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Paʻi a paʻi Manawa

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Honolulu, October, 2015

Danny was amazed that he’d lived in Hawai‘i for several years now, but he’d never yet seen a direct hit from a tropical storm. He had some reason to worry, considering that he lived in an oceanfront house on the south shore of the island quite near to where the storm was expected to hit around ten that evening, but Steve didn’t seem worried at all.

“Guy Hagi says it’ll be a direct hit around ten tonight.” Danny called to Steve, who was busying himself in the rain, pushing the beach chairs under the lanai so they wouldn’t blow away.

“He’s wrong all the time, Danno.” Steve yelled.

“Then why are you futzing with patio furniture?”

“Because these chairs were expensive!” Steve grunted and pushed the chair the rest of the way under the deck. “Do me a favor and take the baby inside, will you?”

Steve was right, and right on cue, Michael was beginning to fuss again. Jack, their two-year-old, was already down for the night, but Michael had been cranky all day, and only seemed to calm when he was being held.

Danny felt the wind had turned much cooler a few moments later when Steve opened the door and came inside, soaking wet from the rain.

“There’s my boy!” Steve exclaimed at the baby, arms outstretched.

“Steven, you are cold and wet—you’re not going to help the situation.”

“Come on, Danno, can’t keep a kid from his Daddy.”

Steve cuddled the little boy in spite of his soaked t-shirt, and he calmed down immediately.

“I’ll be damned—you have magical powers or something, Steven, you know that.”

“Works on you too, Danno.” Steve chuckled to himself.

“I can’t argue with that.” Danny smiled.

“Danny, you could argue with a lamp post.”

“You could argue with a pillow and a blanket on that couch,” Danny jokingly warned.

“I could, but I don’t wanna,” Steve leaned down and kissed Danny.

Danny sighed, “Looks like he might go down now.”

“I’ll take him up. And how about you Danny? Ready to go down?”

Danny swatted him on the shoulder, but kept smiling. “You are a filthy animal.”

“You didn’t answer my question,” Steve called after Danny, who had started up the stairs.

“Follow me and find out, Commander.”

“Aye aye, sir.” Steve joked. “Come on kiddo,” he said to the baby, “Let’s get sleepy.”

***

HMS Renown, 110 nautical miles due East of Jamaica, January, 1802

Horatio felt a pain in his own chest in almost the exact same place the bullet had pierced Archie’s.

He now sat in sickbay, watching his friend’s bandaged chest rise and fall in a laborious rhythm, and he wanted to be sick himself.

Almost as though he’d willed it with worry, Archie’s eyes fluttered and opened, and a smile spread across his face that made his eyes sparkle, even in the dim lamplight. It was a face Horatio knew well—it was the face Archie always had whenever he was seeing him. He’d never once seen that smile directed at any other person.

“Horatio,” Archie beamed.

“How are you, my dear friend?” Horatio asked.

“Give me your hand,” Archie said, holding his up.

“What for?” Horatio asked.

Archie rolled his eyes, “Do you need a reason to come closer, Horatio?”

Horatio didn’t. He took Archie’s hand in both of his.

“You’re going to get better.” He said.

“I’m afraid they’ve got me this time.” Archie said weakly.

“Nay, I won’t believe it, Archie. You’ll be right as rain in no time.”

“They can’t find the bullet, Horatio. The surgeon is going to try again in the morning, but he’s afraid that I’ve already lost a lot of blood.”

“If they can’t find the bullet here, they will when we put in to Jamaica, Archie.” Horatio said. “They’ll find the bullet, and you’ll get better.”

Archie opened his mouth to speak, but Horatio continued, “Just imagine it, Archie—Jamaica! A tropical isle with fine weather, palm trees, azure waters.”

“Just like the last tropical isle where they tried to kill us,” Archie murmured, “And the next one we’ll be on trial for mutiny.”

Horatio had been so worried about his friend that he’d forgotten about the troubles they all faced once the ship docked. They could all be meeting their maker within the week if they were found guilty.

“Come closer,” Archie managed.

Still holding hands, Horatio kneeled down on the floor next to Archie’s bunk, acutely aware that Lieutenant Bush was snoring softly across the room.

Horatio leaned in close to Archie, expecting to hear him whisper a secret into his ear, but he was presently startled by a loud thunderclap, even muffled as they were in the bowels of the ship. Archie clenched his hand in panic, about to push himself up in the berth.

“It’s thunder, Archie, just thunder,” Horatio soothed. “We’re sailing through a bit of a storm system. There’s lightning, too—some quite close to the ship.”

Archie’s dulled expression returned.

“What did you have to say, Archie?” Horatio asked, leaning in.

“I wanted to say goodbye in our way—no listen, Horatio—I wanted to say goodbye secretly, as I suspect we may not have privacy later on, or God may take me while you’re in court. I’ve made peace with the intimacy we’ve shared,” he paused, and Horatio turned red, knowing he meant the multitude of times they’d done the thing expressly forbidden as and unnatural and detestable sin in Article 28 of the Articles of War, “and I’m confident knowing that whatever world I’m bound for, I could have wished for no better life than the one I spent loving you, even if we may both be struck by God for it.”

When Horatio pulled back to look in Archie’s eyes, he found them wet.

“Kiss me, Horatio,” Archie said, “Kiss me, goodbye.”

Horatio scanned the sick bay to make sure nobody might interrupt, and he leaned back into Archie, “Look, Archie, you’re going to live, do you hear me? You’re going to live a long life. But however long your life, I promise you I will love you for the rest of it,” Horatio’s voice broke, “And the rest of mine.”

He cradled Archie’s head with his free hand and kissed him, then he heard another clap of thunder and the world turned bright white.

***

Honolulu, October 2015

Danny had made love to Steve twice and was snoozing with his head perched on Steve’s chest when the power went out.

Steve petted his husband’s hair and listened to the raindrops beat against the windowpane above their bed. His mind wandered to considering how only four short years ago, he’d felt like his entire family had disappeared with the death of his father, and now he had a family beyond the reaches of his wildest dreams—a husband he’d utterly stumbled upon, and now two children of his own in addition to a lovely stepdaughter.

He smiled to himself when he thought about how deeply Danny was sleeping even after he’d been worried about the storm. So bothered by it, and now sleeping right through it. Ditto the children – he was even more relieved that they were sleeping through it too.

At length, and much rumination on a wide variety of topics, he fell into his own deep sleep.

***

Kono’s ringtone woke Steve up in the pre-dawn hours—around 5:30, he guessed by the color of light peeking over the horizon.

“Hey boss,” she seemed chipper for the hour, “We got a call from HPD that’s one of those weird ones they don’t know what else to do with.”

“Yes?” Steve scrubbed a hand over his face.

“Hanauma Bay—appears to be two war reenactment types or something. Really strange—they’re not making a lot of sense, and one of them has some sort of injury.”

“I guess it’s that time of year—almost Halloween.” Steve said. “Mrs. Nishimura doesn’t come until nine, so I’ll come alone. Pick you up in ten.” Steve said.

He nudged Danny awake. “Danno, wake up.”

“MmMM” Danny murmured disagreement.

“Come on, I’ve got to go to work.”

“I’m up.” Danny said.

“You stay with the kids.” Steve said, “And call me when Mrs. Nishimura comes in.”

“What is it?” Danny asked, blearily.

“Kono said something about war reenactment people, down in Hanauma.”

“At this hour?” Danny asked. “This ought to be good.”

“I’m with ya buddy,” Steve said. He leaned over and kissed Danny.

“This ought to be good for sure,” he mumbled to himself as he rolled out of bed and hunted for his pants.

Chapter Text

Horatio could hear the surf breaking on the shore before anything else came to assault his senses. The smell of the surf was more fecund than any he’d encountered—ripe with a head brew of marine life and salt, more vibrant than any he’d yet known, almost like a perfume preparation.

After a second wave crash, his mind turned to Archie. Where was Archie?

He heard a cough, and a voice call his name.

“Horatio!”

Horatio rolled over on his right to see nothing but empty beach, and to his left, he found Archie, clad only in breeches and bandage wrapped around his middle, shivering on the sand.

“Archie!” he fairly yelled, crawling a short distance across the sand to his friend.

“Where are we, Horatio? What happened? Have we run aground?”

“We must have,” Horatio reasoned, more to himself than to Archie. “I thought we were at least a day’s sail from Jamaica, but we must have been closer.”

“No further from death,” Archie noted.

“Now don’t talk like that,” Horatio said. “We’ll be right.”

He felt he was lying. Where was the Renown? Where was anybody? They weren’t wet and it was still dark. Had they been in the water? Washed up somewhere? Where was the wreckage of the ship? The rest of the crew?

“There are worse places to be than a tropical beach.” Archie mused.

“Nay, with your head cold and wet in the sand?” Horatio frowned.

He took off his jacket and laid it over Archie. The blue eyes, dull at last he remembered, were alert and darting around watching him as he moved. His jaw was clenched as he attempted to stifle his shivering, but it wasn’t quite working.

Next off was Horatio’s neckerchief, which he folded multiple times and laid behind Archie’s head.

“You’ll be warm soon enough,” Horatio did his best to smile in spite of his own worries.

“Kiss me again, Horatio.” Archie said. “The last thing I remember is your kiss, and it was heaven.”

“Archie, I-“

“Kiss me!” Archie said louder through his shivers.

Horatio kissed him, and immediately felt the tremors that were wracking Archie’s body. Archie breathed in a long breath through his nose while Horatio patted his hair down one side of his face, and the shivering began to lessen in intensity.

When Horatio broke the kiss he thought Archie’s expression, severe with the shivers, had softened, and the twinkle returned to his eyes.

“See what you do to me?” He smiled. He drew a longer breath; shivers now subsided, and stretched underneath Horatio’s frock coat.

“Can we stay here forever? Nobody else, just you and I?” Archie smiled.

“Archie, if you’re to survive, I’m going to have to find help.” Horatio said.

“I’ll look up the coast to see-“ He looked up and instinctively raised his arm to shield his eyes from the blinding light.

“Hey, you know you can’t be here, the park is closed!” A strange voice called. The English was fluent but the accent was like nothing Horatio had ever heard before.

“Ahoy there!” Horatio yelled, “We are from HMS Renown—this man needs a doctor!”

A pair of uniformed figures ran down the beach toward him from headlands up above that Horatio couldn’t quite make out. Dawn was beginning to hoist itself over the eastern horizon and Horatio could begin to make out the outline of the surrounding ridges, and he realized they’d been washed up into a bay.

