The last few months had been anything but easy for the Five-0 team members. With one of their own in jail for murdering the Governor and her assistant, and another on suspension pending an investigation for the ten million dollars Five-0 “borrowed” last Christmas, the two (and a half) remaining members had been busting their butts trying to fix the mess they’d found themselves in.
Chin was working his angle from inside HPD, passing Danny and Jenna whatever information he could get away with. Danny and Jenna were working on the case from the outside, using Steve’s house as their base of operations since their headquarters had been officially closed for the same two investigations.
During the past couple months, Danny had been trying to keep Steve in the loop during his twice weekly visits.
And wasn’t that the most ironic thing ever… He had traded his twice weekly visitations with his daughter for twice weekly visitations with his partner. His twice weekly visitation with his daughter had been subsequently cut to no visitations a week due to the fact that Rachel and Grace were now in New Jersey where he barely got to speak to his daughter because Rachel was so pissed at him for not leaving Hawai’i with them two months ago.
But it wasn’t like he could have left. His team was falling apart at the seams. He had obligations and couldn’t just leave despite what Rachel thought. He was just upset that he had made his little girl so sad. Thankfully, in one of his rare phone calls with Grace, he had been able to explain to her why he hadn’t been able to meet them at the airport and his little girl, God love her, had told him that “Uncle” Steve needed her Danno more than she did right now and to make sure he helped her “Uncle Steve get out of jail”.
So that had been what he had been working on since that night Chin took Steve away in handcuffs.
Chin had somehow gotten his hands on Steve’s phone and managed to ghost it, smuggling the jump drive to Jenna for her to work on. It would have been much faster if Chin could help, but they had to work with what they had. And, unfortunately, Jenna wasn’t as tech savvy as Chin so she wasn’t making as quick progress on its contents as Five-0 might normally have made. Had they had access to their comm. table, pulling the deleted recording would have been much faster. As it was, Jenna only had a few computers at her disposal at Steve’s, but she was doing her best.
Kono might have been able to help, but with her suspension, she really couldn’t be seen with the other members of Five-0 without causing suspicion, so she had to stay away. She could meet with Chin, and he could pass things along, but she couldn’t directly help in the investigation. Besides, she had her own problems at the moment and Steve’s case was the least of her worries.
Because Steve was still Navy, he was being held at Pearl under military arrest instead of a state facility like Halawa. Danny was allowed to visit Steve twice a week: Saturdays and Sunday from 1:45pm to 3:45pm. Just who came up with these times, anyway?
So every Saturday and Sunday around one o’clock, Danny would leave Steve’s house, drive over to Ford Island, and go through the entire check-in procedure so that he was ready no later than 1:45pm and he would stay all the way through until they told him to go at 3:45pm. On one of the weekend evenings, depending on when Chin could get away, he would meet up with his old co-worker and catch him up on Steve’s status. Then he’d do the whole thing all over the following week.
The weekends were some of the best times during Danny’s busy week, as well as some of the worst times of his harrowing week. They were the best because he got to see his partner. Got to make sure Steve was doing all right. Got to pass what little information he could to Steve if only to give his partner some semblance of hope.
The visits were also the worst time of his week because more often than not, they would end with Steve frustrated at the slow pace of the investigation and, sometimes, they would end abruptly with Steve demanding to be returned to his cell.
This latest Saturday visit was particularly vicious, which was supremely unfair since Danny had missed last week’s visit altogether, chasing down a lead on another island. He had to send Jenna in his place.
“Hey, partner, ya miss me? How you holding up?” Danny asked after Steve was brought into the room and they had both sat down at the table, military guards at every exit.
“How the hell do you think I’m holding up?” Steve snarked before closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. “Sorry.”
Great, Danny thought, it was going to be one of those days. Instead, Danny nodded in understanding, though Steve didn’t see, “That’s okay.”
Steve opened his eyes and looked across the table. “Any news?”
Danny sighed and shook his head. “Jenna’s still working on that thing,” Danny replied, twisting a wrist around with emphasis. They had talked about Chin ghosting his phone and sneaking a copy of the contents for Jenna to work on in an earlier visit the previous month. Of course, Danny couldn’t come right out and say what Chin did, but instead used code words to pass the information to Steve.
Unfortunately, the mere mention of that thing set Steve off. “Still? Hasn’t she made any progress?” He hissed with annoyance.
“She’s made some, but not enough for anything solid. Just bits and pieces here and there.”
“It’s better than what we had.”
“I suppose,” Steve conceded.
“She’s not Chin, Steve. She may be an analyst with the CIA, but that doesn’t mean she know all that tech stuff that Chin does.”
Steve sighed impatiently and sat back in his chair. “Well, what about Kono? She’s pretty good with…”
Danny started shaking his head at the mention of Kono. “She’s dealing with her own investigation, Steve, remember? We can’t have her hanging around with us without raising more suspicion than we already have.”
“Can’t you smuggle it to her or something?”
“Steve, come on, man. She’s got her own shit to deal with.”
That seemed to deflate Steve and he calmed down a bit. “You’re right. I’m sorry. How is she anyway? Have you talked to her?”
“I have. As much I can. She’s getting a lot of surfing in since she’s still on suspension. She wants to help out with your case, but Chin and I don’t think that’s a good idea. Don’t want to cross-pollinate the two cases.”
