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How To Make a Singular Noun Possessive

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It was a depressing commentary on Danny Williams’ life that he could tell he was in a hospital even before he opened his eyes.

He cracked one eye to test the light level, see if it caused a splitting headache, because hospitals usually meant head injury.  Unless it meant gunshot wound, or exposure to chemical or biologic agents, but he really wasn’t feeling any pain or trouble breathing, so he was going to go with the optimism Steve liked so much and rule out any of those increasingly common occurrence.

The fluorescent lighting didn’t cause any shooting agony through his skull, so he opened his eyes a little wider.  However, seeing Lou’s face instead of the one he was expecting had him frowning and pushing himself up to look around the room.

“Take it easy, Danny, don’t rush it,” Lou cautioned. “I’m going to call a nurse.”

Danny ignored the warning and the information about medical staff.  “Where’s Steve?”

The depressing truth was, if he was in the hospital, for whatever reason, Steve would have been at the scene of the injury, either to give aid or need it himself, because he was probably the unintentional cause of it in the first place.

“Steve?” Lou asked in confusion and obvious worry.

“Yes, Steve,” Danny insisted, his own anxiety growing.  “You know, way too tall and way too little self-preservation instincts to take care of himself.  Where is he?”

Lou’s eyebrows closed rank on his otherwise smooth forehead.  “I’m going to skip the nurse and go straight for the doctor.”

Danny suddenly felt a knot form in his stomach.  “Lou, where the hell is Steve?”

“Hey, look who’s finally awake!” a familiar voice exclaimed from the door. 

It wasn’t Steve’s, but hearing it momentarily overrode any thought of the other man.  “Matty?” Danny exclaimed in shock to see his brother…his dead brother…standing in the doorway and not, you know, dead in a fucking drum in a Colombian drug lord’s cellar.

“How you feeling, bro?  You sure gave me and Gracie a scare.”

“Matt, how…?”  Danny rubbed at his forehead.  “What is going on here?”

“Matt and Grace found you unconscious on the floor of your kitchen this morning,” Lou provided.   “Do you remember what happened?”

They found me?” Danny demanded, still reeling from the fact that his goddamn dead brother was standing beside his hospital bed.  “Why didn’t Steve find me?”

Matty looked over to Lou in uncertainty, and Lou just gave a shrug that said he had no idea what Danny was talking about either.

“Danny,” Matt started slowly, “do you remember what happened in Colombia about four years ago?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact, I do remember what happened; every fucking detail is seared into my brain.  Steve and I went to pay your ransom to Reyes, only he had stuffed your body into a drum, and then he threatened Grace, so I killed him.”

Matt and Lou exchanged another look before Matty sat down on the edge of Danny’s bed and rested a sympathetic hand on Danny’s leg.

“You and Steve, you paid the ransom.  Reyes didn’t kill me. You two saved my life.”  Matt paused, watched as Danny tried to process the information.  “But there was a gun fight on the way out, and Steve…Steve didn’t make it.”

“What?” Danny’s brain couldn’t seem to comprehend the words his brother was saying.

“Steve stayed back,” Lou added.  “Gave you two the cover you needed to get away.”

“That’s…that’s not what happened,” Danny insisted.  “There was a drum.  Matt, you were in the drum.”

“A week after you and Matt got back to the States, there was a drum delivered to the Palace.”  Lou took a breath, obviously trying to bring his own emotions under control. “Your brother wasn’t in the drum, Danny; Steve was.”

Danny followed Lou’s gaze as it moved to where a 55-gallon drum, rusted and dented, sat in the corner of the room.

With his heart racing in all out panic, Danny pushed himself further up in the bed, trying his best to back away from the barrel and what, who was in it.

“Danny?” a groggy voice called.

A hand landed on Danny’s chest, and Danny jerked awake to find himself in Steve’s bed, Steve’s room, Steve’s house, and thank Christ, Steve next to him in bed.

“Whoa.”  Steve’s voice was instantly alert at the feel of Danny’s heart pounding wildly beneath his fingers.

Even in the dim moonlight coming through the window, Danny could see the worry in Steve’s eyes, like he was trying to decide if he should call an ambulance because Danny was in cardiac arrest, or just throw him in the Camaro, turn on the sirens, and make a run for the hospital himself.

Deciding he didn’t feel like dying in a fiery crash tonight with a frantic Steve behind the wheel, Danny rolled over and pressed his face into Steve’s chest, breathed deeply of the familiar scent of the man who was here and alive and not in a fucking drum.  “It’s not…I’m… you were….” Jesus, he wasn’t making any sense, but Steve was here, in bed the way he was every night, and that made all the sense in the world.  He wrapped his arms in a death grip around the other man, wishing he could climb under that inked skin and take up permanent residence there.  “Dream,” Danny exhaled against the broad chest.  “Just a stupid, fucking dream.”

He felt Steve relax at the confession, felt warm hands rub along his back when Danny shuddered.  “Easy, Danno, easy.”

Those were almost the exact words Steve had used in that cellar in Colombia, after Danny had put a bullet in Reyes’ brain, staggered back two steps, and felt his knees wobble as the floor threatened to fall away beneath his feet.  Danny didn’t even see the blood, didn’t see the derma matter on the wall behind, didn’t see Steve step up behind him.  All he could see, even when he closed his eyes, was the drum with his baby brother in it. But he felt the way his heart raced, felt the world tip drunkenly, and felt Steve’s strong arms around his chest.

“Whoa, easy, Danny.” Steve’s voice had been muffled by the sound of blood pounding in Danny’s ears that were still ringing from the gunshot, but the words were strong and steady, just like his best friend.

Christ, he’d just killed a man, executed him.  Sure, Reyes had killed Matty, killed hundreds in the past, and would have no doubt killed that many more and then some if Danny hadn’t shot him; but Danny was a cop, he was supposed to uphold the law, and now he’d done this.

How would he ever be able to look Steve in the eyes again, much less Grace? “I… Jesus, Steve, I …”

Steve apparently heard the apology in Danny’s voice.  “It’s okay,” Steve assured at Danny’s ear, “You’re going to be okay. I’ll make sure of it.”

“But, I…” Danny started again lamely.

Leaning his head against Danny’s temple, Steve asked, “You trust me?”  When Danny nodded wordlessly, because what could he even say to that question?  Of course, he trusted Steve; it’s why the man was there in that fucking basement with him in the first place. “Then it’s all good.  We’re good, Danno.  I swear to God, we’re good.”

Danny, out of a warped sense of desperation and need, had believed him.

Almost four years later to the day, lying wrapped in Steve’s arms, Danny still believed him.  “We’re good,” Danny mumbled against bare skin he knew so, so well.

“No, Danno, we’re better than good,” Steve assured with a kiss to the top of Danny’s head.  “We’re so far beyond good its crazy.”

Danny wanted to cry at the declaration, or fuck Steve into the mattress until the image of the drum from his dream was lost in the sound of Steve calling his name in all out bliss.  When he got right down to it, however, he knew neither was a good idea. The former would only serve to worry Steve more than he already was, and the latter just seemed like it was even more desperate and needy than the crying …or believing Steve in Colombia when he convinced Danny he’d ever be good again after executing a man.

“Don’t you even think of blaming your mental issues on our relationship, McGarrett.” Danny managed to keep him voice from cracking, but it was a near thing.  As it was, it went a little hoarse on Steve’s name.  “You were crazy long before we ever met.”

“And yet here you are in bed with me,” Steve pointed out, rubbing Danny’s back once again.  “Not to mention, totally nude.”

“Apparently insanity is contagious, sexual transmitted, no less,” Danny justified with a press of lips against Steve’s skin before turning to rest his cheek against the same spot to feel Steve’s heart beating reassuringly.  He closed his eyes, soaked it in, and tried his best not to think about imaginary drums filled with Steve’s body parts.  He couldn’t keep his brain from settling on the real one with Matty’s instead. 

With another shudder, Danny sat up and scrubbed at his face, as if that could chase away the memory.  It didn’t, but at least it helped to hold the threatening tears at bay.

Steve didn’t stop him from pulling away, although he kept one hand on Danny’s arm as he propped himself on the other elbow.  “Danny?”

“Uhm, water,” Danny lied, knew Steve would see right through it, but hoped like hell he’d just let it go.  “I could use some water.  You want some?”  He was already throwing the covers back to climb out of bed.