Jamaica was the only inhabited land anywhere near their course, so it had to be Jamaica, but the voices he heard were certainly not British.

The men ran up the beach, then one of them stopped and appeared to speak into his shoulder, “We need a bus at Hanauma Bay, apparent drowning survivor,” his shoulder crackled in response and appeared to speak, but Horatio couldn’t make out the words.

“Officer Carvalho,” the first man said as he approached Horatio, carrying a bright light in his hand of which Horatio couldn’t determine the source, but he felt it was the brightest lantern he’d ever seen.

“Carvalho!? You’re Portuguese?!” Horatio exclaimed, putting his hand on his sword.

“Yeah, what of it?” Officer Carvalho said.

“This island is British!” Horatio roared, drawing his sword.

“Whoa, whoa, can you do me a favor and put the sword down, buddy?” Carvalho asked, putting a hand to his hip.

“I arrest you in the name of His Majesty King George III!” Horatio said, his sword still drawn.

“Ohhhh, kay.” Carvalho said, forgetting his gun for a moment. “Ken, call Five-0.”

***

The moment Steve and Kono walked past the lifeguard station and onto the beach he knew this wasn’t a normal situation.

The pair of uniformed officers didn’t look particularly concerned that they were being threatened at the point of a sword, and that he was dressed like an 18th century naval officer. An ambulance had pulled up onto the beach, its lights illuminating the sand, water, and surrounding sea cliffs with an eerie red and blue flashing glow.

As he approached, Steve could make out that the man with the sword was holding his ground, arguing with the officers, and also with the man lying on the sand.

“What’s going on here?” Steve asked the officer closest to the sword point.

“This man seems to think he’s in Jamaica,” Officer Carvalho said.

Steve eyed the man with the sword. “Hey buddy, can I ask your name?”

“I am Lieutenant Horatio Hornblower of His Majesty’s Ship Renown, and I am arresting these Portuguese interlopers in the name of the King!”

“See?” Officer Carvalho said.

“Yeah, I see,” Steve said in a stage whisper.

“Pleasure, man, pleasure. I’m Lieutenant Commander Steve McGarrett, United States Navy; this is Kono Kalakaua, we’re with the state’s Five-0 task force. It looks like your friend here could use some medical attention.”

“Has someone new arrived?” The man on the ground asked, attempting to crane his neck toward them for a better view.

“Some American, and an Asiatic woman,” Horatio said, without taking his eyes off them. “They appear to be in their undergarments,”

Steve and Kono exchanged glances. They were both wearing jeans and t-shirts.

Before Steve could open his mouth to protest, the man on the sand spoke again, although Steve had difficulty making out his words above the surf.

“Horatio, I think we’ve held them off long enough. We’re outnumbered, and if they’re offering a doctor, I think you can wait to arrest them.” He coughed, almost as if for emphasis.

At this, Horatio appeared to waver, and he dropped the tip of his sword into the sand.

“You… have a doctor, yes?”

Steve beckoned to the paramedics, who had been waiting by the ambulance to approach. They wasted no time in approaching the man laying on the beach with a beach board and securing him to it.

“We’re going to get your friend to the hospital,” Steve said in a steady voice. We can give you a lift there in our truck. We’ll be right behind him.”

“In that contraption?” Horatio asked.

“Yes, Lieutenant—fastest way to get him to care,” Steve said.

Horatio sheathed his sword. “Let me—wait!” He called to the paramedics, who had just lifted the man off the beach. He ran to the beach board and leaned in close to the man, whom Steve noticed in the rapidly brightening day had an abundance of auburn hair. Horatio clasped hands with the man and watched as he was carried toward the ambulance before stooping to pick up the coat and neckerchief that had been dropped on the sand.

He donned the coat and stuffed the neckerchief into his coat pocket before returning to where Steve and Kono stood.

“Well, Lieutenant—McGarrett—is it—I would be most grateful if you would convey me to hospital alongside Lieutenant Kennedy.”

“Of course, Lieutenant, of course,” Steve said, playing along. “And, uh, it’s Lieutenant Commander McGarrett—in the American Navy Lieutenant Commanders are addressed as Commander.”

“I’m at your service, Commander,” Horatio gave a stiff bow.

“Let’s go have a seat in my car,” Steve suggested, “You must be thirsty.”

“Yes, parched,” Horatio admitted. “I say, there are some strange houses in this place,” he observed the lifeguard station and thatched souvenir hut as they began their walk toward the parking lot. “I have never been to Jamaica, but it appears much more advanced that what I’ve read,”

“Lieutenant, if I may, what—this is going to sound odd—but what year is it?” Steve asked.

“1802, sir. Yes, I often forget the year goes up one in January, and have to catch myself.” Horatio said.

Steve exchanged a look with Kono.

Steve took on a conspiratorial tone, “I have to give it to you, your enactment is spot on, but can I ask what happened to your friend?”

“Ah yes, Mr. Kennedy—we engaged the enemy at sea, and he’s taken a bullet.”

“I mean what really happened?” Steve asked.

“I don’t follow, sir.” Horatio seemed genuinely confused. “Do you think I jest with you?”

Steve exchanged another look with Kono, and tried another tack.

“This is another strange question, but who’s the President of the United States?”

“I’m afraid I’m not much for American politics, sir.” Horatio said. “He’s since passed on, I understand, but his name was, Washington, I believe. It’s somebody else now. You Americans have a backward system.”

Steve raised an eyebrow. “And who… sits on the British throne?”

Horatio smiled, “Why everyone knows that—His Majesty King George III.”

They walked in silence for a moment before they reached the truck.

“I’ve got it!” He said. “Jefferson! The American President is called Jefferson!”

“Lieutenant Hornblower,” Steve began, searching for some sort of trigger that would cause the man to drop the charade, “This might shock you, but the year is 2015, and you’re not in Jamaica, you’re in Hawai‘i.”

“Impossible.” Horatio exploded, “It’s 1802—there are finite laws of the universe, and…” he slowly trailed off as he began to notice the truck he was leaned up against. “I say, this is a strange—what is this?”

“It’s my car.” Steve said, slowly.

“Where are the horses?” Horatio asked.

Steve stared at Horatio for a moment. The charade hadn’t dropped, and Horatio seemed genuinely confused.

Horatio broke the silence, “Two thousand and fifteen, you say?” He seemed almost bereft.

Steve nodded.

“I’ve—Archie and I—we’ve somehow skipped two hundred years?”

“You’re not enactors?” Steve asked in a low voice.

“I don’t know what you mean, sir,” Horatio said. “Enact what? We are officers in His Majesty’s Navy, just like I’ve told you.”

He stood another moment in confused silence. “What did you call this place again?”

“This is the island of O‘ahu, in the State of Hawai‘i.” Steve said slowly. “In America.”

“This is no part of America of which I’ve heard.” Horatio said.

Steve thought for a minute. “Does the name ‘Sandwich Islands’ ring a bell?”

Steve saw Kono visibly stiffen.

“Oh yes!” Horatio exclaimed. “The Sandwich Islands—I’ve read a great deal of the late Captain Cook’s exploration! But I understand those isles are in the Central Pacific. We cannot have traveled so far.”

“With respect, Lieutenant, you’ve also just traveled two centuries.” The sentence sounded far less preposterous to Steve than it might have an hour ago.

“This is certainly a strange dream,” Horatio mused. His face belied that he didn’t entirely believe it was a dream, Steve thought.

He put an arm around Horatio, who bristled, but otherwise didn’t move.

“Let’s go see about your friend.”

Horatio stared at Steve for a moment, then nodded.

“Have a seat up front,” Steve said, “Kono, can you help him with his seat belt?”

“I would be much obliged, Madam, for I have no idea what a ‘seat belt’ is.”

“This vehicle travels faster than you might be used to, so the belt is for safety,” Kono explained. She buckled him in and they started off toward Queen’s Medical Center.

Horatio peppered Steve with questions during the drive.

“My country still exists, yes? And Bonaparte?”

Steve smiled, “Defeated at Waterloo in 1815 and the French monarchy restored in part.”

“Well, then it wasn’t all for naught, then.” Horatio smiled with satisfaction. “And who now sits upon the throne?”

“Elizabeth II, a direct descendant of George III.”

Horatio smiled, and his eyes seemed to twinkle. “There is peace in Europe, then?”

“Has been for 70 years,” Steve said, “But the conflicts Europe was involved in over the past few centuries were the worst the world has ever seen. Millions dead in two world wars.”

“How could so many be killed?” Horatio asked.

“It’s complicated,” Steve said, “War was much different than what you know just a hundred years later,”

Steve thought about explaining the threat of nuclear weapons, but thought to delay it to another time.

A frown spread across Horatio’s face, “Then everyone I know has died long ago,” he said. “Except Archie—I mean, Lieutenant Kennedy—if he lives.”

“You may be surprised by modern medicine,” Kono said from the back seat. “Most bullet wounds that aren’t immediately fatal aren’t life-threatening with immediate medical attention. How long ago was he shot?”

“Two days,” Horatio said.

“They’ll get him fixed up.” Steve assured him, before picking up his ringing cell phone.

“Hey, Danno.”

“Hey babe. Mrs. Nishimura is here early and she says ‘go’. You need me?”

Steve smiled. Danny was eager to find out more, and this one was going to be a whopper.

“We’re headed to Queens. One gunshot wound and one unhurt. Probably need another hand to figure this one out.” Steve glanced at Kono in the rearview. “Hey, babe, can you bring two sets of my clothes with you?” He glanced at Horatio,, who had locked on a stare as though Steve were insane. “Skivvies, too?”

“Steven, what on earth have you done with what you left the house wearing this morning?”

“They’re not for me, Danno—I’ll explain when you get there.”

“Don’t call me Danno.”

“I love you too, baby—see you soon.” Steve knew that would irritate him even more, as Danny knew he wasn’t alone in the car and he didn’t particularly like Steve to use pet names in public, even in front of the team.

“He’s going to bring my all my favorites,” Steve muttered to himself after he hung up. He’d set himself up for it.

When he looked back over at Horatio he was staring at Steve with his mouth open.

“Oh, right,” Steve said. “Probably never seen a phone before.”

“Phone.” Horatio tried the word. “You mean to tell me you speak into this little box, and someone who is not present can converse with you?”

“That’s exactly what it is.” Steve smiled.

“And, Danno. This person is your wife?”

Kono’s guffaw was so loud it startled Steve and Horatio both.

“Sorry boss,” she said, “I just—you gotta let me tell Danny.”

