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Time in a Bottle

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The thrashing woke Danny, something he'd become used to after a week of it. He sat up, twisting around to look down at Steve. "Steve," he said, firmly, the tone he'd learned worked the best for waking him up without him completely flipping out. "Hey, Steve. Wake up."

The thrashing stopped, and Steve sat up suddenly, blinking. He looked around, eyes finally focusing on Danny in the moonlight. "Danny?"

"You're fine," Danny said in that same tone. "It was a dream."

After a few seconds, Steve blinked again, scrubbing a hand over his face. "Fuck."

A fitting, if not nearly strong enough, epithet for the situation, Danny thought. They were both losing sleep over what had happened, between nightmares and the general feeling that something horrible was going to happen if either one of them let the other one out of their sight.

That Doris hadn't come back wasn't helping. Steve had gotten one message from her, just that she was okay and would be back when she could. He'd destroyed the message for safety and hadn't mentioned it since.

Danny didn't really need a shrink to know that none of this was healthy.

Then again, there really wasn't a shrink for this kind of thing--unless the Tutela had some cousin organization he didn't know about to deal with the mental fallout.

He wasn't about to go asking around to find out.

"You okay?" Danny asked as he saw Steve finally get his breathing under control.

"Yeah."

He wasn't. Danny knew it. But he didn't know how to fix it. So he did the only thing he could--he stayed close and held on. "Can you sleep again?"

Steve shuddered. "I think I'm done for the night."

"Yeah," Danny said, checking the clock to see it was just after five. That was the most sleep they'd gotten in a while, which gave him hope. Maybe all they needed was time.

"You okay?" Steve asked, eyes narrowing as he studied Danny.

"Well," Danny said, exhaustion better than truth serum, "we still don't know exactly what the deal is with our powers, your mother has disappeared, the governor, who happens to be our boss, may or may not have it in for us, and we don't know who we can or can't trust outside of our team."

Danny paused to take a breath before continuing. "On top of that, we haven't slept through the night once since you died--and there's a whole other can of worms we could go into while we're talking about this, but I won't, because you clearly don't want to talk about it. So no. Not really okay. No."

Steve took a deep breath. "I'm sorry."

"None of this is your fault. It just is."

"Still."

Danny shook his head. "You want to do something about it? Tell me about the dreams."

Steve's shudder wasn't encouraging, but Danny thought he needed to talk about them. You only stop being afraid of the monster under the bed when you look under the bed and see it's not really there, after all. "It's more memory than dream," Steve said slowly. "Either I'm falling over the cliff, or I'm dying in that factory, hanging up like a side of beef."

He shuddered again, and Danny put his hand on Steve's thigh. "It never happened."

"But it did," Steve said. "Just like I heard my father die over the phone and he died in my arms later. All of it happened."

And they still didn't know why, and Danny knew Steve hated unanswered questions. "I know," Danny said quietly. "But at the same time, it didn't."

Steve's laugh held no humor. "Tell that to my subconscious."

"It'll get the message in time."

Steve gave him a sheepish half-grin. "Sorry," he said, rubbing at the back of his neck.

"Nothing to be sorry about, babe. You can't get through it without going through it."

"That's deep, Danno."

"What can I say? I'm a bottomless well."

This time there was some amusement in Steve's laugh as he leaned in, pulling Danny into a kiss. "Thanks."

"For what?"

"Being you."

Danny laughed. "I'm going to remind you that you said that later."

Steve rolled his eyes before his expression turned thoughtful. "You know," he said, far too casually to be casual, "if we're not going to sleep, I can think of other uses for the time until morning."

"Mmm," Danny said, already pulling Steve back down onto the bed, "I think you should elaborate on that."

***

"Sorry, boss," Kono said, her voice tinny over the cell phone speaker. "We've checked every resource we can think of, and there's no sign of your mother."

"But we've got people on the lookout," Chin said. "She has to turn up eventually."

Steve looked at Danny, knowing he was thinking the same thing--she'd managed to stay hidden for twenty years until she was ready to be found. She didn't have to turn up at all.

"Thanks," Steve said, checking the clock, realizing it was after six a.m. "Have you guys been there all night?"

"We were checking in with some contacts in Asia," Chin said. "Time difference."

Steve didn't ask any more questions. He was grateful to them for using their extended network of friends and family to help him out. He wasn't about to grill them over it. "Go home and get some sleep," he said. "We'll call you if anything serious comes up."

"Thanks," they said in unison, before Kono added. "Be careful, guys."

"We will," Steve said before he hung up.

***

"Are you okay, Uncle Steve?"

Steve raised an eyebrow at Grace over the breakfast table. "I'm fine. Why?"

"You look tired. Our health teacher says being tired is bad for you."

