Danny ran his hands through his already messed up hair as he stood in the middle of the waiting room at Queen’s Medical. He fisted the blond strands, head bowed down, shaking his head minutely back and forth.
The bust had been… well, a bust.
If Steve had just waited the thirty goddamned seconds for Chin and Kono to get set up in the back, none of this would have happened. But Steve couldn’t wait. Waiting was not in his DNA. Waiting was a foreign word that Fucking Lieutenant Commander Steve Fucking What-Is-This-Word-Waiting-In-Which-You-Speak McGarrett was not fucking familiar with and now this had happened.
Danny, Chin Ho and Kono where now in the waiting room at Queen’s waiting for word on their boss.
The doctor finally decided that the other members of Five-0 had suffered enough and entered the room to inform them the status on their boss.
“He’ll be fine,” Doctor Greer said, smiling from the entrance of the room. “The bullet just nicked the femoral artery, that’s why all the blood,” he continued as he looked Danny up and down, noting his blood-stained clothes. “It was a surprising clean patch job and he should be able to leave tomorrow.”
Danny heard the dual sighs behind him as Chin and Kono came up to stand next to him.
“Can we see him?” Chin asked.
“He’ll be a bit groggy, but…” Doctor Greer answered. “Sure. Follow me.”
Chin and Kono started out of the room before Kono stopped short to turn around, confused that Danny had not followed.
Danny looked up from the floor, the pattern in the carpet having held his interest for the past hour and forty-five minutes.
Danny stared at her then looked from Chin to the doctor and back to Kono. He could so not deal with this right now.
Shaking his head, Danny moved to sit down for the first time since coming in. “No, you guys go ahead.”
He didn’t see Kono shoot a very worried glance at her cousin. Chin shook his head slightly, silently telling her that she needed to let Danny have some time to himself. Looking back at their other boss, Kono whispered, “’kay,” before following the doctor and Chin Ho down the hall.
* * *
Danny was now alone in the waiting room. He sat in the chair and contemplated the day; the what-might-have-beens. Steve was so fucking reckless with his life. It pissed Danny off.
Thirty fucking seconds would have prevented this trip to the hospital. Thirty seconds. One half of one minute. But no. Steve had to rush in because waiting was not part of his lexicon. There was breaking and entering to do, bad guys to shoot. Though, this time, thirty ticks on the clock got that stupid son of a bitch shot. ‘Cause, you know, waiting… what’s that?
Kevlar vests were good for protection. Unfortunately, they didn’t protect anything lower than the chest; and the bullet that had taken Steve down had gotten him in the thigh. Television made bullet holes in the leg no big deal. You get shot in the thigh, you bleed a little, jogging off to the local hospital for a band-aid and out you go. No fuss, no muss. However, those idiot writers never seem to realize that there is a major fucking artery that runs down your thigh and if you’re lucky enough to get hit there, you’re liable to bleed out before making it to the hospital.
When Danny saw Steve lying in a massive pool of blood, Danny knew Steve’s artery had been hit and Steve might not make it out of the warehouse, let alone to the fucking hospital.
Danny looked down at his clothes. They were stained with Steve’s blood. Pretty much from Danny’s mid-thigh to his shoes were caked with patches of dried blood. Dried Steve blood. His tie had been lost to a greater cause: used as a tourniquet, wrapping tight around Steve’s upper thigh in hopes of stemming the flow. His shirt had blood streaks from Danny using it as a towel, wiping his hands of the damp blood once Steve had been secured in the ambulance, Danny sitting next to him.
He looked like an extra in a horror film. He was sure he’d scared some people who had come into this room earlier for their own waiting. However, they had promptly turned around and left, probably to find a more blood-free waiting room to stay in until they received their own news.
After several minutes, he got up, intent on joining Chin Ho and Kono in Steve’s room and found himself, instead, going the opposite direction. He was out of the door before he knew it and then… he just kept walking.
* * *
“Hey, guys,” Steve said sleepily as Chin and Kono walked into his room.