“At your own risk there, Kono.” Steve chuckled to himself.

He draw a breath, “Danny is my husband. Today, we understand marriage can be between a man and a woman, or between two men, or two women.”

Steve expected Horatio to be disgusted, but his silence was hard to read. After some time, he asked, much softer than he’d previously been speaking “Sodomy isn’t an abominable crime?”

“Not for a while, buddy. And I’m married to a man. We’re married, just like a husband and wife are. Equal.” He felt as if he said it enough times the concept would sink in.

Horatio was still in stunned silence.

“Backing, up a bit, actually, marriage between a man and a woman is different now, too. Men don’t really ‘own’ women, like they used to—it’s now more of a partnership between equals—for many people, anyway.”

“Two men,” Horatio said slowly, “Can marry,” he tried the words out. He did not seem displeased, and Steve detected the faint beginnings of a smile in his wide-open mouth.

“Yeah, buddy,” Steve said, “It’s really not that big of a deal. I love Danny, we live together, and we’re married.” He didn’t quite feel up to explaining exactly how they had children.

“How much further to hospital?” Horatio asked, suddenly seeming anxious.

“A few more miles,” Steve said.

“And how many live on this island of Woahoo?” Horatio asked. “It looks like quite a great city—buildings to the sky! How does everyone climb such high staircases?”

“You’ll find out in a little bit, buddy.” Steve said. “The city is called Honolulu, and the island has a population of nearly a million inhabitants.”

“That’s nearly the size of London!” Horatio exclaimed.

Steve chuckled, “London has around 8 million now.”

Horatio was aghast. “8 million. That’s the whole of England. Or, it was. In my time.” He seemed sad upon the resignation that his own time was no longer the present.

“I don’t know how many it is now, but it’s a lot more than that. The world is a lot more than that.”

“I have so much to tell Archie.” Horatio mused.

“Archie is your friend?” Steve asked, beginning to wonder if there was perhaps a reason behind Horatio’s odd response to his being married to Danny.

“Lieutenant Kennedy.” Horatio corrected himself.

“Have you known Lieutenant Kennedy long?”

“Nearly ten years,” Horatio said. “We began on the Justinian together in ’93—both just seventeen.”

Steve stole a glance at Horatio. The man was definitely smiling fondly.

They pulled up to Queens Medical Center a few moments later, and stepped right into Emergency. Archie had already been wheeled into a trauma room, and Steve and Kono both knew from past experience they wouldn’t be allowed in.

“Kono, why don’t you take Horatio to get a glass of water?” Steve said as they were being approached by a nurse he recognized.

Horatio nodded to Steve and followed Kono in the direction of a waiting room.

“Your visits here keep getting weirder, and weirder, McGarrett,” a plump Asian nurse with her hair in pigtails said. “This gunshot wound they just brought in swears up and down he was born in 1776. Is he a John Doe, too?”

“Aloha Sherilynn. His name’s Archibald Kennedy.” Steve said, “We’ve got that on good authority. And we know he’s 26, so put 1989 for the time being—he didn’t have any I.D.—neither of them did.”

“Do I even want to ask about insurance?”

“Send the bill to Five-0,” Steve said. “There’s a lot unknown right now.”

“That man is scared to death,” she said, “Pardon the expression,” she added quickly when she saw Steve’s shocked reaction. “He had a grand mal seizure almost as soon as he went into trauma. He’s lucky the bullet wound was relatively clean and they’re working to find the projectile now.”

“Can you get a message to them?” Steve asked.

“Sure. What do you want to tell them?”

“The bullet they’re looking for is likely going to be spherical, like a rough ball bearing.”

“Those war reenactors are getting super dedicated to their craft,” Sherilynn said, not without disdain.

“Can you just let them know, please?”

She nodded and walked briskly back toward the trauma room that Steve knew all too well.

Kono and Horatio returned presently each carrying conical paper cups of water from a water cooler.

“How do you feel, Lieutenant Hornblower?” Steve asked.

“I’m well enough.” Horatio said in between sips, “I’m grateful for the water. Do Sandwich Islanders drink coffee?”

Steve eyed Kono as she pursed her lips.

“It’s called Hawai‘i now,” Steve said. “We use the original place names, instead of the European ones, out of respect for the local people and their heritage,” he explained.

“I understand.” Horatio said, “I am sorry if I have caused any offense. Hawai’ians?”

“Hawaiians.” Steve said, “But only if you know them to be Native Hawaiian. Non-native Hawaiians who live in Hawai‘i are called kama’aina, or locals, or Hawai‘i residents.”

“Locals, I think I can manage.” Horatio said.

“And yes, we drink coffee,” Steve smiled. “Why don’t we wait a few minutes, because they should have your friend stabilized and figure out what happens next. The doctors should be out soon. In fact,”

“Aloha, Dr. Fuji,” Steve called to a short Asian lady in scrubs and a white coat walking up behind them.

“Aloha Steve.”

“Did you work on Lieutenant Kennedy?” Steve asked.

Dr. Fuji nodded. “Are you next-of-kin?” She turned to Horatio.

Horatio was near speechless. “I… I… I…” he stammered.

“Let’s say ‘yes’ to that, doctor.” Steve interjected.

“You’re a doctor?” Horatio blurted.

Doctor Fuji hardly had time to stare in response before Steve cut in, “Yes, yes, Lieutenant, she’s a doctor. How’s Lieutenant Kennedy, Dr. Fuji?” Steve shot her an apologetic glance.

She paused just slightly long enough for Steve to feel uncomfortable, then took in a sharp breath.

“They’re prepping him for surgery. We were able to find and remove the bullet and it appears to have lodged into the diaphragm and missed the lung, so he’s not likely in any danger, but Dr. Sorenson wants to do some cleanup. He’s stabilized pretty well after the seizure and he came back pretty quickly but we’ve already put him under anesthesia so we need some forms signed.”

“Is he going to live?” Horatio asked.

“There are risks with any surgery, but he’s lucky that the damage to his internal organs wasn’t more extensive. The surgery should be over in a few hours and he should be ok.”

Steve noticed Horatio kept observing him for reactions, and he shot him a reassuring nod.

“Sign and date, please,” Dr. Fuji handed Horatio a clipboard and a pen.

“I need ink.” Horatio said.

“It’s in the pen,” Steve pointed out. “Just write.”

“Hmm, clever,” Horatio mused.

“The first page is just a standard informed consent, letting you know the risks of surgery and the recovery process,” Dr. Fuji explained.

Horatio scanned and signed the form at the bottom. “And the date?”

“October 20.” Dr. Fuji said.

Steve watched Horatio write out the date in full, instead of with numbers.

Horatio looked embarrassed and turned to Steve, “The year, again, my good man?”

“2015.” Steve said discreetly.

Dr. Fuji shot Steve a quizzical look. “I’ll explain later,” he whispered.

She shrugged. “The next page is the same, but for anesthesia, then a consent to treat, consent to resuscitate, and statement of financial responsibility.”

“I’ll sign that page.” Steve broke in.

Once the forms were signed and Dr. Fuji had left, Steve and Kono led Horatio to the surgical waiting room where they found Danny.

“Danno, how’d you know to wait here? I didn’t see a call, babe.” He kissed his husband good morning and took the bag of clothes from him.

“We’ve done this enough times, Steven, although admittedly, this is the first time I’ve been here and it hasn’t been you. It’s a gunshot wound, and those usually end up in surgery. I bought soap and shampoo and deodorant, too.”

“Should I bathe? Now?” Horatio asked.

Steve reddened. He’d instantly noticed when he found them on the beach that both Horatio and Archie stank to high heaven, but didn’t feel comfortable mentioning it, sensing that they probably didn’t think anything out of the ordinary.

“Kono, I really hate to ask, but can you—”

“Yup, coffee, got it. I’ll be back.” She gave a tight smile and quickly fled toward the elevator.

“It’s the custom to bathe or shower every day, nowadays,” Steve said, gently.

“I do like to be clean,” Horatio smiled. “I had a deck bath recently that was—memorable.”

“Come with me then, buddy, there are some shower suites down the hall and I can get it set up for you.”

“I do appreciate your kindness, Commander. Very much.” Horatio grasped Steve’s arm.

“I’ll just, uh, wait here.” Danny said. Steve nodded.

After stopping by the nurse’s station for a key he let Horatio into the shower suite and followed him in. The room was furnished the same as a waiting room, with two armchairs, a sink and mirror, a sharps deposit, a door leading to a WC, and a shower with a small dressing chamber with a bench containing folded fresh towels.

“It’s really simple,” Steve explained, stepping into the shower and turning on the water. “Turn the handle to the right for warmer water, and to the left for colder water, and all the way to the left to turn the water off.”

“The water heats by itself?” Horatio called from the larger room.

“Yeah,” Steve called. “Just turn the handle if you want it warmer.”

When the water temperature was satisfied to his own liking, he went back out into the large room to find that Horatio had already disrobed and taken his hair down and was standing in front of him stark naked. He did his best not to let his gaze wander in spite of the surprise, but he did long enough to note that Horatio was well toned but not overbuilt and quite pale and hairless, except for a few wisps of hair in the middle of his chest and a generous pubic bush and quite prominent penis.

Horatio smiled at him, apparently without shame, and disappeared into the shower. Steve sat down on the armchair and dug into the bag to find what clothes Danny had picked out. There was a pair of khaki shorts Steve had forgotten he still owned, and a pair of jeans, a pair of rubber slippers and a pair each of briefs and one of boxer shorts, and a t-shirt, one of which was plain navy blue and the other was heather with blue print reading “SEA, Air, Land: Navy SEALs Do It Everywhere”.

“Cute, Danno.” He said aloud, before pulling out his phone and texting Danny the same.

“Commander?” Horatio called from inside the shower.

“Yes?” Steve asked, standing up and moving to the doorway to hear better.

“What is this ‘Conditioner’?”

“Use it after the shampoo.” Steve said, “It, uh,” Steve wasn’t quite sure himself what it was meant for, but he knew he liked it, “makes your hair better.”

“Right.” Horatio called. “Thank you,”

Steve heard his phone ding. Danno.

Danno: What are you talking about?

Steve: The SEAL shirt.

Danno: I just grabbed what you had clean, babe. Promise.

Steve: Thanks

Steve dropped both pairs of underwear on the bench next to the towels. Horatio was certainly pleasant to look at, but Stave hated the temptation to stare.

He began to gather up the clothes Horatio had on and stuff the as best he could into the bag. They smelled like they’d never been washed, ever.

