Danny was sitting on one of the many beaches only the natives knew about in Oahu; it wasn't that tourists were disallowed, per say, just that the locals effectively kept the places secret and quiet from them. He was in the Fade playing with an old pair of dog tags as he sat in the sand and watched the sunrise, only the colors making it different from the living realm, thinking about everything that had happened lately.
The way his and Steve's relationship had changed, the shudder of cold he felt around Kono getting stronger by the day, everything that had happened with General Pak; Nick Taylor. Nick Taylor and the affect he had on Steve and the words they'd had when the asshole was dead, he was definitely a man Danny almost felt he could break his own rules for—almost.
In Danny's family, you learn early on to not only to respect the Dead but to also not speak ill of them either; you never knew when they could be listening.
It was for that reason, when he was in eighth grade, he got into his first fight.
Weeks before, a kid had been pushed out into the road and was hit and crushed by a large truck. No one spoke up. No one at school even cared. He was a no one; a living, breathing ghost of their own. He was just some weak ass geek who spent more time playing make believe and computers for anyone to care. He was tall and thin and pale with thick framed glasses and knotted curly brown hair and limbs that didn't work quite right yet. They had mocked him, mocked a boy who spent more time with his imagination and his books than weed, stolen beer, and girls.
Danny had always been one of the outcasts, a shadow, a ghost in his own merit, friends with a few but never part of a group, but he had his own reasons. He spoke languages no middle class family should be able to have the resources for, had manners and stories from all walks of life. He could see any amount of carnage and not flinch or gasp or cry. He stood out but had enough practice at disappearing without his birthright and was strong enough to defend himself with adequate coordination that no one picked on him.
Ghosting his way home, he heard some of jocks and other kids from their year mocking the geek that had died. Danny wouldn't let them disrespect the boy's memory, despite not knowing the boy more than in passing from class projects. He was outnumbered and had gained a split lip and a black eye but they had come away worse than he, after all he wasn't completely human and it was harder to hold that back when the anger and indignation filled his mind.
He was always polite to the people that he considered his friends, Miss Lowe the most prominent. His mother had instilled in him good manners and those had been reinforced with his otherworldly acquaintances but he oft had a harder time being so to those amongst the living. After that first fight, though, he had almost stopped trying to fit amongst the living at all, despite his mother's protests. He had always felt more at home amongst the dead than the living, and listening to his peers debase someone who'd passed just reinforced it.
He was more different than any of his peers—he scared them.
After that he couldn't quite control the anger simmering under the surface, he stopped being a ghost, he let the fire in him out and didn't let them insult his beliefs or those of others. That was when he started getting into fights deliberately and that lead him to a gathering place where people from all around their community and different parts of the city joined up to fight. He could talk big with the rest of them—it was New Jersey, it was almost expected of him—but he could also back up his talk, at least most of the time. That was where he found and earned respect.
Danny had a blue eyed stare that seemed to burrow under skin, right through your bones and into your soul. The haunting eyes that had put off so many of his class mates challenged the older generations in the crowd and gave him a rep and opponents that made most his age scared. No one had really bugged him about being odd before, too disturbed by eyes too old and a grin too sharp for someone with so little life experience, but they'd avoided him. Now many had a grudging respect for a the guy who had always lurked in the shadows despite hair seemingly spun from the sun and a sense of humor to rival the Addams Family with ability to put down a man twice his size and at least quadruple the experience.
It didn't stop there though; the fights amongst the living were seen by those dead and when he wasn't fighting his classmates he was fight those in the Fade. It was there he had received one of his most prized possessions—a pair of Dog Tags.
He'd met the man during his fights in the Fade—a Marine, a Deceased Shade Walker. Sergeant Calvin 'Vin' Walker had fought in WWII and died at the Battle of Okinawa as part of the 6th Marine Division; he was an honorable man and had seen far too many people die during the war, especially being a Shade. He'd been one of Danny's few idols growing up, a father figure where his own didn't know what to do with him and his rebellious ways, and he'd taught him more things about the difference between life and death and living in between the two than his mother had ever been able.
He'd loved the man, either as an uncle or a father, he was unsure.
Thinking back on that time, and the man that had given him the tags he'd taken to wearing ever since he'd moved on, Danny realized a second reason why he had felt such strong hatred for Taylor. The man had shared a fair resemblance to Vin, physically at least, but his behavior was so different from the man who he'd cared for long ago that seeing him betray his country and work against the ideals so ingrained in him had caused him to form an instant dislike for the man. Not to mention the obvious relationship Taylor and Steve had once had. That Taylor had been acting fishy from the start was something he'd sworn he wouldn't bring up again, not after seeing the pain it put Steve through having to kill his friend and past lover.
Danny sighed and put his head in his hands, feeling the warmth of the blood red sun as it continued to rise in the sky warm the blond strands on his hair and his fingers as he ran them through it. There was too much to say, too much he had to figure out how to tell his Ohana and he didn't know where to start. Shaking his head, he rubbed his eyes and stood, brushing the sand off the back of his swim trunks before looking out at the waves once more before turning to go. He watched as a swell tall enough for someone to ride it begin to crash in the oddly peaceful violence of nature when he saw it.
Someone had just shifted from the Living to the Fade and there was a sick feeling in his gut he knew who it was just as they fell from their board and disappeared beneath the tumultuous waters.
He didn't even think about it when he crashed into the waves after Kono.