Steve nodded his head. “Good. That’s good.”
“Yeah,” Danny agree before falling silent.
It was getting harder and harder to keep coming to see Steve, especially when there was nothing new to report. Each time Danny came to visit, he wanted nothing more than to tell his friend that he would be getting out soon and each time he had to come and tell Steve that they had not made any more progress than the week before. It was clearly wearing on Steve, being locked up; but it was wearing on Danny as well. Sometimes, he just wished Steve would acknowledge the time and effort Danny was putting into trying to help. He hated seeing Steve like this.
Knowing he was going to get shot down for what he was about to ask, but needing something to say to fill the silence, Danny offered, “Did you want me to call Mary?”
Steve narrowed his eyes and glared at Danny. “No.”
“Okay.” Danny hadn’t asked since the first week of Steve’s incarceration, but he was kind of hoping that Steve might have changed his mind.
Apparently he was wrong.
“How many fucking times have you asked that, Danny?”
Danny just shrugged. “Just the once, I think.”
Steve fell silent, fuming.
“I just thought…”
“You thought wrong.”
“Wouldn’t be the first time,” Danny mumbled under his breath.
“No it wouldn’t,” Steve snapped.
“I’m just trying to help,” Danny growled with irritation. “I thought you might like to have another friendly face other than mine during the weekends.”
“Well, if I do, I don’t want it to be my sister,” Steve said quietly. “She doesn’t need to see me like this.” His voice grew soft and he looked away.
Danny closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He didn’t mean to make Steve feel bad. He really thought that bringing Mary here might make him feel better. But, once he thought about it further, if truth be told and the roles were reversed, he wouldn’t want his family to see him like this either, so…
Danny reached out a hand to touch Steve’s but immediately brought his hand back to his lap. “You’re right. I’m sorry. I didn’t think.”
Steve snatched his hands back, which had been folded on the table, just as quickly. “That’s your problem, isn’t it, Danny. You don’t think.”
Way too tired to even get mad at Steve, Danny merely looked at his friend and asked, “Okay, Steve. I’ll bite. What the fuck is that supposed to mean?”
“It means I’m getting sick of you coming here and telling me you have nothing every single week.”
Danny frowned and sat back in his hard, metal, extremely uncomfortable chair. “Would you rather I send someone else? Maybe Jenna? Did you give her this much shit last week when I couldn’t make it, huh?”
Steve’s eyes narrowed and he leaned forward to glare at Danny. “I’d rather you or anyone else not come until you have some news, some actual god damned news for a change other than ‘no new progress’. That’s what I’d rather.”
Pinching the bridge of his nose, Danny closed his eyes and took several deep breaths. Steve was in fine form today, for reasons unknown to Danny, and Danny was finding it very difficult to hold his tongue. It was not in his nature to keep silent when someone, especially his best friend someone, was being a jackass. However, he knew incarceration was weighing heavily on Steve and making him bitchy. But after almost two months of almost constant running down leads, working not one, but two cases, dealing with a pissed off Steve on the weekends was wearing Danny down. Plus, not knowing when he was going to see his little girl again… to say Danny was exhausted would be the understatement of the century. And to say that Danny had the energy to fight with Steve right now would be an outright lie.
But Danny would find it somewhere within him to do it anyway. He wouldn’t be Danny if he didn’t try.
“Well, you know what, Steve,” Danny finally said with false calmness, looking up at Steve, who was looking at Danny as though he just now realized he may have crossed a line with his earlier outburst. “That can definitely be arranged, you know.”
Danny leaned forward and slapped his hands on the table, though not as loud had they been in any other setting. He didn’t need to get thrown out.
His eyes narrowed into icy blue slits and he glared over at Steve. “I just thought you might like the company even if the news I brought might not be the best in the world. I just thought a friendly face might be welcomed after a week in this hellhole. But, you know what, it’s clear I ‘don’t think’,” he snarked, making air quotes with his fingers and repeating his words from earlier before slapping his hands back down on the table, the sound bouncing around the room much louder than before, getting the attention of the nearest guard.
Danny half-consciously waved towards the guard and mumbled an apology under his breath before turning his glower back toward Steve, who was stretching out a hand across the table. Danny angrily snatched his back, much like Steve had just moments before, far from Steve’s reach. “Danny, I’m sorry,” he murmured. “I…” Steve sighed and brought his hand back in front of him, head bowed. He gripped the edge of the table tightly. “I don’t want you to go.”
All the fight went out of Danny as he sat back and squeezed his eyes shut. He hated seeing Steve look all defeated and whipped. Steve was never supposed to look like that… ever.
Steve’s small voice brought him back to the present. “I know you’re doing everything you can, too.”
Danny asked, suddenly overwhelmed by their conversation. “Do you? Do you really?”
Steve looked up at Danny’s beaten down tone.
“’Cause I have to tell you, partner, today? You’re acting like I’m out there sitting on my ass eating shave ice on the beach instead of chasing every fucking lead from Hono-fucking-lulu to Kauai trying to clear your name!”
“You don’t like the beach,” Steve quipped, lips curling gently at the corners.