He hung up the jacket and dropped the stockings into each of the shoes, which he noted had quite a significant heel.

He heard the water turn off and Horatio step out and begin toweling off.

“Do I wear both of these?” Horatio asked.

“No, just one—whichever looks like it might be more comfortable.” Steve said. After a few moments of fussing, Steve could tell that he tried on both pairs, he stepped back out into the room wearing the briefs.

“Next, jeans.”

“Jeans.” Horatio tried the word, taking the as Steve handed them. He put them on and buttoned them at the waist easily enough, and regarded himself in the mirror over the sink. “Are they meant to be open over the privy parts like this?” He said, frowning.

“No, zip them up.” Steve said.

Horatio looked perplexed. “Do what?”

“Zip.” Steve said, making the motion with his hands. Horatio looked at his fly, but still seemed stupefied.

“The metal fitting, grasp it and pull up to close.”

Horatio complied. “Aha.” He said. “Clever.”

Steve tossed him the navy blue shirt and the slippers. “Here, put these on and you’re done.

“This is all you wear? This undershirt and sandals without stockings?”

“It’s a tropical island, buddy, it’s warm here—nobody dresses up. You should have seen how long it took me to get Danno not to wear a tie. And dress is more casual now. What you’re wearing is standard for most men.”

“When in Rome,” Horatio smiled. He plucked his hair ribbon off the counter and tied his hair back.

“I must say it’s certainly more comfortable.”

“Yeah buddy, I don’t know how you can put up with what you had on.”

“I do like this,” Horatio mused. “But I do also like my coat. It’s rather dear.”

“Before you put that on, use this.” Steve said, uncapping a deodorant stick. “Rub this under your arms.”

Horatio complied. “It smells nice.”

Steve nodded, “It keeps you smelling pleasant as you perspire throughout the day.”

Horatio nodded in response, and slipped his coat on over the jeans and t-shirt.

“Kono probably has that coffee.” Steve said. “Let’s go find out.”

Horatio smiled and followed Steve back to the waiting room.

***

Archie spent three hours in surgery and around midday a nurse came into the waiting room to take them into recovery. She only wanted to take next-of-kin but Steve convinced her it would be a good idea to let him go with Horatio because he wasn’t used to hospitals at all.

“My father was actually a doctor,” Horatio said as they walked toward recovery. “But medicine was nothing like this.”

“I can’t imagine, buddy,” Steve gently cuffed Horatio’s shoulder.

A nurse in pink scrubs was checking Archie’s vitals in recovery when they got there, but he still appeared to be asleep.

“He woke up briefly a few minutes ago, but he went right back under.” She explained. He should be back in a few. There’s a cup of ice chips right here on the table—when he’s a bit more coherent he can have some water. Just a couple ice chips at a time—not all at once. Ring if you need anything. I’ll be back in about ten minutes to check.”

Horatio immediately took the chair next to the bed. Archie was in a surgical gown, with his hair still tied back, and fading circles under his eyes.

“Archie, can you hear me?” Horatio asked in a small voice. “Can I touch him?” he asked Steve.

“It would probably help wake him.” Steve said.

Horatio took Archie’s hand.

“Archie, wake up.” Horatio said, louder this time.

Archie slowly opened his eyes, which looked clouded and dull, but he smiled.

“Horatio.” He said. “My own Horatio.”

Steve began to wonder whether that was just the anesthesia.

Archie closed his eyes for a moment, but then opened them again and seemed to have more focused vision. “This is heaven?” He slurred.

“No Archie, you’re in hospital. They got the bullet out. You’re going to be all right.”

Archie kept smiling. “Couldn’t leave you, yet.”

Archie seemed to realize Horatio was holding his hand, for Steve saw him begin to flex his fingers and rub his thumb over Horatio’s knuckles.

After a few minutes he brought his head off the pillow.

“Give us a kiss, Horatio.” He said, smiling, almost playfully, puckering slightly.

“Not here.” Horatio said in a low voice.

Archie’s brow furrowed and his eyes darted around, “Come on Horatio,” he slurred, “Kiss me.” The last sentence definitely had a crack, almost a sob, in it.”

Horatio had turned beet red at this point, and he turned to Steve, “I think… I think the medicine must…”

“Why won’t you kiss me, Horatio?” Archie said in a tired voice.

Horatio scanned Steve for a reaction, then sighed and leaned in and kissed Archie on the forehead.

“It’s a start.” Archie returned to smiling.

Steve crouched next to Horatio, resting an arm on the chair.

“You know, you don’t have to hold back,” Steve said, looking Horatio directly in the eye. “I can assure you nobody here will be bothered if you—if you and Archie—are”

“Horatioooo.” Archie’s voice was stronger now, and his eyes much sharper, but he still smiled as though he wasn’t quite together yet.

Horatio turned back to Archie and kissed him on his lips, which he held for some time before parting, and he briefly rubbed noses with Archie before pulling away and slowly turning back to Steve.

“In love.” Horatio exhaled with relief. “I love him, and he loves me.”

Horatio looked back at Archie, who was still smiling, and again at Steve.

“I’ve never told a soul.” He said.

“Now you can tell everyone,” Steve said with a grin. “It doesn’t matter anymore.”

“Horatio—there’s someone here.” Archie had just noticed they weren’t alone as his anesthesia wore off and he looked panicked as he tried to sit up in the bed, his last words nearing a shout.

“Shhhhhh, shhhhh, Archie.” Horatio pressed his lips to Archie’s temple. “We’re allowed. It’s allowed.”

“You are absolutely allowed.” Steve said, extending his hand. “Archie Kennedy, my name is Steve McGarrett. Welcome to the future. We’re glad you’re here.”

Chapter Text

Archie now seemed fully alert as he shook Steve’s hand, Horatio thought, and the look of panic and shock hadn’t quite faded from his eyes, and his mouth was open framed by lips in a half curl.

“Horatio?” Archie’s eyes darted to him.

Horatio nodded. “It’s true. I’m told it’s the year 2015, and Commander McGarrett here has been very kind in explaining all that’s happened while we’ve been,” he searched for a good word, “while we’ve been away.”

He went on to explain where they were and whom the Five-0 team was, while Archie’s expression remained frozen in place.

“Archie?” Horatio asked, “Did you understand?”

Archie snapped out of it and nodded. “Yes. I mean—I understand what, but how?”

“Ah, there’s the rub, as you like to say,” Horatio said. “I don’t know.”

“Are we the only ones who—the only ones from the Renown?” Archie asked.

Horatio frowned, and thought for a moment. He hadn’t considered the possibility that some of their other shipmates might have jumped forward in time along with them. He turned to McGarrett.

“Commander?”

Steve raised his eyebrows. “That’s actually a really good question,” Steve said. “Let me step out and make a call and we’ll keep an eye out.” He dialed the phone and put it to his ear on the way out of the room.

Archie watched Steve in amazement before looking back to Horatio.

Horatio rolled his eyes, “I know, it’s extraordinary, isn’t it?”

“Where have we come to?” Archie said, “This place, this time? This Hawai‘i?”

“It appears to be paradise.” Horatio said. His voice dropped to a whisper, “Archie, men can marry here. Marry each other. Commander McGarrett is married to a nice blond fellow who’s been here with us, and they’re freely affectionate in front of others.”

This was apparently a bridge too far for Archie, for his face crumpled and he began to cry.

It was Horatio’s turn to feel panicky.

“No, no, come here,” He held his arms out and Archie sat up and leaned into them and returned the hug until his left one was tethered back by the IV, so he sat there in a sort of awkward half-embrace.

“I didn’t mean to make you cry,” Horatio cooed into Archie’s ear while cupping the back of his neck and petting down his hair.

“There’s no need for tears,” he was surprised by the softness of his own voice. “We’re going to be all right, Archie.” He began to slowly rock.

“Have we died? Is this heaven?” Archie finally managed. “We’ve spent ten years hiding, not having time or privacy, wondering if it would be the enemy or the navy to finally kill us, and if death were the only escape.”

He pulled away from the hug and faced Horatio, who held his tear-streaked face in his hands and pushed away a lock of hair that had fallen across his forehead. His expression was still panicked, with a glimmer of hope in his eyes.

“If we’re free—finally free—it can only be because we’ve died.” He said, pleadingly, although Horatio couldn’t tell if he was pleading for it to be true or untrue.

“It feels real enough,” Horatio started, not fully believing himself. “Even if it is fantastical,”

Archie’s expression turned quizzical.

“Archie, do you not remember the transport to the hospital? How strange everything is? That you were at death’s door from that bullet and now you’ve been seen to and stitched up while you were completely asleep and comfortable, and now—are you in any pain?”

Archie thought for a moment. “I feel strange, but no, no pain.”

He grimaced a second later, “Well, perhaps a little.”

“Lay back, then,”

Archie laid back on the bed, but took Horatio’s hand back in his free one, and smiled after a few moments. “What are you wearing?”

Horatio realized he still had his frock coat on over the jeans and t-shirt Steve had given him.

“They, um, have given me some modern clothing.” Horatio said, looking at himself. “It’s very comfortable.”

“But you had to keep on your Lieutenant’s coat.” Archie smiled. “You look very smart. And more comfortable.”

“I admit I am.” Horatio smiled.

The nurse returned presently and began to ask Archie questions about how he was feeling, which she seemed satisfied by.

“Do you want some ice chips?” She asked.

“I suppose.” Archie said, tentatively.

“Are you thirsty?” She asked, “Some patients wake up with dry mouth because of the anesthesia.”

“Now that you mention, yes, please,” Archie took the plastic cup and tumbled a few ice chips into his mouth. “Aw yesth, that’sth nithe,” he said, through a full mouth.

Horatio couldn’t help but chuckle. Archie laughed with him. The sparkle was back in his eyes, and Horatio finally began to feel assured he really was coming through it.

Steve came back in the room, carrying a parcel, and Horatio felt relieved as he noticed the nurse was beginning to eye both him and Archie as though something about them was out of place.

“McGarrett, good to see you,” she said.

Horatio wondered if Steve knew everybody who worked in the hospital.

“Aloha Sarah,” Steve said, “How’s he doing?”

“He’s ready to go upstairs,” she said, after briefly looking at the instruments that Horatio had only now just noticed next to the hospital bed, “His vitals are normal and he’s awake and alert, quickly, which isn’t uncommon for a redhead, so I’ll be back in a few and we can get him traveling,” she turned to Archie.