Steve gave her a smile, taking care to make sure it reached his eyes. It wasn't hard--Grace never failed to lighten his mood. And he didn't want her worried about him. He looked around, as if checking for Danny, then leaned in towards her and lowered his voice. "I'll tell you a secret," he said. "Your dad? He snores." Her giggles were like sunshine. "Makes it really hard to sleep, you know?"

The giggles turned into full blown laughter as Danny walked into the room. "What did I miss?" Danny asked.

Steve and Grace looked at each other, and burst out laughing again.

***

Danny was trying not to watch the road as he waited for Steve to get back. Grace had insisted that Steve take her to school, which Danny didn't have a problem with. He just still couldn't shake the nervous feeling when Steve was out of his sight, even though he could feel that connection that seemed to be growing stronger between them, and could tell that Steve was the happiest he'd been in a week.

If that was what taking Grace to school did for him, Danny would let him do it the rest of the year.

He heard a car and looked out the window, even though he knew it wasn't Steve. Danny looked out the window to see the governor getting out of her car, motioning for her minions, as Danny had come to think of them, to stay outside.

He waited after she knocked, not wanting to give her the satisfaction of knowing that he'd been watching out the window. "Detective Williams," she said when he opened the door. "May I come in?"

He wondered what she'd do if he said no. Besides possibly fire them all. "Of course," he said, pulling the door open wider to let her inside.

She looked around as he closed the door. "Where is Commander McGarrett?"

"He should be back soon," Danny said. As if on cue, he heard the car. "Actually, he's pulling up now."

The governor cocked her head, eyes narrowing. "How did you know that?"

"Because I know the sound of my own car pulling up outside?"

He wondered if she suspected anything about the connection between the two of them, given that he had felt Steve getting closer before he heard the car. But she seemed to take the explanation at face value. "I'll wait until he comes in, then," she said. "How is your daughter?"

"Fine, thank you."

Steve came walked in, looking between Danny and the governor. "Everything okay?" Steve asked.

"Fine," Danny said, even as he pushed the sense at Steve that he should be careful. Not that Steve really needed the warning when it came to the governor, but it didn't hurt to be extra careful. "The governor wanted to talk to both of us."

Steve looked at her. "What can we do for you, Governor?"

"I was wondering if you'd heard from your mother."

Steve shook his head. "Not since she left with you," he said, the lie as smooth as truth. "I was actually going to check with you today and see if she was still with you. She said she'd be back."

Danny didn't miss the way Jameson's mouth tightened at that, and he could tell Steve didn't either. "She left us before we were finished debriefing her," the governor said. "We've been trying to reach her."

"I'm sure she has her reasons for going underground again," Steve said. "Wo Fat may be dead, but I'm told he had a fair amount of friends."

"It's true the Casini faction is still out there," the governor said. "It's why we were trying to help your mother stay safe with us, and why we're worried about her being out there on her own."

"She survived for twenty years running from Wo Fat," Steve said, steel lacing his tone. "I would imagine her odds are a lot better than under the watchful eye of a group who might still house some of Wo Fat's 'friends.'"

The governor pressed her lips into a thin line. "Commander," she said after a moment, "I realize this is all new to you. But I hope you understand that we're in this with you, not against you. The Tutela exist to protect the Tempus Latrones, you know."

"How so?" Steve asked.

"Imagine what would happen if people found out about your powers," she said. "The world knowing that this was possible, being able to find and use people who can do it...no one wants that."

Danny shifted, pressing his arm against Steve's just as he was about to speak. "That would be very bad," Danny said. "And we appreciate it. Thank you."

He wasn't sure if the governor was convinced, but she nodded and gave them a practiced smile. "I trust you'll let me know if you hear from your mother?" she asked Steve.

"I want her to be safe," Steve said. "I'll do whatever it takes to make sure that happens."

Which wasn't what Jameson had asked, but she nodded as if he'd agreed. "Thank you," she said, turning for the door. "I'll see you for our monthly meeting on Thursday?"she said over her shoulder.

"Yes, ma'am."

"Thank you."

Danny waited until the sound of her car died away down the road before asking, "You believe her?"

Steve shrugged. "I don't know who to believe anymore. Which is why we keep everyone close so we can keep an eye on them."

"We'll need to be extra careful around her," Danny said.

"Is there anyone we don't have to be extra careful around?"

"Our team."

Steve nodded. "Speaking of which, Grace wants to have a cook out this weekend with us and Chin and Kono."

It didn't sound like a question. "You told her we could already, didn't you?"

"I, uh...well...I said as long as it was okay with you, but...."

Danny laughed. "The two of you are going to be trouble, I can tell."

Steve smiled, pulling Danny in close. "But you'll keep us anyway, right?"

"I have a choice?"

"No," Steve bent his head for a kiss. "I'm just told it's nice to ask."

"It's also nice to know you can learn."

Steve laughed. "If we didn't have to get to work, I'd take you upstairs and show you what a good student I am when properly motivated."

"Then take this as an opportunity to learn patience."

Steve frowned. "I'm not sure I'm that good a student."

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