“I’m good.”  Steve’s brow furrowed in worry. 

Danny watched the conflicting desire to keep a hold on Danny so he could make it all better and the understanding that Danny needed a few minutes alone battle briefly across Steve’s face.  Jesus, he loved the hell out of this doofus.

Leaning in, Danny murmured, “No, babe, you’re so far better than good it’s crazy.”  He pressed a quick kiss to Steve’s lips and promised, “Be right back.”

Once downstairs, Danny drank a glass of water, not that he really wanted one, but that was why he’d said he’d come down here.  Glancing at the clock on the microwave, he saw it wasn’t even three a.m.   Having no desire to lay awake in bed for another three hours waiting for the sun to rise, he snagged a pair of sweats off the top of the dryer.  Not realizing they were Steve’s until he pulled them all the way up to his waist only to find he still had about half a mile of pant leg trailing past his feet, he tugged the extra fabric up to bunch around his ankles, then headed out past the lanai and onto the small beach.  He wiggled his bare toes in the damp sand, breathed in salty, humid air, and simply stood in the welcome darkness that melded sea with sky in the distance.  Even in October, it was still in the 70s at night, something Jersey wouldn’t see for at least another six to eight months.

It had barely climbed into the 50s the day of Matty’s funeral four years before.  It was raining buckets the day Danny flew home.  It rained so hard the streets in his parents neighborhood flooded so that his sister’s couldn’t make it over that night.  Hell, they barely made it to the funeral home the next day.  It seemed the more it rained, the harder Ma cried, and the more she cried, the quieter his dad got, so that Danny thought he might lose his goddamn mind in the sound of sobbing that filled the otherwise aching silence of the house.   It broke his heart to see his parents like that, almost more than losing Matty had.   Danny couldn’t stop thinking that if he’d found the money sooner, looked for Matt harder after his brother had gone on the run, hell, pulled the trigger and stopped him from getting on that fucking plane in the first  place, all of this could have been avoided.  Matthew may have been in prison, but he would have been alive, and Danny never would have had to hear his mom crying like her heart had been ripped from her chest.

The sun finally came out the day of the graveside service, although the ground was so muddy one of Bridgette’s shoes came off in the muck as they made their way back to the cars.  His mom had laughed at that.  It was weak and filled with sniffles, but it was a laugh that had Danny and his sisters looking at each other in surprise.

Ma had shrugged and blew her nose.  “What?  It’s funny.  Matthew would have thought it was hilarious.  Knowing him, he probably plotted it from up in heaven.”

She was right; it’s exactly what his piece of shit brother would have done, which was why Danny and his sisters burst out laughing, too.  So loud that the priest gave them a disapproving frown, which just made them laugh louder.  His mom was back to crying that evening, but those few minutes gave Danny hope that his family would eventually bounce back from the tragedy of losing Matt.  He just wasn’t sure if he’d ever bounce back from what he’d seen, or what he’d done as a result.

That guilt, of failing his brother, of failing his family, of failing to uphold the standards Danny believed a cop should uphold, went a long way in explaining why he didn’t fight the extradition back to Colombia.  A part of him had given up on himself.  Steve, however, never did.  Never would.  And that went a long way in explaining why Danny thought he might actually go more than a little nuts if he ever lost Steve.  Six months into this thing they had going, and Danny knew he’d never get out of it alive or sane.  There were times like tonight where he honestly didn’t give a damn about either just as long as Steve was in it with him every step of the way.

As if on cue, the man on his mind stepped up behind Danny. 

“When you said you needed water, I didn’t realize you meant the ocean.”  Steve stayed back a few feet, giving Danny space if he still needed it, although it was obvious he was fighting every instinct in his body telling him to move closer.

Danny decided to put him out of his misery.  He reached back to snag a corner of the blanket Steve had draped around himself to pull him closer.  Steve immediately opened his arms to wrap them and the blanket around Danny from behind, and exhaled in relief against Danny’s temple, like he was the one grateful to have Danny in his arms again and not the other way around.

Leaning back, Danny asked, “Are you still nude under this blanket?”

“Someone stole my sweats,” Steve justified, as if they were the only stitch of clothing he owned.

“So that gives you permission to skulk around in the night like some totally naked animal?”

 “As opposed to a fully clothed animal?” Steve snorted then nuzzled behind Danny’s ear.  “Besides, I was kind of hoping you might eventually want to come back to bed and do some things that wouldn’t require any clothes.”

“I know,” Danny admitted, feeling more than a little embarrassed.  “I just…Ma’s going to call a day from now, and she will have already been to the cemetery and…sorry, you’re right, let’s go back to bed.”

Steve, however, didn’t move, held Danny firmly in place.  “Hey, I get it, anniversaries of these sorts of things… trust me, I get it.” 

If anyone would get it, it would be Steve.

“The dream, it was about your brother, wasn’t it?” When Danny nodded reluctantly, Steve kissed his jaw.  “You want to tell me about it?”

Steve knew a thing or two about bad dreams.  Danny had been there on more than one occasion when Steve had clawed his way back from the ghostly remnants of some mission gone wrong, some mission that marked one of those many anniversaries Steve had cataloged in his brain.  As much as Danny knew Steve hated to talk about them when the dreams came, he always did.  Danny supposed he should return the favor.

“Matt was alive,” Danny confessed quietly with an uneasy shift of his shoulders.  “We had paid the ransom in time, and he didn’t die.”

“Those are rough,” Steve told him.  “When I was a kid, I used to dream my mom was alive, and it would be great as long as the dream lasted.  But then when I’d wake up, and she wasn’t there… it was rough.”

“Matt was alive, but you weren’t,” Danny continued, concentrated on keeping his voice level as he ripped off the emotional Band-Aid to get it all out.   “You, in typical Lt. Commander McMoron fashion, had stayed behind so we could get out.  So all and all, the dream wasn’t so great, either.”  Danny stared out at the black water, grey waves breaking in the distance.  “I got my brother out of the drum, but you ended up in it.  Apparently, even my subconscious will only let me have one or the other, but not both.”

Steve stiffened but didn’t let go.  “That’s a tough choice.”

“You,” Danny told him confidently as he turned to wrap his arms around Steve’s waist.   “Without a doubt, without hesitation, I’d choose you every time.  It would break my Ma’s heart all over again, my dad’s, my sisters’, and I guess that makes me a god-awful son, but I don’t care.  If I ever had to make that choice, I’d always choose you over everyone else.”

Steve’s arms tightened around Danny.  “You know I’d do the same with you, right?   Well, I mean, after Grace and Charlie.  They’re always top of the list.”

Danny snorted against Steve’s shoulder.  “Just when I think I can’t love you anymore than I do, you go and prove me wrong.” 

Steve had demonstrated his commitment to Danny’s kids time and time again.  Danny still remembered the hostage crisis at Grace’s school dance, and Steve busting into the room and immediately calling for Grace.  Not Danny, Grace.   He’d been joking about picking a base when Steve asked about a hug, but honestly, Danny would have dropped to his knees and given it the old Seaton Hall best if Steve had asked him to, and it was all because of how much Steve loved his kids. 

“Obviously, Gracie and Charlie come first,” Danny assured him, “That goes without saying.  But, babe, you are only a short step behind.”

“Just one more reason you guys should move in here,” Steve told him, his fingers running soothingly along the nape of Danny’s neck.

Danny sighed.  Steve had been on him for the past several weeks to not renew his lease when it was up next month and instead move in here. It had started as soon as he got back from his annual two weeks reserve training.   Danny wasn’t sure exactly what happened during that time, but Steve hadn’t let up on him since he got home.  “Are you trying to take advantage of me in an emotionally vulnerable state?”

Steve’s arms tightened around Danny as he shrugged.  “Depends.  Is it working?”

“Steve, we’ve been over this…”

Steve cut him off.  “I know you’ve got the kids settled at your place, but we can settle them again here.  There’s plenty of room, they love the beach and the yard, and we can set up their rooms exactly the same way they are at your place.  You can’t tell me the extra money won’t come in handy when Grace goes to college in a couple of years.  Besides, it’s not like we don’t sleep together every night as it is—“

“That’s not entirely true.  You have your monthly weekend warrior duty for the Reserves, not to mention when you run off to places like Nairobi—“

“Nigeria,” Steve corrected.