“Do you feel like you’re ok to move, Mr. Kennedy?”

“Like I’m what?” Archie asked.

“Ok to move?” Sarah repeated.

Steve interjected, “The bed moves by itself but that won’t bother you, right? All you have to do is lay there.”

“Oh, yes, I think so.” Archie said. “This whole bed moves?”

Sarah nodded, “I’ll be back in a few minutes.” She smiled at Steve and left. Steve watched her leave then came around the side of the bed and put his hand on Horatio’s shoulder.

“OK means ‘all right’ or ‘all good’. You’re going to hear us say that a lot.”

Archie and Horatio both nodded.

“Another thing,” Steve added. “We don’t know how people are going to react if they find out you’ve come from the past, so let’s avoid talking about it as long as we can, ok?”

“Ok,” Archie said, with a smile. “Is that right?”

Steve nodded. “That’s perfect.”

Steve began to unwrap the parcel, “Before we go, I have something for you,”

From the container he produced garlands made of yellow and white flowers. Horatio could smell their strong fragrance almost as soon as Steve opened the container, and found it intoxicating against the rather unpleasant smell of the hospital.

“These are called lei,” Steve said, “They’re how we welcome visitors to our islands, and we give and wear lei for all sorts of occasions. It’s likely that your Captain Cook and his officers were welcomed with lei during their voyages as well—the tradition continues,”

He placed one of the lei around Horatio’s neck and gave him a peck on the check before doing the same with Archie, who immediately held the strand to his nose to inhale the fragrance.

“Amazing,” Archie said, “I have never smelled anything so beautiful.”

Steve smiled. “I’m glad you like them. They’re one of my favorite flowers, and they grow on a big tree in front of my house. I’ll show you.”

“We’re going to your home?” Horatio blurted, embarrassed. Why was this stranger being so kind?

“Where else are you going to go? You’re homeless.” Steve said. “You’ve got to stay somewhere while we get everything figured out, and we’ve got room. We’ll be happy to have you.” Steve said.

The nurse came back in with an orderly, and Steve quickly said, “We’ll talk more later.”

“Ready to go Mr. Kennedy?” The nurse asked.

Archie nodded, and Horatio let go of his hand and stood up.

The nurse and orderly, led by Steve, wound the bed through the maze of corridors and elevators up several floors to a sunny room with large windows. Horatio had never been in a building so tall, and the view of the city was commanding—tall buildings, blue sky, turquoise ocean, and far in the distance a glimpse of a volcanic caldera that peaked on one side.

His attention was immediately diverted, however, when he noticed that Danny and Kono and an Asian man he’d never seen before also each held lei in their hands, which they added to both Horatio and Archie’s necks with a peck on the cheek as they came in.

Was everybody really this pleasant all the time here—this welcoming and kind? Everybody he knew seemed to expect him to know his place and behave with propriety—why were these people all so happy to see both of them as though they were long lost friends?

“I’m really quite overwhelmed,” he said to the group.

“As am I,” Archie added from the bed. “Zounds, Horatio, have you seen this?” Archie was wide eyed at the view. “Are we in a tower?”

“A sort of tower,” Horatio said. “Buildings are taller now.”

“Chin Ho Kelly,” the Asian man stepped forward and offered his handshake. “I’m just here with some information Steve asked for, then Kono and I have to get back to our load of casework, but Aloha—e komo mai.”

“That means ‘welcome’.” Steve helped.

“Thank you,” Horatio said. “Er, you all seem to speak English natively, but you add Hawaiian words. Do you all speak Hawaiian too? Do the natives speak Hawaiian?”

“It depends,” Chin said, thoughtfully. “Hawai‘i is a very diverse state. I’m Chinese, Irish, Portuguese and Hawaiian; my cousin Kono here is more Hawaiian than I am, but I know more Hawaiian than she does,”

Kono playfully rolled her eyes, “Well, he says he does, anyway. American missionaries who came in the 1820s created an education system that for a long time preferred English to Hawaiian, and even in some places barred Hawaiian from being spoken. The language almost died but there was a resurgence in interest in our culture and language during the 1970s so today there are tens of thousands of Hawaiian speakers with native fluency, however there are several phrases that are widely used and understood in Hawai‘i by non-Hawaiian speakers.”

She checked her watch as she was finishing the last sentence.

“We really do have to go. Horatio, Archie, it’s been a pleasure—I’m sure we’ll be seeing you again soon.”

They both left with a hand gesture Horatio didn’t recognize, and on the way out the doctor, Doctor Fuji, that Horatio had seen earlier came in.

“I see he’s awake,” she said, more cheerfully than earlier. “How do you feel Archie?”

“Better,” Archie said, seeming confused at the doctor.

“Good,” she said, “Are you hungry? I’ve ordered some lunch for you – it should be here in,” she checked her watch “within about twenty minutes. I’d suggest trying the broth first and go slow with the solids. Everybody recovers from anesthesia differently. Do you have any pain?”

“It comes and goes,” Archie said.

“We’ve set up a drip that. This button here, just push it if you get uncomfortable and you’ll get some morphine. It won’t let you overdo it, but if you get to a point where you’re uncomfortable and the morphine isn’t helping, touch the red button and it will page the nurse. I’ll be back tonight to check on you during rounds. Steve, a word?”

Archie smiled at Horatio as he sat down in the chair next to the bed and watched Steve and Danny leave with the doctor, and his confidence in how things were progressing was tempered by his curiosity over what the doctor needed to tell Steve and Danny in confidence.

***

Dr. Fuji waited for the door to the room to shut fully before she turned on Steve.

“What the hell’s going on, McGarrett?” She seemed exasperated.

“What do you mean?” Steve asked, in a measured tone. He wanted to find out what she knew.

“I get war reenactors and everything, that’s fine, but these men are filthy—not like they haven’t bathed in a couple days, but like they’ve never been in the habit. Archie’s teeth are in a terrible state, and his labs show malnutrition and early signs of—I can’t even believe I’m saying this—scurvy. It’s like he’s an actual 18th Century sailor.”

“Well, Horatio’s had a shower,” Steve said, “But I get your point. Dr. Fuji, I won’t insult you by asking if we can trust you, and I know this sounds bizarre but all the indicators we have right now is that they look to you like 18th Century sailors because they—are.”

She gave him a tired look.

“I know—I know.” Steve said, “But hear me out. They have no notion whatsoever of the modern world, and I did some looking. The ship Horatio told me they came from was recorded as lost in January 1802 off Jamaica with all hands, and that’s info I got from a friend who has access to Royal Navy archives that aren’t available to the public, so right now I’m taking them at their word.”

Dr. Fuji softened, “It would be difficult to give yourself scurvy in the name of realism,” she noted. “Oh, shit!”

“What?” Steve asked.

“If what you say is true, they predate vaccines.” She said. “Hold that thought,”

She pulled out her phone and turned on the push-to-talk function, “Hey Janine, can I get a full catch-up immunization panel for Patient Kennedy in Room 621, and also one for Mr. Hornblower who is non-admitted in the same room?”

Her phone crackled an affirmative response.

“They don’t have to put on masks or anything do they?” Steve said.

Dr. Fuji shrugged, slightly, “CDC says ‘yes’ but it would likely be unnecessary and I have no doubt it would alarm them, so I’ll spare them,” she stepped aside as Archie’s lunch tray was wheeled in the room past her.

“What else should we be worried about?” Steve asked.

“Well, if his friend has similar deficiencies, which I suspect he might, I’d say just make sure they have a balanced diet, and a multivitamin probably wouldn’t hurt. For right now, I’d just give them some orange juice,” she smiled. “But have them see a GP that you trust for a full work-up; a lot of those vaccines will need boosters over the next several months.”

She turned to go back into the room but stopped as though she had remembered something, “Oh, and go see Max.”

“I see Max all the time,”

“He’s the foremost expert on 18th Century health issues on the island,” Dr. Fuji said with a wry smile.

“Of course he is,” Steve smiled, shaking his head.

When he went back into the room, he saw Danny, who was leaned up against the sink, put down the copy of Us Weekly he was reading and put a finger to his lips. There was a fond wink in his expression that Steve recognized as one he generally received for their children.

Dr. Fuji smiled and her voice dropped to a whisper, “It’ll be at least a half hour before we’re ready. I’ll come back.” She patted Steve on the shoulder and left.

The food tray lay unnoticed and untouched next to the bed, upon which Archie had dozed off with a contented smile on his face, his face almost covered by the abundance of lei he’d received. Perched on the bed alongside him, with an arm across his chest and his face in Archie’s hair, was Horatio, still in his Lieutenant’s jacket and own collection of lei, snoring softly.

Chapter Text

Archie, Horatio thought, was recovering extremely well, considering how much he’d been through. After they’d been woken and been assaulted with the multitude of needles that Horatio didn’t quite understand, even after the doctor had explained it was somehow necessary for their continued health, he felt cranky and tired. Archie, for his part, had tolerated the injections with sweet resignation, but Horatio was beginning to understand what it meant to have pain medication.

Archie’s appetite had also seemed healthy, for he’d eaten everything on the tray he’d been brought, although after the first few bites he’d refused to eat further until Horatio had managed a few sips of broth and some crackers. He wasn’t hungry, but he was even less in a position to argue with his—friend? Well perhaps not friend he thought—it seemed deeper than that. What did you call your male lover in these times? He’d ask Steve when he returned.

Steve and Danny had left together in the late afternoon, Steve had said to “prepare their quarters”, an expression that seemed to delight Steve and exasperate Danny. Danny always acted exasperated by Steve, but Horatio noted with great interest that as grumpy as he always seemed, he was always accepting of affection from Steve, which he frequently offered without concern for who might be watching.

Horatio still felt self conscious that people watched while he held Archie’s hand or kissed him. He felt self conscious that people knew he and Archie were in love. Loving Archie felt natural to him, but loving him in front of others somehow still felt foreign.

In the late afternoon, they had both dozed for a few hours and Horatio sat on the bed, on top of the covers, legs crossed, sandals kicked off, while Archie rested his head lazily on his shoulder with his hand on Horatio’s thigh, which Horatio had covered with his own hand. He was under the covers, and had since donned an additional robe to cover his backside.

“I still cannot believe our luck, Horatio.” Archie said through a contented painkiller haze-induced smile.

“But do you not wonder how we came by it?” Horatio asked. “Why we’ve violated the natural order of time?”

