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Holding On

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Danny stepped off the elevator and glared at his partner and best friend.

“I said I was sorry, and technically it wasn’t my fault.” Steve spoke as they made their way deeper into the offices.

“Technically it wasn’t your fault?” Danny threw his arms up in the air. “You baited the suspect until he snapped and he threw paint cans at us. Paint cans, I might add, that burst open and left me like this!”

“I didn’t know he was going to start throwing paint cans around, Danny.”

“He was standing right there with all the cans surrounding him. He had a can in his hand, Steve! But you had to bait him. Now I look like a freaking Leprechaun!”

Steve managed to keep a straight face. “The color suits you, and since you didn’t know what to wear for Halloween, you now only need a top hat and a walking stick and you’re all dressed up.”

“Are you serious, Steve! Halloween is in three weeks! And I can promise you, I didn’t want to dress up as a fucking Leprechaun!”

“See it as a test run, Danno.” Steve grinned and moved to his office. He couldn’t wait to hear what the team would say about Danny’s new look. As he reached the glass door to his office, his phone chimed in his pocket. The grin disappeared from his face as he turned to face Danny.

“Is that the alarm at your house?” Danny asked as he jogged closer.

“Yeah, Junior and Adam finally got it fitted last night.” Steve called up the camera footage that streamed live from his house. He had the motion cameras installed after two weeks of someone coming into his house. Nothing was taken but certain things were moved. Not big things but small things like a lopsided change holder Grace made for him as a birthday gift a few years back.

“Want me to send out a unit?” Danny reached for his own phone.

“Let's just get a visual on this guy for a description.” Steve stared at the small screen. What felt like hours but was only mere seconds, a figure finally came into view. Steve gasped.

“I don’t think this guy is the one coming into your house for the past weeks, Steve.” Danny swallowed. “That’s a lot of blood.” When his friend remained quiet, Danny looked up. Steve’s face had turned ash grey. “Steve? You okay?” Danny touched Steve’s arm to get his attention.

“What?” Steve sounded dazed.

“Are you okay? Do you know this man?” Danny looked from his friend back to the man on the screen. He cringed as the man collapsed. His hand pressed hard against his abdomen as blood seeped through his fingers.

Steve appeared to refocus on the screen. He lifted his head. “Send for a bus, he needs medical attention.” With the phone still gripped in his hand he ran towards the elevator. “Tell them to hurry the fuck up!”

“I don’t think he’s going to need an ambulance, he looked pretty dead to me.” Danny rushed up to join Steve at the elevator. He didn’t expect to be physically picked up from the floor and slammed into the wall.

“Don’t you dare say that, Danny! Don’t you dare for one fucking minute say that!”

Danny hissed as his body connected the hard wall. Steve’s eyes had a feral look in them. He had never seen his partner so unhinged before. “Do you know the guy, Steve?”

Steve nodded slowly as he let go of Danny. His legs felt weak and he found himself crumbling to the floor.

“Steve?” Danny’s concerned voice sounded in his ears. “Who is this man, how do you know him?”

Steve closed his eyes and when he opened them again, they were filled with tears. “His name is Anthony Paddinton-Dinozzo. He’s my husband. He was KIA six years ago in Afghanistan.” A single tear rolled down his cheek as Danny pulled his best friend to his chest and let him weep.

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Danny watched as Steve continued to pace the waiting room. They have been at the hospital for three hours and have not received any word on Anthony’s condition. He was still shocked to hear that his best friend was married. The fact that it was to a man, didn’t faze him at all. What shocked him more, was the fact that Steve’s dead husband was alive. He can’t even begin to imagine what Steve must be feeling right now. Movement to his left made him look up. Danny rose to his feet and approached Adam.

“Any news?” Adam inquired as he watched Steve pacing.

Danny shook his head. “What did you find out at the house?”

“Not much. We know he got in through the back door. We searched the area, found no sign of a vehicle. We did find several sets of footprints, almost looking like a stomping ground. We also managed to retrieve shell casings. Looks to be nine-millimeter and .38 special. I’ve sent it to ballistics. Some of the prints lead towards Steve’s house. The others go deeper into the plantations. We’ve got a team searching the area, but the chance of them finding anything is slim.”

Danny nodded. The plantations merged with the woods. The undergrowth was thick and looking for any footprints there would be like trying to find the proverbial needle in a haystack. “What about tire tracks?”

“Nothing.”

“Check CCTV cameras in the area, canvas the area, talk to the neighbors. Someone had to have seen something. Whoever is responsible for this attack didn’t disappear into thin air and I’m not seeing anyone hoofing their way out of that jungle. It would take time and a lot of effort. Somehow I don’t see them having time to take a stroll through the woods after they’d shot a man.”

“We’re on it, Danny. Tani contacted Gerard and asked him to clean the place. She will remain on scene to make sure he doesn’t take anything.”