Danny was just trying to throw Steve off his argument game.  He knew exactly where Steve had been when he’d gone off on a rescue mission to find Joe.  Not just the country, but exactly where in Nigeria they would be.  He’d made damn sure of that by showing up at Steve’s and immediately pulling the massive world atlas he’d seen on the bookshelf there that had to be almost as old as Steve and weighed as much as Charlie, and sat it on the kitchen table.

“Show me,” Danny had ordered as Steve came down the stairs with his bag slung over his shoulder, and shit, he was really going to go.  He was going to go out in the jungle or desert or to some third-world, overpopulated city on a death wish mission and maybe never come back.  Not that Danny had doubted it for a second when Steve called to tell him in vague terms what he planned to do, but Danny had hoped he’d never have to face this day as more than just Steve’s best bud.  It shouldn’t make a difference that they’d been sleeping together for about a month at the time, but it did.  It sure the fuck did make a huge difference.

Steve had learned his lesson years before that he didn’t run off overseas without speaking to Danny in person about his plans.  Danny had also learned his lesson that Steve would do anything for Joe White.  Hell, Danny owed Joe almost as much as Steve did, for the exact same reasons of bringing Steve home from some foreign hellhole as many times as he had, often at Danny’s request.

“And don’t pull any of that ‘it’s classified’ bullshit either,” Danny warned.  “You’re not supposed to know anymore about it than I do.”

Steve sighed.  “Danny, I don’t even know where we’re going other than Nigeria.”

Danny was already flipping through the atlas to find the correct page.  “You’ve run missions there before, right?” When Steve finally nodded his head, Danny tapped at the map.  “Then you have a pretty good idea where these sorts of people tend to hang out.  So show me.”    Steve hesitated, and Danny shifted, trying to keep his worry-induced anger in check.  God, he’d never wanted to punch Steve in the face so badly while also wanting to hold the idiot close and confess his undying love for the man.

“I’m not trying to keep you from going.”  Although, if he thought it had half a chance of working, he’d latch onto Steve’s leg like a human home-arrest anklet.  “I just…I need something, Steve, or I’m going to go out of my fucking mind.”

Steve had caved, showed him the regions he thought they might be in, then checked his watch.  “Damn, I need to go.”  He leaned in, kissed Danny hard.  “You’re not going to hear from me for several days.  I’ll do my best to call or get word to you as soon as I can, but with multiple transports, sketchy communications lines, don’t be surprised if it’s over a week before I do.”  At Danny’s nod, Steve cautioned, “You’ll be down two of us at Five-0, so take extra care of each other.  Okay?”

“You and Junior do the same,” Danny told him.

“Tell Grace and Charlie...” Steve floundered then. Danny wasn’t sure if it was because he was afraid he was crossing a line even thinking about saying something to Danny’s kids, or if he genuinely didn’t know what to say to children when you might not be coming back.

“Don’t worry about them,” Danny assured.  “I’ll take care of it.”

“I love you guys.” Steve patted at Danny’s chest, his expression holding the same intensity it held when he was briefing the team before a raid.  “I love you.”

Stuffing his hands deep in his pockets to keep from grabbing Steve and never letting go, Danny gave him a genuine, if weak, smile.  “Love you, too.  Talk to you soon.”

Soon ended up being five days later, at a quarter past midnight, on a shit connection, that lasted less than a minute.  It was enough to let Danny know Steve, Junior, and Joe all made it out alive.  Steve was smart enough to keep the nearly being blown to bits by friendly fire to himself until he got home.  Junior hadn’t been so bright when he’d talked to Tani the next day, and Danny was ready to rip Steve a new one as soon as he made it back to the islands three days later.

Danny had opened the front door to Steve’s house as soon as Eddie perked up when the headlights from Steve’s truck had tracked across the living room.

Eddie had run out to meet him, and Danny could hear Steve greeting the dog in the dark before he moved into the porch light.  All the anger had bled away from Danny at the site of him.   Jesus, he shouldn’t feel this relieved to see him in person.

Steve had given Danny an exhausted smile as he climbed the steps up to the stoop, his bag slung over his right shoulder, his vest in his left hand. “Hey, you’re here.  I wish you’d let me know.”

Danny shrugged self-consciously, afraid, maybe, he’d overstepped some unknown boundary with Steve and his first few days back from a mission. “I just wanted to, you know, make sure you were really okay.”

Steve spread his arms when he reached the top of the steps, as if showing he was uninjured. “Well, I wouldn’t have wasted time swinging by your place if I’d know you were here.”

Danny exhaled in relief that he hadn’t screwed up.  “I figured you’d want to be at home when you got back.”

“Why do you think I went looking for you?” Steve asked in what appeared to be genuine confusion.

Danny couldn’t help the smile that spread on his face as he leaned casually against the doorjamb.  “Gotta say, babe, you look beat.”

“Yeah? Have you looked in a mirror lately?” Steve challenged with raised eyebrows.  “I’ve been in an active combat zone.  What’s your excuse?”

“You’ve been in an active combat zone,” Danny told him honestly, the smile slipping before he recovered with a smartass, “Guess there aren’t a lot of decent beds to be found in situations like that.”

“Last decent bed I slept in, you were in it. You’re kind of a prerequisite for a decent bed these days.”  Steve stepped in close, so close Danny could feel the heat of him, close enough to lean down and kiss Danny.  He didn’t.  “So, Danny, you want to move your ass so I can get in the house and drop my shit?  I’ve been waiting nine days to get my hands on you, and that’s kind of hard to do when they’re full of gear.”

Danny grinned wider and stepped aside.  “Didn’t stop you from saying hello to Eddie.”

The gear landed unceremoniously just inside the door, and Steve snagged Danny shirtfront to pull him in closer. “I don’t plan to have an obscene amount of sex with Eddie.”

“I’m sure the ASPCA will be as relieved as Eddie and I are to hear that.”  Danny rested a hand on Steve’s hip, rubbing his thumb along the spot just above, and watched Steve’s eyes go slightly out of focus.  “What about Junior?”

“I don’t plan to have sex with him either.”   When Danny rolled his eyes, Steve grinned.  “He went for beers with the other guys in the unit.  Told me at least three times he wouldn’t be home for several hours.”

Whether he was staying away out of consideration for Danny and Steve’s reunion or avoidance of it for his own sanity, Danny wasn’t going to question Junior’s gift.  “Do I owe him malasadas?”

“For letting us have the house free to make some x-rated noises? Sure.”

That wasn’t what Danny meant, but he let it go, just grateful to have Steve back no matter who was responsible.  Now that he had him, Danny wasn’t quite sure what to do with him. His brain seemed to be shorting out as soon as it bumped up against the thought of, ‘thank Christ he’s home.’  

Steve seemed to be having the same problem, although he was studying Danny with Tactical Calculations Face, seemingly running through a dozen preplanned scenarios trying to decide which to field first.

Danny decided to nudge him on, tugging on the hip he was gripping to pull Steve in tight against him.  “So, sex, huh?”

“An obscene amount,” Steve promised again before deploying his first strategic assault.

Ends up Steve’s plans included a hell of a lot of sloppy, open-mouth kissing, and both of them getting off with a hand down each other’s pants before they even made it all the way up the stairs.  Then again, maybe that fell under the old adage that no plan survives first contact with the enemy… or your partner’s dick… whichever the case may be.

Steve was smiling like a total goof when Danny straightened enough to look him in the eyes again.  “So, I take it you’re glad I’m home.”

“So, I take it you’re glad to be home,” Danny countered.

“What clued you in?” Steve asked.  If possible, his smile grew as he followed Danny’s gaze down to the sticky mess between them.  “I’m going to hit the showers.”

“I might join you,” Danny offered.

“No ‘might’ about it.”  Steve emphasized his statement with a deep kiss, with lots of tongue and want and promise of so much more than a quick hand job on the stairs.

Danny, honest to God, felt light headed afterwards.  He dropped his head to rest against Steve shoulder, basking in the reality that Steve was here.  Here and alive and uninjured and Danny could finally confess, “God, you have no idea how much I missed you.  Missed you and worried and imagined shit…”

“I may have some idea,” Steve told him, nuzzling at Danny’s temple.  “After the past year we’ve had, do you think it was easy to go off and leave you unsupervised?”   Steve cupped the back of Danny’s head.   “Listen to me; we’re spending the next twenty-four to forty-eight hours together, as long as the criminal element on this island will let us.  Just you and me.  You got it?”