“What we did those few times would certainly have been called unnatural,” Archie’s voice dropped to a whisper, although they were alone. “I thought I was done, that I’d die and leave you, and now I have a chance. We have a chance. That’s what I care about, Horatio—I don’t give tuppence about the manner of it, or the reason behind it, or whether we deserve it. We have got it.”

He kissed Horatio several times softly, and Horatio could feel the pulse Archie’s excitement running through the kisses, almost as though he were shivering.

“Didn’t you ever wonder,” he began, with a pause, “back there, back then, what it would have been like to share a bed like this? To lazily touch and kiss? Do you have any idea how I ached to take your hand in mine when we shared the watch? How many times I wanted you to hold me close and not part after I recovered from a fit? How much I longed for us to have better than two minutes alone together in the privy with the door held shut or hidden among the galley stores? I think I’ve spent more time in your arms since this morning than in the ten years I’ve had the honor of knowing you.”

Archie kissed him again, deeper, his tongue creeping past Horatio’s lips and teeth while he breathed in heavily as though he almost wanted to draw Horatio in with him.

“That was quite a speech,” Horatio smiled.

“I’ve spent a lot of time on that quarterdeck, dreaming of other worlds,” Archie smiled. “Worlds where I could love you better.”

Horatio rolled on his side to face Archie, “I cannot say I have thought of the same,” he admitted. “I am not one who thinks of ‘other worlds’, like you,”

“What was behind those eyes, then?” Archie asked with a glimmer of tease in his eyes, “What went on beneath all those lovely curls?”

Horatio laughed out loud, “Do you love all my features?” He attempted to tease back.

Archie’s expression turned grave, “Yes.” He said without hesitation. “Every single perfect part of you.” He kissed Horatio again.

“Well, to answer, your very deep, important question, Mr. Kennedy,” Horatio smiled, “I thought about you, and how I could love you in the world we lived in,”

He paused and rubbed a hand up Archie’s side, and stopped with his fingers spread across his upper back, while Archie wriggled closer.

“A world I thought was over the moment I realized it was your blood on your shirt,” Horatio said with a lump in this throat. “And I thought I might be bound for the next world if we were convicted,”

“That never would have happened,” Archie said, again serious. “I would have made sure of that,”

Horatio eyed him quizzically but didn’t press the matter.

“I suppose the most important thing,” Archie sighed, contentedly, “Is whatever world we occupy, that we share it,”

“Hear, hear, Mr. Kennedy,” Horatio smiled, and kissed him again.

***

“You smell so nice and clean,” Archie remarked sometime after the dinner trays had been carried away and Horatio had climbed back into bed with him.

Horatio had been rather disappointed that Archie had only eaten a few bites of mashed potato and another of a bread roll before insisting that he was full and that Horatio eat the rest. Horatio’s mind was similarly not on the food before him, yet to make Archie happy he finished the potato and half of the tiny, thinly sliced strips of roast beef, which he liked, but wasn’t tempted to eat more.

“Horatio, did you hear me?” Archie asked.

Horatio’s thoughts were broken. Archie’s head was laid upon his chest, and all he could see was the top of his head.

“Mmm, no, Archie, what did you say?” His arm was around Archie’s shoulders and he gave the opposite one a squeeze.

“You smell nice and clean,” Archie murmured. “Have you had a bath?”

“A shower bath,” Horatio said, “Seems to be the preferred method of washing in this time. They do it every day.”

“Every day?” Archie said. “Everybody? It must take a frightfully long time.”

“Well, the water is heated, automatically, somewhere else, and it comes out of the taps with the turn of a handle,” Horatio said. “It’s really quite extraordinary.”

“I see.” Archie said. Horatio could tell the wheels were turning.

“Horatio, do I—I mean to say, is there a humor about me?” he asked.

“Not that I notice, Archie, but of course, I—well Commander McGarrett was indeed quick to make the suggestion that I bathe this morning. I suspect they may notice it more than we do, out of custom.”

“It is frightfully pleasant,” Archie observed, “Being close to you after you’ve bathed.”

“Like when you stole a kiss from me in the galley stores after I was caught bathing on deck by Sawyer?” Horatio smiled.

“That was pleasant, too.” Archie said. “Watching you bathe was pleasant,”

Horatio reddened. “You liked that, did you?”

“Very much,” Archie said. “Lieutenant Bush seemed to enjoy it no end, and he does not seem to enjoy anything,”

“Did not,” Horatio said, sadly.

“Nay,” Archie said with comfort in his voice, “He could be somewhere else on this island, as could much of the rest of our men,”

“I would expect the Lieutenant Commander would have had wind of it by now,” Horatio mused.

“Yes, I suppose he would have,” said Archie.

After a few moments of letting Horatio rub his hand up and down his shoulders, Archie sat up in the bed and pressed the red button.

“What is it?” Horatio asked, surprised.

“I’m going to ask if I can have a bathe,” Archie said.

Horatio pressed a quick kiss to Archie’s crown. “If they’re coming, I’m going to slip out of bed, then,” he said.

“They don’t mind,” Archie said, somewhat deflated.

“Archie, I know, but I’m not quite there yet,” Horatio said, quick with mild exasperation.

He stood up and saw that Archie’s expression was just as inflated as his voice sounded, “Listen,” he said, giving him a quick kiss, “If they’ll allow you to bathe, I’ll help you.”

“You don’t imagine they mind that, either?” Archie said, ruefully.

“I shall accept the risk,” Horatio smiled.

“For entirely selfish reasons,” Archie’s eyes twinkled.

Horatio paused, thinking of what sort of wit he might draw on for a quick response. He clasped his hands behind his back and bowed slightly, “Yes.” He said through a smirk.

The night nurse, Clive, came in to see what Archie required. He was tall, about ten years older than they, with wavy hair and olive complexion. Horatio found him rather handsome, but nowhere near as radiant-yet-vulnerably soft as his Archie.

“Ah yes, Clive, is it?” Horatio said, “Mr. Kennedy was wondering if he might have a bathe,”

Archie nodded in agreement.

“That should be ok, if you don’t touch the incision site.” Clive said, moving toward the bed to unhook the IV. “How are you feeling? Are you having pain? Do you think you can walk?”

“I’m not having much pain,” Archie said, “And Horatio can help me walk,” he paused and shot a look at Horatio, “And bathe.”

Clive wasn’t fazed.

“There’s a stool in the shower for you to sit on; I’ll get another one for you both. Shouldn’t be any trouble for Mr. Hornblower to help you,” he said.

He left and Horatio could hear some clatter in the bathroom and the shower turning on. He came back bearing a pair of short stockings, “Here—put these socks on. They’ll keep you from slipping on the floor.”

Archie threw back the bedclothes and Horatio sat on the bed and put the socks on for him, thinking it rather silly since they’d only need to take them off again just steps away, but he sensed everything the medical staff had told them to do was motivated by experience.

He slipped an arm around Archie’s waist and felt his legs firmly take his weight as he stood, although his balance wasn’t quite normal.

“There we go,” he said, turning to face Archie. “Strong on your feet then,” he gazed into Archie’s crooked smile. “First I’ve seen you upstanding since the shot.”

“And you held me then, too,” Archie noted.

“Do you need help?” Clive asked.

Archie took a few tentative steps in Horatio’s arms and shook his head.

“No, Clive, I think we’re all right.” Horatio said.

He left without another word, and Archie’s steps seemed to gain firmness with each one he took toward the bathroom. Horatio could feel the steam buildup coming out of the room when he opened the door, and he saw that there was a stool sitting already under the running water, and another up against the wall next to the shower.

“Let’s have you sit down here,” He said, and Archie complied. He closed and locked the door, and bent down to take off Archie’s socks while Archie shrugged out of his robe, which Horatio hung up on the wall pegs before noticing that Archie was grinning up at him in his surgical gown.

“You next,” Archie smiled devilishly.

He shot a grin back at Archie, “Nothing you haven’t seen before, Mr. Kennedy.”

“Seared into my memory, as it were,” Archie laughed, “But nothing I’d never mind seeing. Off with them, then.”

Horatio crossed his arms and slipped his t-shirt over his head, then pulled the ribbon out of his hair and shook it out.

“You’re staring,” He pursed his lips, “Looking as if you want to eat me,” He fumbled with the unfamiliar zipper and dropped his pants and stepped out of them.

“Because you look good enough to eat,” Archie shot back. “Especially in those togs,”

“McGarrett called them ‘briefs’.” Horatio hung the pants up and then quickly dropped his shorts, standing fully nude in front of Archie.

“Whatever they’re called, I say you look delectable in them, and even better out,” Archie licked his lips.

“I’m skinny,” Horatio began to blush.

“You’re lovely.” Archie said, “Just as I recall. Come here.”

Horatio came closer and began to tug at the front of Archie’s surgical gown, but Archie pulled him close by his shoulders and kissed him.

Horatio broke the kiss and tugged off the surgical gown, leaving Archie fully nude except for the bandage on his midsection.

His breath caught in his throat, “Archie, you’re beautiful.”

Archie rolled his eyes and began to tug at the ribbon in his own hair before letting it down and shaking it out. He had a dusting of golden stubble, having not shaved in several days, and his musculature was well formed, moreso than Horatio’s. Where Horatio had a sparse patch of wispy hair between his pectorals, Archie’s was well formed with golden curls, and a smattering of same across his breast, and a light trail down to the red-gold patch between his thighs from which emerged his well-proportioned penis, which Horatio remembered was shorter than his and with foreskin that didn’t quite entirely cover the head, while Horatio seemed to have it in abundance with some to spare.

But this was the first time he’d seen Archie in an entirely natural state, and he felt his own dick begin to stir and plump. Archie noticed too, and smiled.

“Focus,” Archie snapped out of it and began to gingerly pull away the bandage, looking down to examine the remains of the bullet wound, which he seemed pleased with. Horatio was also relieved, and rather surprised, to see that the incision was quite small and only required a few stitches.

“Ready?” Horatio held out his hand.

Archie nodded.

He tested the water, and finding it warm, sat Archie down straddling the bench longways, then moved the other bench into the shower to sit opposite him.

“That all right?”

Archie closed his eyes and arched his neck to bring his head under the stream.

“It feels… like heaven.” Archie said after emerging.

“Doesn’t it?” Horatio smiled.

“Shampoo comes out of the dispenser there,” Horatio pointed out.

“Give me a hand, won’t you?” Archie’s devilish grin was back.

He shot Archie a crooked half smile. “Move forward.”

Archie scooted forward on the bench while Horatio stood and took up position behind him on the bench. However, instead of going for the shampoo, he wrapped his arms around Archie’s shoulders and pulled him close, pressing a kiss to his temple, then several along the line of his clavicle.

