3 Months Earlier
He can see Steve`s reflection, standing rigid behind him, as he continues to stare out the bedroom window. The world outside softened by the sudden midday down pour. There are no words for the pain he has to inflict, that and the fact that he is a coward – who would have guessed he would be felled by his own love.
“I won`t stop you Danny” A quiet determined response to the unspoken good bye. The half packed suitcase speaking for its owner. Not turning around, Danny shoves his hands in his pockets, his shoulders lifted in a half-hearted shrug. “This was too much, too fast. I need to clear my head & I... I can`t do that with you, here” He can’t turn around, Steve will see the truth in him, he always had even when Danny couldn’t see it in himself. He can`t risk that now, not when Steve`s life depends on it.
Steve stands there, quiet, staring at his back, his rain soaked t-shirt clinging to his frame, wet hair mussed. Danny follows the movement of Steve`s hand as it scrubs over his face, only to fall back to his side clenching and unclenching. I know you`re trying to hold on babe, but not this time.
He feels the change before he sees it, the lack of Steve as he closes off, hides himself behind walls build over years of training, pain endured and survived. For a second their eyes meet in the window`s reflection “Good bye Danny” and Steve`s turning, walking out their bedroom, down the stairs, front door closing. Only when Danny hears Steve`s truck take off does he let down his guard, resting his head against the cool window, his tears mimicking the path of the rain outside.
Steve is beyond exhausted, it took a herculean effort to not growl at the pedestrian that inadvertently stepped in front of him. “Calm the fuck down before you pop an actual vessel & while you`re at it get some God damn sleep” His steps falter. Even now, months later, Danny`s voice still sneaks up on him. It was, as always, a punch to the gut, a too tight fist around his heart. Picking up his pace, he all but runs up the Palace`s steps.
What little restraint he has left, flees for saner ports when he pushes through the doors only to be assaulted with images of Danny on every screen in the office. His rage finally snarling victorious, leaves him blind to Chin and Kono`s dual looks of anguish and desperation. BREATH God damn it, you`re a fucking SEAL, BREATH. He needs to get air in his lungs, get away from the images flashing around him. Back straight he turns, his eye catching one of the screens he so desperately did not want to confront. His progress slows then halts as recognition flickers along with the image across one of the screens littering their office space. His already strained breathing catches, his vision graying around the edges, he focuses on the grainy black and white image of his missing partner, rotating on the screen before him. Danny! Danny, on his knees, bound and flanked by two men. Steve has a sense of movement around him, concerned voices bleeding into the screaming voice in his own head. His eyes search the screen for a time stamp, date, anything. Was this from the day he disappeared? The image rotates. Danny, still kneeling, still bound, only one man now. The image rotates. He sinks to his knees, eyes blind to the world. The screen goes dark, but Steve can still see it, burned over the remains of his shattered being. Danny lying on his side, bound, alone, a dark gray halo framing his head.