“Shut up, you,” Danny pointed warningly at Steve, though is tone had softened to his normal Steve-drives-me-up-the-fucking-wall-rant tone. “I’ve got nothing but grief outta your ass today, buddy,” Danny bitched, now holding up his hands, knifing through the air in an elaborate dance. “And I get that, okay, I do. This isn’t the fucking Hilton, man. I mean, it’s better than Halawa, but the Four Seasons, it ain’t. But, McGarrett, Steve, babe, I am not the fucking enemy here, okay? And I’m getting tired of being treated like one.”
Steve had the grace to look ashamed. “Danny...”
“Jenna has been trying everything she can with the hard-drive. Chin is doing everything he can from inside the department. I’ve put more miles on the Camaro, which is actually nice to drive for a change, by the way, driving around this god-forsaken island in the last two months than I have in the past year.”
Then, before he could let Steve reply, Danny went on with the ultimate confession. “I’ve flown, Steven.”
Steve cracked another smile.
“Flown in helicopters. In helicopters in which you are not the pilot.” Steve’s smile widened, pleased that Danny just admitted that he didn’t mind being in helicopters if Steve was the pilot.
“You know I’m not a big fan of that. But I’ve done that for you. I’ve island-hopped so much in the past two months I don’t know what freaking island I’m on half the time. I just know I need to be on this one on the weekends. So I can be here between the insane hours of one forty five and three forty five on fucking Saturdays and Sundays,” the light teasing suddenly vanished and hurt had crept into Danny voice as he finished his sentence, “to visit someone who apparently doesn’t want to see me!”
Danny stopped abruptly to clear his throat, trying to lighten the suddenly tense mood again. “But just say the word, Steve, and I can stop. I’ve got other things I can do with my time. Other places to be. The beach perhaps? Surfing?”
He realized he was completely unsuccessful when the fond expression on Steve’s face dissolved entirely and was immediately replace with Steve’s own version of hurt with a whole lot of resentment thrown in for good measure. Never wanting to see Steve looking so distraught, Danny rushed to fix it.
“Steve, I was just kidding. I wouldn’t…”
Steve shut down faster than Danny had ever seen before, and never directed at him, as he sat back in his chair, resolutely refusing to look at Danny.
Shit! “What? What is it, Steve?”
When Steve finally looked up at Danny, however, he was unprepared for the look of betrayal he found in Steve’s eyes. It shocked him enough to sit him back in his own chair.
“What other places, Danny?” Steve questioned, a burn of anger just under the surface.
“Huh?” Danny asked perplexed. “What are you talking about?”
“What other places do you have to be?”
Danny rolled his eyes. “Nowhere, you idiot. I was just kidding. I have no other place to be than here. You know that.”
“New Jersey, perhaps?”
Danny’s brows furrowed. “Wha-?”
“When are you, Rachel and Grace leaving for New Jersey?
“You heard me.”
Danny’s head snapped up. “What the hell are you talking about?”
“I’m talking about you leaving Hawai’i and moving back to New Jersey like you’ve been bitching about since the first day I met you!” Steve spat.
What little color Danny had in his cheeks vanished. “Who told you?”
Steve sat back suddenly equally pale, stunned that he had been proven right. “Jenna.”
Danny nodded in acknowledgment. Of course it was Jenna. The girl couldn’t keep her big mouth shut if she tried. She was one long run-on sentence.
He knew he should have been more careful when talking to Rachel; especially around their resident busybody, Agent Kaye. Last weekend, when Jenna had taken his place visiting Steve, she must have mentioned the shouting match she had walked in on a few days earlier between himself and his ex when Rachel had called to inquire when he was coming to Jersey. It had been the final straw when he told her for the hundredth time that he couldn’t come with everything falling apart like it was.
“I don’t know how many times I have to keep telling you this, Rachel,” Danny sighed, gripping the phone in one hand and his hair with the other. “I can’t just pack everything up and go to Jersey right now. Not with everything that’s going on.”
Jenna had walked in the door in the middle of his explanation and she stopped and stared at him with her big round eyes. He waved her off and she moved around him towards the kitchen, but apparently stayed within hearing range as he continued fighting with his ex.
“Damn it, Rachel! What part of ‘I can’t’ escapes your comprehension? Steve is…”
“Excuse me?! You don’t CARE?! Well, I care! And I know damned well that Gracie cares, too! Can you honestly say that if I just took off for Jersey without helping Steve right now that I would be able to look my daughter in the eye and…”
“I KNOW what I said! And I WOULD have met you, but Steve was arrested and…”
“Yes it IS about Steve. It’s about Steve and Kono and all of Five-0, damn it! Keep in mind, Rachel, that had YOU not moved MY daughter half way across the fucking planet in the first place none of this would have happened…!”
“Oh yes, let’s bring up Stan then, shall we? The father of your unborn child? Nice try trying to pin that one on me, Rachel. I go where Grace goes, you know that, there was no need for that lie.”
“Please, don’t you put this on me. Grace knows why I can’t go. I just wish you understood, t--.” Danny pulled the phone away from his ear and looked at it like it was a foreign object. True to form, Rachel was finished talking and had hung up on him.
There had been much more yelling before Jenna had walked in on his conversation with Rachel; and the words spoken after pretty much had sealed his fate, making him wonder if he was ever going to see his little girl again.
Pushing that aside, however, Danny looked at Steve; really looked at him. He didn’t look too different from two months ago when he was brought here. His hair had been shorn, but other than that, and the fact that he was constantly angry, he was still his partner, his boss, his friend.