“Thanks. I didn’t even think about getting someone to clean up.” Danny looked down at his hands. His skin was still Leprechaun green from earlier. But now, his hands were tinted red. Red from Steve’s husband's blood where he’d tried to stop the bleeding. The scene that greeted them would haunt his dreams for years. After Steve’s mini meltdown his partner had pulled himself together and they had done some low flying to get to Steve’s house. They had arrived mere minutes before the first police units and ambulance.

They had entered Steve’s home with their weapons drawn. Danny knew it had taken all of Steve’s willpower to first clear the house before he could attend to the fallen man. Never before had Danny seen Steve so at a loss. His friend had slid to his knees next to the fallen man but hadn’t touched him. Danny was the one who felt for a pulse and then turned him over. Steve’s husband (still felt weird to think about it) had been shot multiple times. There was a through and through on the right shoulder. He had what appeared to be a deep grazing line on the side of his left temple. More worrisome was the two gunshot wounds to the abdomen. One was more to the left side and also a through and through. The second one was in the middle of his abdomen a bit to the right and had no exit wound. When he’d pressed down on the wound Anthony’s abdomen felt swollen and he had a feeling the man was bleeding internally as well. The only positive thing was that he was breathing. Very shallow and fast but Danny took that as a won. Never in his life had he been more grateful for the EMTs to take over. Steve had taken his husband’s hand in his and didn’t want to let him go. He followed the ambulance while Steve rode with them. The only time Steve let go of that hand was when they wheeled him into the trauma bay and Steve was not allowed in. It had taken him and Lou to get Steve to let go. And since then, the only thing his friend has done was to pace. It was only after they’d reached the hospital that he had a chance to tell the team who the man was. Their reactions went from shocked to surprise to anger. The anger he knew was directed at whoever tried to kill Steve’s husband. The fact that none of them even knew the man existed (or believed to be dead before that moment) didn’t matter. What mattered was that someone tried to kill Steve’s husband. They would find the persons responsible and only then will they ask questions. That is how they worked.

“I’m heading back to the office. Both Tani and Junior are still canvassing the area. Will you keep us up to date?”

“I will.” Danny nodded. He continued to watch Steve pace. When the whiff of coffee reached his nose, he turned his head and groaned when Lou stepped into the room. “Please tell me one of those is for me?”

Lou nodded and handed the large cup to Danny. He placed the cup holder with another two cups down on a small table and handed Danny a backpack. “Got a uniform to bring clean clothes for you and Steve.”

“Thanks, Lou.” Danny took the bag and placed it at his feet. He then took a long drink from the golden liquid the captain brought for them.

“The fact that he’s still pacing tells me you’ve received no update as yet?”

Danny shook his head. “I don’t know how long he’s going to be able to keep this up, Lou. More than that, I’m scared that they might come through that door and tell Steve that Anthony didn’t make it.”

“Mmm.” Lou looked at Steve and then at Danny. “Did you know?”

“No. The first word I heard of it was when he IDed the man bleeding out on his living room floor as his husband.”

“You never suspected?”

“No.” Danny lifted his gaze to take a proper look at the large man that stood before him. “You got a problem with Steve being married to a man?”

Lou lifted his hands in surrender. “No. The only problem that I have is that we didn’t know. That he didn’t tell us.”

“He must’ve had his reasons for not telling us,” Danny replied. He took another swallow of his coffee and then placed the cup down. “I’m going to get him to clean up, will you stay here and come and get us if there’s any word?”

“Sure, no problem,” Lou reassured Danny. He took his seat on one of the uncomfortable plastic chairs and watched as Danny approached his friend. He couldn’t hear the conversation between the two men but his heart ached for Steve when Danny reached up and pulled their foreheads together. He saw Danny lips moving and Steve nodding his head and then the two men broke apart. Danny kept his arm on Steve’s shoulder as the two men left the tiny waiting room and made their way to the nearest restroom to tidy up.

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It took all that Steve had in not to collapse to his knees as he stood with his head bowed beneath the steaming water. He had no idea how Danny pulled it off, but his friend had arranged for the two of them to use the nursing staff’s bathroom where they could both take a hot shower before changing into clean clothes. He kept the shower short and then stepped out to get dressed. Steve sat down and stared at the row of lockers in front of him.

In so many ways Danny reminded him of Tony. Both men had a unique sense of humor, a stubborn streak as wide as the Milky Way, and were loyal to a fault. Steve’s thoughts drifted to the first time he’d met Tony, but he pushed the memory away. He couldn’t deal with that. Not now. He had to find out who tried to kill Tony. More importantly he had to find out why Tony kept it from him that he was alive. For six years he thought that the man he loved more than life itself was dead. Killed when an IED exploded. He should’ve known something was up when they didn’t want him to ID Tony’s remains. But on the other hand, he’d seen what was left of the Humvee after it drove over the IED. None of the bodies recovered could be visually identified. Instead, DNA was used to establish identity. Tony’s empty coffin was flown back to England and laid to rest on his maternal family’s, the Paddingtons estate. Steve did not attend the funeral.