“Hey Boss,” Kono answered solemnly, glancing over her shoulder in the hopes that Danny had decided to follow them. When it was clear he had not, she pasted on what she hoped was a cheerful face, though she was unable to hide her concern.
Steve frowned when he noticed that Danny was not with them.
“He’ll be in shortly,” Chin replied, receiving at curt glance from his cousin.
Even doped up on painkillers, Steve didn’t miss the look between the two. “What’s going on?”
“What?” Chin said too quickly.
“Nothing,” Kono said equally fast.
Panic started to flit across Steve’s face. “Is Danny okay?”
Kono’s eyes widened at Steve’s implication. “Yes! Boss, Danny’s fine. He’s fine.”
“He’s in the waiting room,” Chin said.
Steve sat back in the bed confused why his partner hadn’t come with the other two to see him. Pushing it out of his mind for the moment, he focused on the pair in the room as they filled him in on what had happened at the warehouse.
* * *
Danny had walked for over a mile before a patrol car pulled up beside him. Both policemen got out of their car and approached Danny cautiously. “Sir, are you okay?” One of them asked, while the other partner stood warily to the back and side.
“Huh?” Danny asked distractedly, looking up.
“Are you…” the officer began to repeat when he noticed the badge and gun strapped to Danny’s belt. “You with Five-0?”
“Huh?” Danny repeated. “Oh, uh, yeah.”
The officers relaxed their stance and came closer. “Brah,” the one behind him said as he came around to face Danny. “We got a call that some guy all bloodied up was wandering down the street. What the hell happened?”
Danny looked down at himself and gave a small snort. “Yeah, I guess I look pretty bad, huh?”
“Bruddah, you look like shit!”
Danny snorted again gave them both a small smile. “You couldn’t give a guy a lift home, huh?”
“Looking like that, we’d be better to give you a lift to the hospital.”
“No!” Danny yelled, receiving strange looks from the officers. “Uh, I mean, I just came from there and really don’t want to go back right now.”
The two officers exchanged looks. If one of Five-0 was looking like this, then it was a safe bet that another Five-0 member was in worse shape at the hospital. “Are you sure you don’t need medical attention?”
“Yeah,” Danny assured. “This isn’t my blood.”
The two partners gave each other another look, confirming their thoughts, before opening the back door of their cruiser.
“Thanks, guys,” Danny said as he wearily crawled in the car and collapsed against the back seat, mumbling directions to his apartment once the other two got in the car. He vaguely paid attention as one of the officers called dispatch to provide them their location and intent. Instead, he just stared out the window, mind as blank as possible.
* * *
Once Danny had been dropped off at his apartment, he had cleaned himself up and had spent the remainder of the evening and early morning getting shit-faced.
He crawled out of bed the next morning with a hang-over and a decision that he was sure was going to cause an explosion big enough to wipe out half of Honolulu (or tear his heart in half – one of the two). But, he was tired. Tired of everything all the time. He couldn’t keep doing this. Not and keep what was left of his sanity.
Knotting his tie and smoothing down his shirt, Danny locked his apartment, got into Steve’s truck that had been left at his place when Steve came to pick him up yesterday, and made his way to Queen’s Medical.
What he was about to do was going to kill him. But it had to be done.
* * *
When Danny walked into Steve’s room, it was to find Chin Ho and Kono already there.
“… ‘uld be released in a few hours,” Danny heard Chin say.
“Thank god for small favors,” Steve replied before noticing his new visitor. “Where the hell have you been?!” Steve demanded when he saw Danny push past the door.
Danny cast a glance at his other two teammates. “Can you give us a few?”
One look at Danny’s face had both cousins nodding. “Sure, brah,” Chin Ho said, tapping Kono’s arm and leaving the room.
“You okay?” Kono asked Danny as she started passed him.
Danny gave her a lop-sided smile and nodded his head. “Don’t worry. I won’t kill him.”
“It’s not him I’m worried about,” she replied.
Danny gave her a grateful smile and watched as she and Chin Ho left the room.