Except, right now, Danny had had about enough of Steve’s attitude. It was hard enough spending every waking second working on clearing Steve. Something he wouldn’t have to be doing had McGarrett not run off half-cocked to face the Governor alone. That, on top of the prospect of never seeing his daughter again, made Danny close down completely.
“So that’s where this bitchy attitude is coming from, huh?” Danny said sourly. “A full-on McGarrett pout, is that it?”
Steve remained silent.
“You think I would just up and leave you in here and go back to Jersey?”
“Tell me I’m wrong, Danny,” Steve answered, hurt lacing his words.
Standing, Danny leaned down and planted his fists on the table, staring down at Steve, bitterness making his words clipped and angry. “I think the fact that I’m standing across from you is your answer, McGarrett. I’m not in Jersey, am I? I’m here with you trying to prove your innocence. And I will still be here long after we get you out of here. There will be no going to Jersey. Not anymore. Ever.” He straightened and looked at the clock on the far wall then back down at Steve. “Time’s up. I’ll see you next weekend.”
He turned to leave and got half-way between the table and the door when he heard Steve softly call his name. “Danny?”
Danny stopped but didn’t turn around. “I…” Danny could tell from Steve’s voice that the other man was shocked at Danny’s outburst and wanted to apologize, but all that came out was a tentative, “What about…” Steve swallowed around a suddenly dry throat. “What about tomorrow?”
“I’ll be here.” Danny answered quietly.
Danny nodded and left the visitors room.
“When was the last time you slept?” Chin asked as he sat down across from Danny.
The waitress handed him a menu as she placed a glass of water down in from of him. “I’ll have the Ahi Special and an iced tea, please,” Chin told the waitress, handing the menu back before focusing his entire attention on the weary man in front of him.
Danny looked more wrecked, if that was possible, than when he saw him last week.
They were sitting outside at a covered restaurant, fan revolving slowly overhead, a few locals playing at the beach several yards away, far away from the tourist traps of Waikiki.
They had been trying to get together at least once a week to catch up. If nothing else, to see what was happening on the two cases. But lately, at least for Chin, it was to see how Danny was doing; especially because the last two to three weeks that they’d been meeting, Danny had been looking more and more ragged than before. Today was worse than ever.
When Danny didn’t answer, Chin prodded, “Well?”
Danny merely shrugged.
Chin clucked, sat back in his chair and glared at his friend. When Danny continued to stare into his own iced tea, Chin turned to frown out over the sand.
Chin was shaken from his silent contemplation several minutes later when Danny said, “Saw Steve today.”
Chin turned to his friend. “I kind of figured. And?”
“He knows about Jersey.”
“Didn’t go too well, I take it.”
Danny snorted softly. “You could say that.”
Chin didn’t say anything, waiting for Danny to continue.
Danny sighed and sat back, looking at Chin for the first time since he sat down. “Asked me why I was still here.”
“Yeah. The ass honestly thinks I would leave him to rot. Though after that comment, I should.”
“You don’t mean that.”
“Right now, yeah, I do.”
They were quiet for a few moments before Chin brought up his earlier point. “When was the last time you slept?”
Danny played with his straw. “I sleep.”
Chin glared. “God! You sound like McGarrett!”
Danny flicked out the straw from his drink, tea drops flinging outward, pointing the plastic tube menacingly at Chin’s face. “Don’t you compare me to that dick!”
“Well, stop sounding like him!”
Danny huffed in annoyance, stabbing his straw back down into his drink.
“Let me rephrase my question. ‘How many hours of sleep a night do you get, Daniel?’”
“Enough, Chin Ho.”
“Which means not enough, right?” Before Danny could respond, Chin continued, “You look like death warmed over, bro. You need to sleep.”
Chin leaned forward and stared Danny in the eyes. “Do me a favor. For me, man. Please. After this. Go home. Crawl into bed. And don’t show your face for 24 hours. Please.”
Danny opened his mouth to protest but clicked his mouth shut. He stared at Chin for a moment longer before replying, “Okay. For you.”
“Thanks, bro.” Chin smiled at his friend as their food arrived.
Two weeks later, Danny was on his way to Ford Island not to visit Steve but to pick him up.
Jenna had finally managed to pull the rest of the deleted recording of McGarrett’s and the Governor’s conversation of the night she was killed. While it was clear she was speaking to a third person in the room, that third person never spoke, keeping the case of her murder open. However, Jameson’s side of the conversation was enough to throw out the murder charges on McGarrett and he was finally being released today.
Danny sat on the hood of the Camaro as he waited for Steve to come out of the building. He had arrived at the Naval Brig an hour early, not wanting Steve to spend a second longer in a place he shouldn’t have been in to begin with.
“Hey partner,” Danny said by way of greeting.
Steve tipped his head up. “Hey,” he replied softly, barely acknowledging Danny.
Danny glanced at Steve as he got into the passenger seat and again as he started the engine. When Steve still refused to acknowledge Danny’s presence, Danny grumbled, “Great,” under his breath and sighed, nodding his head to himself. So this is the way it’s going to be from now on, huh?
Things had been tense since their confrontation about Danny and Jersey last month. Danny had been too tired, and was still too tired for that matter, to deal with Steve’s attitude, and Steve was angry that Danny had been planning on leaving Hawai’i without telling him.
Apparently Steve didn’t know the whole truth and Danny wasn’t inclined to tell him. If Steve wanted to be pissed off, Danny was just too apathetic to care anymore.