It wasn’t the criminals that eventually called them back to work, unless you counted Kamekona and his suitcases stuffed to overflowing with small, unmarked bills, it was a Russian submarine.  That didn’t take away from the two days they spent in bed together that were some of the best of Danny’s life; still, the nine days Steve had been gone had been some of the worst.  Danny had at least spent them at his place, not surrounded by everything that defined three generations of McGarrett men and their dedication to the United States Navy at Steve’s house.  The house Steve was insistent Danny make his own.

“Where you go doesn’t matter,” Danny tried to explain as they stood on the beach of that same house.  “What matters is that I’d be here in your house thinking about you because there’s nothing else to think about here.”

“See, that’s just it, Danny.  I don’t think of this as my house; it’s my dad’s house.  It’s always been my dad’s house ever since I thought my mom died, and he sent Mary and me back to the mainland.  But when you’re here, and the kids, then it starts to feel like our house, and I love that feeling.  Man, you have no idea how much I would love for you to think of this place as ours, too.”

Danny almost gave in…almost…but there were other things, things he really didn’t want to talk or even think about tonight, which had him hesitating.   Instead, Danny tilted his head up and kissed Steve warm and slow.  Steve, for his part, cupped Danny’s jaw with one hand and kissed him back.

“You make a very compelling argument,” Danny confessed against Steve’s lips.

Steve was running his thumb along Danny’s jaw.  “Is that a yes?”

“It’s an, ‘I swear I’ll seriously consider it’,” Danny promised.  “I’m sorry, babe, that’s the best I can do tonight.  Especially tonight.”

“Yeah, okay,” Steve relented, but Danny didn’t miss the disappointment in his voice.

“You want I should blow you in the beach chair?” Danny offered with a waggle of his eyebrows to try to make it up to him.  “In one of our beach chairs?”  Regardless of whether he lived here or not, after all the time they’d spend sitting in the chairs drinking beer and watching the sunset, after the vision Danny had of them sitting in the chairs as old men, Danny already thought of those chairs in the possessive.

Despite the fact that Danny could feel Steve growing hard at the prospect, Steve put up at least a modicum of a protest.  “You do realize all the beaches in Hawai’i are public beaches.”

“Says the man who came onto this public beach wearing only a blanket,” Danny pointed out, already pulling Steve toward one of the chairs.

“Someone could come along at any minute.”  Steve was wearing a grin as he dropped into one of the chairs, placing his arms along the armrests so that the blanket spread open and exposed every glorious inch of him.

Danny eased to his knees in the damp sand, running his hands along the muscles of Steve’s thighs before pushing them apart and moving a hand in to cup and fondle Steve’s balls.  “Then they’re going to enjoy the hell out of the show.”

Steve slid down a little further in the chair so he could rest his head against the seatback, closed his eyes, and exhaled Danny’s name.  Yeah, he was just getting started, but Danny was already enjoying the hell out of this show himself.

~H50~H50~H50~H50~H50~

Every time Steve thought he was getting the hang of this parenting thing, something like this would happen.  This particular something was the unnerving feeling of being watched as he slept, only to open his eyes to see a six-year-old standing and staring at him from a few feet away. It was like waking up to find himself in the middle of one of those horror movies with creepy kids.

Even as Steve flinched back from the unexpected sight, his hand instinctively reached for a weapon that wasn’t there.  Danny was already murmuring desperately at his ear, “Charlie, it’s Charlie.”  Steve felt the hand Danny had resting warmly under Steve’s t-shirt as he slept press almost painfully against his bruised abs to hold him firmly in place.

Steve didn’t blame Danny one bit, was thankful actually, considering what had happened the first time Charlie had shown up silently lurking in their bedroom as if he could will them to wake up by staring silently at their sleeping forms.  That time, Steve had reached his gun that usually rested on the nightstand by his bed, only to find himself pointing it at Danny.  Somehow, Danny had managed to launch himself over Steve and out of bed with almost inhuman speed and agility to place himself protectively between Steve and his son.

Danny had done his best to form a human shield to block any shot Steve might have gotten off, as well as Charlie’s view of the weapon.  “Hey, CharlieCharlie, what’s wrong?”  Danny had asked, stressing the child’s name so Steve would know who it was.

Steve had blinked in confusion when Danny glanced back over his shoulder, realized what he was doing, then immediately slid the gun under his pillow and out of sight. 

Danny visibly relaxed when the gun disappeared, then he quickly ushered Charlie out of the room to get the requested glass of water and put him back to bed, leaving Steve alone to run through a dozen different what-if scenarios, all of which made Steve feel like he wanted to scream. 

When Danny came back to the bedroom, Steve was already dressed and tying his shoes.  “Where do you think you’re going?”

“I think, maybe I should leave, go back to my place.” Steve hadn’t looked up from his task at hand.  His heart was racing; terrified that Danny would not only agree with him, he’d say Steve shouldn’t spend the night when the kids were here.

“Steve…”

“I’m so fucking sorry, Danny.” Steve braced his forearms on his knees and hung his head.  “Christ, I would never point a gun at Charlie.  You know that, right?  Did it scare him?  Of course, it scared him. It scared the shit out of me. How could it not scare him?”  The more he rambled, the more panicked Steve became that he’d fucked up, seriously fucked up, like ruined things with Danny forever fucked up.  Because Danny could tolerate a lot of Steve’s crazy, but when it came to his kids, Danny didn’t fuck around.

Danny had squatted in front of Steve, placed his hands on Steve’s knees and ordered, “Steven, look at me.  You aren’t going anywhere; you aren’t running away from this.  You screwed up big time, my friend, but Charlie’s fine.  They’re more resilient than you think they would be at this age.  If anything, he’s more confused than scared, and you can talk to him in the morning.  Until then, you aren’t going anywhere.”

“I pulled a gun on the two of you, Danny,” Steve repeated, as if Danny hadn’t seen the whole damn thing.

“Yes, you did.  You did point your gun at us.  Did you fire it?  No, you did not.  As soon as you woke up enough to see it was us, you put it away.  I know you, you idiot, you would never hurt anyone in this house, just the opposite.  And believe me, it freaks me the hell out, too, when I wake up and see my kid standing and staring at me while I sleep.  I should have warned you that they do that sometimes.  I’m just used to it, and eventually you’ll get used to it, and adjust your highly redacted, SEAL-honed instincts to recognize Charlie’s breathing pattern in the dark.  Although, maybe, from now on, the sidearms stay on my side of the bed.”

Steve had immediately handed over the weapon, which Danny placed in the drawer of the nightstand with his own.  At Danny’s coaxing, Steve took off his shoes, climbed back in bed, and spent most of the rest of the night staring at the ceiling with Danny’s fingers linked with his and resting on his chest. 

At the first hint of sunrise, Danny had cracked an eye and demanded, “What the ever living fuck, McGarrett? Have you been awake all this time?  Go to sleep.” 

He did, sleeping harder than he thought he would, because when he woke, Danny wasn’t in bed anymore, and Steve could smell bacon and coffee.  Charlie had greeted him happily when Steve walked into the kitchen, showing Steve how he could flip a pancake under Danny’s watchful eye.  Danny was right; Charlie was more resilient than Steve had thought, more resilient than Steve. Then again, maybe he had a shorter attention span than Steve, although Danny would argue that was an impossible feat.  It didn’t stop Steve from spending the next two weeks apologizing to Charlie with daily trips to the shave ice stand, and to Danny with cocoa puffs and some downright smutty sexual acts that neither of them had tried before.

Steve’s instincts still couldn’t recognize Charlie while asleep, but with Danny’s help, they were getting better.  Enough so that he was the one this time who asked in a sleep-scratchy voice, “Hey, buddy, what’s up?  Need a drink of water?”

“I don’t feel good,” Charlie informed them, proving his claim by promptly throwing up on the floor.

Steve couldn’t help but recoil in disgust. They’d somehow gone from Village of the Damned to The Exorcist in thirty seconds flat.

“Great,” Danny said over Steve’s shoulder, his own face screwed up at the sight of the spaghetti they’d had for dinner now forming a puddle at Charlie’s feet, “this day just keeps getting better and better.”

