t happy, too. I know he makes you happy.
Don’t stay away too long. I miss you, Danno misses you.
I love you.
By the time he reached the end of Grace’s letter, Steve had tears threatening to fall from his eyes.
Thinking back on his decision to leave, he hadn’t truly considered all the ramifications of his decision. He knew Danny would be upset, but he hadn’t thought about Grace. That thought, and the revelations that Grace had brought to his mind with her letter, finally had the tears spilling from his eyes.
Then, he felt the anger, not at them, but at himself. He roughly wiped at his eyes. He had to pull himself together and talk to Danny.
He folded the two letters back up and put them back into the envelope. He then stood and walked up the stairs to his and Danny’s bedroom. The door was opened slightly, so he pushed it open the rest of the way and walked in. Danny was just walking out of the bathroom door. They looked each other in the eyes.
Danny waved his hands through the air and said, “Don’t say you’re sorry, because I know you aren’t.”
“I get it… why you did it. More so now that you’re back, than when I wrote that letter. When I found out what you’d been through, and after everything I went through, I just couldn’t…”
“I wanted you to, Danny. I wanted you to rant and rave, and tear me a new one… because then I would know how you felt. This quiet side of you scares me. I’ve been going out of my mind. Why didn’t you give them to me earlier?”
“You almost died that day. Seeing you again… I had this whole thing ready to say, and when I saw you for the first time, at the airport, it just all went away. Then there was the hospital and the debriefs, and all the CIA bullshit—thanks for that by the way—and it just didn’t seem that important anymore. Yeah, I was still mad, but I couldn’t bring myself to say it.”
Steve slowly made his way over to the bed and sat down. He dropped the envelope onto his bedside table.
“Well, that’s not what I was expecting. What are you thanking me for, Steve?”
Steve looked over at the envelope and then back at Danny, who sat on the bed next to him.
“For still being here. I really didn’t know what to expect. I love you so much, but when you wouldn’t talk to me about it, I thought I’d lost you. I can’t even bear the thought of you not being here with me.”
“You can’t get rid of me that easily. You have to promise me something, though. Please, don’t ever take off again without telling me.”
Steve nodded. “I promise I’ll talk to you first. I can’t promise that it won’t happen again, but I will talk to you.”
“We’re gonna have to sit down with Grace tomorrow, and talk to her about what happened.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“It’ll be fine, babe. She loves you, and she’s not mad at you. I think she understands, but it’ll be better coming from you, I think.”
Steve smiled. “So, I make you happy, huh?”
Danny yawned. “You know you do, and as much as I’d like to continue this conversation, I’m beat. Bed, now.”
“Okay, but you have to promise me something.”
“No more of the cold shoulder in bed. I can’t remember the last time…”
Danny leaned over and kissed Steve. The kiss lasted for at least a minute before Danny pulled back.
“Just shut up and hold me. You aren’t the only one that this has been difficult for.”
“What did I say?”
Steve chuckled and wrapped his arms around Danny. “Love you.”
“Love you, too.”
Steve walked back into the house just as Danny and Grace were walking in the front door. He had decided against working out, so he had been sitting out on the lanai with a cup of coffee.
“Uncle Steve!” Grace yelled and then ran to him.
“Hey there, Gracie,” Steve said as he scooped her up into his arms.
“Are you okay? Danno said you got hurt. I told you that you’d get hurt if he wasn’t there to back you up.”
“Whoa, Grace. I’m fine… good as new. Just some bruises and a headache for a few days.”
Steve sat down and put Grace in his lap. He then looked her in the eyes.
“I’m sorry that I left like I did. I’ll try not to do it again, not without talking to Danno first.”
She looked up at him and then over at Danny who was sitting across from them. She hesitated briefly before looking back up at Steve. She smiled.
“You’re both happy again. I can see it on your faces.”
“We are, Monkey. Steve’s back home and we’re all together.”
“I love you, Danno. I love you, Uncle Steve.”
“I love you, Gracie.”
“I love you, Monkey.”
They all shared a hug, and both Danny and Steve placed a kiss on the top of Grace’s head. They separated after a few moments.
“Grace, why don’t you go put your stuff in your room and then put on your swimsuit.”
“Okay!” She ran to get her bag and then took off up the stairs, leaving Steve and Danny smiling at each other.
They both made their way up to their bedroom to change as well. Danny was pulling some towels out of the closet when he turned around and looked at Steve.
“You never told me what you did to get those CIA idiots off my back.”
Steve grinned. “It’s classified.”
Danny rolled his eyes. “Of course it is.”