Five-0 slowly got back up and running. It took another month to clear Kono of the charges that had her suspended at the same time that Steve had been charged. Chin resigned his position with HPD and returned to Five-0, having no real reason to stay with his old department anymore. Jenna was still around because Wo Fat was still around. She’d become a de facto member of Five-0.
New cases came slowly to Five-0 as the new Governor was still feeling out the task force that he had inherited. For awhile, even with Steve cleared of the murder charges, it was unclear whether or not Five-0 would continue. Thankfully, the new Governor understood the need for the task force, but warned that he would be keeping a tighter leash on them; that meant the disappearance of “immunity and means”. They were no longer above the law and they would just have to get used to that.
Their first case was the disappearance of a Congressman’s nephew. Steve took Chin with him to interview the family which left Danny and Kono to check out the scene of the disappearance. That had Chin, Kono and even Jenna looking quizzically at each other, but Danny merely shrugged and motioned for Kono to follow him out to the car.
“What’s going on with you and Steve?” Kono asked as she slid into the passenger seat of the Camaro.
“Nothing,” Danny replied, turning on the ignition and pulling out of his space.
“Danny, don’t give me that crap,” Kono said. “It’s clear something is going on with the two of you and has been since we pulled Five-0 back together.”
Danny sighed but said nothing, which caused Kono to huff in annoyance, letting the issue drop for the time being.
Chin hauled himself into the passenger seat of the truck and waited until they had left the parking lot of headquarters before he broached the subject.
“What’s going on with you and Danny, brah?”
“Nothing,” Steve said as he continued to stare out of the windshield.
“Mm-hmm,” Chin hummed. “You want to try that again?”
“Nothing, Chin, just drop it.”
Chin shook his head. “No can do, boss. Danny worked his ass off trying to free you and you’ve barely acknowledged his presence since we’ve been back together. What gives?”
Silence reigned in the cab of the truck for several minutes before Steve tightened his hands on the wheel and scowled out the window. “Jersey,” was all he said.
Chin nodded his head. “Ah.”
The single word answer was enough to push Steve over the edge. “’Ah’? Really? ‘Ah’ is all you have to say?”
“What do you want me to say, Steve. He didn’t go.”
“No, but he was going to,” Steve replied petulantly.
Chin was losing patience. “But he didn’t. He let Grace go to stay here.”
The truck suddenly swerved and Chin grabbed onto the bar above the door to keep from sliding across the seat. Steve came to a stop on the side of the road and turned to stare at Chin in horror.
Steve felt his world slip off its axis. Chin’s voice sounded like it was coming from a long way off.
“You didn’t know?”
Know? How the fuck would he know? He thought Danny was counting the days. He shook his head and continued to stare at Chin, the deep-seated anger he’d been holding on to for so long melting away, replaced by shocked disbelief. The pain in his chest grew as he sat and stared at his friend.
“No,” Steve’s voice broke and he cleared it to try again. “No, I… When? What happened? How…” He slumped in his seat. He had no clue that Rachel had taken Grace away. From what Jenna had told him, they were planning on going to Jersey. He didn’t know they had already left.
“I don’t know exactly what happened but the night of your arrest, Rachel and Grace left for New Jersey. I think Danny was supposed to go with them, I’m not sure, you’ll have to ask him. Anyway, you were arrested and you know the rest. Danny hasn’t seen Grace for over three months and from the sounds of things, she and Rachel are staying in New Jersey permanently.”
“Why hasn’t he gone to them now that things are back to normal?”
Chin shook his head in sympathy. “I don’t know, brah. Like I said, you’ll have to ask him. But from the sound of things, Rachel was pretty pissed when Danny didn’t go with them. When he stayed behind to help you, the whole getting-back-together thing kind of went out the window.”
Steve turned and looked out the windshield. He had no clue that Danny had given up his life with his daughter just to help Five-0… to help him. Steve had spent the last couple months giving Danny shit about leaving, questioning his loyalty, when all this time Danny had been proving over and over where his loyalties truly lay by staying in Hawai’i and helping clear Steve’s name.
He’d fucked up. Big time.
Silently, Steve turned the ignition over and pulled away from the curb. He needed to talk to Danny.
Unfortunately, getting Danny alone to talk to him proved to be more difficult than it sounded. It was several weeks and two cases later before Five-0 had any kind of down time. By then everyone, including Jenna, was giving Danny concerned looks.
Danny had been more quiet, less boisterous, after Steve’s arrest and Kono’s suspension. Everyone had thought it was just because he was so focused on the case, clearing Steve, that he wasn’t his obnoxious self.
However, once Five-0 had been reinstated, Danny’s normal personality still seemed to be missing. At first, everyone thought it was because of the tension between him and Steve. But now that Steve knew more of the truth, and had started talking to Danny again, Danny still was just a shell of his former self.
He certainly wasn’t mute. He just didn’t engage in conversations and verbal rants as he once had. He spoke when spoken to. He gave his input on the cases. He interviewed witnesses and booked the suspects. He was completely professional. It was… disconcerting. It definitely wasn’t the Danny the rest of Five-0 knew from before.
They had finally wrapped up their last case on a Thursday. Steve had sent everyone home for an extended weekend, but Danny was still in his office finishing the paperwork.