Yeah, this really was the cherry on top of a crapfest of a day.  It had started off in pretty spectacular fashion with Steve in a beach chair, and his dick in Danny’s mouth, which Steve had learned was good for a hell of a lot more than bitching about living in a tropical paradise.  Steve had a smile on his face the entire time he made coffee that morning, even when Danny staggered into the kitchen and called him brain damaged for being so happy so early in the morning.

Steve had trapped him against the refrigerator, the carton of milk for his coffee still in Danny’s hand.  “You have only yourself to blame, Detective Williams.”  After the kiss Steve planted on his lips, Danny couldn’t help but smile the rest of the morning, too.

Then Kai had been waiting in Steve’s office with a folder of photos.

“My sister works as the housekeeping manager at the Wave Rider Hotel,” the officer had told them as he handed over the folder.  “One of the maids found these in a room she was cleaning.  They must have slid down behind the desk.   It’s standard practice for the maids to turn in any items that are left behind when someone checks out.”

Steve had opened the folder and his good mood vanished.  There was a photo of Steve and Danny climbing out of the Camaro at a crime scene at the docks earlier in the week. Steve had a sudden, sickening flashback to a similar photo of Danny with ‘he deserved to die‘ handwritten across it.

“She recognized you two and called me,” Kai continued. “I brought them over as soon as I saw them.”

Steve barely heard him.  As disturbing as the first photo had been, it was nothing compared to the second.  It was Steve, his left arm draped around Grace’s shoulder, Charlie’s hand held in his right, all three of them smiling as they walked from the soccer field to the parking lot.  It had been taken the last Saturday Danny had the kids. Usually, when Charlie had soccer practice, Danny would stay with him at the field while Grace and Steve went for a run in the park. That week, Danny had to help the D.A.’s office walk through some evidence for an arraignment the following Monday, so Steve had volunteered to take the kids on his own. He’d let Grace drive from Danny’s house to get some more time behind the wheel before her upcoming driver’s test.  After soccer practice, they’d swung by, picked up Danny, and ate lunch at the shrimp truck.  It had been a great day, and apparently, someone had been spying on them the whole time.

Danny snatched the photo out of Steve’s hand as he demanded, “The person who had the room, you have a name, an address, credit card information?”

Kai pulled out his notepad.  “The name on the registration was Gloria Garcia from Miami, Florida.  She paid cash, no credit card on file.  She stayed two nights.”

“These photos were taken more than two days ago,” Steve noted.   “Maybe someone else took them for her, and she was just picking them up?”

“Or she’s moving around,” Danny added, his fingers beckoning to Steve.  “Keys.  I need the keys.”

Steve knew exactly what Danny had in mind, to bring in Grace and Charlie.  “I’m going with you.”  They were supposed to pick them up after school for the weekend as it was, it was just happening a few hours early now.

Danny nodded once before directing, “Pua, pull all the video from the hotel, and have anyone who can identify her go through them.” 

“I’ll oversee the video review myself,” Kai promised earnestly.

Danny was already heading out the door.  “Jerry, I need you to run a name.”

Steve was hot on Danny’s heels as he told the HPD officer, “Call your sister.  Tell her not to rent that room or let anyone else enter.  We’re sending over a team to process it.”

The name was a dead end.  Jerry called while Danny was checking Charlie out of school.  There were over a hundred Gloria Garcia’s in Miami, if that was even her real name.  Jerry was still cross-referencing the name against flights to the island, but since they had no idea when she had arrived, it was going to take some time.

By the time they returned to the Palace with the kids, Tani was calling from the hotel room.  “We haven’t isolated any clear images of our suspect in the video so far, but Eric’s found something.”

Danny’s nephew’s voice came on the line.  “The room had been cleaned by housekeeping, but I was able to find traces of silver in the bathroom drain.”

“Silver is used in photo processing,” Jerry noted.

“Ding, ding, ding,” Eric said through the phone.  “Give that man a prize.  Silver halides to be exact. The paper the photos were printed on was pretty generic, didn’t look like what you’d see with commercial processing, no business logos or stamps, so I played a hunch. Whoever had this room was the one who processed the photos, and she was doing it old school, with film, not digital.”

“Have you guys found anything else in the room?” Danny asked hopefully.  “Any prints?  Anything else she may have left behind?”

“Sorry, Uncle D, we’re still looking, but so far no prints.  I did pull a hair from the shower drain.  I’ll run DNA on that, but that can take a day for results, even with a rush.”

“Do what you can, Eric,” Steve told him, keeping an eye on Danny who had walked to the far side of the room with his hands formed into fists.  “And good work on catching the silver halides.”

When he disconnected with Tani and Eric, Steve walked up behind his partner.  “Hey, how’re you holding up?”

“There’s someone taking photos of my children, how do you think I’m holding up.”

“I know,” Steve tried to sooth, although he wasn’t in much better shape.  “I was there when they were being taken and I didn’t notice anything.”

Danny blinked.  “You were there, in both photos.  This could have nothing to do with Grace and Charlie and be all about you.”

That thought had already occurred to Steve, and it really didn’t change matters.  “Danny, they can use them against me the same way they can use them against you.”

“I know, babe.”  Danny scrubbed his face.  “I can’t shake the feeling they’re missing something at the hotel, but I don’t dare leave the kids here and go check it out.”

“Lou and Junior are here,” Steve pointed out.  “If we can’t leave them with a former SWAT captain and a former Navy SEAL, who can we leave them with?”

Danny didn’t get a chance to answer before the building alarms started blaring, signaling a security beach. “What the hell?”  Danny asked as he moved to look out the window.

“Something must be going on in the lobby,” Lou noted as the alarms abruptly ended.

“False alarm, guys.” Jerry put away his phone. “Apparently, someone had a gun in their bag. Forgot they had it in there. Security is questioning him now, but it seems to be a legitimate mistake“

Steve, already on edge about the photos, wasn’t going to take any chances. “I’m going down to check it out.”

Danny didn’t seem to be listening to what either Jerry or Steve was saying.  Instead, he was intently watching someone out the window.

“Danny,” Steve tried to get his partners attention.

 Danny beckoned him closer. “Come here, look at this.  The woman out by the statue with the camera, watch her.”

“Danny, we can’t arrest every woman with a camera—“

“There!” Danny pointed.  “She did it again. She cocked the little doohickey on top of the camera.  You only have to do that to advance film!  You don’t have to do that with a digital camera.”

“Son of bitch,” Steve mumbled as he watched her aim the camera toward the building, not the statue, and advance the goddamn film.  “Junior!”

Danny was already waving Steve toward the gun locker where they stored their tactical gear.  “Go, go.  You two bring her in.  I’ll stay here with the kids; keep an eye on her as long as I can.”

“Sir?” Junior asked as Steve pushed a vest into his hands.

“Suit up,” Steve ordered, slipping his earpiece into place.  “She’s outside taking photos of us right now.”

“Are you shitting me?” Lou exclaimed when he heard what Steve had just said, already pulling a vest of his own from the locker.

“Steve, she’s moving,” Danny warned, never taking his eyes from the window.

“On it,” Steve promised.  “Jerry, call down and put the building in lock down then suit up yourself.  Maybe have a little dress up playtime with Grace and Charlie.” 

Jerry nodded his understanding that Steve wanted the kids in vests in case things went south in the building, but to try not to scare Charlie unless it was absolutely necessary. 

“Danny, head’s up.”   Steve tossed Danny a vest of his own. 

“I’m going to the roof so I can keep her in sight. See if she has anyone else with her.” Danny told him, clipping a radio to his belt and taking pair of binoculars in the hand that wasn’t carrying his vest, then breaking into a jog.

“Lou?”  Steve asked, knowing the older man would understand.

Lou was already loading his shotgun.  “No one’s getting past me to those children, Steve.”

With a quick nod, Steve finished securing his own vest in place even as he headed out the door with Junior at his side.  He filled Junior in on the description of the woman… khaki shorts, white shirt, dark hair pulled back in a ponytail, grey backpack…about as generic as they came.

They made their way through the lobby, the guards already conducting full bag searches of anyone already inside before the lockdown occurred.

Reaching the locked doors, Steve gave a sharp whistle to the guards. The one who was dealing with the guy with the gun looked up from the notes he was taking about the handgun on the desk to see Steve motion to the door. “Open up.”

The guard pushed the button to override the locks, and then they were outside and into the blazing sunlight. Steve cursed even the short delay as he scanned the area for the woman. There were several tourists taking photos of the Kamehmeha statue, all of them backing away to see two men in tactical gear approaching them, but their suspect wasn’t one of them.

