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Filed Away

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No one questions him going home with Steve, because where the hell else is he gonna go, huh? Somewhere there's a hospital room with his family's name on it - and this is possibly literal, okay, because Stan has more money than Danny can actually conceive of, and one time Danny was party to stealing ten million dollars. But somewhere there's a hospital room with his family's name on, only that name isn't his any more. Somehow he got shuffled off to the side, lost in the index, dotted and filed and stuck in a box marked 'done'.

So where was he gonna go? The roach motel he rented for a while is home to scumbags new, the couches at HQ have declared war on his kidneys, and the room he's been staying in the past few weeks is too painfully big, and painfully empty, and painfully still.

And this, this he's saying like he even had a choice.

He's riding shotgun in Steve's truck before he's even registered he's not outside a storage locker; his fingers are still cramping from how hard he'd stopped himself squeezing Grace. He looks down at his hands and flexes them a little, presses them against his thighs and watches how his knuckles slowly flush with color that isn't pure white, and he doesn't actually, he doesn't even have to lift his head.

"Watch the road, Steven," he says.

There's a flinch of sharp motion to his left and he grins down at his hands that are no longer fists, that are no longer clasped tight around a gun, that he wasn't sure would ever again have a function outside of those things.

"I'm watching," Steve protests, "when do I ever not - " and Danny stares this time at the side of his head, at the perfect pristine profile that really more people should have taken a pop at, seriously, how has no one yet broken this guy's nose.

"You want a list?" he says, and he knows the tone isn't what it should be. He's tired, okay, he's too tired, and relief has softened the edges of his words until they're saying way more than he ever intended.

"We're home, Danno," Steve says. It's not an answer and it is.

Danny drags himself out of the car like he's somehow gained thirty years, full bore, twin barrel, right in the chest. Everything hurts except the small patch of warmth where Steve's hand rests against the base of his spine; everything hurts except the way Steve's taken over guiding his steps easy as breathing. Easy as breathing at its best, unremarked and unremarking, easier than breathing had been since the phone call, since Steve's bitten-down panic voice asking where's Grace, Danno, where's Rachel?

Misfiled, that's where. Some place that was else. Lost in the shuffle. His shuffling feet lose their focus a little and before he knows it he's curled right over on Steve's couch and breathing in the fresh salt smell all his clothes pick up after five minutes outside the laundromat. His nose is pressed against his knees and Steve's muttering something to him that doesn't sound like the things a Steve can usually say, but Danny can't quite focus enough to grab it.

"...when you're ready," he thinks he makes out. There's one last trailing warmth, up the the line of his spine and a quick squeeze against the nape of his neck. A shuffle at the coffee table, a click, the warm friendly voice of what, what is that, some kind of juicer? The woman's smile lights up the TV as she shows him how to squeeze the lifeblood from a pineapple which is levels of disgusting he can't even process, but he can't hear her words. Danny's listening from eight years in the past, from a bedroom doorway placed square in pale pink walls with a cot set at right angles to it.

He was always too big to fit. Clumsy. He was too loud and out of place, with his gun and his badge and the calluses on his fingers from too many hours on the range. He could never hear past the panicked beating of his heart, had to lean in close until he could feel the warmth of her against his face. One time he woke up Rachel after a night shift, too tired and too crazy to do anything but ask her -

"Rachel, Rach," he says, and that's not his voice, that's not what his voice sounds like.

"Danny?" There's something, bustling, rustling, beeping, something disturbing the stillness on her end of the call, and he leans over to grab the remote, switches off the TV so he can hear it better, presses his cell phone a little closer against his ear.

"Can you see her?" he asks, eight years ago and now, "is she okay, is she breathing?"

"She's okay," Rachel says, and this time there's no annoyance in it even though he knows her voices, he knows he's woken her again. "She's right here, Danny, she's asleep. Do you want me to wake her?"

He lets himself relax against the back of the couch, back against the ugly striped blanket he'd slept under for two weeks.

"No," he says, on a long slow breath. "No, I'm good, just have her - have her call me in the morning, okay?"

"Okay, Danny," she says, and the soft beep as he hangs up ushers in silence except for the ocean like breathing, Hawaiian water torture tugging at the edges of his senses until it's all he can think about. He tries to match his breaths to the ocean but they won't quite steady themselves out.

Steve can't sleep with the television talking but Danny could never sleep with the gentle taunt of the ocean's sleepy breathing, with the sounds of Steve shifting his weight upstairs in his bed as a reminder of everything he doesn't get to have any more, or yet, or maybe ever. And maybe any other night he could deal with it. But before he's made any conscious decision he's standing in a doorway again, and he's watching how deep and reassuring Steve breathes, and how his eyes blink open at the ceiling and then meet Danny's, difficult to read in the moonlight.

But never mind Danny's history with paperwork okay, with filing, his precarious relationship with the English language - there's no misinterpreting when Steve flips the edge of the comforter like that, holds out his hand like the irresistible pull of the ocean waves and what else can Danny do but take it?

"Hey Danno," he says, curled up at the edges so the soft underbelly of his smile can be heard. "I was waiting." Like he always will be, like it's never changing, like the warm weight of Steve against his back and breathing against his neck is something he can always find just here. Like something inside of Danny's just been shuffled to fit.

And he feels like maybe family is filed somewhere different now, somehow under a different name, someplace that's careful and new.