Steve tapped on the outside of Danny’s office door and poked his head in.
“Ya got a minute?”
Danny turned around from his computer and faced his boss. “Yes.”
Steve sighed. Before, Danny would have gone on a ten minute rant on how ‘Of course Steven, I have a minute. It’s not like I don’t have paperwork, your paperwork, to finish or anything. So allow me to stop doing your work for you and give you the one minute, which will certainly go on for at least thirty, that you have requested.’
Steve missed those rants.
He took a step into Danny’s office, just enough to let the door close behind him.
“You want to come over for a beer once you’re finished?”
Danny looked down at his desk and shook his head. “No, I don’t think so.”
Steve took another step. “Danny, please. We haven’t really talked since I got out and…”
“Whose fault is that?” Danny asked blankly.
Steve was in the process of taking yet another step closer to Danny’s desk when he was stopped short by Danny’s statement.
He nodded to himself before continuing. “I know and I’m sorry. I just… I need to… Please, Danny?”
Danny regarded him coolly for a few moments before nodding his head. “Fine. All right.” He looked at the clock on his desk. “Seven okay?”
Steve relaxed his stance and nodded. “Seven’s fine. See you then.” He turned to leave and was halfway out of the door before he turned around to face his friend. “Thanks.”
Danny merely nodded before turning back to his computer.
Seven o’clock came and went. By five after, Steve was pacing a hole in the living room floor. Before long, the rumble of the Camaro sounded outside and Steve stopped, glancing at the clock: seventeen after seven. He had the door open less than a second after Danny knocked.
That was another clue that things were off with Danny. Danny never knocked. He used to just barge right in as if he owned the place – had since day one.
Things were definitely serious.
“You made it,” Steve said and flinched as he realized that it may have come out a bit harshly.
Danny just quirked the corner of his lip. “You didn’t think I’d come.” It wasn’t a question.
Steve led them into the kitchen. “Of course, I knew you’d come,” Steve tried to cover, but both knew that was exactly what Steve was thinking.
Danny held out a hand. “Thanks.”
Steve led them out to the lanai and they settled into the deck chairs.
After a few minutes of awkward silence, Steve put his beer down on the table and turned to his friend. “I’m sorry.”
Danny spit and sputtered as he choked on a sip of beer. Steve reached out and slapped Danny on his back as he grinned. “Didn’t expect that, did you?”
After Danny recovered, he wiped his hand across his mouth. “Honestly? No.” A beat later, “What brought this on?”
“I owed you an apology, Danny. It couldn’t have been easy trying to clear my name with everything that was going on.”
Danny froze before carefully putting his bottle on the table next to Steve’s.
“What do you mean?” Danny asked with an air of nonchalance, but Steve could tell Danny had tensed up.
“I wasn’t the best prisoner inside, was I?” Steve watched Danny visibly relax before he continued. “And it couldn’t have been easy with Rachel and Grace gone.”
If Steve thought Danny was tense before, it was nothing on how he was now.
“I don’t want to talk about this, Steve.”
“Danny, please. I’m so sorry. I had no clue that Rachel and Grace had already left when you came to see me that one time in the brig. I thought you were still planning on leaving. I’m so sorry.”
Danny relaxed a fraction and looked less like he was about to bolt or punch him than he had a few seconds ago.
Steve continued. “I know you would never leave without telling me first. And I’m sorry that I made you think otherwise.”
Danny deflated like a popped balloon. “I was, though.”
Steve blinked at Danny, not sure he understood correctly. Danny flicked a quick look up at Steve before looking away and elaborating.
“I was. I was going to leave with Rachel and Grace the night of your arrest.” Steve sat back stunned.
“I don’t know if you remember Rachel calling asking me to meet her?”
Steve nodded his head.
Danny continued, “We met at Sand Island. She told me she was pregnant and that the baby was mine. She said she wanted to leave Hawai’i and go back to Jersey that night and wanted me to go with them. I was so excited. I told her that I would meet them at the airport.
“The thing is, after I told Rachel I would go, I realized I couldn’t just up and leave like that; especially with the murder of Lara Hill and then you being framed for the murder and the Governor’s possible involvement and you running off by yourself half-cocked…
“Rachel called when I was on my way to your house and she and Gracie had just gotten to the airport. I told her that I would meet them at the gate. She thought I was going to join them, but by then, I had planned on telling her at the gate that I wasn’t going to be able to go with them and that I would meet them in Jersey after I had a chance to talk to you first, but…” He flapped a hand in the air. “All hell broke loose and I never got the chance to talk to her.”
“Danny, I don’t know what to say.”
Danny leaned forward, elbows on his knees, looking out into the dark beach beyond.
“There’s nothing to say, Steve. I was a crappy friend. I can’t believe I…”
“Whoa! Whoa, there!” Steve interjected. “What the hell are you talking about? How can you say that?”
Danny snorted softly to himself. “How can I not. I was going to just up and leave, Steve. I don’t know what the hell I was thinking.”
“I’ll tell you what you were thinking, Danny,” Steve replied. “You were thinking you wanted to be a family again.”
Danny snorted again. “I was thinking with my dick, Steven. That’s what I was thinking.”
Steve rose an eyebrow and tilted his head, conceding the point. “Well, yeah, okay. But you were also thinking about Grace. About how you’d have her all the time. And about a new little baby, too.”