“Danny, talk to me,” Steve ordered tensely.

“Hold on…got her.  She’s on King’s Street, heading toward Richards.  Shit, she just hailed a cab.  Move.  You need to move.”

Steve and Junior broke into a run even as the conversation continued in their earpieces.

“Which taxi company?” Jerry asked.

“Manale,” Danny supplied.  “Steve, they’re on Richards.”

As much of a pain in the ass the one-way streets were on the commute in this part of town, Steve at least knew they could only be traveling in one direction.  He also knew the traffic was a bitch this time of morning, which could only act in their favor.  Steve signaled for Junior to cross over to the other side of the street so they could flank the car.

“I have eyes on three cabs,” Junior reported.

“It’s the middle one, far right lane, turn lane,” Danny told them.  “Steve, if they turn on Queen’s Street I’m going to lose them behind the buildings.”

“Can you see a plate or cab number?” Jerry asked

“Partial plate…last four digits 6842,” Danny said quickly before adding frantically, “They’re turning!  Nononono…Fuck, I lost them!”

Steve could see Junior already making the turn at the same corner the cab had, and Steve pushed for a little more speed, darting through traffic to a barrage of honks and squealing tires as cars hit their brakes to avoid him.  At least most of them did.  One unfortunate driver didn’t see him in time, and Steve managed to roll up onto the hood to avoid the car slamming him into the pavement.

“Jesus, Steve!” Danny’s worried voice rang in his ear.

“I’m good,” Steve grunted as he slid off the hood and took off once again, this time at a staggering run.  

The traffic on Queen’s opened up, and after another two blocks, the cab was long gone from Steve’s sight.  Junior was a couple blocks further down the street thanks to Steve’s run in with the car, so Steve called, “Junior, anything?”

“No joy, sir,” he told him in obvious disappointment.  “The traffic is just moving too fast.”

Steve paced a small circle in his own frustration and took a deep breath, feeling the familiar twinge of bruised ribs.  He’d obviously hit that car harder than he thought.  “Not your fault, Junes.  Let’s head back.  Danny, anything?”

“Nothing.”  Danny’s voice was full of his own irritation that they’d lost her.  “At least it doesn’t look like she had anyone else with her.  It’s all quiet here.”

Steve cursed silently at the delay in getting out of the building, at being so close then losing her like this. The alarms were probably what spooked her in the first place.

“Commander,” Jerry cut into his thoughts, “what’s your 20?”

“Queen’s near Fort,” Steve told him as he bent and sucked in air.

“Standby for delivery of suspect in about two minutes,” Jerry notified them.

“What?” Steve asked in confusion.

“I contacted the cab company, and they rerouted the driver,” Jerry informed him.  “He’s heading your way now.  Unless you’d rather I had him drop her somewhere else.”

“No,” Steve said, still a little dazed at what Jerry was telling him, “here’s good.”  Steve was seriously going to give that man a raise.

Junior was back and was already taking up a position on the opposite corner, and within a few minutes, they had Gloria Garcia in custody.

Danny joined him in the interrogations room about the time Steve finished handcuffing her to the chair. Danny held a folder in his hands that he opened, pulled out a stack of I.D.s they’d recovered from her backpack, and started scrolling through them.

“Gloria Garcia, or should I say, Gabriella Ramirez, or is it Inez Marcos?  Sometimes, I guess it’s just hard to settle on a name.”

The woman remained silent, glaring at them defiantly.

Danny bobbled his head at the attitude.  “Okay, no big deal, maybe we’ll find your real I.D. when we search your hotel room with the key you had on you.” 

Lou and Tani were already there with the crime scene investigators.

He slipped the I.D.s in his shirt pocket, and reopened the folder of photos as if to show them to Steve for the first time.  Danny grimaced as he pulled out the photo of the two of them.  “Gotta say, she didn’t exactly get your best side in this one.”  He turned it around to flash the photo at the woman so she knew what they were looking at.

“Bad angle,” Steve supplied, playing along with their standard interrogation banter.  “Must be tough to get a clean shot when you’re not allowed past a police line.”

“Now this one,” Danny said, his voice full of mock admiration as he pulled out the photo of Steve and the kids, “this one is a beauty.  No pesky perimeter set up to block your view.  This is the kind of photo I’d frame and put on my office desk.”

Steve paused, considering what Danny just said.  “Wait.  You’d put a photo of me and the kids on your office desk?”

Danny frowned.  “Of course I would. That’s what people do; they put photos of their family and their loved ones on their desks.”

“Yeah, but I’m literally right across the hall from you.  We see each other all the time.”

Danny was looking at him with that expression that said, ‘you’re an idiot’.  “You’re an idiot.  You don’t put photos on your desk to remind you what people look like.  You do it because it makes you happy to see them being happy when you look at it.”

“Huh,” Steve considered as he studied the photo.  He didn’t have any pictures of Danny or Grace and Charlie in his office. He didn’t have much of anything in his office that wasn’t related to naval memorabilia.  Taking the photo from Danny, he showed it to the photographer.  “Did you happen to get any good shots of him with the kids?”

Danny snatched the photo back.   “No one is putting photos taken by a stalker psychopath on anyone’s desk.”

“I’m not a stalker,” the woman finally said, with a faint Latina accent and roll of her eyes.

“Oh, really?” Danny’s free hand made an all-encompassing motion over the photo he held.  “Photos of my children taken without anyone’s knowledge or consent would suggest otherwise.”

“I’m a freelance photographer,” she told them.

Danny’s eyebrows rose.  “Lot of need for aliases in that profession?”

She shrugged.  “I sell to the highest bidder or on commission for certain magazines that will pay for quality photos of persons of high public interest.  People learn my name, and it makes my job more difficult.”

“What? Like celebrity photos for tabloids?” Steve scoffed. 

To be honest, the woman could have been the subject of those same types of photos… dark eyes that smoldered even without much makeup, full lips, and a body made up of the perfect combination of firm muscle and soft curves. Even her long hair she wore pulled back looked like it would fall seductively around her shoulder when she let it down. Not that he was interested in that sort of thing anymore, not since he had Danny, but just because he’d fallen in love didn’t mean he’d lost his eyesight.

“You’re paparazzi?” Danny snorted.   “Because I can tell you right now, there isn’t a lot of interest in a couple of cops from Hawai’i.”

“A couple of cops who were behind an international incident with the Russian consulate and a submarine off the coast of Hawai’i,” she countered.

“That happened months ago,” Steve reminded her.  “No one even cares about that anymore.” 

The woman raised an eyebrow.  “The same couple of cops who also happen to be secret lovers?”

“It’s not a secret,” Steve said, and yeah, that sounded pretty lame even to his ears.

“The Miami Mirror is planning an expose on the two of you.”

“The Miami Mirror?  Never heard of it,” Steve told her honestly.

“You will if the story gets picked up by one of the larger outlets.”  The woman shrugged.  “Call them, they’ll confirm my story.  I was sent here to get the photos.”  She grinned knowingly.  “Like the ones I took last night at your house…on the beach.”

Steve couldn’t keep his eyes from widening at the news as a litany of ‘shit shit shit shit’ ran through his head. 

Danny, to his credit, kept his face neutral.  “And what name do we use for the verification?”

“Elena Alejandro.”

With that bit of information, Danny turned on his heels and walked out the door.  Elena, if that was even really her name, gave Steve a smug leer before he followed Danny out into the hall.

As soon as the door closed to the interrogation room, Danny whacked Steve hard with the folder. “I told you not to get on that stupid submarine.”

Steve glared at Danny as he rubbed at his shoulder.  “And I told you that was a public beach.”

“Yes, yes you did say that.”  Danny agreed as he leaned in closer.  “You know what else you said last night?  ‘Oh, God, Danny.  Holy fucking God, don’t stop’.”

“Oh, God,” Steve pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes at the thought of that amazing memory being spread across the cover of a bunch of tabloid magazines.

“Pretty much just like that,” Danny pointed out.

Steve hadn’t lied; their relationship wasn’t a secret. That didn’t mean they were all over each other and handsy in public. Sure, they might share a kiss hanging out with the rest of the team after work, but it didn’t go further than that. Now everyone would see a hell of a lot more than some light petting.

Everyone.

“I never thought I’d say this, but for the first time in my life I’m glad my dad isn’t alive to see this.”