Once alone, Steve repeated, “Where the hell have you been? Why didn’t you come see me yesterday? Is it because I didn’t follow your precious procedure? You so pissed off that you couldn’t be bothered to see if I was all right?!” He had witnessed the exchange and he seethed. If anyone should be worried about anyone… they should be worried about him. He was the one with the gunshot wound. And the fact that Danny was now just visiting him instead of coming in yesterday with the other two… Well, suffice it to say, by the time Chin Ho and Kono had arrived this morning, Steve was pretty pissed off.
He had spent the morning scowling at his other two teammates, alternating grilling them on Danny’s whereabouts and pouting that Danny still had not visited him.
He glared at Danny for several minutes, his anger slowly fading in the face of his friend’s misery.
Danny stood half way between the door and the bed, staring at his partner. Well, staring at the blanket covering Steve’s wounded thigh. The decision he had made to himself in the drunken, blurry hours of early morning was going to be harder to keep in the bright, warm light of the Hawaiian day.
“Danny?” Steve whispered, anger suddenly gone and fear taking its place. Something was wrong. Extremely wrong. Or something was going to go extremely wrong very soon. Steve wasn’t sure at the moment and Danny wasn’t saying anything, which scared Steve even more.
Danny was never silent. Especially when he was angry. To see Danny this quiet had put a fear in Steve he’d never felt before with his partner.
After an agonizing moment, Danny said softly, voice rough, “I’m done.”
“’Done’ what?” Steve asked equally soft.
Steve’s forehead crinkled in confusion. “’Can’t’?”
Danny looked up into Steve’s face, because if he was going to do this, Steve deserved to have Danny at least look him in the eye. “I can’t do this anymore.”
Steve’s eyebrows furrowed even more. “What are you talking about?”
Danny just looked at Steve and shook his head.
Whether it was the devastation in Danny’s eyes or the sorrow in his voice, Steve wasn’t sure, but he somehow knew that if he couldn’t fix it, whatever it was, right here, right now, everything that he knew and came to rely on in the past year would be gone.
Steve stared at Danny for a minute longer before the light bulb metaphorically went off over his head and the implication of what Danny was saying finally hit him. He started shaking his head in denial. “No. Danny. Don’t do this.”
Danny blinked, shaking himself out of wherever he’d mentally gone. “Steve, I… I can’t. I’m sorry. I can’t do this anymore.”
“Steve,” Danny began, still standing at his spot half way between the door and the bed. He hands were deep in his pockets, a sure sign that something was wrong if his hands weren’t flailing around wildly. Moist, sad blue eyes looked at Steve with so much love and so much pain that Steve wondered if he hadn’t actually been shot in the chest instead of the thigh, it hurt so much to look at.
“Steve, I can’t do this anymore. I can’t do this. I can’t keep watching you rush headlong into every situation without a care in the world. I don’t know if you are just so goddamned confident that you’ll make it out that you just barrel in knowing you’ll walk away after or if you just don’t fucking care about yourself and whether or not you’ll walk away at all.”
Danny took a breath and reached up to run shaky fingers through his hair before jamming his fist back into his pocket and resuming his stare at Steve’s thigh.
“I seem to think you just don’t care about yourself. I’ve seen it over and over since the day we met. And I guess I can understand having lost your mom and then your dad, but…” Danny looked up at Steve. “Steve, you have people who care about you! Who care whether you live or die. And yet you keep throwing yourself out there, like you’re hoping one day you won’t make it back. And I… I just can’t do this anymore.”
Steve’s face paled as Danny spoke. And he continued to blanch as Danny’s words penetrated his consciousness. He was so shocked at what Danny was saying that his mind started whiting out. He came back to himself just in time to hear Danny say, “I’m going to request a transfer back to HPD.”
Steve swallowed and started shaking his head vigorously. “No, Danny, please…”
Bright blue eyes looked imploringly at Steve, silently begging him to understand and tell him he was doing the right thing. “I have to, Steve. I can’t… I just… It’s clear you can’t or won’t live for you. And if you can’t live for you, you certainly can’t live for me. Or you don’t want to. I don’t even know.” Danny brought out a hand from his pocket to angrily wipe away a stray tear that had had the audacity to fall down his cheek despite all attempts to keep the tears from falling.