“Yeah, well… I don’t have to worry about that anymore, do I? I’ll be lucky to see Grace a few times a year now. And the baby? Not mine, so…” Danny was silent for a moment. “I forgot the fundamental reason for our break up in the first place. I’m still a cop. I’ll always be a cop. Rachel can’t change that and I don’t want to change that. Besides, I think us getting back together was more about her wanting something familiar since her marriage to Stan was falling apart than it was really about her and me. She needed a shoulder to cry on and I was that shoulder.”
Steve thought it was something else, too, but was reluctant to say anything. Danny must have picked up on it because he finally turned away from his scrutiny of the black water and looked at Steve.
Danny sighed. “Please don’t play that game tonight. I’m not in the mood.”
Squirming in his chair, Steve relented. “I just… I think it’s something else, but…”
“But what?” Danny was getting irritated.
“I don’t want to say it cuz it’ll piss you off.”
Danny snorted. “’S never stopped you before.”
Steve quirked a corner of his mouth. “Okay. I think she knew you were still in love with her and she used you.” Steve braced himself for the explosion.
It didn’t come.
“Yeah, I kinda figured that out.”
Danny sighed softly before leaning back in his chair and picking up his now luke-warm beer.
“I’ve had a few months to think about it, Steve. I figured it out the first time Rachel called and yelled at me for not making the flight.”
Danny waved the hand holding the beer bottle in the air. “It’s okay. Better I find out now than after I’ve moved back to Hoboken. She’s been manipulating me since day one and I just never saw it cuz I thought I was still in love with her. Funny, huh?” Danny turned his neck to grin grimly at Steve, who wasn’t smiling.
“I don’t think it’s funny at all.”
“Thanks, partner,” Danny replied. It was the first time he’d referred to Steve as his partner since the day he picked him up from Ford Island.
They sat in silence, letting the sounds of the waves lap on the sand. They had finished their beer, but Steve was reluctant to leave long enough to go inside and get more. He was enjoying the newfound ease with Danny, an ease that had been lacking in recent months.
Suddenly, something Danny said stuck him. “What do you mean, you thought you were still in love?”
Danny sighed loudly. “I think we might need another beer or three for this.”
Steve frowned but got up and headed for the kitchen. ‘We might need…?’ He returned with a six-pack and placed it on the table between them, twisting off the cap of one bottle and handing it off to Danny before doing the same for himself.
Danny took several long gulps, finishing off his bottle in seconds before grabbing another one. He popped the top on the second bottle before settling back in his chair and staring determinedly out at the water. “Okay, what I’m about to say may just have you putting me on the next plane to Jersey anyway, or maybe shooting me… so… Just let me get this out and then you can talk or punch me or whatever.”
Steve opened his mouth but he quickly snapped it shut when Danny held up a hand.
“Okay, so… I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we’ve been… circling, for want of a better word, around each other since the day we met. Since I’ve never been in this type of relationship before, I didn’t know what was going on at first. I just… I just liked being around you, as crazy and insane as you are. We hung out all the time. I stayed at your house half the time, including the weekends I didn’t have Gracie.” Danny’s voice cracked at the mention of his daughter, but he cleared his throat and continued.
“I couldn’t understand what was going on until that day you took me on that craptastic hiking trip.”
“Hey!” Steve interjected.
Danny held out a hand to forestall Steve’s complaint. “Steven, only you can find a dead body in the middle of nowhere.”
“You were with me, ya know.”
“Okay, only we can find a dead body in the middle of nowhere. Happy?” Danny shot him a look.
Steve answered him with a grin.
“Goof,” Danny muttered to himself. Taking a deep breath, he made himself look at Steve, and continued. “Anyway, when you fell down that cliff, I suddenly realized that what I was feeling for you was more than just friendship. That our circling each other for the past nine months had been nothing short of flirting. Some kind of weird mating ritual. So, when you were hauled up, I drew that stupid heart in the air. You gave me this look…” Danny snorted lightly. “The exact one you are giving me now, and I realized that I was way off base with my assumptions. Some detective I am, huh?”
At this point, Steve was sitting on the edge of his chair, eyes wide, mouth slightly open, face not hiding the shock he was clearly feeling. When Steve didn’t speak, Danny continued.
“Anyway, when you didn’t say anything, I figured I had gotten it all wrong and was just projecting, god I sound like a shrink now, I’d been projecting my feelings. And since Rachel and I had gotten past the ignoring-each-other phase and were on actual speaking terms, I turned to her. It didn’t hurt that she was having problems with Stan. We both ended up fulfilling a need the other had. I guess we both used each other.
“Unfortunately, I guess I let her use me more than I was willing to be used. At least that’s what I see now. At the time all I could think of was ‘now I get to see Grace more often’. Having someone, having Rachel, love me was just icing on the cake. That’s why I said I would go back to Jersey with her. I guess it was a good thing you were arrested. I was reminded why we failed as a couple in the first place.”
“Gee, thanks,” Steve muttered darkly, eyes flashing a hint of humor. “Glad some good came of it.”
Danny rolled his eyes at him. “You know what I mean.”
“Yeah, I get it.”
Danny sat back and drained his beer, reaching out for another one. “So, there you have it.” He twisted the cap and took a drink. “The sad and pathetic life of one Detective Daniel Williams.”
“You’re not pathetic, Danny,” Steve murmured, finishing his bottle as well. He reached for his second and pulled the cap.