Danny skipped the folder and punched him in the same shoulder this time.  “But mine is!  Not to mention both our mothers and our sisters!”

Steve’s anxiety just grew at that thought.  “Mary.  Fuck, Mary.  Can you imagine what she’ll do if she sees that?”

“Send us another Happy Pride card like she did when you told her we were dating?  Or another Wham album for you to listen to way more than any sane human being should?”  Danny threw his arms wide.  “You’ll forgive me if I’m a little more worried about what my ex-wife is going to do when my children see it.”

Steve put his hands on his waist and took a deep breath.  He’d survived terrorists, and warlords, and BUD/S…and fuck me, Joe was going to see those photos, too…no, no, focus, focus…. he’d dealt with all of those, he could figure out a way to handle this, too.

“Then we get the photos,” Steve told him in dawning realization. “She just took them last night.  Chances are she hasn’t even had time to print them.  They may still be at the hotel.”

“The hotel being searched by Tani, Lou, and Eric?”

Yeah, not the best people to find them.   Those three were going to give them hell about this for the rest of their lives.  Still…

“Better they see them than our moms,” Steve pointed out.

“Yeah, okay,” Danny relented.  “You have Jerry check her story, I’ll call Eric.”

The story panned out. Eric found the negatives and turned them over with only a few smart-ass comments drowned out by uncontrollable snickering.  Lou kept saying he needed to bleach his brain, and Tani…Tani asked Danny for pointers.

Danny, for his part, had glared at Steve.  “By the way, you aren’t putting these on your desk, either.”

So, yeah, Charlie throwing up his dinner on Danny’s bedroom floor really wasn’t all that surprising considering how the rest of the day had gone.

Danny patted Steve’s arm where they lay in bed.  “Divide and conquer?  You take the puke, I’ll take the puker?”

At the time, Steve kind of felt as if he was stuck with the short end of the stick. Then, after Danny had changed clothes twice due to Charlie missing the bucket Danny was holding for him, he decided being tasked with washing out the pale and keeping Charlie’s glass full of Gatorade wasn’t such a bad thing after all. 

When Clara called Danny for her annual observance of Matt’s death, Steve took over Charlie duties.

“Hey, Ma,” Danny said into his phone, his voice sounding even more exhausted than he looked.  “No, it’s just a little crazy around here this morning.  So how was it?”

As Danny walked out into the living room, Steve settled in beside Charlie in his bed.  Eddie, who had taken up a vigil at Charlie’s feet sometime in the night, gave a sympathetic whimper.  Steve agreed with the sentiment.  The poor kid was still green around the gills but finally sleeping.  He just wished he and Danny could do the same.  Maybe after the call, if the vomiting had finally stopped, they could get a few hours themselves.  Maybe Danny’s nightmares would finally stop, as well, now that the date Reyes had given them that damn drum would finally be in the past for another year.

There was a part of Steve that kind of hated Danny’s brother.  Not necessarily for getting himself into a situation where he ended up dead, but for putting Danny in the predicament that he had.  Matt had pulled Danny into his mess by telling Reyes Danny knew where the money was, which was bad enough. What was worse, he’d done it knowing the stash was over five million dollars short, and that Danny didn’t have that kind of money lying around to make up the shortfall.  If Chin hadn’t managed to get them the rest, Reyes could have just as easily killed Danny over the missing money. Endangering his brother’s life, Danny’s life, to try to save his own was something Steve couldn’t understand and he sure the hell couldn’t forgive it. So yeah, Steve kind of hated Matt for that.  He didn’t feel too bad about it, though, because he knew Danny kind of hated Steve’s mom for how she had a habit of pulling Steve into her shit, as well.

Unfortunately, Danny’s phone call lasted longer than Charlie’s nap.  When Steve noticed the little boy was awake, he rubbed his back.  “Hey, buddy, how you feeling?”

He was answered by a lapful of partially digested Gatorade.  At this point, he wouldn’t have expected anything less.

Eddie whoofed at him, and Steve couldn’t help but hear the humor in the bark.

“Little help?” Steve said to the dog, who immediately ran from the room.  “Coward!” Steve called after him.

Grace peeked into the room and asked, “You want me to stay with him while you change clothes?”

Steve honestly loved the hell out of Danny, but he still had no idea how such a sweet kid could be half his.  “It will only take a few minutes,” Steve promised.  “I’ll change, grab him some more Gatorade, and be right back.”

“We’re out of Gatorade,” she told him as she handed him a towel to mop up most of the mess.

“Okay, when your dad gets off the phone with your grandma, I’ll run to the store and get him some more.”

“Can I go?” She asked excitedly.  “Can I drive?”

“With as little sleep as I’ve had, kiddo, that’s probably a good idea.”  He’d stayed awake a lot longer than this on routine cases, but any time he could make Grace happy, he’d do it.

By the time he’d cleaned up, Danny was back in Charlie’s bed.

“Sorry, buddy, no practice for you today,” Danny was explaining. “Besides, I don’t think your soccer team would appreciate you throwing up all over the field.”

“Where’s Grace?” Steve asked.

“Getting dressed.  Said the two of you were making a resupply run.  She also said Charlie had shared the love.”  Danny waved at his own body to encompass the typical strike zone.

“Well, guess someone thought I was feeling left out.”  Steve winked at Charlie who was snuggled up against Danny looking miserable, whether the mood was from missing soccer practice or feeling like crap, Steve didn’t know. He moved to run his fingers through the mess of Danny’s hair.  “How are you?”

Danny gave a little shrug.  “Not going to lie, babe, I’ve been better.  But Ma doesn’t seem as bad this year.  Guess what they say about time and healing is true.”

“Listen, once we get this one on the mends,” Steve hitched his thumb at Charlie, who was already starting to fall asleep again, “I’ll set to work making you feel better.”

Danny tilted over until his head rested against Steve’s thigh. “Not sure when you’ll get the chance. Gatorade’s not doing the job with Charlie,” Danny told him with a worried scowl.  “I’ll call the pediatrician’s office; see if they can call in some drugs.”

Steve watched Danny’s eyes close as he rubbed his fingers soothingly into Danny’s scalp. “Gracie and I will hang out until you do, then we’ll pick them up while we’re out.”

Seeing as it was Saturday, it took almost an hour for the pediatrician’s answering service to call back and let them know the doctor had called in the prescription to the pharmacy. Grace had grabbed the keys to the Camaro as soon as the phone rang, and was sitting in the driver’s seat before Steve could even give Danny a soft kiss goodbye.

“Maybe she shouldn’t drive.”  Danny frowned as he watched Grace adjust the seat in the Camaro.  “It’s been raining most of the night, and the streets are probably pretty slick.”

“She lives in Hawai’i,” Steve reasoned.  “If she’s going to drive here, she needs to know how to drive in the rain.   She’ll be fine.  I’ll have her take it slow.”

“Slow for you is twice the posted speed limit, which, by the way, is legally binding and not just a suggestion.”

Steve failed to keep his lips from twitching, because, in good conscience, he couldn’t accuse Danny of exaggerating. “You worry too much,” he deflected.

“I have a teenage daughter and an insane boyfriend who are going off on some wild adventure together.  I worry exactly the right amount.” 

Steve ignored the insane comment; he was still too busy grinning at Danny’s use of boyfriend as his descriptor. It shouldn’t have made him as happy as it did, not after six months, but it did. It just fucking did make him happy, and he didn’t care what anyone else thought about that, even Danny.

Danny shook his head at the smitten expression on Steve’s face and mumbled, “Not only am I raising a teenage girl, apparently I’m also dating one trapped in the body of a Navy SEAL.”

Steve forced a frown. “Don’t say that out loud.”

“It’s the truth,” Danny challenged.

“Someone hears that out of context… dating a teenage girl…” Steve shook his head.  “Just don’t say that out loud.”

 “I’m saying it right here, to you, who not only understands the context, you are the context.”

“There is no context,” Steve argued, mainly because he liked to argue with Danny. 

“You are the context,” Danny reiterated.  “You and your goofy face.”

Steve fought to maintain his best unit commander expression, which was not goofy in the least.  “It’s a completely fabricated, nonexistent context.”

Danny tilted his head quizzically.  “Are you saying you don’t exist?”

