Steve is barely conscious but he feels every bump and rock in the dirt path they’re driving down. The truck has been creeping along for what seems like hours but may have only been minutes, or seconds, or days – or maybe he’s always been in this truck. Maybe it’s always hurt this bad to breathe. Steve’s been weaving in and out of consciousness, his body rolling with the movements of the truck, every muscle too tired to even prevent even the smallest jostling from hurting his ribs.
He’s going to die.
He’s known that since they closed in on him, since they threw him in the back of this ancient old jeep. He’s going to die alone, in a strange country, none of his ohana around him. No one to bring his body back to the people he loves. No one to tell them just how he died and how it was none of their faults, none.
He would be lost to this forest and this country and this stupid fucking dirt road for the rest of time and even if they found his body one day, no one would even know it had been him. That he had come to protect a friend and instead he’d lost her and everything else. He’d lost Kono’s stupid pranks and Chin’s ‘who me?’ smartass smiles and the way Kamekona always smelled like shrimp and gunpowder. He’d lost Mary’s inability to put the toothpaste cap back on and to always know when he needed a hard drink and no nonsense talking to. He’d lost Gracie’s silly giggles when he threw her up in the air only to always, always catch her.
He’d lost Danny. Fuck, somehow that one hurt the most. There had been potential there, there had been so much between them – fuck, he’d promised himself that the second he got back, the second he got out of this FUBAR’d situation that he would tell Danny. Sit him down and shake him up and kiss the hell out of him because he’d been waiting for so damn long and he couldn’t wait anymore.
Guess he’s never going to get the chance now.
The truck jolts to a stop but Steve doesn’t even open his eyes – they’ve stopped a few times since the interminable ride began and each time he sat in silence until the caravan of trucks started moving again.
This time though, there are gunshots. Steve struggles in vain against the chains they have him in, every limb and rib protesting the movement but to no avail – he’s trapped and if Wo Fat is shooting people, then Steve is probably pretty high up on the list. Instead, Steve closes his eyes again and lays back, summoning every last memory of his ohana, trying to remember the way Kono slices through the waves, no hesitation – the way Chin looks at Malia, like he’s found something too precious for words – the way Danny’s hand feels against his arm or back.
The flap to the truck opens and Steve slowly opens his eyes to stare down what he’s sure will be a nameless soldier of Wo Fat’s – but… it’s Danny. For a second there, Steve is almost sure he’s already dead. There’s no way Danny is here – Danny is Hawaii, oceans and miles upon miles upon miles away. Danny is safe and sound and just – not here. Perhaps Danny is something his mind has made up for him, to comfort him in his last moments – a hallucination of the person he wouldn’t mind dying next to, the only person he wishes he had been more honest with.
But the figment isn’t disappearing – it’s staring back at him with equal shock. It’s shouting too, in Danny’s voice, something that Steve can’t understand because the hallucination is clambering into the truck and towards him and all Steve can think is – why aren’t you Wo Fat? Why aren’t I dead? And he knows he says something – like where is Wo Fat, if not here, putting a bullet between his eyes – and his hallucination tells him to shut up.
And in that moment, Steve knows it’s real. He knows that this is his Danny, his perfect horrible, snarky, grouchy,perfect Danny because only his Danny would tell him to shut up when he’s chained to the back of a truck, ribs smashed and head bleeding. Danny’s hands are on his, gun tossed away like nothing matters except touching Steve and freeing him – and all Steve can do is stare.
“Danny?” he croaks. Danny is fumbling with the ties around Steve’s wrists and isn’t looking at him and that’s just not right. “Danno,” Steve coughs out and finally that gets Danny’s eyes on him – and fuck, they are just so blue. Steve can barely breathe looking at him.
“I told you to shut up,” Danny says gruffly, but his eyes are wide with wonder, just like Steve’s sure his are. And suddenly, Danny’s lips are pressed against his – and there is a spark of pain along with the pure pleasure, his split lip protesting under the pressure – but Steve can’t bring himself to care. Danny breaks away and stares at Steve and Steve stares back – before summoning a creaky, broken smile.
“Shutting up,” he manages, voice hoarse and tone mild. Danny barks a laugh, sounding pained and so, so relieved – and maybe Steve hasn’t lost everything just yet.