Danny snorted at Steve’s reassurance. “Yeah right. You want my resignation now or can it wait until the morning?”
Steve slapped his bottle on the table and leaned over the arm of the chair. “I don’t want your resignation at all!”
Danny frowned in confusion, convinced that this would be his last night with Five-0. He cocked an eyebrow at Steve quizzically.
“You’re not going anywhere, Danny. Not unless you want to. And I don’t think you do.” Steve settled back in his chair and took a long pull of his beer. “Look, I’m sorry I didn’t say anything about the… this,” he mimicked Danny’s air-heart from the cliff. “I have to admit, I was shocked that you had the courage to do it. I just wish I had to courage to return it.”
Danny snorted. “Kinda hard to return it with a broken arm, Steve.”
“You know what I mean.”
Danny risked at glance at Steve. “So, what you’re saying is that I wasn’t projecting?”
Steve smiled softly. “No, Danny, you weren’t projecting.”
Danny shrugged a shoulder. “Yeah, ‘oh’. I, uh, I don’t know what to say.”
Steve lifted an eye brow and looked incredulously at his friend. “What? Danny Williams has nothing to say?” He grabbed his chest in mock-pain.
Danny ignored Steve’s antics and looked down the neck of his bottle. “Where does that leave us?”
Steve immediately dropped his teasing and looked over at his friend. Danny returned the look, knowing his uncertainty showed in his expression.
“I don’t know. What do you want to do?”
Danny was quiet for several minutes. Enough to make Steve twitch nervously at his silence. Finally, Danny asked, “How do you feel about me, Steve?”
Steve sighed and looked away. How did he feel about Danny? He never was any good at expressing his feelings. Before he could let his nerves tie his tongue in knots, he started speaking, letting his heart lead his words.
“I like you, Danny. A lot. I have since the moment you threatened to call an ambulance instead of the police when you caught me in my house. No one’s ever stood up to me like that before. It was… refreshing.
“The punch to the face kinda sealed the deal.”
Danny looked up at Steve dubiously. “You are a sick man, McGarrett, you know that?”
Steve beamed at him and continued, “You were right about us circling each other. We’ve been flirting… well, I’ve been flirting since day one. You’re kinda hard not to flirt with, Danno.” Steve grinned at his friend. Had it not been dark outside, Steve might have been graced with a Williams blush. As it was, he had to settle with seeing Danny lower his head in embarrassment.
Steve suddenly sobered. “I’m just sorry you never knew, though, Danny. I wish I would have said something earlier than the heart-thing. I just didn’t know how you would react and was afraid you didn’t feel the same and would leave. I’d rather have you around and not have you than have you leave.”
“Convoluted much, Steven?” Danny teased.
“Shut up, Danno,” Steve replied, emphasizing Danny’s much hated nickname. Okay, so it really wasn’t truly a hated nickname when coming from Grace and, god forgive him, Steve. Oh, who was he kidding? It was a much beloved nickname only when coming from Grace and Steve.
“I’m just sorry I didn’t say anything sooner. This whole thing with Rachel might not have happened if I hadn’t been such a coward.”
Danny’s smile vanished and he shrugged a shoulder.
They both fell silent, letting what the other said sink in. After several minutes of contemplative silence, Danny asked, “What do we do now?”
“What do you want to do?”
Danny sighed. “I’m not sure. Do you still feel the same?”
“About you? Yes. I never stopped.”
“Good,” Danny replied. “Me, too.”
They fell into an awkward silence. Neither was sure how to proceed. They both broke the silence at the same time.
Steve grinned offered his hand in the after-you manner. “You first.”
Danny set his long-empty bottle down and moved to stand up. “I think I need to go home. I need to think,” he waved his hand around in a wide circle, “about all this.”
Steve followed suit, placing his bottle on the table and standing as well. “Okay.”
They both started for the back door and made their way through the house until they reached the front door.
“You okay to drive?” Steve asked, since Danny had gone through four beers in rather quick succession.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Danny answered. “I think our conversation negated the alcohol from the beer or something. I’ve never felt more sober in my life.”
“Yeah,” Steve agreed. As Danny opened the door to leave, Steve reached out and wrapped his hand around Danny’s forearm, letting his fingers slide down until they held Danny’s hand. “You want to come over tomorrow?”
Danny looked at their entwined fingers before looking up at Steve. “I’ll call you.”
Steve gave Danny’s fingers a light squeeze before reluctantly letting them go. “Okay.”
Danny gave Steve one last half smile before he turned and made his way to his car.
Steve watched by the full moon as Danny pulled open the door and waited until Danny had one leg inside before calling out. “Hey, Danny!”
Danny stood up, leaning an arm on the window. “Yeah?”
Silhouetted by the porch light, Steve made sure he had Danny’s complete attention before he placed his palm over his chest, drew a large heart in the air and then pointed to Danny, grinning like a fool the entire time.
His grin grew even bigger as he saw Danny duck his head, whether with embarrassment or exasperation, Steve wasn’t quite sure until he heard a faint ‘goof’ float his way over the warm Hawaiian breeze.
Danny raised his head, slowly shaking it at Steve, lips curled in fond amusement as he sank down in the car and backed out of the driveway.
Steve stood at the opened door long after the taillights of the Camaro had vanished down Piikoi.
August 14, 2011