Everything felt like it went in slow motion to Horatio, with the steady stream of water and the rising steam, and Archie completely pliable in his arms while Horatio washed his hair; when he rinsed it Horatio could smell the weeks of sea salt and other grime that had been caked into it; on the ship their primary method of hair washing was dry brushing, which kept it soft and neat, but not particularly clean.

“What’s this?” Archie asked as Horatio began to work conditioner into his hair.

“It’s called ‘conditioner’,” he said, “I used it this morning and it’s meant to make your hair, ‘nice’, I suppose.”

“And does it?”

“You liked it well enough to desire a shower,” Horatio smiled at his own wit.

“If you say,” Archie said. “I trust you.”

Horatio smoothed the conditioner through all of Archie’s hair, down to the very ends that trailed down his back, and then put his arms again around Archie’s chest and leaned back against the shower wall, cradling his head on his chest while the streams of hot water continued to fall squarely on top of Horatio’s arms.

“It works best if it stays in a few minutes,” he explained.

“Take as long as it will require,” Archie cooed.

They’d both for some time sported full-blown erections, and Archie lazily tugged periodically at his with his free hand while Horatio ground his between his stomach and the cleft of Archie’s ass.

“We keep going like this I’m going to spend myself,” Archie grunted.

“Spend yourself, Archie, do you good,” Horatio said, “I’m nearly there myself,”

A few moments later, he felt Archie tense, then relax in a burst, gripping hard on Horatio’s forearms wrapped around his free hand before more periodic spasms that subsided in intensity, but only served to egg Horatio on. What finally did it for him was the strong alkaline smell of Archie’s emission finally reaching his nostrils and the thought that he’d been the one to draw it out sent him over the edge and he joined him in his release, more quietly, but with more intense spasms as he bucked against Archie’s backside and held him in a vice grip until they subsided.

Archie laid back and almost fell asleep before Horatio nudged him and reminded him they needed to wash the conditioner out of his hair. Horatio rinsed the conditioner out, and Archie gave his underarms and body a quick once over with the body wash, taking care around his still-sensitive penis, which had softened and laid over one thigh.

He rose on his own, strongly, and even had enough strength to give a hand to Horatio and pull him up off the bench after he’d turned off the water.

“You’re stronger already,” Horatio smiled.

“Feeling great,” Archie beamed. “Great to be alive, great to be with you—and amazing after that shower. I could definitely do that every day,”

“Just the shower?” Horatio asked, with a raised eyebrow.

“Well, I could do that every day, too,” Archie smiled.

Horatio handed Archie, who was standing freely on his own now, a towel, and they both began to dry off, although Horatio couldn’t tale his eyes off Archie’s physique, and he noticed Archie staring strangely at him in the same way, with a silly grin on his face, and he kept biting his lip the way that he’d seen him do when he watched him bathe on the deck of the Renown—it was an insatiable desire, even as they were both flushed afterglow—he was ready to go again.

“Am I going to have trouble with you, Mr. Kennedy?” Horatio teased.

“Not if you keep me happy,” Archie teased right back, snapping his towel.

“Ah! Careful Archie! Don’t over exert yourself!” Horatio burst out.

“Aye aye,” Archie twinkled.

For the second time that day Horatio slipped on the briefs and jeans and t-shirt McGarrett had given him, then he tied Archie’s surgical gown in the back and helped him on with his robe.

When they’d both finally dried their hair and tied it back and unlocked the door, they found Steve and Danny sitting in the visitor’s chairs at the foot of the bed.

“Hello!” Horatio wasn’t expecting to see them.

“Hey buddy,” Steve rose as they approached, and took Horatio’s hand, then Archie’s in turn.

“You’re feeling better?” Steve’s face was a mask of concern as Archie slipped back into his hospital bed.

“Much.” Archie said with a smile, “I could very much get used to these ‘showerbaths’.” He smiled up at Horatio, who reddened.

Steve gave what Horatio considered to be a knowing smirk, and Danny’s expression was similar. Those two definitely seemed to think in lockstep.

“Can’t say I don’t agree,” Steve said, “I’ve been on some rough deployments myself, and there’s nothing like a good hot shower after you’ve been sitting in it for a week or more,”

Horatio smirked to himself. Steve thought a week was a long time to go without a bathe.

“Anyway,” Steve said, clapping his hands together, “We spoke with Dr. Fuji and she said you’d be ready to be discharged tomorrow morning. We’ve made up our guest room and you’re welcome to stay at our home as long as you like while we get some things figured out.”

“What things?” Archie asked.

“Well, personhood is much different in the 21st Century,” Steve began. “Notwithstanding the fact that your own government believes you both died on the Renown in 1802, in the modern world, administratively speaking, you don’t actually exist,” Steve rubbed the back of his neck. “So that kind of stuff—but we’d be honored if you’d agree to be our guests during that time.”

“Of course,” Danny added, “And we’ll help you catch up on everything that you’ve, uh, missed. And we’ll take you to Marukame for noodles.”

“Danny, we gotta take them to Side Street for fried porkchops first,” Steve said.

“What, the fried pork chops you swore off last week because they had too much cholesterol,” Danno said, standing and suddenly gesturing, “Now they’re a ‘must do’? No, the first thing we’re gonna do is serve you up a slice of one Daniel McGarrett’s New York Style pizza.” He cuffed his hands, then spread them in a wide gesture, “Don’t even have to leave the house for it.”

Danny had a triumphant smile on his face, and still had is hands clasped when he turned from Steve to Horatio and Archie who were both staring wide-eyed.

“I do not know what much of that means, Mr. McGarrett, Commander McGarrett, but Archie and I should be delighted to billet in your home as long as your generosity and charity see fit,”

“And we’ll let you get some sleep,” Steve said, “It’ll be a big day tomorrow,”

Horatio nodded, and was surprised when both Steve and Danny approached him for a quick hug and a peck on the cheek before doing the same for Archie. “Aloha,” they both said in unison as they left, showing the strange hand gesture Horatio had seen before.

He stood watching the door for a few moments, trying out the hand gesture himself, with the thumb and pinkie finger extended.

“Ask them about it tomorrow, Horatio,” he heard Archie call from behind him, “Come to bed now,”

Horatio turned to see that damned wide grin he could never refuse anything to.

“And take off those trousers,” he said.

Horatio complied, now familiar with the buttons and zippers, he dropped the jeans, which were slightly too big for him anyway, and folded them neatly over the back of the visitor’s chair before slipping under the covers with his—well, he didn’t know what, yet. He’d forgotten to ask.

“I’m going to ring for the nurse to replace the needle,” Archie said, “The pain is starting to creep back. I hope you don’t mind—I should have thought of it before you got undressed and into bed,”

Horatio didn’t respond—he was already asleep.

Chapter Text

Archie knew something was wrong. He knew Horatio was holding his hand because he could see it, but he couldn’t feel it. He knew he was standing near the ocean because he could see it and he could smell it, but he couldn’t hear it.

He knew he was safe, because his old troubles had died along with the old world that had tormented him for all of his life, but he couldn’t feel safe because the distinctions between them had blurred. It was the same ocean, the same sky, the same land as the world he’d left, and he suddenly felt as though he could be no more safe in this new world than in the old, even though he fully understood that his danger belonged to another time.

He willed himself to squeeze Horatio’s hand to let him know it was about to happen, but he couldn’t. He couldn’t open his mouth to speak, he couldn’t motion or beckon or cry out—all he could do was wait, filled with the overwhelming sense of dread that what was about to happen was about to happen, and there was nothing he could do about it, no way he could feel secure and comfortable until it was over.

He felt angry that Horatio was just standing there, blithely holding his hand like nothing was wrong, like he wasn’t about to lose himself, then he felt angry with himself for being angry with Horatio when Horatio could have no earthly idea what was imminent.

The shorter, blond one was trying to get his attention—Danny, his name was. He thought for a moment how strange this world was—one where everybody was addressed by their Christian names immediately upon meeting. Horatio was the only person he had addressed by his Christian name so quickly, and it was because he felt it would put him at ease. Like he was in a position to put anyone at ease.

Danny’s face was a mask of knowing concern, and Archie began to wonder how he could possibly know, but before he could think any further the world the new, exciting world where he could finally be with Horatio as he pleased, full of wonderful, fantastical new things, slipped right back away from him and disappeared.

***

“Don’t hold him down,” Steve said.

Horatio pulled back from Archie, who was seizing on the ground, a guttural groan coming from deep within his diaphragm.

“He has these fits sometimes.” Horatio said through a cracked voice.

“They said he had one at the hospital when he was going into trauma,” Steve said.

“They come and go.” Horatio said. “Just have to wait them out,”

Steve had crouched next to Archie as he writhed on the grass near the pair of Adirondack chairs in front of their house, and he felt Danny crouch next to him and give him a nudge. Steve noticed that he’d started the timer on his phone.

Danny pointed to himself and mouthed “like me”, and Steve shot back a questioning look. Danny put up a finger when he noticed that Archie had stopped seizing after about forty-five seconds, and he touched the timer off.

“I believe he has finished.” Horatio said. He was kneeling on the sand next to Archie; still wearing the clothes Steve had given him the previous day. Archie had been given a similar pair of Steve’s clothes that morning before leaving the hospital, although everything was slightly too long for him—his sandals had come off during the seizure and his jeans covered most of his feet.

“He always looks so much at peace after a fit,” Horatio had an oddly calm smile on his face while he petted one side of Archie’s head and pushed the hair away from his face. “He will awakens in a moment or two,”

Steve warmed noticing the tenderness that seemed to come so naturally to Horatio whenever Archie was concerned. He’d been virtually glued to his side in the hospital. “What causes them?” Steve asked.

Horatio smiled down at Archie for a few more seconds before absentmindedly looking up, as though the question had taken a few extra seconds to reach him.

“Oh, I, uh, I don’t pretend to know as much about the mind as I’m sure a modern doctor knows, but—I mean to say—Archie has long been troubled by the memory of another midshipman who tormented us,”

“Tormented you.” Danny said, without much of a question in his tone.

“Mainly Archie,” Horatio said, “And I believe it was more frequent, and more severe, before I came aboard,” he sighed.

“What exactly do you mean by ‘tormented’?” Danny asked.

Horatio bit his lip and didn’t answer for a long while.

“I can tell you in confidence, of course,” Horatio said at last, slowly, his eyes still fixed on Archie.