Steve was pulled out of his memories when the door to the bathroom banged open and Lou stormed in. “The surgeon is back. She’s waiting for you.” Steve tossed his socks to the side, left his boots lying there and ran out of the restroom. He was aware of both Lou and Danny on his heels but he didn’t slow down and wait for them. He couldn’t.

Steve reached the waiting room within seconds and burst through the door. “Doctor?” He approached the small woman as he wrung his hands. He pushed them into his pockets only to take them out again and crossed his arms over his chest.

“Are you family of Mr. Paddington-DiNozzo?”

“Yes, I’m – he’s my husband,” Steve responded shakily.

Doctor Melia could see how stressed the man was in front of her. “My name is Doctor Melia and let me start by saying he’s alive.” She never would let a family member wonder about the status of a patient but always started by telling them they were alive. It worked in this instance as all the tension disappeared from his body and he even managed to take a good breath. She looked on as the Captain and a blond man entered the room.

“Steve?” The blond spoke up as he reached his friend and placed his hand on his shoulder. She watched as the man called Steve took a deep breath and gave a small smile.

“He’s alive, Danno.”

Doctor Melia looked on as the blond hugged the bigger man hard before he broke contact. He gave her a bright smile. “Sorry, Doctor. That’s just wonderful news you gave us.” He reached out with his hand. “I’m Detective Danny Williams and this is Commander Steve McGarrett.”

The names sounded familiar to the doctor. “From the Hawaii Five-O task force?”

“Yes, Doctor.”

Doctor Melia nodded. Her daughter and granddaughter were held up in a bank robbery and she knew her daughter praised the actions of the task force as they managed to get all of the hostages to safety and got the suspects to surrender without anyone being injured or killed. “You deliver a great service to the community.”

“Thank you.” It was Captain Grover who spoke up.

“Now, let’s sit down and I’ll tell you about Mr. Paddington-DiNozzo’s injuries and his prospect of recovery.”

“Tony, he prefers to be called Tony,” Steve spoke up softly.

“Tony.” She smiled. “Let me start by saying that Tony is not out of the woods as yet. He is indeed very lucky to be alive and we’re doing everything in our power to keep him that way. He is in a critical condition and is currently in ICU. He’s in a coma and although it sounds bad, at this stage, his body is resting, and while he’s resting, he’s healing from his injuries.” Doctor Melia explained all of Tony’s injuries to them. The graze to his temple required sutures and the MRI they did showed no brain swelling or bleeding. The bullet to his shoulder did a bit of damage to the rotator cuff and he’ll need some extensive physical therapy if he wants to regain full usage of his arm. The abdomen wound on the left caused damage to his spleen and that had to be removed. The center mass wound had caused damage to Tony’s right kidney, right lung and his liver. We repaired the damage to the lung and the kidney. A small portion of Tony’s liver had been removed as it was damaged beyond repair. The trajectory of the bullet also caused damage to his ribs but they would heal with time.

“He’s going to be in ICU for at least another seventy-two hours if not longer. He will not walk out of this hospital in less than three weeks. But I, we, will do everything in our power to see that he does leave this hospital on the mend.”

Steve’s shoulders sagged at the news. Tears of relief streamed down his face and he was grateful when Danny pulled him close and hugged him hard. He knew he didn’t need to be strong; Danny was there for him. He knew the team was there for him as well. He owed them a huge explanation but that had to wait. For now, he had to see Tony. Steven wiped his face. He smiled at the Doctor. “Thank you for everything you’ve done so far.”

The doctor nodded. “As long as you remember he’s got a long and hard road ahead of him.”

“We won’t forget.” Steve licked his lips. “Can I see him, please?”

“Sure. I’ll walk you up myself. You can only stay a few minutes. He needs his rest.” When she saw that the man wanted to object, she quickly spoke up. “But I will make sure the nursing staff lets you visit him five minutes every hour. That’s the best I can do.”

“Mahalo, Doctor,” Steve replied. He would take whatever time he could get. Five minutes an hour was more than nothing at all. He still couldn’t believe that Tony was alive. For all of these years. He had so many questions. When the doctor came to a halt Steve stopped right behind her. Through a large glass window, he could make out Tony’s still figure. His breath hitched. “Tony.”

Doctor Melia guided the larger man into the room and made him sit down on the chair next to the bed. She took it upon herself to describe each piece of equipment to him and what their functions were. She then squeezed his shoulder in silent support and left him as he reached out and took Tony’s hand in his.