He was trying to be strong about this because he knew he was right. He knew he had to end this now before Steve got himself killed down the road. When Steve did, and he would, Danny would not be as emotionally invested as he is now and it wouldn’t hurt as bad when it happened.
At least that’s what he spent last night trying to convince himself.
“Danny, I’m so sorry,” Steve said, voice rough with both pain from his thigh and agony from his heart. “I’m not trying to kill myself.” At Danny’s incredulous glare, he reiterated, “I’m not. I’m just…” He swallowed hard, not wanting to say this next thing, but knew he had no choice, unless he wanted Danny to leave for good. “I’m not used to having someone to be around for.”
Danny snapped his head up and stared at Steve.
“I’m not saying that I’m actively trying to kill myself. I just never really thought about needing to stick around either.”
“That’s the problem,” Danny replied quietly.
Steve dug his fingers into his eyes, trying to rub away the vision of a defeated Danny. “I know.”
They were silent for a long moment before Danny cleared his throat. “I get that you are used to running into burning buildings and jumping into bands of gun-wielding bad guys with just a plastic butter knife and toothpick.” Steve chuckled lightly at Danny’s words. “And I get that you’re not used to having someone around to come back to. But…” Danny sucked in a shaky, heavy breath before continuing. “God damn it, Steve! You’ve had me and Grace for over a fucking year! A year, Steve! And you still don’t get it.”
And it was if the dam broke because Danny’s hands ripped out of his pockets and started flailing around while his legs began pacing in small, short steps. He turned to Steve, arms out and hands pointing. “Look, I understand if you don’t think I’m worth coming back to, all right?”
At this, Steve scrambled to get out of bed, not even caring how bad his leg hurt.
“But what about Grace? Huh? What the fuck do I tell Grace when her ‘Step Steve’ doesn’t come home one night because he just didn’t give a rat’s ass to care about coming home? Huh? What the fuck do I tell her, Steve?”
The last was mumbled in Steve’s chest as the injured man had finally managed to untangle himself from the covers and hobble over to his distraught friend in the middle of the room, enfolding Danny in his arms and pulling him close.
Danny pressed himself to Steve, wrapping his own arms around his partner (ex-partner?) and burying his face against Steve’s chest. “What do I tell her?” Danny asked again, the words garbled with his face pressed tightly to Steve.
“You tell her nothing, Danny, because I will never make you have to tell her.” Then Steve brought his hands up and softly cupped Danny’s face between his palms, looking Danny in the eye. “I don’t ever want to hear you say you are not worth coming home to. Never again, do you hear me? You are the reason I come home every single day.” Steve bent his head and carefully brushed his lips across Danny’s.
Danny fisted the back of Steve’s hospital tee, dropping his head back down against Steve’s collarbone. “I can’t…” he muttered, rolling his forehead back and forth against Steve chest.
“That’s why I need you with me, Danny,” Steve said, tightening his hold on his partner. “I need you to watch my back. I need you be there with me to remind me that I have something, someone to come back for. Two someones.”
“Steve, I…” Danny sighed, knowing that he wasn’t sure if he could endure this again and wanting nothing more for Steve to fucking understand. Was that too much to ask? With Steve McGarrett, the answer was always ‘yes’.
Steve cupped Danny’s face again and looked down at his partner. “Please try.” Steve’s eyes filled and he took a deep breath, willing the traitorous tears away. “Please, Danny. Please try, just one more time. Please.”
Danny looked up at Steve and stared into those hazel eyes. After a moment, he sighed deeply in defeat, admitting to himself that it was officially too late. He finally realized without a fucking doubt in the world that no matter whether he left now or left later, it was already too late, damn it. He was already too invested in this relationship to not care. Danny dropped his head against Steve’s shoulder blade and sighed again. He had no other choice. He was just going to have to prepare himself for the day he would have to tell Gracie that her Step Steve never made it home. He would just have to hope that that day wouldn’t come for a very long, long time.
January 8, 2011