“I’m saying that I don’t act like a teenage girl running off to have some wild adventure.” Steve pointed out to the car where Grace sat waiting patiently.  “And since when does a grocery run qualify as a wild adventure?”

“Since you’re riding shotgun.  Grace,” Danny called from the front door, waiting until she lowered the window to hear him, “what’s the rule for driving with Uncle Steve?”

She rolled her eyes but yelled back, “Do as he says, not as he does.”

“Aaaand?” Danny coaxed.

“And if he says to do something,” Grace continued, “do just the opposite.”

“That’s my girl.”  Danny grinned at Steve’s scowl that he was no longer faking.

“It’s a good thing I love you,” Steve groused.

“Like I don’t know that.” Danny patted Steve’s chest. “And it’s a great thing you love me.”

Danny was a total ass sometimes, like when he said shit like that and made it impossible for Steve to stay angry with him.

Steve was leaning in to kiss him again, when a miserable, “Danno?” drifted out of Charlie’s bedroom.

“Go,” Danny ordered, already turning toward the sickly voice.  “Before I make a break for the car and leave you with the human vomit factory.”

“Be back soon,” Steve promised, already heading out the door before Danny followed through with his threat.

As far as driving went, Grace wasn’t half-bad.  Although, considering how Steve’s driving test had gone, and the ridiculous rules the Hawaiian DMV wanted him to follow, Danny had made it crystal clear that Steve didn’t get a vote in when Grace would be ready to take her test… specifically because of Steve’s opinion on the ridiculous rules.

“Once we pick up the medicine and Gatorade for Charlie, let’s swing by my place so I can grab a few extra changes of clothes.”

Grace waited for the light to turn green before she asked, “So why don’t you and Danno move in together?”

“That’s a very good question, one you should probably ask your dad since he’s the one who doesn’t want to do it.”  It was a cheap shot turning Gracie loose on her dad, but Steve wasn’t above using every advantage he could get to convince Danny to move in with him.

“Why not?” Grace asked in surprise.

Steve shook his head.  “I really don’t know.  I think…I think he’s worried about uprooting you and Charlie.  I mean, you remember all those crappy apartments he lived in when he first moved here.”

Grace crinkled her nose, like she was smelling something rotten, something that smelled like a few of those apartments.

“When he found the place you have now,” Steve continued, “I think he felt like he’d found you guys a home, and that’s important to him, you know?  You’re important to him, and he just wants you to be happy.”

“You’re important to him, too,” she pointed out. “It seems like, if we’re all together, it doesn’t matter where that is, we’ll be happy.”

“I feel the same way, sweetheart.  We just need to convince your dad of that.”  Steve pointed ahead.  “The drugstore’s up here on the right.  It’s a tight parking lot.  Think you can handle it?”

“I got it,” she assured, and actually did a damn good job of parking…on the third try.

Steve waited for the prescription at the counter, and couldn’t shake the feeling he was being watched.  For a split second, he thought he would turn around and see Charlie standing in the middle of the vitamin aisle quietly staring at him.   Instead, he saw an older lady with what looked to be her daughter waiting to turn in a prescription, a mother and small child in the cold medicine section, a guy about Steve’s age looking at shoe inserts…for a really long time.  Another man, probably related to the one with bad arches by the looks of him, sat at the blood pressure machine. Glancing up at the mirror above the counter, he saw the reflection of two other guys loitering near the entrance. One of them looked damned familiar, but Steve couldn’t remember where he’d seen him before. Four to his one, and him with Grace, who had just walked back up with her arms full of Gatorade.

When Grace said she was going to look at the magazine rack, Steve snagged her arm.  “Just wait here.  I’ll need some help carrying everything out.”

She gave him an odd expression, but thankfully didn’t argue and stayed put.  Pulling his phone, Steve asked, “Do you think we should get Charlie some of the blue Gatorade, too, or just stick with the orange?  Maybe I should text your dad and ask.”  Only instead of asking about drink colors, Steve texted:

‘pharmacy’

‘chicken salad’

A few minutes later, he still didn’t have a response back from Danny.  Danny had probably left his phone in the other room, or he was busy with Charlie, or four other sons of bitches had already burst into his house and taken him out.  Shit, he needed to get out of here and back to Danny, but at the same time, he needed to make sure Grace stayed safe.

The pharmacist appeared then, placing the prescription bottle in a small bag and stapling the directions for use to the outside.  “Here you go, Commander.  This should make him feels better.  Do you have any questions?”

“Yeah, can you go over this with me?” Steve gave a half laugh. “We’ve been up with the poor kid all night, and I can barely see straight to read this.”  

“Of course. That’s a nasty stomach flu; my daughter had it last week.  The good news is that the worst of it should be over in about a day.” The woman’s smile flittered nervously when Steve picked up a pen from the counter and wrote ‘silent alarm’, underlined it twice, then scribbled the notes she was giving him about the drugs in the margin of the paperwork.  Steve saw her hand move under the counter, and to her credit, she never stopped her explanation of how to administer the medication.

“Thank you,” he told her earnestly.  “You take care of yourself.”  Hopefully, by taking cover if this took a turn for the worse, Steve thought as he gathered up the bottles.

Handing the small bag with the drugs over to Grace, along with the car keys, Steve turned them toward the exit.  As he expected, the blood pressure checker and the guy with bad feet followed.  He ushered Grace out the front door and past the two there, as if he didn’t notice them.

He had definitely seen the one somewhere before. It was driving him nuts. Right now, though, he needed to concentrate on getting Grace out of here.

“Gracie, listen carefully,” he told her in a low whisper as he walked her across the parking lot and to the driver’s side of the car.  “Get in the car, start it up, and when I tell you to drive, you drive, and you don’t stop, no matter what happens, until you’re somewhere safe.”

She climbed in the car obediently, but still asked, “What’s wrong?”

Steve closed her door and walked to the passenger side, glancing over to see the four men crossing the parking lot in their direction. Grace followed his gaze and nodded wordlessly in understanding as soon as he opened the door and dropped the bottles on the seat there. 

“Buckle up,” he reminded Grace with a reassuring smile.  He opened the glove compartment and pulled out the spare Sig Sauer and extra magazine stored there.  “As soon as I shut this door, you drive. Okay?”

“What about you?” Grace asked, but thank God, she started the car.

Steve brushed off her question.  “Don’t worry about me.  You just drive.  Don’t stop.  Promise you’ll do that?”

She nodded in understanding, and Steve shut the door, turned with his gun in front of him, and shouted, “Five-0, show me your hands!”

Behind him, he heard the Camaro’s engine rev when Grace threw it into reverse the same time the four men all went for their guns.  Steve fired, moving away from the car in hopes of drawing their attention away from Grace and onto him.  He saw one assailant go down, but not before he felt the searing pain of a bullet just above his left hip bone.  He dove behind a car, glanced down, and saw his shirt already stained red with blood. 

Fuck. He’d just proven Danny’s wild adventure theory to be true and been shot in the process. As much as Danny liked being right, he wasn’t going to be happy about that. Steve heard the crunch of metal on metal and looked over to see Gracie back into another car, shift into drive, hit another car, then into reverse again.  Oh, Danny was seriously not going to be happy about that.  Steve shot, Danny’s car wrecked… Steve was never going to get any ever again.

All thoughts of his pending lack of sex life vanished when one of the men started toward Grace.   With a grunt, Steve launched himself up onto, then immediately off, the hood of the car he was using as cover, and tackled the guy.  They landed hard on the pavement, and between his bruised ribs from the day before and the gunshot from moments ago, Steve couldn’t seem to catch his breath.  The kick to his stomach sure the fuck didn’t help matters.  He still had his hand wrapped around the grip of the Sig, which he lifted and fired.  He was rewarded with a groan of pain, then white-hot agony blazed through his right leg.  In the distance, he heard the approaching sirens of the HPD responding to the alarm in the pharmacy.

The men were arguing in Spanish, and Steve could just make out one of them ordering the others to get the girl.  Lifting his head, he saw Grace behind the wheel, eyes wide in terror as she looked between Steve on the ground and one of the men who ran toward her. 

“Gracie, drive!” Steve yelled, and please, please, please, despite what Danny said, now was not the time to do the opposite of what Steve told her to do.

The man closest to him, the one who looked so familiar, kicked Steve hard in the head. As he plummeted into suffocating blackness, he thought, maybe, he heard the sound of the Camaro’s wheels squealing as they accelerated away.