“This midshipman, Mr. Simpson, disgraced himself upon Archie—by force.”

“He raped him.” Danny said,

Horatio swallowed, “Yes.”

“It’s true,” Steve said, without meaning to.

“What?” Horatio still seemed dazed, but his eyes bore into Steve.

Steve felt embarrassed. “I mean, in the Navy we always heard jokes about what the Royal Navy was like in the old days—lots of that sort of thing going on,”

Horatio continued to stare, and Steve continued to ramble.

“I mean, not that, it’s hard to say to someone whose actually been there and witnessed it, but nowadays, you know, well even the British used to joke about how rampant it was.”

“I suppose it was,” Horatio said. “I came upon them once—I felt almost sure Mr. Simpson meant to force Archie again before I walked into the room. It was right before we went out on a raid and Archie had a fit in the boat, and I—“

Horatio began to tear up, “and to save the mission and my whole division from discovery I had to knock the wits out of the prettiest head I’d ever seen,”

Horatio continued to pat down Archie’s hair, now almost for emphasis.

“Simpson untied the boat during the raid and I watched him begin to drift away, thinking perhaps it was my carelessness that had lost him—I thought he’d died, but he found me by coincidence some years later,”

“Ah, there you are,” Horatio’s face brightened and Steve figured Archie must have opened his eyes.

“Back with us, then, Archie?” Horatio beamed, “Can you squeeze my hand?” He took Archie’s hand in his own and waited.

“Not yet? Quite all right,” he said, “Give us a smile, then?”

Steve could just make out Archie’s smile from where he was crouched.

“There he is, my Mr. Kennedy,” Horatio smiled broader.

“Horatio,” Archie’s voice was hopelessly small but still managed to be ebullient in quality.

Formerly reserved, he now seemed to have forgotten there was any world surrounding him but the one between him and Archie.

“You always look as if you’ve just seen me for the very first time,” Horatio smiled.

“You remember that, how I looked?” Archie smiled, still barely audible.

“I shall always remember that,” Horatio cooed with a raised eyebrow, smoothly. He shot a glance at Steve and Danny and then took Archie’s knuckles to his lips and kissed them. “You welcomed me to Purgatory with a smile that was pure Heaven, and you were lit like the sun and the moon together for much of the rest of the day,”

“Still am,” Archie smiled. He began to make small movements as though his limbs were beginning to thaw, and then Steve could see his forearm tense where he was squeezing Horatio’s hand.

“Archie, it’s Danny,” Danny said after a moment. “Would you like some water?”

“Oh, yes, Danny, if it’s not too much trouble, that would be very kind of you,” Archie said, his voice still small.

“Horatio?” Danny asked.

“Yes, please.”

“You, you bacciagalupe?”

“Yes, please,” Steve grabbed Danny’s opposite shoulder and pulled him close to kiss his cheek, and he could feel Danny grimace, but he knew it was for show.

“Ugh, manhandle me, why don’tcha?” He got up off the grass and brushed off the seat of his pants.

“Why I married ya,” Steve teased. “Unlimited manhandling till death us do part.”

“Animal.” Danny called over his shoulder.

Archie slowly sat up and gave Steve something of a once-over, while Steve noted how piercing his eyes were—even more than Danny’s. He was completely alert now, almost hyper alert as his gaze shot to a plumeria that had just started to tumble out of the tree overhead, twirling like a ballerina as it plummeted to the grass in front of him.

Horatio picked up the blossom in both hands and held it underneath Archie’s nose while Archie drew a deep breath and smiled after he’d finished inhaling the sweet fragrance.

Steve caught Horatio’s eye and pointed to his own ear. Horatio seemed to understand and went to tuck the plumeria behind Archie’s right ear, but he pulled back with a confused look when Archie seemed unsure.

“I do not know,” Archie hesitated.

“If it is custom, here,” Horatio said softly.

Archie let him place the flower.

“It’s common for men or women here,” Steve explained, “Although the custom is if you’re single, you wear it behind your right ear; if you’re not single you wear it behind your left,”

Archie reached up and removed the flower. “I wouldn’t call myself unattached,” he smiled at Horatio, and replaced the flower behind his left ear.

“Commander McGarrett,” Horatio began.

Steve cringed, “Steve, please.”

“Steve,” Horatio started over, “You must call me Horatio, then,” Horatio said, “Anyway, I have been meaning to ask, nowadays, how Archie and I might call ourselves, if we’re—in love—but not married. Lovers?”

While he’d been speaking Archie had wordlessly managed to scoot into his lap where he sat cross-legged on the grass and Horatio needed no cue to wrap his arms around him from behind, resting his chin on Archie’s shoulder.

“Well,” Steve said, thoughtfully, accepting a cup of water that Danny was carefully balancing as he kneeled back to the grass, before handing them in succession to Archie and Horatio, “When you’re committed, these days, you’re boyfriends, and then when you’re engaged to be married you’re fiancés or just ‘engaged’, and when you’re married you’re husbands. But it’s between the two of you how you choose to define your relationship,” Steve said. “Some marriages are very different now,” he added, thinking to himself of the couples he knew that were in open or polyamorous relationships.

“And,” he continued, after taking another sip of water, “There’s all sorts of slang and humor these days—like our housekeeper calls her husband ‘The Boyfriend’ even though they’ve been married for like twenty years,”

“These times seem strange, even to you,” Horatio mused.

Steve shrugged, “There must be an element of humanity that always finds times strange, I think. Didn’t your world seem odd, sometimes?”

Horatio considered it for a moment, “It did seem like everybody had gone mad,” he said, “If we weren’t at war, we waited for war to begin.”

“Remember when I told you with such confidence that the French couldn’t kill a king?” Archie piped up.

“I remember how gleefully you told me when they had.” Horatio said.

Steve noticed that Archie had begun plucking plumeria from the grass and had gathered them into a pile near where he and Horatio were sitting. At this, Archie picked a flower from the pile and handed it over his shoulder to Horatio, who understood it was meant to go behind his own ear.

“The world has seen much worse, since,” Steve mentioned, wondering if it were in fact wise to bring up.

Archie seemed to have none of it. He leaned back into Horatio’s chest and tugged his arms closer around him, closing his eyes with a sigh and pursing his lips.

“I don’t know that I wish to hear of all that,” he said, airily.

“Do you not wish to know the outcome of our struggles, Archie?” Horatio asked.

“I know enough,” Archie said, indignantly, “Have you never considered it, Horatio? We spent our lives risking our necks for a navy and a crown that would have been only too happy to see us hanged by those same precious necks were our… proclivities… discovered.”

Steve noticed Horatio seemed to have stiffened. “It was our duty,” he said.

“What other choice had we?” Archie sniffed. “You at seventeen with no greater prospect than a favor your father won from a man who just happened to be a sea captain. Me, a younger son of a minor peer whose main concern for my career prospects was seeing the back of me. It wasn’t duty, Horatio, it was necessity—we had no choice, and really neither did any of our contemporaries.”

He took a sip of water, almost as if to prove a point, while Danny shot Steve a glance.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be quite so sharp,” Archie sighed. “If you wish to find out what has since happened, I heartily commend you to it.

He looked up at Horatio, “For me, I just wish to enjoy sitting here in your arms, in this beautiful place, in this world that doesn’t condemn us for it.”

He kissed Horatio.

“Archie,” Horatio started,

“Let them see,” Archie almost whispered, “I love you and I want everyone to know it.”

Horatio shot a glance at Steve, who smiled back, hoping to reassure him. He wasn’t sure if Horatio wasn’t comfortable displaying his affections for Archie because they were both male or because Horatio wasn’t altogether comfortable with affection in general—he suspected it was the latter.

“You know it’s been relatively recent that we’ve had the right to marry,” Steve mentioned. “When Danny proposed to me it wasn’t, yet.”

“When was that?” Archie asked,

“Four years ago,” Steve said.

“And the children, they’re yours?”

“Archie,” Horatio quietly reproved, “Remember yourself.”

Steve knew he would have to explain that at some point, but he was surprised by Archie’s question.

“We have a close female friend who carries our children—it’s possible these days to—you know—without intercourse.”

Archie smiled, “I understand you, Steve.” He gave Horatio’s thigh a squeeze, but Horatio was clearly not comfortable with any of the subject matter.

“I think we’ve interrogated our new friends enough,” Horatio said, into Archie’s ear.

“Forgive me for being curious, Horatio,” Archie said.

“It’s natural,” Danny tried. Steve warmed at this; it wasn’t often that Danny played conciliator. “I was married, before, to a woman, and our oldest daughter—Grace, you haven’t met her yet—is from my first marriage.”

“Wait, so you’re not like us?” Archie asked. “Like us men, I mean,” he fumbled for the words. “Men who,”

“Men who love men,” Steve finished. “These days we say ‘gay’, but it’s complicated.”

“Yeah,” Danny started, “Like I might be called ‘bisexual’, because I’ve been—am—also attracted to women, but since I met this guy and found out he loved me that didn’t matter anymore.”

“So you’re ‘gay’, Steve?” Archie asked.

Steve took a swig of water.

“Yeah,” he said. “I’m gay.”

Archie thought for a moment. “It certainly sounds much kinder than ‘pervert’. That’s the only word I had,”

“Are you ‘gay’, then Archie?” Horatio asked softly.

“I’ve never had any desire for a woman,” Archie said, thoughtfully. “Yes, I’m gay.” He breathed, turning to look Horatio in the eye. “And you, Horatio? You’ve had far more attention from the fairer sex than I,”

An exasperated look briefly flashed across Horatio’s face, “I understand none of it.” He said.

“None of what?” Archie asked.

“Women,” Horatio said, “Attraction. All this. I love you, Archie, and I enjoy,” his voice dropped lower, “being with you,” he gulped. “I do not much consider others. Frankly, I’ve had no time.”

“He’s a romantic, is he not?” Archie joked, turning back to Steve and Danny.

“Archie, I,” Horatio started, mildly bothered.

“I get your meaning, dear heart,” Archie interrupted and then gave him a quick kiss for emphasis, “You love me, even if you cannot say it,”

“But I’ve said it before, many times,” Horatio said, logically.

Archie chuckled softly to himself.

“And many other times I saw it upon your face.” He said, leaning back into Horatio’s chest again.

He picked up another plumeria and held it under his nose, then twirled it between his thumb and forefinger.

“I like this future.” He said, beaming to nobody in particular. “I think we shall stay.”

Steve smiled. The ebullient redhead had already grown on him.

“As along as you like, buddy. As long as you like.”